April 22- 28, 2012, is National Infertility Awareness Week. It is a time to speak up, to share our journeys and educate others about infertility. A time to increase our advocacy on the issues facing those with infertility. A time to raise the volume on the voice of the infertility community and ensure that we are not forgotten or ignored.
All over the country so many of us have participated in NIAW by organizing and participating in fundraisers, sharing infertility information online and writing blog posts dedicated to raising awareness. For many, NIAW also marks their "coming out" as many of us choose this week to open up about our private struggles and share with our friends and family what we have been up against. I myself, shared my journey publicly for the first time during NIAW just two years ago. It is an inspirational week and the advocacy and awareness that takes place is incredible. There are so many big things happening this week and it's important to talk about them, to share them and cheer for them. But in doing so we must be sure not to ignore the smaller steps being taken as well.
You may not know this from reading my blog, which is focused on my personal journey rather than the broad scope of infertility, but I am passionate about advocacy and I very often feel guilty for not doing enough. I feel guilty for not fundraising, for not blogging enough, for not writing enough letters to my politicians, for not networking and supporting the community as much as I want to. Maybe you feel this way too. Maybe you haven't donated or written a blog post this week. Maybe you don't feel ready to publicly share your journey on Facebook or open yourself up to family and friends. Maybe you had never even heard of NIAW until now. But that doesn't mean you can't get involved in whatever way you are comfortable with, no matter how big or small. Don't ignore that even the smallest of actions can have a big impact.
Advocacy can often feel like embarking on a perilous climb up a steep mountain. The goal often feels insurmountably high and the steps to get there immeasurably large. It is often intimidating to even think about facing that huge hurdle, but don't ignore the baby steps. Don't ignore that donating just one dollar to an organization like RESOLVE can provide vital funding to a program that supports the 7.3 million women and men in this country dealing with infertility. Don't ignore that sharing just one simple fact about infertility can open someone's eyes to the reality of the disease. Don't ignore that just one phone call to your local representative can impact public policy that affects family building options. Don't ignore that even an anonymous blog post can comfort someone who thought they were alone with their struggle and can also provide you with an emotional outlet in the process. Don't ignore the possibility that someone close to you is suffering in silence and by sharing your journey, you may both find solace. Don't ignore that even just one kind word to someone who feels alone, one virtual hug to someone who is hurting, one supportive comment to someone who feels lost can make all the difference for them.And don't ignore that the end of NIAW today, doesn't mean the end of opportunities to raise awareness or show your support. Advocacy can be big or small and it can happen every day of the year.
Don't ignore infertility. Don't ignore its effects. And most importantly don't ignore yourself or the positive impact you can have on the infertility community every little step at a time.
For more information about infertility, National Infertility Awareness Week, and ways you can get involved visit:
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)