Week 25 Update

24 weeks bump NEW

Today, we had an ultra-scan at the hospital. This was our 3rd scan over the last five weeks, and I’m happy to report back with some news.

At the 1-hour anatomy scan that is typically done around Week 20, they found a small issue with the baby’s kidneys. They were too big – or maybe, “dilated?”, was what we were told by the sonographer in broken English. At first she thought it was just the left kidney, but it turned out to be both left and right.

She wanted to see us back in 8 days for a re-do ultra-scan by the scanning physician. I went to that appointment on March 16, the same day Martin had to attend to an all-day skiing “team-building event” in Sweden. So I flew solo, and I’ll admit, that appointment was rough. The doctor was thorough, warm and forthcoming…and meticulously measured his organs while typing away on her computer. When I piped in with a question, she politely said that she would go over “everything” once she was finished scanning and measuring. “Everything?” I thought.

She told me, as I wiped the gooey ultrasound-gel off of my belly, that she found two markers for down syndrome. A kidney issue and now, a ‘bright bowel.’ She went on to explain that I could request a CVS or amniocentesis, if I wanted confirmation, to which I interjected that I did not want that, and that I had done a NIPT test (the Harmony-brand Test) back in California during Week 10, and that my results showed “low risk” for trisomies of the 13th, 18th or 21st chromosomes (down syndrome). She gave what sounded like a small sigh of relief and said, “Terrific. Definitely no amnio for you, given how much you’ve fought to get here! No need to risk anything.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

She explained that little bub’s kidneys were dilated, showing signs of inflammation and some sort of obstruction in the ureters coming out of the kidneys. They measured much thicker than they should typically measure, which is a sign of inflammation and/or a blockage (I’m paraphrasing). The bright bowel was a soft marker for Cystic Fibrosis. She said they wanted to scan me again in another 3 weeks to check on the baby’s kidneys and bowel.

I left the Obstetrics ward of the hospital, ambled to the main lobby and dialed Martin. He was out of breath, and approximately half-way down a mountain on his snowboard. I told him all the details and measurements that I could remember. And I downplayed my worries, “These things happen – I’m sure it’s nothing.” “I’m not worried.” (Big lie). Yada yada.

I was concerned he might start crying when all he could muster in response was, “…What am I doing here in Sweden?”

I biked home and proceeded to call my dear friend, Tanya, who I decided, I was safe enough to cry to. My anxious tears spilled out, and all I could really get out was that I was deeply afraid my sweet boy might have medical issues when he’s born. He might…have kidneys that aren’t right… He might…suffer. He might have…frequent UTIs. Or much worse. And while these issues seemed fairly treatable, surgical or fixable, I just couldn’t bear the thought of him getting a body and a host of organs that were anything less than perfect. My poor, poor baby.

Tanya was brilliant and calmed me down. I realized in that moment that the mommy-worries can start even before the Parent-title is even officially given.

I had to trust that my baby would be okay, and that the good doctors who have been treating me would be able to handle just about anything. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been immeasurably grateful for the terrific team of professionals who have been monitoring the little guy and me. The staff at the hospital have been so attentive, thorough and kind.

So today, three weeks since that last appointment, feeling guarded but prepared, we returned for a scan during this 25th Week and were met with much better news. Little baby’s right kidney was measuring perfect, the ureters were clear and fluid was passing through (showing no obstruction); the bowel was not bright, and the only minor issue left was a little dilation in his left kidney. We will be scanned at Week 32 to see how it’s faring, but the sonographer says she expects it to be down to a normal level by then.

I think Martin, my sweet, shy husband, could have jumped up and hugged her.

We feel amazing right now. And so darn lucky to have seen this improvement since our last scan. Our little lovebug was active and squirming, and it was a joy to see him on the screen again, as it always is.

Our love for him is beyond…

We are so grateful for your love and support – thank you for sticking with us through this pregnancy!

And now, here is the latest profile snapshot of the Little Prince, taken just today.

IMG_6559

 

The Girl Who Never Liked Bump-dates

…is posting a bump-date photo. Call me a big, fat hypocrite. Just a few weeks back, I was singing a different tune, telling Martin that we were NEVER going to take any photographs of my ever-expanding belly (as it was another ritual of pregnancy I was simply uncomfortable with). Granted, it was a reaction to his suggestion that we take a daily photograph to document this 40-week journey. Um, no? Wait, how about we take an hourly photograph to ensure we are sufficiently obnoxious enough? We can make a Buzzfeed-worthy craptastic time-lapse of 7,000 hours of one pale person’s growing stomach.

