I’m Terrified Because I’m Brown

I haven’t written too much about politics because every type of article is already being written.

I did write a previous post about the tolerance for racism and hate that our president has.

I wanted to write this one based on how I’ve been feeling.

And to be honest, I’ve been scared. I’m an Asian Indian American who was born in Southern California and have lived here all my life. Not once in my 35 years on this planet have I been worried about how I was treated because of my ethnicity. I know that I’ve been lucky. I have family that has felt racism based on their skin color. I either have been oblivious or around so many different ethnicities that there hasn’t been room for that feeling of being judged.

I remember the election day and feeling like so much was riding on it. I could see all the way through it that racist people were given a pass for acting the way they wanted. I remember feeling terrified because I was worried about hate crimes occurring as soon as that election day was done.

And they did. It made me scared to leave my house. I have small kids and I don’t want to ever have to think that I’m putting their lives at risk. It’s sad to think that even with living in one of most the liberal and ethnically mixed areas in the country, I continue to worry about the type of people who don’t want those of us with a different skin color or religion here. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I didn’t live in an area like Southern California.

My family and I went out to dinner last week. I’m hyper aware of my surroundings in general but even more so than usual now. An older Caucasian man who was eating with his family kept looking over at my husband. I saw this and I couldn’t even imagine what he was thinking. I don’t believe that anything would have happened but the idea that someone didn’t want us to be there for no good reason did bother me. When the family finished, he got up and came over with his wife and told my husband that he was doing a great job handling our baby while trying to eat simultaneously and to enjoy the time because the kids grow up fast. It turns out that he was admiring our family.

It’s moments like these that remind me that as much as things have changed, nothing everything or everyone has. It reminds me that most people are still good people. It reminds me that there is still hope that this country will be a better place than it is right now.

But I’ll be honest. I’m terrified of how much we are going to have to deal with before we get to that place.

My First Baby

Today, I want to share something personal. Really personal. I think it’s important to share this story of mine because when I have told people about it, I usually hear that they have been through something similar. But they don’t usually share this information freely because of the fear of getting judged, of being blamed for something that is out of their control. Today, I want to share this story so that others know that this is more common than you think.

Statistics say that the risk of miscarriage is 1 out of 4.

After we got married, we decided not to wait to get pregnant. We both wanted a kid. We were ready for a kid. And then, one day, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive! We were so excited. I called my doctor and set up an appointment to go in.

It was pretty cool. We went in and saw our little bean on the ultrasound. We saw his or her heart beating. In the spirit of waiting the traditional first trimester though, we decided to wait to tell our families and friends.

In that time, we went to a family wedding and a few weddings for friends. It was this exciting little secret we had. We couldn’t wait for the day, however, when we could tell the world.

The next appointment came up about a month later. I was so nervous. I had this feeling but I didn’t know if it was because I was just overly paranoid or if something had changed. I kept monitoring my pregnancy symptoms to see if I was feeling nauseous enough or if I was tired enough. I just knew I needed to see my little bean again and make sure that he or she was doing well.

As soon as the doctor looked at the ultrasound though, I knew. She took a while to tell us anything. Then, finally, she told us that the baby hadn’t grown past 6 weeks, when it should have been closer to 10 weeks. She couldn’t see the heart beating anymore.

My heart dropped. I started crying. I was lucky that my doctor was incredibly supportive and just hugged me and said it was okay, that this didn’t mean I wouldn’t have a child later on. She had mentioned she herself had had a couple of miscarriages. My husband and I were just in shock for a bit. Everything we were dreaming of just crashed.

It all seemed so surreal. We were scheduled to go back next week to confirm that it wasn’t just slow development, that the baby wasn’t alive anymore. I spent that whole evening and night crying in my husband’s arms. I spent my time googling everything I could think of where the doctor could be wrong. I just wanted to know that my baby was going to be okay.

