This past year was an incredibly challenging year for me, even though we got the best gift in the world with the birth of our sweet daughter Yael.
I’ll start with my career. After facing burnout and the need for change, I worked toward becoming a personal trainer and thought that I had a solid plan to do so. Along the way I faced unexpected career challenges and set backs, but I eventually found my footing and a gym to call home, even while pregnant.
During pregnancy, I struggled in ways that I never anticipated. Of course there were the physical struggles of severe nausea and gestational diabetes causing my diet to change and me to lose nearly all interest in eating, but the emotional toll was largely unexpected for me. In the beginning I was terrified. After 4 rounds of IVF and one failed embryo transfer, I knew too much. While a non-IVF pregnancy was the most wonderful surprise, I knew a lot about my egg quality and the things that could go wrong, which made me feel wildly insecure in the health of our baby. I was so scared that we would have a miscarriage or our tests and scans would reveal some medical issue(s), so fear took over. A part of this also stems from my own experience with breast cancer, which made me acutely aware of how a single screening or diagnostic test can change your life forever. It was also the first major medical experience I was having since cancer, which I’m sure triggered some of my emotions as well.
While our loved ones were elated, I mostly felt scared and detached, which in turn made me feel isolated. It’s pretty rare for people to discuss the not-so-pretty experiences or feelings when it comes to pregnancy, so I felt this pressure to portray rainbows and butterflies to most of the outside world. Sometimes I did well with this and other times I stayed home and chose to keep to myself so I didn’t have to deal with it all. As time went on, I felt more positive emotions and less fear – the regular scans really helped me! It was also wonderful when I could feel her move although I continued to protect myself emotionally until the very end.
Labor and delivery was a whole other struggle too. I endured 72 hours of labor with nearly every intervention, preeclampsia, an unplanned C-section, a hospital readmittance and so much more. It was brutal, but I made it through with the help of my husband, family and the incredible staff who took such great care of me.
And now, postpartum has been another ongoing struggle for me. Chronic, undiagnosed pain has led me to the emergency room twice and to multiple specialists who have no idea what to do with me except send me for test after test. I’ve had multiple EKGs, Echocardiograms, blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, a bone scan, an upper endoscopy and more. Gratefully, with the help of a pain specialist, my pain is more controlled so I can now care for our daughter the way I need to and want to, for the most part. I couldn’t do that for the first month of her life and it was heartbreaking. While I had to cut my breastfeeding journey short, I’m still in pain, and we’re still searching for answers, I’m continuing to give myself grace and do the best I can.
I wanted to share my struggles during my reflection this year, not to complain or gain sympathy because I certainly don’t want that, but to show that what we experience or share doesn’t always have to be rainbows and butterflies. Many of us have had a hard year, whether we choose to share it with others or not, and that’s okay. You’re not alone.
I think it’s important though, if you can, to acknowledge the good alongside the not-so-good, because that can help us endure.
So on that note, some of the good things that happened this year for me include enjoying our first snow day since living in Charlotte, getting pregnant without IVF (yay for fewer needles!), attending the first ever Charlotte FC soccer match, tubing and boat ride adventures, a few weekend trips, watching Elton John perform during his farewell tour, a lot of time spent with family and friends, and the best gift of all welcoming our baby girl into the world.
For 2023, I hope for better health, continued personal and professional growth, more time with family and friends, outdoor adventures with Ivy, and travel. I plan to set realistic goals for myself throughout the year that I can work toward in a healthy and sustainable way and I’ll try to take time each day to appreciate the good moments. Last but certainly not least, I’ll continue to learn and grow as a first time mama and do everything that I can for our sweet baby girl, Yael.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all a year of health, growth and happiness.