When you’ve been sick for so long, it becomes your story, or at least the only narrative that seems to define you.
Instead of embracing whatever else life has to offer, you tend to zero in on the one thing that’s making everyone else’s grass greener. To my mind, it was that my illness had robbed me of the ability to perform like I used to. I had half a mind to quit altogether but like all dreamers out there, there’s always a little fuel left in you.
Much like every other human being in 2020, I had conditioned myself to believe that this year would be yet another pit stop. With life at a standstill, I had settled into a listless routine and convinced myself that the only goal this year was to survive. In other words, I was practically dragging my feet towards 2021. If only it would come sooner.
That is, until my life was turned upside down—in the best and most miraculous way possible.
On August 18, I finally mustered the courage the pick up a pregnancy test. I had suspected it for weeks but confirming the pregnancy felt like courting disaster. My period was already weeks late and I kept panting during Barre3 exercises (something my body should have been accustomed to after nearly a decade of practice). I didn’t have the debilitating nausea or morning sickness so I kept dodging the idea. After all, entertaining the thought seemed like inviting unnecessary heartbreak.
August 18 also happened to be my late grandfather’s birthday. I had been praying to him and my late aunt from the time I had suspected it. I prayed for the grace and courage to accept whatever came of it.
Ten seconds into the first pregnancy test, two distinct lines appeared. I took two more tests before allowing myself a little elation. I had been sick long enough to know that it was always better to be cautious, to be wary, and to manage one’s expectations. In between calls to my doctors, doing chores at home, and thinking of the worst case scenarios, was this small window where I allowed myself to lose myself in the moment.
This was real. This was actually happening.
Scheduling for a blood extraction was nothing new; I had tons of experience in that department. Scheduling for a prenatal ultrasound however, that was uncharted territory. Waiting for the ultrasound felt like being next in line at a big audition (think Miss Saigon) except multiplied a thousandfold. With my heart beating out of my chest, clammy hands clasped in prayer, and a husband doing his best to look unfazed, I walked into the room with full surrender.
Seeing the baby for the first time and the flicker of its heartbeat felt like I had finally done something right in my life.
Be that as it may, I approached the entire situation with extreme caution and a ton of irrational fear. I couldn’t bring myself to embrace the situation with full confidence. It didn’t help that I had previously done Lungs, something incredibly special but traumatic in its own right. Against better judgment and what I would consider a pain-free pregnancy, I spent much of the first trimester with disaster scenarios playing out in my head, and holding back on what should have been a momentous, if not absolutely delightful occasion.
Ironically enough, my doctors were a lot more relaxed and thrilled with the news. In stark contrast to my countless health issues pre-pregnancy, carrying this baby has been such a breeze. As if the miracle of this child wasn’t already enough, my endocrinologist told me that the pregnancy would restore my thyroid levels. While pregnant, the body does everything it can to protect the baby and ensure its safety. This includes normalizing one’s thyroid levels to protect the child. For the first time in years, my TSH levels—levels that had been at a constant 0.000—finally budged and increased. My alarmingly high liver enzymes also shifted back to normal after months of battling liver damage. My only hope is that this miraculous development continues post-pregnancy. As Toff put it, there is something so poetically beautiful about all of this—child healing mother.
I would be hard-pressed to deny myself this truth: that even in the darkest of times, miracles can take place.
I am now in my 6th month of pregnancy. I decided to keep it private for as long as I could—not because I wasn’t keen on sharing the wonderful news—but because for the first time in my life, I felt I had something awfully precious to protect. Life in the digital age demands copious amounts of consent and energy; it’s a vicious cycle of snapping, sharing and scrolling. While I’ve always been an open book, I wanted to bask in the moment as privately as I could, and for as long as I possibly could.
I wanted to keep this beautiful miracle further away from public view and tucked safely inside my growing belly.
As I embark on what will be the role of a lifetime, I can only pray that the rest of the world encounters the miracles I’ve experienced in the last few months. When the time comes, I pray that this little miracle inside me discovers the world out there—one powered by human touch and connection.
To everyone reading this: I pray that life takes you by surprise, that it gives you what your heart has always yearned for—and more. I hope this reminds you of the gift of today, the promise of tomorrow, and the fact that even at times like 2020, miracles are possible.