We went back the week after. We had had a week to research and hope but went in with very low expectations. The diagnosis was reconfirmed. My doctor set up one more appointment with a specialist to get a second opinion. We saw that specialist that afternoon. That doctor checked and double-checked everything. And she confirmed one more time that I had had a missed miscarriage.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a missed miscarriage is where women can experience a miscarriage without knowing it. A missed miscarriage is when embryonic death has occurred but there is not any expulsion of the embryo. It is not known why this occurs. Signs of this would be a loss of pregnancy symptoms and the absence of fetal heart tones found on an ultrasound. 

We decided to wait one more week before performing a D&C which is minor surgery to remove the fetus. Unfortunately, my body didn’t recognize that my baby wasn’t alive.

I went to a family friend’s wedding in this time. I couldn’t really enjoy it. I was miserable. All I could think of was that my baby, my first child, was inside of me, not living anymore. I kept thinking that I knew that 3 other friends of mine were pregnant. I was the 1 in 4 that had had a miscarriage.

A week later, I saw my doctor one more time. She checked everything again and scheduled my D&C. It was a quick procedure and I was back at work within 2 days. Physically, my body handled it well. Emotionally though, I was still having issues.

We went on a trip a few days later and even though I tried to put my best face forward, this loss kept hitting me. I knew it was not my fault. I did nothing wrong. I had been taking care of myself and my baby. So many things go through your head though. All of the what-ifs and if I had onlys keep recurring over and over again.

I had a really hard time for the next few months. My body still had to go through recovery and that limited what I could do physically. I still saw a therapist for my emotional recovery. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of looking at the positive and to keep thinking that everything happens for a reason. It takes a lot of hoping for a brighter future.

In our South Asian culture especially, blame is often placed on the mother for having a miscarriage as if it’s her fault. Any doctor will tell you that these abnormal chromosomal miscarriages are not preventable. They happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. I wanted to share what I had been through so others that have been through it as well know that it’s not their fault. 1 in 4 is a really high percentage.

Eventually, my doctor gave me the green light to try to get pregnant again. I am now a proud mother of a little girl. I can’t say it was easy though. I worried through almost the entire pregnancy. Every time we went in for a doctor’s appointment, I held my breath. I didn’t feel comfortable until she was safely in my arms.

Even with our beautiful baby here with us now, we will never forget our first child.

We Indians Need To Learn How To Be More Compassionate

I had a hard time writing about this topic: compassion. I just wasn’t sure what I could write about. I wasn’t even sure if I knew anything about this topic at all. I even looked up what compassion means so I could figure out what to write about. The problem is I tend to be more empathetic and can see that more clearly. But Webster’s said that empathy was not the same as compassion.

So, 3 days after the deadline, I finally realized what I could write about.

I’m a South Asian Indian born and raised in America. I come from a background where we tend to judge each other quicker than we show compassion. If something doesn’t go right or something bad happens, it somehow had to be that person’s fault. They did something that caused that bad thing to happen. I had a friend once tell me that when she told her mother about her miscarriage, her mother’s first words to her were “What did you do?”.

We, as a community, also don’t speak about so much that is happening around us. Things that require compassion are being hidden and causing emotional havoc in our lives, things like broken engagements, broken marriages, emotional abuse, physical abuse, miscarriages, infertility, depression, suicidal thoughts.

It upsets me that these are things that so many of us have gone through but yet, we still worry about telling the person next to us in fear that they will judge us. We aren’t able to share what we have really been through.

I have personally been through a few of these things. When I had, I completely disappeared from our community’s social scene. The only time I felt I deserved to be back in it is when I had done something indisputably good to make up for a few of the “bad” things I had done or been through. I couldn’t hold my head up around them until I had finally achieved something that our community could be proud of and say “Yes, I know that woman”.

Why should I feel ashamed for my circumstances in life? Why should I feel like everyone is talking about me behind my back? Why should I have to worry about being judged for making decisions to make my life better?

