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.

 

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.

Its Mother’s Day….Again

Its here, the day that many of us love and hate….Mother’s Day.

Most of us have awesome moms, aunts, grandmas, friends and mother figures that deserve all the brunches, flowers, pampering and accolades they will get today. But while we’re doing all of that, on the inside, we might be dying a little.We can’t become biological moms (or not without plopping down thousands of dollars), some of us have lost a pregnancy, or a child, or even lost a mother or grandmother. Some had crappy moms or grew up without a mom at all. Because I don’t live in the same cities as my family, I’m not forced to go out to do anything, which is good, because honestly, this year, I really am not in the mood to pretend. Not only am I working through my infertility feelings, I lost my Nana a few months ago. I loved talking to her, and she was my favorite call to make on Mother’s Day.

 

This pretty much sums it up for today. Sorry Folks
This pretty much sums it up for today.

So what can you do? How can you handle this day that celebrates everything that seems just beyond your reach if you’re having a hard time?

Here’s what I’ve got:

UNPLUG. Seriously. Looking at Facebook and Instagram all day is not going to do anything to uplift you if you’re already feeling down.

Do something for Yourself. Whatever that means to you. Get a mani/pedi. Go shopping. Do yoga. Binge watch whatever you want. Do what makes you feel good about yourself today especially.

This is not something I would usually say, but….Skip church today.

Now, hear me out: In a lot of churches, especially Black churches, Mother’s day is a big thing. There are luncheons, and special sermons about mothers and mother hood. My old church used to give out single roses. They’d start with Moms, then Grandmas and Aunts,…..then trickle down to all those that “desire to be mothers”. This was always extremely hard for me, even before I had (or knew I had) fertility issues. I was here without my mom, no family around actually, I was painfully single at the time, so I just felt very isolated that day. Get your spiritual connection on your own today by praying, reading and spending time with God alone.

In the end, its up to you.

You know where you are, and what you can handle today, and if this is a time that is difficult for you. Don’t be afraid to say “No” or limit your time out if you’re invited to celebrate.

Celebrate the great relationships you do have today. Enjoy some of the benefits of not having children. (There are several!) Don’t let this 24 hours damage your spirit too much.

What am I doing today? Blogging (obviously), Staying off of Facebook, my calls to my Mom, Aunts, and friends,Cooking, Cleaning my Bathroom…

Oh, and going to see PRINCE!

Here are some more thoughts from around the web:

About that church thing: An Open Letter to Pastors on Mother’s Day

When it seems like its just you: Surviving Mother’s Day As a Non-Mom (Not By Choice)

When you’re child free by choice and people use Mother’s Day to guilt you (or an unnecessary parental apologist):  Sorry about Mother’s Day, my childfree girlfriends: Moms aren’t any more special (or unselfish) than you

 

No matter your status, ENJOY your day!

 

How Congress Celebrates NIAW….

…and it’s not by recognizing the week with a proclamation.

Sounds about right....
Sounds about right….

Someone I know shared a little nugget about Congress and their plan to overturn a DC law that prevents women from being fired for using IVF or getting pregnant out-of-wedlock. At first, I thought it had to be some kind of Onion type article, but no. This is an actual thing.

That’s right, people of D.C.: members of Congress just voted to let your boss fire you for personal decisions you make at the doctor’s office — because your boss believes those decisions aren’t consistent with his religious beliefs. Now, the whole House may take a vote on this discriminatory measure.

 

(For those that don’t know, click here for a little history about how/why Congress can do this in DC.)

So because you don’t agree with how someone starts their family, they can be fired? That sounds real Christian. (feel the sarcasm)  I really want someone to show me the passage(s) of scripture where God said IVF will send you to hell. Don’t these people know there was infertility in the Bible, even a miscarriage?

I can’t even deal with this.
This is why it’s so important to speak out and educate others about infertility issues. I choose to believe if people understood more, they wouldn’t say and do rude or insensitive things,  and they wouldn’t make these types of judgments.

 

Anyway….

You can catch the full ACLU article is here

Also, a take on this from The Frisky here.

 

 

You Are Not Alone-Step Up and Speak Out: National Infertility Awareness Week

wpid-screenshot_2015-04-19-19-19-16-1.png

It’s that time of year again: National Infertility Awareness Week!  The theme this year: You Are Not Alone. ( Cue the Michael Jackson music)

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

Even better:

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.

So Maybe Mamas, You Are Not Alone!

Share your story this week and beyond.