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For the record, I never really talk to people about my hall closet. For all of my advocacy, and as much as I’m open about infertility and what it has meant in my life, I very rarely have told people about the things behind that door.
There’s a baby bathtub resting along the inner right wall, with washcloths and a temperature duckie that sit lonely inside of its hollow belly. Blankets with nothing to wrap themselves around lie still and unbothered on the lower bottom shelf. A picture book gift from a friend is kept in it’s original mailer rather than being added it to my bookshelf and sits in a closet organizer where there are also infant clothes with tags hanging from their sleeves and a first Easter dress that was worn once and still smells of baby lotion. Sitting silent on the top shelf, collecting dust and grime as the days go by, are toys that have never been opened.
Sitting at my dining room table, just underneath a chair is a bumbo chair from a friend that I never touch. It’s blended in so well at this point that I often forget it’s there. Kind of like the carseat that sat in the corner for months until we finally got the courage to toss it out. Or the bag of newborn caps that is in the trunk of the car.
Ever so often, I will come across a barrette or headband that slipped through the cracks and just so happened to turn up on an especially hard day. There are also times where I run into that old box of baby bottles that I can’t bring myself to throw away, or a plastic case that used to hold baby wipes that I’ve had to re-appropriate.
The thing about my closet, and my hall, and my bottom drawer, is that they aren’t unique. There are thousands of other closets and drawers and trunks with hidden pockets of delayed hope. So many other people have walked past one onesie too many in a store and decided, “No, I’m gonna buy this in good faith.” Others still have walked down the road towards adoption, and prepared their homes and closets only to be left with the remnants of a dream that fell through their fingertips.
For over 200 days, my husband and I were foster parents to a child who was originally supposed to be our adopted daughter. We cared for her and loved her and encased our life around her in the hopes that fate would see our dedication and reward us.
They were mine, but not mine.
It was like holding our breath every.single.day.
I remember one night at my husband’s job, where I watched a couple pull up in their Mercedes truck. They came to the desk and gave him their keys making small talk about how “The Bulls Game is over, so we’re gonna go pick up the baby”. And my husband and I laughed at the fact that they were giving him that much information.
30 minutes later, they come back down, he carrying the baby carrier, and she carrying the bag while chatting on the phone. And they took their baby, and got into their Mercedes, and drove away to their life. Which may not be perfect. But had so much that I wanted in just that scene.
I wanted so badly to leave work, and pick up my husband, and pick up MY child, and go on with MY life. That’s what I WANT.
Instead, I’d drive to my husband, and we’d worry, and we’d plan, and we’d ponder…then we’d go and pick up someone else’s baby, and drive to our apartment, and we’d eat junk, and we’d worry more.
And I’d get so TIRED of it. Of those moments that didn’t really belong to me.
Of that little girl. Of singing to her, and taking my time with her, and loving her.
For it to not be mine. For me to have to turn her over to someone who didn’t care enough about her to not give her drugs before her first breath.
Seemed like some bullshit to me. And I tried consistently to have grace under pressure.
But it’s still some fucking bullshit.
People so often ask those with infertility why they won’t “just adopt”. They assume that all we want is a baby. And that since there are “sooo many” babies just waiting around for someone to save them, it’s a win-win for us both. And they don’t mean any harm for the most part. They see what could be a means to an end, I guess.
And in that means to an end, they don’t see what happens when it doesn’t work. When you’re holding your breath in the hospital and trying not to get too excited. They don’t see you standing in the hallway of the birthmother’s room, hoping that her visitors aren’t telling her to change her mind. They have no idea how tumultuous it is in your heart when you’re trying to show love to a newborn, and show their birthparents that they haven’t made a bad decision, while not overstepping any invisible boundaries. Or how confusing it is to answer the hospital staff about just who it is you are.
When people tell you to adopt, they don’t know about the feelings of inadequacy when that child is crying, and you aren’t sure if it’s because they know you aren’t their “real” mom. Or how many times you’re left speechless when trying to figure out how to answer medical questions, or fill out paperwork.
They have no idea how fast and intense your very being can plummet when a birthparent tells you that they have decided to parent. Or the fury and sadness that intermingle when they don’t even say it to you directly, but avoid you or simply block you from the hospital room, when just hours, days, months ago they were calling you their new best friend and thanking you for being there. There is no way to understand until you’ve been there that not only is it very easy to love a child whom you did not give birth to, but that when the prospect of being that child’s parent is snatched away, it feels as though your own has died.
And like others who have loved and lost, we mourn. And like so many others who mourn, we hoard those small reminders. Clothes and blankets, and toys, and dreams. Sitting on our shelves, stuffed into our closets, and unforgotten in our hearts.
You are not alone.
My closet is full too.
We’ve all heard our fair share of what goes for “advice” these days. Everything from “Are you sure you’re infertile? Did a doctor tell you that, or are you listening to too many people on the tv?” to “Maybe you’re doing it wrong”, we’ve heard them all. Today’s #NIAW post is a tongue-in-cheek look behind the door of one of the most dreaded by-products of infertility; Advice.
