Like Wildfire: Raising Awareness for Infertility
By KeikoZoll on April 27, 2010
When I started snapping away pictures early Saturday morning, I had no idea they'd be seen by thousands. I'm not writing about the latest Facebook photo snafu or political scandal. I'm writing about a very personal project that has exploded quite literally overnight, and I am left reeling- humbled, grateful, and amazed- in its wake.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. RESOLVE, in conjunction with Melissa Ford of Stirrup Queens and regular blogger here on BlogHer, put together #ProjectIF - a collaborative project for the Adoption/Loss/Infertility blogging community. The initial response to the project was overwhelming. Melissa put out the call for folks to submit questions asking "What IF...?" in regards to infertility. The spectrum of vulnerability, pain, and grief reflected in the 500+ questions submitted is raw, visceral, and haunting. Phase two encouraged bloggers to pick a question from a selected list and to answer that question in any way they saw fit. I chose to answer this call for projects with a video response. The process was simple: idea, storyboard, script, shooting, editing. I posted it Sunday night, expecting just a few comments from my regular readers.
In the last 48 hours, my video has received over 1,000 views. It's been tweeted, shared on Facebook, reposted on blogs, it's getting Digged... this very personal video project has now ballooned into something much bigger than me. In my video, I very publicly "out" myself from the IF closet. I put my real name, my real face, and my very real story out there. I'm getting emails and comments from around the globe. I just got my 100th follower on Twitter. I've been contacted by RESOLVE. The response is simply overwhelming. What I thought would be just another simple post from my little small corner of the internet has become a spark in a wildfire of advocacy.
Last year, when I wrote about advocating for infertility during NIAW, I posted about living with infertility on Facebook. I was newly diagnosed and still making sense of everything. I retracted my status post, only to repost it later when three people I haven't talked to in years privately thanked me for posting about my struggle with infertility on Facebook. They were not in a position to be vocal themselves, but were so grateful that I was. That's when I realized the sheer power to be found in sharing not just our stories, but our names, our faces, our voices.
All I want for this video is to inspire those struggling with IF, or who know someone who is struggling with IF, to take action, to reclaim their dignity, to redefine themselves and not to lose sight of what's important. My goal for National Infertility Awareness Week was simply that: to raise awareness. As I watch the view count climb exponentially higher with each passing hour, I realize: I've met my goal. And now my video is taking on a life of its own. This is very daunting territory for me: I've essentially made myself a spokesperson for something quite private. But I suppose I knew those risks when I decided to attach my name and face to my video, and that's what makes it compelling.
I am a very real person living with infertility. It is not easy, but it is what it is, and I'm making the best of it the best way I know how: I can't give up. I can't lose hope.
And I am going to keep spreading this wildfire of infertility advocacy and awareness... because it's time that we finally bring the subject of infertility out of the darkness.
What IF my video can help erase some of the stigma surrounding infertility, and give a voice to millions who may be otherwise silent?
Keiko Zoll has been writing by the pseudonym Miriam for the past year and a half, but will be hiding behind her nom de plume no longer. Living and working in Boston, MA, she is a fierce advocate for infertility awareness and research. Her "What IF? A Portrait of Infertility" video can be seen at her blog, Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed.