I am no longer seeking medical treatment for my infertility. I know that’s a jarring and blunt opening statement, but there’s no reason to surround this with fluff or filler. I’ve decided that I no longer want to subject myself to injections, bruising, bloat, mood swings, and acne. No more transvaginal ultrasounds and blood draws every other day. No more of my fridge and bathroom being overtaken by meds and needles. No more surgeries.
More than that, the emotional rollercoaster, the strain on my marriage, and depression and anxiety were becoming too commonplace in my life.
It is settled in my spirit.
It makes sense to me logically and spiritually.
I initially started this post on December 30, 2019. It sat for over a year. When I initially wrote this post, I thought I was in a good space. I wasn’t entirely. It was only the beginning stages of understanding and dealing with the decision and making peace with the decision. But there was so much more.
It really took almost a full year to continue to process this decision. I did not come to this place easily. There has been a lot of tears, yelling, therapy, skipped events, journaling, and isolation. I had to include my husband. We often forget for those of us with partners, we’re not in this alone. They have a say, opinions, and feelings. And while I had come to a place of peace and a decision, my husband had not. He has his own journey that is linked with mine, and it was important to allow him the space and time to come to his own conclusions and be at peace, and that we were on the same page.
There was a time when I thought not pursuing treatment was giving up and not having faith. I thought I was letting people down: my family, my husband, those of you who follow this blog.
The guilt that I felt, I know we all feel in this journey. The loneliness. The inadequacy. The trauma of infertility is never going to go away. It can be managed, but not erased. There will always be baby showers, and women talking about how they got pregnant without even trying. There will always be days when I feel sad or guilty (or both) about my infertility.
If we choose not to have children, we will always be questioned as to why. By not having children, I will always be seen by some as some pseudo-woman because I never carried a child. If we decide to adopt, there again will be the questions: Why? Where’s their real mother? Not to mention the trauma that comes with adoption for the child and their birth family (and to a lesser degree, the adoptive parents). There is no perfect ending to an infertility journey. Even when that miracle baby comes, infertility trauma is always right there.
This blog will continue to be a place where I tell my story. To give women a safe space. To talk about being a Black woman, battling infertility and navigating life. An information resource. A support system.
In the infertility world, we talk a lot about doing what’s best for you to make it through this crazy journey. This was the first time I truly did what was best for me no matter how anyone else felt about it.
I skipped a friend’s baby shower. I never thought I would be one of those. But I was, and I don’t feel bad about it.
March was our first IVF. The ultimate result was a fail. Our embryos didn’t make it to blastocyst (stopped growing on day five), and I was caught off guard and a little depressed. OK, a lot depressed, but that’s a story for another post.
Up until this point, I would say I was pretty positive
Insert our friends and their pregnancy.
This is a couple we have done a lot of things with: date nights, birthday parties, game nights, Cookouts, Weddings, Critiquing other friends’ girlfriends/boyfriends. We even got engaged within a few weeks of each other and married in the same year.
We did a lot together…except get pregnant. Of course they have no idea about our struggle. When I first heard the news about the pregnancy, I had that mixed feeling many of us know all too well of happiness and despair. Excitement and panic. Joy and pain. (no sunshine or rain)
Once we got the announcement around the holidays, I started stressing about the shower. I knew it was coming because we saw one of the grandmas-to-be at another event, and she told me the date they had in mind for the shower.
I went back and forth in my mind about going, months before it even happened. Eventually, the invite came, and it got real. It was a co-ed shower, so both hubby and I were invited. He was an emphatic “Yes”. I was still undecided. I felt bad, but I had to pop his bubble a bit and ask him if he was prepared for questions about us having a baby. We had just found out about or failed IVF cycle a few weeks before and were still processing. I know men handle this differently, but they do have feelings. I didn’t want him to be caught off guard when someone asks, and he was triggered. I had to remind him it’s a little different now, and that he may feel some type of way when someone says, “You two are next!” I’ve become an expert. He’s still a rookie in these types of interactions.
He said he’d be fine. The real question was if I was going to go.
