Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Random Thoughts…

Some things on my mind today.  You may or may not agree or like them.  But then…this is my blog, right?  Right.
My list:
  • My Husband turned 30 this week. (Happy Birthday Dude!)…and with that birthday went any possibility of his being a dad “in his 20’s”.
  • I’m sure that in the top 12 thoughts of all people who discover their infertility, is the phrase: “And to think of all the money I spent on condoms!”Photobucket (more…)

Reproductive Health…in a Recession

If I’ve learned anything about politics, its that you can’t please everyone all the time.  No matter how you slice the bread, someone is always going to complain that they got the bad piece.  And in the case of decisions that include health or finance, there will always be one side staring at the other going, “I don’t get what you’re so worked up about”.  When the Affordable Care Act ,was instituted, allowing young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health coverage until age 26, I had quite the over-dramatic moment.  For the thousands of people who were boldly unimpressed with the President thus far, I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug his neck.  I guess, they’d never been where I’d been.

For me,  reading over the details in the fact sheet, it was hard not to remember how I felt myself, when I aged-out of my mom’s health insurance.  I was almost done with college, but silly me, I was not yet done with getting sick and having medical concerns.  No longer covered by my mom’s Blue Cross, I was the only person in my house subjected to making the emergency room, my primary care physician. When I finally got a job that included benefits, some two years later, I learned that health insurance was the fatted calf of all great jobs.  The fear of losing that security is what got me out of bed in the mornings, and for many of us, what kept us working at places we hated.

After finally grasping what it was like again to have a doctor to call, one who knew my name and symptoms, I never wanted to go back to the uncertainty of emergency medicine and unconcerned, overworked board of health doctors.  Well, for many of us facing unemployment and layoffs now, myself included, as well as those of us on a budget who pay for our own health insurance, we are once again looking down that barrel, and I am determined to not go at it with the same depressed attitude.  Health coverage or not, our bodies are worthy of adequate care, and we are the ones to make sure we get it.

For those of us whom our fertility is only a symptom of more pressing matters, not visiting the doctor regularly can be climactic.  For me, the irregular and massive menstrual cycles were just not going to allow me to stay away from the stirrups for too many long breaks.  Just when I would think everything was under control, She and I would spend a lovely 2 months together and I would finally have to go weeping into someone’s triage for relief.  Yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even urinary tract infections can also become reproductive health problems for which many women need recurring treatments and maintenance. Finding a comfortable place that can help us monitor our bodies until we can return to more regular care, is vital to creating a healthy reproductive tract.

In beginning my search for a health center, I started with Google.  I did a basic search for women’s health clinics in my area.  When I found a few that looked interesting, I also took my search over to Yelp.com, to check out the reviews.  Hearing what other patients are saying about their quality of care and bedside manner is an excellent tool in making your decision.

Private facilities with sliding scales are a great choice for those of us with little cash to spare, but a desire to remain on top of our health.  Many women’s clinics around the country provide specialized services and empowerment to those in need.  Here in Chicago, for instance, there is the Chicago Women’s Health Center.  This organization provides treatment on a sliding scale, with the lowest appointment fee being just $20, which is the cost of the lab work! The clinic focuses on educating women (including LGBT women) on how to  holistically take care of their bodies.  The health education aspect, along with the self-empowerment focus is what keeps many people who even HAVE insurance coming back to CWHC for years.  Check out the clinics in your area, and be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.  Find out what the fees are for the uninsured or if there are special programs to help you.

Fertility Note: Fertility awareness is taught on-site, which really stood out to me because most people seem to think that if you can’t afford to have a baby right now, you shouldn’t be planning for one, which I find to be a load of crap.

