Showing posts with label RESOLVE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RESOLVE. Show all posts

July 1, 2011

5 Infertility Books for Great Summer Reads: Good Eggs

Welcome back to my Infertility Summer Reading review series! Tune in every other Friday this summer for a new review. Check out the schedule of reviews below. You can even grab your own copy of the books reviewed by clicking the book covers under the Infertility Summer Reading List to the right. Feel free to start reading ahead or wait until after the review goes up. Either way, do join along and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Infertility Summer Reading Series Featured Books
  1. Conquering Infertility by Dr. Ali Domar - (Read the review from June 3)
  2. Inconceivable by Carolyn and Sean Savage - (Read the review from June 17)
  3. Good Eggs: A Memoir by Phoebe Potts (Today's Review: July 1)
  4. Silent Sorority by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos (July 29)
  5. Navigating the Land of If by Melissa Ford (August 12)

Good Eggs: A Memoir by Phoebe Potts

Recommended to me by: Mayyim Hayyim

The Review: It seems like such an unlikely medium for an infertility story, but Good Eggs weaves the story of Phoebe Potts' life in such a unique fashion it's hard not to resist the urge to pick up a copy. I had heard excellent things about this book and when I was at a class on infertility and ritual in the Jewish tradition at Mayyim Hayyim, a progressive mikveh center in Newton, single page prints of her book were on display in a featured art exhibition. They had out copies to peruse and as I waited for the class to begin, I read the first third of the book. I finally bought my own copy and finished it this week in anticipation of today's review.

It's hard to describe this book: yes, it's an infertility story, but it's much more than that. Potts describes her life growing up, her tumultuous and at times strained relationship wit her mother, and her lifelong struggles with debilitating clinical depression. We see very tender and poignant snippets of her courtship and marriage to her husband Jeff as well as a wandering narrative about her brief year in Mexico. Throughout all of this is their quest to conceive.

Potts illustrates the painful reality of unexplained infertility. By all accounts, she and her husband are perfectly normal. Yet after timed intercourse, several failed IUIs and IVF cycles, they still don't have any luck. The uniqueness of the graphic novel format allows us to literally see her thought bubbles in the very moment of each scene. As readers, we become witness to a continous running inner monologue in a way that traditional autobiographic narrative fails to provide.

Good Eggs is a much a resource for those coping with mental illness as it is for those dealing with infertility. Potts' frank portrayal of The Voice - her monstrous, self-deprecating inner monologue - is perhaps one of the most vivid and honestly accurate depictions of what it's like to live with depression.

Potts also shares the way in which her Jewish faith has been impacted by her infertility, as both a conflict of faith as she sits during High Holiday services and listens to the story of Hannah, and as inspiration as she considers becoming a rabbi. I was left feeling like the word "exploration" was the theme of her story as she seeks to discover herself and what fulfills and sustains her.

While I try not to post spoilers, I will say this: the book does not end with a nice, neat ribbon on it, all tied together in a "another infertile couple success story" bow. Potts's journey remains unresolved. However, she leaves the door open for what the possibilities for parenthood could be. This ending really resonated with me because it's a narrative ending you don't often see - that lingering, unresolved ending that leaves you deeply investing and thinking about Phoebe and Jeff well after you finish the book.

Potts' illustrations are quirky and even whimsical at some points, with much detail crammed into each panel. I found it interesting that I most quickly identified characters by their hair, as Potts draws their hairstyles with such distinct detail. Good Eggs is rife with a rich story and characters but at times the narrative feels wandering and clumsy. While flashbacks in the storyline were generally introduced, we are suddenly snapped back to the present storyline in an abrupt and sometimes very confusing fashion.

I would have also appreciated just a smidgen larger book size. While 9x6 is a pretty standard book size, Potts' illustrations are so detailed that sometimes it's hard to spot the little hidden gems in each panel, such as witty puns (a box of tissues labeled Tish B'av, a Jewish holiday of mourning) or running gags (her cat's appearance in many panels included a running commentary of its thoughts). And with little visual footnotes and descriptions tightly packed into each frame, the size of the book made them difficult to read at times.

Quotable Moment: After multiple failed IUIs, Phoebe begins to confront the possibility that things may not work out. In a full page panel, Phoebe sobs in her husband's arms as he holds her and says, "Oh, sweetie. It's going to be OK. We're going to have a baby." Woven throughout the panel is the following:
"It's in Jeff's job description to say the things I need to hear even if they are not true when the alternative is just too hard to take."

Rating: (out of a possible 5 tasty pomegranates)
Good Eggs presents the infertility experience in a truly unique medium, giving very literal insight and emotion to very intimate moments along their journey. Despite an awkward narrative and panels almost over-drawn in their detail, Good Eggs makes the brave choice to tell an unfinished story and in the process, still leaves the reader feeling hopeful.

Food for Further Thought: Last year, Potts and I were featured together in an article for Tablet Mag, an online Jewish magazine. (Read Breeding Ground here.) We both spoke about how we channeled our infertility struggles into artistic creations: Potts with her graphic novel, me with my What IF video.

Graphic novels have been fighting their way onto the literary scene as early as the 1980s with Alan Moore's Watchmen. In fact, much controversy surrounded Watchmen when it was awarded the Hugo Award in 1988; sci-fi authors critics were up in arms that a "comic book" won perhaps one of the highest honors in the sci-fi genre. Other graphic novels like Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale, depicting his father's life as a Holocaust survivor, have gone on to win the Pulitizer Prize. Then there is Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical work, Persepolis, which went on to be made into an Oscar-nominated animated film.

Good Eggs has been nominated as Best Book for RESOLVE's Hope Awards this year. Given it's non-traditional medium, do you think it deserves recognition as best "book?" Do you think graphic novels should rank up there with the classics, modern and old? And do you think a graphic novel is an effective way to tell the infertility story?

Have you read Good Eggs? Krissi over at Stress Free Infertility has and just reviewed it this week too. What did you think?

Have you voted for Good Eggs as RESOLVE's Best Book? And have you voted for Best Blog yet?  

Sound off in the comments and have a fantastic holiday weekend for those of you celebrating the 4th in the States. Be safe folks!

June 30, 2011

Have you voted for RESOLVE's Best Blog yet?

It's hard to believe it's that time of year again... RESOLVE has announced their 2011 Night of Hope Awardees and Nominees for Best Book and Best Blog! Now it's up to the blogosphere to vote for the winners. The Best Blog nominations came from this year's National Infertility Awareness Week blogger project, Bust a Myth. The four bloggers nominated - from a field of over 300 Bust a Myth submissions - rose to the top as the strongest, most eloquent voices.