“Put me down as ‘yes’ for now, but I’m not sure.”
The weeks passed, and finally we’re at the week of the shower. I was still on the fence. We needed a gift, so of course I volunteered to stop at Target after work to pick up some items off the registry.
I always like to give books as part of a baby’s gift. I like books, and I want to create little readers. Plus, reading is great bonding time with parents and kids. I went into the book section, looking for some of my favorites; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Green Eggs and Ham, but I’m always looking for new books.
That’s when I found Wish. I vaguely remembered someone on Instagram mentioning the book. I opened it and started to read…and started to cry in the Target. In the children’s book aisle.
As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it’s only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.
So, there I am, reading this sweet book, and tears running down my face. That decided it: I. Wasn’t. Ready. Cute onesies, bibs and blankets are one thing, but an amazing children’s book about how Mommy and Daddy had to suffer and fight to have you: Waterworks.
I knew If I couldn’t read that book and keep it together in a Target, the chances of me making it through a shower were slim.
I went home, wrapped the gifts, and told my husband I wasn’t going.
“What do you want me to say?”
I didn’t have to think long because I did have an out. I had a meeting, then a little fellowship afterwards. They didn’t know that I could leave or skip it all together if I wanted. Perfect! “I have chapter meeting, and it’s an important one. I won’t be done in time to ride down with you.” (They live about a two hour away since our move)
Hubby went, and by all reports and pictures posted to Facebook, the shower was great.
As for me, I did what I wanted that day, and I felt not one drop of guilt. I’d rather have people slightly disappointed that I wasn’t there, than for me to be uncomfortable, on edge, wrestling my emotions, and recycling one of my canned responses to when we’ll have kids or why I ‘m not pregnant.
At some point, you have to choose you. Sometimes that looks like selfishness, being disengaged, or a party pooper to others.
But if they only knew the real story…….
If you’re interested in purchasing Wish by Matthew Cordell, for you or a friend, you can do so here.
I’ve been a little quiet because…..I just finished my first protocol for egg retrieval. We’re going to freeze and transfer in a few months once we get this thin lining resolved.
Updates on my cycle soon to come.
Having just finished the whole processes of stimulation and retrieval, I feel like there are things no one told me,practical things, that I never knew, so I’m going to share a few things I think might be useful to know before your start.
Step. Your. Sock. Game. UP
Seriously. You will be in the stirrups more in these 10-12 days then you probably have been in all of your adult life. Give yourself a boost of confidence. Give your doctor and staff something fun to look at. Keep them guessing. Wear fun socks. Trust me on this.
Drink A Lot of Water
Why? Because you will have blood drawn every time you go in. Every. Time. You’ll feel like a pin cushion. If you’re like me (and hopefully you’re not), and have small and hard to find veins, drinking lots of water will help you a lot. Even if you’re a standard blood draw, being well hydrated makes your veins plumper and easier to find. It will make this part of the appointment go a little bit smoother.
Give yourself an extra 5 minutes your first dose day
When taking your injections , its important that you dose at the same time every day, or as close as possible. On your first day, or your first day adding a new medication, give yourself an extra five minutes, especially if its something like Menopur, that has to be mixed by you.
It can be a little cumbersome sorting out all of your needles and viles, mixing, and measuring. Add in at least a one minute pep talk to yourself the very first day to hype yourself up to stab yourself with a needle.
On that note….
The needles for the injections are not that bad
They really are thin, tiny needles. Unless you have a real fear of needles, you’ll be a pro at jabbing yourself after about three doses. Except for the trigger shot. THAT needle is longer, and a little wider, but it goes in your butt, not your tummy, and is intramuscular, going into muscle, so it needs a little more length and needs to be a little wider. Its all relative, because none of these needles in more than a few millimeters across.
For this process, a little tummy fat is a good thing!
Many of the stimulation meds are given subcutaneously, meaning under the skin. Usually you have to pinch an area of skin/fat on your abdomen. If you have a lil extra there, it will be a good for these purposes for this.