Speaking of special programs, investigate your state!  I found that here in Illinois, there is a Healthy Women card, that I was COMPLETELY unaware of back in the day when I was first uninsured (someone needs to step their publicity game up).  The “Pink Card”, as its called, provides every eligible woman in the state with coverage for reproductive health needs.  This includes yearly pap exams, testing, and basically any other issue that can be narrowed down to general gynecology, even tubal ligations for women over 21. The card is accepted at some doctors offices here, so it could be that some women are able to continue with the doctors they know!   There are different programs for Moms and Babies, and women with larger families or incomes, but this card is valid for the reproductive needs of women like me.  Investigate the programs that your state may have, because just like finding this out proved to me, some government agencies you’ll never know about until you look. (I found similar programs in Texas, Oregon, and Maryland to name a few)

Fertility Note: My favorite line from their website is this:

  • Patient education and counseling about women’s health, family planning and how to plan for a healthy pregnancy if and when you want to have a baby.

Illinois Healthy Women Card

Planned Parenthood remains a crowd favorite for many contraceptive choices, but it is important to note that they do provide gynecological exams and checkups as well.  The cost of many of these services depends on the location, so don’t hesitate to call them and inquire.  Planned Parenthood is a clean and trusted environment where women(and men), have gone for years.  Though I still cringe at the amount of reproductive health clinics that cleave solely to preventative medicine, I have to say that PP is greatly instrumental in keeping thousands of bodies safe and healthy for decades.

Fertility Note: While as I said, Planned Parenthood does seem to lean more towards contraception and abortion, according to their website, they are able to provide information on fertility services in your area if you ask during your appointment.  SO ASK.

Lastly, check out your County hospitals, community health centers and health departments.  These fall to the bottom of my list primarily because of the over-crowding and the enormous wait times,(or maybe that’s just here in Chicago), but I have to say that sometimes these hospitals have some of the best doctors.  They may take all day to get to you, because of the amount of other more serious cases, but when they do, they are going to leave no stone unturned. Do NOT let them intimidate you.  I experienced a colposcopy in one of the most unattractive and un-updated exam rooms, but I was also sure when I left that everything had been investigated.  The comfort of knowing I was healthy, far surpassed the discomfort of that dim, small room.  The health centers in your area may be much different than the ones I have experienced, but either way you owe it to yourself to at least visit and see what its about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  To find the community health centers near you, visit the websites of your county, city or village.  The fastest way though, is to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website and enter your zip code into the Clinic Locator.

With any place that you decide you’re most comfortable, do not leave out your fertility plans!  Even when I was down on my very worst luck, without two pennies to rub together, and in need of someone to please prescribe ANYTHING to slow or stop my periods, I did not leave out the fact that childbearing was something I was planning for.  The usual treatment option for PCOS related symptoms and irregular periods, is birth control pills.   I made sure to note my future plans because I did not want any prescriptions or treatments that would stall my process when I was able to move forward.  Whatever your situation, I hope you (and I) find health service alternatives that meet our goals and expectations, while allowing us to become healthy carriers for the lives we seek.  Not being able to afford building your family is NOT the same as not being able to afford PLANNING your family.

Something to Believe In

Guess what…

Every part of this journey will prove more educational than the last.

Every part of this journey, even if you don’t belive me, is for your good in the long run.

Every thing you’ve endured and witnessed will serve as vitamin for your future.

All the struggle of trying to make everything make sense,

All the pain of accepting when it doesn’t,

All the anger of not being able to quicly “accept the things you can’t change”,

and Even the confused feelings you get when you’re a little relieved the test was negative, so that you can have this much-needed glass of wine just to recenter yourself,

Yes, Every part…is going to make sense at some point.

And do you know why?

Because You will be  a mom, if that’s what you truly want to be.

Even if you never get pregnant.

Even if your husband’s sperm never meets your egg.

Even if you have to travel hundreds of miles to pick your baby up from the most expensive daycare you’ll ever pay,

Even if you never feel a kick underneath your belly skin,

Fate can STILL decide,

That you are good enough to wipe a nose or two,

That your lullabies are just as sweet as the mother of four who lives down the hall.

That you can cheer just as loud at any little league parent

That your magic kisses can heal twice as many boo-boo’s than you think.

And do you know what?

For that little person,who will grow into that amazing adult, who will look down from that podium/stage accepting that diploma/award/certificate, it won’t MATTER how you came to be their mom.

All that will matter is that you ARE.

And THAT is when it will all make perfect sense.

So don’t cry today.

It’s unnecessary, I promise.
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A Different Kind of Adoption

I’m conflicted in my beliefs this morning.

