Its My Blogaversary!

 

Maybe Mama Blogaversary v2

 

 

Today, Maybe Mama is one!

A year ago, I decided to not just let this blog be an idea, but to actually do it! I didn’t know exactly what to do, or what to say (I still don’t a lot of the time), but I knew that I wanted to share my story and my experiences. I wanted to change the conversation. Hell, I just wanted to have the conversion about women suffering with uterine fibroids and infertility, especially within the Black community.

I wanted to create a space where women can talk about their struggle to conceive and not feel ashamed or misunderstood or be pitied. To talk about battling fibroids and not be dismissed because it’s not that serious”.  A space to talk about all the crazy things that life throws at us and not feel alone. I wanted a space to call out Black women in particular: you don’t have to suffer in silence, my sister. Too often we suffer or carry burdens in silence and alone, not thinking there is someone else out there who is right where you are.

If we, as women, don’t speak up, how can we advocate for funding for research, insurance mandates,or educate others on these and other conditions? How can we support each other if no one will step up to say “I’m going through this now too” or “I went through this, you can talk to me.”?

But more than anything, I wanted a space that was fun. Dealing with infertility and other medical conditions can be a lot. Sometimes, you just want to laugh even in the middle of struggle.

My goal is and will be to educate, support, and uplift women.

Admittedly, I have fallen short. Balancing a full-time job and other commitments (throw in wedding planning now!) with regular blogging can be a challenge, but it is a challenge I am more than ready for!

I hope to go into year two learning more about women’s health, and the art of blogging. I want to reach out to others, bring awareness, grow this blog.

 

Thank You to anyone and everyone who has followed, commented, re blogged, or just stopped by.

Special thanks to Word Press for the Blogging 101 class, and all of the resources WP provides new and established bloggers.

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I’m A Winner!

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I was nominated for a Leibster Award! Go me!! This is really a great thing as a new blog to have others bloggers like what you are doing. I want to thank Jane Lorraine (Honoring Our HAIRatige) and Privy Perspective for both nominating me! I’d also like to thank the WordPress Blogging 101 course. It was a great way to get me motivated and thinking about managing and really shaping this blog. It was also a chance to interact with other bloggers and explore topics and blogs that I might not have discovered otherwise. The bloggesphere is truly an awesome and strange place.

The Leibster Award is an on line award/recognition given to bloggers by other bloggers. The idea of the award is to recognize and discover new bloggers/blogs.  This is also a “pay it forward” type of thing. By accepting the award, you have to nominate other bloggers AND answer the questions your nominators gave you. The key is they have to have 200 or less followers. I really like the idea of newbie or small blogs supporting each other and helping to market one another. The internet is a big place, there’s room for everyone. My only difficulty: Every small blog I like already has a Leibster. Great for them….challenge for me. I have actually been working on this post for about two weeks because I need some folks to nominate. I don’t want to be that girl who takes and doesn’t give back.

Here are the official rules:

  • Thank and provide a link back to the blog whose author nominated you
  • Answer the questions provided to you by the person who nominated you
  • Provide 11 facts about yourself
  • Name 5-11 blogs that you want to nominate and ask them  questions

OK, Well here we go

Fun Facts about Me:

  1. As a child, I was very shy
  2. I love Wonder Woman
  3. I have not been on a “real” vacation in 7 years 😦
  4. I “went natural” (no chemically processed hair) in 2006, before it was a big thing to do. I just decided I wanted to do it, and figured if I didn’t like it, I could just go back and put a relaxer in.
  5. I wanted to be an astronaut until the Challenger blew up
  6. This is my first attempt at blogging
  7. My secret fun thing to do is curling up on the couch, snacking and watching “rachet” reality shows.
  8. I love to watch old movie musicals- Stormy Weather and Singin’ in the Rain are my favorites
  9. When I was 15 or 16, I snuck out of the house and met one of my best friends and our dates to hang out. To this day, my mom still doesn’t know.
  10. My current job has helped me calm my slight fear of flying, because I travel 1-2 times a month in my busy season.
  11. I have never had a cavity.