You can’t be Shy (because you may have to do your shots in a public space)
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw me post about my first public dosing. Long story short: I had the bathroom all to myself, them someone came in. With her nosey self, she lingered around, taking forever to wash her hands and re-applying her lip stick oh so meticulously, to see what I would be doing since by that point I had my supplies laid out. After a while I just said “F it! She gon’ learn today ” and proceeded with my shots.
I had 2 more times I had to dose in public restrooms. Fortunately, there was room and shelf (or shelf like) space in the stall where I was able to have more privacy. Except for the lady at the road stop that was telling me her whole life story from the other stall….
Bloat. All of the bloating. And Gas
I’m telling you because I love you. After a few days of stimulation meds, you will be a little bloated, OK, a lot bloated. And gassy. You’ll feel the pressure and heaviness of those enlarged ovaries (which is great!), but it makes you feel very bloated and full. Your injection areas will be a little swollen as well. Its uncomfortable, but manageable.
Your mind will be a little foggy. You will have emotions and moods
This is commonly said, but I wanted to clarify. For me, it wasn’t the violent, quick, up and down mood swings, it was little things. I cried about something every day the first five days. Things that would usually just annoy me, made me really pissed off. Things that wouldn’t bother me at all made me upset. It’s like PMS turned up a little. There were times in the middle of an emotional moment, I said to myself “why am I crying?” or “What is wrong with me?” I was very on edge.
The fogginess, I imagine is similar to what pregnant women call “pregnancy brain”. I just didn’t feel like myself. I forgot a lot. I felt like I was operating out of body a lot of the time. It was just a general lethargy and sluggishness I fought through pretty much every day once things really go going. Some of it may not have been the meds, but also the overwhelmingness and newness of starting my first IVF cycle, and all that it meant. Just know that you will be in a strange head space, rather its med induced or not.
*Bonus Don’t call new people you meet by the name brand of one of your meds
This seriously happened to me, but I didn’t say it to his face. A group of my friends and I had just met some new people, and later I was trying to remember one guy’s name. It had a “V” and an “L” in it somewhere. I said this with all seriousness:
Me: What was his name? Vivelle? Oh wait, that’s my estrogen patch.
As we walk, sometimes crawl, though this infertility journey, we have to keep our minds and hearts open.
Of course, there is nothing like carrying your own baby, but as we all know, sometimes that’s not possible. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a family.
Maybe you use a donor egg.
Maybe you use donor sperm.
Maybe you use a surrogate.
Maybe you adopt. And maybe, you adopt an older child.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. And while all adoptions are special, the focus of this month is on kids currently in foster care. Many of those are older, have siblings, or may have a disability.
Family is who and what you make it. We all want a new, snuggly baby to complete or family. But this month, while you think about family building, think about adopting from foster care, and consider older kids.
It may not be as easy a road, but no less rewarding.
By now we all know that up to 30% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 35 , and up to 80% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 50. African American women suffer more severe symptoms, they grow more quickly, and happen at a younger age.
The real question is ‘Why?’
Is it genetics? Food? Environmental factors? Cosmetics? Estrogen dominance? Some combination of these?
When I was first diagnosed with fibroids, I wondered “how?” How were there so many? How did they grow so large? How did I not know? What caused them?
Now, three years later, there is no sign of them (thankfully) at this point. What’s changed? I haven’t had a relaxer since 2005. I haven’t been on birth control since about that same time. But, my diet and exercise routine now is actually worse than it was prior to 2013.
I took some time to dig into some factors and theories regarding uterine fibroids. There’s a lot more to dig through than I thought there would be, so I am breaking this into a series, with each possible cause getting its own post.
First up: Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance: A condition where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen, but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.
Estrogen dominance is more of an imbalance, in the sense that usually its not that someone’s body is making an abundance of estrogen (though that could be the case), just that the balance of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body is off.
Before I go deeper, let’s first review some basics of a woman’s biology. You’ll need the review to get a full understanding of Estrogen Dominance.
As we all know, women have menstrual cycles. A cycle starts the first day of your period, to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but can vary form woman to woman.
The two main sex hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone. They work together to maintain balance in our body at all times.
