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.
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).
I worry that the one thing that grips my thoughts nearly ever hour I am awake is the only thing I’m capable of talking 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.