Editor’s note: Almost eight years ago, I had a molar pregnancy. I don’t often write about it, but it’s not because I don’t want to. It’s because it’s hard. I mean, really hard. But here I go anyway, because I can do hard things.
I never thought of my body as a vessel put here on this Earth to procreate until my body proved incapable of the task. It was only then that I wondered about the hows and the whys of life and considered the consequences of having a body that didn’t do what it was meant to. It was only then that I shuddered from the sting of failure. Any previous feelings of disappointment were mere ripples compared to the wave that took me under when I couldn’t make a baby.
I’m not a religious person, but I believe in an energy that runs through the universe. It’s what drew me to dance. Very occasionally, moving through time and space allowed me to tap into that force and feel something larger than myself. Those precious moments of light and connection gave dance significance in my life that went far beyond livelihood (not that I ever earned a penny doing it).
I’m fortunate to have felt light and connection in my life, but they’re not answers to the hows. They’re not explanations for the whys. When my first pregnancy turned out to be a molar pregnancy, which turned into choriocarcinoma (i.e. I wanted a baby but got cancer in my uterus instead), the ground crumbled beneath me. With nothing to grasp on to, I quite simply fell.
It was a bad math equation. A chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong. A bunch of cells that didn’t do their job. None of it was my fault, and I know that now, but I struggled for a long time to figure it out.
For better or for worse, it taught me that sometimes falling feels good. That time doesn’t heal all wounds. That loss is lonely but must be felt alone. That in order to be privy to life’s most supreme miracles, we must surrender to our vulnerability.
More than anything, it taught me what I don’t believe. I don’t believe it was fate. I don’t believe it happened for a reason. I don’t believe it was God’s plan, and I don’t believe it made my future children possible.
It might’ve been helpful to have faith in something during that dark time instead of a list of all the things I don’t believe. If I’m being completely honest, what eventually lifted me up wasn’t some grand aha-moment that motherhood didn’t define me; rather, it was the messy, beautiful realization that it did.
Beautiful because making and carrying a baby inside my body was the embodiment of connection and holding that miraculous human life in my arms was the epitome of light. Messy because had I not ultimately fulfilled my longing to have a baby, I don’t think I ever would’ve been whole.
There is a sense of gratitude that comes from enduring tragedy. It’s the appreciation not for the thrill of the fall, but for the more authentic version of you that emerges in the daunting process of getting back up.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!