By Dominique R. Mejia
Why did it take Michelle Obama letting the world know she did IVF for me to feel like I can talk about my fertility issues?
Is it because she’s a black woman like me? Is it because she was the (best) First Lady of this (not ‘my’; I’m not claiming this mess of a place right now) country? Could it be both? I’m not exactly sure, but I am sure about the way I felt watching Mrs Obama tell Robin Roberts she ‘felt lost and alone’ and like she had failed’. First there was the shock; I’m like, ‘You too, girl?’ (because in my head, we’re friends who call each other ‘girl’). Then, I felt a sigh of relief.
I’m definitely still processing why I’m impacted so much by Mrs. Obama’s bravery, that I keep wanting to call a confession or admission
I keep stopping myself from using those two terms, because those being the first words that come to mind when I think about Michelle Obama (or any woman for that matter) speaking on issues with fertility is a part of the problem. Somehow that’s how I’ve come to think of infertility: a shame, an embarrassment, and a stripping of my title as a woman. I don’t know how I got there exactly, but I know where I was before infertility ever crossed my mind: La La Land—my own self-created, superficial, unrealistic group of ideals for what my life is supposed to be like.
Yes, like so many other women, I was a life planner
First comes the career, then comes the marriage, then comes the babies—and all by specific deadlines. This is the roadmap I created, in part, to get as far away as possible from the labels so many of my family members and community in general hadn’t been able to avoid, like teenage mom, high school dropout, deadbeat dad, baby mama, and the likes. The problem with my super judgy, La La Land ideals didn’t really start to manifest until after I got married and realized my fairytale, made-for-TV beliefs about what marriage would and should be like were completely off and were a hindrance to my relationship with my husband. Nothing a little self-work and marriage counseling couldn’t fix, right? Right – but don’t get it twisted, there’s nothing little or easy about ‘the work’ that goes into a strong marriage. I’m grateful that I have an amazing husband who is as committed to ‘the work’ and to our marriage as I am, and I have an amazing therapist who never allows me to take a break from ‘the work’ on myself as an individual and on my marriage. The downside is that by this point in my life plan only a small dent had been made into my roadmap to La La Land. Next on my ‘list’ was a baby (well, a few). If you thought I stepped into marriage trippin’ off unrealistic ideals, you’re really going to judge me from here on out.
I come from a HUGE family. My mom has six kids, her mom had eight, and her grandma had six.
My mom’s sisters almost all have at least five kids. My dad has ten, his brother has six, and his other brother has two (and probably would have had more has he not spent most of his life incarcerated). I could go on and on about the countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and even nieces and nephews of mine who have of kids on kids on kids. I say all that to say, the idea of infertility never, ever crossed my mind. Fertility was in my blood. Yes, I just said that, because I truly believed it, in my ignorance. So, after a few months of trying to conceive a baby, I (Juan don’t be mad, ok?) assumed my husband had to be the problem. There was no way, with the millions of bad ass kids running around in my family, that I could be having fertility issues. Just no way. I want some bad ass kids, too!
Turns out I was wrong
My husband got checked out, his sperm was of good quality and the count was ridiculously high. Months of trying to conceive quickly became a year, and we went to a fertility doctor. We learned that one of my ovaries is mispositioned (I just made that word up—it means not where it’s supposed to be). This, according to our doc (who I love), does not mean we won’t be able to conceive. It just explains why it might be harder for us. So, we embarked on the IUI process, and honestly, it’s been downhill from there. Not because we’ve had three unsuccessful IUI attempts – there’s definitely still hope – but because of the impact that the abolition of La La Land (finally) has had on me, mentally and emotionally.
I’m not Fertile Mertile just because my mama and ‘em have a whole bunch of kids
That’s the part I’ve come to terms with. The part I haven’t yet been able to fully grasp is that (1) there is nothing wrong with me and I have nothing to be ashamed of, (2) I’m not alone in this, and (3) there are plenty of ways to end up with kids (I should know since my husband and I are now raising three of my siblings). I can obviously grasp these concepts logically. Emotionally, though, I’m not there. The crazy part is, the only person fighting me on this is me. I have a loving husband who has spent most of his days in the past year walking on eggshells through this process so as not contribute to the stress I’m putting on myself. I have the best group of friends a girl could ask for who have all gone to great lengths to support me through this. Yet, I’ve distanced myself from them.
I have awesome, honest, and supportive therapists and doctors who balance keeping it real with keeping hope alive
I have it all – even without having the baby just yet. I just can’t embrace all that I have until I end this battle against myself.
So, shout out to Michelle Obama, Juan the Great, Lisa Loury-Lomas, my Sunbeams, and my whole village for directly and indirectly helping me reckon with the fact that there’s no one judging me or standing in the way of me getting through this fertility sh*t, but me.
Check out Dominique’s website, DominiqueMejia.com, on Facebook Dominique R. Mejia and Instagram, DominiqueRenee_