Breaking the Silence
A woman who didn’t succeed with infertility treatment stands on stage in front of some 350+ people, many of whom were representatives of the infertility industry (very off putting to see so many reps from pharmaceutical companies and clinic staff) to receive an award for her infertility memoir.
How to describe the experience September 28, 2010 in New York at the RESOLVE Night of Hope award ceremony…
Unlikely? Yes, based on the quiet that came when the audience heard what the book related: life in the wake of failed IVF.
Joyful? The opportunity to meet — in person — friends and advocates I only once knew inside my computer.
Ironic? A story that doesn’t end with a baby being honored with a Best Book award by RESOLVE (updated in 2012: Once a grassroots organization, RESOLVE now derives significant funding from clinics and pharma companies that profit from selling IVF and drugs associated with procedures.)
Emotional? Getting hugged by a “sister” who introduced herself with tears in her eyes because she’s in the midst of coming to terms with her infertility journey.
Overwhelming? Receiving emails, Tweets, and Facebook comments from a wide-range of family, friends, coworkers and longtime blog readers offering words of encouragement and congratulations.
Intense? The pressure to not screw up at the podium with a live microphone and just 90 seconds to say something meaningful.
Comforting? Feeling my husband’s hand squeeze mine to calm the fit of nerves that had me shaking uncontrollably after I made my remarks (first shaped by him after a late lunch discussion. He then typed up our thoughts and ran to the hotel front desk with a memory stick to print them out so I could finish getting ready).
Satisfying? Knowing our Silent Sorority was being heard: a watershed moment.
Here’s what I said, with a minor stumble here and there:
Thank you. For those of us who belong to the subset of couples for whom treatments don’t succeed, infertility is an especially grueling, isolating experience. While much is discussed about the physical aspects, there is, as many of us have come to know, a far-reaching emotional toll. The genesis of my healing was writing. I first wrote a blog under a pseudonym. I did so because I was ashamed, afraid and both weary and wary of using my real name. That soon changed. I was amazed by the response to my story. I heard from women, and even a few men, from most every state and at least two dozen countries — places as different as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Finland, Slovenia and Nigeria. But to a person we all had one thing in common:an immense relief to find a community where we were understood, where we found true empathy. On behalf of all of the once silent sorority, I am living proof that there is more than one ending to the infertility story. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my husband who stood by me through it all with patience and support.
I began and ended my evening raising a glass in honor of you — those who helped bring me to the stage in the first place. As always, I thank you…