I'm so excited by this year's field of nominees because I've read and interacted with some of these bloggers in the past year and it's wonderful to see them being recognized. Even if someone doesn't win, it sure does feel nice to have that nomination recognition from an organization like RESOLVE! I'd like to take the time to highlight each one, because hey - who doesn't love a little extra recognition?

RESOLVE 2011 Best Blog Nominees





Nominee: Whitney and Erick
Bust a Myth Post: Don't minimize infertility or miscarriage
Why Whitney's Post Rocks: Whitney's post is so down-to-earth and approachable while laying the facts right out there on the table. In addition to exploring the emotional impact of both infertility and miscarriage, she leaves readers with tips for how family and friends can be supportive and sensitive in both situations.
Go vote for Whitney and Erick here!




Nominee: from IF to when
Bust a Myth Post: the truth about resolution
Why Katie's Post Rocks: Katie's post takes us to the land distinct from - but not necessarily beyond - infertility; the land of impending parenthood. She explores how infertility never really leaves us, even if we are lucky enough to resolve in some way. She goes on to say that it's okay if that scar doesn't fade right away and that "there's no rush to heal." An incredibly moving and inspiring post, and Katie's second Best Blog nomination in as many years.
Go vote for from IF to when here! 




Nominee: Tippy and Tidy's Tumultuous Trip to Toddlers
Bust a Myth Post: Infertility treatments are covered by insurance
Why Tippy's Post Rocks: When I finished reading her post, I just wanted to stand up and cheer. Detailing their very expensive quest to conceive, Tippy illustrates what is more the standard of healthcare costs for infertility patients, as mandated states are very much in the minority in the US. She makes one helluva case why we need more affordable access to infertility care with a one-two sucker punch of a post as a call to advocacy and action.
Go vote for Tippy here!




Nominee: Weathering the Storm
Bust a Myth Post: I'm less of a man because I can't get my wife pregnant
Why Rain's Post Rocks: Rain did something rather unique for NIAW - she interviewed her husband. We so often assume that infertility is the result of the female partner when male infertility makes up about 30-40% of cases. In this touching and frank dialogue between husband and wife, we get to see a glimpse of how infertility plays out in the dynamic of a partnered relationship and how infertility affects the men in our lives too.
Go vote for Weathering the Storm here!



Voting ends on July 11th, so go read these posts and cast your vote today! And don't forget to check out the four books nominated for Best Book this year. I've already reviewed Conquering Infertility by Dr. Ali Domar as part of my Infertility Summer Reading Series and my review for Phoebe Potts' Good Eggs will post tomorrow, so check back then before casting your vote for Best Book.

Happy voting and best of luck to Whitney, Katie, Tippy, and Rain!

June 15, 2011

What's Shakin?

(Salem Willows Pier, May 2011)
Random update post = random pic.
I've been fishing a bunch lately.
Figured I was overdue for a "What's going on in my life" post. If you're reading my blog in something other than a reader, you may have noticed I've gone a bit... design crazy. I posted a new header a month or so ago, I've been tweaking the background color, and oh, huh, look at that: ads and paid ad space. Right, so... about that. Rather than just making all these changes and hoping no one will notice, I figured it was time to come clean about all the changes happening around here.

So let's see, where to begin? I've been participating in The SITS Girls 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. We're on day 11 today. So, between now and when this challenge ends sometime mid-July, I'm sure there will be other little tweaks and changes along the way. I'll also be experimenting with post types and content, just to see how I can play with things here a little bit. Whether it's the occasional list post or dabbling in a bit of creative non-fiction, it's the summer. I want to keep things interesting here and spruce up my blog overall.

Right, so the other big thing: ads. Yes, you too can purchase ad space on my blog. You may notice it falls under the creative "Baby Fund" heading. I'm telling it like it is folks: babies ain't cheap and makin' babies with donor eggs ain't any cheaper. Honestly? Every little bit helps. I'm also signing up for Affiliate programs that are a good fit for my blog. I've been running BlogHer Ads for a while now and have been an Amazon Affiliate for ages. I've only recently begun pumping up the Amazon Affiliate profile a little bit. In full disclosure, I'm an affiliate for Circle+Bloom and AttainFertility. And yes, I'm looking to add more and to do so in a way that's a) clear to you as readers and b) not intrusive beyond the sidebar. I realize ads might turn some of you off. If it does, please be honest and lay it on me (in a comment or an email is fine). Your readership is important to me, so if ads are going to send folks away screaming, I want to hear about it.

Let's see, what else... Remember when Blogger died last month? And I was like, hell no I'm not losing two  years' worth of writing? Yeah, about that. I'm moving to self-hosted WordPress sometime this summer. Tentative launch will be August 1st. The big thing you can do to help me? Make sure your bookmarks and reader feeds point to www.hannahweptsarahlaughed.com and not my blogspot URL. That will make the transition easier so you don't lose me in the move.

Other random things...
  • Updated my Resources page. Needed some serious updating and dusting off.
  • Sorted my Blogroll into five categories. I did this for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one being I didn't want any of you to click over to a BFP blog and not know about it and then be totally blindsided. It happened to me a bunch so it was time to clean up my list so it's clear to everyone.
    • Infertility Blogs: General blogs that didn't fit into my other categories
    • TTC Blogs: Folks actively working on makin' babies, typically through some kind of treatment
    • BFP Blogs: Mazel tov ladies on your impending arrivals!
    • Adoption Blogs: Folks who are all about adoption or are in the homestudy/waiting process
    • Parenting After IF Blogs: Folks who may or may not still be dealing with IF but who already have children and thus may have posts or pics that mention their children
  • I accidentally spilled the beans and stupidly posted on Twitter that I'm working on a book. JJiraffe has only helped amplify my super secret news ;) For all intents and purposes, let's just stick to the rumor that it's trashy vampire horror/smut and when I'm ready to reveal, it'll be that much cooler.
  • Linking up to some neat infertility-inspired writing groups online. The first is JJiraffe's Pomegranate Society. Basically it's a small writers' workshop where we pair up with other writers with the intent to get our asses in gear about getting our stuff published. The second is Mel's Prompt-ly group. This is more focused on keeping the inspiration juices flowing, to keep our blog content fresh, and to provide support and share resources. It's already awesome.
  • Twitterview with RESOLVE and blogger Alec Ross of I Want to Be a Daddy for a Fathers' Day Twitter Chat this Friday at 2pm EST. I'll be jumping in and retweeting as it goes on. You can follow the dicussion at #tvFD - best way to follow it is through TweetChat.
  • The Hope Award for Best Book nominations are now openHead over to the fabulous Ladies in Waiting Book Club to cast your nominations. Nominations will be accepted until this Friday, June 17th so go swing by and vote for the nominations listed or add your own. It looks like it's going to be a tight race whoever the Top 5 are, so get your nominations in now!
  • Random: I can't stop listening to Beats Antique. Bellydance music has been blasting out of my car anytime I drive. 