No. I just can’t. I can’t handle that stuff.

Then something hit me a few days ago, and I caught a glimpse of my profile as I exited the shower, and I thought to myself, “This might be the only time I have a stomach like this.” This could be it. Will I regret not having photos of this moment, later? Probably.

So now, we are going to take weekly images. And tuck them away somewhere in our memories or iPhones, for us to look at and smile at, way in the future.

I’d like to explore – and I hope you’ll bear with me – why I have such a knee-jerk aversion to things like bump-photos, Facebook updates, baby showers, and other Pinterest-y pregnancy rituals that seem to jazz a lot of pregnant women. They don’t not jazz me…I think it is all very beautiful and positive.

But I’m also a person who is still a bit suspicious of pregnancy, and disinclined to elevate it to this hallowed ground of sacred events in one’s life. For me, it’s a means to a new beginning.

Don’t get me wrong, my gratitude is considerable. And this pregnancy is the most important thing in my life – and a necessity for me becoming a mother. But the act of receiving the baby and nurturing him starting day 1 and for a lifetime is the portion I will choose to sanctify. I just don’t know what I’m doing here, being all pregnant. Pregnancy didn’t really want me, for so long, when I ached for her so bad. And now she’s here, and I’m a little pouty. I try to thank her often, for giving me the little boy growing inside me. But I don’t know how to worship her, celebrate her, plaster her effects on my waistline publicly, because there are too many people in my circle of friends who are waiting for her. They’re hurting something fierce. My heart is with them. And with my boy. I’m split in two camps: the infertile community – and now the big P one.

Hope both will have me.

xo

16 weeks

Our Little Prince

US 2

I’ve reached the second trimester! This milestone feels tremendously good. I’m currently 14 weeks + 1 day, and last week – at 13 weeks – I had an ultrasound at the hospital where I’ll deliver. The little dude’s heartbeat was strong (we were able to hear it!), and he had his legs up for a good afternoon snooze.

He was nestled in so snugly, the sonographer had to prod him with a few jabs to get him to move (in order to gather all measurements).

We know it’s a ‘he‘ thanks to the Harmony test that I took during week 10 of pregnancy, when I was back home in California. The test concluded that we are at a low risk for Down syndrome, or a trisomy of the 13th or 18th chromosomes.

I’m utterly biased but I think his side-profile looks pretty darn cute in this ultrasound photo. Somebody get this fetus an agent because mama thinks he should model for more ultrasounds pics, with that pert nose and cute pot belly.

So far, the 2nd trimester is treating me very well. The all-day-long nausea and morning sickness that wreaked havoc on my first trimester have eased up, so long as I eat small meals every 2 hours. The baby-bump has moved into my abdominal region, and my mom has lovingly called me chubby, so I’m growing right on schedule.

Thanks for checking in…

xo

Houston, we have a heartbeat.

hearts 2

On Friday, December 11th, we went to our fertility clinic for our first ultrascan. I was 7 weeks, 2 days…and the little peanut was in there, in all its glory, with a good strong heartbeat. The baby measured one day ahead in terms of size.

This scan was a major milestone and seeing the little blueberry on the screen with a fluttering heart, we enjoyed a huge sigh of relief.

We are not out of the woods yet, but our risk of miscarriage just made another substantial drop. According to the data, after finding a heartbeat, the risk drops to less than 5%.

I was given a due date. July 27th, 2016. We are hoping to go one day past, and deliver the child on the 28th, the same day of Nana Nancy’s birthday. It would be the ultimate birthday present for my mom. To be honest, a birthday present she paid for, as my parentals were the generous benefactors of this last round. Round 14.

This cycle was a Biggie, for reasons I have not fully elaborated on yet.

You see, it would be our last round using my own eggs. At the end of our failed round #13, my doctor strongly urged us to turn to donor eggs. “You have baaaad quality, I’m afraid. Always have. If you want to have a baby, you should get someone else’s eggs.”

He went over the drill, as I sat frozen, staring into my lap. A bleary-eyed Martin took notes. “There are no donors in Denmark. You’ll need to go to Spain. Call this clinic in Valencia. They are very good. You won’t see pictures of the donor, but they’ll match you by height and hair color.”

The conversation encased me like a thick fog of truth I couldn’t escape. I knew all roads led to this. And yet I couldn’t bear to hear such barefaced facts and figures about some donor database in Spain.

“Dr. Jens, is there any hope in trying one more time? I think I have another round of injections and retrieval in me?”

His graceful reply: “Yes, Camryn. In order for you to look yourself in the mirror in 10 years and say, ‘I did everything I could,’ I think you should try with your own eggs. One more time.”

I flew home to California two days later and bawled to my mom, curled up on the toddler-sized sofa in my nephews’ playroom. Mom cried with me. I told her our plan. I would talk to my sisters. All three of them. I would tell them my dilemma. Which they already know all about. I would tell them I had one last attempt in me. And then, with all three of them, I would make the ultimate ask. “Would you ever consider a donation?”

My three sisters are the most inspiring, generous, intelligent and loving women you could ever be lucky enough to know. Each of us are very different. I would be proud and honored for any of them to be the genetic donor of my baby. The oldest is done having children – she would love to give up a round of eggs. The other middle sister is a proud mom of 1, who I hope and pray goes on to have more kids, as she is the Martha Stewart/Mary Poppins of the bunch. The youngest is my mini-me. She is the one I can proudly say I joined in raising. She is my pride and joy. The fact that I needed to ask such a colossal ask of her didn’t sit well with me, because I’ve made it my point in life to protect her. And now, I needed her to save me from the agony of a child-free existence. Like the goddess that she is, she said, “Of course I’ll do that for you, sissie.”

What I am most proud of in this sad and sticky situation is that I have three sisters who jumped up to help. There was no, “It’s kinda weird,” or “This is a freakshow…” or “I’ll get back to you,” which they would have every right to utter. This is wei-rd. Very, very weird stuff. An Act 3 soap-operatic dramatic turn that none of us ever envisioned for our lives.

But yet, they showed no equivocation. What an army I am lucky enough to have. We decided that Youngest Sister – whose age is so youthful, and in a medical dilemma where the most critical variable driving success is age – she was our best option. We decided: total transparency. The kiddo would always know. Everyone would know. The milkman would know. We would pull the wool over no one’s eyes. We decided: to sit on it, deliberate and seek the counsel of a therapist. And we decided: sister’s husband had as big a vote as anyone. We decided: to be practical, and not put all of our eggs in my Youngest Sister’s basket, and that all three would be tested so as to not put all pressure on just one.

And then I returned to Denmark with a plan. The ultimate plan. We knew we had this option right there, a few months in front of us. We knew my clinic was up for one more round.

And we took it on.

And we got lucky. So darn lucky – with my own batch of unwell eggs, which held one little fighter.

My biggest fear in dragging my sisters into this mess was not in the DNA-dilemma. I abandoned the need to preserve all of my genetics a while back. It was also not a fear that any of them would feel a “claim” to the child. That’s not their style. To be loaned 23 chromosomes from any of my sisters would be a gift I would be honored and thrilled to receive. 25% of my genetics would be preserved – as my siblings and I share ~50% of our genetic material (although I suspect youngest sister and I are more likely 75%, as we are practically twins). I know their roots, their characters, strengths and quirks. I love each of them deep down to their core, so any human being they could help create would be a first-rate, rockstar soul.

My reluctance stemmed from my concern that I could be endangering any of my sisters. That 12 days of shots and hormone stimulation, constant ultrascans, speculum-mayhem and egg-retrieval surgery would be too much agony to ask of any person, sister or not. I know the brutality of a round of IVF quite well – and for them to donate, they would undergo a round of In-Vitro Fertilization. Their ovaries would enlarge to the size of grapefruits, and they’d have mood swings, bloating, swelling, pain and a polka-dotted belly.

Worse, the remnants of a round could linger on decades past, at each annual mammogram when they recall that time they were put on a very strong hormone protocol.

I just didn’t want to endanger them.

And now, it seems possible I may not have to.

I carry with me so much pride that Martin and I have our tight-knit families in our corner, as we wage this fight.

I give my parents all of the credit for raising their four girls to hold to the belief that we always help each other. Every time. When one of us has a crisis, we all have a crisis. And no challenge is too tricky or unsavory that our entwined hearts and strong spirit of togetherness cannot overcome it.

Thank you, my dear family. This baby is all of ours.

A crazy thing happened…

bitch testIn early November I went through a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). This was round 8 of IVF, round 14 of ART.

They transferred two blastocysts that we harvested in September – both with delayed growth and average scores. I was given a different post-transfer regime, topping up with two injections of Pregnyl (hCG), first eight hours after transfer, and another five days later. I’ve been on three doses of progesterone a day.

FETs are different than fresh rounds of IVF, as the body is in a more natural, untraumatized state. The body’s ovaries have not been assaulted with an aspirating needle 3 days prior, and therefore, some fertility doctors believe FETs might have as good as if not better outcomes for patients. This was our first FET – as they tend to occur only for women lucky enough to achieve Day-5 blastocysts, something we’ve never had during our first 7 rounds. Everything felt different on this round. My pre-transfer medication was scant – only a few shots and a few scans. “We’re kicking this thing au-naturale” whispered Dr. Jens. I was skeptical at my Danish clinic’s sudden attempt to put me on a Whole-Foods-style-round of IVF. But we’ve tried everything else, so why not?

The morning of my beta-blood test on November 20th, I took a home pregnancy test. It was positive.

That’s weird, we thought.

They must have given us the wrong embryos from the lab. My embryos are bad and wonky and have a less than 5% chance of producing a viable human being.

Oh well, no biggie. We’ll take whatever embryos they’d like to give us. We don’t care whose baby we get, we just want uh baby.

The blood test later that day confirmed it was a positive pregnancy. And it was not just any ol’ beta score – it was a convincing hCG score for 11dp5dt (11 days post 5-day transfer) – 488! Three days later, I retested and it was 1680. My beta is doubling every 40 hours, and I’m right on target. On round 1 of IVF – round 7 of ART – my positive beta test was a mere 60. While a 60 is technically pregnant, it’s more in the realm of “slow-progression-pregnant.” We had no idea that the <65 number was an omen of a less-than-ideal pregnancy, as I miscarried at 7.5 weeks.

The risk of a miscarriage is still there, but the odds are better than they were that prior round.

I am overjoyed. Ecstatic. Jumping up and down…in my head. I am also: scared $hitless. Skittish. And worried.

But I am trying to enjoy this. I am a little bit P. I will not say the word right now… I don’t want to. I don’t know how to say it. I’ll write later about why I’m so stumped and breathless and unable to admit something to myself, lest it all fall apart. But I recognize that I need to enjoy this.

We broke the streak. That long losing streak we had been on.

So I am being cautiously optimistic. But that unbridled glee that you, dear reader, are probably expecting of me – that will come after the heartbeat scan on December 11th, and after I glide joyfully into my second trimester in January. And then, after I’m holding that little person in my arms. And then, after that person graduates high school.

For now, I am 5 weeks and 2 days a-little-bit P. And Martin asked if we were going to do a home birth. So it’s business as usual, with him making me laugh.

A word for the General Public.

Please, ask me about my fertility.

If you are curious as to why I don’t have children yet, I am happy to share with you why. I am presuming you want to know and will handle maturely the conversation that follows, when I share with you some of my bad news. That I was diagnosed with infertility. That a heaping pile of $hitty circumstances, in concert with 13 rounds of bad luck, have left us with an empty crib at home.

Why say all this now? Because that viral image of the ultrasound-baby making the rounds on social media, beseeching people to not ask women about their baby-making plans, has left me conflicted.emily-bingham-post-1

The viral video of Chrissy Teigen – wife of John Legend – pressing audiences not to ask her (or anyone) about their baby-making plans has also left me pained. While I applaud these gorgeous women for tacitly approaching the subject of infertility, and trying to look out for their fellow TTC-struggling sisters, I can’t help but fear that their efforts to silence others erodes progress being made to remove the stigma of infertility, and the shame of struggling to conceive.

Women who deal with fertility-struggles know a lot about shame. I am not pregnant with a baby, but I am expectant with shame. It grows inside me, inch by inch, lasting not 9 months, but years.

I am ashamed that I have broken body. I am ashamed that I cannot give my husband the children he desperately wants. I wear shame for being that ugly person who gives pregnant women dirty looks.

