Awake My Soul

by Davina Fankhauser
President - Fertility Within Reach

Awake My Soul
by Keiko Zoll,

I listened to a lot of Mumford and Sons this late summer, especially their song, “Awake My Soul.” As the season turned from summer into early autumn, my mood instinctually inclined to the change from school vacation back into another school year, every passing day in September felt like another beginning. It wasn’t simply that my family-building journey was moving forward now at breakneck speed; I felt that every moment was born anew.

Three and a half years ago, my eyes flashed over my computer screen at work. A single sentence from my doctor, changing the course of the life I had imagined for myself:

“[The results], if they are to be believed, indicate that premature ovarian failure is the problem, not PCOS dysfunction/follicular maturation arrest as you, I and your previous caregivers had presumed.”

I felt like I was suddenly sucked into a vacuum, the air ripped from my chest and lungs. I was unable to breathe. I stumbled out of my office, fighting back the sobs that were set to burst through my confused, overwhelmed demeanor. “I’m taking a long lunch,” I mumbled to my office mates as I walked out the door, the cold March air punching my lungs with intensity. I gasped and choked on the steps outside my office, my brain spinning with questions, my heart overflowing with grief, my mind watching parenting dreams vanish.

I look back at that day, now almost four years later, and see myself reborn in that agonizing moment.

I’ll never forget the moment before I had to tell my husband that our life together had been irrevocably changed: the feelings of failure, embarrassment, shame – of betrayal, even. This was not what he had signed up for when we kissed under our wedding canopy just a little over a year prior. I felt like a worthless wife, a broken woman: alone.

There were many dark, grief-stricken days and months that followed, much of that time a muddy recollection of crying on the couch, surfing the web for answers until I couldn’t see straight, and mornings where it was a battle just to get out of bed. At the time, all I could see were endings.

And then, I began to write. What I couldn’t create in biology, I created in words instead.

The words traveled and connected with other writers and bloggers who shared my same grief. I put my words and our journey to video and suddenly, my words exploded on the internet. For all the loneliness, I was now connected to men and women around the world who understood the unique pain of living with infertility. It was the first time I realized that my words had the power to invoke change, to inspire others to act, and to open the pathways for healing. In time, I would go on to create The Infertility Voice to empower women through their infertility journeys toward healing, hope and authentic living.

In March of 2009, I was set upon a path I had never imagined I would walk. A year later, with the release of my “What IF” video, I began walking on that path, emboldened to make a difference for this community. For the past four years, I have walked with confidence and pride in who I am, who I became in the wake of my disease, and the gifts and talents I have to offer this community.

So many days this late summer, dozing in acupuncture, I listened to those Mumford and Sons lyrics over and over, as I calmed my spirit in nervous anticipation of our first IVF cycle:

“In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life.
Awake my soul…”

In connecting with others on their family-building journeys, in sharing my story, in advocating with and for others: my soul has been awakened to the work it was meant to do. And even now, as I still smile in amazement that we’ve made it to the second trimester with our first child due in June – I know exactly what it is that I’m fighting for, exactly why this work is so important. Just because my family-building journey has nearly reached its long-awaited happy ending, doesn’t mean there aren’t still millions out there wishing, fighting and hoping for theirs.

With a soul awoken and a heart on fire – and soon, with a little one in tow – I’ll continue to fight, to advocate, to empower: to be The Infertility Voice because the infertility community deserves to be heard.

Keiko Zoll is the founder and writer of You can find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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Davina Fankhauser

President - Fertility Within Reach