So there you have it. Bunches of random things happening around here and little tweaks along the way. Mostly, I'm hoping it's for the better but if you see something and you're like, "Gosh Keiko, what the hell is with all the pink? I mean seriously - is this an infertility blog or Pretty Pretty Princess Land?" please let me know. You can leave me a comment or shoot me an email. Or hound me on Twitter - I'm all over the place.

Ultimately, here's the thing: I'm making changes because I want to make this a better blog experience for everyone - not just for myself, but for you. So if you don't like something I've done around here, I want to hear about it. I can take it :)

And if you love something, well, I want to hear about that too.

June 14, 2011

A Fathers' Day Twitterview with RESOLVE & "I Want to Be a Daddy"

As I mentioned yesterday, even though it's Men's Health Week, we don't often hear the male side of the infertility journey. With Fathers' Day just around the corner, this is especially timely. There are a few elusive male voices out there (emphasis on the few). But the guys who are out there really help to shed some light on what is so often a woman-centric subject.

Take for example, Brittanie's husband Ben, over at Fertilize This! He busted a myth for NIAW about his experience as a man with male-factor infertility. Or Rain's husband at Weathering the Storm - she interviewed him about his experience with male-factor infertility and how it affects their marriage.And then there are awesome guys like my husband, Larry, who wrote a guest post of his perspective of being married to someone with female-factor infertility.

And then there's Alec, over at I Want to Be a Daddy. Are you reading him? You aren't? Well, you should. Alec has become a rising voice in the infertility community from the ever-elusive male perspective. He spells it out exactly right in his blog's description:
My wife JK and I went through a 2 1/2 year odyssey of infertility. It was a painful time. The emotional toll was as real for me as it was for JK. Friends who had survived infertility helped me to cope, and thus I hope that our story will help others.

Now this is the kind of voice we need to hear out there! This Friday, there's a unique opportunity to engage with Alec and RESOLVE, as they host a Twitterview with Alec at 2pm EST. From MyDestinationFamily.org:
On June 17th, leading up to this coming Father’s Day, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and MyDestinationFamily.org will honor this shared struggle through a personal and informative Twitterview with Alec Ross, blogger at I Want to Be a Daddy and regular contributor at FertilityAuthority. Alec will help to shed light on the all too silent male side of infertility in this one-hour Twitter exchange with executive director of RESOLVE, Barb Collura. He will speak to the two-and-a-half year infertility battle he and his wife faced, and the ups and downs that they continue to face today.


Wait, what's a Twitterview?
It's kind of like a public conversation, but since it's Twitter, it's like having that public conversation in a sea of a million voices. The conversation stands out by using a dedicated hashtag to differentiate this conversation's tweets from all the others. In this case, the dedicated hashtag for the Twitterview is #tvFD (for Father’s Day TwitterView).

How do I follow along?


When is this Twitterview again?
This Friday, June 17th, at 2pm EST. Join in or follow along to hear about the impact that infertility plays on Fathers' Day and the male experience with infertility. I know it's going to be an informative, engaging and emotional conversation. I'm really looking forward to it.

Hope to see folks tweeting and retweeting away on Friday!

June 6, 2011

Thoughts On Choosing the Donor Egg Path

Photo by Frank Monnerjahn via Flickr
IVF with donor egg is a tough concept to wrap your brain around; I certainly struggled with it initially. We've certainly flip-flopped around in our family building plans in the two years since I was diagnosed: donor egg, adoption, then back to donor egg. I have RESOLVE of New England to thank for that; we went to the 2009 Annual Family Building Options Conference and came out thinking donor egg. Then we went to their Adoption Decision-Making Seminar and came out thinking adoption. After volunteering at last year's Annual Conference, we're back on the path to donor egg. Like I've mentioned in our latest snapshot of our infertility journey, the only thing holding us up is getting our finances saved up for the adventure.

Despite all the flip-flopping on the mechanics of building our family, Saturday certainly solidified the decision for us and for the first time, saving up the money be damned, I'm actually really excited about the prospect of donor egg. On Saturday, RNE hosted their Donor Egg Decision-Making Seminar; since I'm on the Board, I got to host the event: set up the room, make sure the presenters are set, sign in and register attendees. Did I deliberately volunteer to host one of our programs that just so happens to be right up my interest alley? Why, I don't know what you're talking about!

I brought my laptop with me and tweeted a lot of the key points and information throughout the day. (You can see the summary of all the #RNEDESeminar tweets here.) It was a nice way to be able to not only jot down notes for myself, but to share them with folks as they were around on Twitter Saturday. Despite all of the research Larry and I have done regarding donor egg, there's always something new to learn, and I certainly picked up a few interesting facts, such as...

Did you know different sects of the same religion have different views on donor egg? For example, if you're a Sunni Muslim, donor egg is forbidden; if you're a Shiite Muslim, it is permitted. Of course my ears perked up when the presenter talked about Judaism: the halacha is a bit fuzzy on the whole issue of donor egg, so really, it's whatever your Rabbi says. Ha! Like I have a Rabbi right now; we still need to find a shul to call our own. (PS: live in MA? Know of a nice Reconstructionist Temple w/in the Boston/North Shore area? Email me.)

That said, I learned a lot and was thrilled to connect with the other attendees; we had 14 total (7 couples) and it was refreshing to connect and talk with folks in person. I'm actually seriously considering starting my own peer-led support group in the North Shore region; meeting other people who really understand the infertility experience is so therapeutic. I'm hardly a healed woman myself; I've come a long way, yes, but I still need the support on a regular basis. I was also shocked that 2 other women there had POF diagnoses, as well as one of the panelist speakers at the end of the day. We're such a small lot that I was glad I could meet other POF-ers in person. ("Glad" of course is a relative term: no woman should ever have to go through POF.)

