7 AM To 7 PM: Regina Townsend Makes Space for Black Women to Talk About Infertility

7 to 7 logo over an image of Regina Townsend
Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Regina Townsend.

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a day in the life of Regina Townsend, mom, wife, librarian, and founder of The Broken Brown Egg.

When Regina Townsend and her husband got married when she was just 23, fertility was the last thing on her mind. Like most young women, she assumed getting pregnant would be easy for her. She also grew up hearing stereotypes about black women being “super fertile” and having lots of children, so she never thought getting pregnant would be a struggle.

The newlyweds focused on school and getting their careers established. Meanwhile, Townsend experienced, as she calls them, ridiculous periods, sometimes lasting 30 days. It didn’t occur to her that these irregular periods might make it difficult for her to conceive.

“I started to look around for blogs and I couldn't find anybody that looked like me,” Townsend recalls. But in speaking and meeting more people who were experiencing similar situations, she had an epiphany.

“It’s not that we don't experience it, it's that we don't talk about it,” Townsend shared. “And if we don't talk about it, add that to the stereotypes that say the opposite, then you're left with a ton of people who are finding out at what feels like at the last minute, my body isn't working the way it was designed.”

What started as a blog, The Broken Brown Egg, has turned into a non-profit organization. “We try to inform, educate, and empower people who are dealing with infertility, but also provide an emphasis on the Black experience of it because there are subtle differences that need to be addressed,” Townsend says.

For Townsend, it took years and years of different doctors trying to find the root cause of her infertility. She was told it was her thyroid, that it was her weight, and that she had PCOS.

“It took about six years for somebody to finally do the test to see that my tubes were blocked. All of that time was kind of wasted because there was never going to be a way for sperm to meet the egg in the first place,” she says.

Finally, she was able to do IVF and welcomed a son, Judah, in 2016. Then, she was concerned that after getting pregnant and having her son, she would not have the support of her infertility community. “What occurred to me was that this is bigger than babies. You still have the mental trauma of those years. I really started to expand the conversation,” Townsend says. “Yes, you want to get to the pregnancy part. But how are you taking care of your mental health? This community that you've built for yourself—you’re not going to feel as close to because you're going to not want to trigger them by talking about your pregnancy—but you also still need them.”

Her experiences shaped her cause, and for that, she is thankful. “I am almost grateful that I experienced that hard postpartum period because it really reminded me about other issues where people need support.”

See what a typical day is like for Chicago-based Townsend, who works as a librarian, and lives with her husband and their 5-year-old son.

Photo of Regina Townsend, her husband, and their son.
Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Regina Townsend.

Friday

7 a.m. I kind of wake up automatically at 7 a.m. and it's time to wake up my son. He goes to school nearby. My husband takes him. We're living with family right now, so we're all in one big room, so waking him up is waking me up, either way.

I try not to touch my phone first thing, but I always touch my phone. I'm sure that there's something I missed or to see if there's a message from the school, Slack, through Instagram for The Broken Brown Egg, or from the library where I work. I just try to make sure that I've checked all those boxes before I get in the car so that if there are any emergencies, I can sort them out before I head to the library.

I wish that I could say I eat breakfast, but I don't. I typically just get up and start moving. I try to pack my things the night before. So that it's quicker to get out.

Sometimes, every now and again, if he remembers, my husband makes smoothies for us. So we have a morning berry smoothie and he puts my PCOS supplement, inositol, in my smoothie for me to make sure that I actually take it.

8 a.m. I used to live ten minutes from work and now I live an hour away. So I spend the morning in the car, in traffic. It takes me about three expressways to get to work. Typically, during that time, I try to set my thoughts for the day. I'll set my playlist for what I want to listen to. Sometimes, it's gospel. Sometimes, it’s rap because it'll kind of motivate me to wake up.

9 a.m. I get to the library at 9:00 a.m (9:10 a.m. on the mornings I'm running late).

I am the teen manager here, so my office is in the teen space. In my office, I have two planners and a desk planner. The desk planner is for library stuff, then I have a planner where I try to do my journaling and write a scripture for myself every day to kind of focus. And then I have my business planner, and that has Broken Brown Egg stuff in it. I try to look at my planners before I turn on my computer so that I'm not immediately on screens. And to see what I'm doing that day because sometimes I do not remember.

Each day here at the library, I set my schedule. So, one day is ordering books. One day is ordering video games, one day is for programming.

