Rising From The Ashes

Well 2 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and it's also felt like I've lived multiple lifetimes in the last 2 years. This will not be brief, because brevity is not my style. So get cozy so I can catch you up on a story of love, loss, and rising from the ashes. 

In 2016 I enrolled in yoga teacher training and completed the 5 month program at the end of May. I had already started teaching in April before finishing my certification. I took off teaching yoga, taking anything I could get and subbing like crazy. With the help of a generous mentor, I found myself teaching all over the place, working at a yoga studio, even offering corporate classes. Everything was going tremendously well. At the height of my teaching at the beginning of 2017, I was teaching 13 classes a week.

Also in the fall of 2016, my husband and I got accepted into a fertility study at UCSF. There were some supplements to be taken by him for a few months, and then if I wasn't pregnant, we'd go on to IUI (intrauterine inseminations) for up to 3 times, hopefully getting pregnant within that time frame. While this was to study the effect of a supplement on male fertility, I wanted to make sure it wasn't in vain that we did the IUI's. I was checked out and everything seemed good. Still, the ghost of "unexplained infertility" was haunting me and I was extremely skeptical of the whole situation. As the months went on, our first IUI was to take place in January 2017. And it worked, almost "two" good. I became pregnant with twins.

We found out when I was 6 weeks along that we were having twins. The feelings of having 2 lives growing inside of me when there had been nothing and I had felt completely barren for 10 years was incredibly overwhelming and indescribable! We wanted to keep things to just family for a little while. I continued to teach my classes but was extremely nauseous and getting exhausted so quickly. I told my classes around 7 weeks that I was pregnant, and I dropped about 4-5 of them because I just couldn't hang. The exhaustion was out of this world. All I could do was drag myself to my classes and then just sit on the couch, Netflix and chill style, for the rest of the day.

At 9 weeks we ran in to some complications of subchorionic bleeding that, I was assured, was very normal. But just to be sure, I was ordered to go on bedrest, which I did immediately. A check up about 1.5 weeks later showed the bleeding clot to have almost completely dissolved. I didn't think I'd go back to teaching, I was terrified and thought I should still continue to rest. Another, oh, maybe 1.5-2 weeks later I had another scan that showed something completely different had happened. Our babies had lost their amniotic fluid. We had no idea how, no answers. Their hearts were beating strong and we could see their tiny movements fluttering on the screen. Yet without fluid, they would not have proper development. We were told they may survive for a few more weeks, oh, and termination was an option. Those are the most crushing words that a mother who has been desperate for children for over 10 years never wants to hear. But here we were, and this was our reality.

This is where it can get really long, so to save you from skipping making a meal for your family or getting ready for work on time because you're here reading this, I'll summarize. I contacted my holistic healers and we got to work. I did everything, literally everything, I possibly could to usher in a miracle for our babies. I went on a basically raw diet, took supplements, drank healing teas, meditated, visualized, talked to my babies, and so much more. To say that I was determined is a vast understatement. I made it not just my full time job but my 24/7 job to take care of our unborn children. We still knew something could happen, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. 

Yet something did happen, I went in to labor on May 30, 2017 and delivered our first son at home before midnight. We then called 911 and the ambulance took us to Lucille Packard children's hospital where it took over an hour before I delivered our second son on May 31, 2017, who was breach. What happened in those 14 hours or so was such a whirlwind yet I can remember it all in vivid detail at the same time. I have shared this story and all the ins and outs of it with many. But some of it is still so sacred to me to share on a wide scale. We got to hold our precious boys and we had to say goodbye at the same time. I was only 20 weeks along and they were too underdeveloped to live outside the womb. But I can tell you, they were perfect. They had all their fingers and toes and the tiniest resemblance of eye lashes starting to bud. We held them for a long time, even though their hearts had stopped beating, until we finally decided it was time to say goodbye. We have their footprints and their photos. Ryan and I are the only ones who will see their photos. It's just too much to show them to others, even the closest of family. Maybe one day ...

