an unintentional summer hiatus

Hello, everyone! I hope you are savoring these final days of summer. I did not intend to disappear from the blog for three months… but sometimes life gets in the way and I’ve learned to roll with it!

However, I have missed this writing space and time with all of you each week{ish}. I’ve found that taking some time each week to reflect on my life and memories through blogging is a really special way to connect with myself, too. And I’ve missed it! I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things over these next few weeks. BUT I hope you’ll give me grace if I disappear again, because right now my schedule feels very up-and-down day-to-day… because, as you might have seen on Instagram, I’m pregnant!!

We are expecting our rainbow baby girl on November 30, just in time for the holidays! We are both so incredibly excited, and I have to pinch myself all the time that this is REALLY happening. I am overflowing with gratitude that we get to be the parents of this special little one who is growing bigger and stronger every day inside me. I have dealt with a fair share of anxiety throughout this pregnancy, which I am planning to do a whole separate post about. But suffice to say, everything is going well and I am feeling good as I prepare to enter my third trimester.

Time has stretched and compressed in such weird ways during pregnancy. In many aspects, it feels like I have been pregnant FOR.EV.ER — so much has happened since I took that positive test back in March! — but at the same time, it is absolutely crazy to think that we will be parents to newborn baby in a mere 13 weeks.

Parenthood by far is the largest change on the horizon, but 2018 has been filled with many other changes and areas of growth too — which is one reason I took an unintentional hiatus from blogging these past few months! Professionally, I am really excited about the direction my career is going. I still love teaching kids, but when I began thinking about balancing my career with motherhood, I realized that driving all around the Bay Area for hour-long in-person lessons was not going to be feasible if I wanted to stay at home with my baby. I wanted something I could do online, from my home office, without having to commute. I also felt a yearning to try something new, to stretch, to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So, back in April, I took a leap. Allyn was incredibly supportive of making an investment in my learning and career, and so I enrolled in a 10-week online “business boot camp” program called Permission to Charge. {I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to start or grow their own coaching-style business!} I learned all about creating a viable online business where I can serve others from my place of passion and expertise. I have been unofficially serving as a writing coach, editor and mentor for years… now it is extremely energizing to turn this into a structured program. In June, I officially launched my 90-Day Book Breakthrough Program to help people give birth to the books that are burning inside them… in just 90 days! You can learn all about it here, and you can also watch a free 45-minute webinar I created here that delves into my 5 steps to stop procrastinating and FINALLY write your book!

Currently, I am working with a handful of clients who are making such amazing progress on their book projects. It lights up my soul to be part of their journeys to becoming authors. I only take on clients whose projects I resonate with and who have a powerful message they are inspired to share with the world. Getting to help them do so is incredibly rewarding. I love watching them shine, and I am learning so much from reading their marvelous books-in-progress!

The timing was also serendipitous with this new business venture because I have a few risk factors in this pregnancy — namely, preeclampsia & preterm labor — so I have been required to really s l o w  d o w n  and cut back on my work a lot. This definitely goes against my natural instincts and was difficult at first, but I keep reminding myself that taking care of this baby is the most important thing, and to do that I need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. So I take naps, rest throughout the day, and listen to my body above all else.

While starting a new business might seem like piling extra onto my plate, actually the number of hours I work has decreased drastically. I have stopped all of my in-person teaching {no long commuting and rushing all around town for appointments takes a huge load of stress off my daily routine!} and I only work with a handful of my best online students. I am also getting better at delegating and saying no with grace, and I am learning how to automate different systems so I am better able to plan ahead.

What else have I been up to these past few months?

  • In June we traveled to San Diego for my cousin’s wedding, which was a blast; and in July we headed to Santa Barbara for another cousin’s wedding, which was beautiful.
  • I spent about two weeks home with my parents in Ventura, where my mom and honorary aunt Alicia threw me an amazing baby shower, and I also taught my eleventh annual {!!!} Summer Writing Camp for kids and teens.
  • I had a book signing event at my favorite indie bookstore, Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm, to celebrate Woman, Running Late, in a Dress — it is so wonderful to hear from people who have read and enjoyed the book.
  • Allyn and I took a relaxing trip to Lake Tahoe with his family, and we’re heading off on another local getaway this weekend to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary — which is doubling as a “babymoon”! I can’t wait.
  • My mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw us an incredible co-ed baby shower last weekend up here in the Bay Area. Baby Mac is already so loved, and I feel so grateful for the community of support we have surrounding us.
  • The rest of the summer has been spent soaking up time with friends, soaking up time as a couple, and preparing to become parents as best we can!

I think that about brings us up to date, and hopefully explains why I’ve been MIA the past three months. I’d love to hear the highlights of your summer, and what you’re looking forward to the rest of this year!

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and “free-write” on the following questions:

  • What have been your favorite parts of this summer? Make a list of everything you have done — you might be surprised how long it is!
  • Have you ever taken a leap into a new venture, even if it scared you a little? Write about the experience, what you learned, and how you grew from it.
  • How do you slow down and take a step back from work commitments and obligations? What are your favorite ways to de-stress and center yourself?

the {un}luckiest day

I.

