'We have to live life and we have to embrace who comes into our life. Healing is a continuous journey. You don't reach it and then it's over.'
For five years, Christiana Neazer and her husband, Michael Neazer, tried everything they could to get pregnant. She was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome—a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of male sex hormones—at the age of 24 and all attempts to boost their fertility failed. "It was completely draining me emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually," Neazer, who is now 31, told TODAY Parents. "I was praying and crying almost every day because I wanted to be pregnant so bad. I couldn't wait for my moment."
Neazer went to a fertility doctor in June 2020 and was prescribed medication to help her get pregnant. However, the couple tested positive for COVID-19 soon after the visit, and although Neazer recovered, her husband was admitted to the hospital. In her worry for him, she never got around to taking the medication her fertility doctor prescribed. Then she began experiencing extreme cramps and intense menstrual symptoms despite not getting her periods and she took a pregnancy test with little hope of it being positive. To her surprise and utter joy, a plus sign appeared. Making the unexpected news even more special, she found out that her due date was also her sixth wedding anniversary.
Because Michael was in the intensive care unit, Neazer texted him the news and the two celebrated together from a distance. However, Michael's condition continued to deteriorate and he passed away in July 2020. "I was pregnant and depressed and I wasn't excited about having a baby anymore," Neazer recalled. "I was struggling just to survive through it. If I hadn't been pregnant, I'm pretty sure I would have harmed myself. If you just keep holding on, you learn you're here for a reason." She suffered another hit seven months later when she also lost her father to COVID-19.
Neazer, who had finished nursing school during her pregnancy, worried more than ever that her daughter wouldn't have a father figure in her life. "You have to keep walking forward and I know it's extremely hard," she said. "Choosing to live was my biggest fight." Meanwhile, life had other plans for Neazer and when she was least expecting it, new love found its way into her world. Acquaintances at first, Neazer and Andrae Reid slowly built a strong friendship. Reid became a constant source of support for the expectant mother as she grieved the loss of her husband as the 30-year-old would frequently check in on her and make sure she was healthy.
@chrisamanti When God gives beauty for your ashes , Isaiah 61:3 #happyfathersday #youngwidower #pcos #infertility #grief #hope ♬ original sound - Mikey.myy
Reid continued to care for Neazer even after she gave birth to her daughter Shiloh in March 2021 by constantly checking in on them through voice memos and text messages. But when she began developing romantic feelings for Reid, Neazer was wracked by guilt as she didn't think she had the right to be happy again. However, she slowly realized that she deserved love and happiness after struggling with grief with so long. Neazer and Reid made it official in August last year and have been together ever since with Reid stepping up to be a positive father figure in young Shiloh's life.
@chrisamanti Reply to @edean_21 A pleasant yet unexpected surprise. I’ll be sharing more of my story soon! Thank you all for the love & kindness! #youngwidower #widowsoftiktok #widowfindshappinessagain #grief #unexpectedlove #infertility #pcos #motherhood ♬ i cant help falling in love by JVKE - JVKE 🌩
For Neazer, who was also raised by her stepdad, the whole process of grief and growth feels like a full circle moment. She celebrated her new love in a heartwarming video shared to TikTok for Father's Day in the hopes of inspiring other young widows who are on their healing journey. Neazer's best friend, Tiana Paopao, helped her create the video that's been viewed over 8.5 million times. "She's always pushed me to share my story and just step out of the box and be vulnerable and to reach out to others," Neazer revealed. Meanwhile, Paopao believes Neazer deserves this fairy-tale ending. "She's been through so much," the 32-year-old said. "She honored her vows until death and I believe Michael is happy someone found her and loves her and Shiloh the way that Andrae does."
Sharing some words of encouragement and support for all young widows, Neazer said: "We have to live life and we have to embrace who comes into our life. Healing is a continuous journey. You don't reach it and then it's over."