What happened next was the biggest outpouring of love we have ever received in our lives. Friends, family, even those we barely knew came to our aid with meals, gifts, flowers, I was even gifted remembrance jewelry and massage gift cards. Grief has been my biggest teacher in life thus far. I found myself very judgmental against people who I thought should be reaching out to us but didn't. And then I realized that grief is very personal and often awakens us to our own sorrow and pain in life. So I try to have compassion and send them love, even if they don't know it. I have journaled my heart out and found solace in the writings of spiritual teachers and spiritual mediums. I even found my spiritual mentor through this experience. My life's goal is to now live in a way to honor our sons and develop a deep spiritual path that leads me to them. What this looks like I still don't know, but I feel them guiding me along the way. I miss them every minute and probably always will.

A few months went by and we started to slowly come alive again. I have never experienced so much anxiety, so many tears shed, so much true wallowing in pain and sorrow. But I have also never experienced something so beautiful, to be pregnant with two perfect souls, even if it was for a short time. I never understood the word "bittersweet" until this experience in life. When I didn't feel like it, I went back to teaching yoga. Because I really was ready, I just didn't know it. This was in August 2017. And what I found was exactly what I needed. The community that I came to in my new classes fully embraced me, as I fully embraced them knowing that we all have pain, weaknesses, suffering and have experienced loss in some way, shape or form. I found myself teaching with so much more compassion and with so much more awe of the fragility of the human experience.

Again months went by and we were hoping I would be pregnant with a rainbow baby by this time. The holidays came and were absolutely awful. They may never be the same to me again, and I'm ok with that. I tend to question everything anyways, always have, so I really question why we don't just do the holidays in a way that's not so fabricated and generic. Anyhow, I digress. I decided to make an appointment with my OB just to follow up and see if he had any insights. This whole time I'd been seeing my holistic health practitioner as well, and she had been helping me immensely. Also, months before I became pregnant I started following the health advice of the "medical medium", a man named Anthony William, who is gifted to receive health information from an angelic being known as "Spirit of the most High". Yeah, I'm in to hippie stuff like this. You can stop reading anytime if it bugs you ;) Still, I didn't really know what we were dealing with. All these years our infertility was "unexplained", until now.

Here's what I believe happened. I have had an underlying virus called Epstein Barr virus that became heavily aggravated during my pregnancy because of the rush of hormones, and possibly the IUI medications (although they were minimal, they could have been a trigger). After losing the pregnancy due to what is still a medical mystery (yes the boys lost their fluid but we don't know how or why), this Epstein Barr flared up big time. And has never been able to be detected in my reproductive system until now. This is a whole other blog post, or series of posts, but basically after mono, which is EBV, dies down, it lodged in the liver and then makes its way to the reproductive sytem and/or the thyroid in it's next stage. And it can be completely undetected. BUT, it manifests as PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and pelvic inflammation. Guess what my OB diagnosed me with, for the first time ever in my fertility journey? Yep, all of the above I just mentioned. 

Now that I have been arming myself with knowledge over the last year on how to truly combat these somewhat mysterious fertility issues, I have such an immense amount of hope that it is bursting out of my chest! This means that my diet is 100% plant based and gluten free, but it goes beyond that, as I consume foods that truly help to dissolve the fibroids and take down the inflammation like papaya, asparagus, mango, and even potatoes. And I'm taking supplements that are targeted at removing EBV like lemonbalm extract, ester-c, methylfolate, l-lysine  and ashwagandha. Herbal teas are also in my arsenal, as well as certain meditations and breathing exercises. Please don't be mistaken though, I am no longer naive. I am well aware that I can do all of these things and it's possible that I may not become pregnant again. But I am NOT letting that stop me. I feel a deep call from within my soul to live my life by this holistic protocol. It has given me so much joy to actually care for my body in a kind, loving way. Having the knowledge that our bodies don't attack themselves, that they are always fighting for us, makes me want to join the battle and warrior on right along with my body.

This experience is and will continue to deeply affect me and Ryan for the rest of our lives. I am finding more desire to live in the moment. I am finding myself letting go of beliefs that no longer serve me and being ok in sitting in the unknown. But mostly, it has given me a fierce love for humanity that I have never known before.

And for all of this, I can honestly say that our sons have been my greatest teachers and will continue to be.

They have truly helped me rise out of the ashes.