Girl look, I appreciate your support. You seem really committed to helping me “get over this whole infertility thing” as quickly as you can make me, and I appreciate your go-get-em attitude about it all. But here’s the thing, I didn’t really ask you for all that you’re trying to give me. I can appreciate the fact that the earth goddess and the moonlight came together for the bark that you put into your tea that led to your ovaries singing songs and welcoming the dawn that led to you conceiving your fifteen-year-old. I think that’s awesome, and I’m really happy for you and little Shaman. However, all the moonlight and tree bark in the world may not open my Fallopian tubes or clear out my endometriosis, so girl bye.
Friend, I’m sooo very sorry about your head cold. I mean, it sounds like it sucks, and I can only imagine how hard it is to remember to take your antibiotics every day. Man, I remember what that’s like, from the millions of colds I’ve had throughout my life. Because you’re so stressed out, I won’t bother bogging you down with my woe of being on a PCOS induced menstrual cyle from hell, or how I’ve hit day 20 of this one in particular. I mean, you don’t have time to hear all of that, you’re going to need a day off pretty soon if that cold keeps getting you down. But don’t you worry, you go ahead and take that day when you need it! I’ll be here. At work. Bleeding.
Miss Claudine, I really want to thank you for your thoughts on adoption. The idea that you believe something is “wrong” with kids who need to be adopted, was a little odd for me to hear from you. You know, seeing as how that son of yours was actually birthed by your older sister’s youngest daughter. But what do I know? Maybe you’re right and I guess as you say, “black folk don’t do that”. However, considering I’m going through a painful decision process about whether or not adoption is the only option for my family, I really truly don’t need your judgment clouding mine, but thanks for sharing!
Speaking of adoption, Militant Buddy, I’d like for you to cool your heels when heading over to my Facebook inbox demanding that I not be selfish and that I take in one of the thousands of children in need of homes that I’m apparently ignoring. I appreciate your passion, and I ask you, when are you visiting an agency, and how have you raised your $30,000 in fees? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for that. I mean, you seem really touched by the idea of adoption, and I think anyone with this much fervor for it, must be pretty much on their way to doing it themselves right? Or are you only suggesting it to me because it seems to you that I have to? I’d also hope that before you open your home to one of the “thousands” of kids, that you’d take a bit to consider how you plan on telling your new kid that you felt like their only hope and that they were so unwanted that you just had to swoop in and save them. Because they’re not kids, right? They’re consolation prizes and charitable acts. Right? Right.
Sister Odell, it was great talking to you after church today. I want to express to you just how helpful it was for me to hear you say that maybe my faith isn’t strong enough or that I’m not praying right, or that I’m “in God’s way”. I’d really like to hold on to that when next I see someone who has killed their children, or beaten them within an inch of their lives on the news. It will remind me that those women, who are on their way to jail, obviously have much more faith than me, and that the Lord hears them and not me. I’ve been teetering in my faith for a few years now because of this, and I’m glad to know that I’m not wrong, and that God really has forsaken me. Thanks for the help in deciding not to return to church. You really helped me out.
Aunt LuLu, I have always loved your sense of humor. Your sex jokes can still make my dad blush, and you guys grew up together. I can understand why someone as sexually liberated as yourself would think that us changing up what we’ve done in our bedroom over the last 16 years of marriage should be able to get us pregnant, but I’m sorry to say it won’t. Acrobatic tricks and “massage” oils won’t really do much for sperm count issues, and to be honest, your favorite flavored lubricant can actually kill them. But I gotta give it to you though, out of all the other people I’ve talked to about this, I appreciate your sense of humor and openness the most. It helps me to remember to laugh.
Best Friend, I’ve enjoyed sharing this part of my life with you. We’ve been through so much together, that it would really be hard for me to not include you in what are some of the darkest times I’ve had to endure. I want to thank you for always listening to me, and letting me vent about how hard it is for me to climb into those stirrups yet again only to be back at square one a few weeks later. I guess our openness and candor is what makes you feel so comfortable complaining about your aching feet and back to me, or how tired of being pregnant you are. You know, with this being your fourth baby, when I always thought we’d have had our first together and been pregnant besties who gave birth to besties, I guess it’s hard for you to have to let go of that dream, and so you feel the need to include me on every, single, detail of your pregnancy. Rest assured, however, that I really don’t need to know. I don’t actually need to hear your staunch views and jokes about how you wish you could get your husband “fixed” since every time he breathes on you, you get pregnant, and I really don’t give a care to be offered one of your kids every time they’re getting on your nerves around the house. Do you have any idea how much my husband WISHES he could breathe on me? Any thought about how I’d love for a toddler to make a mess of my living room? It’s cool, and we’re cool, and I love you to the moon, but I need you to think when speaking to me these days. I’m more fragile than I let on.
