There’s No Place Like Home (And Endless Questions) for the Hoilidays

This week kicks off the American Holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve.

Plenty of food, parties, shopping sprees, drinks, and time with family and friends. Time with family and friends usually means people want a life update: How’s School? How’s Work? Did you get the job you interviewed for? When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids?

 

When the family asks you about babies
When the family asks you about babies (or getting a husband…or BOTH)

Its those last two that have always just irked the hell out of me. When you’re single, or even if you’re in a relationship, you get tired of people asking the same damn question (that frankly isn’t any of their business).  “Don’t worry about when I’m getting married. You’ll know when you get the invite” is what you want to say , but usually don’t. Shout out to all the women who do say that to their families. You’re my shero. I know I’m married now, but the memory of that annoying question and feeling of being put on the spot is all too real. After all, I didn’t get married until October of 2015 at 36. There were many a holiday where I was asked about a boyfriend/marriage every five minutes.

Its the same with children. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, dating or married, you get tired of people asking about your plan for procreation. “When you get the baby shower invite, you’ll know”

It becomes even more painful when people don’t even know what they’re asking. They have no idea that by asking you about having babies they are picking at a wound you are trying desperately to let heal, because you can’t have babies. Or you can’t have them without a lot of assistance from medical technology and a lot of cash. So you smile awkwardly, or change the subject, or  quickly stuff some more sweet potato pie in your mouth so you don’t have to answer.

 

It can be rough, but here’s a great piece from the Huffington Post by K.K. Goldberg about her experience and making it though. As always, you’re not alone.

The Silent Hell of Infertility During Holidays

 

Keep you head up this Thanksgiving, and keep your glass of wine handy.

 

 

 

November’s Not Just for Turkey.

 

National-Adoption-Month (1)

We’re halfway through November (how did that happen?!) and I can’t let this month go by without acknowledging that its National Adoption Awareness Month!

I was not aware that there was such a thing, until this year, so now I have to enlighten everyone else.

The focus for this year’s month is adopting older youth from foster care with the theme: “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.”

 

I always thought adoption was a wonderful thing, and considered it even before I was aware of my infertility. I always thought I might have a child or two, then adopt another. In all honesty, adoption may be the road we decide to take for parenthood. We’re really having some heart felt and real conversations about parenting, the IVF process and all that comes with it, and what we think we can handle financially, physically, and emotionally.

I feel like adoption is really a special kind of love, because you actively choose to love someone that you don’t have to. To decide to bring a child into your home and into your family, and love them is a noble thing.

I have known several people and have a close friend who was adopted, and one friend who is the mother of an adopted child. All of them are awesome people. If they never told me that they were adopted, I would have never known. The love, respect and bond is just as strong as any biological family.

 

Take November to learn more about adoption and explore adoption as an option for family building.

 

Learn more about National Adoption Month below:

National Adoption Month 2015

National Adoption Month 2015 Initiative

Adoption FAQ

Doing Big Things!

 

For all of the years I’ve lived in the DC area, I’ve never been to any official, (or unofficial for that matter) CBC events. Why? I don’t know. Probably the same reason I’ve never been to a HBCU homecoming: I just haven’t. Howard is right down the road, and I have several friends that are HBCU Alumni. There’s no excuse. Yes, I know my Black Card may be in question for never experiencing homecoming. I’m accepting all invites, since it is homecoming season if anyone wants to help me rectify that situation.

This year, I finally made it to CBC, and not just to party. The White Dress Project, a non-profit that advocates for uterine fibroid research and education, held two events and raised the profile of the organization and fibroid awareness.

 

Congressional Briefing (minus Me) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
Congressional Briefing (minus me)
Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook

On Wednesday, a few members of the WDP, along with several medical professionals, participated in a congressional briefing on Uterine Fibroid Education and Awareness hosted by Rep. David Scott of Georgia.