I wanted to share just a few highlights from the day. The Donor Egg Seminar was structured into five sessions throughout the entire day and I'll just share a few gems from each one:

From Preparing the Way for Egg Donation
Dr. John Petrozza, Chief, Reproductive Medicine and IVF, and Joan Eilers, RN, MGH Fertility Center
  • IVF with donor egg has around a 55% success rate nationally which is slightly higher than "regular" IVF (that is, trying to use your own eggs). While success rates vary by clinic, select a clinic that feels like the right fit for you: consider doctor/patient dynamic, nurse and office staff, timeliness of response, etc.
  • The ASRM guidelines for donor compensation suggest a minimum donor fee of $5,000 but anything above that should be justified (which is a debatable term right now). The ASRM considers a donor compensation fee above $10,000 to be exorbitant. 
  • Donor egg recipients have it a lot easier than normal IVF patients. The prep is in telling the ovaries "Hey! Don't do anything!" and that's typically accomplished with birth control pills. Some recipients may complete a mock cycle: it's a dry run just to see how the recipient responds to meds; this is typically reserved for patients who have never completed IVF before and is usually done concurrently while the donor get screened, to save time.

From Legal Issues and Contracts
Amy Demma, Esq, Law Office of Amy Demma
  • Reproductive lawyers are a small, niche group in this country but are extremely well-versed in the intricacies of navigating the legality and ethics of assisted reproductive technology. It's in your best interest to seek out a specialist this this area of law rather than say, your real estate lawyer.
  • Did you know about the Donor Sibling Registry? When working with a lawyer, you can include this in your contract with the donor requiring her to register. It's a valuable tool and resource for intended parents and donors.
  • While not required, it's good practice to have your lawyer review your Service Agreement with your chosen donor agency. When in doubt, just remember: it's for your benefit and legal protection to have that set of expert eyes looking over any contracts before you sign.

From Finding a Donor
Sheryl Steinberg, Senior Case Manager, Fertility Source Companies: The Donor SOURCE
  • Donors are typically young women in their early to mid-twenties. They come from all races, religious backgrounds, marital status, and may or may not have already had children.
  • While you can't obtain full medical records of potential donors, they are expected to complete a detailed medical history and comprehensive diagnostic screening.

From Psychosocial Issues
Laura Lubetsky, LICSW, Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery
  • Selecting your donor: looking through profiles and their pictures - is a weird experience, like you're going through Match.com. It's perfectly normal to feel weird about the whole thing; it's also perfectly normal for there to be feelings of guilt, anger, and grief.
  • If you're using a known donor, particularly a family member like a sister, consider the Thanksgiving Dinner scenario. What will the dynamic be like with you, your sister, and your donor egg conceived child at the table? How will define your roles? How weird will it feel? Will it feel weird at all?
  • While disclosure is almost always a good practice, it really is nobody's business how you got pregnant.
  • The idea of how to tell your children they were conceived with donor egg can seem particularly daunting  to intended parents. Typically, after you have your child and once you're parenting, the idea doesn't seem so foreign and there are a variety of resources out there to help you begin that dialogue with your child.

From A Group Discussion About the Issues—Recipient Parents Speak
Annie Geoghegan, LICSW, Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery
  • One couple on the panel talked about the very broad way of how they plan to tell their daughter she was conceived by donor egg: "You weren't an oops baby. In fact, your daddy and I couldn't have wanted you more."
  • "Everyone comes to the moment they pick their donor differently, but when you do, something just clicks. Selecting a donor can become a very philosophical process."
  • "Your emotions can change so much during the whole donor egg process. Just try to take it a day at a time."
  • "The moment that baby is in your arms, all those concerns about using donor egg totally shift. You have to stomach this weird process to get to this wonderful end."

On a very personal note, this was perhaps the most emotional and valuable session of the entire day. I left feeling so filled with hope to hear success stories from parents via donor egg. I think the one piece of information that stuck with me, as I drove on a long quiet drive by myself back home afterward. Right now, even though donor egg and IVF and clinics and costs and how are we ever going to tell our children are so ever present on our minds, things totally change and all this worry-filled head space starts to feel more and more distant. The moderator for the panel discussion put it best: if you successfully resolve with donor egg, it stops being the headline. It becomes a badge you wear instead.

I like that. A headline implies that the whole world is looking at you with a judgmental lens; a badge is something we've worked hard to earn and is something of which we can be proud.

I can't wait and I hope I'm lucky enough to earn mine soon.

May 15, 2011

Senator Gillibrand introduces the Family Act of 2011: An Infertility Tax Credit Bill

Photo by Keiko Zoll, from Advocacy Day.
Exciting news folks: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has officially introduced the Family Act into the Senate (S. 965). The Family Act is a bill that creates a tax credit to reimburse individuals for out of pocket expenses for infertility treatment. While the text of the bill has not yet been released (it should be in the next day or two), it is anticipated that the tax credit will provide a lifetime cap of just over $13,000, renewable up to 5 years, and on a 50/50 cost share between taxpayer and government. The Family Act has been modeled after the very successul federal Adoption Tax Credit.

Here's where your help is vital: we need Senate co-sponsors like whoa. RESOLVE has set up a very easy form for you to contact your Senators right at their website. Send an email to your Senators encouraging them to co-sponsor the Family Act here.

Additionally, if we really want to gain traction on Capitol Hill, we also need a House version of this the Family Act. Please consider contacting your Representatives encouraging them to originate the bill on the House side of Congress. Look up your representatives' contact information here. I've drafted a sample letter to your representatives here, so you can copy, paste, and fill in your appropriate information and send it off to your legislators with ease.

I've already reached out to my Congressman, Representative John Tierney. I sent him a follow up email from Advocacy Day today and then posted a comment asking for his support on his Facebook page - he actually responded to my comment, having read my email! Feel free to get creative and check to see if your Senators and Congressfolk are using social media. I would email them first, then follow up on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts - it can't hurt!

For more information:
  1. Here's a general overview of the Family Act.
  2. Here's a detailed FAQ about the Family Act. 
  3. The Family Act has been endorsed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
  4. Make sure to Like EMD Serono's Family Act page on Facebook.
  5. And don't forget to write your Senators!

May 11, 2011

Two Videos from Infertility Advocacy Day

Just a quick post to share two videos from Advocacy Day. The first is a short interview with Risa Levine, our keynote speaker and RESOLVE Board of Directors member, and her thoughts on how Advocacy Day went this year.

The second is Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's inspiring address to the volunteers before we headed out to our appointments. The first video is just over 2 minutes long, the second is about 11 minutes long. Something short or something more, depending on the time you have to view them. Please also feel free to share on your own blogs; you can snag the embed code right from the videos below. Enjoy!





