Posts Tagged ‘Hope’
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.
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 was talking to a friend yesterday about the ridiculous changes the both of us have had to endure over the past year or so regarding our infertility. We droned on and on about most of it, but then in a brief moment of clarity, one of us finally went, “This is HARD!”, and the other of us replied with, “RIGHT?!”
It really, truly is hard.
There are no “right” answers.
Life doesn’t stop and give you the opportunity to catch up to yourself.
You can’t call in “infertile and devastated” to work.
It just keeps moving.
What IF infertility wasn’t so hard, though? What IF I didn’t have to fight for every single inch? What IF this had come easy for me like it has for so many others? Who would I be, and what would infertility mean to me?
If this weren’t so hard:
I probably wouldn’t know as much about my body as I do now.
I can admit to being rather flighty about it when I was younger and thought that all bodies were created equal. I track everything about myself now to the point where there is a separate section in my google calendar just for monitoring. I’m my own obsession now.
I would be one of the ones who didn’t get it.
As a teen, I can remember asking my mother why some family members didn’t have children, and my FIRST thought was always that they must not have wanted any. Because if you wanted kids, you had them, right? So to be an adult, with a job and a house, and still no children of your own, you must have decided that kids just weren’t for you, and that you didn’t want to be bothered. The millisecond that this thing gets real for you, all that ignorance falls away like leaves.
I wouldn’t be so aware of how much my community is lacking in reproductive health information.
You really never know what’s missing until you’re looking for it. In my years of haphazard pap smears and birth control pills thrown in my direction, I never even knew there was something else I should have been asking about. All I knew about fibroids was taught through the radio commercials that proclaimed loudly about how there was a “NEW procedure that would only require outpatient surgery and no hysterectomy!”. These commercials usually aired midday on V103, right after an Anita Baker song, and just before Luther Vandross.
I can remember no pamphlet or discussion with any doctor of mine which explained fibroids themselves OR hysterectomies.
I never knew to ask why my periods lasted so long, or what kind of effects my birth control pills could have on my future reproductive health. I did whatever my doctors told me was best. They said hypothyroid, and I stopped at hypothyroid.
Which brings me to my next revelation…
I wouldn’t know how to advocate for myself medically.
I never questioned a doctor in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never willingly CHANGED doctors in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never brought a pen and pad, or researched before an appointment, prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never mapped out my medical choices so extensively.
I never checked my doctor’s “report cards”.
I never got to know the nurses at my doctor’s offices, or even thought much about the office itself after my appointments.
I have conversations. I recognize that while that doctor is in the room with me, they are on MY dime and MY time, and neither of us is leaving until I’M satisfied.
I wouldn’t know how to advocate for and with YOU.
In learning to speak up for myself, or at least get some of this really difficultness off of my chest, I’ve been able to interact and support hundreds of others who found themselves in very similar positions. Together, we’ve cried, yelled, laughed, and pushed through to our own resolutions. Some have gone to become parents, others have decided enough was enough, but each of us have grown just a little more. I owe those friendships to this struggle. As hard as it has been.
I wouldn’t know my own strength.
I have learned a lot about myself in these past years, but some things I’ve always known. I know that when I’m hurting, I tend to shut down and deflect. I know that when I’m afraid, I roll into a ball and try to protect myself. I know that I scare pretty easily, overall, and that my pain threshold is meek.
I have learned that when I’m afraid, I will go anyway, and do whatever is needed.
I have learned that when I’m hurting, I find peace in helping others, and in speaking out.
I have learned that trying to protect myself is secondary for me when others are in danger, or uninformed.
I have learned that while many things scare me, never having tried, is my most frightening thought.
I have learned that when it matters, my pain threshold is far higher than I ever would have imagined.
I have learned that I can be stronger than I ever thought possible, because it’s often all I have left.
I have learned that I DO NOT GIVE UP.
Featured image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I discovered that I was a shocking 33 books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year, I went into a frenzy of book selections. I have three e-books on my phone and Ipad, six graphic novels on my desk, two young adult novels in my bag, a playaway digital book in my car, and two audiobooks on my phone.
Don’t judge me.
Anyway, one of the audiobooks, was Nia Vardalos’ “Instant Mom”.
While parts ring so very uncomfortably true that they bring tears to my eyes, another part of me knows that I will have to buy this book. In print, so that I can highlight parts, and extract quotes. I will then have to buy an extra copy so that I can wrap it in a note and give it to someone as oxygen.