This was really the highlight and the most important part of being at CBC. I had on my schedule, and planned to be there, but unfortunately I had to cancel out at the last-minute. I was definitely in my office with the pouty face because I had to miss it.

This briefing was a major step in getting the cause out there and helping to earn support for officially designating July as Fibroid Awareness Month. Mr. Scott already introduced HR RES. 268 at the end of the last legislative term, “Supporting the designation of July 2015 as Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month”.

The next day, the DMV Leadership of the White Dress Project hosted an event. Part social, part informative. The ladies gathered health professionals, including a therapist, an OBGYN, and a surgeon, who happened to be my surgeon Dr. MacKoul, to answer questions, talk about the epidemic if uterine fibroids, treatment options, and how to deal with the emotional effects of living with fibroids.

 

White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC (I didn't realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore...) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC
(I didn’t realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore…)

The really great thing about the event was not only meeting other women affected by fibroids, but hearing everyone’s stories. Being able to relate to taking hormones, or having to pee every five minutes, or the literal and figurative weight that is lifted once the fibroids are removed. To see how everyone bounced back, and in spite of possibly having fibroids re-appear, or questions on fertility post myomectomy, the  determination to move forward, and excitement of these ladies to educate others and advocate on uterine fibroids was amazing.

I was so excited to meet new women, and finally get to meet the White Dress Project founder, Tanika Gray, because……

 

I will be working with the White Dress Project as an ambassador, working to raise awareness and  get Fibroid Awareness Month recognized on a State level!

 

We Can Wear White
We Can Wear White

 

I’m so excited about this opportunity!  Please stay tuned for more updates, posts, and events on my journey with the White Dress Project.

 

There’s a Month For That

FIBROID AWARENESS MONTH

It seems like there is a month or day for everything now: Best Friend Day, Doughnut Day, Wine Day (obviously all days that I am here for). Then there are more serious days: HIV Awareness Day, Earth Day, Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Again, all days I can get behind.

And of course, you have Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on and on.

There is a new month gaining momentum that I will definitely jump on board with: Fibroid Awareness Month!

That’s right, July is Fibroid awareness month! It know that at this point, July is pretty much over, but its still something worth knowing. This is a new initiative, and its headed by the White Dress Project, a non profit who’s mission is to “galvanize support and promote awareness about the fibroid epidemic among women domestically and globally through education, research and advocacy.

They are working to get each state to officially recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month, and they sponsor events to help spread fibroid awareness and offer support for those that have been through or are going through a battle with fibroids. So far Georgia, New York, Florida, and the city of New Orleans are officially recognizing July as Fibroid Awareness month due to the White Dress Project’s efforts.

I love this organization and concept already. As I have said here time and time again, awareness and education a so very important in regards to fibroids (and many other things). Infertility has National Infertility Awareness Week (maybe that can move to a month one day), there is a PCOS  (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Awareness month in September, so why not fibroids? The fact that uterine fibroids are such a common disease, but the research and amount of conversation and awareness is so small is a shame. On a wider note, so many gynecological conditions outside of cancer are not discussed in the women’s health discussion.

 

So even though there are only 5 more days left in the month, there is still time to celebrate an do your part!

Of course, you can start by telling  your story. Education and awareness starts with that one simple act.

Want to do more? You can sign this petition petition to receive a presidential proclamation to make July Fibroid Awareness Month.

https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-michelle-obama-declare-july-fibroids-awareness-month-nationally

Check out the Fibroid Facts page of this blog to learn more about fibroids.

Just like a Felon

I know I’m late, but the new thing I love is podcasts. I’m addicted.  Serial. The Read. Freakanomics. I even sub to a wedding planning pod cast. They’re entertaining, informative, and they help me get through my long commute home,  so I’m always looking for a new show to subscribe to.
I recently started listening to Death. Sex. Money. , which describes itself as  “A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”  Since I newly discovered this series,  I’ve been catching up on past episodes. So far, an excellent pod cast and quickly becoming a favorite.