May 10, 2011

How You Can Help the Atlanta Walk of Hope This Weekend

This Saturday, May 14, RESOLVE is hosting a Walk of Hope in Atlanta, Georgia. So often we say to ourselves, "Where's our walk?" Well... here it is! In addition to being a great fundraiser for the folks at RESOLVE, the Walk of Hope provides a chance to very publicly raise awareness for an otherwise very private disease. It's exactly the kind of event the infertility community needs. And if you're feeling brave enough, Kim over at The Ladies in Waiting Book Club has come up with a very creative way for you to participate without having to even go to Atlanta.

Kim and her team will be walking on Saturday in Atlanta, and they want to walk for you too:

May we walk for you?

My team and I would like to collect names from you (first, or last, or even just your screen name - doesn't matter to us!). On the day of the Walk, we'll take this list of names and write them on our t-shirts before the walk begins. We'd love to represent you along with our own families of two, no matter where you are on your journey. We hope to have our t-shirts completely covered in the names of the many infertile families we wish to represent.
To particpate, simply leave your name (however you wish it to be listed) in a comment to Kim's post about their Walk of Hope project here. Once you've added your name - and I hope you will! - why not consider posting about it on Facebook or Twitter? Here's a sample tweet:

@liwbookclub will walk for me & my #infertility at ATL #WalkofHope. I added my name; will you add yours? http://bit.ly/mqfmhC

You can also help out Kim and her team out by making a donation; see their Ladies in Waiting Team Page for more details. They're only 30% away from their goal of raising $750. It would be amazing if Kim and the Ladies in Waiting Team could have their shirts filled with names, to represent the millions of us living with infertility.

In fact, I'll make this pledge:

If 100 names are added in the comments on Kim's post between now (10am on Wednesday, 5/10) and 10pm Friday night, 5/13: I will donate $50 to the Ladies in Waiting Team for the Walk of Hope. If they reach 500 names or more total, I will donate $100.

If there's anyone willing to match this pledge, let me know in the comments. Be sure to post on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter (hell, you can even just swipe this whole post, I have no shame) to advertise if you'll join me in this pledge.

So, have you left your name for The Ladies in Waiting Walk of Hope Team yet?

May 9, 2011

RESOLVE Advocacy Day 2011 in Washington DC Recap

RESOLVE volunteers in front of the Capitol Building.
From left: Lee, Kara, Theresa, and me.
I never thought advocating for infertility awareness could be so empowering, but RESOLVE's Advocacy Day was just incredible. I advocate all the time on this blog; I write letters to my legislators all the time. But to actually walk around Independence and Constitution Avenues in the heart of Washington DC, to walk into Senator John Kerry's and Senator Scott Brown's offices - I've never felt so humbled or proud to be an American. I've never felt so honored or privileged to take advantage of my rights as a voting citizen in this country. And I've never been prouder of the infertility community.

The day started with an opening training meeting where close to 100 volunteers representing 18 states gathered. I was thrilled to see folks from Night of Hope again, including Lee Rubin Collins and Risa Levine, winners of the Hope Award for Advocacy. Lee was in the Massachusetts delegation with me and two other volunteers, Theresa and Kara. Barb Collura, the Executive Director of RESOLVE, opened the day with introductory remarks. I was totally not expecting for her to recognize me for the whole PETA counter-campaign, but I won't lie: it felt good to stand up and be recognized for that. Then Risa came out to deliver our keynote address... it was simply beautiful, powerful, and so inspiring. Risa has kindly sent me a copy of her remarks and allowed me to republish them online, so here is just a brief excerpt:

Wherever you are in this process, I know how hard it is for you to be here. How hard it is for you to identify with this disease that has stripped you of your identity. How hard it is to say "I am infertile".

I want you to think about all of the diseases you've experienced personally or through friends and family. I want you to think about how you or others have been affected by those diseases but how your infertility has redefined how you see yourself and how you relate to every one else in the whole universe. How unfair the unwarranted shame and loneliness has been. I want you to think about your own goals and dreams and self definition and for some of you, the retirement village in Florida that you will never join because you can't compete in the grandchildren wars. I want you to think about all of the times you bought Girl Scout cookies to support your friends' children and all of the times you heard that children are our nation's future. And I want you to believe that YOUR right to have YOUR disease treated so that YOU can have children whose cookies can be bought or whose health care should be provided for are just as important as everyone else's. And then, I want you to walk into Congressional offices today with the confidence that you are justified, no, righteously compelled and duty bound to demand that the treatment and cure of infertility be a priority in our national agenda of providing health care to the people of this country.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
We went back over our key advocacy issues for each congressional visit: 1) infertility is a disease; 2) pushing for co-sponsorship of an Infertility Tax Credit Bill; and 3) to have legislators call the CDC to demand to know why work stopped on the National Action Plan for infertility. Barb announced that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has agreed to be an original sponsor for the Senate version of the Infertility Tax Credit bill. (A bill number and name is still forthcoming.) And then our group was treated to a special guest appearance from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who gave a rousing 15 minute speech on the importance of the advocacy work we were doing, and to take our legislators to task to hear our concerns. (I'll post a video of her speech this week.)

And then... we were off to our Senate appointments. Our delegation from Massachusetts was followed around by RESOLVE's official event photographer. I felt like such an Infertility Rockstar!

Sen. Kerry's swanky Senate office.
We headed to Senator Kerry's office where we waited to meet with his Health Legislative Aid (or, Health LA in DC staffer lingo). After a short wait, we were ushered into the large conference room in Senator Kerry's office. I gave the rundown to the Health LA about infertility as a disease: stats, figures, and a brief overview of my personal situation. Lee then talked about the Infertility Tax Credit and the inquiry to the CDC. While the Health LA couldn't commit to specifics without running things by her boss, she seemed receptive to both the legislation and getting Kerry's office to call the CDC. And in the blink of an eye, we were shaking hands and exchanging business cards and then off to our next appointment.

We arrived at Senator Brown's office with just minutes to spare, after getting to his office in the Rayburn Building only to find out he had moved to the Dirken Building. We sat down with Brown's Health LA who was surprisingly receptive (despite Brown's track record with wanting to pare down the Massachusetts healthcare mandates- including infertility- back in 2009). She asked great questions and Lee was able to talk about how the Infertility Tax Credit would be a huge relief to military families, as TriCare (the military health plan) only provides discounted infertility treatment coverage at only four centers in the entire country. And then, as Theresa was explaining the part about the CDC...