I am so tired of this shame.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher of sociology, has mined the depths of shame and emerged with nuggets of wisdom worth considering: “If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

Infertility thrives in a context of secrecy – nobody talks about it, and no one is allowed to ask us about it. It festers in the silence, and yet the whispered voices of terror, trauma, needles poking, ultrasounds prodding, doctors leering, nurses chiding, husbands crying, that rage in our head are anything but silent. But we silence ourselves. And we – we, the struggling – smother ourselves in judgment. We chastise our uncooperative bodies. “I am broken. I am incomplete. I am a failure.” The one thing I am supposed to do is the one thing I cannot – even with the most miraculous of medical interventions.

Those three things need to be addressed to help shape a new infertility world-order where shame can be rooted out and a fruitful conversation can take its place.

Because infertility—just like diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease and scurvy—is a disease. Women and men who have been given the IF diagnosis have done nothing wrong. They are the one in 10 who were unlucky. Period. They did not cause this, but all of the silence that pervades the subject of infertility and miscarriage would suggest it’s something we caused, and therefore, should be ashamed of. It is the herpes of reproductive diseases.

I am not dying of this disease physically, but I worry on a daily basis that I could die from the broken heart it has caused. I linger in a constant state of disappointment. But my biggest problem, aside from my empty arms, is my shame. It is not the nosiness of others.

So to confront my shame and no longer make it the star of my personal narrative, I made an active choice not to blame The Curious Person whose question, “When are you having kids?” may trigger a negative thought pattern. That thought pattern is already activated a hundred times a day, every time I see a baby carriage on the street, a diaper ad on TV, or when I come face to face with a pregnant colleague at work. I’m triggered all of the (damn) time.

The people who think my child-planning is their business are not the problem. Because what if, perhaps, it is their business? When I stand pregnant at 38 weeks, with a protruding belly and an empire-waist belt tied into a sweet bow, I will be their business. Because I will take up twice the space I used to, which will be a conversation topic. So why is my muffin-topped stomach not?

The more I think about it, the more I just don’t understand.

Which is why I feel passionately about working to normalize conversations around infertility.

I would like to see a cataclysmic shift in the way we, as a society, talk about our fertility struggles. But achieving that goal is a tall order. It asks a lot of women who are already shouldering a lot. And it presumes the rest of the world is ready to greet us with their empathy.

If we miscalculate, and are met with the wrong remarks – and there are plenty that you can read about here – we hurt.

Brené Brown writes: “If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

I have an easy guide for simple IF- (infertility) sharing depending on a woman’s comfort level.

HOW TO SHARE your fertility issues:

  1. So when are you going to have kids?

Sharing (light version): When my luck improves.

  1. So when are you going to have kids?

Child-free by choice: It’s not for me (smile).

  1. So when are you going to have kids?

Heavy version: We have been trying for [X] years, have done [13] rounds of fertility treatments and have not succeeded yet. It has been a great sorrow, but I will be a mom one day.

  1. So when are you going to have kids?

Resolution version: We tried diligently and never could. We are rebuilding our lives in a way that is child-free and happy.

Approach 3 is what I share to anyone whom I trust. 15 out of 17 times, I’ve been met with empathy, love and support. At their core, most people try to not be assholes. At least not to your face.

So what do we do when met with the “wrong reply” from a friend or family member? When disclosing something personal and sacred is met with ‘flying debris’? I don’t have easy answers beyond the corny platitudes I may have learned from watching Frasier. Breathe in, breathe out. Close your eyes. Take a 10-second micro-nap. Or try, like I do, to repeat a mantra.

When my ears buckle to that voice echoing something ignorant or dismissive of my very real experience, I repeat this mantra:

“I shared. I was brave. I am stronger now.”

A good mantra that you can ignite in your head until it warms you from the inside subdues the stings of insensitivity. A mantra, a smile, a change of topic.

And then, I forgive. Because I remember that we’re all just doing the best we can, and I don’t always have the perfect words either.

When you reflect on the conversation later, reach around your shoulder and give yourself a hug. A big, fat pat on the back for being a soldier in spreading awareness about Infertility and throwing yourself on the frontlines for all the women behind us who need us.

Ladies, we are not alone in our struggles. We have each other, and we have a world that is slowly readying itself for us to come out of our shadows, to shed our shame, and receive some comfort and love.

