As a Black woman, I never thought I’d have fertility issues. When I was struggling to get pregnant, I realized I needed to speak about my experience to help others like me.

Regina Townsend's header

Courtesy of Regina Townsend

  • Regina Townsend is the founder of The Broken Brown Egg.

  • She has become a proponent of more representation in fertility talks.

  • This is Regina’s story, as told to Kelly Burch.

This as told-to-essay is based on a conversation with Regina Townsend. It has been edited for length and clarity.

When I realized that my husband and I were dealing with infertility, I felt that I had been lied to.

As a black woman who grew up in America, I received specific messages: that I was hypersexual and hyper-fertile; that the problem with Black people was not that we could not have babies, but that we had too many, too irresponsible.

So even when I had heavy, long periods, sometimes months in a row, I did not think of fertility. I thought getting pregnant would solve the period problem. Instead, I spent the next 13 years navigating infertility and assisted reproduction. Along the way, I found that I became a proponent of families of color, especially Black families, who were in a similar position.

I started a blog to share my thoughts, and it started

I’m a librarian and I love words. I started The Broken Brown Egg to share my own experiences and set my mind straight. To my surprise, the blog has grown and grown. Women of color who were having trouble getting pregnant thanked me for creating a space for them.

Infertility hurts everyone. But for black women, it is traumatic in another way. Studies suggest that black women are up to twice as likely as white women to experience infertility. Yet we are less likely to gain access to help create our families. IVF and assisted reproduction are still seen as the realm of affluent white people.

Black women face more barriers to assisted reproduction

There are more barriers to seeking reproductive help than a colored person.

Black people are less likely to have insurance, let alone insurance that covers reproductive assistance. Women trying to conceive are often told to lose weight, which is especially problematic for black women, given the racist history of the BMI scale. This is even more troublesome for women who may be living in a food desert.

I live in Chicago and there are no fertility clinics in predominantly black areas of the city. Instead, I have to travel an hour or two by public transportation to get to my appointments. I have to wonder if I am safe or welcome in those neighborhoods.

The worry does not stop there. When I got pregnant with my son, who was born in 2016, I had to face the fact that black women are almost three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, and black babies are twice as likely to die. If we both survived birth, I would have to worry about raising a Black boy in this country.

My AHA moment

When I first started The Broken Brown Egg, we hosted a gala to raise money and, more importantly, raise awareness. We called it the AHA Gala, which stands for awareness, hope and activism.

The gala was a hit, but for the next 13 years my focus was on building my family. After my son was born, I fought postpartum depression – something that is not talked about nearly enough. Even though I have my son, I’m still very much living with infertility: We still have embryos, but we have not made a final decision on what to do with them.

Infertility is about so much more than babies: For people of color, it is about confronting generations of trauma and the right to withdraw. It’s about restoring our power to decide if we want babies, when to have them and with whom. The most beautiful thing someone can do for you is to make you feel seen.

Follow Regina in The Broken Brown Egg on Instagram.

Read the original article on Insider

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