Doin’ Too Much: Surgery, Change, and my Holiday

Most people’s holiday seasons are filled with family, food, drinks, and relaxation. Mine had some of that, but also included hysteroscopy, estrogen, moving, and bed rest.

 

In short, I’ve been having issues with my cycle, and my RE and gynecologist both suggested going back to my surgeon to get a better look at what is happening. My GYN suspected Asherman’s Syndrome.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, I went in for a laproscopy and hysteroscope. The surgeon did find some scar tissue that formed since the last procedure and removed it. He also found a tear that he repaired. I was put on a two month regimen of low dose estrogen (to be followed by 15 days of progesterone) to help restore my thinned lining. He also inserted a cook ballon to try to minimize scarring and adhesion inside my uterus. I had to keep the balloon in for 7 days. It was not the most comfortable thing in the world. I went the office the following week to have it removed. Having it taken out was uncomfortable more than it was painful.

The estrogen so far has given me headaches (the first week or so), and had my face broke out like I was 13. Right now, nothing major in terms of side effects, but the first two weeks…….

20151210_142313.jpg
This picture does my breakout no justice. My skin was horrible. I haven’t had a breakout like that since I was 13 or 14. Yay estrogen.

The procedure seemed to go pretty well, and I recovered well that day, but I didn’t bounce back like I thought I would. When I had this same thing done in 2013, I flew out to Atlanta the next day for work. Was I 100%? No, but I was at least at 75% This time, it took me about four days to feel back to normal. By the time I was feeling close to normal….it was time to pack up to move…to an entirely new city. I was limited in what I could do in terms of lifting, but I did move a suitcase that was a little heavier than I thought, and immediately felt weird. I knew I needed to sit my ass down and not lift anything. Which I did…for a few days, then I did it again. My doctor said I irritated the muscles in the pelvic area, take it easy.

I did….a little, but then it was Christmas. I had done no Christmas shopping, my mom was coming to stay with us for two days, which means I had to clean, and I had to cook my contributions to Christmas dinner. Which means, not much rest, but a lot of 800mg ibuprofen.

Finally, I was able to rest for a few days, and I do feel mostly better, after a month.

This procedure was important for me because this is the set up work to see if I can carry a baby. Aside from my left tube being blocked (not such a big deal), my lining is thin and my uterus is small. These things might keep me from carrying my own baby. I go back in April for another scope, to see if the hormones have made my lining thicken at all, and if having the balloon in for 7 days helped with the adhesion/scarring. As much as I try to downplay this as a minor procedure, it is a big deal, and I’m a little worried that all that I had going on immediately after the procedure may affect the final outcome.

We do this a lot, those of us who struggle. We don’t want to break down in front of those who know what we’re going through(or even those who don’t). We don’t want to admit the stakes even to ourselves sometimes in order to keep our peace and a little sanity. But, we need to. We have to come to terms with what is happening with our bodies and what is our options are.

 

The good news in all of this is: NO Fibroids were found! Two years fibroid free since my June 2013 Myomectomy.

 

Happy New Year

 

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There’s No Place Like Home (And Endless Questions) for the Hoilidays

This week kicks off the American Holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve.

Plenty of food, parties, shopping sprees, drinks, and time with family and friends. Time with family and friends usually means people want a life update: How’s School? How’s Work? Did you get the job you interviewed for? When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids?

 

When the family asks you about babies
When the family asks you about babies (or getting a husband…or BOTH)

Its those last two that have always just irked the hell out of me. When you’re single, or even if you’re in a relationship, you get tired of people asking the same damn question (that frankly isn’t any of their business).  “Don’t worry about when I’m getting married. You’ll know when you get the invite” is what you want to say , but usually don’t. Shout out to all the women who do say that to their families. You’re my shero. I know I’m married now, but the memory of that annoying question and feeling of being put on the spot is all too real. After all, I didn’t get married until October of 2015 at 36. There were many a holiday where I was asked about a boyfriend/marriage every five minutes.

