Posts Tagged ‘Activism’
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.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been going back and forth with a couple friends and family members about how to get over the hump that finances have placed smack dab in the middle of reproductive progress. I had qualms about applying for grants, for fear of taking those resources away from someone else who needed them much more, and trying to save has really not gone over as successfully as one would hope. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of crowdfunding, while it’s another great option, because I’m just not that great at accepting gifts.
As with most things in my life, on this journey especially, I decided that I wanted my needs to be filled by meeting the needs of others. Even if it’s in a small way. I wanted to do more.
So, without any more flourish, I’m pleased to announce the launch of the “Carton of Hope” Apparel and Accessories shop.
I’ve always hesitated about having Broken Brown Egg related t-shirts or other items because I know that people are particular and private concerning infertility, and would rather not walk around in clothing that shouts about it from the mountaintops. The items found in The Carton. however, are each designed by me, and there was special care placed in creating subtle yet powerful statements which speak to the fight of not only infertility, but life in general.
It is time to put my faith, and my hope into action. It’s painfully clear at this point, (and it really should have been clear years ago), that if we want ANYTHING to happen for us in this, we’re going to have to step out and get it done. Or if we can’t seem to get it done on our own, that we raise enough of a rally cry that it just gets DONE.
This is my rally cry.
Please stop by and take a look around. The designs are all original creations by me, and featuring thought-provoking and inspirational concept art. Any purchases made, especially from The Broken Brown Egg Signature Series collection will go towards paying for our urology and IVF medication bills.
And even if you don’t buy a single thing, I just want to say Thank you SO very much for supporting The Egg. I appreciate your company.
I just wanted to publicly commend Shutterfly.com for their AWESOME customer service and sensitivity.
This morning, I received an email from them saying “Congratulations” on your new addition, with a suggestion that I order “Thank You” cards to mark the occasion.
It threw me off, but then my whole inbox these days is pretty “stick a needle into the skin behind my fingernail” crazy, so it didn’t really phase me all that much. I just deleted it with all the Mother’s and Father’s Day emails that I’ve accumulated this week so far.
Well fast forward to this evening…I was cleaning out my once-again full inbox and found this very sweet, and VERY compassionate note:
I am going to write them a note of gratitude for “Getting it”, because many wouldn’t. If you’d like to join me, please do! So often we have to address the issues of people and organizations not understanding the feelings and emotional turmoil of those dealing with family-building barriers, so I think it is a joyful opportunity to finally address someone for doing something RIGHT.
Thank you Shutterfly!
In my career of working with children over the past fourteen years or so, I’ve sat through many training courses that have stressed the importance of sensitivity to the home lives of children. We make care to have events that embrace “Family” or “Caregivers” rather than parents or mom’s and dad’s because we don’t want to make any child who doesn’t have a traditional home life, to feel out of place or embarrassed. We are careful to encourage the appreciation of all family types, and to acknowledge things like different family names, and the emergence of separate family structures.
What if we did that in all aspects? What if MY family structure was acknowledged and respected in that same manner of care? I wonder how that would look in this hyper-correct world we’ve tried to create for so many others.
There would be a special card section for Mother’s and Father’s Day that included those who are hoping to be parents one day, or who have lost children.
The childless couples in movie plots and books wouldn’t be used as the emotional scapegoats of the story arch.
The mere IDEA of asking someone when they planned to have kids would never cross anyone’s mind, because there would be in us an ingrained understanding that this was neither our business, nor appropriate conversation for the church aisle/family reunion/grocery store parking lot/class reunion/etc.
Teens in health classes would learn about things like Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and would be taught to preserve their reproductive health so that they can have the lives they want as ADULTS, rather than being scared straight about pregnancy.
Maybe children would be more greatly appreciated in our society in general.
Perhaps adoption wouldn’t be considered so much of a consolation prize, and people would take into account ALL forms of reproductive health options as viable paths to parenthood.
People would be thoughtful and considerate of what and how they ask questions of adoptive parents. They’d refrain from asking whether your kids knew their “real parents”, or if you were ever afraid that they’d pop up and take “their” kids back.
If infertility were acknowledged, more than five states would have received an A on Resolve’s Fertility Scorecard, with each of them doing their best to treat and serve patients of this disease with compassion and equality.
If infertility were acknowledged, maybe it wouldn’t hit each of us so hard when we receive our diagnoses. We would always know that it is a possibility, but not a period on our sentences, and we would use that knowledge to make plans and stick with them rather than cower at the sheer magnitude of it. We would discuss a plan with our doctors, and move forward with the peace that comes from knowing that we are not alone, because it would never have to hit any of us as the first time we’d heard about it.
If infertility were acknowledged, honestly and truly acknowledged, perhaps we’d be miles ahead of where we are, in its treatment, prevention, and care.
