Maternal Mental Health

Pregnant with Nothing but Anxiety by Cortney Jaye

I am a highly educated writer and just wanted to get the most out of life like all people do when they realize life is precious. In 2013, I started pursuing my master’s degree in order to have better career opportunities, then I told myself I would focus on dating after graduation. A degree that I thought would take only 2-3 years tops to finish, took way longer than I expected. Throw in a therapist, a psychiatrist, single womanhood, and here we are today.

The Beginning

In 2017, I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to figure out if I was even capable of having children this late in the game. I mean, we all know that after 35 your fertility begins to decline and for some of us, very rapidly. What I found out was that I would be able to carry them, but it may be a bit difficult to conceive. Not only that, I was told that if I wanted children, I would have to make the decision soon because my chances were already slim to none due to having diminished ovarian reserve. This means that I don’t have many eggs left and the eggs I do have left may be abnormal, there’s no way to tell until I start the process to conceive. That news hit me like a ton of bricks. I fully expected to come away with a clean bill of health, not to be told I would have trouble conceiving or with my egg quality. Great. Just great.

Well, without a partner, how would I be able to have a child? A donor. How much would that cost? A lot. Okay. So, if I were going down this road, I needed to get things in order. That means I needed to have a support system, check my finances, and soul search to find out what I really wanted out of life in the way of having a family.

Soul Searching

Up until the day I met with the RE, I really had been back and forth with myself on whether I wanted children or not. I was undecided, riding the fence, it could happen or not, it really did not matter to me mainly because I had time. However, when that RE told me that I had to choose, and chose soon, whether I wanted children… there was nothing I wanted I wanted more in the world. I mean, there was something that came over me and there was just no question anymore. I didn’t waiver. It was definite. I wanted them. Not because the doctor told me that I would have trouble conceiving, but because the option would no longer be there and I couldn’t live with the fact that I didn’t have children when I had the chance. The decision was made.

Support System

I looked into my real-life network starting with my mom. She was fully on board and has been supportive since Day 1. Trust me, if my mom would not have been on board, I would not have gone this route. I would need help with childcare at some point. Not only that, but my mom’s my best friend… so, her input and support is what I needed to move forward. I checked my closest friends. They were in it, in it. They were trying to throw me a donor picking party! They were so supportive and encouraging as well. My Grandpop, not so much. Him being old school, he was not feeling it. He came around later.

Then, I went to find like women, black women, who were doing the same thing as me… going at motherhood alone. Women over 35, who for whatever reason, found themselves using donor sperm to have a baby and were in the process or were successful. I wanted to share with them and hear their stories. I found white women first and that was okay, but there is always something missing because they do not relate to the black woman’s struggle, which is a whole other animal in itself on top of the journey to willingly become a single mother. When I finally linked with black women doing the same thing as me, it was like, I felt heard, seen, and complete. I did not want to end up with the wrong person just to have children nor did I want to rush a relationship b/c I wanted children. So, going at it alone seemed to be my only option at this point in my life. Turns out, many other women, yes… women of color, felt the same way.

Finding a Donor

After getting some support in place, I went to find a donor. What I learned very quickly was that there was a lack, serious lack, of African-American donors, which is what I was looking for at first. When I didn’t find what I was looking for, I had to chance some things.

The donor I chose was half Latino and half African American. I was going to be inseminated in July 2018. First time ever doing this and scared b/c was my first time. I knew what to expect because I had scoured the message boards, but still… I was scared. I went to be inseminated alone even though my friend wanted to come with me. Being that it was only a 5-minute process, I told her that it was going to be okay… that I could do it alone. She was fine with that. I called my mom after it was done, then texted my friends. I had a long two week wait ahead. Mind you, the chances of conceiving on my first try was slim to none, but that didn’t keep me from being hopeful because I had read that it was possible.

The 1st Two Week Wait

During the two week wait, so many things go through your mind. I was watching YouTube videos of other women’s progress. I was reading all I could on the message boards trying to figure out all the information on the process, other women’s journeys, what symptoms to expect and watch out for. I was driving myself CRAZY! I was analyzing everything I felt and I mean, Every. Little. Thing b/c I have never been pregnant before. It was all new to me. Those two weeks were the hardest thing to get through. I couldn’t concentrate on work or nothing. It was miserable. The day came when I had had enough and started testing myself. I bought pregnancy test after pregnancy test. They were all negative. Each and every one of them. When I went to the Dr.’s office to have a beta done, which is to count your HCG levels. Mine was at -5. I don’t even know if that is possible, but that’s what it felt like. I just know I was not pregnant.

Emotions Hit Different When You See a Negative

Having all that support from friends and family is great until you have to share the news that you’re not pregnant. I really didn’t expect that “not pregnant” news to hit me like it did. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll it would take on me. I just felt horrible. Having to relive that story 5-6 times was even worse.

Everyone was like, “Oh, God’s timing is perfect,” “It will happen when it’s supposed to,” “I’m sorry CJ.” My mom even said, “Man, I don’t understand why it didn’t work. I just had to open my legs and I was pregnant!” I can laugh now, but when she said it, I was crushed. I reminded her she was a teenager at the time, I’m definitely no spring chicken. Meanwhile, my sister (who was living with me at the time) just announced she was pregnant with twins. At this point, I’m like fuck my life… for real.

A Second Chance

In August 2018, I tried again to be inseminated. This time, it didn’t work. I knew what to expect this time, if it didn’t work. However, I still had to tell everyone that it didn’t work yet again. Then, came the messages. Then, came the support. I was grateful for it. Yet, I was still crushed that it didn’t work out. At this point, I told everyone that the emotional toll this process is taking on me is unexpected and that I would let them know when there was a positive. Little did I know; I wouldn’t try to get pregnant again until this day.

What about the Rest of my Life?

Crushed that the two times I tried to get pregnant were unsuccessful, no master’s degree, hating my job, irritated, angry, getting no sleep, screwing up at work, cursing everyone out. I ended up not finishing that degree program and couldn’t graduate *insert proverbial wall*

Mental Health

I could no longer handle my stuff alone. I found a therapist, a black woman, and started seeing her right after Thanksgiving 2018. Turns out, I have an anxiety disorder and needed medication to mellow out. I didn’t know this at all especially since I was in graduate school to become a therapist at the time. Oh, the irony.

Mental health is so important. There were so many signs and constant hits that I took without checking in with myself or being self-aware. I think that was probably b/c I was so far gone by a certain point that I didn’t even recognize myself nor care what I was doing or who I was hurting at the time.

The Turning Point

The turning point came when I had quit school, damn near quit my job or be fired whichever came first, and I hadn’t conceived in the two times I tried.

I was talking to my mom one day, she was out of town and she asked me something and I felt myself getting angry, but I literally couldn’t stop myself or shield her from what I was about to say. I let it fly. I just couldn’t stop it. She didn’t speak to me for days, DAYS after that. When I finally spoke to her again, she told me that she was hurt by what I said and gave me a few days to cool down. I knew I was out of line, but again, I couldn’t stop myself. I told her that I felt it coming, but couldn’t stop it. I apologized for my outburst and a week later I learned about I went on that website and found a therapist that matched with my insurance, then made an appt.

Of course, if I was this destructive in my personal life, I was a TERROR at work. I got so many complaints, write ups, threatened with being fired. I was out of control, telling off supervisors and bosses. I was unrecognizable after a while. That was another reason I sought therapy. There’s just no way a person can take the hits that I was taking and continue to act normal.

Therapy Changed My LIFE!

Therapy helped me through all of that. I told my therapist recently, that we go together. If she ever thought about dumping me, I’d need psychiatric treatment. That’s how good she is. I mean, if she can bring awareness, order, medication into my life and make it whole (well, livable) again… then she’s stuck with me forever! While my life isn’t perfect and I still have things to iron out, I am much better than when I started… back in November 2018. I continue to take my meds and attend therapy weekly and I don’t plan to ever stop.

I am in the midst of making some changes at work and in my life before I start the TTC process again. I was going to start this summer, but other health issues popped up. I continue to pray about things and get excited for when my turn comes to have a baby. My twin nieces will be 1yo on the 26th of July, they are my babies… cute and adorable. My life is in a good place, not PERFECT, but livable, good, and the way God intended because if I never got to my lowest place, I never would have been forced to find the best person on this earth to help me pick up the pieces and move forward, my therapist.

Cortney Jaye is currently in graduate school for the 2nd time, which is where she discovered her love of writing:

I mean, I never thought that I was talented in any way. I couldn’t draw, sing, dance, play sports or instruments… like, that wasn’t my thing, but when I discovered writing… It was like a whole new world. There was finally something that I could do, that people could tell that I was talented at without even trying. It was AMAZING! I started my blog less than a year ago and I am now about to rebrand and trademark to launch a business. I write every day and I love it like a person would love water, doing hair, or their next breath it feels like. Word of Advice: Your purpose will find you and you will find it, then it will all make sense.

You can find Cortney here:

Twitter: @cjayewrite
Instagram: @cjayewrites


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