Black Girl Broken

Unexplained infertility

That was the diagnosis

No medical reason

Why this black girl couldn’t conceive

I’m broken

I cried out “My God why have you forsaken me?”

 

“Options” was what the doctor said

“You have options”

In a cloudy haze I listened as this man

Began to explain my uterus

My womb

The core of my existence that was supposed to bring forth life

He was telling me how it worked?

How could he know?

 

How could he know what I was feeling?

Could he see through my soul and know that

I was burning and screaming

In pain

I was broken

My uterus was the soul of who I am

It was broken

No medical reason

No real diagnosis

Unexplained infertility

Black girl broken

 

 

Quick Rant: Synthetic Children

My quick rant…

By now many of you may have heard the foolishness of Dolce & Gabanna’s controversial remarks that took the internet by storm earlier this week. If you haven’t heard about it, let me hip you on some of the controversy that Leigh Weingus wrote for The Huffington Post:

According to translations, the pair — who dated for 23 years and broke up in 2005 — stated that children born through IVF are “children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteruses for rent, semen chosen from a catalog.”

“I am gay, I cannot have a child. I guess you cannot have everything in life,” Dolce added. “Life has a natural course, some things cannot be changed. One is the family.”

What? How are children synthetic when they are born with human DNA? Now, I’m not going to slay them like the rest of the internet did with their comments because what I think they were saying is that they choose not to have children because they are gay and they don’t want to reproduce children through IVF. Okay, I get it. Your choice.

But, the comments about children being synthetic were wrong. As I’ve shared on here before, my munch was created through IVF. It took two attempts to get it right and we were pregnant. It was hard. It was painful. It was not traditional, but we wanted a baby. We were a traditional family who had problems conceiving, but does it matter? Does it make my baby less synthetic?

Many couples struggle with fertility issues. I’m an advocate for fertility options and healthy families. We can’t judge choices to use science to get a baby as a joke. Many children wouldn’t be here and I can’t imagine a day without my munch’s smile.

I wish that all people would realize the simple truth…Children are a gift from God. No matter how they are conceived. We should be thankful for them.

 

Have a Baby By Me

The quest for motherhood is sometimes an arduous task. You know my story. It was difficult and we did IVF to get our little boy. Two rounds of painful injections and procedures produced a happy and healthy little baby. But, what happens when you want a baby and there is no man around?

I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that all women want children or that they want a man (if you’re a same sex couple), but I will say that the prospects of having a child without a man is still difficult for a heterosexual woman. The odds of finding good men that are dateable, relateable and ready for marriage when you are may have you feeling like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

As a woman who is almost 40 and entering the dating field again after more than 14 years, I can see the choices of eligible men are limited. Now, before you get all huffy, let me quantify the eligible men comment. I define eligible men to be the following: gainfully employed, somewhat attractive (no you don’t have to be Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba or Brad Pitt), divorced, widowed or single (no if you have a girlfriend you are not single), likes children (I have one) and wants a relationship (not 20 years from now – maybe 6-12 months from now).

Even if you get through one of those categories, it is still up in the air whether we can get to the point that you are dateable, relateable or ready for a relationship. What about chemistry? Isn’t that important? Whew! Women have it hard. So, what do you do when you want a baby and there is no man around? Find a donor.

Simple right? When I was in my early 20’s I realized that I would probably never get married. Why? Because marriage wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to get married nor did I dream about a big wedding. I didn’t trust the institution of marriage and thought it more like slavery than a relationship from God. I was happy being single. Single and successful. So, I started to think about my fertility. Mainly because I wondered if I didn’t have a child would I in fact be missing out on something special?

I asked a friend of mine who was 3 years older than me to be my “baby’s daddy, sperm donor or contributor to parenthood”. I told him that if I didn’t find anyone and he wasn’t attached by the time I was 27 we should have a baby together. I mean we liked each other. We had love for one another and we were both college educated upwardly mobile black folks. The agreement was made and I was virtually going to have a baby by him.

It was a sober deal. Made with explicit terms and a friendly agreement. It was easier to find someone to parent with that you actually liked than to accidentally get someone you couldn’t stand pregnant. He was an only child and I only wanted one so that worked out pretty well. He could have someone that would continue his dynasty well after he had left the earth.

Well, that didn’t sit right with some of my family. Why? Because I was actually planning on being a single parent without accidentally getting knocked up? What was wrong with putting the choice in my own hands and not playing the “oops I am pregnant card”? I mean we both wanted a baby and we both wanted to make sure that our child was being born in and raised in a healthy environment. Our choice. Not society’s standards but ours.