Remember, Scott Brown: babies grow up to be future voters!
When in walks Senator Scott Brown himself. I literally could only mumble out "It's an honor to meet you" as I shook his hand and I probably could have caught flies in my mouth it was handing so wide open. "How about a picture?" he suggested, and we lined up and Scott Brown put his arm around my shoulder. Just as quick as he popped in he was out and I felt like was a starstruck teen giddy at meeting her dreamboat idol. Let me be clear: he's hardly my dreamboat idol, but he's still good looking whether I agree with his politics or not and he's still basically a political celebrity. Thank goodness our group was followed by RESOLVE's professional photographer, who snapped up a ton of pics of our group with Scott Brown.

The afternoon was spent meeting with our House representatives. Our group had scheduled appointments with Rep. Ed Markey, Rep. Barney Frank, and Rep. Nikki Tsongas. Each appointment went very well: each office was committed to calling the CDC and wanted us to send them the Infertility Tax Credit bill language asap for review. I had registered late so I didn't have a scheduled appointment with my Represenative, Rep. John Tierney, but our group agreed to swing by his office to drop off some materials for his Health LA. When we did, I was thrilled when the Health LA agreed to an impromptu meeting. I stepped up to the plate and delivered our whole Advocacy Day schpiel by myself (we had been trading off each of the three issues at each appointment). And then the icing on the cake: Rep. Tierney popped in at the end of our meeting and we got to grab a photo with him.

And suddenly, it was 3pm, all of our appointments were done, and it was time to decompress and grab some snacks at the end of the day debriefing and reception. As the delegates from other states returned, we swapped stories of the day. Alabama and New Jersey seemed to have the best success stories of support from their legislators; the lone delegate from Texas had a tougher time with the day for a variety of reasons: Texas is a huge state for just one volunteer to cover and her legislators aren't exactly supportive of mandated coverage. It made advocating for her cause pretty challenging. All the same: to blogger Hold My Hope, I'm so proud of you for taking on that challenge. Thank you for representing one of the biggest states in the Union by yourself.

Before I knew it, I was hitching a ride to the airport, on a plane and back home by midnight. I was exhausted- physically, mentally, emotionally - but I didn't regret a single second of the day.

When so much is taken away from us as infertility patients – without our choice – going to Capitol Hill gave me a sense of power and purpose in my infertility journey. I have often taken for granted my rights as an American citizen and taking part in Advocacy Day is perhaps one of the truest expressions of what it means to be an American. I had a voice. I was heard. And now, I commit to the work that needs to be done to ensure that my 7.3 million brothers and sisters struggling with infertility are heard too.

I really do believe Risa's words, that this was the most important Advocacy Day we have ever had. I am grateful and thankful to have been a part of the experience. Now, the real work begins: following up with my legislators and building public support for a forthcoming Infertility Tax Credit Bill.

I'm already marking my calendar for next year's Advocacy Day. You better believe I'll be there next year, and the next, and every year after - until we no longer need to advocate for infertility. I truly believe that with the advocacy work we did last week, I hope that's someday soon.

Me & RESOLVE Board Member Lee Rubin Collins.

May 4, 2011

Gearing Up for Advocacy Day

I've got the shoes - slip-on heels that are uber-comfy. And there's a backup pair of flip flops in my shoulder bag just in case. That's been the #1 piece of advice I've gotten from all of the other bloggers I've asked who have participated in Advocacy Day: make sure you have comfortable shoes.

I'm so. freaking. excited. for tomorrow. After work today, I hop onto a flight down to DC amd then starting bright and early at 7:30am tomorrow, Advocacy Day begins with on-site registration and breakfast. We train from 8am to about 10am, and then it's off to the Senate Office Building. I was thrilled to read on Friday's Advocacy Day update email that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) will speak to our group at 9am before we head out! Rep. Schultz was one of the 20 co-sponsors of the Family Building Act of 2009 and is a vocal supporter of the infertility community. She spoke with members of RESOLVE in support of our community at a Congressional briefing on infertility last April. I am ver yexcited to hear her speak.

I'm nervous about tomorrow.

The other folks I've talked to have all assurred me there's really no reason to be nervous. Larry said it best to me last night, "What's the worst that could happen? They say to you, 'Thanks for sharing your story with me?'" He raises a very salient argument there. But I can't help it; I'm still nervous. Maybe it's more nervous excitement. I know I'll be in the company of over 100 people representing 18 states who will be doing the exact same thing: meeting with legislators and/or their staffers, advocating for infertility awareness and some key action items. And it's not like we'll be unprepared: we have plenty of materials we've been given over the last few weeks, there are resources online, and we'll be getting that last-minute training rally first thing tomorrow morning.

Still... I'm nervous :)

I'll also be really candid here: this whole OBL thing? Makes me nervous about retaliation. As much as I think it's important to release the photos eventually, I'm just praying the White House doesn't decide to drop those today or tomorrow. Like, seriously folks? Can you just wait until the weekend for that? Please? Thanks. It's been a few years since I lived in the DC area, but even when we still had the colored terror threat system, I know how the region gets in times of increased security. I had to put this (slightly irrational) fear out there: name it, own it, and realize that there's not really a whole helluva lot I can do about it.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking with folks on Capitol Hill about three key issues:
  1. Infertility is a disease. I know it seems like such a no-brainer to all of us. Yet, even though WHO and ASRM define infertility as a disease, we haven't gotten that yet from the CDC. More on that further below.
  2. Getting support for a possible Family Tax Credit Bill. Similar to the Adoption Tax Credit, a bill has been drafted (but not proposed officially) that would offer infertility patients a credit of their infertility-related out-of-pocket expenses. It would certainly supplement folks like me who live in a mandated state, but would be a tremendous help to the 35 other states with no infertility mandate. As I will be meeting with Senator Kerry's staff, you better believe I will close the deal on asking him to originate the bill rather that just co-sponsoring, as he's on both the Senate Finance Committee and its Healthcare subcommittee.
  3. Asking our legislators to follow-up with the CDC to inquire about the status of last year's National Action Plan for Infertility. This was a huge step forward for our community: the CDC last year committed to researching and funding a National Action Plan for "an emerging public health priority." (That's how the CDC refers infertility - not as a disease. You can see why issue #1 is important to discuss with legislators.) However, all work has stopped on the Action Plan. We want to get our legislators to commit to pushing the CDC to move forward with their work or to at the very least, find out why work has stopped.
Throw in the mix some highlights of our journey- like the fact that despite the fact that I live in a state that leads the nation in mandated coverage, we're still looking at $15-20K out of pocket - my effervescent charm, and hopefully, a little luck - it looks like it's going to be one amazing day.

