Breaking the Silence: Part II

Photo by Nadezhda Moryak from Pexels

Missed Part 1? Click Here.

“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.”

– littlesicilianmemoirs.home.blog/2021/12/12/my-pregnancy-losses/

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.

Ectopics are at the center of the controversial Roe vs. Wade abortion ban. Although treatment for this condition is separate from abortion care, overturning Roe could be dangerous for women experiencing ectopics.

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.)

2022

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.

They needed to remove my right Fallopian tube.

To be continued…

Breaking the Silence: Part I

Photo by Alina Blumberg from Pexels


“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.

“What?”

“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 eventually found 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.

To be continued…

Update: Click Here to Read Breaking the Silence Part 2

Throwback Thursday – Lifetime by Maxwell

It’s Throwback Thursday! If you are new to this blog, welcome! I hope your week has been great so far.

So, on Thursdays, we throw it back with an old school jam or a 90s jam or a song I love from anytime before today lol.

Today we are reposting this Maxwell hit. This is my jam.

I love the words to this song. He starts off real heavy, “I was reborn when I was broken.” Groove on into your morning/afternoon/evening with this jam.

The Year of Wisdom

Photo by Reneé Thompson on Unsplash

I thought year thirty-three was going to be the year of wisdom.
Profundity would find me on the edge of the ocean
dipping my toes in the waters of understanding.
Clarity would embrace me like a sister
and I would smile a thousand times.

But buried under year thirty-three
naïveté found me on the edge of stupidity
and dipping my toes in the waters of doubt.
Confusion embraced me like a sister,
heartbreak like a friend,
and I felt that I could die
a thousand deaths.

Thirty-three became the year of mourning.
A scorching misery, I would pull over my head
like a hoodie, pulling against the drawstring
so it covered my face
unafraid that someone might
mistake the heart in my hand
for a weapon and kill me
like an unarmed black man.

And I did not care if they did.

I was sackcloth and ashes.
Beaten by loss-the death of a mother,
uncle, brother, and the loss of a friend.
My tongue could taste the bitter tang
of humiliation like plaque on my teeth,
and tears turned into oceans I drowned in.

I thought year thirty-three was going to be
the year of wisdom.

And, strangely, it was.

Thirty-three quieted me.
It forced my tongue to the roof of my mouth
fixed my jaw to clench shut my teeth
while cultivating me in the furnace of affliction.

Profundity did not find me
on the edge of the ocean,
and I have not dipped my toes
into the waters of some grand understanding.
Instead, the flames of truth
burned off the useless layers
on the surface of my skin.
My tears are oceans of holy olive oil
washing away the sorrow from my soul.

Seeds of fight root themselves
in the crevices of my heart
that I have pushed back into my chest
so that out of the ashes of pain
wisdom may grow
so that out of silence,
understanding will meet me here once again
on the edge of the ocean
where I am smiling
a thousand times.


Don’t forget that if you have read My Soul is a Witness I am trying to reach 20 Book Reviews before this year closes and we are two reviews away! (Update: For some reason one of my reviews were removed. Boo. So I am 3 reviews away). If you have the book (and have read it), do consider leaving an honest review on Amazon by Jan 1.

Note: This poem is not in the book. It is new for those flipping your pages wondering where it is lol.

How to Review on Amazon:

Click this link. Scroll down to ‘Write a Customer Review,’ rate and leave your thoughts on the book.

Also, I am Soul is 99cents on Kindle for a limited time.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Title: Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life

Author: Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Print Length: 132 pages

Publisher: Book Baby

Publication Date: December 16, 2019

 

In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Jordan Ph.D., outlines several ways couples can improve their love lives. He shows from a “psychological blueprint” how those previous experiences of love have shaped our current understanding in relationships going as far back as birth. He uses his personal life experience to show how what we learn in our family “shapes our experience of interpersonal reality when we become adults.” (Jordan, 92) Dr. Jordan challenges readers to identify what they’ve learned, challenge what they’ve learned, and then try something new. As you can tell, Dr. Thomas’ explanations are easy-to-understand, and his examples are clear and concise.

One of the most important points he makes is about learned beliefs, behavior, and feelings. Jordan asserts, for example, that if what we’ve learned about love was unhealthy growing up, we will unknowingly, somewhat subconsciously, repeat what was unhealthy in our adult relationships. The key here is what you believe about love relationships will shape your experience. Suppose someone taught you to think relationships are dishonest because you experienced dishonesty growing up. If you are not aware of this learned belief and have not made changes, chances are your current relationships will recreate dishonesty and generate a feeling that someone is deceptive.

This same thing can apply if you’ve felt Abandonment (loss), Exploitation (used), Abuse (fearful), Mistrust (suspicious), Controlled (trapped), Neglect (deprived), Dependency (needy), and Rejection (rejected). According to Dr. Jordan, these are among the ten unhealthy traits we learn and unconsciously recreate in our love relationships if we have not healed from them. Another critical detail Dr. Jordan makes is about how we become defensive to avoid being vulnerable.

It is the vulnerability that allows people to get to know us better because we have let them “in.” People shy away from opening up in this way because one cannot be vulnerable without risking unintentional hurt from time to time. What is meant by “unintentional?” There will inevitably be differences between you and the person you are in a relationship with, disagreements, different perspectives, opinions, etc. These differences are inevitable. There is no escaping it. According to Dr. Thomas, one cannot be in love without feeling unintentional hurt based on differences.

So then, why is “falling in love” worth it? Dr. Thomas has an interesting answer: Because we all have a natural ability to heal. The risk of falling in love is more tolerable and less stressful when we believe in our innate ability to heal. “If hurt leads to loss, we can grieve, heal our hearts, and move on.” (Jordan, 55)

We can avoid pain altogether by not opening up, but being defensive in relationships interferes with our ability to give and receive love. Dr. Thomas notes that love as an emotion is unpredictable and uncontrollable; hence, we “fall in love,” the connotation is that we have lost control. Because of losing control, we risk getting hurt. We avoid this hurt in attempting to achieve a love relationship without being vulnerable, which is not possible.

“Vulnerability is the emotional experience that shows you are open to giving and receiving love.” – Dr. Thomas Jordan

This understanding took me back to the 80/20 rule. It is a lot to expect to receive 100% good from one person because we all have trauma and baggage from our life experiences we carry with us. Even in an emotionally healthy and stable individual, you still might only get 80% of what you consider beautiful traits, if that. Can you live with that person’s twenty percent, or is this person’s twenty percent unbearable/intolerable? Based on your conscious awareness of your own flaws and strengths, combined with their weaknesses and strengths, what can you realistically tolerate in a love relationship? What flaws can you live with (accept)?

My only issue with this book is the opening section detailing what the book would be about. I found it unnecessary and thought the author would do well to jump right in. However, the author made up for it with the breakdown of healthy relationship experiences at the end! I think that tied things up well. These healthy traits are the opposite of the unhealthy list I mentioned earlier: Attachment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Consideration, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, and Intimacy.

Anyone, single or married, disappointing love life or not, can learn how to heal by learning to love themselves, starting with being consciously aware of toxic patterns.

 

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5/

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and Non-Fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.

For Those Who Are Sad

Photo by Ye Fung Tchen on Unsplash

Can I cradle you in the nook of my arms? If you were here, would you let me? Hold you I mean? I don’t just want a hug. I want to hold you so we cry together. Kiss the top of your forehead like a mother would. On the shoulder of comfort, let your tears drench my shirt and I will love you like an infant. Can these words hold your head up? I do not want the soft spot of your pain to blemish the fragile newness of the warrior you are becoming. Your critics will look at what you are, but I see what you can become. But you’ve got to let me do my job. Let me hold you. Cradle you in my arms with these words. Cradle you in my arms with this pen. This is not a blog. Not today. Today this is air. This is breath. This is permission to breathe. These are words wooing lullabies for the exhausted spirits of the broken.

A Witness to the Experience

My Soul is a Witness: Poetry \ Coming Fall 2020

 

My Soul is a Witness is a title inspired by the Negro Spiritual song, “Witness,” but I did not choose such a title because I think of myself and my people as “Negroes.” I chose such a title because of the powerful messages and influence these songs had on our people as they transitioned from enslavement to freedom. Powerful messages I hope to also convey through my poetry.

There is a great spiritual awakening happening among Black people today as we strive to unlearn the lies they taught us for over 400 years. Whether that is starting and running our own businesses, embracing our natural hair or re-educating our young people on the parts of our history left out of the history books.

And to what am I a witness?

I am a witness to the trials and struggles my people have endured and I am a witness to our power to overcome those struggles. I am a witness also to my own sufferings which I am sure have been experienced by others. In this way, I am a witness to the fight that we all have. And why the fight? It is easy to present an image of healing and wholeness, but I believe it is much more fruitful if people knew of the struggles that got us where we are today.

From a historical perspective, I have not experienced the Middle Passage or enslavement or Jim Crow, but as a descendent of people who did, I am connected to those experiences just as if I had been there with them. In the Black community, we do not say, “when they fought for freedom,” we say, “when we fought for freedom.” The same can be true of the struggles of our own personal lives. If someone says they have been homeless before, I can relate because I have been homeless before too. I am a witness to what that’s like. If someone says they have a family member who is an addict, I can relate. I also have family members who are addicts. The anguish that causes in a family and what it does to that person and their loved ones are not lost to me. I can relate to that. I am a witness to that experience.

I believe epigenetic trauma is real. Epigenetics is the idea that trauma can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which then is passed down to subsequent generations. (C. Benedict, New York Times) This means that a child or grandchild can experience side-effects from the traumatic experience of his/her elders. Since the concept of epigenetics, more and more studies hint to the inheritability of trauma where our own day-to-day health (and perhaps our children too) may have something to do with our inheritance of our parents and grandparents suffering.

One personal example is my own mother’s struggle with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). Her grandson, my nephew, suffers from asthma badly, though both his parents do not have asthma. Could he have inherited my mother’s affliction to a degree?

Thus, I do not find it far-fetched that Blacks/African Americans could still struggle from the mental and spiritual grief that plagued our forefathers long ago. We are witnesses to this pain on a deeply personal level which makes the Negro Spiritual deeply personal to us. While our ancestors were escaping physical enslavement, I believe we are escaping mental enslavement today.

As it applies to all people from the perspective of suffering and struggle, we all have a fight we are engaged in and when we overcome this fight, we become witnesses to that experience and can help others to overcome those same tribulations.

If trauma can be passed down, then so can healing. My soul is a witness.


Have you read I am Soul yet? Grab it here. My Soul is a Witness is coming this fall.