Winning a Fertility Grant in the Midst of a Pandemic

11.11.2020 changed my life. I learned from Rev. Dr. Shannon Edwards-Dunn and Jennifer Woods from Kindbody that I was the recipient of the grant for a sponsored IVF cycle.  To me IVF is a miraculous, albeit expensive way, of making a baby when you need a little boost, a little fertility assistance. 

I never really felt maternal or non-maternal. I always thought I kind of sat in the middle. Maybe I suppressed my maternal instinct since it was something that wasn’t happening naturally? Maybe I was subconsciously afraid that this baby was unattainable? Maybe I was scared of parenthood?

It’s not like we hadn’t tried. My husband and I have been married for six plus years. And we did look into starting our fertility journey early 2019. We got some basic tests to understand our fertility baseline. However, life got in the way and before we knew it a year had passed.  

2020 felt like a brand-new year, a year where we’d get a fresh start. But of course, like many, I didn’t see COVID-19 coming. The virus hit with a mighty force and and my world suddenly felt like it was on pause. Both my husband and I are entertainment professionals so our jobs were furloughed indefinitely. 

We cried. We laughed. We protested. Lastly, we accepted our circumstance.  There was nothing we could do to rid COVID-19 so we continued to do our part – stayed home and wore masks to protect others when out on the streets.  

It was during this season, while the world stood still, that a really close friend of mine sent me information on a grant regarding a free IVF treatment. I thought why not apply?

I poured my heart into the essay, and remembered thinking to myself, “If I win this grant, it’s a sign to make a family a priority.”  In my essay I wrote, “I hope that we are chosen as the recipient of the grant, but if not, I feel just as excited that another black, brown, or woman of color (will) have a chance at motherhood.”  

“I feel just as excited that another black, brown, or woman of color (will) have a chance at motherhood.”

I won the grant! I WON it!

As I sat there on a Zoom Call with Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn and Jennifer Woods from Kindbody on 11.11.2020. I cried hard tears, tears of joy, and tears of creation.  And just like that, everything was different.  I saw my life in a different way.  I felt of surge of creativity. I felt thankful and grateful and shocked – all simultaneously. 

Kindbody x Fertility For Colored Girls (FFCG) provides grants for fertility treatments to women of color. Watch their reaction here.

“I cried hard tears, tears of joy, and tears of creation. And just like that, everything was different. I saw my life in a different way. ”

My First Time at a Kindbody Clinic

I’m in the office for my IVF consultation. The office is beautiful with accents of yellow.

I’m felt a mix of emotions – excited, nervous, scared, confused, and even happy… with little daydreams taking over my mind. 

Kindbody is so beautiful. I felt like I should look my best – like I need to wear my lace undies and not my oversized cotton ones. My skin should be moisturized. It doesn’t look like your typical doctor’s office. It’s super modern and clean with timeless midcentury modern vibes paired gray marble wall clocks. Plants are sprinkled all over the office. Caramel leather examination bed with matching leather medial stools have a place and a purpose in the examination room.  It feels warm, cozy and welcoming. 

“The [Kindbody] office felt like new life – sunshine, a place to make baby dreams real. ”

Kindbody New York Clinic

I’m waiting to see my consultant. I can hear voices in the hallways. The team seems happy, free, and inviting. I see patients patiently waiting for good news – other women who are going through a similar process to my own. I feel at ease feeling certain I’m in good hands.

Kindbody felt fresh.  I’m hoping with all this beauty that the bedside manner is equally luxurious. 

Dr. Fahimeh Sasan gorgeous. She wore an elegant body formfitting turtleneck sweater dress completed with a Gucci belt and a classic black pump. Olive skin. thick long dark brown hair. A kind face, one in which an expert should look like. Dr. Aimee Seungdamrong was another beauty. She wore a gorgeous red and pink silk tunic and easy but neatly complimentary brown boot. As someone who works as a wardrobe professional, I couldn’t help notice their style.

Both of them were informative and explained the entire process with ease.  A lot of it I don’t remember, but I do recall feeling safe and in awe. 

Reminding Myself to Breathe Through the Uncertainty

I’ve noticed every time I feel overwhelmed, anxious or nervous.  I stop breathing. As I enter my IVF process, I remind myself to breathe.  I want so badly to birth a child with my husband, the love of my life.  Each time I start to worry, “what if this happens” or “what if this doesn’t work” I take a deep breath. There are moments where I literally stop in my steps, close my eyes and focus on my breath.  

Carmia IVF Fertility Grant Winner

Emotions are fleeting. They come and go, but in the moment of the feeling, it’s real and intense. I find it hard not to worry when I really want something.  The thought of not being able to build a family can send my brain into a frenzy. I’m juggling a lot. Career. IVF. COVID-19. Black Womanhood. Black motherhood journey. Stress throws the body off-kilter.

It is especially essential during this time to keep the mind and the body calm as I prepare for a new beginning of parenthood. Practice gratitude. Celebrate the process of creating new life. I center myself, avoid getting wrapped up in the “what ifs”.  Laugh. Visualize. I keep loved ones and those who support me super close.  Recite positive affirmations. Love harder. Have faith. And, if it still feels like it’s too much to handle, I stop. Take a breath.  A purposeful – inhale, exhale. The worries fall off of my shoulders.  The power of breathing helps me to release tension accompanied with a little reminder, “I got this.”  Breath is a necessity to life so I try not to forget to do it. Breathe a deep cleansing breath. You got this.

Preparing for My Fertility Treatment

Today I had to get my Fallopian tubes checked. They have to be open for a safe place to plant the baby! I followed the docotor’s instructions precisely. I took 600 mg of ibuprofen and drank a of ton of water for a full bladder. 

The office is just as bright and beautiful as my first visit – but now Kindbody felt more familiar. The Kindbody team greeted me with full smiles and genuine excitement. 

I disrobe from the bottom down. The leather bed was lined with disposable white medical paper. Another sonogram is about to begin. 

Kindbody Clinic Warm & Welcoming

Dr. Sassan is the most glamorous doctor that I’ve ever seen. I can’t even believe that she is about to start this process in this gorgeous silk tunic. I mean she looks like the resort is around the corner but we are in small well decorated beautiful bright room about to begin checking my Fallopian tubes. 

I wear a black cotton body suit. I have to move the flaps I’ve from my bodysuit. 

I feel the probe for the sonogram. The wet gel is soothing in comparison to the probe. They inform me of a saline liquid they need to inject to see what is happening with my uterus and fallopian tubes. I lay quietly as I can hear the tools and feel the saline enter my body. 

It’s unexpectedly painful as I let out a small cry. My inside felt as if she melted without warning –  I was told that I would feel slight cramping but this is more intense that I imagined.  Dr. Seungdamrong explained the intense cramping I felt. My muscles wanted to close but the saline solution helped keep them open for review.  

I can see my uterus and my Fallopian tubes but I’m so distracted by the pain. I am ready for this process to be over!

I relax myself.  I relax my body.  I relax my mind. As the study the sonogram continues, everything looks good.  Everything is intact, healthy . . . a little cramping is inconvenient but more importantly, I have a good-looking uterus and open Fallopian tubes!!!  I find comfort in those facts . . . 

Dr. Sasan complimented me. “You did well.”   The exam is over and well documented!  I felt a sense of relief and elation. 

The journey continues. 

Kindbody is a new generation of women's health and fertility care. Providing you with the information you need to take control of your health and make the decisions that are right for you. We’re a community of healthcare providers, fertility specialists, and women who get it. We’re on a mission to democratize and de-stigmatize women’s health and fertility care, making it accessible, intuitive, and empowering.