December 23, 2017 was one of the unluckiest days of my life.

I was six weeks and two days pregnant, and Allyn and I could not have been more excited. We had been hoping and praying for a baby, and it seemed like such a crazy miracle when we saw that tiny blue “+” on the pregnancy test. I was so overwhelmed with joy that I found myself jumping up and down like a little kid on a trampoline as I exclaimed to Allyn, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” Over the coming days, as I felt my body already beginning to change, it was like I had the most delicious secret. Like I had a superpower. Like I was never alone, even when I was by myself running errands or driving to meet with a student or walking around the lake, because I had a precious little soul inside me, growing bigger every single day.

We made plans to share the news with our families and close friends over the holidays. I could not wait to celebrate our joyful news with them.

It was a Thursday afternoon when I felt the first sharp, cramping pain. I was on a Skype call with a student at the time and the pain was intense enough to be distracting. After we hung up, trying to calm my alarm, I googled “pregnancy cramps” and found out that what I was experiencing seemed to be normal. Still, I felt uneasy. I cancelled my next student session and took a nap.

The cramping would wax and wane, but it never fully went away. By Friday night, I was feeling worried, even though I told myself that I was probably overreacting just like I often do about health-related matters. {I have banned myself from going on WebMD because it always makes me convinced I am suffering from some deadly illness or rare malady.} I told Allyn that I wanted to go to Urgent Care the next morning, if only to get some reassurance. “Maybe I have a bladder infection or something,” I mused. I refused to let myself think that anything was wrong with our baby.

Yet, this despair was seeping through my bones. I refused to let myself think about it. But, in a deep inner place, I knew.

On Saturday, December 23, I woke up in a lot of pain. I curled onto my side and scrolled through online pregnancy forums on my phone. All of the women who described experiencing cramping during pregnancy wrote about how it lasted an hour or two, usually in the evening. They wrote about how warm compresses or shifting position would help alleviate the pain.

Tears pricked my eyes. Nothing was alleviating my pain. My pain was getting worse and worse.

I told Allyn I needed to go to Urgent Care. It was crowded, filled with coughing and sniffling people. The receptionist told me they did not have ultrasound equipment, and suggested I go next door to the E.R.

The E.R.? This wasn’t really an emergency, was it? I almost turned around and went home. I wanted so badly to just “tough it out” and pretend like nothing was happening, like nothing was wrong. Maybe if I ignored it, the pain would go away. What if this was totally normal and I was overreacting? We had plans to get lunch with friends and Allyn’s family. His brother Colin was only in town for a few days. Who knew how long we’d be stuck in the E.R. My overactive worried imagination would ruin all of our plans.

Still, something propelled me forward. We checked into the E.R. They called me back, gave me a wristband, assigned me a room. Nurses took my vitals and bloodwork, scheduled an ultrasound to “check things out.” It would be our first ever ultrasound. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt as the technician rubbed the wand over my belly, pressing down hard. I couldn’t see the screen. Allyn could, but it was impossible for him to read. The technician was silent. I kept hoping she would say, “Look, there’s your baby!” But she didn’t. In my mind, I talked to our baby, saying over and over, We love you so much. We love you so much already, sweetheart. It’s going to be okay. Eventually, I found myself praying. Please, please, please. 

They wheeled me back to my room. Allyn and I tried to watch a movie on the TV to distract ourselves, to pass the time. Eventually the nurse came back. Her face looked sad. “Do you know what an ectopic pregnancy is?” she asked.

I did. I had read about it on the pregnancy forums. An ectopic pregnancy is one that implants in the fallopian tube, instead of in the uterus.

She explained how ectopic pregnancies are not viable with life. How I would have to take medication to terminate the pregnancy. How, otherwise, my fallopian tube would rupture as the baby grew, and then my life would be at risk as well.

“We’re still waiting for the doctor to give us the final report from the ultrasound,” the nurse said. “But we’re afraid that’s what it looks like. We’re having trouble finding the pregnancy in the uterus. It’s possible that it is just very small at this point.”

Allyn and I held hands, clinging to the hope that maybe our baby was there, where it was supposed to be. Maybe it was just hard to see something so small, so early on. Maybe… maybe…

A short time later, the ob-gyn doctor on call came in. She showed us the ultrasound images, pointing out the gaping emptiness of my uterus. The emptiness hit me like a slap. I felt like I had done something wrong. Like my body had failed me — had failed our baby.

“There is nothing you did to cause this,” the doctor said, as if reading my mind. “You have no risk factors. You’re young and healthy. This is just extremely bad luck.”

Our bad luck worsened. She showed us the dark blobs on the ultrasound, explaining in a calm voice that it was blood. “You have a lot of internal bleeding,” she told me. “Your tube has already ruptured. We need to do surgery.”

“Surgery?” my mind was whirring. “When?”

“As soon as possible. When was the last time you ate anything?”

From then on, time compressed. Everything happened very quickly. I was prepped for surgery. I signed a bunch of forms. I called my parents. I held Allyn’s hand for as long as I could as they wheeled me down the hospital corridors to the operating room. I remember being in the operating room, worrying that I would somehow wake up in the middle of the procedure. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital corridor. Allyn was there. “You did great,” he said softly. “Everything is okay.”