By acknowledging infertility for what it is: a disease that affects 7.4 million people, and speaking out about it in your own way, you can help it become a topic that is not covered in taboos and myths.
By resolving to know more about infertility, you and I can help to make sure that no on we come in contact with, will ever feel like this diagnosis is the end of their dreams, because we can speak to them assuredly.
By resolving to take control of our reproductive health, we can do our part to change the infertility conversation.
So let’s do that.
Together, we can move beyond “What IF’s”, to making a better what is.
Thank you for joining me this week for my National Infertility Awareness Week journey through the land of “What IF”. For more information on Infertility and Infertility Resources, check out Resolve: The National Infertility Association. Be sure and check out all the posts from this year’s NIAW blogger’s unite project. Lastly, to read the other entries in my “What IF” series, click here:
A Week of What IF’s.
What IF…I Said What I Was Thinking.
What IF…I Were A Mom.
What IF…This Wasn’t So Hard.
What IF…I Could Just Stop Caring About This.
What IF…Infertility Were Acknowledged.
Featured image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I called a counseling center this week.
As many times as I’ve told myself to call, or to look into it, or to move forward with it, this time I wouldn’t let myself back out. I need someone to talk to. Someone who isn’t my friend, or my mom, or my spouse. They’ve heard all my gripes before, and they can apply a temporary salve, but they can’t help me “do my work”, as Iyanla would say. They can’t help me unfold and unwrap all the things I’ve bound inside of myself.
The last time I got the courage up to call a therapist, was about a year ago. I had browsed and studied GoodTherapy.org for about a month before finally deciding on someone with a pleasant enough face, and a close enough location. When I finally got her on the phone, she said that she’d recently moved to Atlanta, and that she had a therapist she trusted back here, who I could call.
I decided that was a sign that I didn’t need a therapist. I mean obviously, if I’d done all that research, and the lady wasn’t even here anymore…
So I went back to business as usual.
And just what is business as usual for me?
Well, I work a lot.
I don’t think you understand.
From the minute I open my eyes in the morning, I immediately find a project to complete. I start in on whatever I can get done before leaving for work, and then once I’m there, I boot up whatever I was working on the day before, plus a few extra things I’ve just thought up, and then I’m mentally booked until around 3pm, when we start getting kids in the library, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s when it’s time for programs and meetings.
By the time I make it home, I try to continue whatever items I didn’t finish at work. If there’s nothing left to really do, I throw myself into a video game, Netflix binge, or Pinterest session(yes, session. My pinning is the stuff of legend. LOL).
I usually do these things until I’m too tired to stay awake. Most nights, I get about four hours of actual sleep because I have a hard time closing my eyes and shutting my brain off at the end of the day. After practically wringing it out like a rag all day, my mind rattles with everything from world peace, to job and sorority tasks, to what kind of schools I want my future children to attend.
And it does not stop or pause.
And when I wake up from that four hours, I start it all over again.
Because if I stop, for one second, I will completely fall apart.
The million tasks I do every day, are my coping mechanism. They distract me from the things that frighten me, and frustrate me, and utterly devastate me. I use them to invent things for myself to hope for, because I’ve lost all ability to do so without them. If I don’t have an event planned for next Saturday at 2pm, I’m not confident that there will be a Saturday.
Half of my day, every day, is looking at other people and wondering how they are so calm. I wonder how they are able to get up and go to work, or meetings, and smile, and have ideas, and just not seem to worry as much as I know that I do. My fears and anxiety levels get so high, that I can barely complete simple tasks.
February of 2013 was hard for me. I was severely depressed. Frustrated with not only my body, but this world in general. Then there was a short glimmer of hope as we planned to adopt, but then that went very sour, very quickly. And while having that little girl in my home for the following six months was special, and healing in many ways, it was also a horribly devastating experience. One that I suppressed into myself.
I am a person who suppresses my own grief. This is a symptom of depression.
I did not allow myself to grieve. I did not have time or interest in it. I just went back to work. With all my disappointment, and all my fear, and a double portion of my anxieties tucked into my tote bag.
I was, and still am, disappointed that for all my positive thinking, things still failed. I am constantly fearful that things may never work. I worry that I’ll continue to plan and hope and have the door closed on me year after year. I am always anxious that I will run out of time.
A year later, February is grueling in my heart. I’m uncomfortable, and sad, and just all around off of my game right now. Most days, I’m literally petrified. I’m tired of it. And more importantly, I’m tired of living in the dark about it.
Infertility is a quiet force within the African American community, and so is depression and mental wellness. Culturally, we are conditioned to internalize, suppress, and work through our feelings on our own. We are taught to keep “inside business, inside”, and to never let others know what we’re going through. Those things we know require outside help, are usually directed to our spiritual leaders, and not to medical healers.
I had a hard time writing this post.
Because I hate to be soooo depressing. Ugh. I HATE IT.