Its the same with children. It doesn’t matter if your’re single, dating or married, you get tired of people asking about your plan for procreation. “When you get the baby shower invite, you’ll know”

It becomes even more painful when people don’t even know what they’re asking. They have no idea that by asking you about having babies they are picking at a wound you are trying desperately to let heal, because you can’t have babies. Or you can’t have them without a lot of assistance from medical technology and a lot of cash. So you smile awkwardly, or change the subject, or  quickly stuff some more sweet potato pie in your mouth so you don’t have to answer.

 

It can be rough, but here’s a great piece from the Huffington Post by K.K. Goldberg about her experince and making it though. As always, you’re not alone.

The Silent Hell of Infertility During Holidays

 

Keep you head up this Thanksgiving, and keep your glass of wine handy.

 

 

 

November’s Not Just for Turkey.

 

National-Adoption-Month (1)

We’re halfway through November (how did that happen?!) and I can’t let this month go by without acknowledging that its National Adoption Awareness Month!

I was not aware that there was such a thing, until this year, so now I have to enlighten everyone else.

The focus for this year’s month is adopting older youth from foster care with the theme: “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.”

 

I always thought adoption was a wonderful thing, and considered it even before I was aware of my infertility. I always thought I might have a child or two, then adopt another. In all honesty, adoption may be the road we decide to take for parenthood. We’re really having some heart felt and real conversations about parenting, the IVF process and all that comes with it, and what we think we can handle financially, physically, and emotionally.

I feel like adoption is really a special kind of love, because you actively choose to love someone that you don’t have to. To decide to bring a child into your home and into your family, and love them is a noble thing.

I have known several people and have a close friend who was adopted, and one friend who is the mother of an adopted child. All of them are awesome people. If they never told me that they were adopted, I would have never known. The love, respect and bond is just as strong as any biological family.

 

Take November to learn more about adoption and explore adoption as an option for family building.

 

Learn more about National Adoption Month below:

National Adoption Month 2015

National Adoption Month 2015 Initiative

Adoption FAQ

…But She Refuses to Go Down

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.
-Mike Tyson

Sorry Rhonda! Visual of a Life Mouth Punch
Visual of a Life Mouth Punch. 

 

I would like to say before I get started that this post has been in draft for about 4 days, so it wasn’t inspired by Rhonda Rousey’s loss. Today was the only day I could edit and add graphics, and well, the images from the fight were  perfect for the post.  No shade to Rhonda.

Here we are. Going through life, making plans and setting goals. For many of us, we visualize ourselves with a job in the career path we want, maybe even starting our own business. Buying a home. Saving money. Losing weight. Some of us are so detailed that we have age milestones for each goal: Buy a house by 28.  Be department director by 30. Get married before I’m 40.
But if you’ve lived life at all, you know that these plans can indeed be put down by a quick life punch in the face.

Life has dealt all of us several blows I’m sure. Some didn’t land, so you walk around thinking you’re the champ of winning at life. There were a few that landed, but didn’t really hurt too much:  ‘You call that a punch, life?!’
There were probably a few sneak punches that you didn’t see coming, and they had you stunned for a few seconds,  but you managed to shake it off.
But then there are the real power punches that damn near take you out: A parent dying. Losing your job. Divorce.
Infertility is definitely one of those mouth punch situations.

wpid-screenshot_2015-11-13-06-58-40-1.png

 

So, do you drop to the mat and give up, or shake it off and keep going?
What’s the new strategy?

Black and Married with Children posted a great piece about handling the disappointment of not having children by a certain age when you thought you would.  The post is geared towards single women, who can have children (as far as they know), but other circumstances have stopped them or prolonged the process. It really doesn’t matter, because the advice is useful regardless of the reason for having your motherhood dream deferred, or taken.