The Broken Brown Egg never stops. So, even while I'm on my computer working on library stuff, my phone might be buzzing from something on Instagram or my email account from The Broken Brown Egg. I'm kind of the one-woman shop for all of that. I do all the content. I do all the posts. I do the website. I do the graphics. It gets a little overwhelming, but it's routine at this point. I have an order to how I post things, so there's always two pictures and then a word post. That helps me stay organized.

And in the meantime, here at the library, I may have a manager's meeting. I may have to work at the circulation desk. The public library is where a lot of people who are unhoused come, so I spend a lot of time checking to make sure that if our library social workers are here and if someone wants to see them, we've connected them.

A lot of what I do is programming. So as a manager, it's my responsibility to make sure that we have engaging and educational programs for the teens here and teens in the community in general. So even if they don't often come to the library’s physical space, my job is to make sure that there are programs that may attract their parents. I check in with the schools to make sure that I'm in line with what they're talking about. I'll spend about two hours working on that.

I don’t get too much quiet time despite working in a library. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere other than my office. I’ve started to put that in my work planner, actually. Some days, from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m, just read something that you want to read. It isn't necessarily for work, but it counts because it's reading.

12 p.m. There's a growing community of Black women advocates in the infertility space. If they go live on Instagram, I try to support them by listening and watching as I go to lunch.

Depending on if I remembered to bring a lunch, which I typically don't, I will go somewhere nearby and then I sit in the car and watch something. I try to not work on my lunch break. I don't eat in the library anymore, I eat in my car so that I make myself leave the building and walk away from work.

I sit in my car. I'll eat lunch. I'll watch something. Right now, I’m watching “Bel-Air” and “1883.” Completely different ends of the spectrum, but they are calming. And then, if I need to laugh, I’ll watch “Grace and Frankie” or “Schitt's Creek.”

3 p.m. Usually by 3 p.m., we've got teens in the building. Because they're older, I try not to bombard them. I typically come in and ask them how they're doing. I let them know if they need something, I'm here, but they're also my regulars.

While parents are struggling to talk to teens at this age, I get all of the information. They come, they sit in my office, and they tell me what's going on at school. They tell me what's going on with their friends and significant others, and then we might play video games. We might do a Teen Advisory Board and I ask them for program ideas. I’m here as their advisor.

4 p.m. For the next hour, it’s literally just replying to emails and trying to make sure I didn't miss anything. I usually have a message from my husband. I’m in a group chat with my mom and my siblings. And then there's a family group chat with all of them, plus my cousins, and my aunt.

I'll check in with The Broken Brown Egg virtual support groups, to see if anyone asked a question that I can answer. I'll double-check my planners before I leave to make sure that there wasn't anything that I was supposed to do that I forgot.

I leave early today, so I'm probably going to go to the craft store on the way home and just walk around for an hour. Even if I don't buy anything, nobody knows where I am. Hobby Lobby, Michaels—those are my calming spaces.

Regina Townsend and her husband.
Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Regina Townsend.

5:00 p.m. Most days, I leave work by 5. By the time I get home, it's usually 6:15 p.m or 6:30 p.m. I try to sit for a couple of minutes and just be quiet, but since I have a five-year-old that doesn't really work. Judah usually wants to play. He wants to play with his trains, or he wants to watch “PJ Masks.”

Typically, because my commute is the longest, my husband will cook dinner, or my aunt who we live with will cook dinner, and then we'll sit and watch “Top Chef Junior” and eat.

Many nights, we'll do a Facebook Messenger call with my mom and my siblings so that my son can see his cousins.

7 p.m. It's time to wrap it up. So even though the goal is to have my son in the bed by 8 p.m, usually, he’s in there at like 10 p.m. It takes a lot of wrangling. He wants everybody to go to bed together. It's hard to remind him, it's not everybody's bedtime, it's just his bedtime.

When we finally get him asleep, my husband and I might play video games together—that's our decompression. We have a PlayStation 4 and that's typically when we'll just kind of sit and hang out together and talk.

It sounds terrible, but we usually go to bed at midnight. If it’s a good night. I can make myself be in the bed by 10 p.m., but typically it's midnight. I have just started putting my phone into bedtime mode. So at 9:30 p.m., my phone goes into black and white and the ringer is off.

I usually wake up in the middle of the night because I forgot to reply to something, or I'll think of an idea and it's like, oh, let me write this down. It gets to be a little overwhelming, but I really like what I do.

If I didn't enjoy what I did, I probably would have run away by now.

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  1. Kalra B, Kalra S, Sharma JB. The inositols and polycystic ovary syndromeIndian J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;20(5):720-724. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.189231