Mahina Wahine.  In tribute to Women's Month, Papa Ola Lokahi presents a series of authentic stories that are profound and personal, intimate and inspiring.  *   

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Infertility.

It seems like such a bad word. Spoken in hushed tones as if no one should hear it. Not only is it hard to speak, but all the reasons one is infertile are just as troubling. The process to get to a place of acceptance has been a long one that has involved many questions, numerous tests, pills and shots, and above all, countless tears of doubt, anger, frustration and defeat.

My name is Sheri and I am infertile.  Which just means that I am not able to bear children.

I heard many times that once I “relaxed” it would happen.  So much advice, mostly unsolicited, that I eventually stopped saying anything when asked if we were trying for a baby. I cringed at every doctorʻs office visit, because I'd find myself sitting in a sea of pregnant women.  Instead of feeling excitement for them, I was usually plagued with self-doubt as a woman, wondering why I “lacked” this seemingly easy ability to procreate. I was smart, college educated, married and had the means to afford it, yet with all the “right” going for me, I could not achieve this one important thing that I truly wanted.

I don't remember being immediately diagnosed with Infertility.  That comes later when all options are exhausted. Over the years, I took tests that measured my uterine lining and tracked my ovulation, resulting in some conditions being ruled out.  My first tick mark was a diagnosis of hyperplasia.

Getting pregnant was really my only goal.  There were times when I felt like I lost all control of my actions and emotions in my relentless pursuit. Looking back, I am pretty sure my husband would have sold his soul to achieve this, to bring me back from the edge.

As each month passed with no success, further and further I fell into looking at other options. The pot of gold for me was in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. When my doctor informed me that the cells in my uterus were becoming more “abnormal,” meaning pre-cancerous, the option for IVF leapt to the top. With the goal of "re-starting" my body, we started with hormone injections, which replicates menopause that might impel my body to naturally re-start, an early step in the IVF process that would determine the viability for my body to eventually take to IVF.  A potential plus was that my own body might respond positively and I might even be able to get pregnant without the IVF. We were so hopeful. Unfortunately my body refused again to cooperate and after a few crazy (literally hot flashes, mood swings) days, it was evident that this plan wasn't going to work. 

Back to the drawing board.

Years passed and I was blind to reason. I wanted a baby at all costs. Sitting on the exam table listening to the doctor speak of my “projected success" with IVF (which wasn't good) and ignorning the warning of potential setbacks, ranging from total bedrest at the onset of pregnancy to hemorraging at birth where I, the baby, or both may not survive. In my fervent desire to be pregnant, I wanted to dismiss these scary scenarios that I knew they were required to lay out. My husband, on the other hand, had heard it all and was quick to agree to explore surgical options.

No! That was not in the plan! I was red with anger. It was my body that was not responding.  It was my body that was failing me.  Auwe, it was my body that I could not reason with or control.  My only hope had been IVF and that now was gone.

Surgery was scheduled and my anger subsided to numbness. I was operating on pure emotion, logic no longer part of my equation. Although I knew it was the best option for my health in the long run, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life – then and even now. Today, I know I was grieving. I was losing this power I believed I had as a woman to bear and nuture children. I lost the ability to make that choice.

Surgery was a blur and so were the days, weeks, months and years following. Life went on.  I never spoke of the full hysterectomy I had at the age of 26.  It's only in the doctor's office when I leave blank the question “the date of your last period” that I feel awkward.  Worse are the looks of pity from the nurses who hear my story.

Almost 20 years later, I don't even bat an eye.  In some existential shift, it feels more like a badge of honor than a death sentence.

Perhaps when you relax and let go, things do happen. When I did accept my body "malfunction," the most amazing and unimaginable happened. We had a BABY! In fact, we had 4 of them. All have their own stories and full knowledge of who they are and why they are so valuable to me. Adoption provided us the avenue to be parents in every aspect except that they did not grow in my belly. Thankfully, an aunty did that for me.  At some point, we contemplated surrogacy, but my husband and I didn't want our already-adopted keiki to think that they weren't enough.  

Infertility is part of me but no longer defines me. Hi, my name is Sheri.

Sheri Daniels, wahine, wife, daughter, aunty, mother

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Community Voices socialPapa Ola Lōkahi’s mission is to improve the health status and well-being of Native Hawaiians and others by advocating for, initiating and maintaining culturally appropriate strategic actions aimed at improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of Native Hawaiians and their ‘ohana and empowering them to determine their own destinies.

Aloha survey participants, inclusive of those 18 years old or younger: while participation in this survey is anonymous and voluntary, we ask for your assistance in answering all of the questions provided. Please note that your responses are appreciated and will add to the validity of the survey.
 
This survey is designed to give insight into the health behaviors of our communities.  Please complete the Community Voices Survey developed by Papa Ola Lōkahi.

Mahalo!
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MM Makalua‘O Lāhainā malu i ka ulu ma Maui ke one hānau ‘o Matthew Everard Puakakoililanimanuia Makalua i hānau ‘ia mai ka pūhaka mai ‘o Kaipoleimanu Kahoohanohano Makalua me Matthew Makalua.  He haumana ‘o ia ma ke kula ‘o ‘Iolani i ho‘ouna ‘ia i ka ‘āina ‘ē e ka Mo‘i Kalākaua no ka ho‘ona‘auao ‘ia ‘ana ma ka “Hawaiian Youths Abroad.”

