It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association wants all of us to join the movement. If you asked me four years ago if I would ever join a movement for infertility, I would have laughed heartily at the suggestion. But the truth is: it’s the movement that’s kept me going.
But what does “joining the movement” really mean?
For me, joining the movement has been a gradual evolution of not only finding my voice within this community, but of discovering the kind of woman I really am – and who I’m meant to be – in the process.
Infertility has a way of doing that to us: stripping us bare of our own sense of identity, self-control, ambition and hopes. Infertility leaves as raw, naked and left to confront parts of ourselves that maybe we weren’t really ready to just yet. And as gut-wrenching, draining, and just downright awful that experience can be: you really have no choice but to truly “know thyself” in the process.
You can’t hide from infertility. She follows you around like a shadow. You see her as you pass pregnant bellies and strollers on the street. You hear her when your best friend tells you she’s pregnant. She sits between you and your spouse on the couch when you’re watching TV. You see her in the mirror.
Infertility changes you in so many ways, big and small that sometimes, you’re not even really sure who you are anymore.
I’m a Gemini and an INFP. I don’t do “stagnant” well. And for a long time, my infertility was more than just a rut in my life: it was a total, full-stop stagnancy. My life felt like it was perpetually on hold with no end in sight.
(Even now – I still worry. Less so, but until our son is home, in our arms – I won’t really fully exhale.)
I’ll never forget the moment I found out my diagnosis. Apart from feeling like I wanted to throw up and pass out simultaneously, I felt like my sense of time slowed all the way down nearly to a stop. It wasn’t like a record scratch but more of a slow-motion effect as it felt like all the air suddenly left the room.
The feeling lasted for days, then weeks. I found myself driven looking for answers: I scoured message boards and forums and clinic websites. And as the realization sunk in that my reproductive system was well and truly busted, I needed to do something.
So I started writing.
When RESOLVE calls us to “join the movement” – looking back, I realize that was my first step, that crappy little blog that I wrote under my Hebrew name. It wasn’t flashy or pretty. But it was somewhere I could move through my emotions and begin to cope with that new and terrifying reality that I might not have children.
I moved toward healing.
Just a few weeks after my diagnosis, it was my first NIAW. I “outed” myself on Facebook, then quickly retracted my post. But after 3 different people privately messaged me sharing that they too were dealing with infertility… I reposted it.
I moved another step forward, encouraged by the support of others – encouraged by knowing that I wasn’t alone.
And then RESOLVE inspired me to create my What IF video. For the first time, I went really and truly public with my identity and our journey. It was at once nerve-wracking and liberating. For as much support as I felt when I first outed myself on Facebook, I realized I had the power to offer that support to others.
To remind others that they too are not alone.
In doing so, I moved toward reclaiming my identity.
And then PETA and that whole shit-show… and subsequent victory. I went to my first Advocacy Day. My second Advocacy Day. I would three-peat it this year if I didn’t have a fundraising event in Boston I’m co-chairing that same night.
I moved towards empowering others and at the same time, empowered myself.
And all the while, the years went ticking by. It seems like in a blink, it’s been just over four years since I started this blog and I look at the wake, the ripples left behind from all this moving. And I’m stunned.
There were times where it certainly didn’t feel like time was going by that fast. I still had my ruts, still had my stagnant days and weeks wondering if parenthood would ever happen for my husband and I. I doubted my body, my faith, my ability to to just keep myself together – emotionally, spiritually, physically – at any given moment.
But I still moved forward.
When I look back at why I joined the movement, I realize I had a choice: I could either stand still and let infertility pull me in whatever direction it wanted, let the world move around me, or…
I could move ahead of my infertility. I could set my own path. Name my own terms. I may have been robbed of control, but I wouldn’t be robbed of hope. Nothing gets to take that away from me without my permission.
I moved because the alternative was too painful to bear.
Do you need to march on your state capitol, demanding insurance coverage? No. Do you need to appear on your local news talking about your busted ovaries? No. Do you even need to start a blog? Nope.
Joining the movement is as simple as making the decision to do SOMETHING. Seek out a support group. Join an online forum. Share your journey thus far anonymously. Confide in a friend that you’re having trouble trying to conceive.
I never thought joining the movement would look like this for me, but I’m so proud of where I’ve walked and the legacy I’m leaving. I’m so deeply, humbly grateful for every single person who has supported me along the way. And all it took was two things.
First, I had to be brave enough to take the first step and second – to be reassured in knowing that I was not alone.
I had to make the choice to move, to heal, to reclaim, to empower and advocate.
If you’re tired of standing still, make the choice to join the movement.
Take that first step and join the movement, whatever it may be for you. Only you have the power to forge your path through infertility.
And remember: you can take that first step with confidence because you are not alone.
This post is part of RESOLVE’s Bloggers Unite Project for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).