Maybe we should let them help us.

she who is brave 2

Love, Marriage and No Baby Carriage

Infertility never been portrayed more honestly on the silver-screen than in the movie UP.  It was a small snippet in a full and delicious movie about true love, grief and rediscovering one’s appetite for adventure. The opening montage featuring the love story of Carl and Ellie is one of the most gorgeous pieces of storytelling I’ve ever seen.

Theirs was a rare and indecipherable love – the kind I am lucky enough to have. They do not get to have children. And for 15 haunting seconds, we see how much that fact devastated them. Ellie’s head in her hands, her isolation in the yard, Carl’s efforts to lift her mood. That sad gaze into nothing.

Pixar got it right.

Happy birthday?

eeyore

I dance on the edge of happy and sad. I wear a party hat while I cry. I blow out candles that are not there. I feel hollow and full of nothing.

It’s my birthday today, so that means it is the happiest saddest day of the year. I’m willing everything inside myself not to feel blue. But I do. Another year has passed, another year without children. My fertility clinic looks at me now with their eyebrows raised a half a centimetre higher. I’ve graduated into their new patient-category called: “not-yet-40 but still pretty f%$#ed.”

As the clock hit 12AM last night, I lay in bed with Martin, reflecting on our last year of struggles. And I purged all of my feelings, spilling out in a wash of tears. I just don’t want to turn one year older. I don’t want this. I know the alternative – I know I should feel grateful for the privilege of ageing. And yet, I just don’t.

It’s been one of the most emotional years of my life, full of moments of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness, punctuated by a few high points including: the wedding of my sister, the growth and development of my nephews – who now talk in full sentences and can screech my name “Tante Cammy”, and follow instructions from their moms to constantly tell me, “I wuv you, Hammy.” And they squeeze me so tight until I feel like I will be okay. We had some excursions to the State Fair, and San Francisco, Hermosa Beach and Lake Tahoe. My parents moved into a new house. Again. Our Copenhagen Support Group added a few new members, and we saw a few graduate “out”.

I attending training camp in Gran Canaria with one of the world’s best Pro Cycling teams; and I hung out with a Formula 1 driver. I watched more Netflix, HBO and Showtime than a human ever should, but feel enriched anyways.

I participated in work’s Tuesday wine-o’clock ritual; and I earned a surprise bonus check, which immediately went into our infertility-slush fund. And I made some pretty okay advertising for my clients.

I retreated more and more into my IF cave. I cried more, saw friends less.

I struck friendships online with women like me, and reconnected with some long-lost Kappa sisters who have championed my journey.

It’s been a full and awesome and awful and awesome year for me. And as I turn one year older, cursing my inability to say my new age, because if I say it, then it may be true…

I am giving myself enough grace to just let me be today.

Happy birthday, Cammy. Keep on going.

2015 Nor Cal Walk of Hope

walk of hope 2

On Saturday, I attended the 2015 Nor Cal Walk of Hope in my hometown city of Sacramento. It was an emotionally-layered experience – one that made my soul cry and smile.

As my mom and I drove to the Walk, I’ll admit that I got a little weepy. I hadn’t had a good cry in about a month, so I was overdue. Four days prior, we had sent two Day-6 blastocysts to the freezer (Round 14 of treatments, but whose counting?!). I had experienced unexpected bleeding during my egg retrieval, so Dr. Jens put the kibosh on any embryo transfer, “Until things have calmed down and healed.” Into liquid nitrogen two ‘okay-scoring’ embryos would go.IMG_5749

Three days later, I flew home to my safe harbor in the dry, smoky city of Sacramento. I slept 8 hours and woke up for the Walk of Hope flushed with sadness. And shame. Walk of Hopeless was more like it.

On that drive with Mom to the State Capitol – the place where I faithfully served the Governor from Austria during my blissful 20s (the Trying-to-Not-Conceive years), I felt lonely. I missed Martin. I missed my three sisters, who were not too far away. I wondered where they were. Where were my brothers, my nephews and my father, who all couldn’t make it to the walk that morning? There were prior commitments uttered — a tennis match, a weekend getaway, work, babies, etc. Why didn’t I tell them how much this event meant to me? Why didn’t I call their secretaries and insist that they walk with me at this thing that is all about Infertility because, you see, I am ALL ABOUT INFERTILITY. Why didn’t I speak up?