Well, maybe not my beliefs, but the beliefs of this society.  The beliefs that African-Americans do not adopt and that we are unaware of the children in need of homes and loving families.  You see, I have a hard time with this misconception, because I’ve lived the opposition.  I firmly believe that unbeknownst to the mainstream, we are actually doing the majority of adopting.  So why isn’t it headline news?  Because it is completely unofficial.

Seven years ago today, my boyfriend of four months, mentioned during our nightly phone call that his cousin was in labor.  The very next day, I came over to visit and was introduced to a small and fragile infant, the color of chardonnay.  Two weeks later, the baby and her three year-old brother were still there, but their mother was not.  This, needless to say, put my boyfriend and his mother at a hectic place, since both were working and he was in school.

I was the oldest in my family, so I’d taken care of my share of babies.  In fact, it is still awkward for me to hear adults say they’ve never been around babies, or changed a diaper.  When I think of waking up at 4am with my baby brother and of carrying him around the grocery store in a Snugli, I’m a bit taken aback.  My job had just ended, so I offered to help out in any way I could.  The next weekend, I moved in to take care of Israel.

There were some in both of our families who questioned my willingness to jump into pseudo-motherhood for a man I’d only been with for four months.  My own mother was completely shocked and told me as much as I was packing my suitcase.  There were some in his family who questioned my motives.  But I didn’t hear any of that at the time.  All I could see was that precious premature little girl who was without a mom.  I couldn’t stand the thought of her being pushed off on daycares and strangers when I was available.  I didn’t know when or if her mother would be back, but I knew that for what it was worth, I had the time and ability to stand in the gap, so I did.

3 weeks old

For those months that I took care of Israel,  I did not consider my own ability to have children at all.  I was not even aware of what would one day be my issue with infertility.  All I could think of, was this amazing little girl and her brother. That was more important to me than my own fertility, or the circumstances that had caused their mother to leave.  I asked for nothing in return, which was also unheard of to some friends at the time.  But they couldn’t see what I saw.  They didn’t see the joy I got from knowing that I was helping this family stay together.  In the evenings, my boyfriend and I would pack her in the stroller, and take she and her brother for a walk around the block.  It was the only payment I received.

Israel and I at her Christening

When I think of the day her mother came “back”, it still stings a little.  I was warming a bottle when the doorbell rang.  My “boyfriend” opened the door and let them in.  I was in the middle of changing Israel’s diaper when her mother walked into the room and said, “Oh, Regina, thank you, I’ll do it.”  I remember backing away with a slight smile.  More out of discomfort than anything.  Immediately I felt like a stand-in for Jessica Lange in Losing Isaiah.  It was very quickly that she had fully dressed the baby, grabbed her bag, took the warm bottle from my hands and was out of the door.

I sat on the bed and just let the tears fall.  That experience, is what scares me about adoption, to this very day.  I NEVER want to feel that way again.  I kept thinking to myself, she doesn’t know that her favorite snack is Cheerios.  She doesn’t know that I sing “Izzy the Pooh” to her to calm her down.

It was hard.

Today, Israel turns seven.  Her brother, Na’kif, is ten.   Today, that boyfriend is my husband.  There has never been a formal adoption, but both children are still living with their great-aunt, my mother-in-law.  Though their mother is better and back in the picture, she has not taken them into her own home.  Though now, I’m sure that if she did, it would tear my mother-in-law apart.   The children go and visit their mother and new baby sister.  My husband is Godfather/Uncle/Dad-figure.  I’m Gommy (God-mommy).

Situations such as this are more common than believed in minority communities, which is why I believe that the idea of us not adopting is a myth.  We may not officially adopt as often as other races, but we are extremely familiar with the concept.  Many of us have cousins and uncles who we later find were of no relation at all.  Some of us find that our own grandparents are not who they have appeared to be for all our life.  We do adopt,…just differently.

Favorite Girls, Favorite Place. Me, Israel, and my niece Karla.