Mom, I want to thank you for simply asking me what you can do. Yours is the best and most welcome thing that’s been said to me throughout this entire ordeal. I am so sorry I haven’t been able to achieve the dreams you have for me, even if it’s been just the basic one of me being happy. I’m grateful that when I need your advice, you know that I’ll ask for it, and that when you give it, you always take care to consider how I’ll feel after our talk. I wish you could teach these other people. LOL
The following is an anonymous submission for The Egg’s 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week Blog Project, #BehindClosedDoors. Most people assume that this is all about babies. Not many people stop to think about what takes place after the babies are born. Does the doubt ever go away? The fear? Not for many.
Here’s another look behind the door.
So everything will be fine once you have that baby. Right? Is what I thought. I think that’s a thought we all have. I’d be super mom and every heartache, depressed mood, crying episode would disappear as quickly as they came. But of course life is never that simple with infertility.
I guess the bottom line is that any experience that has had a life-altering affect, never really leaves you. The fire is gone but the smell is still there.
I guess it was naive of me to think something that held up my life for nearly 10 years would just disappear so easily.
Several thoughts play in my head over and over again on a regular basis. I often have thoughts that people are judging me through a different lens than they do other mothers. It feels as if I have to work harder because I wanted it more than the average woman.
I also live in my head more than I thought I ever would. From time to time I’m questioning if I’m doing everything right. Is the baby’s nose always clean, is he meeting every bench mark or is he he eating healthy enough! I know this is definitely a new mom thing but there is still an element of infertility associated with it.
What’s also frustrating is that all of my good friends kids are grown. So it’s hard for them to relate to me as a new mom. So while we are ecstatic to have our bundle of joy all of our friends kids are off to college.
The other thought is how to continue to build our family. IVF is hard and adoption is expensive. So will our baby be an only child or will we endeavor this difficult path once again??
The above was a submission to the Egg’s 2015 NIAW Project “Behind Closed Doors”. If you would like to submit a post on what goes on behind the scenes of YOUR fertility journey. Please consider sharing a submission by emailing me at Regina@thebrokenbrownegg.org
The following is an anonymous submission for The Egg’s 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week Blog Project, #BehindClosedDoors. This brave and powerful entry is one that will resonate with many, and one that I had to share. THANK YOU to the Eggshell who sent it in, because she could be saving someone’s life with it.
If you are experiencing dark thoughts and need someone to talk to, please seek help. GoodTherapy.org offers a great search tool that will allow you to find help near you that specializes in the cares and concerns of those afflicted by infertility. Remember “You Are Not Alone”.
A month or so ago I actually tried to take my own life. I wasn’t strong enough to explain it here or anywhere else. I did write it out though, and I’m posting it now. My journey will never give anyone hope because…well I’m not pregnant and I never will be. But maybe my journey will save someone else from letting themselves lapse into a despair that seems insurmountable. Anyway, I don’t remember the exact date or time, but below is what I wrote about it.
There are few experiences during this infertility thing where you feel empowered. The moments are few and far between, and you will find that when you get them, you will begin to savor them and never want them to end. The Fertility For Colored Girls‘ 2nd Annual “Hats, Heels, and Hankies Tea”, was one of those experiences. (more…)
It’s Tuesday. And around here, Tuesdays are RealTalkTuesdays. Today, though, there’s more than just the normal affirmations on my mind. Today, I’m thinking about the five years that have gone past as this blog has grown, and just how monumental it actually is.
Five years ago, when I started my blog, it was out of a desperate need to do something. My husband and I had fought our way blindly through this forest of uncertainty and I’ll just admit, shame, and I just wanted to do SOMETHING that would make me feel less than defeated. I wanted to kick a door open, turn on a light, make the smart-ass comment that would get the classroom talking.
Five years later, I’m proud to say that the door is open and there are people walking through and towards their healing. Not all of us have become parents, and not all of us are done fighting, but all of us have a place and a voice now. A place to shout, and a place to be heard. A place to be quiet, and a comforting silence to wrap us up in.
Five years ago, I was unemployed, uninsured, frustrated, and feeling hopeless. I was barely getting people to visit my blog, let alone comment or even let me know I was making a difference. Five years ago, when I started this blog, all I wanted to do was shout. Five years later, I’m glad to listen.
I don’t take it for granted.
And I don’t want YOU to take it for granted either.
You should know, that five years ago, organizations such as Fertility Within Reach, Fertility For Colored Girls, or A Family Of My Own, did not exist and it was very hard to know where to start. Especially if Resolve felt overwhelming. So many groups have formed in these past few years, that it’s easy to forget how vast of a wasteland it once was.
You should know, that I felt lost in the sea of infertility blogs that I did find, because I saw absolutely no reflection of myself, and that the ONLY fertility related blogs for women of color that I could find, had either stopped being updated, gone in a different direction, or were morphing into parenting blogs.
You should know, that in the past five years, there have been ENORMOUS strides made in the growth of reproductive awareness in general, and attention to infertility in the African-American and minority communities. So many people have responded to me, and told me how valuable this site(or the Facebook page or the Facebook group) mean to them, and it is humbling. To know that people are choosing to allow me to walk with them through the most painful and private ordeal in their lives, is extremely humbling.
You should know that I am grateful.
You should know that I am not done.
What do you need? How can I help? You let me know.
I’ll be here.