I needed this book right now. I needed her hope, and her sorrow, and her success. I needed to hear my reflection. I’ve been stuffing myself so far down into my own chest that I have literally forgotten my feelings at times. I’ve hidden them under anger or fear, or completely blacked them out. I’ve treated the experience of our failed adoption this year the way I treat all mistakes in my life: as they that must not be named.
Do you know how when you’re writing longhand and you make a mistake in pen you can just draw a line through it and keep going?
Yeah. I don’t. Because I could never deal with just that line. I, and more importantly, any other human, would still be able to see my error… and that cannot be. I have to completely eviscerate the word or sentence. Like, to the point where the paper thins out where I’ve drug the pen across so hard.
That, is how much I hate making mistakes. How much I hate feeling or looking stupid. How much I hate failing. And this stupid journey(both the infertility and adoption) feels all the time like an error I can’t correct, white out, or even strike through. And I haaaaaaaate it.
I want to be past it already. To be on the other side. To be in the success story and look at me now portion. And no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to. And it hurts fresh every time I realize it. Like waking up in a new place everyday and being reminded that I’m there because my house burned down.
So when I listened to Nia explain this exact frustration as she journeys backwards through letdown after letdown, I felt both invigorated and instantly saddened. Because I got it. I got it in a way that no fan or family member who read it without walking this road could. I got her, because she got me.
She explained quite vulnerably, how her naturally upbeat personality made her wish, just as I have for so long, to just put this all behind her. She hates discussing infertility, and wanted to focus on being a mom, and finally being happy, but fate has a way of making us share our stories when they can help others. Nia soon found that the best way for her to feel truly “past” it all, was to tell the story of her journey, and help other hurting people find their children also.
This book examined not only the pain of infertility itself, but the struggle of enduring baby showers, failed IVF cycles, the pitfalls of shady adoption “professionals”, and even “the after”. The hero of this story, however, was hope. No matter how many walls Nia and her husband Ian Gomez hit, they maintained their ability to love one another, and love their dreams enough not to let them go.
The Vardalos-Gomez family found their daughter through the foster adoption system. I appreciated a celebrity speaking out on behalf of the kids who are in the foster care system and eligible for adoption. Nia took care to speak against the stigma that both adoption and foster care receive. She expressed that she respects everyone’s choices in how they plan to build their families, but that she encourages people to investigate all the options available.
This voice was so very valuable. Nia holds nothing back,…well, there is that first 80% of the book where she holds back her daughter’s name,…but other than that, she was exceptionally honest and real. Her humor, as anyone who has watched her movies is familiar with, was very present in every chapter and she also includes an appendix that is full of adoption resources.
Now, as a librarian, I usually advise you to grab books from your local library, but Nia donates proceeds from the sales of this book to adoption charities, so I’m okay with you buying this one. 🙂
Darn straight, Nia.
Ps: I recommend listening to the audiobook, because she reads it herself, and all the emotion is present in her voice.
So 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?
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.
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.
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
As I was pulling off from my doctor’s office last week, I couldn’t help but search through my Spotify playlists until I had the right music blasting. I was so invigorated and proud of myself, that I couldn’t move until there was an appropriate soundtrack accompanying my exit. I mean, if you really look at this thing, and some of the moves we have to make, infertility fighters deserve our own theme music.
Some of us are doing more with our day before we even get to work, than others will do all week. Go ahead, toot your own horn. You deserve it.
On the day in question, I’d just had a marathon medical week in terms of getting my ducks in a row.
Where else to start but at the beginning.
So first of all, when you start the fertility center process, one of the first things they’ll have you do as a woman is have preliminary blood work done. Because this testing includes monitoring your hormone levels, it is required that you have them done during the first few days of your menstrual cycle. Now, my once insane cycles have gotten themselves under control in the year after my d&c surgery last fall, so it was a nice change to be able to tell my doctor exactly when I expected my period to arrive. So we smiled and talked, and I was all confident when I told her when it should be there, and planned my next week around getting the ball rolling.
And do you know that heffa period had the nerve to not show up?! All this time we been riding together, and improving our relationship with one another, and now when I need her to be on her game, this broad takes the month off! Like, actually did not even hint at arriving any time soon.
Lost the entire month of September waiting for a period that gave no cares about me and my timeline. Moved into October, and just as my calendar was getting hectic again with work conferences and family obligations, etc., the prodigal period returned. Great, right?! Now we can move forward right?!
