To know me and this blog is to know this is my mantra. Infertility can be very isolating. When you look around and everyone has a kids, or is pregnant, or asking you about getting pregnant, you begin to feel this sense of separation. I’ve said here a few times that there is a feeling that you’re not a complete woman. Your body is betraying you every. single. day. How do you explain your situation or answer people’s questions without drawing pity, which you definitely don’t want, or those awkward “just relax” or “keep trying” responses? So, you decide it’s better to keep it to yourself. Who needs that extra drama?
You want to talk to your best friend, or your mom about it, but how can you really? They don’t truly understand. They mean well and love you, and they want to support you, but its a hard thing to relate to. My best friend has 5, yes 5 children! (who are awesome by the way) I keep my fertility struggle conversations with her to a minimum. Not because she doesn’t care. Not because she is uninterested (she asks for updates all the time), but because how can she understand? Trouble getting pregnant is a foreign concept to her. She is the exact opposite of infertility.
I was watching Teen Mom (the new episodes with original girls) the other day, and one of them went in for a wellness exam. The doctor was listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and asked if she could feel the baby moving. I started crying. Why? Because that is an experience I may never have. When you have those types of moments, who can understand that rush of emotion other than someone else who is or has been where you are?
But think about it: 1 in 8 couples are facing infertility. So, you are not alone. The next time you’re at church (mosque, synagogue), at a family reunion, dinner party, on the train, at the mall, in the hair salon, running a 5K, know that at least one more woman (or man) in the crowd is struggling with fertility.
I know it can be emotionally draining. I know it makes you vulnerable. I know sometimes you just don’t want to be bothered. But….
Share your story. There are women that need to hear from you. They need the support and assurance that they are not alone. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. You don’t have to tell the world, just be there for one person. That can make all the difference.
Start a support group at your church or community group.
Be there for someone who is struggling with infertility
Post an Infertility article on your social media platforms
Post about NIAW on social media. Share a link to NIAW and Resolve.
I will be honest, what has helped me a lot is having someone to talk to, really two people.
I have a co-worked that had a myomectomy about 4 weeks before I had mine. We started talking about our fibroid battles, and found out we have similar fertility issues. We share articles, random facts, advice from doctors, and sometimes, just our frustrations.
I also have a friend who is about 10 years older than me, but she had infertility issues and had two wonderful sons via IVF. This was in the 90s when it was still a weird and strange thing, especially in the Black community. Her support and advice has meant a lot.
Then of course, I have this blog. I know my presence isn’t big, and its not the flashiest or most consistent blog out there, but to know that people visit or follow my blog, and I am doing my part to help someone make it through; providing information, telling my story, and maybe providing a laugh or distraction, makes me happy.
From the “Let’s be honest with ourselves” files, I want to talk a little bit about questioning the process. Sometimes, I think about all that is in front of me to get pregnant and become a mother, and I ask myself:
Do I really want to do this?
The sacrifice of time, sleep, body, money, and sometimes, relationships, for at least the next 18 years?
Do I want to to torture my body with numerous injections and pills? Do I want to be poked, prodded, and explored on a regular basis more than I already have?
Do I want to watch my bank account slowly drain as I pay for meds, doctor visits, scans, and tests? Adding extra stress of incurring (more) debt, working extra jobs or extra hours. I jokingly say by the time we get pregnant, we won’t have any money to actually raise the child.
What about the emotional stress? There is no guarantee that a cycle of IVF or IUI will work. How many times will I be able to take a “No”. How many times could I take that heart break?
The actual pregnancy and labor? (Or c-section)
Maybe some of these questions come from fear. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself out of wanting something to avoid disappointment if it doesn’t happen. Who knows.
I do feel guilty for asking these questions, like women aren’t supposed to question motherhood. You’re a woman, you’re supposed to be a mother. Period. No questions asked. Society puts a little guilt trip on you when you don’t have children (which is why it can be so hard for people to constantly ask why you don’t have children, when its not really your choice), and even more so if you actively choose not to have children. You’re branded as selfish. Is it really selfish though? Will you be bound to be seen as an outsider of womanhood by not giving birth?
What are the answers? I don’t know. I don’t have a definitive answer for any of these questions. My thoughts and feelings today may be different next week. Next month. Next year. Hell, in the next 20 minutes.
I think its important to ask yourself (an your partner) these questions, especially with all of the extra effort and financial investment us Maybe Mamas face. I think those of us in the fertility struggle have the advantage of really having the time to ask these questions before pregnancy happens.
The only things I know for sure are: What will happen will happen, and its OK to ask questions. About everything.
No that I’ve ruined your Saturday with deep thinking, I’m off to enjoy a Cinnabon.
