On Being Childless: #OwningOurVoice during National Infertility Awareness Week 2021

by Brandi Lytle
Featured Photo on "On Being Childless: #OwningOurVoice during National Infertility Awareness Week 2021," a blog written by Not So Mommy...

Every April, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association hosts National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).  Since I learned about NIAW, I have participated in the week’s events.  From sharing my #FlipTheScript story to being a featured voice in “6 perspectives of life after infertility,” I have felt it important that the childless story be represented during NIAW.Photo of Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy... (an infertility & childless blog) and creator of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon

In 2019, Sue Johnston, of the In-Fertility Advocate, invited me to send Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon stickers, along with Not So Mommy… business cards, to her.  She shared them during the Michigan Walk of Hope, a fundraiser for RESOLVE.

This year, I planned once again to participate in the daily photo challenges, sharing my childless by infertility perspective…

Jobi Tyson, founder of Tutum Global, decided more needed to be done to raise awareness about childlessness.  Because of this, she reached out to RESOLVE, asking if they would provide supportive collaboration for activities geared specifically towards the childless by infertility community.  And RESOLVE graciously agreed!

The olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon, created by Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy..., a childless blogAfter receiving RESOLVE’s support, Jobi reached out to me, asking if I would partner with her on the week’s activities, stating that she thought the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon should be included.  Wow!  What an honor that Jobi wants to include The CNBC Ribbon!  Of course, I agreed to help!  So, we have spent the past several weeks brainstorming ideas, reaching out to guest speakers, and preparing for #OwningOurVoice during #NIAW2021.  (Don’t you just LOVE the #OwningOurVoice theme that Jobi created?!  It goes perfectly with RESOLVE’s theme, #WhatIWantYouToKnow)

Speaking of #OwningOurVoice and #WhatIWantYouToKnow, I decided to ask Sue and Jobi to share why they are so passionate about participating in National Infertility Awareness Week®

Sue Johnston, of the In-Fertility Advocate, on National Infertility Awareness Week, Advocacy, & the Walk of Hope…

Why did you decide to become an advocate for RESOLVE?

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has impacted my life in profound ways. The friends I made two decades ago through my RESOLVE support group were my lifeline when I was struggling to build my family. My husband was a US NAVY officer and was often deployed overseas. I needed support on my journey, and these people were there for me through thick and thin.

My Original Support Group…Photo of Detours Book Cover on Our God Things: Sue's Story on Not So Mommy...

There were 10 of us who bonded through our shared strife of wanting to build our families. Each of us have gone on to resolve our infertility in different ways. We still have remained close friends, however, even after some of us moved out of state. Every year, we would have our own RESOLVE reunions and we would fantasize about how we should write a book. Being an elementary teacher who specialized in literacy, my friends eventually suggested that I lead the book writing project. It took 6 years to publish Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility.

My First Advocacy Day…

I decided to attend my first Advocacy Day in May 2017. I wanted to put a copy of my book in the hands of my Senators and Congressmen. Being able to walk the hallowed halls on Capitol Hill, share the stories of how infertility impacts people, and facilitate in passing bills to help provide affordable access to care was a profoundly empowering experience. It was during my first Advocacy Day that I realized I was truly turning my pain into purpose by helping others who are still struggling to build their families.

Starting a Peer Led Support Group in My Community…

As soon as I returned home from Washington D.C., I started my own RESOLVE Peer Led Support Group. As the years passed and my advocacy efforts continued, my support group grew. Finally, I had enough momentum in the community to rally forces and create the first Detroit, MI Walk of Hope (WOH), which was held during National Infertility Awareness Week in April 2019.

Why do you participate in National Infertility Awareness Week?

I participate in NIAW because I want to raise awareness of the disease of infertility and how it impacts 1 in 8 people. I feel compelled to raise awareness because it is such a delicate subject and people often suffer in silence. When we spread awareness and have our voices heard, it can lower the stigmas others feel and help lawmakers realize that our reproductive rights are a primal need. The more we can break down barriers, the more I feel we will be able to gain affordable access to care. No one should have to suffer this dreaded disease alone.

