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NIAW: Say Something

Three years ago, I started the Bloggers Unite project with Resolve for NIAW — National Infertility Awareness Week.  It came out of a conversation I had with Barb Collura in New York about a blogging project another non-profit had done.  They’re talking about their issue; why aren’t we talking about ours?  I mean, yes, of course as bloggers we were talking about infertility, but I meant in an organized, saturated way.  So we ran with it and planned the project at a Starbucks meeting or two.  And it’s great, this week where we have people speaking collectively about infertility.

And it’s also terrible when you have nothing to say about infertility.  I feel — personally — a lot of pressure to participate because it’s an idea I believe in; the power of words to change public thought.  But there are times when I have a lot to say about infertility such as during coverage of Dr. Robert G. Edwards death, and other times when I have nothing to say about infertility that hasn’t already been said before a dozen times in my archives.

So I wasn’t going to participate this year beyond liking other people’s Facebook status updates or highlighting posts in the Friday Blog Roundup.

And then I read Sarah Dopp’s post about the Boston Marathon called “We Used to Speak in Essays.”  She points out the important work we can do on our blogs, work that really isn’t conducive to other forms of social media.  Blogs give us space to stretch out, to speak with circumspect, to try to change minds one brain at a time.  Instead of throwing out a bomb of words on Facebook or Twitter and seeing what happens, blogging is about carefully constructing an argument that builds up understanding.

Broadcasting distilled, emotional battle cries without background context to our entire Rolodexes is further polarizing us as a community. And aren’t we polarized enough as it is?

I want us to speak in essays again, to connect compassionately over our differences, to listen, to be respectful, and to learn from each other. The fact that our audience has broadened to everyone we’ve ever met makes it that much more important to be real, human, and long-form about where we’re coming from and why we feel the way we do.

I’m writing this on a blog that I haven’t contributed to in a year, because Facebook was easier. Speaking in essays is hard work.

But what if we tried?

What if we tried?  What if?  That was, after all, the first theme of Bloggers Unite.


As I stated last year, every week is infertility awareness week for me.  And the same thoughts that I had last year are in my brain this year:

Every week is Infertility Awareness Week in my world.  I don’t have weeks where I’m not aware of infertility; where it fades into the background.  It is still something that I think about on a weekly (if not daily) basis.  Maybe I’ll feel differently down the road and will be grateful for this yearly kick in the ass to talk about infertility.  But right now, it’s still the lens through which I see the world.  It is so present that it is like a third person at our table having coffee with us, someone tangible who can turn my head and point my eyes towards a toddler boy hiding behind his father’s legs.

But this week is NIAW — National Infertility Awareness Week — and we are asked to write about infertility; even if we have spent the whole year writing about infertility.  Some years, it is exactly what I need.  The awareness week almost serves to recharge me.  And then you have years like this year where through no fault of its own, I am not feeling the energy.  Though the theme is a very apt Don’t Ignore.  And I can’t ignore NIAW even if my heart isn’t feeling it this year.

Because I owe it to everyone who is affected by infertility to speak about it as best I can.  Because I am comfortable speaking about it (whereas I know that many people are not, and I don’t fault them for that).  Because I agree with Resolve — no good can come if we’re going to ignore the problem; the problem being not just infertility itself but how the world perceives infertility and family building options.

I can’t think of a problem that has been solved by not talking about it.  By not slogging through it with words.  Seriously, name me one.

But then I read Sarah Dopp’s post about speaking in essays, and I realized that I needed to write mine.  I needed to do more than hit “like” or leave a comment.  I needed to participate in putting good ideas out there.

Maybe my role isn’t to say something.  Maybe my part is to encourage you to say something.  And by you, I mean everyone who is reading this right now who is wondering if their small voice really has the potential to change another person’s mind and bring awareness.  The answer, of course, is yes.

So say something.

And if you are posting about NIAW, leave a comment below with a link to the post so we can round them all up, show the power of numbers, and celebrate the idea of speaking in essays.

Other Posts for NIAW

  1. An Unwanted Path
  2. Inconceivable!
  3. One Step at a Time
  4. My Cheap Version of Therapy
  5. From IF to When
  6. Searching for Our Silver Lining
  7. Bereaved and Blessed
  8. Shutterbug Wife
  9. Not When, But IF
  10. Battlefish
  11. The Adventures of an Infertile Myrtle
  12. Beyond the Parentheses
  13. The Loveliest Way
  14. Mommyhood After Fertility Frustration
  15. Brownies and Onion Dip
  16. Silent Sorority
  17. The Great Big IF
  18. From Wine to Whine
  19. Our Misconception
  20. Stupid Stork
  21. Wonderfully Ordinary
  22. Are You Kidding Me?
  23. If You Don’t Stand for Something
  24. My Journey Through Infertility, Pregnancy, and Loss
  25. An Engineer Becomes a Mom
  26. My Preconceived Notion
  27. Something Beautiful
  28. Actual Jenny


1 Another Dreamer { 04.23.13 at 7:57 am }

I posted this: http://anunwantedpath.blogspot.com/2013/04/niaw.html

I’m only posting the one post this year, but I am posting a lot on FB. Mostly I try to educate, to show support, because I have many friends going through it and many family who still don’t “get” it.