I try to keep everything pretty positive around here. I generally have a positive but realistic attitude about life in general.
I haven’t yet began to dive I to my fertility issues here, but today, I’m going to jump ahead a little.
Two weeks ago, I went in to speak with my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist, a doctor who specialize in fertility) about her analysis of my current situation after some tests and information form my surgeon. She gave her thoughts, but the basics were that we should start the process sooner rather than later, and IVF would be the best bet. She ordered a blood test (AMH test) to check my ovarian reserves, (eggs I have left).
Well, today I got my results, and they weren’t that great. My level is at a .6, which is below average for my age.
I am extremely disappointed and sad. I allowed myself to cry for the first time in a long time about my infertility, because it all got a little more real today.
The journey is not over, and I know I will bounce back and keep pushing, but today is just a bad day. It was not the result I was hoping top hear. However, I wouldn’t be true to the purpose of this blog if I didn’t share this experience.
Please visit the following links for a full explanation of AMH testing and how it relates to fertility
I am a very socially and politically aware person. However, I try to keep politics and social issues (not dealing with women’s health) out of this blog. Mainly because I want to keep this a neutral place, and for the most part, a light place. But there are always exceptions. The events of this past week is one of them. As a woman, a Black woman, and a daughter, niece, partner, and a potential mother of Black men, I could not let this moment go by without using my voice to say something.
Unless you live in the deep woods with no communication with the outside world, by now you know about the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer, and the subsequent anger and protest in the town of Ferguson, MO. Before I go any further, let me make these few points clear in an attempt to lessen any confusion or misinterpretation.
1) I understand that most law enforcement men and women do their jobs properly and risk their lives every day. To those men and women, I give my respect and support
2) I am aware that there are some people in the midst of these protests that are agitating by looting, fighting and shooting. I do not condone violence, including looting of stores and riots.
With those points out of the way, lets get into it. Michael Brown was shot by a police officer. He did not have a weapon. Allegedly, Michael and a friend were walking in the street when an officer approached them in his vehicle and demanded that they move to the sidewalk. At this point, details and accounts vary, but some type of altercation/tussle happened with said police officer and Michael. He ran, but stopped, putting up both hands in the universally recognized sign of surrender. There are multiple eye witness to the shooting and its aftermath. The Ferguson Police Department left Michael’s body in the street, uncovered for 4-5 hours. When they did retrieve the body, there was no EMS or coroner van, just a police SUV. In the following hours and days, the police department would not release any information on the incident. The citizens of this community, many witnessing the shooting and living under the tense relationship between them and the police, began to protest. Some people took that opportunity to loot and riot. As tensions mounted, the police donned full on riot gear and used teargas,flash bombs, and other heavy equipment in an attempt to control the situation. The protests continued. Anonymous gets involved. Days passed with no word from the Governor, the Police Chief, or the President. Several journalists and media outlets report harassment, threats, and an attempt to block them from covering the events. After all of this, the Governor of Missouri and The President speak out. After almost a week, the police release the name of the officer, Darren Wilson. They also release footage from a local corner store that allegedly shows Michael stealing cigars and arguing with a store clerk. The family is upset about this newest revelation and accuse the Ferguson PD of smearing Michael’s name. The police Chief releases another statement that the offending officer did not know Michael was a suspect when he approached Michael and his friend for jay walking. That night, some people loot and riot…again. A curfew is instated as of Saturday afternoon, August 16. The unrest continues….
In this case I see several issues:
1) Police Brutality
2) Racial Profiling and the default criminalization of Black males
3) The violation of the First Amendment by police in the attempt to prevent the people of Ferguson from protesting and attempting to restrict journalists from covering the situation.
4) The militarization of local police
I’ve already gone on long enough, so I’ll try to make my points brief. All of the above listed issues should disturb you as a human and as an American. If the fact that people’s rights are being violated does not bother you, no matter your political affiliation, religion, ethnicity/race, please make an appointment to have your humanity checked.
Police brutality and harassment over petty offenses like jay walking have been going on in Black neighborhoods for years. Is it poor police training? Is it “broken windows” and “zero tolerance” policing policies? Is it over zealousness? Prejudice? Probably a mix of any of those elements at any given time or situation. I can expand that point to say its been going on in poor neighborhoods for years. Because of the years of tension and mistrust, the relationships between minority and poor neighborhoods and the police is fragile at best. This strained relationship leads to everyone, cops and citizens, being on edge all the time. Point number 2 means one thing: Black men are criminals. Period. No amount of money, education, success, or clothing options can change that in some people’s eyes. And some of those people happen to be police officers. That leads to profiling, and sometimes worse. It happened to Henry Louis Gates Jr, a Harvard professor, it happened to Tyler Perry, and it can happen to any Black Man or boy. When was the last time a WASP man was stopped for simply walking in his neighborhood and asked for his ID? I’ll wait. When was the last time it happened to a Black or Brown man? Probably 5 minutes ago in any given town or city.
