I began blogging in this space nearly four and a half years ago, but at the time, I wasn't aware of my infertility. I started writing to document our struggle to build a family, but with the secret hope that it would turn into a "baby's progress" blog in the not-so-distant future. You know, one of those blogs with the weekly belly photos to keep your friends and family informed of how much your pant size is growing and what size fruit your baby is that particular week.
Instead, three months later, I sobbed in a doctor's office as I heard the word "infertile" for the very first time. I was 23 years old. I had gotten married less than a year earlier. I was supposed to be a fertile myrtle. Instead, I wasn't ovulating and my doctor wasn't sure I even could. HOW was this my life?
I arrived at the airport later that day for a previously scheduled flight back home to Orlando (we were living in Nashville at the time). I drank at the airport bar while I worked up the courage to call my mom. I thought, well . . . maybe I should wait until we have more tests done. See what the doctor says before I spill the beans to my family. Instead, when I heard her voice on the other end, it all came out. Word vomit. I was infertile. I might have cervical cancer. I babbled on and on while I paced the airport terminal, tears still in my eyes. I'm surprised airport security wasn't called. But I wasn't surprised that my mom was extremely supportive. I knew that I'd made the right decision by telling her.
The word vomit didn't stop there. It continued for weeks as we told family and close friends, detailing the tests and procedures we were experiencing in order to find out what exactly was going on. Not long after, we decided to move back to Orlando to be closer to everyone while we were going through this. Friends in Nashville were supportive, but there was nothing quite like being close to family during this type of crisis.
We moved home and I joined the local RESOLVE support. Though I was open with our family and friends about the doctor's visits and testing, I wasn't as open with them about my emotions. I was in my angry phase at the time, and I needed a safe place to release that anger. I found it with RESOLVE. Soon after, I began volunteering to lead the group - representing them at local conferences and helping to bring in guest speakers. I finally started to feel like a normal person again. Even though we were going through IUIs at the time, and they were failing miserably, I was channeling all of that emotion into something I could control.
While I blabbed away in "real life" about our struggles, I also continued to blab here - unbeknownst to my family and friends. Then, in the spring of 2010, I was named a finalist for RESOLVE's Hope Award for Best Blog. This was it: the moment of truth. Would I share my story - my ENTIRE story - with everyone I knew? It was a risk, I knew. This space contained so many of my innermost thoughts and feelings. But I did it anyway. I officially stepped out of the infertility closet, and I was okay with it.
I didn't win the award that year (I did the following), but what I did win was the battle for control within myself. This was the turning point for me. No longer did I feel as if infertility was in the driver's seat. Instead, I was. "Coming out" gave me an entirely new take on my life. I couldn't be that backseat driver anymore. I needed to take ownership of this disease: not only in my own life, but for others as well. Every step I took after that point further cemented my belief that this disease didn't have to be a death sentence. It wasn't the end of my womanhood.
In fact, it was the beginning. Being a part of this movement, for me, is liberating. It's no longer embarrassing for me to stand up and say, "I'm infertile." Instead, it's empowering. Because each time I do it, I think, "Maybe I'm encouraging one other person to speak out, too." And the more of us who speak out, the better. The more we accomplish. The more we change the perception of how outsiders view us. The more likely we are to get our government and healthcare leaders to make positive changes in laws and regulations rather than negative.
The more we grow as individuals, too. This might be the most important part of the movement. Realizing that we don't need to speak to crowds of people about our ovaries to make an impact. Knowing, instead, that every action - big and small - makes a difference not only for others, but for ourselves. We become better advocates for our own health. We become stronger. We become better versions of ourselves.
I officially joined the movement on June 15, 2010, and I am still a member today. I will always be a member - helping to move both myself and this community forward. And I encourage you to join, as well. Please visit RESOLVE's website to learn more about how we change the conversation about infertility.
Together, we can make a difference.