I’ll never know the answer to that question other than to say that sometimes I feel stupid. I feel unworthy. I feel tedious and boring – like a one-trick pony whose sole trick is failure. A brand of failure that most would prefer not talking about. My trick is pain. And isolation. My go-to conversation topics are hilarious needle stories about “body shots”, one-liners from doctors or drivel from the latest published data. So I am open and honest about all things fertility, until I’m not.

I straddle this desperate duality of staying sane and composed on most days – for the good of our family – while completely losing my shit on others (inside a closet at work, under my duvet, or into my Swedish meatballs at dinner).IMG_5731

I worry that the one thing that grips my thoughts nearly ever hour I am awake is the only thing I’m capable of taking about anymore with others. And by now, my family must be sick of it, right? Because I’m so f#^$!ng sick of it too.

I’m a vocal, loud-mouthed idiot on this one exhausting subject so much that I wonder if I’m taking up too much room. Should I shrink back into the corner and do what every other women who is Trying-to-Conceive (TTC) does, and that is, keep it all…a secret. Should I retreat into silence and anonymity – the knee-jerk reaction for most humans going through infertility, miscarriage or loss? Why shouldn’t I do that? Wait, why do women do that?

On Saturday, I didn’t understand just how much I needed the support of my family until I stood there alone – among other families, parents, neighbors, husbands, sisters, wives, sister-wives, newborns, puppies…and me. Cammy. Lonesome (infertile) dove.

My poor mom, who wanted to walk with me, got two minutes into the day when her iPhone 6 began a-buzzing and my brother-in-law was breathless on the other end, needing a babysitter for my nephew, like, now. So Nana had to split.

And she stood there, on the Capitol lawn, crying – knowing the timing was baaaad. A mother knows, apparently, when her daughter is hurting. She feared I would walk that Walk of Hope alone. And just as I was putting on my goggles (Ray-Bans) to dive headfirst into my pool of self-pity, I started chuckling. This is hilarious, I thought. This is my family. This is the circus that is our American lives. Damn, I hope I have children to let down one day too. ;)

Very soon, I spotted a few heroic women from Sacramento’s RESOLVE Support Group. I found Brenna and her mother; Angeline and her daughter; Karen and her parents; Cindy and Purvi (and her newborn); and a new friend named Aspen. And I got hugs and laughs and a delicious amount of smiles – and I felt anything but alone. I walked the Walk of Hope with Miss Kris, a fearless warrior who is braving this fertility-battle with an incredible attitude and the unwavering support of her husband and her generous younger sister. We gabbed and gabbed during our victory lap around the Capitol – and I felt awash in gratitude. I received an award from the event organizers for “Person Who Traveled the Farthest to Attend a Walk of Hope.” I earned a chipper “Congratulations” and a pat on the back from one inspiring Barb Collura, President and CEO of RESOLVE, who beamed while telling me no one had ever travelled that far for a Walk of Hope in the history of Walks of Hope, held annually in cities across America.

Little did she know that showing up for the walk was the easiest thing I’ve done this month. But I’m proud of me too.

Words fail to express my gratitude for this tremendous organization called RESOLVE, dedicated to tackling infertility through education, advocacy and support. Eight years ago, Karen Bigham started Sacramento’s RESOLVE support group. She is a co-leader together with the always gorgeous and ebullient Crystal. They are supporters, organizers and cheerleaders for a hodge-podge troupe of hellion women who woke up one morning and found themselves on the island of the infertile, together. Karen is a personal hero of mine for giving so charitably of her time and energy to help other struggling women in their darkest hours.

RESOLVE is the reason I found the courage to start a Support Group in Copenhagen – one that I’m proud to say includes a committed and cozy band of international women, supporting one another through their fertility challenges.

If you have been struggling to start or complete your family, please see if there is a RESOLVE support group in your city. I attend meetings every time I visit California. The gatherings are stacked with open-hearted women ready to share their thoughts, their kindness, their support and hope.

When I get rich one day, I plan to bequeath a sizeable amount of my wealth to RESOLVE so that they can advance their noble mission of helping women and families find their resolution.

The NorCal Walk of Hope 2015 raised more than $47,000!

Thank you, RESOLVE, for helping me reclaim some hope.

Walk of Hope 2015