It didn’t happen though. I got married at 27 and had a baby at 33 so obviously God had other plans. But, what about my sisters who don’t have those options? Should they be forced to forego motherhood in hopes that they will someday land a man worthy and responsible enough to be a father? Should you ask a male friend to be a donor with no connection to the baby? Should you enter into a gentleman’s (and woman’s agreement) to parent without titles other than mom or dad? In my opinion, it’s your choice. Motherhood, your womb and your fertility is not up to society to decide what’s right. Only you can do that.

To Freeze or Not

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on whether or not companies should pay for women to freeze their eggs and if they do pay for it, is it a true benefit or are they requesting that women delay their fertility? Now, let me start by saying that any benefit for reproduction rights or options I support. Not just as a woman, but as an HR professional.

No, I don’t believe they are requesting women to delay their fertility. I believe that when companies pay for women to have reproductive benefits and options they are understanding that people are waiting later to have children. Career, marriage and then children are happening later and thus making it impossible for seemingly healthy individuals to have children. Why not make your choice now?

As a woman who used her infertility benefits, my employer paid for Invitro Fertilization (IVF) which is how I got my munch. My employer offered a lucrative benefit of $100,000 per lifetime or 3 live births (whichever came first). This is a very generous benefit that many Americans may not have. That being said, I went through two attempts at IVF and had my eggs frozen on the second attempt. So, here’s what happened in a bullet format during this process:

  • My ex and I couldn’t conceive naturally so it was recommended that we do IVF.
  • The purpose of IVF is to give you one healthy baby. No more, no less. We had hoped for twins.
  • They put me on a lot drugs to regulate and control my menstrual cycle.
  • Lots of hormones to stimulate my follicle growth and produce multiple eggs being released. The drugs made me hate my spouse and he was patient because of the side effects.
  • Everyday blood work to see what is the optimal time to retrieve the eggs.
  • Taken into the room at the clinic and your eggs are extracted. My second attempt they extracted 11. I cried. Why? Because the woman in the other room had 23 eggs retrieved. All that pain for nothing. I felt alone and miserable. The doctor came in to talk to me and said “Not to give the other patient’s information away, but she has a condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and she produced a lot more eggs. That doesn’t mean that they will all fertilize successfully. Our goal is to get you one healthy embryo to implant.”
  • Day 1 they called to tell me that I had 9 remaining embryos
  • Day 2 they called to tell me that I had 7 remaining embryos
  • Day 3 they called to tell me that I had 5 embryos that were developing beautifully
  • Day 4 they called to tell me that I still had 5 embryos and that they were going to do a day 5 transfer
  • Day of transfer was bittersweet. I had been there before and it didn’t work. I was scared. The same doctor who had done my egg extraction had told me that she was excited to do my transfer. She said you had 5 beautiful embryos and that they selected two grade AA embryos to implant. (Apparently that is good).
  • Decision of whether to transfer one or two embryos. Chances of implantation were 39% with one embryo and 68% with two. However, two embryos could produce two babies. Twins.
  • My ex and I sat there. He looked up and said, “Transfer two.” I hesitated. Could I handle twins? Yes, they were cute, but two college funds, two day cares and two sets of clothes would overwhelm us financially. But, people do it all the time right?
  • I asked the doctor with the kind eyes, “What would you do as a woman?” She smiled and said, “I would transfer two but, it’s up to you.”
  • We transferred two embryos. Froze the remaining three.
  • Waited two weeks for a pregnancy test.
  • Received the call that I was pregnant
  • Asked to repeat pregnancy test in three days.
  • Pregnancy confirmed.
  • Repeated it a third time. Still pregnant.
  • Ultrasound performed a month later.
  • One embryo implanted. Heartbeat and sac.
  • I was having a singleton not twins.

My three remaining embryos were frozen, but during the pregnancy confirmation, my doctor had indicated that he would prefer to go through a new cycle instead of using the frozen embryos if I was going to delay another attempt for greater than a year. Why? It was painful as heck. He said, “Better chances of getting fresh and viable embryos to implant. Freezing and thawing are hard on embryos. The embryos may not survive the process.” Wow, all that work for nothing I thought.

