Why I Share My StoryAela Mass
I can’t remember when it actually began, but for as long as I can recall, every Memorial Day Weekend I go to the Woodstock-New Paltz Arts and Craft Fair with varying members of my family. There are few traditions in my family, but this has managed to become one over the years. It’s a great event, with wonderful artists and yummy fair food. But it’s also turned into a local reunion of sorts.
Each year, without fail, I see people there that have been in my life since I was a child. And while I rarely see them any other time during the rest of the year, they have all held such a dear place in my heart. Some have already started their families. Others are still finding their place in the world (aren’t we all, really?) With each hug I get, I am reminded of the warmth and love of my childhood.
This time last year when I visited the fair, Sara and I were one month into our fertility journey. The old friends and family friends and neighborhood community folks were all so excited for us, wishing us well and cheering us on.
And when last December came and I lost the twins at 17 weeks pregnant, I heard from these special gems in my life, from these people who have known me since I was a tot. They, along with countless others out there, cried with me and sent me strength.
When I saw them again this year, there they were, full of love and encouragement, once again (or, never really having stopped) cheering us on and wishing us well. I spoke candidly about the effect of their support — and the support I’ve received over all. I told them about my doubts in the beginning about going public with my personal story and sharing my journey with strangers. Sure, I was scared. I had no idea how the world would receive a lesbian couple planning a family through IVF. But any and all doubts I may have had dissipated after I lost my twins — because there is no way I ever would have been able to handle that heartbreak without the love and support they all — you all — sent me afterward. In my darkest moments, it was the collective kindness of strangers and old friends and new friends and dear family that got me through.
And the one of our family friends told me today that she struggled with her own fertility issues over 30 years ago, that she had to undergo all sorts of testings and surgery, and that “no one ever talked about it.” She was alone in it all. My heart broke that she hadn’t had anyone those many years ago to talk to about her journey. And while I had already been reminded that sharing my story provides me with the love and strength I need to see these days through, her words reminded me of another reason I bring my journey to the page: so that no one else has to feel alone.
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