Wow – it’s been over 4 months since my latest post. I haven’t blogged since before Christmas! So far this year life has been pretty hectic for us and I haven’t really had much time to write. First, let me say hello to all of my new followers and readers!
Last year, I shared with you the experience my husband and I had with our miscarriage. Long story short, we had a surprise pregnancy that ended devastatingly when I was nearly 3 months along; I detailed that story here. A whole 15 months have passed since then and so far, most of my blog posts have been centered around this loss. I remember feeling like I was never going to make it through that time of my life! But here we are over a year later and we’re making it through. God has kept us. We’re not over it, I don’t think you ever “get over” something like that. However, we’ve adjusted and we’re okay now. I am okay.
What I haven’t talked much about though is what’s been going on since then. Marcus and I are coming up on 2 years of marriage. With that, people are getting really antsy and for whatever reason feel comfortable enough to ask about our family planning.
“Where are the babies?”
“You must be waiting until you finish medical school. Smart girl!”
“Are y’all thinking of having kids any time soon?”
If you’ve been married longer than 15 minutes I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, too! Usually I just force a smile and say some vague, canned response like “Whenever the time is right I guess”. I can’t really get mad; most of these questions come from well-meaning friends and family who are genuinely interested in my life. But very few people know that Marcus and I are currently trying to get pregnant again, and have been trying again since last March when we were cleared after the miscarriage. I think now is an appropriate time for me to share.
It’s been 14 months of trying. 14 months of failing. 14 months of unwanted periods and negative pregnancy tests. 14 months of wondering what’s wrong with me. 14 months of Facebook pregnancy announcements and baby shower invitations (don’t worry, I’m happy for you. Just sad for me). 14 months of praying and crying out to God.
It’s also been 14 months of amazing baby-making with my husband – so it ain’t all bad. #heyboo
Point is we’ve been trying again for over a year and nothing is happening. And as discouraging and frustrating as that is for us, there are so many other couples out there who have it far worse and have been silently struggling to start a family for years. Making a baby may be natural, but that doesn’t make it simple. A lot of people have long and very complicated journeys to parenthood.
1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility
Even though it is common, infertility is just one of those things that people don’t openly discuss…especially within the African American community. It’s often presumed that women of color don’t have issues getting pregnant. Period. It’s a stereotype that has historical origin and is still perpetuated in our community today. I could honestly write a paper on this topic but we’ll save that for another blog post.
Anyway, we assume infertility only happens to wealthy, “workaholic” white women who decide to have a baby a little too late in life. But the truth is, black couples are more likely to experience infertility than their white counterparts; and are less likely to seek medical treatment for it. I think there are several factors that play into this, including access to healthcare, affordability of infertility treatment, lack of reproductive health awareness, and religion. For example, we say things like “God must not want you to be pregnant right now, just keep praying. He will make a way”. Now don’t get me wrong – I am a believer in Jesus Christ and I have no doubts about the power of prayer. However, what doesn’t occur to most is that sometimes “a way” is made through help from others. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year or longer and haven’t been able to, that’s infertility; and you should see your doctor.
Many people don’t know that infertility is defined as not being able to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term within 12 months of actively trying
Another reason why I think African Americans are less likely to seek help for infertility is because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. There is an undeniable stigma that comes with having trouble achieving or sustaining a pregnancy. If you don’t believe me, then think about why we use negative terms like “dried up” when referring to an infertile woman; or “shooting blanks” when a man can’t impregnate his wife. An important step in overcoming that stigma is to have open and honest conversations about it.
I guarantee that someone you know is currently experiencing the heartbreak of infertility, whether they are open about it or not. This week (April 23-29, 2017) is National Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to share my story because I know how it is to feel alone on this journey. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband to fight with me, but as a unit we often feel isolated. I get it. The lost babies, unsuccessful treatments, hospital stays, constant poking for blood work, constant probing for ultrasounds, the bills, the waiting, the uncertainty – it’s hard.
We are currently seeing a specialist at an infertility clinic and received a diagnosis last week. I won’t go into detail in this particular blog post, but the news was bleek. Basically our doctor said he has no idea how we even got pregnant the first time, and it’s going to take a serious miracle for us to conceive again.
Thank God, He specializes in miracles.
If you’d like to follow our story, I will be blogging more about our real-life experiences with infertility as it happens. Usually people share their battle with starting a family after they successfully have babies. Testimonies are great and very encouraging! However I do think there aren’t enough couples voicing their struggles as they go through them. These blogs will naturally be a little more personal and because of that I don’t plan to post every single one on social media, so make sure to click the “Follow” button to receive updates in your email.
Infertility In The Media
In life, most of the time it’s easier to dwell on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. This can be especially true if you are going through miscarriage or infertility because your focus is on the baby that seems to be missing. It’s hard to find the good in that, if we’re just being honest. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve challenged myself to do some reflecting on the things I am thankful for while on this journey. What I found was that I really do have so much to be thankful for.
I am thankful for the time I get to spend just being married. When we found out we were expecting we had only been married for 6 months. We were just getting settled in to the whole husband and wife gig when bam! – we were suddenly daddy and mommy, too. And while my subsequent miscarriage was not something I wanted, I am still very grateful for the time I have in this season to just be Marcus’ wife.
How precious is that?! I get to focus all of my efforts on being the wife my husband deserves. I get to give him my undivided attention, and more importantly, I get to have his. 🙂 We get to sleep in and cuddle together uninterrupted. We get to spend our extra money frivolously. We get to pick up and go on dates or vacations whenever we feel like it. We get the time to really focus on each other’s needs and wants with no other responsibilities other than ourselves. Having a baby changes all of that.
While it is absolutely my hearts desire to start our family right now, I am learning to be grateful for this special time in our lives when it is just he and I, because – if you really think about it – once we have our baby we will never get this time back. I intend to enjoy and savor every second.
I am thankful that my baby will never experience this crazy world. This sentiment is somewhat of a cliché in the miscarriage community, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This world can be downright cruel and my sweet August will never have to experience it. My baby was never hungry, was never cold, was always wanted, and was always loved. I am thankful for this.
I am thankful for today; because clearly tomorrow is not promised. You can literally be here one day and gone the next, so I choose to appreciate each day as its own. Each day I wake up is a new opportunity to walk in my God-given purpose. To love. To laugh. To just live. I am naturally a planner and somewhat of a control freak so “living in the moment” is something I have to be intentional about. You can make all the plans in the world for tomorrow, but tomorrow may never happen. My miscarriage taught me how fragile and fleeting life really is; and the importance of relishing each moment I have as they come because the next moment is not guaranteed. Thank you Lord for today!
I am thankful for a stronger marriage. My husband and I are far from perfect; but I can honestly say that we are stronger together after going through our loss. That’s a blessing because not everyone can say that. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility so often break couples apart and dissolve marriages. We were young, newly married, had just lost a baby, had medical bills stacked to the roof, our sex life was vulnerable – it was honestly the perfect storm for disaster. But we’re getting through it, by God’s grace.
I’ve never seen Marcus as mature, loving and strong as he has been in response to our loss. We’ve passed some serious tests together; and I’m so proud of his strength and how far we’ve come. He is truly my partner, and I am his. Miscarriage is a part of our love story now and our history as parents, it makes us who we are today. My sweet little angel August makes us who we are today.
I am thankful for my next child. Having a baby may be natural, but that doesn’t make it easy. A friend told me to “just pray and stay positive” and it will happen. My, how I wish it were that simple! It takes prayer, patience, strength, time, money, medicine, blood, sweat, tears and dang near selling your soul for some couples to fall pregnant.Trying to conceive after miscarriage has been exhausting for us and there are many days when I just want to quit.
But thinking about my rainbow baby literally makes my heart burst with excitement. There’s something about putting in work for what you want that makes you appreciate it so much more once you finally have it. I don’t take starting a family for granted anymore and I am already overflowing with gratitude for the life of my next child; however that child comes to be apart of our lives.
I am thankful that God is using me to help others through their losses. I think this is one of the big ones. I am so grateful that my pain has been useful to somebody else! Someone messaged me and told me that they wouldn’t have made it through their miscarriage without me. Someone else said that reading my story helped them to confront their own feelings about losses they’ve experienced in their past. I’ve also made friends with a mother who originally contacted me for prayer after her miscarriage, and now she intends to name her next baby August as inspired by my little one! This single tiny human who never even made it into the world has inspired people. Wow! All glory to God, who is able to work all things together for good!
It’s easy to be thankful for the good stuff, but what about the things that are not-so-good? The things that have you up and crying at night, can you still find a reason to give thanks in spite of? I challenge you to find a reason to be thankful, no matter your circumstance! Miscarriage & infertility can leave you bitter and cold – if you let it. Today, however, I choose gratitude.