The issue is that if it doesn’t affect you, you have no idea. Many people across America can’t understand what’s happening in Ferguson because they have never lived under those conditions. They don’t understand the anger. To them, the unrest just looks like chaos and disorder, but these are the actions of the unheard.
Dave Chappelle explained the relationship between Black people and the police (and White people’s reactions) the way only he can in his 2001 stand up routine “Killing them Softly”: (We need a little levity right now) The clip is kind of long (7 minutes), but in order to get the full idea you have to watch it all.
What he said was 100% truth.
What about the blatant disregard for the First Amendment?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The actions of the Ferguson Police Department definitely trampled on two of the three rights of the people in Ferguson. The people are angry and frustrated. They want answers. They want justice. They have the right to assemble and protest. Even with social media, live Tweets, and cell phone video, we still need stories covered from a journalistic point of view. Of course Ferguson police didn’t want the world to see what they were doing…look at what they were doing. The fact that two journalists were pushed and punched, detained with no cause given, then released, without an apology or explanation is frightening. “Where they do that at?!” Apparently, in Ferguson, MO. This sounds like a story from Iraq or Russia. Not the United States, but it was.
This all makes me think about my journey into motherhood. When you face difficulties getting pregnant, you often stop and ask yourself ‘Is this really what I (we) want to do?’ You think about the money, the meds, the heightened risk of complications during pregnancy, along with the questions any woman considering motherhood would ask herself: Am I ready? Do we have enough money? Am I going to be a good parent? As a Black woman, I also have to also think about bringing a Black male into this world. The thought that no matter how well I raise my son, no matter where we live, he could still be a target is sad and disheartening. He doesn’t have to be a gang member, or a drug dealer, or a bank robber. His skin tone would be enough to label him dangerous and suspicious. How would I deal with that? I don’t want to add the “how to deal with cops as a young Black man” speech with the standard teenage speeches parents give about sex, texting while driving, drugs and all the rest. How do I explain to my future son why we even have to have this talk? How do I explain that some people just can’t get past stereotypes and unfounded fears? That they’re too close minded to learn and see who he really is? I hope that by the time any child I would have is old enough, this will be a thing of the past. I’m sure Michael Brown’s mother had the same thought 18 years ago.
One of my favorite book series and movie franchise is The Hunger Games. The people revolted and they were forever punished by an oppressive government and a yearly sacrifice of children for entertainment (and as a form of repression and control). When it becomes too much, the people organize and…(I won’t tell it all because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the trilogy). When I read these futuristic novels or watch those types of movies, where the government is extremely repressive and brutal, I think there is a small shred of plausibility in this, but it is mostly a work of fiction. Until I see it happen. Until I see police throw tear gas and flash bombs at people who are (mostly) peacefully expressing their frustrations and the need for answers and transparency. When journalists are harassed, roughed up, and arrested without cause. Most importantly, these citizens have a right to do these things under the First Amendment of our Constitution. It makes me again wonder: what kind of world will I bring my future son or daughter into? Will they be allowed to express themselves freely? To speak out against injustice without fear?
I wonder if I want to bring a child into a world like what I’ve seen over the past week. A world I know exists, but try to rise above or have hope that it will some day be a thing of the past. Instead, it seems as that not only is it not going anywhere, its getting worse. Going backwards. And it makes me sad for our country, but it also makes me angry. I am in no way naive or unaware of what happens in the world. I feel that I can’t afford to be. As they say: “I stay woke”, but I generally just choose to be hopeful. There is good in the world, and being aware and hopeful for me is the best way to go about things.
If I am so blessed to bring life into this world, I will do my best to teach tolerance, love, compassion, self awareness, to speak up against injustice, and possibly the dos and don’ts of being stopped by police as a Black man.
Lets hope I can leave that last one off.
Justice and Answers for Michael Brown and his family.
Peace and Healing for the Ferguson and St. Louis, MO community.
For me, the 24 hours immediately following my surgery was a bit blurry. I still had all types of sedatives and anesthesia in my body, plus some percocet. Oddly I was wide awake at 3:00am for about 3 hours the first night. (which is when the above Instagram post happened)
The basics are this: You will be in pain. You will need help. You will need naps. You will get bored. You will feel better every day.