I also want to give a very public shout out to both Melissa from Stirrup Queens and Julie from A Little Pregnant: when I asked each of them, they were both very kind to give me some fantastic advice about what to expect tomorrow. They've both really taken a lot of the edge off of the nervousness.

I'll be updating throughout the day on Twitter, so if you're not already following me @miriamshope, that will be the place to read about all of my adventures on Capitol Hill tomorrow. I will of course have a huge update post on Friday with pictures, reflections, and maybe a little video. We'll see how much I can cram in tomorrow and how fast I can edit any footage.

So with that folks, I'm off. If you're going to DC, look for the gal in the dark teal blue shirt and dark grey pants; I'll be wearing a yellow RESOLVE bracelet too. Feel free to come over and say hi - I love to meet folks IRL. For those on the blogosphere, read about my exploits on Twitter tomorrow. And to all: come back Friday and read the recap.

Oh, and wish me luck :)

May 2, 2011

Nat'l Infertility Awareness Week 2011 Highlight Reel

It's hard to believe that National Infertility Awareness Week is already over. What an incredible week it was! I got to meet so many new people and be exposed to so many more blogs and resources out there... it was really just a phenomenal experience. I can't believe how much more involved I was this year and I have to say, it felt great to make those connections to and to offer that kind of support to others.

After such a whirlwind week, I wanted to share some of those moments, blog posts, and other goodies around the web that stood out for me this week. I present to you my personal Highlight Reel for NIAW 2011:

The Blogosphere
Twitter
Other Media

...Now what?
Just because National Infertility Awareness Week is over, it doesn't mean the work is done. The next big thing is Advocacy Day this Thursday. Believe it or not, there is still time to sign up. There are over 100 participants and at least 18 states represented... and there's room for more! Find out how you can participate in Advocacy Day either in DC or in your home state. I'll be going to DC for my very first Advocacy Day; I'm so excited! If you're going, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.

What other awesome things did you come across on the web this week? Share your resources and great NIAW finds in the comments!

April 28, 2011

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day: A Real Woman's Story

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day is one week from today on Thursday, May 5th and there's still time to sign up and participate. It might seem intimidating and overwhelming to head to our nation's capitol to speak to legislators about our needs as a community, but it can be a powerful, incredible experience for those who participate. I'll be heading down to D.C. Wednesday night to join RESOLVE in advocating on the Hill for infertility awareness a week from today. I'm a newbie to Advocacy Day too, so I wanted to share one woman's story to show you that yes, someone just like you or me can participate in Advocacy Day, with no prior experience with legislators at all.

Folks, meet Susan. You may know her as Donor Diva:


She's the proud mama to a darling boy, a fellow POF-er, and a blogger just like you and me who took the leap and participated in RESOLVE's Advocacy Day in 2009. I asked Susan to talk about her experience with RESOLVE and to tell us what the day was like.

Why did you decide to participate in Advocacy Day? 
My friend and I were both in the middle of our 2ww after our DE cycles. She suggested that we go down to DC for advocacy as a distraction. I live in Maryland so it was easy to get there.

How were you feeling about the day leading up to it? 
I was most nervous about talking with the Congressman and Senators. I was most excited about helping the infertility community. There are so many people in the infertility community that helped me I wanted to help also. RESOLVE provides you with support beforehand. They did a conference call, had papers for you to read through, and did training the morning before meetings. As long as you do your prep you will be ready to go.

Tell us what the Advocacy Day itself was like.  
My friends and I Metro-ed down to DC (we live in MD). When we arrived, we were greeted by many smiling faces. The first part of the morning was spent prepping us for our meetings and also hearing stories about peoples' journeys through infertility.

For me, the meetings were in a great progression. It started off with a big group and my last meeting was just me and one other person. It gave me a chance to warm up and gradually feel more confident. It was very exhilarating to actually speak to the Aides and have them understand our position.

It was hard for me to stay calm since this was the first time for me to do something like this. What helped was knowing that I wasn't the only one meeting with them. Also, you aren't meeting with the actually congressman/women or senator you are meeting with their aid. Also, that we were doing this for a great cause. My proudest moment was talking with other participants of advocacy day.

At the end of the day, how did you feel? 
Exhausted!

Any advice you would give to folks going to DC for the first time this year? 
Prepare yourself and read EVERYTHING that RESOLVE provides you with. This way you will be confident in all of you meetings. If you are passionate about infertility then you should go. There were several states not represented when I went and the only way we are going to make change is by getting as many people as possible involved.

Thanks Susan, for sharing your story. I hope your positive experience will inspire others to follow in your footsteps and continue the grassroots advocacy work for the infertility community on Capitol Hill. I know it's certainly made me very excited to take part a week from today!

Worried about making it down to DC? No problem! RESOLVE can prepare you to talk with your local legislators in your own home districts. I wanted to give a special shout-out to Whitney, who had an amazing experience this week meeting with legislators in her home state. Not only did she meet with her legislators, give them plenty of facts, but she actually got their support to co-sponsor a forthcoming infertility tax credit bill. Another real person, another blogger just like you and me - and she's advocated in a huge way for our community.

It is especially critical for constituents from the following states to attend, as you would meet with key members of Congress who could help us in getting the infertility tax credit bill to succeed:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

Have you participated in Advocacy Day before? Sound off in the comments and share your experience with us!

If you still have questions about the day and how you can participate, what to expect - even what to wear - check out the comprehensive Advocacy Day FAQ online.

Will you join me in DC this year for Advocacy Day? 

April 27, 2011

Dispatches from My Better Half: A Guest Post by My Husband

While I'm happy to take the microphone and do all the talking, I'm stepping off the stage today to shine some light on someone who deserves just as much attention and credit: my fantastic husband, Larry. I'm blessed to have found my soulmate and to have someone who dives head and heart-first into our family-building adventures with me. I hope you'll enjoy his unique take on things as the "elusive male point of view."

. . .

For a long time, Keiko’s been asking me to write a guest post and for a long time – thanks to my unabashed sense of procrastination – I haven’t. I haven’t really known what to say. Keiko has built herself quite the readership and become a fairly prominent fixture in the infertility community. I, like many husbands in our situation, have hung back. I’ve been here to provide my unconditional love and support, but I’ve never felt it was my place to speak out. It wasn’t my body that was having havoc wreaked on it and it wasn’t my body by which I felt betrayed.