 

 Answers to the Questions asked of Me:

Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets? Why?

Sun Sets because I’m not usually up early enough to see a sunrise, if I am, I’m still grumpy. Really, because I think the colors in a sunset are really beautiful. Great oranges and purples….

What is your favorite midnight snack?

Doublestuffed Oreos (I can snack on that anytime though 🙂 )

If you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?

Are you happy with the way things turned out?

What is the one thing you always wanted as a kid, but never got?

Barbie Dream House

What do people do too much of today?

Over share.  We don’t need to see every meal you eat and know your every mood swing.

How many pillows do you sleep with?

2-3

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been on a holiday?

For holiday/vacation: Nassau, Bahamas.

If you could learn any language fluently, what would it be?

Hebrew

What do you think is the greatest invention ever?

The greatest invention ever….I’m not sure that I could pick one.

What’s your first thought upon waking up?

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

If you were in a band, what instrument/role would you play and why?

In a real band where everyone played instruments, I’d play the guitar and sing. Prince and Jimi Hendrix are two of my favorite artists.

 

So there it is.  All you ever wanted to know, and some you didn’t about l’il ol’ me.

Here are a few blogs that I enjoy. I’m not sure that they all   fit the criteria for the award, but they deserve to be recognized.  Check them out. Follow. Spread the love.

Relationships, Rants & Raves 

When I Feel Compelled

Eclectic Female

 Bungling Housewife

Questions for you:

What made you want to start blogging?

What is your favorite childhood memory?

If you could have dinner with any celebrity or icon, who would you choose?

What is your favorite part of the day?

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

If you could not fail, what would you do?

What is your favorite dessert?

Salty or Sweet?

Who would you want to play you in the movie of your life?

What is the last book you read?

What song best describes your life right now?

 

 

 

HERstory-Coming Out of the Shadows to Tell Our Story

 

Art Work: Women of Soul by Glenn Daniels We are a Sisterhood as we go though this journey together.
Art Work: Women of Soul by Glenn Daniels
We are a Sisterhood as we go though this journey together.

 

Its encouraging to find now that I’m not alone. I’ve always known I’m not alone in fighting fibroids and infertility, but recently I’ve seen more Black women sharing their stories. The lack of discussion and transparency in the Black community inspired me to start this blog. I knew several women my age and older that have gone through this, but no one talked about it or used it as a testimony. Now I slowly see more and more Black women speaking up on this issue, and I love it!

Yesterday, I was inspired by a woman named Gessie Thompson. In the May issue of Essence magazine, she shares her story. I had the good fortune to hear her as a guest on a radio show as I drove home. She was so passionate, and so joyful and showed so much faith. Please read her story at Essence.com  here

 

Her story is my story. Even though I’m only one myomectomy, 2  HSGs, 3 ultrasounds, and  1 hysteroscopy in, this woman gives me hope. Even in this early part of my journey, I see the mountain that is ahead of me, and I get overwhelmed. It may sound crazy, but I’ve seen my baby. I know what the name will be. More importantly, I am open enough to understand that I may not give birth to my baby at the end of this journey, but I will have one. They will be loved, and healthy, and beautiful.  God promised this to me. That doesn’t make this journey any less frustrating, stressful or painful while I’m in it.

It’s easy to think that getting pregnant is just a matter of having sex on the right day at the right time (and often 😉 ).  But there are so many women, especially Black women, who have trouble conceiving usually because of uterine fibroids,  the damage they cause, and the subsequent surgery (or surgeries) to have them removed. There is a tremendous physical, emotional, and monetary cost to infertility that can potentially break you as a woman, break up your marriage, and stress your family. Many insurance plans do not cover IVF and other fertility treatments. There are some states, like New Jersey, Ohio, and Hawaii, that mandate  infertility treatments are covered under insurance plans, but there are only 15 states these types of  policy. This trouble with fibroids is real.  80% of percent of Black women will suffer with fibroids at some time in their life. Because fibroids are generally benign in regards to cancer, many people  do not understand how serious they can be. Fibroids can not only cause problems with fertility and menstrual cycles, but as they grow and the uterus expands and distorts, they can cause other problems with digestion, back pain, kidney, and bladder function. This problem is serious and we need to do more.