Today’s catch up episode was from April 25, 2015. An interesting interview until the subject uttered this sentence: “I think people without children should not be allowed to vote”

 Insert record scratch.

There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult. But the Dowager wins today.
There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult.
But the Dowager wins today. Me when I heard his “joke”

The person speaking was W. Kamau Bell. Comedian, blogger, and former talk show host. Now to be clear, I know that it was said in jest, because, he is a comedian. However, I still found it not funny and incredibly insensitive.  I was offended, and actually a little shocked. I don’t think he was trying to be an asshole, but that’s definitely how he came off in that moment.

I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Bell, and I wasn’t very familiar with him before his talk show, Totally Biased. I know he’s a comedian. I’ve liked most of what I have seen from him, which is why I picked that episode to listen to. I  wanted to learn more about him. From what I have heard  from him in the past, and even in that particular interview up to that point, he is an intelligent and aware individual.

So why then, even as a joke, would he say something like that?

What he was trying to say, in a horrible,  inconsiderate way, is that parents see the world differently than they did prior to becoming parents, and make most, if not all decisions considering the lives of their children, knowing even the smallest decision affects their lives. I get it, but the premise is still a little off.

Now, it’s really not my thing to be the comedy police. As they say “everything ain’t for everybody”, so if I don’t find a comedian (or comedienne) funny,  I just don’t listen to their comedy or watch their shows (I’m looking at you, Kathy Griffin and Martin Lawrence. Black Card revoked for the Martin thing,  I know). However,  some things, to me, are universally not funny: racist jokes, violence against women centered jokes, sexual abuse jokes, etc. I say all this to say that I’m not bashing Bell as a comedian,  or even as a person. I am simply saying that he is representative of what the world thinks of us child free women, and men: We are some sort of selfish, not-fully-formed, adult-type person.

Yes. Being a parent changes you. I don’t think anyone would argue that point.  And yes, I’m sure as a parent,  your decision making shifts. But the implication here, is that somehow, by not being a parent,  you are incapable of making quality,  well thought out,  long range decisions.  Which then implies that by not being a parent,  you are some how less of an adult.
I haven’t even gotten to the sheer insensitivity this shows towards the 1 in 8 couples who literally can’t have children.

So even as a joke, he’s essentially saying that because someone consciously chooses not to, or is unable to procreate, They should be denied a civil right? Cut out of a crucial function society. No better than a felon to him I guess. (BTW, I am not someone in favor of felons losing their right to vote once they have served their time)

So the soldier who cannot have children because of the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan, and his wife shouldn’t have a say in choosing the person who shapes the foreign policy of this country? You know, because he has no ideas or insights about such things because he’s not a father.

The couple that has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars just to become parents doesn’t have a stake in the healthcare system here in this country? I mean, they have only  been navigating through it for years. What could they possibly know since they don’t yet have any children?

“Its just jokes.”  “Why are you going so deep with it?”  “Calm down.”  You might be saying.

I get it, he’s a comedian,  and a new dad, so its just for fun, and he’s experiencing the world in a new way right now.  Cool. But I should hope those two things don’t instantly render you insensitive or arrogant.
For so many people,  that was just a flippant,  funny thing to say. But for the couple who just suffered a second miscarriage, or is on the fourth round if IVF, its painful.
To the women and men who have made the choice not to become a parents, it’s down right insulting.

To Kamau I say:

Come on, bruh.

In the words of one of my podcast faves, Crissle, Words mean things. Even as a joke, words can be painful. You as a Black man should know this.  Choose your words wisely.

Being child free, rather by choice or circumstance, does not invalidate ones humanity or adultness. For those who are childless by circumstance, that type of statement can be painful.

If you have an issue with my child free status, take that up with God.

Update: Per Kamau’s twitter I stumbled upon this conversion. Looks like he stands by his “joke”, which is unfortunate.

Listen to the full podcast episode here.