I had left our apartment that morning as a woman who was six weeks and two days pregnant. I returned as a normal woman again. Back to my previous self. Drained of my superpowers.

{source}

II.

December 23, 2017 was one of the luckiest days of my life.

Yes, it was one of the most terrible days I have ever experienced. But it could have been so much worse. It could have been the end of my life.

That morning, I absolutely did not want to go to the E.R. I wanted to shove the pain down and pretend it didn’t exist. But there was a little voice inside me, telling me not to do that. Telling me to listen to my body. And so I did. I’m so lucky that I did.

I’m so lucky that I have medical insurance. That this state-of-the-art hospital was just down the street. That, for whatever reason — maybe because it was two days before Christmas — the E.R. was not crowded. I was admitted and seen right away. I did not have to wait long to get my bloodwork and ultrasound results. Allyn and I were given a private room, which meant we had space to cry and grieve, alone together.

I was extremely lucky that the ob-gyn doctor on call that day happened to be MY ob-gyn, Dr. Garima Loharuka. A doctor I had built a relationship with, who knew my history, who knew me. A doctor I had just emailed the previous week to tell her I was pregnant, who swept into our room with the most loving aura of compassion, who gave me a big hug and said, “I am so sorry this is happening to you.” A doctor I trusted completely, who explained clearly and calmly what would happen, who answered our many questions with patience and grace. A doctor who got tears in her eyes right before I was wheeled into surgery, when I told her, “I am so glad you are here,” and she said, “There’s nowhere else I would be. I just really wish you didn’t have to be here right now.” A doctor who truly cared, and who made me feel like I was in the best hands.

I am so lucky that the operation went well — that my other fallopian tube and both of my ovaries are intact; that my doctor says I should be able to have heathy pregnancies in the future; that she says I should have no greater risk factor for another ectopic pregnancy.

I am so lucky to be living in the era of modern medicine, where surgery for an ectopic pregnancy is even possible. In the past, there would have been nothing they could have done. This would have killed me.

We are so lucky to have such amazing and supportive families. Allyn’s sister came to the hospital and brought Allyn food, since he never did each lunch, and sat with him while I was in surgery. She went to our apartment to bring me some comfortable sweatpants to change into after the operation, and she also brought me Mendo, the stuffed animal frog who lives on our bed, so I would have something to make me smile when I woke up. Plus she thoughtfully did our dishes and made our bed and tidied up our apartment.

I am lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law, who cooked an entire Christmas dinner at her home and then brought everything to our tiny apartment, where we crammed around the dinner table together and Colin fell asleep on the couch with a beer in his hand and I laughed for the first time since Allyn and I saw the tragic truth on those ultrasound images.

I am so lucky that my parents and my brother Greg were able to scrap our Christmas plans and take time off work and pile into the car and drive up to the Bay Area to spend the week with us. Being with them was such a healing balm for my heart. They watched a marathon of corny Hallmark Christmas movies with me, made sure I was eating and drinking enough, held my hand when I broke into tears. I felt incredibly nurtured and surrounded by love from our families and close friends, many of whom cried on the phone with me when I told them what had happened.

And I am incredibly lucky to have my husband. I told him that we have made it through our first real crisis together, and we have come through on the other side even more tightly joined. My love for him has only deepened and strengthened through this ordeal. Despite his own grief and pain, he was my rock through it all — never wavering in his comforting presence. He was my advocate, asking questions and making sure I had everything I needed. He filled my prescriptions and kept track of when I needed to take my medications. He got up in the middle of the night to help me out of bed when I had to use the bathroom, since I wasn’t supposed to use my ab muscles at all {where much of my internal bleeding was} and he gently laid me back down into bed when I was done. He helped me walk. He knelt and dried off my legs after the shower because it hurt my abs to bend down. He tucked away my pregnancy and baby books into a drawer so I wouldn’t have to face them. He held me. He hugged me. He told me, “The most important thing is that you’re okay.” When I felt like a failure, he convinced me otherwise.

The grief of this experience has made Allyn and I even more grateful for each other. We’ve always tried not to take our life together for granted, but I think that our gratitude run even deeper now. Nor do we take a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby for granted. When it comes — and hopefully it will come for us, one day — we will cherish it with every fiber of our beings.

I still feel sad sometimes. I still mourn the baby we lost. And yet, I do feel hopeful. I am hopeful that we will someday get to experience the joy of a rainbow baby after this heartbreaking storm.

In my entire life, the unluckiest day of all was January 26, 2015, when Celine was killed. But there is comfort to think of her somewhere out there, lovingly cuddling the soul of this baby we will never meet here on Earth, but who will always live in our hearts.

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Turn to a new page in your journal or open a new document on your computer, and use the following prompts as “jumping off” points:

  • Write about one of your unluckiest days. Write about everything that was so painful about the experience. Letting it out helps to let go of it.
  • Now, see if you can find any threads of luck in that day. Is there anything you can be grateful for? Anything that could have been worse? Any ways in which you were spared? Any lessons you have learned from it?
  • Write a love letter to someone who was there for you during one of your bleakest times.