Pain: Everyone is different, but for me, the first three days were moderate in terms of pain. I’d say my pain was anywhere between 7-10, and 10 only being the first 18 hours or so. If your procedure involved a full (open) or partial (a hybrid) myo where you had a 3 inch or more incision, your abdominals will be almost useless for a while and sore. Very sore. The basics of sitting up on your own, even rolling over in your bed will be pretty much impossible for the first few days. You get creative after a while and figure out how to maneuver around, but at first you’re like a little baby-unable to move without an adult to help you. Be prepared to be uncomfortable. You will be sore, inside and out. Don’t be ashamed to take the pain meds your doctor prescribes for you. (As instructed. Please do not abuse your pan medication, sis)
Coughing, sneezing, and laughing will bring discomfort. Hug a pillow tight/close to your for sneezes and coughs.
If you had a laprosopic procedure, you’ll have residual gas in your body that will make you a little uncomfortable for a few days.
I slept for about 3 hours when I first came home, and I only got up to use the bathroom walk, and take some meds. A word of caution on your first trip to the bathroom: If you had a catheter inserted your first trip will….sting a little. I’ll just leave it at that. It will pass after the second or third go.
I was sore, I had cramps, and it was difficult to move. But, you need to move.
Moving Around: I had to walk every hour or two around the apartment. This is something you will most likely be told to do regardless of the method or if you’re out patient or not. Walking helps prevent complications after your surgery. Walking helps to: 1) Clear and improve blood flow to your lungs and 2) Prevent blood clots. (More details on post surgical movement here) No ones asking you to walk a mile, but quick lap or two around your apartment or one level of your house will get the job done. It will be slow going at first, but after a day or two, you will start to move a bit better.
Appetite: I didn’t really have one for the first 3 days. When I did eat, soup, crackers and toast were plenty. Mostly I ate because I had to eat with the medicine I was taking. Your appetite will slowly increase. (vanity plus: you WILL lose weight.)
The downside was people around me were eating awesome food that I just couldn’t partake in. My family had Pizza Hut (one of my favorite things!), my mom cooked one night, and everyone sat around the table and had dinner while I laid in my bed drifting into a percocet induced sleep. I couldn’t stomach all that heavy food, but that doesn’t mean my inner fat girl wasn’t sad that she missed all the vittles.
On a related note, you won’t want to eat anything too solid because…well, it has to come out. Again, your abs will be compromised, and any straining is not recommended. Colase or other stool softener will be your friend. Many pain meds (Percocet, Vicoden, etc.) can cause constipation when taken frequently, so softeners can be a great thing to help with your visits to the bathroom.
Help: Because you’ll be in pain, and your abs will be shot, and you’ll be tired….you’ll need help. You just will. I needed help getting in and out of bed, walking, getting food, putting on lotion, doing my hair, pretty much everything. The first 3-4 days for me were when I needed the most. Because I had a hybrid procedure, and my incision was not clear across my bikini line, I think I was able to start to bounce back a little sooner. (One of the benefits of a laproscopic or hybrid procedure) My family was great, and made sure I was comfortable, made me get up to walk, brought me snacks, pretty much waited on me hand and foot. That probably won’t happen again, so I enjoyed it.
Rest: Naps are awesome no matter what. When recovering, you will need to take them more than you think. Not so much because you want to, but your body will let you know that its working hard and needs to recharge. I couldn’t even make it through a movie or more that 10 pages into a book the first few days. Listen to your body: rest when it tells you. You probably won’t get to rest like this again for a long time…maybe never, so take advantage
Boredom: After a few days, boredom/cabin fever will set in. Going from bed to couch, to bed is not that entertaining. Books, movies, and company, even Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great, but you start to get stir crazy after a while. For me, the mere fact that I couldn’t really go anywhere made me fidgety. Again, selfies and social media filled a lot of my bed rest time.
My recovery was pretty average I guess. I did have a high fever for 2 straight days around day 4, and went to the ER. I felt pretty miserable and sluggish. They gave me an IV and sent me to get a CT scan to make sure there was nothing going wrong. The contrast solution I had to drink (which I think they mixed with something to make it more palatable) wasn’t so bad. The machine itself was fine, I’m not claustrophobic or anything, but something about the actual scan process made me horribly nauseous! As the scan went on (probably lasted all of 1 minute), I got more and more sick. By the time I got to a point where I thought I was going to spew everywhere, it was over.
Those 2 days were probably the worst of it.
A few days later, I went for my follow up with Dr. M. Everything looked good.
The good thing was I got to spend time with my friends and family that came to help and check on me, especially my mom. We got to talk and spend time together. I got her hooked on my favorite “rachet reality show“, which I won’t name, but the fact that it comes on VH1 and can be labeled rachtet should be enough.
I got to watch a good family friend win a Tony award! In that moment, I got so excited, I kinda forgot I had surgery 2 days before. I screamed and jumped up off the couch. Damn near busted my stitches. Literally.