 

I am now more determined and inspired than ever to continue this blog and do even more to be an advocate and educate on fibroids and infertility.

 

In addition to Gessie Thompson’s story, Essence ran a wonderful education piece about fibroids:

Essence: Fighting Fibroids

To learn more about Gessie Thompson, her story, and the work she is doing (including a prayer circle. I love that idea!), please visit her website, www.whatsyournia.com

Please click here for a list of states that  currently have laws requiring insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

 

 

 

 

Drop it Like Its Hot-The Ring of Fire

 

Oh, Blogging 101. They always have something to challenge you (which is the whole point) But TODAY, they really went there. Today’s assignment is post inspired by a prompt. This is the prompt:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

“Really? Spicy food?”  “This has nothing to do with my blog.” “How am I going to parlay this into a legitimate blog post” were my first thoughts. But it did actually inspire me to write. Behold, the magic of a writing prompt! Its going to seem like this post has nothing to do with the prompt, but it does.

 


 

I realize that in the short life of this blog, I’ve talked about me, my feelings, and why I started this blog. I have yet to mention my wonderful…

Well I think that’s the issue. I don’t want to call him my boyfriend, I feel like that word is not adequate.  We’re not officially engaged, so he’s not my fiancée. I don’t want to say partner; that sounds like we’re about to invest in flipping properties or implies to some people that I’m in a same sex relationship. ( NO SHADE, I have no issue with same sex couples. Find happiness where you can. Its just not true for my situation) We’ll just call him by name…kind of.

I guess we’ll just call him  O

We met through friends. We talked on the phone for two or three weeks before we actually went on a date. We went on our first date, and have been together ever since; close to four years. We are so alike, but yet so different. We are now in what I like to call the “pre planning” stages of getting married; meaning we know we’re going to get married (sooner rather than later, I mean we’re both 35+) to each other, and we are saving our money and discussing what kind of marriage celebration we want. Not only that, we talk about (and plan for) our future: our vision for our marriage and household, our personal and career goals, and of course, family.

 

He truly is my partner on this journey. He has been supportive through my surgeries, the fertility issues, my lay off in 2011, my new job, starting this blog, getting new cat, bad moods… Everything. And I do the same. I support him in all that he does.

So how does this relate to spicy food? Well, O loves spicy food. I do too, but he takes his with a little more kick than I do. But we are generally willing to take the “risk” because, well, spicy food is tasty.

The spicy food is like our relationship: sometimes in might get rough after its so good, but we’re willing to take the risk, no matter what “tomorrow might bring”.

30s Rock

Preface:

As part of the Blogging University 101 exercises, we had to write, or improve our About Me page. The following day’s assignment was to use something in our About page to inspire a post.

When I looked at my About section (that took several attempts to be satisfied with), two things stood out: I love being 35 and I enjoy being me. Those weren’t easy places to get to. At all. So today’s post is just to say:  being in your 30s is awesome, no matter what people say.


 

I love being 35. Really I do. I wouldn’t want to be 16 or 21 or 25 again. I’m sure when I’m 45 or 50, I will say the same thing about being 35. At this point in life, I can apply the things I’ve learned from my 20s and early 30s to make better choices now. I’m wise enough to know I still have a lot more to learn. I’m not a slave to what people think. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I can give advice to other women younger than me and have a hint and a half what I’m talking about.