The key points are:

  • Grieve the Loss
  • Release the Dream
  • Redefine Motherhood
  • Embrace Your New Reality

The bottom line is don’t let this thing keep you down. Feel the pain of it all, allow for the moment of shock, then shake it off and get back in the fight. There are still many more rounds to go. If it kicks your ass, demand a rematch.

 

Check out the full post from Black and Married with Children here

Doing Big Things!

 

For all of the years I’ve lived in the DC area, I’ve never been to any official, (or unofficial for that matter) CBC events. Why? I don’t know. Probably the same reason I’ve never been to a HBCU homecoming: I just haven’t. Howard is right down the road, and I have several friends that are HBCU Alumni. There’s no excuse. Yes, I know my Black Card may be in question for never experiencing homecoming. I’m accepting all invites, since it is homecoming season if anyone wants to help me rectify that situation.

This year, I finally made it to CBC, and not just to party. The White Dress Project, a non-profit that advocates for uterine fibroid research and education, held two events and raised the profile of the organization and fibroid awareness.

 

Congressional Briefing (minus Me) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
Congressional Briefing (minus me)
Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook

On Wednesday, a few members of the WDP, along with several medical professionals, participated in a congressional briefing on Uterine Fibroid Education and Awareness hosted by Rep. David Scott of Georgia.

This was really the highlight and the most important part of being at CBC. I had on my schedule, and planned to be there, but unfortunately I had to cancel out at the last-minute. I was definitely in my office with the pouty face because I had to miss it.

This briefing was a major step in getting the cause out there and helping to earn support for officially designating July as Fibroid Awareness Month. Mr. Scott already introduced HR RES. 268 at the end of the last legislative term, “Supporting the designation of July 2015 as Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month”.

The next day, the DMV Leadership of the White Dress Project hosted an event. Part social, part informative. The ladies gathered health professionals, including a therapist, an OBGYN, and a surgeon, who happened to be my surgeon Dr. MacKoul, to answer questions, talk about the epidemic if uterine fibroids, treatment options, and how to deal with the emotional effects of living with fibroids.

 

White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC (I didn't realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore...) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC
(I didn’t realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore…)

The really great thing about the event was not only meeting other women affected by fibroids, but hearing everyone’s stories. Being able to relate to taking hormones, or having to pee every five minutes, or the literal and figurative weight that is lifted once the fibroids are removed. To see how everyone bounced back, and in spite of possibly having fibroids re-appear, or questions on fertility post myomectomy, the  determination to move forward, and excitement of these ladies to educate others and advocate on uterine fibroids was amazing.

I was so excited to meet new women, and finally get to meet the White Dress Project founder, Tanika Gray, because……

 

I will be working with the White Dress Project as an ambassador, working to raise awareness and  get Fibroid Awareness Month recognized on a State level!

 

We Can Wear White
We Can Wear White

 

I’m so excited about this opportunity!  Please stay tuned for more updates, posts, and events on my journey with the White Dress Project.

 

Fibroid News You Can Use

Blog graphic

The summer season is officially over, and so is my blog break.

This summer was great: A trip to Vegas, wedding planning, and cookouts.

To get back into the swing, I want to highlight some stories from around the web on fibroids.

 

Meds on the Way?

A medicine designed to help shrink uterine fibroids is currently in the human trial phase. This is good news, but my concern is it becoming one of so many drugs that are pushed on people, and the pharmaceutical industry winning big financially, and in the long run the people lose and no other research or prevention methods will be tried. Don’t get me wrong: medicine is wonderful and in most cases can really help to manage symptoms or even cure conditions. For some situation, drugs are the only thing that will help. However there’s a point where it becomes more about getting patients to take the drug for a solution, and not looking at other methods, and that for me is a problem.

One of the researchers is quoted in the article as saying “There’s no rhyme or reason why women get fibroids, and there’s nothing they can do to avoid developing them; it’s just something that happens…

What?!