Today, Israel is seven years old.  Today marks seven years of drying her tears.  Seven years of dressing her body and hair.  Seven years of giggles and bedtime stories.  Seven years of loving this little girl in ways that her mother was simply incapable of doing for whatever reason.  Today, I am GRATEFUL to her mother for giving me this little person who has enriched my life, loved me unconditionally, and shown me to my boyfriend in a light that led him to make me his wife.  I thank her for my amazing, smart, and BEAUTIFUL little girl.

This afternoon, I am going to take my goddaughter to the library for her birthday.  A boring gift to some, but it was the exact thing she asked me for.  What kind of mom would I be, to deny her?

Happy Birthday to my Izzy the Pooh!  Gommy LOVES You!!!

Guest Post – Using ART to Start Your Family: An Industry Insider’s Tips on Managing Your Treatment

There has been an amazing influx of people seeking information!  Though I hate that there are so many people who need this info, I’m glad to see that there are those who have gained the courage to speak out and ask for it! Anywhoo, recently I had the pleasure of meeting a professional who I just love, Mindy Berkson of Lotus Blossom Consulting, an infertility consultant who everyday makes headway in teaching people how to build their families.  Aside from lending her services to the A.H.A gala in September Smiley , Mindy has also provided The Egg with some amazing advice.  For whatever reason, Blogger is being a jerk about me copying her outstanding article into the blog, but I have uploaded it into Scribd! (take that Blogger! Photobucket )Enjoy it and pass it on!

Fourteen years ago, I was confronted with my own infertility struggles: after having a successful first pregnancy, my husband and I were not able to get pregnant a second time and I was eventually diagnosed with unknown secondary infertility. Over several years’ time, I wentthrough numerous insemination cycles and several in vitro fertilization cycles before becoming pregnant with twin boys. Treatment was difficult, both physically and emotionally and at times strained what was, until then, a very happy union.

Going through all this instilled in me a desire to help others through their own infertility cycles,and eventually lead me to start my own company, Lotus Blossom Consulting. What I present in this article are the lessons I learned not only from my own treatment, but also the sum of over fourteen years’ experience working in the industry and walking with others through their cycles. I hope that this toolbox of ideas and pointers helps you as much as it does all my other clients.

Using ART to Achieve a Family


About Mindy Berkson and Lotus Blossom Consulting

As one of the first infertility consultancies in the United States, Lotus Blossom Consulting, LLC was founded by MindyBerkson in 2005. With more than a decade of experience at physician’s offices, and egg donor and surrogacy agencies, Berkson assists individuals working through the often-challenging roadblocks of infertility, by providing thebest information and resources available to them from around the world – all in one location.


Lotus Blossom Consulting works with individuals on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration clients’emotional, physical and financial infertility issues and then develops an individualized, comprehensive plan, to helpclients make informed decisions and pull together a team of unbiased professionals to accomplish a treatment cycle. 


Mindy is a sought-after infertility expert and has appeared on countless media programs and speaker panels educating audiences on the topic of infertility, egg banking and surrogacy. For more information about Lotus BlossomConsulting, LLC, call toll free (877) 881-2685, email mindy@lotusblossomconsulting.com or visit the web atwww.lotusblossomconsulting.com or http://www.infertilityconsultant.com

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You’re Not my Real Mother!

I hope you guys are enjoying these videos.  I’m actually enjoying making them, which I didn’t think I would (because I was petrified). LOL

Anywhoo, have you tweeted #infertility today?
I’ll wait.

Hey, you’re back! Thanks for going to do that right quick.

Anyway, the book for today is You’re Not My Real Mother by Molly Friedrich.  I also talk about why I’ve chosen to look at children’s books this week and some other tidbits. Enjoy!

I must also say this…
It amazes me how silent my culture REMAINS about this topic…I’ll continue to scapegoat myself. LOL  BUT, I REALLY need for us to stop spreading ridiculousness and nonsense and then NOT discussing important things.  ALL of the world does not need to see us brandishing the “we don’t want each other” nonsense of the recent Nightline segments while there are STRONG African-American couples trying to build families.
Alright…I’m getting off my soapbox.


Friedrich, Molly, and Christy Hale. You’re Not My REAL Mother!. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2004. Print.

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