These past two weeks been a whirlwind! New exhibit and workshop dates are currently being planned for the project, we hosted our workshop and exhibit at Busboys & Poets in DC, we met with our MI legislators to discuss infertility legislation, we gathered new infertility stories for the project, plus we successfully met our Kickstarter goal! Thank you for all who supported us, both financially and those who continue to publicly support and share information about the project. Liz and I continue to pinch ourselves in amazement about how the project has evolved over this past year.
Many of you may not know that Liz and I first met during this time last year at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day. We bonded over our infertility stories, experiences leading RESOLVE peer-led support groups, and our passion and interest in the arts as a heuristic for infertility healing. Our friendship has blossomed over the past year, incorporating many of these shared interests and our professional backgrounds into the project.
So while I reflect on our time spent in DC last week, I think about how Advocacy Day brought the two of us together and really helped to shape the project into a national infertility oral history and art exhibit. This year, Advocacy Day continues to serve as a fruitful day connecting hundreds of infertile women and men. Liz and I were lucky enough to spend time with a few of these individuals by inviting a few women to participate in a “mini” interview session for the project.
Here we met Jo and Brooke. Two empowering, positive, strong, and courageous women. Talking with them and learning about their artifacts (Jo, a tatoo; Brooke, a quilt) that they choose to share with the project, I was struck in the moment of interviewing each of them that this is why I come to Advocacy Day. This is why I tell my story to Congress. This is why I believe that infertility should become recognized as a national public health issue. These women. Sitting before me. Telling me their stories. They inspire me and remind me that I’m not alone. That our infertility stories matter. That together as an infertile community, we are strong, we are powerful, we can change the cultural stigmas that are attached to infertility. I want to thank Jo and Brooke for agreeing to share their stories (shown below). I hope that others will find them equally inspiring and empowering.
I’m in awe every time I sit down to interview an individual or family about their experience with infertility. Since starting the project, I’ve completed around 70 interviews and they never fail to remind me of the passion and desire that those with infertility have for building their (our) families and what they are willing to do to make that happen, whether they end up parenting, or choosing to be a family of two and live child free.
Sadly, because of the lack of the acknowledgment of infertility as a public health concern (even though it is recognized as such by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and insurance coverage for this disease; many endure years of treatment, and pay for most, if not all of it, out of pocket. That’s why I choose to advocate for legislation that will help those with infertility build their families.
An important part of that is sharing my story, and, through the ART of IF, I’ve had the honor and privilege of documenting and sharing the stories of others as well. It’s been an important part of being able to process my feelings about my disease and I find it amazing that I’m able to help others do that too. During our time in D.C., Maria and I were able to sit down with seven amazing women, Tomiko, Brooke, Angela, Katie, Jo, Annie, and Renee, and hear a bit of their stories. Thank you all for letting us in to your lives and journeys!
Meeting with my state and local representatives at Advocacy Day made me realize what an incredible tool the project could be for sharing the importance of the issues we were presenting (you can find a list of those issues and bills at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s website by clicking here) and I’m excited about ways we can do outreach through the project to help make a difference on both a state and federal level.
Brooke tells us why she wanted to participate in the ART of Infertility project.
Brooke shares reflections on her infertility diagnosis and decision to live child free.
“My husband and I are five years into our experience with infertility, and chose a childfree lifestyle as our resolution. I’ve always been crafty and took solace in creative hobbies. When my sister announced her pregnancy in November 2013, I struggled a lot emotionally. The second I laid eyes on my nephew, I fell in love with him and wanted to give him the world. I had a strong urge to carry on my late grandmother’s tradition of gifting new babies with her handmade quilts. My nephew received my first quilt, and I’ve finished 6 others since September 2014. This quilt is the fifth I started, and was used as a prop in the photo session my husband and I did to celebrate of fifth wedding anniversary.”
Brooke’s advice for others who have been diagnosed with infertility.
Jo shares with us why she wanted to participate in the ART of Infertility project.
Jo’s diagnosis includes diminished ovarian reserve and cysts, while her husband has male factor infertility due to a previous vasectomy. Here, she explains more.
After many cycles of both IUI and IVF, Jo has never been pregnant. Listen to the two clips below to hear about her treatment and how she has had to pay for them out-of-pocket since she has run out of insurance coverage.
Recently, Jo got a tattoo to honor her journey and has a sort of prayer, or spell, for her next upcoming IVF to work. Listen to her talk more about the reasons why she chose this image. If you’d like to learn more about the tattoo artist, you can check out her website. http://www.judeletronik.com