This quote irritates me. The medical community, or us as women should not be content with a ‘that’s just the way it is’ attitude.

Check the article out here. If you’re in the San Diego area, you may be eligible to participate in the trials. (The article is sponsored by the firm conducting the research, Precision Research Institute)

 

Money for Research!

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc has awarded the Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award to Dr. Darlene K. Taylor of North Carolina Central University. Dr. Taylor associate chemistry professor, will use the $200,000 award to support university efforts in integrated biosciences that focus on uterine fibroid tumor research.

Please click here to read more about this wonderful grant from the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, and the work or Dr. Taylor.

This news makes me excited! A Black woman, being awarded a grant by a Black sorority, to research uterine fibroids. Something that affects up to 80% of women, and Black women are affected at a higher rate. Girl Power!

Woman Power!

First, a Woman, a BLACK woman in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) is amazing! The numbers of women in STEM are low, and even lower for minority women. There is something about this that makes this grant and her research even more amazing. This is why we need more women in STEM: so that they can be a voice in the lab.

There’s progress, which is always a great thing.

 

I hope to share some updates soon about efforts that I’m fortunate to be a part of to help spread fibroid awareness.

I’m also participating in Blogging 201, so you may see some updates on the website, and maybe a few out-of-place posts. I really want to take this little blog to the next level. The craziness of wedding planning is slowly coming to a close, so I will be back to having my free time to devote back to blogging and other efforts.

 

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

There’s a Month For That

FIBROID AWARENESS MONTH

It seems like there is a month or day for everything now: Best Friend Day, Doughnut Day, Wine Day (obviously all days that I am here for). Then there are more serious days: HIV Awareness Day, Earth Day, Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Again, all days I can get behind.

And of course, you have Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on and on.

There is a new month gaining momentum that I will definitely jump on board with: Fibroid Awareness Month!

That’s right, July is Fibroid awareness month! It know that at this point, July is pretty much over, but its still something worth knowing. This is a new initiative, and its headed by the White Dress Project, a non profit who’s mission is to “galvanize support and promote awareness about the fibroid epidemic among women domestically and globally through education, research and advocacy.

They are working to get each state to officially recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month, and they sponsor events to help spread fibroid awareness and offer support for those that have been through or are going through a battle with fibroids. So far Georgia, New York, Florida, and the city of New Orleans are officially recognizing July as Fibroid Awareness month due to the White Dress Project’s efforts.

I love this organization and concept already. As I have said here time and time again, awareness and education a so very important in regards to fibroids (and many other things). Infertility has National Infertility Awareness Week (maybe that can move to a month one day), there is a PCOS  (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Awareness month in September, so why not fibroids? The fact that uterine fibroids are such a common disease, but the research and amount of conversation and awareness is so small is a shame. On a wider note, so many gynecological conditions outside of cancer are not discussed in the women’s health discussion.

 

So even though there are only 5 more days left in the month, there is still time to celebrate an do your part!

Of course, you can start by telling  your story. Education and awareness starts with that one simple act.

Want to do more? You can sign this petition petition to receive a presidential proclamation to make July Fibroid Awareness Month.

https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-michelle-obama-declare-july-fibroids-awareness-month-nationally

Check out the Fibroid Facts page of this blog to learn more about fibroids.

Just like a Felon

I know I’m late, but the new thing I love is podcasts. I’m addicted.  Serial. The Read. Freakanomics. I even sub to a wedding planning pod cast. They’re entertaining, informative, and they help me get through my long commute home,  so I’m always looking for a new show to subscribe to.
I recently started listening to Death. Sex. Money. , which describes itself as  “A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”  Since I newly discovered this series,  I’ve been catching up on past episodes. So far, an excellent pod cast and quickly becoming a favorite.

Today’s catch up episode was from April 25, 2015. An interesting interview until the subject uttered this sentence: “I think people without children should not be allowed to vote”

 Insert record scratch.

