When I’m not working for RESOLVE New England, I write as The Infertility Voice at my blog. But I wasn’t always so vocal about being infertile.
In fact, for a long time, I was completely ashamed of being infertile. I felt like such a disappointment to my husband and even more so to myself. I struggled with depression, doubt, sadness and disgust at myself, the situation, at the whole world around me at the time. I had only been diagnosed just over a month when National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) began in late April 2009.
The wound was still fresh. I ached deeply knowing that genetic children of my own were no longer in my cards. And yet, I took a brave first step in seeking support.
I posted this status on my Facebook profile at the start of NIAW 2009:
Infertility affects 7.3 million Americans, as many as 1 in 8 couples. Like me.
I kept this posted on my Facebook profile for about four hours before I chickened out and removed it. And yet, in that short four-hour window, I received three emails from friends I had known throughout the years – some I hadn’t talked to since high school – thanking me for being so brave and “outing” my infertile status on Facebook.
Because they were silently going through infertility, too.
It’s true what they say, that 1 in 8 is someone you know. On that day I publicly shared my infertility status, I found three other compatriots who had been battling infertility for years. I had had no idea.
It was this first step back in 2009 that allowed me to find my voice as an outspoken advocate for the infertility community in the years since. I realized the power my words had when it came to publicly admitting that yes, I’m infertile and that no, it doesn’t make me any less of a woman, wife, daughter, sister, or friend.
In 2010, I took it a step further for NIAW. I released this short video that very publicly put my face, name and voice out there for the entire internet to see:
The video became a viral sensation in the online infertility community and before I knew it, I was invited to join the Board of Directors for RESOLVE New England just a couple of months later. In the wake of staff changes last year, there was a place for my social media and writing skills on the staff. As sad as I was to leave the Board, I am thrilled to be working for this organization as a staff member.
Even though our family building journey isn’t resolved, working for RNE gives me hope.
Who knew, that in just three years, I would go from ashamed and silenced about my infertility status to working for the largest infertility-focused non-profit in the New England region?
I have National Infertility Awareness Week to thank for that.
I hope you’ll join me and RESOLVE New England as we observe this important week from April 22nd to the 28th this year. I understand that the decision to go public with your infertility status is deeply personal and carries with it many pros and cons. That said, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved with National Infertility Awareness Week.
You might be surprised to find out just how healing it can be help raise awareness for your own disease. You might be surprised to find out who your infertility compatriots are in your circle of friends and colleagues.
And you must just be surprised to find out that empowerment is possible for yourself by helping to raise awareness for our greater community.
About the Author
Keiko Zoll is the Director of Communications and Social Media and former Board Member for RESOLVE New England. She is also Founder and Writer for The Infertility Voice, an online empowerment resource for those experiencing infertility, as well as her blog chronicling her own journey toward parenthood.