So my call is to the South Asian Indian community today. Be compassionate. Stop letting others feel like they will be judged for going through hard times in life. Not a single one of us is better than another. We will be stronger as a community if we help each other instead of tearing each other down. Share what you personally have gone through because I can guarantee you that the person next to you has gone through something that’s been life changing and difficult as well.

I was inspired to write this by #1000Speak. Compassion is something that I believe in but don’t see often enough.

Check out the other stories of compassion.

The Vaccination Debate Seems To Be A First-World Problem

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through yet another debate about vaccination versus no vaccination in one of my mommy groups on Facebook, it hit me that I keep reading about this debate only in this particular group. I’m in 2 mommy groups on Facebook. One is Indian mommies only and one is a general group of mommies from all cultures.

Now while I usually turn to the general group of mommies for advice because we are all raising children within the same environment and are exposed to the same things, it seems as though this is the one place I can’t take seriously when it comes to this debate. The group with Indian mommies only seems to discuss how to deal with the vaccinations but not whether to take them or not.

I don’t know numbers and I don’t know if this is a general truth. This is only what I’ve observed. But it seems to me that not vaccinating your children is a first world problem.

Is it because most of us Indian people are either first generation in America or first generation born in America? Is it because we are still aware of how many advantages we have with medicine living here?

It seems as though people are taking vaccines for granted here. Until whatever disease become so widespread and affects so many unvaccinated people, it seems as though we are going to sit in the middle of this debate. I hate the idea that children have to go through these sicknesses that could be preventable in order to make the point that vaccines work.

We only have to visit India once to see illness that we don’t see in America anymore. So when we have the option, why would we allow our child to be exposed to that risk? When we know all it takes is one shot to protect our child, why wouldn’t we get it done?

Is it that people in America now have too much information at their fingertips? That our celebrity culture influences us more than it should? That we look for scandal and conspiracy wherever we go? Why can’t we just trust in the medical and scientific community?

Or is it that people questioning the vaccines because they are so easily available? Maybe people would fight for the vaccines more if it were a limited resource.

I don’t know the answers to why people don’t just get their kids vaccinated. All I do know is that a lot of us younger generation Indian parents seem to have more faith in medicine than a lot of our non-Indian counterparts.

Where Do I Belong?

My family and I just got back from a 2 week trip to India. As you can imagine, I noticed so many things that I do want to talk about. Let’s start with this.

I was born and raised in America. My parents moved here before I was born but have done a great job teaching my about my heritage. I have a strong sense of cultural identity and am trying my best to make sure my kid learns as much as she can about her heritage as well.

On my trip, I did notice something interesting. Interesting might be the wrong word but it’s what I will use at the moment. I noticed that I’m not Indian in India. I’m American. The Indian people in India don’t consider me as one of them. (This is clearly a generalization. I’m sure there are people that consider me Indian.)

I can’t tell you how many times I heard people telling someone else that I am from America and I don’t understand or speak anything but English. The funny part was that I perfectly understood what that person was saying in whichever Indian language (Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi) was being used. Yes, my spoken Indian language might not be perfect but I can understand most everything being said in whichever language you choose.

Why is that assumption being made? I feel as though some of the people who made these assumptions know that I can understand most of these languages so why do they need to feel like they have to mention that I’m from America? Is it an insecurity issue? Am I a worse person because my first language is English?

I met up with a friend who moved from California to Delhi. She was telling me that when she has something to say, no one really listens because she’s the American girl. How does where we are from even relate to the knowledge we have?

It’s also funny because growing up here as a first generation South Asian Indian American meant I stood out. I was Indian, not American. I didn’t assimilate into the typical American ideal at all. Luckily, I grew up in Southern California which meant I wasn’t alone and there were ways for me to fit in with others who were in the same boat I was.

So now, if I’m Indian in America and American in India, I’m not quite sure where that leaves me. The only place I really fit into is this westernized Indian culture that has been created here in America. I get to be as Indian as I want to be without having to be any less American than anyone else.

I hope one day that the people in India who think I’m too American realize that I can understand every word they are saying about me.