2 Katherine A { 04.23.13 at 8:49 am }

That is really cool that you started the project!

And I completely agree that every week for those of us with infertility is infertility awareness week.

My blog post for the theme is: http://inconceivable12.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/join-the-movement-stripping-infertility-down/

I do generally feel comfortable speaking up about infertility. I talk openly with friends, family, coworkers, etc, and am very out on this subject. The only reason I blog semi-anonymously is that stuff on the internet can take on a life of its own (particularly regarding real-life employment prospects), and I desperately needed a space where I didn’t have to censor any of it at all. If anyone in real life ever managed to pick me out and asked me though, I’d be happy to claim it. And who knows…maybe someday…

3 Heather { 04.23.13 at 9:23 am }

Wow I didn’t know you started this. My link is: http://onestepatatime.co.za/fertility/join-the-movement/

4 Mic from Life on K Street { 04.23.13 at 9:45 am }

Mel, thank you. Just, thank you.
You are right – for me, and for most of my friends in this community, every day is NIAW. I live my life to create awareness for the disease of infertility. Now in my new role, I realize how important these awareness weeks are to recharge the conversation with those that don’t necessarily live infertility 24/7/365.
Thank you for participating again this year. Thank you.

5 Elana Kahn { 04.23.13 at 10:58 am }

I’m so bad about even knowing when NIAW is! I try so hard to remember back to the days when I was experiencing it myself, and I try even harder not to let my natural pregnancies dilute that experience. I’m really hoping I can get a job at an IVF clinic if I can’t get one on a labor & delivery floor once I finish my nursing degree. I want to give women hope that it can work!

Here from ICLW

6 Josey { 04.23.13 at 11:01 am }
7 Justine { 04.23.13 at 1:12 pm }

I struggled with posting this year. My head is in another space … a bizarrely related space, through a chain of coincidences, but another nonetheless. I’ve been posting pretty much nothing, whether as a result or a side effect or neither, I’m not sure. And yet, maybe I do have something to say.

8 Katie { 04.23.13 at 1:14 pm }

Here is mine: http://www.fromiftowhen.com/2013/04/how-i-joined-movement.html

I know I say this a lot, but thank you, Mel. You have no idea how much I appreciate your leadership in this community. If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I would have kept blogging or continued to stand up and speak out about infertility. You are an inspiration to me.

9 Cristy { 04.23.13 at 3:09 pm }

Thanks for starting all of this, Mel. Simply being able to participate is such cathartic and healing.

Here’s my post: http://searchingforoursilverlining.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movement-find-your-voice.html

10 Becca { 04.23.13 at 3:22 pm }

This is so amazing! Here’s my blog post about coming clean on Facebook yesterday! http://shutterbugwife.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/coming-clean/

11 Kathy { 04.23.13 at 3:30 pm }

Well said, Mel. I agree that long-form/essays matter and are still important. I remember you starting “What If” and participating back then. I have participated every year since. This year, as others have said, I wasn’t feelin’ it at first, but then something shifted yesterday and I sat down and wrote this:


Thank you for compiling this list. I look forward to clicking through to read and comment on the other NIAW posts people share here.

12 NotWhen { 04.23.13 at 3:57 pm }

Thank you for starting this project! I DEVOURED each and every entrant’s posts last year, and found many of my favorite IF blogs through this wonderful challenge. Though it took me a while (and two more miscarriages and more medical setbacks), I credit this campaign with encouraging me to finally share my own voice with the world through my blog.

I just posted my contribution this morning, though have been working on it for a few days now. It can be found at: http://notwhenbutif.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/join-the-movement/

I, like you, struggled with the timing of this call for contributions complicated, and wondered what, if anything, I really had to say. I’m glad I forced the issue. It’s hard for me to talk infertility when we don’t know when or if we’ll be able to try again to have our first child. But, just because I’m sidelined from treatment, doesn’t mean I’m no longer part of the movement. I still have plenty to say! 😉

13 JustHeather { 04.23.13 at 4:05 pm }
14 Laura { 04.23.13 at 4:07 pm }

The first year of the challenge pushed me to come out about my IF by sharing on FB. Now people tell me they look forward to my submission each year.

15 Jamie { 04.23.13 at 4:22 pm }

Well said!!! Thanks for all the work you do to help educate people about infertility and to advocate for others.