I ka makahiki 1882 ‘o ia i hele ai i ‘Enelani me nā haumāna ‘o Pi‘ianai‘a a me Kamauoha. Ua kapa ‘ia lākou “Nā Keiki Hawai‘i ‘Imi Na‘auao” ma ka nūpepa Ke Koo O Hawaii.  Ma St. Chad’s ‘o ia i hele kula ai ma mua o ka hele ‘ana i ke kula ‘o King’s College. Iā ia maila, ua kūlia ‘o ia ma ke kula a ua eo iā ia nā makana ma nā palapala ho‘okō e like me ka ‘anakomia (anatomy) a me nā kānāwai (medical jurisprudence). He kauka kaha nō ‘o ia, ‘o ka mua loa ‘o ka lāhui Hawai‘i. Ma hope o ka ho‘okāhuli ‘ia ‘ana o ke Aupuni o Hawai‘i, ‘a‘ole ‘o ia i ho‘i hou mai. Ma St. Leonard’s ‘o ia noho ai ma ka hana kauka me kana ‘ohana, ‘o kāna wahine ‘o Anne Dewar a me kāna keiki kane ‘o Matthew James Manuia Makalua Dewar. Ma laila ‘o ia noho ai a i ka hala loa ‘ana.

Me ka mahalo mākou e ho‘ohanohano mau ai i kona inoa ‘o Matthew Makalua, ke kauka kaha mua loa e ha‘aheo mau ai ka lāhui Hawai‘i.  Mahalo pū no ho‘i i ka mō‘ī no kona ‘ike maoli i ke ko‘iko‘i o ka ho‘ona‘auao ‘ia ‘ana i nā ‘ōpio Hawai‘i. E holomua no kākou ma ke kahua i kūkulu mua ‘ia.

~ na Ho‘oleia Ka‘eo  

In recognition of Hawaiian Language Month, POL Policy Assistant Ho‘oleia Ka‘eo offers this story of Matthew Makalua, Hawaiian Scholar Abroad, now believed to be the first western trained physician of Hawaiian ancestry.

 

Additional reading:

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Summer Internship

Native Hawaiian Focus on Budget and Policy

The Hawai‘i Budget & Policy Center, a project of Hawai‘i Appleseed, seeks to ensure that our state and local economic policies increase opportunity for all residents.  We do this by analyzing and understanding the implications of tax and budget decisions and making sure that the public and policy-makers are informed through strategic communications, coalitions, and key partners.  Our work is guided by the belief that government at all levels should play an active role in helping people reach their full potential. 

The HBPC is a member of the highly-regarded State Priorities Partnership (SPP), a national network of 43 budget and tax policy centers that align their work with that of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).  CBPP pursues federal policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.  SPP organizations fill the same role at the state level. 

Internship Scope of Work

The intern, with guidance and supervision from the HBPC Director, will carry out an analysis of the state budgets for the Executive, Judiciary, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs branches that may include but not be limited to assessing state spending for the benefit of Native Hawaiians.  The following work is envisioned:

  • Identifying or developing estimates of the number of Native Hawaiians served by public programs in the Departments of Human Services, Health, Education, Hawaiian Home Lands, Public Safety, and University of Hawai‘i System, as well as in the Judiciary Branch and Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
  • Describing programs explicitly targeting Native Hawaiians, including the purpose, genesis, funding amounts and sources, and outcomes.
  • Summarizing expenditures for programs in state agencies identified above and calculating per capita spending for or on behalf of Native Hawaiians or estimating proportional spending for Native Hawaiians compared to their representation in the total population or other analysis, as appropriate.
  • Identifying any federal grants made to state agencies that proposed to aid Native Hawaiians and analyzing the disposition and resulting benefits to Native Hawaiians of those grants.

The intern may also analyze the Hawai‘i state constitution and state statutes for language that explicitly addresses the status or needs of Native Hawaiians.  This work, which may include territorial policy decisions, will help put decisions specific to Native Hawaiians into historic context.

Intern Credentials

The intern should be enrolled in or have recently completed a graduate degree in public policy, health, or administration, political science, law, or a related field.

Knowledge and skills intern will gain

  • General understanding of state policy-making
  • Increased understanding of state agency budgets and reporting
  • Skills in applied budget and population research and analysis

Work conditions

The intern will be expected to maintain a regular work schedule of 35-40 hour per week for approximately 10 weeks during the summer of 2019. The intern will report to work at the HBPC office in Downtown Honolulu or other location as required.

A $5,000 stipend will be provided.

To apply, please submit a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to HBPC Director Beth Giesting at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 1, 2019.

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Hardy w maile lei

 

Papa Ola Lōkahi is pleased to be able join the Rotary Club of West Honolulu to honor our retired executive director, Hardy Spoehr, with its Mary Kawena Pukui Award.  E hui pū!

 

ROTARY CLUB OF WEST HONOLULU 

Mary Kawena Pukui Award

                                                                                                                          

In Honor of Hardy Spoehr

Friday, March 15, 2019

Plaza Club, 20th Floor Pioneer Plaza

900 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

 

More information:

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