I haven’t done one of these in a while, perhaps because everyone has been pretty darn quiet on the infertility front celeb-wise. But Dawn Robinson deserves a nod.
A few years back, I had the displeasure of sitting in a radiology waiting room with a 40 year old black woman who was being tested for fibroids. She had no idea what fibroids were. She was scared and alone, with a look on her face that said clearly how terrified she was about the x-ray itself, but also these tumors her doctor carelessly told her she may have. My heart broke for her, and for the countless others who had probably sat in the same seats, thinking those same terrifying thoughts.
So tonight, for Dawn to openly discuss her removed fibroids as well as the endometriosis she’d also been diagnosed with, was huge. But let’s not just stick with that. No. Dawn has done so very much in the past few weeks of R&B Divas L.A., with just her honesty and vulnerability, that I don’t know that I could have asked for a better spokesperson. (more…)
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.
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!
I just finished your book a couple weeks ago, and I immediately knew I’d have to pen you a note, like the one I sent to Angela Basset. You see, while the story told all about your permission to be yourself, one of the greatest lessons for me was in your openness about the journey to motherhood. I am grateful to you for the honest look at the feelings and insecurities behind infertility and the pain and fear of miscarriage. For sharing these feelings with the world, you should be applauded. For being a black woman, sharing these feelings with the world, I salute you. Thank you for giving hope to those of us who need to write ourselves a few “it’s okay to cry”, slips, and a couple “You can be a mom, if you believe it will happen”, slips. I know I’m not the only one who needs a few.
As the only woman of color with an infertility story to share on The View’s award-winning Infertility episode, I was proud to see you. Thank you for letting the world know about the COST of infertility treatments, and for shattering the idea that it is somehow less demanding on celebrities and television personalities. Thank you for calling out the fact that insurance companies do not always cover infertility.
Ms. Shepherd, your perspective brought that show around for women like me who were sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting to see a reflection on the screen. You were that reflection. For the woman somewhere who is terrified about whether her past abortions are punishing her now, you provide bold proof that this is not so. There is a courage and honesty in the way your deliver your story that numbs me. Not many would be as fearless while on a stage with Barbara Walters and with the world watching.
There are very real strains that infertility places on marriages. There are sexual dysfunctions that come from trying to be the best wife, keep the best house, and conceive a healthy family. You flawlessly explained and dissected those feelings. As hard as it is to understand them for ourselves, how much harder still it must have been to put them on paper and send out for the rest of us to read. I’m grateful to you for using your life as an example, and for telling some woman who’s marriage has not survived their infertility, infidelity, or depression, that things will get better and being a two-parent family, doesn’t always equal a two-parent home.
I thank you for not being perfect. For fighting diabetes and hating what it has made food for you. That honesty and humor helps me fight PCOS and others fight the very same diabetes diagnosis. Your humor is such a calming gift. So many feelings of despair and utter hopelessness are evaporated with that familiar warm smile,that says, “Hey, we all go through some stuff”. While many may not agree with you about many things, it should not be denied how important a voice such as yours is. One of my professors made a comment the other day that fits perfectly, “if a voice is important to just one person…then it is an important voice”. Your voice is important.
I want to thank you for being open about your journey to your twins. I know that for you, it may have not seemed as important to speak out as it was for those of us who were able to see it, but I am so grateful. Out of all your work, this is the role for which I am most proud of you.
To see your smiling face in People magazine, speaking of the eternal gratitude you and your husband have for your gestational surrogate, was IMPORTANT. It was meaningful to a brown girl such as myself who had not seen anyone of my race discuss surrogacy before. It was important for me to understand that surrogacy was not weird or awkward, but an insurmountable gift.
I want to thank you for showing me an example of a strong, black family who wanted children, instead of being overwhelmed by them. So many of the images I had seen until then showed women who’s children were their obstacle, and something they had to become successful in spite of. You showed me that even in Hollywood, family was important. You proved to me that having children to reflect the love you and your husband shared was not too strange of a request. You proved to me that motherhood was worth fighting for. That parenthood was as important a goal as success.
I thank you for being honest about your decision to use a surrogate. I thank you for being honest about the seven years it took you and Courtney to achieve your family. I’m grateful for you explaining to the masses what gestational surrogacy meant, in relation to your babies being your 100% biological offspring, though I WISH we didn’t have to make that distinction.
I thank YOU for giving me a reflection that was accessible. I thank you for being real.
As I look at the mother you’ve become,…and the journey you took to get there,…
I THANK YOU.