Theresa Hwang (39) and Sujin (1.5)
New York | Los Angeles, CA
Theresa shares -
“In 2013, I had a miscarriage. It was an unexpected pregnancy but my husband and I were excited about the possibilities. At the 8 week OB/GYN appointment, which I attended alone, the doctor paused during the un-anticipated ultrasound. She went to find another doctor and I knew something was wrong. They confirmed the fetus showed stalled growth and that it was no longer a viable pregnancy. Up until that moment, I didn’t make much of the pregnancy, playing down the implication on our lives. So it was a bit unexpected when tears welled and I began to cry while reclined on the doctor’s table. I went home and pushed away any feelings, and rationalized that how can I deeply mourn something that I hardly had a chance to bond with. My husband and I never really talked about this and the grieving process was as silent as the miscarriage.
In early 2017, I surprisingly found out that I was pregnant. Although not completely planned, we were intentionally not using contraception and had discussions about starting a family, and from his prompting, green-lighted a baby as a welcomed possibility. When I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed- excited to think about the future. I felt more prepared this time. My miscarriage helped me to focus on my health and prepare physically. What I was unprepared for was my husband’s reaction.
After my intake appointment at the doctor confirming our pregnancy, in the car ride home, after prodding and questions why he was acting so distant, my husband notified me that he didn’t want the baby. Once we got home, after an hour of torturous silence, I approached him in hysterical tears asking for an explanation. And in a five-minute conversation, he let me know that he didn’t want the baby, didn’t want to be married and that the world I knew was over. Without any warning, without even a single word of discontent in nearly ten years of partnership, in a matter of minutes, the most important person in the world to me, my husband, became a stranger.
This loss was devastating. I was unsure if I’d be able to go through with the pregnancy. Within a week, after talking with my sisters and friends, I knew that I wanted to keep this child. Deciding to raise my child alone has been my greatest act of courage. I knew it would be hard, but the blessing of motherhood overrode my fears. I was terrified of another miscarriage. The 8 week appointment and sonogram was an event riddled with anxiety but with my older sister by my side, it was a miracle to hear the heartbeat of my growing child.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Parenthood has taught me how resilient and strong my body really is. Physically, my body is not much different pre-pregnancy. I’m still breastfeeding my 19 month old child, so I have yet to experience the deflated breasts that nursing mothers lament. Giving birth at 38, I was one of the lucky ones that left pregnancy without stretch marks, and the only physical marker of birth is the three inch scar from my unexpected cesarean. I am amazed that my body continues to physically sustain and nurture another life.
What was your postpartum experience?
I didn’t anticipate that parenthood would be this hard. Or this joyful. I needed and still need, to let go of what I thought parenthood would be. What my family was supposed to look like. Let go of all assumptions and existing perceptions, and allow myself to explore solo parenthood, make the mistakes of a first time mother, and keep an open heart to an emotionally distant biological father trying to connect to a child he didn’t want but is making attempts to bond with. I’m learning that letting go will allow the most remarkable growth. It’s just such a habit to hold on. Hold on to hurt and disappointment. Stop focusing on the hurt and honor the healing. Breaking these habits are part of my postpartum journey.
What is your truth?
I was abandoned by my life partner at my time of greatest need and while at my most vulnerable. I was forced to face one of my biggest fears of being unloved during one of my most life-changing times. While adjusting to hormonal and physiological changes, I had to manage emotional imbalance and grief. It was one of the most challenging times- to simultaneously prepare to offer unconditional love to a child, while deflecting hurtful words and careless actions from my child’s father who continually reminded me how much he didn’t want the child and that he wanted nothing to do with her once she was born, while watching my belly grow. The support that came from my family, my dear friends, and extended village was immense. I learned to ask for help and most importantly, accept it- actions I previously struggled with.
Looking back and to this day, I remind myself not to avoid the hurt. It’s the only path to true liberation. I’d tell myself: All this heartache and hardship, results in the most remarkable joy, deep connection and true love that you’ve never experienced or understood. The wonder of watching a person grow and raising a child is unlike any other experience. And it’s all worth it.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
To be seen and heard. To embrace my vulnerability and celebrate my courage. To love on solo motherhood and show parenthood takes many forms.