My FSIL (Future Sister In Law) will turn 30 in a few months. Talking to her about some of the things going on in her life now and planning how she’ll celebrate, I started thinking about when I turned 30.  Picture it: Northern Virginia/DC, 2008. A pretty awesome year. I started graduate school, I finally got out of a toxic relationship, I made a decent salary. Life was good. In fact, that year, particularly that summer, came to be know in my circle as “The Summer of Fun”. No one had babies, or husbands, or even a serious boyfriend. We would decide on a whim on a Wednesday that we were going to happy hour. We went to concerts, we drank a little too much, we danced, we shopped. I think that was the most fun year of my life to that point. We celebrated President Obama… 2008 couldn’t be beat. Period. As 2008 closed and 2009 was around the corner, so was my birthday: The big 3-0! (I have a beginning of the year b day)  I didn’t feel sad or depressed like I though I would. I was excited! I took a few days off from work so I had a 4 day weekend to celebrate.  A happy hour Thursday (where I met a gorgeous guy I dated for about 3 months after), a spa day Friday, and a house party Saturday. GO 30!!

2009 was OK, but it was no 2008.

When it was time to turn 31 the next year (2010), I was sad. I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. My friend had to talk me into even doing a girls dinner which we always did. I was dissatisfied with my life. I didn’t have the things I thought I would by 31. I hadn’t done all the things I thought I would by 31.  My new job was not working out like I thought it would, I had money issues, I had no boyfriend or prospects. I actually went into a mild depression. I went to a therapist. But, I still wouldn’t trade that for the world, just like I wouldn’t trade 29. In that year,  I started to really grow up. I started to look at myself as a full person with good qualities and things to work on. I began to see the good and flaws in those I loved as well, which actually made me appreciate and love them more.

What is the point of saying all of this? I slowly began to learn that, my journey is my journey. All of the wonderful things that have happened in my life, and all the not so wonderful things that have happened in my life were all to help make me me. Without the high and the low, I wouldn’t know life.

I wouldn’t be confident in myself today if I didn’t know the pain of not being confident and feeling inadequate. Now I know I am enough.

I wouldn’t be able to have a successful, functional relationship now if I hadn’t had a dysfunctional, co dependent relationship that I fought to get out of.  And I know now that the lack of self confidence is what kept me in that relationship. I learned what love didn’t look like.

I wouldn’t be able to be a leader, if I did not follow and also try being a leader and fail.

Everything that happens in life is preparation for the next moments, whether we know it or not. I can enjoy being me now, because I accept myself: flaws and all.

I look back on my “Summer of Fun” because I realize memories that were created. I look back at turning 31 and see those friendship bonds strengthen in times that were hard. I learned love, because while I was having a rough time, I could still celebrate the joys in the lives of those around me. Most of all, I see me growing spiritually and emotionally.

I love being 35 because I can see life a little more clearly now. I enjoy being me because that’s all I can be.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Jeremiah 29:11-14

That Awkward Moment When…..

2014-niaw-image

Its National Infertility Awareness Week, y’all!!
If you’re in the fertility struggle, you’ve had that moment (probably more than one) where someone asks you about when you’re going to start procreating.

Now, even without fertility issues, I just think its rude to randomly ask people when they’re having babies or when they’re getting married. Especially if they’re not even close to you, which is usually the case. People who know you…well know you and probably have an idea of what’s going on in your life and wouldn’t ask you (Out of context. In front of people.) when you’re going to have a baby.

So today’s post is going to be a quick info guide for those who have someone in their life  struggling with fertility (or the just plain nosey) and the Maybe Mamas (the uterus struggle is real) on how you can deal with the inevitable questions.

medea meme

Things Not to Say to Someone Living with Infertility, bought to you by Resolve (National Infertility Association) and NIAW (with some added thoughts from me for fun 🙂 )

Please Don’t:

  1. Don’t tell them to relax. Comments such as “just relax” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
  2. Don’t minimize the problem. Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain.
  3. Don’t say there are worse things that could happen. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
  4. Don’t say they are not meant to be parents. “One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, ‘Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.’” Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
  5. Don’t ask why they are not trying IVF. Because most insurance plans do not cover IVF treatment, many are unable to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses. Infertility stress is physical, emotional, and financial.  (Unless you’ve got $3,000 or more to contribute to the cause, don’t bring up IVF)
  6. Don’t push adoption or another solution. So often infertile couples are asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?” The couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision or chose another family building option.
  7. Don’t say, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant.” Know the facts. It’s recommended that women under 35 see a fertility specialist after being unable to conceive for one year. Being young increases your chance of fertility treatments working, but it does not guarantee success.
  8. Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition. For some, infertility treatments are a very private matter, which is why you should respect your friend’s privacy. (THIS! Alll of This)
  9. Don’t be crude. Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like, “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.
  10. Don’t complain about your pregnancy. For many facing infertility, it can be hard to be around other women who are pregnant. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Not complaining can make things a little easier for your friend.
  11. Don’t question their sadness about being unable to conceive a second child. Having one child does not mean a couple feels they have completed their family. Also, a couple may have had their first child naturally and easily but are now experiencing secondary infertility – infertility that comes after you’ve already had a child.
  12. Don’t ask whose “fault” it is. Male or female factor. Just because a friend has told you he or she is experiencing infertility as a couple, does not mean he or she wants to discuss the details.
  13. On the other hand, don’t assume the infertility is female factor. 1/3 of infertility is female factor, 1/3 is male factor, and 1/3 is unexplained.

But here are a few things you can do or say:

  1. Let them know that you care. The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care.
  2. Do your research. Read up about infertility, and possibly treatments or other family building options your friend is considering, so that you are informed when your friend needs to talk.
  3. Act interested. Some people don’t want to talk about infertility, but some do. Let them know you’re available if they want to talk.
  4. Ask them what they need. They may also appreciate if you ask them what the most helpful things to say are.
  5. Provide extra outreach to your male friends. Infertility is not a woman’s-centric issue; your male friends are most likely grieving silently. Don’t push, but let them know you’re available.
  6. When appropriate, encourage therapy. If you feel your friend could benefit from talking to a professional to handle his or her grief, suggest therapy gently. If you go to therapy regularly, or ever have, share your personal story.
  7. Support their decision to stop treatment. No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief.
  8. Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day. With all of the activity on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, people tend to forget about those who cannot become mothers and fathers. Remember your infertile friends on these days; they will appreciate knowing that you haven’t forgotten them. (Mother’s Day is really a hard day)
  9. Attend difficult appointments with them. You can offer to stay in the waiting room or come into the appointment with them. But the offer lets them know how committed you are to supporting them.
  10. Watch their older kids. Attending appointments may be difficult if they have older kids at home.
  11. Offer to be an exercise buddy. Sometimes losing weight is necessary to make treatments more effective. If you know they are trying to lose weight, you could offer to join them because it would help you achieve your personal fitness goals as well.
  12. Let them know about your pregnancy. But deliver the news in a way that lets them handle their initial reaction privately – email is best. (I disagree with the e-mail, tell me in person or on the phone, but per yesterday’s post…)

But the real question is what do you as the woman struggling say? Me, I haven’t mastered this art yet, so I don’t really have the answer. Even when you think you have something prepared, it never quite comes out the way you think it will.

Fortunately, some people have got some thoughts.

Here are some things YOU can say when people are all up in your uterus (found at answers.com):

Ignore and Change the Subject.

An extremely easy way to respond is to not even acknowledge that the question was even asked. You can always play the, “Oh, sorry – I didn’t hear you” card or if you’re feeling particularly pressured, simply change the subject. Become the master of the “non-answer.” (Non answer answers, usually something I hate getting from people, but it could work in this situation…)

Redirect or Deflect.

If someone asks you about when you’re having kids, simply brush it off with a quick reply such as “not yet” and turn the tables back on them. If they have children, go right into, “Enough about the kids I don’t have, how are yours?” If they don’t have children, you can always redirect to a non-children related topic, such as work, the latest celebrity gossip, or, as boring as this sounds, the weather. The key is to get the attention off of you, especially if you’ve been asked his question in front of a group of people. ( I think this is my favorite response tactic)

Be Honest.

