What if instead of keeping your infertility a secret you actually told everyone? I mean EVERYONE. Before you say, “Never!” read this excerpt of a story from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Molly and Brian Walsh were in their mid-30’s when they married. They wanted to start a family, but Brian has Marfan’s syndrome, a connective tissue disease, and they did not want to pass it on to their child. They needed $25-30,000 for IVF with PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis). They saved $10,000. Then, they did what is to many infertile couples unthinkable: they went public. In a big way. The decision to go public was not easy, but ultimately, this was a race against the clock. They used email, Facebook and Twitter to invite friends to a “Makin’ Whoopie” wine tasting party, at $35 a head. Not only did 100 friends agree to attend, they also donated trips, tours, art and wine for a silent auction. Many also offered up stories of their own struggles with fertility to encourage the Walshes in their pursuit of a healthy, successful pregnancy.
Funds raised: $8000. Hope renewed: priceless.
What do you think? Outrageous? Inspired? Unimaginable? Whatever you may think about the idea, I think there’s a lot to learn from the story. Here are some examples you could follow:
- Face the truth – For Molly & Brian, inheritable genetic defects indicated IVF with PGD. And that required a big budget. Money was tight and time was short. The facts weren’t encouraging, but facing them squarely gave them a starting point.
- Set pride aside – The one variable they could control was their insistence on privacy. Once they realized they needed assistance to reach their goal, the choice was clear: forget pride, get help. All that required was humility.
- Come out of hiding – The party invitation read: “You can’t help us in the bedroom, but you can help us make a baby.” Pretense was pointless, as was secrecy. They sent invitations to hundreds of people – some of whom they hadn’t seen or talked to in years.
- Ask for help – Their request for help explained their situation and invited people who cared to be part of the solution. The humility inherent in their appeal was irresistible to many of those they contacted.
- Invite openness – After publicly telling their story, the Walshes experienced an unexpected blessing: “Our friends shared amazing stories with us on Facebook – successes, as well as struggles and challenges.” The Walsh’s willingness to share their story opened the door for other couples to do the same.
- Build community - Before this, Brian Walsh said, “we had felt like a private island in no-man’s land – surrounded by friends who have kids.” Knowing about other couples’ struggles “made it easier.” The Walshes formed new bonds with old friends whose success conceiving had seemed to create a wall of separation; now, they shared a common foe (infertility) and a common goal (parenthood).
- Encourage investment – The Walsh’s friends literally invested in the outcome of their infertility journey. But even figurative investments translate into ongoing support & concern, instead of perceived judgment or unwelcome pity.
- Leave a legacy – The Walsh’s creative campaign not only raised funds, it also created a huge network of loving future godparents – each of whom is deeply invested in breathing life into the dream of a Walsh family. What a legacy… for this newly-strengthened community of friends, and for the Walsh’s much-anticipated child.
I believe the example the Walshes set is relevant to every infertility journey. Not the party, necessarily… but the logic behind it. The Bible teaches that we are one body [I Cor 12:22-27]. We need each other. We are intended to bear each other’s burdens, and share each other’s joys. How can that happen if infertile couples refuse to share their secret, ask for help, build community, or invite others to become invested in their success?
Party or no party, I think the Walshes are onto something.
What do you think?
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com