Lately, I have received several book review requests, so I’ve opened my registry. However, my schedule is already full, so the space on my list is very limited. If you are interested in increasing the number of reviews for your book, read on.
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About Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews:
This blog has been one of Reedsy’s list of vetted active book blogs that provides thoughtful, quality book reviews and has been on this list since 2017. This is because my reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.
I have six years of experience reviewing books personally and professionally. My authors comprise both Independent and Traditionally published from all over the world.
However, I am just one person, so space runs out quickly.
If you have a book you’d like reviewed for added exposure, reach out ASAP to get a top spot.
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“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots…”
Zora Neale Hurston
Except, I was not actually miscarrying. I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
“An ectopic pregnancy is not a miscarriage. It doesn’t even qualify as a pregnancy loss under “recurrent pregnancy loss” which is one of the criteria that needs to be met before being referred to a fertility specialist.”
Ectopic pregnancies make up 1-2% of all conceptions. That’s about 1 in 50 pregnancies in the United States. An ectopic pregnancy is an embryo (fertilized egg) that has been implanted outside of the uterus (womb), the normal site for implantation.
In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized by the sperm inside the Fallopian tube. The embryo then travels through the tube and reaches the uterus 3 to 4 days later. However, suppose the Fallopian tube is blocked or damaged and unable to transport the embryo to the uterus.
In that case, the embryo may implant in the lining of the tube, cervix, or ovary, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.
Since pregnancies that grow outside the uterus cannot develop normally, and because they can cause the organ they are developing in to rupture, medical or surgical treatment is required as soon as possible.
The Fallopian tube (where 95% of ectopics happen) cannot support the growing embryo and, if left untreated, can result in the death of the embryo and the death of the mother. For this reason, ectopic pregnancies are considered medical emergencies.
This was the cause of the pain that sent me to the emergency room on November 13, 2020, with my legs in the air and three doctors surrounding my area. (See part one.)
Described as a spontaneous abortion through a miscarriage (although, as we’ve covered earlier, an ectopic is not quite a miscarriage), they treated me with Methotrexate on November 20, 2020. When I went in to get the injection, they directed me to the cancer wing, which further disturbed me. I didn’t know Methotrexate was initially used to treat certain cancers; some derived from placental tissue.
Methotrexate is given as a single dose in the hospital’s cancer wing. It effectively destroys ectopic pregnancy tissue and allows it to be reabsorbed by the body. It can also kill normal pregnancy tissue.
In addition to avoiding pregnancy for at least three months, I couldn’t drink alcohol, have foods that contained folic acid, and I had to stay out of the sun for a week after having the injection.
I also had to have a weekly blood test to confirm my HCG levels (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) were getting lower. I spent so much time in the hospital at the end of 2020 that the doctors knew me by name.
After enduring weeks of HCG tests, I was almost finished with the process.
And then, on September 23, 2020, my mom died.
I flew out to Chicago for the funeral when I was supposed to be resting and finishing my last round of tests.
After the funeral, I returned home to complete a couple of weeks, and then I was done.
Or, so I thought.
In the summer of 2020, I experienced pain in my left foot that turned out to be Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis), an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It is one of the most common forms of heel pain and can usually be treated by simply wearing a better shoe.
But like everything in my life, my case was different.
Instead of going to the emergency room, I figured my insurance could be better spent with a specialist, so I booked an appointment with a Podiatrist, a medical professional specializing in treating disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.
Nothing they did worked. Not the massages or pain medication.
When the pain continued, and I could barely walk on it, they gave me an injection, which I had tried to avoid. The steroid is injected into the most painful part of your plantar fascia, helping ease the pain and keep the inflammation down.
It worked, and I have been pain-free ever since. I also changed my house shoes (wearing those specifically designed for the condition. They were ugly but wearing them helped.) I have also been sticking to a certain kind of shoe, such as New Balances.
But while the injection helped, I believe it contributed to my miscarriage that summer, which happened months before the November ectopic. (This one was an actual miscarriage.)
A year passed, and in February of this year (22), I discovered I was pregnant again. I was hopeful and had scheduled my confirmation appointment.
And then I felt that all too familiar low abdominal pain.
It was excruciating, and I could not wait for the appointment. It started that Friday, subsided the weekend, and on Tuesday, the pain was back and felt worse. I thought that if I was in labor, this is how it must feel. I called my doctor and went in early for the appointment.
Instead of a confirmation of pregnancy, I was sent to emergency surgery. Not only was it another ectopic, but it was worse than the first time.
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Zora Neale Hurston
Friday, November 13, 2020
It felt like I had given birth with nothing to show for it.
I was lying on my back in the emergency department of Wellstar Paulding Emergency Hospital with my legs open, my feet in the stirrups. I prayed the doctors examining and whispering over my vajayjay would hurry up. At first, it was just one doctor, but her face did not do a good job of concealing her concern. I could tell the amount of blood was overwhelming her. She called in someone else, and before I knew it, there were three doctors down there.
“Press down like you are having a bowel movement,” said one of them. She looked like she was in charge, and I was instantly terrified.
“Just a little bit. Press down.”
So basically, you are telling me to push. Push what? OMG.
I pressed down until she said stop, and I could see them trying to stop the bleeding. I felt like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I was thirteen years old in the summer of 2000, and my dad was sick and dying of cancer. The adults decided we should not witness his last days and sent us to Mississippi with our big sister. (My twin sister Tracey and me are the youngest of my dad’s crew, our other sibling’s already well into adulthood.) Here, at my sister’s house, I had the experience of my first period, and it was not modest or merciful. It came in as if it had been here before and stayed for a full seven days.
No one had explained menstrual cycles to me, we were not being taught about it in school yet, and my sister was at work. Shocked, I cried as Tracey looked on in astonishment. We were terrified. We knew about it, but we did not fully understand it. My stepmother predicted mine would come soon, and every time she brought it up, I would get upset.
“What you gonna do? Stop it from happening? You gonna be the first woman to not have a period?”
I sat on the edge of her bed, brought my eyebrows together, wrinkled my forehead, and curled my lips up with eyes that said, “Yup.”
In my mind, I really thought I could stop it. That’s because I had no idea why it needed to happen in the first place.
We eventuallyfound my sister’s pads, but no one had taught us how to put them on, so I stuffed my panties with tissue and waited until my sister got home.
Sadly, my story is not unique. When it comes to the woman’s body, many topics are considered so taboo they are rarely talked about or spoken of at all. Not even in the home. Sexual intercourse, the vagina, pregnancy, abortion, birth control, and menstrual cycles are topics people shy away from, like some kind of disease, leaving many women to learn through experience. Often, traumatic experiences.
“I was around 13 when I asked my Aunt about sex because a lot of my friends at school were talking about it. Instantly, she asked why I’m around those kinds of friends and why I would ever ask that kind of question. She went on to tell me that I shouldn’t be having sex until I’m married and mentioned that I shouldn’t have a boyfriend either. I knew for sure that I was never going to come to her again.”
Afia, 18, of Pawtucket, RI
In the Black community, girls are sometimes shamed for even bringing these subjects up. When my stepmother scolded me for being upset about periods, she didn’t know she was setting me up to be ashamed of it. She never talked about how natural it was for women or asked me why the thought of it made me so upset in the first place.
The teachable moment had passed, and like Afia, I knew I would never come to my stepmother to discuss periods. And, for a long time, I did not even like to say that word. I had developed a deep shame about it.
According to Netflix’s new series, The Principles of Pleasure, one name used to refer to the woman’s external parts back in the day was the Latin term Pudendum, from the verb Pudere, meaning “to make ashamed.”
“…let me know, and we can go get something,” my Aunt said loud enough for us to hear in the other room.
She drank and played cards as they discussed prom and prom night. Her insinuation that if we planned to have sex, we should let her know “so we can go get something” was the extent of what I assumed was “the talk” about sex and birth control. There was no explanation of what she was even talking about. We were also already having sex by then. Not only did her comment make us ashamed to discuss sex with her at all, but Auntie was a couple of years too late anyway.
But parents are people too, and “it’s difficult to recreate experiences that were not modeled for us, and many Black parents of today grew up with inaccurate and negative messages about sex,” says Melissa Carnagey, founder of Sex Positive Families, an organization that supports parents in having sexual health talks with their children.
Tracie Gilbert, Ph.D., Training and Technical Assistance Manager at Answer, which publishes Sex, Etc. had this to say about why some Black adults may not talk to their children about sex:
“Black parents being nervous about talking with their daughters about sex is not only common but historically influenced by the desire to protect them from racism and white supremacist ideas about Black sexuality. Historical tropes about Black people included that they were hypersexual and had loose morals.”
But this is not exclusive to Black women. All women have experienced similar traumatic experiences surrounding sex, menstrual cycles, and birth control.
These myths could be why some adults (like my Aunt, stepmother, and Afia’s Aunt) avoid the conversation altogether.
Like periods and sex, infertility is another topic many women do not openly talk about. As someone who has struggled with it for years, I hope to break the silence by sharing my experience.
How my menstrual cycle started would set the tone for the future of a tumultuous relationship between me and my reproductive system.
November 13, 2020
“Yes, she’s miscarrying,” said the doctor-in-charge.
There are times when Black authors find themselves fighting against those who wish them to edit their soul. Take the salt out the meat. Take the voice out the work, and leave it seasonless. To quote Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, “People still have a white, western idea of how intellect is ‘spose to walk in the world.”
Let it not be lost that how Black people speak, including how we write, has been under fire since the days they forbade us to read and write. Considering us fools (and hoping we’d believe we were), they told us our language was broken. Told us massa was some jumbled version of master to justify our alleged stupidity and inhumanness. (Note: Massah is a Hebrew word meaning burden or oppressor. We called them what they were.)
The audacity to dilute language rich in culture by “correcting” it is just as brutal as stripping away someone’s name and replacing it with your own. What does your Ph.D. in poetry have to do with my grandmother’s tongue?
The way our slang terms do not always mirror what is heard or written within collegiate circles.
The way proverbs and parables roll off the tongue only to be shackled to some white scholars’ standards of brilliance. He think it’s nonsense how Jay Jay and Man Man ‘nem talk about how they be chillin. Or how Aunt Lou tells one of her grandchiren to go wrench off this spoon. She puts her hands on her hips, waves and says ‘How you?’ (She means it the way she says it, leaving out the ‘are.’)
The way the world attempted to tuck knowledge away from us, hide from us its secrets. (Though, we already knew them.)
Black writers do not need to sacrifice their soul or shapeshift into white standards of intellect to create something beautiful. They need only to be who they are and let the words be seasoned.
Crazy to think that in just a few short hours, this day will be part of history. As I write this, I think about how easily today becomes a memory. The question is, will it be a day worth remembering? Will I remember a cold day with clear skies and the birds building their nests in the tree outside my bedroom window?
As I sit here wearing my I am Black History sweatshirt and my blackballed fists earrings, I am forced to ask myself what it means. What does it mean to be the embodiment of black history?
When I think about it, I think about legacy. Those things we leave behind for others to grab onto. We live in a world where a person’s significance is realized the most after death. Something about the absence of their presence forces us to consider the nobility of the lives they lived and what we take from it.
Toni Morrison once said, “the function of freedom is to free someone else.” I think about the responsibility of that, and I resolve that being black history in the flesh means to live my life in such a way that black people feel free.
Still, I am constantly contemplating what that means in all its fullness. How does a person feel free? What parameters must exist for an individual to feel uncaged? These are not simple questions to answer, yet I think we answer them daily with our actions. I think we answer them with the lives we live.
Alice Walker said “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” I supposed this is why Dr. King talked about holding on to your somebodiness, because your somebodiness is your power. Your sense of identity and belonging. Your truth.
Do you know your somebodiness? Do you know your mother’s name and her mother’s name? Do you know your people? Do you know from what root you sprang? How much time do you spend investigating how to reclaim your own identity? You say you are black history. You wear the shirts, use the hashtags and pump your black fists into the air, but do you know your name? Do you know what was taken from you? Do you know what was not?
Louis pulled the olive-drab wool service cap down as far as it could go. Why he was hiding his face, he didn’t know. It was not like anyone could see him. Louis’s heart fluttered. After all these years, even the thought of her made him blush. His excitement was quickly replaced by sorrow. He had not been the best husband. Maybe if he were, she would not have asked for that restraining order, he would not have joined the Army, and the terrible future he knew was coming would not happen.
But Louis was on a mission, so now he couldn’t think about that. Life was funny in that way. Sometimes you don’t realize your purpose until after you have already lived.
The scream of the train’s horn startled him out of his thoughts. The 63rd Street Station in Chicago was lively, with travelers. He looked down at his watch as the train’s horn sounded again. They will be here any minute now.
“Now, where do you think you are going?”
Louis looked up and smiled. That tiny voice and round, golden-brown face always did something to him. Then, she had the nerve to have those sexy glasses on. But Mamie wasn’t talking to him and had not spoken to him in years. No, Mamie Carthan was talking to their son.
Louis stopped thinking about her beauty and rushed over to stand next to them. There was not much time left, and although he knew neither one could see him, the whole situation still made him nervous. Nerves. Was that even a thing anymore? Louis brushed imaginary lint from his wool, four-button olive coat. It was the same coat he had been wearing for ten years now. The same uniform he has worn since he died.
“Come on, ma. I’m gonna be late,” whined the chubby little boy.
Louis smiled. He knew Emmett would be a handful the day they discovered he was a breech baby. That’s why he gave him his name because he knew he’d be hard-headed, just like his father. Emmett Louis Till. Bursting into the world wide-eyed and feet first.
“Yea, but you didn’t kiss me goodbye.”
Emmett smiled and gave Mamie a peck on the cheek.
Give her the watch.
Louis cleared his throat. He hadn’t realized how long it’s been since he had said anything out loud. He looked around at the people walking by. It was strange the way they seemed to look right at him.
Give her the watch.
He repeated the command as he stared down at his son.
You won’t need it where you are going.
He could see the boy thinking the words over in his head. He knew he thought they were coming from his own mind. Louis had come to learn that sadness was different in the after-world, but if he could, he would shed a tear. He stood watching his son remove the watch he was wearing and give it to his mother, and his heart ached at the future.
“Here,” said Emmett, “take my watch.”
Mamie frowned as she put it on, “Why?”
“I won’t need it where I’m going,” he said, turning his back to his mother and dashing off in the direction of the train where his cousin Wheeler and great Uncle Moses were waiting.
“Bobo, wait! What about your ring?”
Louis turned away from Emmett to look admirably at his ex-wife. She was the one and had always been the one. He thought she was chosen for him to be his wife this entire time. But the truth is she was chosen to be Emmett’s mother.
He pulled himself away from her face. He was running out of time. Emmett had to be on that train.
Show it to the fellas.
Emmett turned around and pulled the ring from his pants pocket, and put it on, rubbing his fingers across his father’s initials. He lifted his head and stared straight ahead, like someone who had just discovered a new world or happened upon a new invention, and flashed a big grin.
“I’m gonna show this to the fellas!”
Mamie laughed and waved her handkerchief.
“Alright then, boy. Go on ahead now.”
Louis watched his son jump on the train and Mamie staring after him. He remembered the day he got the thing made in Europe, just one year since he had been drafted into the Army. But it was not his ring anymore. Soon, the whole African American community would wear that ring.
No. This was no longer LT’s ring. Now, it was the ring of freedom.
The quietness of the station alarmed him, and Louis looked around in awe of the now dark, empty station. The Master warned him that time moved differently here. He had better get a move on it if he was going to make it to Money in time.
Louis inhaled deeply as his body disintegrated into the wind for his next mission.
After watching ABC’s “Let the World See” about the role of Mamie Till and how she handled Emmett Till’s death, I was happy to see some discussion about Emmett’s father, Louis. Since grade school, I have been studying the Emmett Till story, when I first learned about it, heard many versions of the story, and have seen countless documentaries. My favorite is the one that aired in 2005, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” on YouTube. I like it mostly because Mamie Till was still alive and could tell it the way only she could.
But in all the docs, even my favorite one, there was never anything about his father. This had me thinking.
What if we tell both of their stories at the same time?
Louis Till died at the young age of twenty-three when he was accused of assaulting some Italian women in Europe while serving overseas in the Transportation Corps of the U.S. Army during World War II. He and a friend were found guilty and lynched in 1945.
What if our story doesn’t end here?
What if the spirit world informs Louis about his son’s death and its necessity to jump start The Civil Rights Movement?
And what if it becomes Louis’s responsibility to make sure Emmett wears his ring so that they can identify his body?
And what if his soul isn’t allowed to rest until he does?
What if we can tell both stories through the power of the ring that binds them?
And we sit around the fire watching the golden ball of flame leap and howl and transform the wood into hot ribbons of light. Somewhere, we hope to be transformed too spark like the flames dancing searching for some light in the times we live in and come out renewed from the furnace of affliction this fire poetry of the phoenix.