As told to Brandi Lytle
As with so many childless, I connected with Jobi online. That’s the amazing thing about the internet–it is helping to create a global childless community. Though, Jobi is based here in the United States, like me. But I digress. Jobi’s twenty-year journey involves unexplained infertility. Here’s her story from childless to creating a new plan…
How did you become childless not by choice? (Infertility, chance, circumstance?)
What the medical profession told Jobi…
Looking back, I lived in denial and shame for twenty years because doctors continually assured me that I could conceive.
My 2016, however, ended my infertility journey and began my research on infertility and childlessness. I was referred to a doctor for an endometrial ablation to curb my menstrual cycle. I was anxious to get rid of painful, heavy periods that had caused misery for the majority of my life. But I could not have anticipated what would be discovered and the bumps that I would hit along the way.
Rather than the endometrial ablation, the doctor instead highly recommended a partial hysterectomy to remove my uterus. At 41 years old, I not only wanted to eliminate the physical pain, but I was exhausted on my twenty-year pursuit of motherhood. I pondered, if the sole purpose for a menstrual cycle is for reproduction, why should I be cruelly reminded that my menstruation wasn’t resulting in that? To be transparent, I considered my uterus as a traitor. So, I hesitantly agreed to getting a partial hysterectomy.
After the removal of my uterus, and other reproductive organs without my permission, I learned that I had several plum-sized fibroid cysts covering the inside of my uterus and traces of endometriosis outside my uterus. Although flabbergasted by the fibroid cysts, the doctor could not further explain this discovery.
What Jobi discovered for herself…
So, I embarked on what would become a years-long journey to piece together the puzzle. I took matters into my own hands. I secured a job at an advertising agency with medical clients to train with cutting-edge researchers. There, I learned how research drives the world’s progress. Because of this, I began deep dives on reproductive health conditions in medical research journals. I shockingly discovered many red flags and preventable factors, including uncovering an accurate diagnosis of adenomyosis.
Similar to endometriosis, adenomyosis is a hidden condition where the tissue that lines the womb is found inside the muscle wall. The displaced tissue continues to act normally — thickening, breaking down and bleeding — during each menstrual cycle. An enlarged uterus and painful, heavy periods can result.
It made sense. I had years of symptoms that pointed towards adenomyosis, yet well over 50 doctors never looked at the whole picture. At the very least, I found solace in finally diagnosing my infertility, although it resulted in being a womb-less woman.
You are so much more than childless not by choice. Tell us about yourself!
From my personal experience and insights, I’ve realized that infertility is too big a part of my life to leave behind. That being said, after two decades of feeling inadequate as a woman, I’ve realized that it’s imperative to move beyond the sole identity of childlessness.
I am an adventurer and redirect that energy to find joy beyond childlessness. One way I do this is by working with other childless women and advocates to advance infertility and childlessness research.
How are you Creating a New plan Bravely and Courageously?
After a tumultuous twenty-year infertility journey with false hope from doctors who failed to listen, two misdiagnoses of sickle cell and lupus, and a misinformed hysterectomy, I sought support, community and answers. Through this, I inadvertently became a thought leader on female childlessness to help break the stigmas.
Have you figured out your Plan B? If so, what is it?
In 2018, I wrote an article on Medium titled, “My Hidden Grief. Over 40 and Childless.” In it, I share my twenty-year journey as a barren woman who’s finally grasping the profound realization that I cannot biologically have children.
The overwhelming response from this vulnerable commentary led other women to break their silence. This brought me to the realization that my experience was bigger than me. So many still-grieving women sought answers for their own unexplained infertility.
Because of this, I wanted to engage in a wider discussion about infertility and involuntary childlessness. Thus, I launched the National Association of Involuntary Childlessness (NAIC) to drive research and advocacy. Recently, I launched Tutum Global to empower the childless community through free resources, peer support, and public education. Also, as an infertile woman who happens to be a sociocultural researcher, I’m launching a podcast in September 2019.
Thank you, Jobi, for bravely sharing your truth! And THANK YOU for being a voice and advocate for the childless community.
If you’d like to learn more about Jobi’s story and advocacy work, please click the links below…
- More of Jobi’s Story, “My Hidden Grief. Over 40 and Childless.”
- Tutum Global, a resource for childless women
Fabulous ones, if anything Jobi wrote resonates with you, please tell her about it in the comments.
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Featured Photo: Created by me using Canva