Where Did Eight Years Go, Silent Sorority?

When the Silent Sorority galley arrived in 2009 my pulse quickened. I thumbed through the pages and out jumped the grittiest parts of my life.  I sat down at the keyboard to write my first and only birth announcement.

Five years of blinking cursors and early morning draft rewrites culminated in Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found — the first memoir on infertility not authored by a mother.

All the infertility memoirs and profiles I’d ever come across had one thing in common: the stories ended with the successful delivery of a baby. birth-announcementNot one of them looked or sounded like me.

Silent Sorority is Born

Much as I wanted to bury my trauma-inducing infertility experience and erase it from my memory, I found I couldn’t. My sole writing motivation – what drove me to pour my story on to these pages – was broadening the infertility narrative. Truth telling about what happens when conception and pregnancy prove elusive. I knew I could not be the only woman who had devoted years to deciphering an infertility mystery only to come away without the successful pregnancy we (not just me but many women) had worked so painstakingly hard to achieve. It was time “our” story was told.

Silent SororityOh the places we’ve been and the hearts touched along the way. I had two audiences in mind: 1) women who felt disenfranchised by the disproportionate share of voice given to mothers; and 2) the immediate social circle – family and friends who were unaware of the physical, emotional, and societal challenges of those who once dreamed about conceiving and delivering a child. Catharsis from reliving and reflecting on my own nightmarish experience was purely a bonus.

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When readers reach out my soul soars and my heart smiles. I conjured you all into my dark space nearly a decade ago. I heard you cheering me: Write, write, write — bring our collective experience to life.

Silent Sorority author
Pamela Jeanne eight years later

Even today, reviews and emails like this one from MJKunk bring tears to my eyes:

Finally–validation for what I have been feeling during my 15-year struggle with infertility!! I truly thought I must be the only one dealing with this shame, anger, and yes, even self-pity. I knew other women like myself must exist, but in the small community where I live the only couples without children that I know of, are very vocal in that they chose that life–it wasn’t chosen for them, as in my case. My husband and I tried every way possible to have children–from IVF to adoption–and in all cases it ended in failure. The pain has been overwhelming and at age 51 I am still trying to pull myself out of this quicksand.

Our world is so family oriented that you can’t even turn on the television without being reminded that you don’t quite fit in. When you have no children–or nieces & nephews–there is a giant void in your life that nothing can fill. After reading this book I realized that I wasn’t the only one to feel such deep sorrow, anger, confusion, and sometimes, even resentment–sorry, but it is easy to get lost in your troubles. This validation is exactly what I needed because for the first time in years I have hope that I can make peace with this. So, to Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos I want to say thank-you. In so many ways your story is my story, and I now have hope that I can find peace and serenity in this life, and learn that just being me–and not a Mom–is enough. Thank you!

Thank you, MJ and all of you, for hearing and seeing me. I see and hear you, too.

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If there’s someone you’d like to read Silent Sorority, drop a comment in the section below explaining why by May 15. I’ll draw a name and send a free copy. Meanwhile, if you have read and enjoyed Silent Sorority during the past eight years, please consider visiting the book page on Amazon and let others know what it meant to you. xo