Sunday, April 21, 2013

Join the Movement - Opening the Closet Door

Our home was built in the early 1970s. It is cozy with three small bedrooms and charming with its rose tile back splash in the kitchen. We love the big backyard with tall trees and the tulips and daffodils that pop up every spring like clockwork. One thing I don't love about our house are the closets. No Carrie Bradshaw dream walk-in closets for us. Ken and I amicably share the "master" closet and try to each stay to our respective sides of the middle. Our closet is small and dark and I spend as little time as possible extracting clothing from it each day. It's interesting that I should hate my actual closet so much, having spent so many years hiding inside my very own infertility shame closet.

Coming out of the closet is described as a psychological process or journey; a rite of passage; liberation or emancipation from oppression; an ordeal; a means toward feeling pride instead of shame and social stigma.(Thanks wikipedia!) In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I want to share my infertility coming out story.

I won't spend time explaining our diagnosis and infertility journey, but for those of you new to Operation Baby Gage, you may want to catch up on the cliffs notes here. When we first realized that there was a problem I didn't want to tell anyone about what we were going through. Part of it was denial and the belief that this would all work itself out quickly and there was no need to burden anyone. The other part was good old-fashioned, paralyzing shame. I was embarrassed that my body was unable to do what it was supposed to. Conception woes also seemed like a taboo topic. Eventually I was comfortable enough to confide in two of my best friends, one who was already mommy and the other a mommy-to-be. It was my foray into speaking out about what was going on with us and our desire to become parents. I cracked the closet door open and was quietly whispering. 

As time went on my parents began to start inquiring as to when we were going to get around to making them grandparents. These questions are innocuous enough, but they cut me deep. I couldn't blame them for asking a simple hopeful question when they didn't know the details of what we were struggling with. I would like to say that I called my parents and calmly explained that Ken and I were seeking treatment for infertility and we hoped that we would give them the joy of becoming grandparents, but that's not what happened. What actually occurred was a hormone filled crying rant directed at my sweet mother. (I'm sorry Mom!) While this wasn't the way I intended to share my story, it's how it happened and ultimately it was a good thing. I mean, if you're going to have an emotional outburst all over someone, it may as well be your mother. :)  I found that my mom is a wonderful and non-judgmental sounding board. She let's me rant about needles and stirrups and mood-swings. She tells me she loves me and is praying for us, and she is an endless source of positive thoughts, which for anyone in the midst of infertility knows you need in spades.

Even though I now had a handful of people in my support circle, I was still keeping things under wraps. I find it fitting that the team at RESOLVE are encouraging people touched by infertility to take to social media to join the movement and speak out during NIAW 2013. Social media is where we sound off about our lives, share insight into our families, homes and friendships, but so few of us are actually transparent (I am pointing a finger at myself here) about our private struggles. I have been publicly living a charmed life over the past 6 years. A look at my Facebook timeline shows photos from trips I've taken with my husband, visits to Colorado microbreweries, and fun, sometimes witty status updates. If you only knew me via Facebook you would assume that we are among the many 30 somethings who are choosing to live a very full, but childless life. You wouldn't see any signs of someone who is longing for a child. Someone who has smiled and congratulated friend after friend when they conceived and then gone home to cry about it later. You would see my life's highlight reel, but not the REAL, nitty-gritty, this sucks, life stuff.

One of the friends I mentioned previously tenderly called me out on this recently.  She pointed out that there are people in my life who want to support me, but don't know that I need it. She told me that there are likely people in my circle who are also struggling with infertility that I could share my story with and support who are silently suffering. As Oprah would say, it was an "Aha" moment. I thought I was being a brave, strong soldier, but in reality, my silence was a result of fear and wasn't helping anyone. Over the next week, Operation Baby Gage was born. This blog has become a wonderful outlet and an opportunity to share with friends and family as we are going through the donor egg IVF process. For the first time I have publicly shared my grief, hope, and excitement. My friend was right. I have received more support, kind words and prayers through simply sharing our story than I could have imagined. Multiple friends have private messaged me on Facebook to thank me for my story and share that they too have been through infertility treatments, or are currently going through treatment. Bottom line, it feels good! I know that my story matters and that infertility isn't something to be ashamed of. This disease touches 1 in 8 people that's 7.3 million in the US alone. 

People joke about going "Facebook official" with your relationship status, so this week, I went Facebook official with my infertility status thanks to Kieko Zoll at The Infertility Voice.  You can too! She has created multiple Facebook Timeline covers for everyone to show their support of infertility awareness this week.

I am proud to lend my voice to the infertility movement and hope that in doing so I can help incite change in how infertility is viewed in the public (no I don't just need to relax), how it is addressed by insurance companies (this is a disease and an expensive one to treat), and how we connect with one another and our legislators. I've outed myself and am glad to be out of the shame closet. 

If you would like more information and a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, visit RESOLVE.

To learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, click here


  1. Welcome Lindsey! I hope you find that life outside of the closet is helpful, inspiring, and uplifting at the very least. There's a great support group available through your blog! Dive in! We're all rooting for you!

    1. Thank you, Amanda! My heart is full today from the outpouring of support from friends old and new today. :)

  2. Congratulations on freeing yourself from the infertility closet! I hope that you are finding this experience to be a silver lining in the dark infertility cloud--it's amazing how much support is out there to give and to get once you take that first step. It is a brave thing to do and certainly not easy! May your journey be swift and fruitful from here on out.

  3. Thank you, Jess! I just read your NIAW blog and found myself nodding my head in agreement. Wishing you all the best in the next step in your journey!

  4. Hi Lindsey! I'm so glad to have found your blog via NIAW. What an excellent post...excellent. I'm so glad that you have found some support and even some gentle nudging to be more public about your infertility struggle. I don't even know you but I even teared up a bit when I saw your Facebook cover photo. So powerful. Good for you for having the courage to lift your voice, not just about your own struggle but about the common struggle we infertiles share. Blessings on your journey.

  5. Hi there. Found you through NIAW as well. I'm so glad you opened the closet door and are speaking up! You were braver than I.

    I tried to upload the same Facebook cover and couldn't do it. I couldn't identify myself as the 1 in 8 even though it is true. I went with another cover...looks like I still have some work to do, huh?

    1. Thanks, Jessah! I think the best part of NIAW has been the e-troductions to so many new blogger friends! It's such a wonderful support to know there are others walking this path proudly. I look forward to following your posts!