In between conference sessions, I call the fertility center to schedule the blood tests within the window of days, and they tell me that all of a sudden my insurance company is requesting a referral from a primary care physician. So, I call my primary care office, and before we even get to the nitty gritty, the nurse decides to go back and forth with me for twenty minutes about how I shouldn’t need a referral at all, and I have to tell her repeatedly that I’m only telling her what the fertility center told me that the insurance company told them! Finally, she transfers me to some voicemail system to leave the referral request.
I say on the message that this is a time sensitive request, and that if they can get back to me soon, I’d appreciate it. I put infertility-me into a little compartment and go back to my conference and wait for a reply from the nurse. At the end of the day, I get a message from her saying that even-though all my doctors at this point know that I have blocked tubes and have to jump to IVF, I can’t just get the referral, but that I have to come in for yet another appointment (can somebody say “copay hustle”).
And that appointment date? Yeah, nine days away. As though I didn’t already say that things were time-sensitive. I was discouraged to say the least. After the vacation my period took in September, it would be devastating to now have to skip October also.
So I started making last-ditch efforts. I called my patient coordinator at the fertility center to see if she had any advice on how to proceed. She was awesome, and double-checked every loophole she could find, but in the end, we were back at square one.
I hung up with her and headed back to my job. I’d just have to wait, I supposed. As upset as I was, I felt like maybe it was time to just chalk it up as a loss, but then something in me was just like, “We’ve come too far.” So on a whim, I decided to call my primary care office and see if there had been any cancellations. Someone had just cancelled for the very next day. I’d have to fit it in during a lunch hour, but I did not hesitate to tell her I’d be there.
I make it to the appointment, get all the way to the part where she’d get me the referral done, and the computer wouldn’t let her input it.
Sigh. So she prints me out the referral order anyway and tells me to call back the next day to make sure that it went through. Great. Because during yet another day at my work conference, I’d like to spend my lunch break on the phone with nurses and insurance companies. Nothing better to do.
I call back tomorrow and I’m on hold most of the day. I can’t get through to the referral nurse, and when I talk to the fertility center, they won’t budge until I have that confirmation. Finally, I’m able to get them to at least agree to let me come in the morning, if I have the referral in hand, BUT, just to gut punch me, the nurse explains that if I can’t make it then, I may have missed the testing window and may have to postpone my IVF cycle until NEXT YEAR.
Now, I’m aware that we are only a couple of months from next year. I know that we are running full steam ahead towards the holiday season, and the resolution gateway. However, after the year I’ve had, and having already postponed my life for the first half of the year, to tell me now that I’m so close I can feel the menopur, that I may have to wait until NEXT YEAR….
I’d been strong for a few days. I’d held on to my dignity and control. But when she said that, I just let the tears fall. All my power had once again been taken from the situation. This whole journey has been a list of “next year’s”. I cannot wait yet another year.
So as I sat there in the parking lot, prepared to go back to work, I was deflated, but I couldn’t let it go. So I called the primary care office just one more time. I don’t know if she could hear the desperation in my voice or not, but she sat on the phone with me until she found that damn referral slip and I didn’t care that I’d already driven all the way to work, I pulled out of the parking lot and hightailed it up the street to that office so fast that when I got there, she hadn’t even finished putting my name on the envelope.
I called the fertility center and told them I had it, and they said I may have to sit and wait when I got there the next morning for the approval code or whatever they needed to come through. I told her I didn’t care. I’d sit there and wait.
And I did. I waited close to an hour or so, and had a nice conversation with the billing office rep as well, (who was VERY nice and supportive), had all the blood drawn, then drove downtown to the last day of my conference and then back to work again to finish Teen Read Week.
And nobody knew. Nobody knew that in my personal life, I’d just moved a mountain. I’d just swam the English channel. I’d just knocked down a wall that had taunted me.
I’d just kicked infertility’s ass. All before I even got to work that day.
I hadn’t been concerned with “bugging the nurses”, or getting on their nerves. I didn’t care about sitting in their offices with checklists and requirements. I didn’t even care that they knew me by name by the time I left them. I felt powerful. I felt like a warrior. I felt,…relentless.
So when I pulled out of the parking lot that evening, with two doctor’s appointments handled and a third one already scheduled, I blasted that theme music without hesitation, and I dared anyone try and get in my way.
Are you kicking infertility’s ass? What’s your theme song?
Here’s one of mine:
Featured image courtesy of stockimages, / FreeDigitalPhotos.net