What is the Walk of Hope?

Photo of Orange Tennis Shoes worn by Sue, of the In-Fertility Advocate, during the Walk of Hope

Photo provided by Sue Johnston

The Walk of Hope is an event that helps to raise awareness about infertility and brings the infertility community together. People are inspired by others who are on a similar journey, and they realize they are not alone. The connections others make can be their lifelines, too.

It is also an event that helps people in the community understand the information, resources, and clinics that are available to them.

We also have a fundraising mission to our Walk of Hope. All the money we collect during our fundraising campaign goes to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, which provides FREE support groups, FREE programing, and Advocacy for affordable access to care.

How can we support WOH?

Photo of a sunflower on Our Good Things: Sue's Story on Not So Mommy...

Click to read…

You can support the Detroit, MI Walk of Hope by clicking here.  (Website sponsored by Classy)

If you prefer to donate to my [Sue’s] fundraising page, click here.

If you’d like to form a team and help fundraise, we would greatly appreciate it.

How can others connect with you?

Please feel free email me at sjohnstonadvocate@gmail.com for more information.

You can also connect with me [Sue] on my website, The In-Fertility Advocate.

Jobi Tyson, of Tutum Global, on NIAW, Advocacy, & #OwningOurVoice…

Why did you decide to contact RESOLVE about National Infertility Awareness Week?

Photo of a glass jar with different colored sparkles coming out the top on Jobi's CNBC Story on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

Click to read…

In an effort to bridge a gap.  And with strength in numbers, this created an opportunity to bring greater awareness for women and men who are childless by infertility.

As a childless woman, why do you feel it’s important to participate in NIAW?

I feel that it’s important to participate in NIAW because it’s imperative to provide education and awareness that infertility is in fact a disease. I want every woman and man who has experienced infertility to know that they must not suppress their hidden trauma by persuading themselves that it doesn’t measure up against “greater tragedies.” Our grief is valid. Our medical condition is valid. Loss in all forms is valid.

Why did you decide on the theme #OwningOurVoice for the Childless By Infertility community?

Because our silence further perpetuates the stigma and taboo of infertility and involuntary childlessness. We must own our voice and become advocates to someday eradicate the stigma.

How can we support #OwningOurVoice?

Photo of t-shirts offered by Tutum Global and Not So Mommy..., partial proceeds of sales donated to RESOLVE

Click to shop…

To support #NIAW2021 Owning Our Voice, which will host both virtual events and social media challenges for the childless by infertility community, you can:

  • Follow me [Jobi] on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on #NIAW2021 events
  • Subscribe to the Childless Women Network YouTube channel to help us bring greater awareness 
  • Join our social media challenges for National Infertility Awareness Week 2021
  • Buy a This Shirt Fights Infertility t-shirt and/or Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon t-shirt at TutumStore.com. Now through 25 April 2021, partial proceeds of t-shirt sales will be donated to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

Some Final Thoughts…

You know, I think it is absolutely incredible that RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week is bringing together those who are parenting after infertility, those who are still in the midst of TTC, and those who are childless after their infertility battle.  What a powerful dynamic, offering support no matter where you are on this journey!

I do hope you will join me, Sue, Jobi, and all the other infertility warriors during #NIAW2021, being held 18th – 24th April 2021.  As Jobi said, please watch social media for more information about virtual events and social media challenges for #OwningOurVoice!

Follow Not So Mommy… on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on #OwningOurVoice events during #NIAW2021!

If anything Sue, Jobi, or I said resonates, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments!

Subscribe to my email and receive monthly updates about what’s going on in the childless community…

Do you appreciate the work I’m doing here at Not So Mommy…

Photo of an olive green heart on "Would you please donate?" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blog

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Featured Photo:  Created by me, using Canva; Some graphics provided by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

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