Posts Tagged ‘African Americans’

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…)

Trauma. Speaking Out For Infertility and Depression #DayOfLight

BBE Day Of Light

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.
No.
I don’t think you understand.
I work.
A LOT.
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.
Every day.
All day.
And when I wake up from that four hours, I start it all over again.

Why?

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.

 

Pebbles & Mustard Seeds

 

Mustard Seeds featured copySo finally, after battling insurance requirements to get to the testing phase of my pre-IVF life, it’s time for a saline sonogram to investigate the condition of my uterus itself.  The reason a good RE will do this test before moving forward with IVF is to ensure that the home we’re going to place defenseless embryos into, is a good one, with ample parking and whatnot.

So what is a saline-hysterosonogram?  Basically, it’s an ultrasound.  The doctor inserts saline into your uterus while performing the ultrasound, so that the saline will coat the area and provide a clear image of the shape and lining.

Now, silly me, because I’d had a d&c and hysteroscopy a year ago, which pretty much cleared my uterus out completely, I thought this would be a minor procedure just to get out of the way.  I mean, I just had my uterine reset button pressed, what bad elements could have moved into the neighborhood in such a short time?

Well, apparently, a polyp.

Wait, what? Seriously?

Of course!

Because if I haven’t learned in this infertility battle, I’ve learned that NOTHING on this journey can be simple for me.  NOTHING.

So as we’re all looking at the ultrasound monitor, I can see there’s one small portion that won’t allow the saline to spread.  And THAT little, pebble sized dent, is what my doctor said was a polyp.  In fact, she and the technician went back and forth about whether it looked like a polyp or a fibroid, but I just shook my head and faded out for a minute, because fibroid or polyp, to me, it was a roadblock.  One more thing I’d have to get around.  Great.

The next step would be yet another d&c and hysteroscopy.

Good times.

So we sat down with our nurse after my sonogram to get some directions about where we were going next.  As the doctor had already said, my first trip would be back to my regular ob/gyn to schedule the hysteroscopy.  I was hesitant to ask, because I didn’t want to seem as time-obsessed as I actually am, but before she continued, I asked her how long after that would I be back in business.  Thankfully, she said two weeks is the recovery time, and that the IVF consultation meeting I’d have to do next would line up with that.  In the meantime, all our bloodwork was back and fine, with the exception of my thyroid because its a jerky mc jerkface, and it was time for me to restart Metformin.

Yay!

So a couple days later, it was back to the gynecologist I went.  True to form, this too could not be without dramatics.

So let’s see, the appointment was at 10:30, and there was no traffic getting to the office, but when I got ONE block away, traffic was stopped.  10:50.  Finally got around the traffic debacle and parked, the office had moved, and I went to the wrong building first.  10:55.  I get into the office, get signed in, and of course my insurance has changed so I have to call to make sure I’m even able to see my doctor at all.  After arguing with the automated system for 25 minutes, I finally talked to a person who finally found the doctor in network.  11:30.  And I STILL didn’t see the doctor until 12.

It’s a blessing to have a doctor who knows you, or at least knows enough about you and your journey to be fully on board.  I have that blessing.  Every visit, she asks me how YOU Eggshells are doing, and speaks to how great it is that I blog about this.  We chatted for a while about how many patients she gets who don’t consider their fertility until it’s just about too late, and the number of those patients that happen to be African American.

Listening and talking to her reminded me that beyond my frustrations about having to stop and go so much, there are so many other women who haven’t even started.  More even than that, I think about the ones who probably never will, out of fear or procrastination.  So I took that as encouragement to push through this roadblock.  I could look at the polyp as a pebble in my way, or an opportunity to exercise a mustard seed of faith.

I chose the mustard seed.

I scheduled the hysteroscopy surgery and told myself not to complain. I’d taken the time to take a step that was necessary to reach my goal.  If for no other reason, that was enough to feel a little satisfaction.  I then took that high and used it to walk myself over to the other medical building and leave word for my other doctor regarding my thyroid needs.   Hell, I was already on a roll, may as well take it all the way, right?  With every little step, I was reclaiming just a sliver of my control, and it felt good.

Once again, I felt like an infertility gangster. LOL  I pulled off feeling ten times better than I had when I got there, and blasting my motivation playlist.

I hope you’re learning to take your small victories, too!  They add up.

 

Mustard Seed image courtesy of olivcris/ Flickr.com

The Best of Times…The Worst of Times

I warn you, not to watch this.
And yet I have to share it.
A father breaks down while explaining one of the hardest points in his life. Attending to the very real pain of grief during the day, and wading through a career as a comedian at night.
It is a heart-wrenching story.
But I have to share it.
Because this is the EXACT feeling I have been trying to convey for months now.  This feeling that everything is going swell, and yet going horribly all at once.
The feeling of knowing that although something is dying in our lives, we still have to go to work.
Even as something is passing away in us, we still have to communicate.
All the while something is breaking us down,  we have to express joy in the “good” things that have come our way in the meantime.
And nobody knows what is really happening underneath.
When this video ended, I was in tears.
Not just for HIS pain.
But because he understood mine.

For the past 9 months, EVERY DAY has been an up and down roller-coaster of feelings.
I go into the doctor’s office in the morning and hear no good news, I get to work in the afternoon and get praised for something.
I excel in my social obligations on the weekends, I spend the weeknights curled in my bed.
I am kicking life’s ass personally and professionally, and it is kicking mine emotionally and physically.

