Breaking the Silence

A woman who didn’t succeed with infertility treatment stands on stage in front of some 350+ people, many of whom were representatives of the infertility industry (very off putting to see so many reps from pharmaceutical companies and clinic staff) to receive an award for her infertility memoir.

How to describe the experience September 28, 2010 in New York at the RESOLVE Night of Hope award ceremony…

Unlikely? Yes, based on the quiet that came when the audience heard what the book related: life in the wake of failed IVF.
Joyful? The opportunity to meet — in person — friends and advocates I only once knew inside my computer.
Ironic? A story that doesn’t end with a baby being honored with a Best Book award by RESOLVE (which now takes money from clinics and pharma companies who profit from selling IVF and drugs associated with treatment.)
Emotional? Getting hugged by a “sister” who introduced herself with tears in her eyes because she’s in the midst of coming to terms with her infertility journey.
Overwhelming? Receiving emails, Tweets, and Facebook comments from a wide-ranging set of family, friends, coworkers and longtime blog readers offering words of encouragement and congratulations.
Intense? The pressure to not screw up at the podium with a live microphone and just 90 seconds to say something meaningful.
Comforting? Feeling my husband’s hand squeeze mine to calm the fit of nerves that had me shaking uncontrollably after I made my remarks, which were first shaped by him after a late lunch discussion. (He then typed up our thoughts and ran to the hotel front desk with a memory stick to print them out so I could finish getting ready).
Satisfying? Knowing that our Silent Sorority was being heard – a watershed moment.

Here’s what I said with a minor stumble here and there:

Thank you. For those of us who belong to the subset of couples for whom treatments don’t succeed, infertility is an especially grueling, isolating experience. While much is discussed about the physical aspects, there is, as many of us have come to know, a far-reaching emotional toll. The genesis of my healing was writing. I first wrote a blog under a pseudonym. I did so because I was ashamed, afraid and both weary and wary of using my real name. That soon changed. I was amazed by the response to my story. I heard from women, and even a few men, from most every state and at least two dozen countries — places as different as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Finland, Slovenia and Nigeria. But to a person we all had one thing in common:an immense relief to find a community where we were understood, where we found true empathy. On behalf of all of the once silent sorority, I am living proof that there is more than one ending to the infertility story. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my husband who stood by me through it all with patience and support.

I began and ended my evening raising a glass in honor of you — those who helped bring me to the stage in the first place. As always, thank you…

READ  Getting Ready for Prime Time

Pamela Tsigdinos

Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.

  1. Barb

    A perfect 90 seconds worth. And you look fabulous. (actually you’re a little too far away to really look at in that picture) but I know that you look fabulous.

    Congratulations once again. And all the thanks go to you. Just yesterday I flicked one of your recent interviews off to some family members ….. you know….. for their interest…

    It was a great feeling to have someone speak to them on my behalf in such a thoughtful tempered way.

    Yah. and Yah again

  2. Erica

    Pammie,
    I am so proud of you. I so wish I could have been there. I did go last year. I think it is amazing that you are breaking down barriers. I hope that all of this continues to help you see your path in life. I commend you for taking your pain and helping to heal others.

  3. Sue

    Congratulations, Pamela. The award is so well deserved. I am almost finished with your book and I am in the midst of coming to terms as well. I truly wish I could have been there in person to thank you and hug you as well. Thank you for your compassion and strength, and for being a voice for all who suffer in silence.

  4. MLO

    No one is more deserving of this award. You have taken on the troll army of non-understanding and are still standing. Many would have shrunk back into their own enclave to never be heard from again. Instead, you have bravely proclaimed:

    “I’m here! So are my sisters! We exist, we are in pain, but we will move forward and continue to live the life we have to the fullest we can!”

    This is more than some of us can do at any given time.

  5. Pamela

    MLO: You were there from the beginning. You propped me up and gave me the courage to move forward and continue speaking out on more than one day when all I wanted to do was turn back and hide. I’ll never forget the words of encouragement you offered after reading a draft of Silent Sorority. You share this award with me in more ways than one…

  6. Lisa Manterfield

    I got goosebumps reading this! Well done you!! Your speech was perfectly eloquent and I hope it got a resounding round of applause. Did you get something pretty for your mantelpiece?

  7. Christina

    Wonderful, concise words. Thank you for being our spokesperson. Not everyone has the guts and wherewithal to stand up and speak the truth; thanks for speaking for those of us who, for whatever reason, can’t.

  8. Pamela

    Glad you felt that way, Barb! I wish I could have shared a glass of wine with you in person…let’s make that happen one day — whether in Australia or California wine country…okay?

  9. Pamela

    Thanks, Lisa! I was so nervous about not falling off the stage carrying a heavy crystal vase that I’m not sure what was going on in the room, and Alex wasn’t prepared to have the room turn around and look at him when I ad libbed … so we were both dazed by the moment. p.s.  I can’t wait to read your book…

  10. Deathstar

    You know when I read your speech, it brought tears to my eyes as I recalled connecting with you. I remembered how you encouraged me to start my own blog. I looked forward to every post you wrote – because you just truly understood and expressed so well what I (and others) were going through. I couldn’t believe you had the nerve to actually write a book – and I was so grateful and proud that you did.

  11. Bea

    I am catching up on a long backlog of posts here, so I don’t think I’ve yet said “congratulations!”. Definitely a good moment. And your words were well put and, I’m sure, well said, too.

    Bea

  12. Baby Bump Bound

    I was there, I saw you and heard you and I think you are amazing! Thank you for being such a beautifully strong and steady voice for all of us!

  13. Mali

    Congratulations. I’ve only just discovered you blog, and your book, which I bought and downloaded and read to 1.00 am this morning. I’m now seven years on from learning I would never have children,and I wish I had had your blog then to help me through it. I had wonderful internet friends but in a different field – ectopic pregnancy – and one in which most women go on to have children, so my journey was out of the ordinary even there. But in your book, so much of your experience was the same as mine – the depression after, the feelings of failure, and the determination not to be defined by my infertility – it was as if you had written my story. Thank you.

  14. Pamela

    Dear Mali,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read Silent Sorority and to share your thoughts. It warms my heart to know that women with our experience can connect across the continents in such a deep and understanding way. Wishing you continued strength, peace and happiness….

  15. michelle

    I just discovered your book and blog yesterday and am so happy i am not alone. i ordered the book, but haven’t received it yet but can’t wait to read it. Just from the bits and pieces i read, it sounds similar to my story, and am so glad there is a place for people like me out there….

  16. Pamela

    Dear Michelle,
    You have definitely found a welcoming home. The women who visit, share and comment here are always ready to lend a warm hug and an open heart.

  17. Here's Why You Don't Have To Be A Mom To Be A Loving Woman - Silent Sorority

    […] There I was amid an unusual mix of a few celebrities, fertility industry sales people, clinicians, health advocates and RESOLVE representatives. In my acceptance speech I managed to hush a room of 300+ people by declaring that there is more than one ending to the infertility story. I recall my words took people by surprise. They were accustomed to hearing only from those sharing stories of motherhood. (Here’s the blog post from five years ago.) […]

  18. The Mother Thing And Why It's So Touchy

    […] There I was amid an unusual mix of a few celebrities, fertility industry sales people, clinicians, health advocates and RESOLVE representatives. In my acceptance speech I managed to hush a room of 300+ people by declaring that there is more than one ending to the infertility story. I recall my words took people by surprise. They were accustomed to hearing only from those sharing stories of motherhood. (Here’s the blog post from five years ago.) […]

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