I remember it like it was yesterday. I was five-and-a-half months pregnant carrying a baby girl. Up until that point, I was a healthy pregnant woman steadily watching my belly grow as I was creeping closer and closer to my due date. As my waistline started to expand, I could feel her gently squirming and kicking. I had a particularly special bond with my unborn baby girl.
But one day that all changed.
I arrived at my doctor’s office that day in high spirits awaiting my routine ultrasound. As she jellied up my belly and hovered over the monitor longer than usual I instantly knew something was wrong. My doctor’s face turned white and she was holding back tears.
“I’m so sorry. There is no heartbeat.”
Before I even had time to process what was going on, I checked into Matilda Hospital in Hong Kong, was induced for labor, and a few hours later held my teeny stillborn baby in my arms.
We named her Mayya.
At the time, I experienced a tremendous amount of pain. I thought about my family’s loss each and every day, and would wake up in the middle of the night sobbing. Some days my sadness overwhelmed me and I couldn’t even leave my bedroom.
While grieving, I had a husband and three young children to tend to. My kids knew that mommy’s puffy red eyes meant she was crying again. Despite my efforts to hide my pain, I wore my grief in my eyes. That made them sad too.
I cried for my loss. I cried for the little baby girl I had held in my arms. I had nightmares about her being buried in a shoebox. I cried about death and the finite time we have in this world to make our mark. I cried for my kids who were too young to understand, but old enough to know.
Then, one day, I stopped crying.
I looked into my three healthy children’s eyes, realized how many gifts I had right in front of me, and stopped feeling like a victim. I decided my loss wasn’t going to destroy me. It was going to shape me.
So I got myself out of the house and to the gym. I got back on my dusty yoga mat—a place of serenity and peace. I was mindful about what I ate and started to love my body again. I got stronger and tightened the skin folds on my belly that used to be a daily reminder of the baby that once grew there. I was moving on. I loved more than I ever had before. To put it simply, I created meaning for my life again. Healing my physical body was my way of healing my heart.
Over time, I came to accept that there are things in life we can’t control—no matter how hard we try.
If we spend our time focusing on those things, well, life would be pretty miserable. Instead, I took a step back, listened to my body, and became empowered by the things in my life that I could control. In that way, I gained power and changed my destiny. I even started a women’s wellness movement and named it MAYYA as a way of using my loss to empower other women to live a thriving life.
A few years later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I still shower my little angel with daily kisses and apply all the parenting wisdom I’ve gained from the mistakes I made along my journey. Life constantly opens up new doors when others close.
But I still think of her. I think of her as I type these words or when a friend calls to tell me she’s lost her baby. The emotion never fades, but the pain subsides and clears the way for new beginnings.
At one point or another we all experience loss in life. If we only concentrate on what’s missing, what once was, or what could have been, then we’ll never have enough. These days I count my daily blessings. Sometimes out loud. And not a day goes by where I don’t kiss all four of my kids goodnight.