Category Archives: Health and Beauty

Ambiguous Loss

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My baby girl’s footprints

Shortly after the Malaysian airliner disappeared, I listened to a podcast about Loss on NPR.  For the families of those who were onboard the plane, their lost was characterized as an Ambiguous Loss; a lost that you can’t quite come to grips with because you just simply do not know what happened. At the time the story aired, I tried to think about a time I felt this type of loss. I did have a few relationships, platonic and romantic, that seemed to end without cause.  I could not, however, compare that loss to what the families were going through.

Fast forward several weeks later…

On April 15, 2014, I went for my routine Dr. visit. The nurse and the Dr. both asked me questions about my baby’s movements. I explained that I rarely, if ever felt her move. They looked at me perplexed. Even when the machines were hooked up to me and told me that she was moving, I was barely able to decipher her movements. The fact that I didn’t feel her move wasn’t alarming to me. Throughout my pregnancy, I had not missed an appointment.  Despite some minor complications along the way (low iron, fibroids, dehydration, etc), I left every appointment with positive news and my test results revealed that baby and I were doing fine.

As the Dr. tried to find a heartbeat and failed, I began to feel lifeless and limp. I calmly grabbed my things and told my parents, who were waiting for me in the waiting room, that I needed to go to the hospital.

“This could not be happening to me. This is just a bad dream”.

Just a few days before my scheduled appointment, my family and friends gathered and put together an amazing baby shower. How can a celebration of life be quickly erased with the thought of death.

Within an hour of my arrival to the hospital, my deepest fear had been confirmed, our baby girl had passed away. The Dr. commented on how stoic and unemotional I was. I was in shock.  When my parents came in the room, I told them matter-of-factly that my baby was dead.  The memory of their reaction will forever be imbedded in my memory just as the reaction of my husband when he came to the hospital from work.  In those few hours, my hopes and dreams were dashed, but I quickly realized that my loss was not my loss singularly,  but a loss to my village of family and friends.

By the time I checked out of the hospital, less than 24 hours after I was admitted, I delivered my baby, held her, caressed her tiny feet and said goodbye with my family, hospital staff, and clergy around me. It was a surreal experience and all I could think about was this concept of ambiguous loss.

I attempted to search for answers as to why this happened to me, what I could have done differently and who I could blame.  I quickly realized that the blame game provides neither comfort nor answers. I also had to realize that I may never get answers and I will have to live with the ambiguity of not knowing, just as the families of the missing airplane.

Nothing and I mean nothing can ease the pain of losing a child (whether they pass in the womb or after you birth them). The only thing that has provided some comfort thus far is knowing that I have a strong support system of friends and family as well as knowing that no matter how short- lived, I am a mother.

Pictures of me at baby shower - a few days before I found out our baby girl had passed.

Pictures of me at baby shower – a few days before I found out our baby girl had passed.

 

 

I am not my hair

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I knew before coming to Spain that my hair would be a great challenge. Yes, there are people of color here, but most Black females I see across Europe have weaves or braids. Very seldom do I see someone with their own hair. I began asking around for hair salons and looking on line. Then one day whilst riding home in a cab, I saw a sign for a Peluquera and the words Afro-European next to it. It was right around the corner from my house and I couldn’t have been more excited. The next day I went in, talked to one of the employees and booked an appointment for the following week. I was taking a huge risk. I wanted a relaxer and didn’t know if they knew how to put one in or do hair, but it’s only hair. It will grow back – This has been my hair mantra no matter how I decide to style my hair: natural with no relaxer, my own hair relaxed, short Halle Barry cut, bob, wrap, etc.

The day of my hair appointment could not have come sooner. Like all visits to the hair salon, there is always a wait – even if there is only one person there (as in my case). It’s almost a golden rule that you must wait at hair salons. Even if you are the first person in line and in the chair, luck will not be on your side because you will still not be able to get out of the hair salon before someone else.

After waiting a long time, I settle on an Olive Oil relaxer. So far so good, I thought. She based my scalp, sectioned my hair, only applied the relaxer to the new growth…and then she let it set. I waited and waited and waited… I wasn’t burning, but I thought to myself ‘my hair is going to fall out’. I don’t know exactly how long I waited for her to rinse the relaxer out, but I know for sure it was beyond any amount of time I have ever waited for a relaxer to be rinsed out of my hair.
After the relaxer was finally rinsed out of my hair, I sat while a deep conditioner was applied to my hair. I got my hair thoroughly trimmed and then had my hair rolled, Dominican style. I sat under the dryer which seemed like an eternity and then I had my hair blew out hair Dominican style as well.

Similar to other African hair shops I have attended (mostly when I get my hair braided) more than one person was doing my hair. It was kind of odd because I have never had two people blow drying my hair at the same time. Now, imagine the worse burning and tugging experience at a Dominican salon. Now imagine that feeling on both sides of your head. I was in sheer agony, but I was happy to have a Dominican hair salon experience although the women were not Dominican.

From there, the experience went downhill. They attempted to flat iron my hair whilst spraying and applying all kinds of products on my hair that were not made for my hair. They failed miserably as giving me a basic ‘wrap’. I kindly thanked them, inquired about future services, and immediately went home and took a flatiron to my hair. I wrapped it properly, put my scarf on, and was happy that I could at least fix my hair the way I like (had I not been able to, the trip to the salon would have been a total disaster). Whilst wrapping my hair, I noticed that my prediction came true; my hair was over processed and my edges had broken off. Also, my hair changed colors. I now have a red/light brown tint to it!!

I’m still on the lookout for other salons, but I will go back as long as I specify what products I want used or do not want used in my hair. At the end of the day, very few people have been able to style my hair like I like it (shout out to Adrian in Chicago). I have noticed a Black Hair salon in Lavapies not far from the train station and several hair braiding shops near Sol (they are inside of tattoo shops).

The picture of me on this post was taken a few days ago in Switzerland. I have received many comments about my hair – so it wasn’t a total disaster, but ladies I have some advice for you – learn how to do your own hair. It will come in handy when you can’t get to a proper salon!

If you are in Spain (Madrid specifically)and have been to a hair salon that specializes in Black hair please let me know where you get your hair done.