I blog about the events I go to, the cool people I meet, the ins and outs of my life in NYC... and well, here’s the “ins” of my lower abdomen that I want OUT. Let me disrupt the highlight reel that is my curated social media feed and discuss something that plagues about 80 percent of Black women and 70 percent of white women over the course of their lifetime. Here is my story.
I have four fibroids. The biggest is now the size of a grapefruit. As you can see from the MRI, it extends up to my belly button. It’s so big that the fibroids below it press against my bladder (the white mass at the bottom). I already drink a lot of water so I have frequent urination just from the pressure of feeling full. I look five months pregnant, six months after a decent portion-sized meal. Sometimes, I get migraines that only marijuana can ease, random mood swings, and I crave veggie nachos and grilled shrimp tacos from El Jeffe when I'm ovulating and hungry as fuck. So yeah, I have typical PMS symptoms. My cycle is regular though she's been known to pop her ass up four days early, immediately start demanding shit like chips and dark chocolate, and wreck plans and planned outfits. My cycle is also relatively normal - somewhat heavy the first two days, moderate the third and fourth, and spotty or basically non-existent on the fifth. I rarely get cramps, but I still look and feel bloated even with cardio workouts, weightlifting, and targeted abdominal exercises while wearing a waist trainer. I see some definition, but I’m not as toned as I used to be.
I’ve felt slightly annoyed when men and women give me a glance over and offer their seat to me on the train. I know they see my protruding belly, and they mean well. I’ll catch them looking at my stomach then smile at me with the “hey, you can have my seat” look as they rise up. Sometimes, I politely decline. Other times, I nod and say "thank you" and sit my ass down. My fibroid fupa is hard to hide even when I'm sucking in my stomach. High waist control top panties and Spanx help some, but I miss my abs and my small food baby gut. I miss looking snatched in my dresses. I just want my body back. Most importantly, I just want to feel like me again.
BACKSTORY: I became pregnant by my boyfriend in January 2015. My period was due Super Bowl weekend, and when it didn't come, I took a test later that week and saw that plus sign staring back at me. I learned at the first ultrasound in March that I was eight weeks, I had fibroids, and they potentially posed a risk to the pregnancy. Now, before I found out I was pregnant, I finally realized that the relationship I was in was unstable and toxic, and things weren't working out so we broke up. We reconnected on Super Bowl Day to watch the game together but things were still rocky, and I knew that ending things was the right thing to do just like I knew they should have given Marshawn Lynch the ball.
So I was devastated when, at 30, I found out I was pregnant by a man with whom I didn't see a future. I was completely shattered and confused when I found out I had fibroids, though I wasn't shocked. My mom also suffered from fibroids and had a hysterectomy in 1999, and I learned that fibroids tend to be hereditary. So I had some tough choices to make... I wasn't going to stay in a relationship that I didn't want to be in nor did I desire to be forever connected to him through a child. That's not the life I wanted for myself. It also didn't help that I was unemployed at the time having been "fired" from my dream job just three months prior. I was an emotional, expecting shitshow, and I needed to make some changes.
It took the majority of 2015 to heal from making the mistake of staying in a bad relationship too long, and the very hard decisions I made to somehow rectify the mistake. I had to forgive myself, and I wanted a clean slate. I knew better, and I wanted to do better in every way. I drastically changed my diet and became vegan, I prayed more and focused on meditating and exercising regularly, I did some self-work, and I tried not to stress. I let go and let God handle the things I had no control over, and I was managing life and my fibroid diagnosis the best way I could over the next few years.
I didn't have any noticeable fibroid-related symptoms until late last year. My period became heavier and longer. Instead of it ending on day 5, I would spot for 3-5 more days. I began to have cramps more frequently in the beginning of my period, and they were more intense. I also had the urge to urinate more than usual. I decided this past January that I would take steps to get rid of my fibroids. It's been a back and forth journey of doctor's appointments, blood work, ultrasounds, a MRI, consultations, and nonstop research.
On Monday, July 22nd at 7:30am, I will have an outpatient UFE (uterine fibroid embolization) procedure. It’s minimally invasive and 90% effective with a relatively quick recovery period. I’m prayed up. I stay prayed up, I have a great doctor, and I know everything will be fine. Having this procedure done will preserve my fertility so I can have children one day with the right man with whom I'm equally yoked that God has destined for me. I'm going to Africa next month for my 35th birthday, and just the countdown to takeoff has been a spiritual journey in itself. I pray that getting married, having kids, and biologically continuing my lineage is in my cards.
I’m sharing my story because many women suffer from fibroids, and some women have the symptoms but don’t even know that they have them. For some women, they may have a myomectomy and the fibroids grow back and even multiply. Some women choose to have a hysterectomy and feel it's their only option for real relief. Some women go the holistic route with herbs, yoni balls, and v-steam sessions. And some women choose to play the wait and see game and do nothing at all. If you suffer from fibroids, you have to do what's best for you and base your treatment on your specific circumstance and the advice from a trusted doctor. If this post helps one woman who can relate, and they feel less alone in their own women's health and reproductive struggles, then discussing something this personal is worth it! How vulnerable is too vulnerable when telling your truth and discussing your story?
It's Fibroid Awareness Month, and it's time to end the stigma. Be your own advocate, put your health first, and take care of you!