If you’re going through infertility or simply having trouble trying to conceive and depending on your relationship with who ever has asked you the question, you could use this as an opportunity to open up about what you’re going through. Many times, the asker may apologize for probing (and often times, the “when are you having kids” question is asked very innocently). At worst, you’ll stumble through a socially awkward moment; at best, you’ll have a supportive ally in your infertility journey within who you can confide. (Only if we’re close)

Be Witty.

For some, humor is as much a defensive weapon as it is a coping tool. Witty responses can include everything from, “We’re having too much fun trying” to “Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when we do” to “When we’re ready to give up our complete and total freedom as adults.” You can even play dumb: “Oh, we haven’t even talked about that yet!” Often, the “be witty” tactic works best in conjunction with another tactic listed here, such as the “redirect/deflect” or even as a gateway to “be honest.” 

Decline to answer (and be firm about it if you have to).

This particular tactic may be the most confrontational and isn’t something that everyone will be comfortable with, but it’s a valid tactic all the same, especially on days when you just don’t feel like getting into it. “I’d rather not talk about it,” is a perfectly acceptable response and you might go right into changing the subject from there. If the asker continues to press you for an answer, be polite but firm in asking to talk about something else. (BOOM!)

The bottom line is keep you composure when being asked about having a baby. Most people really are asking form a place of love and concern. If you genuinely have questions or want to offer support for the person in your life, just be thoughtful about how you approach the subject.

 

Jump In. Jump Out. Introduce Yourself!

My name is Jai! (yeah)

And I’m a blogger (yeah)….

Ok that was fun, but lets really get into it. About me and about this blog.

In 2013 I found out I had uterine fibroids. Not one big one, not a bunch of tiny ones; 10 golf ball-lime sized (5-8 cm) fibroids. The good news: none of them were in my uterine cavity. The bad news: those fibroids were pressing on my bladder, causing an issue with my right kidney. They were also  distorting my uterus so that it was and pressing on my right ovary and distorting and stretching my right fallopian tube. (more on that later). I got them removed in a successful laparoscopic assisted  procedure. Great! We’re done with this until they come back, which they eventually will. Now I can go back to life as I know it. 

Except I wasn’t.

As a result of the damage the fibroids did to my ovary and just general after effects of surgery (and you know, hitting that magic 35 number) my fertility is in question. At a time when it seems like everyone around me was having a baby. I may not be able to have a baby (or have one the old fashioned way). Really uterus? You had one job. 

My face after finding out all that was going on with my lady parts...
My face after finding out all that was going on with my lady parts…

 As I researched and talked to people, I found that fibroids are very common in women, especially Black women. I also found that many women struggle with their fertility for various reasons. Infertility was a secret shame of so many women, especially Black women. We don’t have a good track record in the Black community of talking about health and medical issues in a real way. Any issues really. Where can you go for support?   Who can you talk to about it? Your mommy friends that get pregnant when their husband/boyfriend just looks at them sexy? Your family who are quietly tapping their foot and waiting for their “grand baby”, niece/nephew or new little cousin? Your girlfriend who doesn’t want kids anyway? If you just so happen to have a friend or co-worker that has gone through or is going through what you are, its like a miracle that you found each other. Finally! Someone who knows what I’m talking about and how I feel.

So, I’m going to blog about it. I’m going to talk to the world about my journey.

I want to share my story, because it’s the story for so many other women, and create a place that’s informative, supportive, and fun. It can be hard when you’re going through this to remember to laugh and enjoy life a little. Nothing about surgery, medical bills, test upon test, and the uncertainty of fulfilling a life long desire to become a parent seems fun or funny when its happening, but we need to let go sometimes to keep our sanity.

I want my experiences to help and encourage some one else, and for women to know they’re not alone. To make sure that my people know (I’m looking at you Black America) that infertility is something that happens to us. A lot of us. And we need to support each other and be brave enough to be seen. 

So welcome to this corner of the world. For the mamas and all the maybe mamas!