Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

Did I Ask You All That? Opening the Door On: Infertility and Advice

Opening The Door On - Infertility and Advice

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 Adoption Option: My Visit To The Cradle

Recently, I was invited to visit The Cradle’s “Gale and Ardythe Sayers Center for African American adoption”, on behalf of The Egg.  I had a really great time not only learning about the history of this great resource, but also just having a good “you get it” convo with Nijole (pronounced ni-lay), the organization’s Director of Resource and Community Development.

Cradle 1On a chilly Sunday afternoon, I met with my sorority sisters for lunch in Evanston and then headed over just in time to meet with Nijole at The Cradle’s headquarters.  She and her son Harrison, a proud “Cradle Baby”, met me with huge smiles, open arms, and an adorable puppet, in the parking lot.  Stopping in to take off our winter coats, one of the first things I saw was a Chicago Bears jersey of former player Gale Sayers, for whom the African American adoption center is named for.  IMAG4096

Throughout the main floor were walls and walls of photographs of children who’ve been placed through The Cradle.  There are photos just about everywhere, that make it very clear just how many lives have been changed here.  Along a south wall, was a photo of a woman with a warm smirk, and an adorable hat.  Nijole introduced her as Florence Walrath, founder of The Cradle. IMAG4098

The Cradle, was founded by Evanston, Illinois resident Florence Walrath in 1923.  Having a sister who’d experienced infertility, Florence’s chance encounter with a doctor who knew of a young woman who was pregnant with no hope, led to Florence uniting the two women. That one match led to 91 years of building families!

I was inspired by the story of Florence Walrath.  At the time she began her mission to find families for children, adoption was highly stigmatized.  Because of the stigma, it was also a very quiet and secretive endeavor.  One can imagine how much harder it had to be to face infertility during those days, and how heightened the guilt, shame and embarrassment must have been.  To provide this service for so many families, was a true mission.

Not only did she work to unite families, but eventually also to bring some dignity to the process, for all involved.  Her work in The Cradle also helped to address the high infant mortality rates that were of the time period.  I’d encourage anyone to learn more about this amazing woman!

Continuing our tour, I visited The Cradle Museum, a room with original images and materials from the organization’s history.

I also visited the “Living room”, where the staff says their goodbyes to new families going home.  Photo albums in The Cradle "Living Room".Last on the main floor, I visited the room where many birth-parents have their introduction meetings with potential adoptive parents.  IMAG4094

While standing in this room, a lot of thoughts flooded my head, and Nijole actually blessed me with the story of how she and her husband felt on the day they met their son’s birthmother in this very space.  What a hard conversation.  What a hard decision.

The more we talked, the more I felt that it is special people who are called to adoption. People who can accept the move past their original wants and desires, to accept that the primary goal is now to provide family for a child, and not to fill a void.  The mourning process, for those of us who have dealt with infertility, and the act of letting go of the things you thought would be, is heart-wrenching.  But also beautiful.

I applaud The Cradle for offering support and encouragement to those people.

IMAG4099Last on the tour, was a trip to visit the nursery.  The Cradle is the only adoption agency in the country with a 24 hour nursery to house infants who are in need of temporary care. Volunteers come in to provide contact and love for the infants, while nursing staff is also on hand.  Detailed notes are taken while infants are in their care, to monitor eating habits, personalities, and any other information that their parents may need when they head home.

 

Returning to Nijole’s office, we talked a bit more about what the Sayer’s Center program means for African American adoption.  At half the cost, the Sayer’s program seeks to make adoption more accessible, in the hopes of removing a barrier that could be behind the lack of potential African American adoptive parents.

More than anything, our conversation at its heart, was still just one of the warm and comfortable ones I’ve come to expect when speaking to someone else who has dealt with infertility.  Our wants are similar.  We both want to make people aware.  Aware of the resources available to them, and aware of how to empower themselves with the knowledge to change the conversation around family building. No one’s journey has to be identical to anyone else’s, but rather it’s the right of each of us to find the path that best suits us.

While adoption isn’t at the forefront of my husband and I’s journey right now, I have to admit to feeling sincerely grateful that there were other individuals like me, who were willing to be my support if it did become our next step.

The Cradle is not the only adoption agency.  Their way of doing things is not the only way. Their program is, I’m sure, not solely unique. And adoption is not the path for everyone. However, I thought it was important to share this experience, and tell someone who needs to hear it, that adoption is a viable option for some of us, and it is not as out of reach as one may think.

Thank you Nijole for the tour, and for just being a warm fellow advocate in this fight.

 

Fertility For Colored Girls “Hats, Heels, and Hankies Tea”: Amazing, elegant, and inspiring.

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…)

Fertility Fundraising & The Willingness to Help Others!

Fertility FundraisingA few days ago, I witnessed a discussion on FB about people using crowd-funding sites.  Most of the comments were based around the idea of people who have taken to posting “Go Fund Me” pages for things that others have deemed frivolous.  Pay for me to go to hair school, or help us fund my sister’s babyshower, are some of the topics I’ve seen across my Facebook feed through the last couple of years.  For the most part, I tend to ignore the ones that I know I can’t (or won’t) fund.  No harm, no foul.

In this discussion however, my spidey senses began to tingle when someone’s response was close to saying that it’s “tacky” to ask others to help “fund your dreams”.

In theory, yeah, okay, I can see that on some level.  But then, as with most things, it made me think about those of us in the infertility fight, and how sights like GoFundMe have actually helped some of us do just that.  Is growing our families a “dream” that others should scoff at helping us fund?

Crowd-funding sites have helped many couples on the infertility journey find a way that they can allow family and friends who previously felt helpless, assist them on their way.  For many, the sites have given them the opportunity to take their own first steps into self-advocacy and find their voice.  Even if no one ever clicked the donate button, for a lot of couples, this was their way of boldly announcing just what their years of struggle had entailed, and how hard they’d been trying to work towards it.  I’m sure that countless individuals were able to at least send a message of support that was like a drop of water to someone dying of thirst.

Over the past few years, I’ve built up my skills at design.  When it was time for me to suck up my pride and work on raising funds for my own IVF, my husband and I decided that the best way for us to do that was to use my designs toward our dream.  I am also blessed to live in one of the few states that includes fertility treatment in health insurance.  Many times, however, I wonder what I’d do if I didn’t have that skill or that health benefit.  How devastated would I be if I had no money to start from scratch, AND no tangible thing to use as a fundraiser?

I can only imagine.

As people continue to exploit these sites for all kinds of reasons, that many will no doubt judge, I’m sure that those who were already debating whether or not they should move forward with fundraising for infertility will decide to go back into the shadows.  There is a personal fight that many of us have when financial issues come into play in infertility.  It is the fight that whispers, “If you have to raise money to even do this, maybe that says you shouldn’t do this”.  We cower behind it, and swallow our sorrow, and retreat into defeat.

I don’t want you to do that.  I want you to have a safe space to shout from the rooftops, “I’m struggling, and I would like some help.”  Even if you never get a dime, I have always been about empowering others to self-advocate.

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays, will be a weekly promotional kickstart on The Egg, where I will share an idea for a cool Fertility Fundraiser, or a link to one that stands out.  We’re in this together, and I hope your dreams come true.  Allow me to be your platform, and please, if you can, reach back and help someone else by sharing theirs.

Fertility Fundraiser Fridays

 

Mission In Progress. The Egg’s 5th Birthday!

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.  Birthday

Proactive Hope

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.

Carton of Hope header 2 copy

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.

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