And no one gets it!  You can write it out,  talk until you’re blue, draw a diagram, and people will still want you at work in the morning, at church on Sunday, and at their party/babyshower/ladies night on Saturday.  They placate you with soft “Oh, you poor thing”‘s and emoticon you with (((hugs))), but they don’t actually get it.

All they know is that you’re in a pissy mood.  All they see is that you didn’t show up to that thingamajig.  All they know is that you aren’t yourself.

There is an INCREDIBLE isolation felt.  A dynamic feeling that life is interfering with life.  That you can’t be YOU.  That life will NOT slow down and let you get your breath because you aren’t entitled to that.  You just keep riding downhill in this car, even-though you know the brakes are out, and you can only pray that there is a gentle tree to stop the incline.

I finally reached a break in my menorrhagia last week.  I had my body to myself for about four days and then promptly got food poisoning.  LOL  Because that’s how fly I am.   But overall, I’m in somewhat of a better place.  I’m a little less snarky this week.  I feel a tiny piece of joy returning to my workday.   I don’t want to retreat from human contact nearly as much.

And I’m grateful for that.

But I know that it’s only a matter of time before things start rolling down that hill again.  And I’m going to have to get up and come to work, and make teenagers happy (oh, the horror), and care about eating food during the day, and make myself respond to phone calls and text messages, and make myself smile at photos, and encourage myself to listen when people talk to me.

Only this time, this video will be in my head.  And I’ll be trying to make myself also remember that while I’m dying, so is the person in front of me.  The cashier at the grocery store.  The attendant at the gas station.  That friend of mine.  And yes, even the comedian on my television screen.

You NEVER know what someone is going through.

So treat EVERYONE with the same care and compassion that YOU need.

Dear Braxton Sisters…

Dear Toni, Towanda, Traci, Trina, and the “Diva That is She”, Tamar, LOL

I just watched the season finale of your reality show and was absolutely floored at the candor and gentleness with which your family responded after learning about the fertility issues Tamar and Vincent are facing.   I applaud each of you for not making your baby sister feel uncomfortable.  For taking her feelings and situation to heart and reacting with hope and love.  You have NO idea how important that is to someone who is facing such an unexpected blow to their life plan.  That meant the world.

Towanda, to offer your assistance as a gestational carrier for Tamar without hesitation, was such a selfless and loving act.   I was also moved by your words that every woman should have the opportunity to become a mother if they desire.  This very fundamental belief is one that many of us who deal with infertility have to fight to get across.  That you GOT it, even as someone who is already a mother, meant  more than I think you know.   Finally, to say “YOU WILL”, when Tamar was saying “What if I can’t,” was PRICELESS and powerful.  Thank you.

Tamar, first and foremost, as a reality star I’m sure you are no stranger to discussing personal issues in front of the world and are pretty used to being in a fishbowl, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for taking the world into that fertility discussion with you.  I am consistently floored by women and men in the African American community who are so very sure that our race isn’t a part of the 7.3 million people who are dealing with fertility issues.  That being said, it was a powerful statement, even through your usual jokes and sarcasm, for people to see a young, African American couple dealing with fertility challenges.

Many people who watch or have seen parts of Braxton Family Values usually fall into the “Love Tamar” or “Hate Tamar” categories.  I’m biased, because in my house, I’m the “EXTRA” person, who has always said things to people like “Get your life together”, and is quick to cover up my feelings with my dry wit, so I can relate to you.  For that reason, I personally feel that if more people looked past your delivery into the feelings that are behind them, there would be far more in the love bracket.  I watched the discussions between you and your sisters concerning your fears and thoughts about fertility treatments, and while you were blunt and at times a bit brash, what I saw was a young woman who was trying to figure out how to grasp the situation for herself and also how to explain that situation to the people she loved.

This emotional hurdle is one that many of us have to face.  When that diagnosis comes down, and the road to parenthood seems much longer and rougher than we’d originally thought, we start to question if it is what we even want.  Do I really want to be pregnant at all if its going to be this expensive/difficult/invasive?  Do I want to gain that weight?  Am I sure that I’m not just compensating for something that could be really solved by a good shopping trip or change of scenery?

The answer is usually yes.  We want to be mothers.  Which leads to another point of discomfort when we start to think beyond what we want, and start thinking about what those who love us, want for us.  My mother would love a grandchild from me.  My husband would love a child of our own.  My sisters and brother would love a niece or nephew.  How will I tell them that I may not be able to give them that?

So we cover it up with vague explanations and joking responses, and we talk about it in a “no big deal” tone, when it is really beating us up inside.  I could be wrong, but that is what I saw as you talked to your family.  I felt as though I’ve done that “yeah so I’m gonna have to do this other thing” conversation myself before, and my heart wanted to hug you.  We do have to work on a little of your phrasing about certain fertility terms, LOL, but above all else I wish you and Vincent nothing but the very best, and pray that things work out in a way that best suits the two of you.

I was about to let this episode get past me without mentioning it here on The Egg, but I couldn’t.  The vision and voice was too important.  I sincerely thank each of you for being what you always are if nothing else, and that is honest.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

P.S.   I TOTALLY bought The Braxton’s CD TWICE back in the day, and still think “Where’s the Good in Goodbye” is a sleeper cut.  Thanks for being a part of my  high school soundtrack. LOL

P.P.S.  Z-PHI Towanda and Traci!

Fear and Loathing

His name was Trayvon Martin.

And he could very well have been the son I’m trying for.

And that scares me. (more…)

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