My Infertility Uncovered

InfertilityUncovered, infertility awareness week, african american ivf

It’s the last day and 11th hour of #infertilityawarenessweek and I thought what better way to end this week and to share my story than the rebirth of the Debonair Dame, so continue reading.

In 2008, I married my Mr. and we were ready to build this life and family we had talked about for years. We weren’t trying to conceive, but we weren’t preventing it either. Months after our wedding, we found out I was pregnant in the worst way- excruciating pain, vomiting, and a trip to the ER. It was then that we were faced with an ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus).  After an emergency surgery, I lost a fallopian tube and gained an angel baby. I can’t tell you what I felt because it was so unexpected. I was dumbfounded, hurt, I was numb, I think.  So numb that I just picked up the pieces and kept going, never telling anyone but a handful of friends and family, including our parents. We had testing to find a cause but there was none.  My remaining tube looked good so the doctor said it was just one of those things she couldn’t explain.

A year later, I was at work and felt a pain, a pain unlike any other because 1) it hurt like hell and 2) it was a pain that was unfortunately too familiar. I knew immediately what was happening so I acted fast and had a colleague discreetly take me to the ER.  When it was all over and done, I had another ectopic to add to my record, my remaining tube damaged, and another angel baby. Right after surgery, it was explained to me that after two back-to-back ectopic pregnancies, my next pregnancy had a greater than 50% chance of being another ectopic. I was faced with an option to keep my damaged tube and run the risk or remove it. I chose the latter did. That decision haunts me today because I always think what if they would’ve waited until I was out of harm’s way to give me that news and option? What if I took my time to process my options? What if the third time would’ve been different? I can’t go back though, so onward and forward.

Fast forward. Our only chance at having a biological baby is In vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy. We have met with a fertility specialist who said we were perfect candidates and ready to go. I stopped the process right there. I was and still am terrified. Pregnancy is scary to me, then add the complicated and uncertain journey of IVF…I just couldn’t. So, we didn’t.

The years since have been rough. My marriage rough, my internal battle, rough.  Despite the doctor’s prognosis, I decided my fate and told myself a biological child is not in my future. I told everyone who asked that I didn’t want kids.  I even gave my husband permission to leave because I couldn’t give him the family he wants more than anything.  I have struggled with insecurity, depression, and anxiety.  I felt less than for a long time.

Speaking to my sisters battling infertility or those who have given up. You are NOT less of a woman. You are beautiful. Your value is not determined by your uterus. You have a lot to give. Although you may not give life biologically, I encourage you to give life to people, ideas, or a new mindset.

I’m sharing this because I know several women, particularly black women, who struggle silently. Infertility seems foreign in our communities. People can’t fathom a black woman being infertile. But we are. I am. And it’s painful. It’s frustrating. It’s bullshit. The worst part is being reminded of it constantly. I awkwardly avoid the comments and inquiries into my plans for kids. I just say we don’t want any and try not to internalize it because I know those asking, have no idea. Until now, only a handful knew. But I am strong. Stronger than many of the women on this journey, so what I brush off, visibly cuts them deeply.

With that said, if you support and love women, please be mindful of your words. If you know someone’s struggle, don’t ask them for updates. They will share when and what they want. If you want to know someone’s plans for kids, start by asking if they want kids because every woman doesn’t want to be a mom. If she says no. DROP IT! Don’t constantly bring up kids every time you see a couple without any. It’s rude, inconsiderate, and could be hurtful. If you don’t know what to say, say nothing.

Real love,

Shayla

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