I have to say, in some ways, I think Keiko’s diagnosis was, to be cliché, a blessing in disguise. Keiko has always been the one on my arm for business events and at various other gatherings of my peers where the attendance of a spouse who knows no one is absolutely required. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the past year to be on the other side of that coin. When we go to an event for RESOLVE or anything regarding the infertility community, Keiko is the one who is in the spotlight, she is the one who is recognized for the hard work she does for this community and I’m the one on her arm. And although I know the only reason she’s even here is because of a condition she never asked for or wanted, she’s been able to turn that pain into motivation and a directed sense of purpose that I’ve never seen in her before... and for that I’m thankful. She asked me to write about my feelings regarding our whole situation, this curveball that neither of us ever expected. It’s hard to sum that up into a few paragraphs, but her strength through the whole thing has been absolutely inspiring.

When we were at the RESOLVE of New England conference last November, Keiko asked me to attend a session that was specifically for husbands of women who couldn’t conceive on their own. I agreed, begrudgingly, because you know, I’m a man. I don’t need any of that stuff. But I came out of it with two very interesting insights.

First was that I wasn’t alone in my philosophy about the whole situation. From the very beginning, I’ve always told Keiko that to me it didn’t matter how we had a family as long as we had one, and no one could stop us from doing that. I don’t care if a child is 100% genetically ours, 50%, or 0%. Genetics only get you so far in life, and to be honest, between the two of us there are plenty that don’t need to get passed on. What really matters is imparting the knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom of my vast 29 years.

Having a family isn’t about a kid who has my hair (which is receding anyway, thanks to my genes); it’s about raising a child with our values and teaching them to have their own. To my surprise, most of the other guys in the group felt the same way. What’s important is the end result: being a family. I’ve felt that way since day one. So while I feel for Keiko with every cell in my body, her condition has never negatively affected my image of her, because regardless of how it happens we’ll always be able to have that family one way or another. And it will never affect her ability to be the wonderful mother I know she’ll be.

The second thing I came away from that group with was slightly more science-y. The guy who ran the session had done vast amounts of research on the emotional toll this situation takes on the husband. He’s found on average men lag about 3 years behind women in terms of emotional response. Now I don’t think that in a year I’m going to be sitting at my desk one minute and bawling the next. That’s just not how I operate. I bring it up though in hopes that some husbands and wives out there may take some solace in the idea that you may not be responding the same way as the other all the time; just because he’s not there crying next to you doesn’t mean or imply that he’s any less affected or that he doesn’t care. We just run on different timelines. It has never been a factor in my level of support for Keiko. My brain just processes the whole thing a little bit differently.

I don’t really know how to end this. I’ve done my fair share of writing, but never on something that’s so personal. I usually wrap up my articles with a succinct piece of poignant advice, but that doesn’t seem so apropos here. So I’ll just say that I hope a point of view from the other side was a little bit helpful and gives just a peek into what may be going on in the mind of those who care for you the most.

April 25, 2011

What IF: One Year Later

365 days.

33,760 plays.

359,858 loads.

I can't believe it's been a year since I released my What IF video.

So much has happened in the past year that's it's crazy to think it's only been just a year; in other ways, it feels like it was just yesterday; I still remember going out for sushi with friends of ours after filming on the Common.

I had posted a follow-up post two months after the video, and so much had happened even just in those first two months. In the remaining ten, even more amazing opportunities and connections have been made. I made connections with so many professionals and colleagues and bloggers in this field. I gave my first interview talking about the experience of making the film in a piece for Tablet Magazine in August. I was awarded the Hope Award for Best Viral Video at RESOLVE's Night of Hope in September. In November I attended the RESOLVE of New England Annual Conference as a Board member and volunteer instead of a regular attendee, and it was a phenomenal experience. In December, we went on a much-needed cruise. With the new year, I came even more into my own strength and voice: in January, I took aim at the media and the following month, I had a thing or two to say to many of our legislators. In March, with the (now unsuccessful) attempt to bring mandated infertility insurance coverage to Maine, I stood up to the bevy of critics against mandated coverage.

And then this April has just kind of exploded: another interview, this time for my alumni magazine; an appearance on The Surrogacy Lawyer show; and of course, "that whole thing with PETA."

This is everything that's happened as related to my video and blog; I'm not even counting all the other things like buying our house, having a house fire, getting a second opinion, etc. It's been a pretty whirlwind year.

Yet like I said, I still remember the day I made the film with my husband like it was yesterday. The weather was gorgeous (unlike today's rather dreary weather). Our apartment was a mess, but it was shot deliberately so you couldn't tell. I still remember the funny looks from people as I wrote one of the questions with sidewalk chalk, word by word, then stopped and took a picture after writing each word. I remember the random couple who came up and asked us, "what are you doing?" as I stood there with my whiteboard in hand.

"I'm making an awareness video for infertility," I said proudly. They gave me a "oh, isn't that nice" kind of look and walked away.

I remember futzing with iMovie for close to 8 hours straight trying to edit the damn thing, thinking, "If it was a bajillion dollars, I bet this would be infinitely easier in Final Cut Pro."

And I remember hitting "Upload" on Vimeo and "Publish" here on Blogger and thinking my 29 blog followers at the time would be the only people to see the video, the only people to learn my real identity. How wrong I was.

The original post with the video has now 174 comments. Within the first few months, I received hundreds of emails from people who had seen the video: thanking me, telling me their stories and their struggles with infertility, often for the first time with someone beyond their partners. Even a year later, I still get at least an email a week from a viewer, or a mention tweet or direct message on Twitter, or a sporadic comment on the original post. In the last couple of days alone, I've had over 300 plays. The video just keeps going.

In some ways, it's kind of weird to think about this legacy that I've left for myself on the internet, because as we all know, there is no permanent delete online. Who knows what the landscape of the web will look like in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years even - but my little five-minute video will still chug along in some way, I bet.

It's a video, a project, and an accomplishment of mine I can't wait to show my children some day.

With all that, I just want to say thank you to everyone who's watched it, shared it, and blogged about it. And I want to thank RESOLVE again and to remind everyone that it's National Infertility Awareness Week. NIAW has been the launching point for shaping how I have chosen to cope with my infertility. It's influenced my commitment to giving back to the infertility community. NIAW fuels me to keep doing this work, to find new and creative ways to raise awareness for our disease and our causes.

I only ever made this video in the first place because the NIAW the year before gave me enough confidence to be brave enough to share my real name and face to my story.

I hope that National Infertility Awareness Week can inspire you the same way this year.