There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult. But the Dowager wins today.
There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult.
But the Dowager wins today. Me when I heard his “joke”

The person speaking was W. Kamau Bell. Comedian, blogger, and former talk show host. Now to be clear, I know that it was said in jest, because, he is a comedian. However, I still found it not funny and incredibly insensitive.  I was offended, and actually a little shocked. I don’t think he was trying to be an asshole, but that’s definitely how he came off in that moment.

I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Bell, and I wasn’t very familiar with him before his talk show, Totally Biased. I know he’s a comedian. I’ve liked most of what I have seen from him, which is why I picked that episode to listen to. I  wanted to learn more about him. From what I have heard  from him in the past, and even in that particular interview up to that point, he is an intelligent and aware individual.

So why then, even as a joke, would he say something like that?

What he was trying to say, in a horrible,  inconsiderate way, is that parents see the world differently than they did prior to becoming parents, and make most, if not all decisions considering the lives of their children, knowing even the smallest decision affects their lives. I get it, but the premise is still a little off.

Now, it’s really not my thing to be the comedy police. As they say “everything ain’t for everybody”, so if I don’t find a comedian (or comedienne) funny,  I just don’t listen to their comedy or watch their shows (I’m looking at you, Kathy Griffin and Martin Lawrence. Black Card revoked for Martin,  I know). However,  some things, to me, are universally not funny: racist jokes, violence against women centered jokes, sexual abuse jokes, etc. I say all this to say that I’m not bashing Bell as a comedian,  or even as a person. I am simply saying that he is representative of what the world thinks of us child free women, and men: We are some sort of selfish, not-fully-formed, adult-type person.

Yes. Being a parent changes you. I don’t think anyone would argue that point.  And yes, I’m sure as a parent,  your decision making shifts. But the implication here, is that somehow, by not being a parent,  you are incapable of making quality,  well thought out,  long range decisions.  Which then implies that by not being a parent,  you are some how less of an adult.
I haven’t even gotten to the sheer insensitivity this shows towards the 1 in 8 couples who literally can’t have children.

So even as a joke, he’s essentially saying that because someone consciously chooses not to, or is unable to procreate, They should be denied a civil right? Cut out of a crucial function society. No better than a felon to him I guess. (BTW, I am not someone in favor of felons losing their right to vote once they have served their time)

So the soldier who cannot have children because of the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan, and his wife shouldn’t have a say in choosing the person who shapes the foreign policy of this country? You know, because he has no ideas or insights about such things because he’s not a father.

The couple that has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars just to become parents doesn’t have a stake in the healthcare system here in this country? I mean, they only have been navigating through it for years. What could they possibly know since they don’t yet have any children?

“Its just jokes.”  “Why are you going so deep with it?”  “Calm down.”  You might be saying.

I get it, he’s a comedian,  and a new dad, so its just for fun, and he’s experiencing the world in a new way right now.  Cool. But I should hope those two things don’t instantly render you insensitive or arrogant.
For so many people,  that was just a flippant,  funny thing to say. But for the couple who just suffered a second miscarriage, or is on the fourth round if IVF, its painful.
To the women and men who have made the choice not to become a parents, it’s down right insulting.

To Kamau I say:

Come on, bruh.

In the words of one of my podcast faves, Crissle, Words mean things. Even as a joke, words can be painful. You as a Black man should know this.  Choose your words wisely.

Being child free, rather by choice or circumstance, does not invalidate ones humanity or adultness. For those who are childless by circumstance, that type of statement can be painful.

If you have an issue with my child free status, take that up with God.

Update: Per Kamau’s twitter I stumbled upon this conversion. Looks like he stands by his “joke”, which is unfortunate.

Listen to the full podcast episode here.

Its Mother’s Day….Again

Its here, the day that many of us love and hate….Mother’s Day.

