Teach and Learn: Lift the Veil on a Taboo

UPDATE: Hat tip to Amy McVay Abbott, the journalist who wrote Infertility: The Billion Dollar Business & the Heartbreaking Realities and Jody Day for thought-provoking perspectives on our event, The Cycle: Living A Taboo. About the importance of participating in the conversation. Jody wrote:

I get that it’s daunting to attend something where you’ll be filmed. But before you decide you can’t be part of this, not yet… ask yourself this:

What have you done wrong? What do you have to be ashamed of? Nothing, that’s what. Nothing.”


Years ago I found myself surrounded by the pervasive taboo and trauma of unexplained infertility. On the very worst days recovering from failed fertility treatment cycles all I wanted to do was hide. That was the easy thing to do.

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit. – Napoleon Hill

Slowly, though, I realized that remaining silent only helped reinforce the taboo; the idea that women like me didn’t exist. And that sense of invisibility lit a fire deep in my belly.

Taboo Takedown

What lessons could I take away from surviving infertility and the ensuing heartache? Surely there had to be a consolation of some kind? A different kind of legacy awaiting me. I am still standing, I mused, certainly I am equipped to do something productive with all that I’ve experienced. The first step onward was owning my story, finding my voice.

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 E.O. Wilson, a Pulitzer-prize winning writer and researcher, summed it up nicely with this quote:

Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.

The path out of infertility as a “non-mom” has at times been maddening, humbling and lonely. However, it has not been without unexpected happy surprises and inspiring introductions. Each day I come upon those looking to turn their painful life lessons into a smoother road for those coming behind us.

I’ve become introduced to a spirited and expressive — you could say irrepressible — group of women who will be gathering to have our say Friday, September 27 in New York City. We believe wholeheartedly that teaching someone else is the best way to learn.

On the stage to tear down the taboo? Fellow speaker Tracey Cleantis did a marvelous job in the Huffington Post explaining what we hope to achieve at The Cycle: Living A Taboo.

We’ll explore a new willingness to acknowledge and share what has until now been a taboo topic. Instead of ignoring the complexity and lasting impact of infertility and childlessness in today’s pro-natal culture, I hope we can expand on what has often been a lopsided dialogue. Maybe along the way, we can engender greater knowledge, healing and understanding.