When Ada Ojeh-Teme lay down, she noticed that something that looked like “a mountain” protruded from her belly. Eventually, her doctor told her that she had a fibroid and would need to have surgery to remove it. While the seven-hour surgery gave her symptoms a name – endometriosis – she had no idea that years of pain, surgery, and endometriosis would make it difficult to have children.
“In my mind, I thought, ‘I’ve paid my dues. I managed the pain. I missed classes. I postponed my wedding. When it’s time to start a family, you have a family, ”she said. “I never put two and two together.”
Ojeh-Teme, of Miami, is one of five women of color featured in a new infertility documentary, “Stories We Tell: The Fertility Secret,” which airs on MSNBC on Sunday, December 19 at 10 p.m. ET. executive producer of the project and shared a first glimpse of it this morning.
“It’s a common theme. As you will see in the documentary, some women have suffered in pain for decades or have had surgeries not knowing what they are dealing with could ultimately affect their fertility, ”Jones said. “A lot of women, as you know, get married later in life or stay single, but still want to start a family. So we hope that by sharing we can begin to lift the veil on these topics to heal and empower all those who may feel isolated and to educate women and men.
The women share how they struggled with infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, surrogacy, fibroids and endometriosis. While families experiencing infertility are all too familiar with these terms, they are sometimes afraid to raise them with their loved ones because infertility remains taboo.
“A lot of times there are stereotypes,” Jones said. “Even within their own families, they finally get married and they, you know, start to struggle, they don’t talk about it. These women are going to work, they are sitting next to you at work. They’re sitting next to you in church, in the gymnasium, and you have no idea they’re carrying this painful secret.
Jones said she hopes the documentary makes people feel more comfortable sharing with loved ones. It has already worked. Her mom confided in her after hearing about the project.
“She said, ‘Oh, you know, I miscarried before your little brother,’ and I was like, ‘Mom, really,'” Jones said. “We just don’t talk about it… It’s one of those things where I think it affects the whole family.”
CORRECTION (December 7, 2021, 3:10 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this story referred to Ada Ojeh-Teme as Ada Teme.