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.

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. 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 numb, I think. I just picked up the pieces and kept going. We had testing to find a cause but there was no reason it happened. In 2009, I was at work and felt a pain, unlike any other. but so familiar. I knew immediately what was happening. I had a colleague discreetly take me to the ER. Another ectopic, 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 remove my remaining tube. I did. That decision haunts me sometimes 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.

We saw a fertility specialist as our only option was In vitro fertilization (IVF). He 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. I gave my husband permission and an out to leave me because I may never be able to give him a family, the one thing he cherishes and has always wanted. He said, “no.”

Since then, I have struggled with insecurity, depression, and anxiety.  It’s not easy, but I make it look good.  So, for the last ten years I have given life in other ways by pouring myself into mentoring and into at risk youth that became my babies. I give life to new ideas in my career and I speak life into the people around me.

Speaking to my sisters battling or those who have given up. You are NOT less of a woman. You are beautiful. You 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 dead situations, people, and even a child of someone else.

I’m sharing this because I know several women, particularly back 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 maddening. What’s worse is being reminded of it constantly. I awkwardly avoid the comments and inquiries into my plans for kids. I joke it off 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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