16 Stinky { 04.23.13 at 8:35 pm }
17 Brid { 04.23.13 at 10:40 pm }

Thanks Mel,
I started my blog because of you… however, I have failed at keeping posting because of me; I post in my head daily! I never really realised how much people around us didn’t understand what we were going through, or how they assumed some of the so-called options might work for us, until I found your blog and “Navigating the Land of If”. I couldn’t understand how they could be so matter-of-fact, or closed, blunt… does that make sense? Like it wasn’t our hearts or our son’s future that we were discussing.

It’s now been seven years of secondary unexplained infertility, and perhaps my husband, son, and I are the only ones more enlightened or closer by the experience. I don’t know if that can change. I’d love to hear someone who didn’t get it, say that they finally get it, but I never have. And maybe, if somebody else has heard that, then that’s good enough. Maybe you just can’t get it till it happens to you, so how can I fault them for that?

Finally, probably just this year, the fact of every cycle has moved to the back of my mind (that’s partly untruthful, as you know… the quiet child at the table). So, finally, maybe I can let it go for everyone else… because that’s how they made me feel about it. Not that I want to give in to that, but it’s better than the alternative. Sorry about the length, here… I’ll stop now. Maybe I should go back to posting.

xo for everything you’ve done, Mel. You are a ray of hope, a wonderful source of knowledge, and great friend even when you might not have known how much you were, and are, needed.

18 Candace { 04.24.13 at 10:10 am }

That’s amazing that you started this project! This is my first year writing about NIAW, although like so many of us, I’ve been writing and sharing about our infertility for a long time, little by little opening up. You’ve said it perfectly – every week is NIAW for us. Every day, every moment. But I’m grateful for the acknowledged week now – it gives me a little more courage to share in a bigger way than I’m used to.
Here’s my post: Join the Movement

19 Sarah { 04.24.13 at 3:23 pm }

I’m so grateful for you Mel and RESOLVE for NIAW and the Bloggers Unite. It has helped me educate my family, friends, & acquaintances all year long. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community and even though I’m just one person, I can share my story with 100’s. My post for this year is here: http://wp.me/p2GuSm-sm

20 Cherish { 04.24.13 at 8:18 pm }
21 Pamela { 04.25.13 at 3:29 am }
22 Shelby { 04.25.13 at 1:49 pm }

You are the ultimate advocate. Thank you! Your post from last year makes me think of the ‘ghost’ child that you’ve previously blogged about. It’s so true-infertility is like another person existing in my house, or the absence of another, which is just as present. I live NIAW everyday, but it’s so empowering to see this concerted effort in spreading the word.

Here’s my post: http://www.dochaschronicles.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movement.html

23 Mellissa { 04.25.13 at 4:14 pm }

So helpful! My thoughts on Joining the Movement


24 Candace and Chris { 04.25.13 at 5:41 pm }

WOW! To think some coffee, a brilliant idea and an unstoppable drive for the movement you were the brainchild behind this wonderful initiative. This is our first year particpating in the Bloggers Unite Prjoject. I say “our” because our blog is from a his and her perspective in which we write together. Thanks again for all you do, and here is our post for NIAW. http://ourmisconception.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movement-niaw.html

25 Stupid Stork { 04.25.13 at 6:49 pm }
26 Ordinary Girl { 04.25.13 at 9:40 pm }

I have to echo everyone else in saying that I had no idea you helped get this off the ground, but it so makes sense when I stop to think about it. Thank you! Here’s my post: http://wonderfullyordinary.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movementas-parent.html

27 a { 04.25.13 at 10:21 pm }

OK, hold on to your hat…I posted something! It’s only tangentially related to NIAW, but it’s the best I could do. 🙂


28 Kimberly { 04.26.13 at 12:42 am }

A little late to the game this week with my NIAW post but I was having trouble finding the words. So I used that as my prompt to join the movement.


29 cindy { 04.26.13 at 7:24 am }
30 Geochick { 04.26.13 at 10:37 am }
31 Erika B. { 04.26.13 at 3:24 pm }

Thanks for what you do, Mel. So thankful for the community I’ve found via blogging. My NIAW post is here: http://www.mattyerika.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movement.html

32 Erika B. { 04.26.13 at 3:24 pm }

Thanks for what you do, Mel! So thankful for the community I’ve found via blogging. My NIAW post is here: http://www.mattyerika.blogspot.com/2013/04/join-movement.html

33 Jenny { 04.27.13 at 12:22 am }

I was like you this year, Mel. I didn’t intend to write because I didn’t think I had anything new or fresh to add, so I planned to play a supporting role. Then I read. And I read some more. And the more I read, the more I realized I still have things to say about infertility, so I blogged.


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