Sunday, September 8, 2013

Challenging Taboos

Four years ago, while sitting on a balcony in Washington DC, Grey and I began a discussion about expanding our family. I remember the fear surrounding this decision, with Grey voicing his concerns about the gravity of such a decision and me fighting back tears over the fear that we would not even begin the journey because of those concerns. Ultimately, we did come to an agreement and the decision was made that November I would stop birth control and the end of December would be when we would begin the TTC process.

Unbeknown to both of us at the time, that night would mark the beginning of a journey very few talk about openly. That as the months rolled by, we would find ourselves facing a disease that is marred with taboo and misinformation. During that journey, I've had my heart and soul ripped into a million pieces. I've questioned life and its cruelty. And even come face to face with a darkness/bitterness that is truly worse than death.

It wasn't until this last year that I began to see the "benefits" of this life-changing trauma. Faced with the belief that our dream of parenthood was dead, I learned some valuable lessons. I learned I'm stronger than I gave myself credit for. I learned how to find hope in moments of uncertainty and pain. I learned that happiness is a choice and that no one can chose that path for me except myself. I've learned that a full life is not dependent on living according to the formula that so many in society push. That living with infertility and loss does not damn one for eternity and, in a strange way, can actually open the window to wonderful possibilities in life.

And I learned first hand that if I want to destroy the taboos and stigma surrounding infertility and loss, I had to raise my voice and share my story without shame or apology. That by doing so, I could finally cure myself of the bitterness/darkness that had haunted me for so long.

This past May, the theme for NIAW was "Join the Movement." During that week, bloggers from all over the country (and even the world) wrote posts telling their stories and encouraging their readers to raise their voices to help change the conversation about infertility and loss. If you haven't had a chance to read these posts, I recommend you take some time to do so. The theme from each of these is clear though: ALIers are tried of being seen as taboos. And they encouraged all around them to begin challenging the taboos associated with these life-altering traumas.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos. In her email was an announcement about an upcoming event she is organizing called "The Cycle: Living A Taboo" that addresses publicly the taboos surrounding infertility/loss. Pamela's post as well as Loribeth's post summarize this nicely, so take a minute to go visit and comment. In addition, though, I'm posting the letter that Pamela sent me along with her message.
As many of you know, I'm part of a non-profit event organizing team. We're reaching out to personal networks to ask for help in spreading the word about an unprecedented all-volunteer effort to de-stigmatize infertility. We've created (below)  a proposed letter for those we know to send out or to customize for blog deliver. We're particularly eager to get people in the NYC area to attend, but we also want to expand visibility for the effort largely as we think we can help spark a national dialogue that goes far beyond the event. Please feel free to customize for your respective audiences.
I encourage you all to spread the word. Even if you can't attend the event, making it known is the first step towards change. So take a moment today to do so in your own way. Blog about the forum (and share a comment on Pamela's blog so it be linked to the event website), tweet about it (join or support #TheCycleLivingATaboo) or even simply send a copy of this letter to those closest to you. Regardless, now is the time to challenge the taboos surrounding infertility/loss. Now is the time to raise our voices for change; to begin the discussion that is long overdue.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
You are receiving this letter for one or all of several reasons: 1) You have been part of my personal history with infertility; 2) You know someone else who's directly impacted, or 3) You have an interest in being part of an unprecedented forum that raises awareness about emotional traumas, including societal impacts, risks and myths associated with infertility, childlessness and fertility treatments.
On Friday, September 27, 2013 , in Lower Manhattan at the BMCC Tribeca Performance Arts Center Theater #2, "The Cycle: Living A Taboo" will convene patients, doctors, authors, filmmakers, and trauma therapists familiar with infertility and treatments for this long overdue public dialogue. The 90-minute program will include dramatic readings, film segments, and intentional conversations about stigma, hype versus hope, and trading losses in for life. The Cycle will be recorded and filmed; segments may be used in a documentary of the same name.
Your presence as part of the audience or your support of this triumphant group is absolutely needed to mark the beginning of societal change in how we universally speak about this once taboo topic.
Event co-producer and documentary filmmaker, Irina Vodar, collaborated with a team of medical and mental health professionals and patients to share their trials and triumphs, and ultimately give birth to a language that supports and offers compassion to those who live this taboo in silence.
"We aim to challenge conventional wisdom and foster a new, more open dialogue about infertility," said Pamela Tsigdinos, co-producer and author of Silent Sorority. "Rather than remain silent, for fear of being shamed or judged, we will give voice to what has been a profoundly misunderstood and misrepresented human experience."
Tickets are $30 through September 20; $40 hereafter. To reserve a ticket, please visit:

Who Should Attend:  People facing a diagnosis of infertility, those who have experienced fertility treatments—whether they succeeded or not––and those who have adopted children are welcome to attend this historic event. Organizers also invite friends and family members of people coping with infertility and those whose loved ones did not become parents after treatments failed. Also welcome are fertility doctors and nurses, representatives from the mental health community, including social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and members of the media who interested in improving how they report on issues linked to this complex health condition.
When: September 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Theatre2
199 Chambers between Greenwich and West Street To learn more about the Forum and the documentary, please go to The Cycle: Living A Taboo
On behalf of the Forum team I thank you for your support and presence on Friday, September 27.


  1. You such a wonderful, warmhearted woman, Cristy. From the moment we first connected online, I knew you had a depth and sense of compassion that went deeper than most. You've taught me a great deal with your poignant powerful posts and touched many with your generous spirit. A thousand thanks to you...

  2. Beautiful words...sounds like an amazing event

  3. Thank you so much for sharing with us Cristy. Hope your beautiful family is growing and making beautiful memories!


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