I was never the kind of girl who wanted to have a child without a husband. I know it might seem like an archaic way of thinking, but that was just me. I give props to all of the many women out there who are single moms and do it well. But I had a lot of issues growing up that impacted what I wanted my own family to look like one day.
My mother had me as a teenager, then abandoned me when I was a baby, and I went to live with my grandmother and aunt. When I did see her when I got older, there was a lot of cruelty and rejection. As you can imagine, all of that hurt me to my core for many years
So for a long time, I didn’t even want to have children. And in my family and circle of friends, we just never talked about our bodies, or sex, much less the process of having a kid. I remember getting my period and hiding it from my grandmother for months. I felt ashamed of becoming a woman. We never talked about breasts growing or what menstruation means. And even in my 20s, my best friends and I didn’t even talk about our bodies or babies or fertility. That just wasn’t a topic we touched.
I’m 47 now. But in my early 30s, I started experiencing extreme pain that I learned was caused by fibroids, or abnormal growths in the uterus. I had to have several myomectomies, which is the surgery required to have fibroids removed.
My doctors never told me that the procedures could affect my fertility one day. It wasn’t until after a few surgeries and having to go back to get another fibroid removed—this time I had one the size of a full-term baby—that someone finally said something. It was actually one of my nurse practitioners who told me, “At some point, your uterus will not recover from all of this.”
I learned that the scarring and damage would make it extremely difficult for me to ever have children, and even less likely for me to be able to conceive on my own. That sent me into panic mode.
Around age 35 or 36, I started thinking about having my own kids, but I still wanted to wait until I got married so that I could provide my child with the type of family I never had. My doctor suggested that in the meantime, I should find out what my options were.
It was overwhelming. Should I freeze my eggs to use with my future husband? Wait for the right partner and just consider adoption one day? Surrogacy? I had no idea what to do.
I really resented the fact that I couldn’t talk to family about all of this. No one had ever told me what fibroids were—but they’re hereditary, so I knew it was likely that someone in my family was familiar with them. Many of the women had children young, so fertility was never a conversation. But when I finally did bring up my issue, I learned that a few of my kin developed fibroids later in life and needed hysterectomies. If we’d had those conversations when I was younger, maybe I would’ve gotten help for mine sooner.
When I was 40, I flew to an island for an assessment at a clinic that had a great reputation for helping women my age get pregnant via in vitro fertilization. My first test indicated it was basically impossible for me to get pregnant on my own, But then another test came back with promising results. So I could still try to have a baby, whether on my own or via IVF—but I wasn’t ready for next steps because I hadn’t found someone I wanted to have a child with.
Fast forward to when I married my husband, Marc, last year. I was 46. We tried on our own for a little while, but we had to be realistic about the fact that our best chances were through IVF. I did a lot of research, and we went back to that same clinic I’d gone to years before.
The process failed.
After some heavy vetting and research, we found another place in the States that we liked. And this time, on our second attempt, the IVF worked.
I’m expecting my first child in just a few weeks. We don’t know the baby’s gender, but we’ve settled on a unisex name. It’s been a long journey. I mean, I’m in my late 40s, recently married, and having my first baby!
I’ve been very open about my story on social media and on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. With that has come so much support—but also a lot of criticism and judgement. But I hope more Black women will speak out about things like this, whether it’s on TV or social media or just with their friends. If I can show the world my struggles and it can help other women and inspire them, that’s worth way more than any of the hate I could ever get on the internet.
If I could tell Black women anything, it would be: Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, do not be afraid to go see a doctor or a specialist. Living with a problem is never the answer. That’s what I did with my fibroids. There I was, walking around with growths in my uterus, and I had no idea. And that could have affected my prospects of carrying a baby.
I’d also say that if you do run into struggles, don’t give up. IVF, egg freezing, surrogates, adoption—it can all sound overwhelming and expensive. But there are ways to find the funds, from financing to loans. So don’t panic. There are always options.
Source: Oprah Mag
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