Her arm curves under her belly like a smile. Nancy Fields is so happy her body has a way of grinning.
In less than two months, her son will make his debut. A new chapter of life will be born. A year ago, Fields thought she might die.
She had COVID. For three weeks, she was so sick she lost weight and hair and the coughing left her throat so raw it felt like she’d swallowed glass. One night, curled up on the bathroom floor, she wasn’t sure she was going to make it.
This was early last March, when we were first wrapping our minds around wearing masks, city curfews, and social distancing. This was when the pervasive myth of young folk not really getting sick was rampant.
Fields, now 30, didn’t believe she’d catch it. An administrative assistant at Middlesex Community College, she got sick just before the campus went remote.
“I kept joking that it’s alright if we get it. I said ‘we are young. We are healthy. We will get through it,’ ” she said. “I was in so much pain I laid in bed crying.”
To help raise awareness of what the coronavirus could do to young people, she documented her journey and shared it online in hopes that her friends would take the virus seriously.
She was so weak her husband Boogie bathed her. She couldn’t hug her daughter Kylee, who would slip well wishes under the door. And when Nancy recovered, she was done putting life on pause.
Before the pandemic, the Fields planned to get pregnant. Married for three years but together for seven, Nancy wanted to stop being so busy with work and focus on family.
“When COVID happened, we figured maybe we should put a hold on that idea,” she said. “And then I got better and I turned 30 and I didn’t want to wait anymore. COVID is crazy but we are happy. It’s very good to bring him into this world. We didn’t want to take anything for granted. He is a reminder of life.”
Boogie is beside himself with joy.
“I feel like it’s an amazing turnaround,” he said of the pregnancy. “I had no idea what was going to happen when she had COVID. We didn’t know anybody who even had it or how they recovered from it. I went from being extremely scared and not knowing what’s going on to being so excited I want to fast-forward time to when the baby gets here.”
But they are both thinking about family legacy. Boogie is Black. Nancy is Vietnamese. They have been tracing their roots and thinking about how they will empower their son with the story of his people in a country ridden with racism.
Last year, as Nancy fought to survive coronavirus, a man yelled at one of her friends on the streets of Lowell, blaming her for the pandemic. And Boogie’s experience being Black in America has long shown him the racist realities of this world.
“These things have always been happening,” Nancy said. “But nobody was taking us seriously. Now they are being highlighted.”
Anti-Asian hate has exposed that racism affects everyone and will only be dismantled when everyone understands it hurts us all, Boogie said.
“I have been the only person of color in a lot of situations in my life,” he said. “I am at a point where I am tired of it. I move a certain way to avoid racism. I hate what is going on. The racism is obvious and we can’t keep pushing it to the side and sweeping it under the rug.”
In addition to wanting systemic change, the couple plans to raise their children with love, support, confidence, and lessons.
“I never asked my mom where she came from and how she got here,” Nancy said. “I can’t wait for our children to learn these things, to know our story.”
Boogie wants them to understand the power of knowledge.
“I want to use all of this information, and all of the ways in which we interact with people, to teach them about our history,” he said. “I want to give them that knowledge and show them how amazing they are and how amazing it is to be who you are.”
For Nancy, it’s their family and friends that keep them grounded — even the ones they can’t see until they’re on the other side of the vaccine.
“This year has been so full of joy, and not once since our pregnancy has anything made us feel a type of way,” she said. “Last year was like a wild scary year. This year has blossomed to be one of the most exciting years ever.”
They aren’t going to shrink their love in the face of adversity. They’ve learned to value life, to protect it, and found that even during the darkest times, you can live it. With love, faith, and luck, life keeps going.