I tabled the matter and focused on my pregnancy and my marriage. After one year of freezing our eggs, I wasn’t ready to be a mother again or go through the process of doing IVF. I was exhausted. The expense was now going to be on us to continue to store and freeze our eggs. My insurance covered the first year, but we would have to pay $783 the next year to continue the storage. That cost would increase the next year and so forth. We elected to destroy the embryos.

It was painful. It was necessary. It was a choice. But, I say all this to offer words of encouragement to women who may be thinking that it’s better than nothing. Yes, it is better than nothing. If you have no partner in mind, are not ready for children or you are career focused (like I was), it is an option to try and extend your fertility if you would like to have a baby someday. But, it is a painful process. If you don’t want children, I wouldn’t recommend it and it is expensive. Cost is a factor and more importantly…it may not work when you go and thaw your eggs. Weigh your options and know the choice is yours and any benefit that supports reproductive rights or options for women is a good thing.

eggs

One and Done

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”

Jessica Lange

 

The pressure that society puts on you to have children can sometimes be stifling. I felt the pressure my first year of marriage. I was 27. Some of the things that I heard:

  • You should think about starting a family.
  • You know each day you age, your eggs die.
  • How long are you going to wait?
  • Are you trying?
  • You do want kids right?

So many questions about my reproductive rights. Dang, I had just gotten married. I would cringe when elderly women would ask me “So, why don’t you pop a couple of children out for your husband?” (Yes, this actually happened.) Really, like a chicken? I thought. Well meaning I’m sure, but to a career woman, this was not what I wanted to hear. My husband in fact wanted children the minute we got married. I made it a condition of our marriage….Not before I’m 30. He accepted.

As time moved forward and three years after my 30th birthday at the beautiful age of 33, I gave birth to Brennan. Perfect. I was elated. I felt complete. Whole even. But, a difficult pregnancy combined with a difficult birth, I thought…maybe we could do it one more time as I gazed into Brennan’s beautiful eyes. Three months later I was sitting in a hospital watching my husband hooked up to machines with words like auto immune diseases and strokes being passed around.

Scared. Overwhelmed. Alone. Those were the emotions that I went through when my life changed. That moment, changed me and my decision. No more children. I was “one and done”. It wasn’t a mutual decision. It was a personal one. Choice. Personal choice. I was supposed to take care of him and I couldn’t add another child on top of all that I had going on. Selfish, possibly, but I decided at that moment…our family was complete. We were a family of three.

Well, what do they say about the best laid plans? Yep. My marriage unraveled and we still only had one child. Now, that Brennan is 6, he constantly asks for a sibling. He has replaced the constant nagging I experienced from well-meaning folks and strangers. He wants a baby brother or sister bad. I smile and tell him, “You have 3 best friends who are all only children”. He replies, “But, mommy they are not my brothers and sisters.” I respond, “You have two god-brothers and a god-sister.” He says, “But, mommy they belong to God not me.” Dead face. I couldn’t think of anything to say. (He’s extremely smart on his toes.)

But, what do you say? Me: “Not going to happen man. You’re it. Deal with it!” However, as I’m approaching my 40th birthday I realized that my fertility is dying more each day. I’m like the elderly women except it is my own fertility that I’m wondering about. Motherhood was the defining moment in my life and I’m overwhelmingly blessed that I was able to conceive one happy and healthy child, but I wonder had I missed an opportunity to have more?

No, was my fervent reply. I’m good. Me and Brennan. Always. The gift that I was given, so let’s make it permanent right? So, I went to my OB/GYN visit for my yearly exam and announced to my doctor that I was thinking of getting my tubes tied as a birthday gift to myself. I said, “I think I’m done”. He responded, “There are a lot less invasive procedures. You’re still young and fertile. Think about something else.” Are you serious? Really? I had decided. I wanted to stomp my feet and yell “Why are you not listening to me?”

Why was this man suggesting or rather deterring me from my “one and done” motto? According to everyone and their mama, I was approaching “no man zone”. You know that zone where you’re absolutely too old to think about conceiving. I don’t think anyone in my family has ever given birth over the age of 40. What brand of crack is he smoking? Why would he even suggest an alternative to permanent sterilization?

Because he cared. Point blank and the end. My doctor wanted me to have all the options and not rush to make a rash decision just because my marriage ended and with it so did my hopes of someday giving Brennan a sibling. I have options. I have choices. My fertility is in my hands. I can be “one and done” forever or I can expand my family one day, but I’m in no rush. I have time to decide what I want to do with my own womb. Whatever my choice, I’m happy that I was able to carry this one six years ago.

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