Estrogen regulates menstrual cycles, promotes cell division, and in puberty, the development of breasts, growing pubic hair, etc.
Progesterone maintains the health of a fetus. It protects us against the effects of estrogen by stopping further ovulation the second half of the menstrual cycle if a woman is pregnant.
Estrogen is highest in the first half of your cycle. It reaches its highest levels during ovulation, then drops and progesterone rises. Progesterone is released during ovulation. Some testosterone is released around the time of ovulation as well. If you do not get pregnant, you have a period and everything starts all over.
Now that the review is out of the way, let’s get little more into ED.
Because our bodies need estrogen and progesterone to maintain our body’s reproductive cycle, it is important that they stay in balance. They counter each other. If/when that balance is upset, even on the smallest level, there can be problems.
How do you know you have a hormonal imbalance of any kind? Some symptoms of hormonal imbalances may include:
Rapid Weight Gain/Loss
Breast Tissue Changes
Loss of Libido
Some symptoms or conditions thought to be the result of Estrogen Dominance specifically may include:
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
What causes the imbalance?
Several possible things: Low progesterone levels/production, chronic stress, synthetic estrogen (birth control pills, HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy]), as well as environmental hormones and hormones found in food(diet)
Some hormone levels naturally drop with age, so as we get older, hormone imbalance of some sort is inevitable. So if our progesterone levels decrease, and our estrogen does not decrease at a comparable rate: Estrogen Dominance.
Of course, taking any hormonal birth control or HRT will alter the body’s balance. Birth control is made to fool our bodies prevent a true period. These two factors seem like obvious reasons for the body to be out of balance.
But what about food and environment?
In foods and the environment, we are exposed to Xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are are a type of xenohormone that imitates estrogen. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. (Wikipedia)
With so many processed foods, genetically modified foods, pesticides, hormone injected meats, and foods with soy (which is a known natural xenoestrogen) its no wonder that our hormone levels are affected by what we consume. There is a big movement for less additives, and preservatives in foods: clean eating. It makes sense. With so many additional chemicals on and in food, the long term affects can’t be good for us. Does ingesting so many additional hormones from meats and chemicals in foods not initially meant for human consumption hurt us? I’m sure is doesn’t help. Do they contribute to an increase or decrease of hormones? Its very likely.
On the same road as food is environmental factors. Many of these, we have very little to no control over. Many environmental chemicals are also xenoestrogens. Many of which are found in daily beauty products (Post number two in the series). The main culprit is plastics. Remember the whole BPA in plastic bottles thing? The compound is found in everything from drink can coatings, to DVDs, to water bottles. It can disrupt or mimic natural hormones.
So what can you do?
You need testing to determine your hormone levels, which can only be done by your doctor. They will be able to determine if your levels are within the range of “normal”.
Outside of medical intervention, things can be done on your own to help balance your levels.
Changing the diet is the biggest thing, and probably the hardest for many. Let’s be real: fruits and grilled veggies are very tasty, but sometimes, a big ol’ cheeseburger and fries just tastes and feels sooo good.
Modifying diets to eliminate or greatly reduce soy, meats such as beef, and processed foods decreases exposure to additional estrogens or estrogen-like compounds. Of course, increasing exercise and being more active will also help.
There are various diet programs out there geared towards fibroid elimination. I don’t make it a habit of publicly endorsing programs/people/things that I haven’t personally tried on this blog. I would say if you’re going to try one of these programs, do your research.
Beware of your plastics use. Try not to warm up items in the microwave in plastic containers. The warmed plastic molecules can possibly seep into and contaminate your food. This is in very, small amounts, but over time, this could increase estrogen in your body. Don’t drink out of bottled water bottles that have been sitting in a hot car (same principal as microwaving in plastic), and try to buy water bottles (and bottles for babies for that matter) that are labeled BPA Free.
There is really a lot more to say on Estrogen Dominance, its part of the reason this post look literally months for me to get up. I kept researching and trying to figure out what to write and what to leave out. At the same time, I kept discovering more stuff!
I hope this was a good first step to learning more. I definitely recommend taking the time to do more research on your own. You can start here: