A little bit infertile.

June 26, 2007

Finally, and about a decade after everyone else I know, I’ve been drawn into the world of blogging. Not that I imagine many people will be reading, especially as I am a complete novice at this, but I think I probably should start by introducing myself.

So, hypothetical reader of mine, let me answer a couple of your questions. Who am I and how did I get here?

Well, I’m a college professor in New York City, recently tenured (yay!). I’m also an African American woman, very happily married since 2005 to an African American man whom I’ll call G. G is, like me, a Ph.D.–even without taking into account his good looks, amazing sense of humor and truly charming personality, there’s no arguing that by women’s magazine measures, I’ve hit the mating jackpot by finding a black man who has the same level of education that I do. Not to mention the same political values, and the same quirky combination of lapsed Afro-veggie-hippiedom and guilty buppie materialism (although I think G is a little less guilty about that last bit than I am). Fact is, on that fateful 2002 day in May that we met, I found my soulmate, and I feel incredibly lucky to be his wife.

On to the “how I got here” part: G and I have been trying to get pregnant since October of 2006. We’re on cycle 9 right now, hence the question mark and the parentheses in this blog’s title, as I don’t really know whether we’re infertile (we are young, and in spite of a few bourgeois authenticity issues, I am reasonably sure we are black). There’s certainly some chance that if we don’t get lucky in June, we’ll fall pregnant next month, or in August or September. Still, there are no guarantees, and as the months pass I’ve begun to feel less and less optimistic and more and more ambivalent about this whole thing.

I’m 32 years old. I’m starting this blog in part because I need to talk about this stuff somewhere, but also because as of yet nothing I’ve seen online about infertility reflects my experience. There are many, many infertility blogs out there, but of the ones I’ve read, none seem to be written by African American women. Maybe this is because, as Linda Villarosa notes in this old article from Ebony magazine: “Traditionally, we Black women have been thought of as the world’s best babymakers. The myth is that pregnancy is so easy for us, that we’re so fertile–and we’ve bought into the myth of our abundant fertility. But the myth that we are hyper-fertile, hyper-sexual, is left over from slavery days and bears no relation to reality.”

It’s a myth, all right, but one that still has a lot of power. I know I never expected to have a whit of trouble conceiving–and my many, many black friends with beautiful kids who resulted from “oops” pregnancies certainly made it look easy. Just before we started trying to conceive (TTC), I remember sitting around a table at the birthday dinner of a friend of mine (herself the mom of an “oops” son), with about six other black women. The possibility of G and I getting pregnant came up, and I said something like, “I hope we don’t have any trouble conceiving–I hear some women really struggle.” A chorus of voices assured me that no, infertility was a “white woman’s issue,” I had “nothing to worry about.” And I was pretty certain they were right. Now I see that certainty as naive (and a little bit bigoted). And really wrong, since some statistics suggest that in fact, black women are 1.5 times more likely than white women to be infertile. Who knew?

Anyway, back to why I started this blog: in my searching for info on black women and infertility, I also read this 2004 article from Essence. Essence went into some detail about how many middle-class black women these days are delaying TTC to their late 30s because of their careers. And they’re discovering, like many of their white counterparts, that trying to get pregnant at age 37 or 39 is not as easy as they expected. Well yes, that makes total sense, but it doesn’t really make me feel any better. We started TTC when I was 31 years old, practically an infant myself in career girl terms. I am incredibly lucky that I got tenure at age 31 and professionally felt free and clear to start trying, with almost no concerns about a baby slowing down or stopping my career progress. Plus, I’m young and reasonably healthy, with clockwork menstrual cycles and ample “childbearing hips.” A lot of good it’s done me.

So, G and I have three and a half cycles to go before we can officially be considered “infertile.” I’m very interested to see how things progress from here, and I’ll definitely keep you posted on whether a little bit infertile becomes a whole lot infertile–or even a tiny bit pregnant.

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