I really don’t like talking about the sadness, and the fear, and the emotional voids that have come into my life. I especially hate that I feel as though I’ve allowed them to. I am angry at myself for not being strong enough to not feel this way, and that too, is something those of us who suppress, do.
Instead of reaching out for help, I tell myself:
“You should pray more.”
“You’re being weak.”
“You just need to write it out or talk it out.”
“If you have time to sit here and mope, you aren’t working enough.”
And once I’ve done such a great job of thinking myself out of moving forward,…the feelings pass for a short while. Then, like I know they will, they always come right back.
Infertility, is bigger than babies. I tell people this all the time, and I doubt they really hear me. It is SO much bigger than bellies and bumps.
Infertility is trauma. Every part of this journey has its own scars and sounds, and memories that for many of us will never ever go away. They haunt us, and hurt us, and cause us to drastically change from whoever we were or at the very least thought we were.
Infertility hurts so far beyond the baby. It’s about my marriage, my friendships and my ability to picture a future. It’s about my body, and whether everything I’ve been told about personal power is true. Source
Because we want to be parents, and because we want to be the type of parents we always dreamed we’d be, we suppress the parts of us that are sad, or angry, or frightened. We wrap those feelings up, and we pack them away, so that we can plant a smile on our faces and keep going. But you cannot build a strong new house on a bad foundation.
I’m trying to walk into 2014 with more hope and faith than I had last year. I want nothing in my way. So I am going to do my best to rebuild my foundation.
Are you suffering from depression? Are you suppressing the emotional toll that infertility has taken on your life? You do not have to fight alone. You do not have to be alone. Here are a few resources that will help make sure you aren’t.
Coping With Infertility and Depression
GoodTherapy.Org Fertility Resource List
Resolve: Mental Health Resources
Infertility and Depression 101
#DayOfLight Info and Resources
- The #DayOfLight Campaign is the brainchild of blogger Brandi of MamaKnowsItAll
- Visit my good friend Natasha’s blog for the post that inspired me to participate here.
Would you like to participate?
- If you are a blogger, write a blog post sharing your personal experience of depression and/or share resources to help others. Add the #DayOfLight hashtag in your post title. (If you don’t have a blog, but want to speak about infertility and depression, please send your thoughts to The Egg and I will post them anonymously for you.)
- Watch the #DayOfLight Google Hangout on Wednesday, February 5th at 11 AM EST. Tweet and ask questions. (http://bit.ly/1ilifbP)
- Participate in the #DayOfLight twitter chat on Wednesday, February 5th at 9 PM EST (follow@PushingLovely, @NotoriousSpinks, and @BrandiJeter for more information)
- Turn your social media avatars black and white on Wednesday, February 5th so we can visually represent all of those affected by depression.
- Share inspiring tweets, posts, and photos on social media to encourage those who are suffering with depression to let them know that they are not alone. Use the hashtag #DayOfLight.
And with a new attitude, and a new look to go with it!
So I had to take some time away from The Egg in blog form. You’d think, being a writer, that writing would get me through one of the hardest experiences I’ve had to face since starting on this journey, but in truth, I wanted nothing more than to just be silent and allow myself to come down to a simmer. I have never been so angry, and hurt, and confused as I was the first half of this year.
Our kinship adoption fell through, and with that, came the hell of kinship foster care. Now, let me say, that in the ideal situation, both of those scenarios can be beautiful and thriving for everyone involved, and that my personal situation should not be the reason for you or anyone else you know to not take the opportunity if it comes your way. I was hurt, yes, but if Doc Brown came by with the Delorean today, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Because despite the ignorant adults and bureaucratic cronies we encountered, this was never about any of them. It was about one little person, who didn’t ask to be born, but who needed to be loved when she was. We did that. We did that impeccably.
So to God be the glory.
I’m not over it, but I’m through it.
And I’m back with a vengeance.
In about 8 hours, I am going to my third visit with Fertility Centers of Illinois, to undergo a saline ultrasound, and as uncomfortable as that is going to be, I couldn’t be more excited. It’s like my birthday present to myself. PROGRESS. It’s the best gift I can give me.
That ultrasound, symbolizes that I am moving forward. It is one more way that I am boldly telling the universe that I am reclaiming my year. I am reclaiming my time. I am reclaiming my hope.
And if there is one thing you NEVER want to let someone get, when you want them to be stagnant, is their HOPE.
I got mine.
And I’m determined as hell, to help you get, keep, or maintain yours.
So the Egg is back, refurbished, and refocused. I am dedicating myself to taking you with me on this journey, as I’ve always done, but also in thinking forward into the success I plan to achieve, I want to also ensure that there is a legacy of information, collaboration, and awareness begun. I am aligning myself with individuals and organizations who seek to empower infertility patients, put information in the hands of those who need it and don’t yet know they do, and stand on the front-lines of our legislative needs.
Are you with me?
Because I am definitely with you.
Let’s get it.