Most of us have awesome moms, aunts, grandmas, friends and mother figures that deserve all the brunches, flowers, pampering and accolades they will get today. But while we’re doing all of that, on the inside, we might be dying a little.We can’t become biological moms (or not without plopping down thousands of dollars), some of us have lost a pregnancy, or a child, or even lost a mother or grandmother. Some had crappy moms or grew up without a mom at all. Because I don’t live in the same cities as my family, I’m not forced to go out to do anything, which is good, because honestly, this year, I really am not in the mood to pretend. Not only am I working through my infertility feelings, I lost my Nana a few months ago. I loved talking to her, and she was my favorite call to make on Mother’s Day.

 

This pretty much sums it up for today. Sorry Folks
This pretty much sums it up for today.

So what can you do? How can you handle this day that celebrates everything that seems just beyond your reach if you’re having a hard time?

Here’s what I’ve got:

UNPLUG. Seriously. Looking at Facebook and Instagram all day is not going to do anything to uplift you if you’re already feeling down.

Do something for Yourself. Whatever that means to you. Get a mani/pedi. Go shopping. Do yoga. Binge watch whatever you want. Do what makes you feel good about yourself today especially.

This is not something I would usually say, but….Skip church today.

Now, hear me out: In a lot of churches, especially Black churches, Mother’s day is a big thing. There are luncheons, and special sermons about mothers and mother hood. My old church used to give out single roses. They’d start with Moms, then Grandmas and Aunts,…..then trickle down to all those that “desire to be mothers”. This was always extremely hard for me, even before I had (or knew I had) fertility issues. I was here without my mom, no family around actually, I was painfully single at the time, so I just felt very isolated that day. Get your spiritual connection on your own today by praying, reading and spending time with God alone.

In the end, its up to you.

You know where you are, and what you can handle today, and if this is a time that is difficult for you. Don’t be afraid to say “No” or limit your time out if you’re invited to celebrate.

Celebrate the great relationships you do have today. Enjoy some of the benefits of not having children. (There are several!) Don’t let this 24 hours damage your spirit too much.

What am I doing today? Blogging (obviously), Staying off of Facebook, my calls to my Mom, Aunts, and friends,Cooking, Cleaning my Bathroom…

Oh, and going to see PRINCE!

Here are some more thoughts from around the web:

About that church thing: An Open Letter to Pastors on Mother’s Day

When it seems like its just you: Surviving Mother’s Day As a Non-Mom (Not By Choice)

When you’re child free by choice and people use Mother’s Day to guilt you (or an unnecessary parental apologist):  Sorry about Mother’s Day, my childfree girlfriends: Moms aren’t any more special (or unselfish) than you

 

No matter your status, ENJOY your day!

 

How Congress Celebrates NIAW….

…and it’s not by recognizing the week with a proclamation.

Sounds about right....
Sounds about right….

Someone I know shared a little nugget about Congress and their plan to overturn a DC law that prevents women from being fired for using IVF or getting pregnant out-of-wedlock. At first, I thought it had to be some kind of Onion type article, but no. This is an actual thing.

That’s right, people of D.C.: members of Congress just voted to let your boss fire you for personal decisions you make at the doctor’s office — because your boss believes those decisions aren’t consistent with his religious beliefs. Now, the whole House may take a vote on this discriminatory measure.

 

(For those that don’t know, click here for a little history about how/why Congress can do this in DC.)

So because you don’t agree with how someone starts their family, they can be fired? That sounds real Christian. (feel the sarcasm)  I really want someone to show me the passage(s) of scripture where God said IVF will send you to hell. Don’t these people know there was infertility in the Bible, even a miscarriage?

I can’t even deal with this.
This is why it’s so important to speak out and educate others about infertility issues. I choose to believe if people understood more, they wouldn’t say and do rude or insensitive things,  and they wouldn’t make these types of judgments.

 

Anyway….

You can catch the full ACLU article is here

Also, a take on this from The Frisky here.