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

A Guide for Friends & Family of a Woman with Infertility

EH 2Medical experts, psychologists and researchers seem to agree that infertility is a life crisis.

It changes everything about a woman, disrupting her worldview, her usual positivity, her feelings toward her body, and on and on. It can often consume every waking minute of a person’s life – even for women who previously were not the obsessive type. Women with passionate hobbies, rising careers, mad skills and active social lives can find themselves with little else to think or talk about. Work performance may or may not suffer, and they can find themselves isolated from friends.

Slowly, as months drag into years, infertility can change the experience of a woman so much that she may not even recognize herself. With that in mind, I’ve been asked by a few people in my life what they should and should not say when dealing with a friend with infertility. It’s a very tough question. I’m so happy they ask me!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in that I rarely hear “the wrong thing.” My friends and family members have treated me golden. But I also recognize that I’m lucky, and I know many women who only hear the hard stuff.

So, what is the wrong thing to say to an infertile woman? Let’s explore the topic in a game of “Say this, Not that!”

Say: “I am so sorry.”

Not: “In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal.”

“I am sorry you are going through this” is the one and only thing she needs to hear. Say that, and you have done enough.

The worst thing an infertile woman can hear is that her problems are borderline First World Problems. Minimizing or trivializing her very real and raw experience can inflict a great deal of damage.

Say: “I am sure you are looking at all of your options. I support you.”

Not: “…but you can always adopt?”

Adoption is a beautiful option that most of us are already seriously considering. It is costly, and it warrants great deliberation. The biggest barrier that keeps infertile couples away from adoption is one simple thing: they are not ready for more rejection. Because adoption equals a hell of lot more agony and rejection. And investment. Your best to not suggest adoption unless you are willing to personally donate the $40,000+ dollars it costs for your infertile friend to adopt. You got the cash to splash? By all means…

Another tricky dimension to the adoption tips I’ve heard from well-meaning friends is that I don’t hear you say, “You should adopt,” what I hear you say is, “You are so screwed – your only option is adoption.” I feel bummed. I feel you’ve accelerated ahead at breakneck speed to an option I’ve lined up for myself after exhausting a series of other options first. Adoption might not be a couple’s Plan B or Plan C. In between Plan A (let’s call that, a perfect genetic baby, conventionally conceived and carried to term), there are a host of options, resources, medical interventions, medical miracles (donor eggs, donor sperm, embryo adoption, surrogacy), connecting a couple’s path between Plans A and Z.

When your struggling friend mentions the topic of adoption, that is your cue to ask about it. I enjoy talking about adoption now. Because I’m ready for it. I wasn’t ready earlier in my journey.

Say: “I understand why you cannot come to my baby shower. I still love you.”

Not: “When you get pregnant, it may be hard for me to be happy for you.”

Ouch. That happened to a close friend who endured seven excruciating years of infertility. By Year 5, she was gracefully ducking out of baby showers, always with a thoughtful excuse and a gift. That was not enough for one of her friends who told her when she finally got pregnant, “It’s hard for me to be happy for you, because you did not attend my baby shower” (for Baby #3). Don’t be an Amy.

We appreciate your grace and forgiveness of our absence.

Say: “I am pregnant.” – in an email.

Not: “I am pregnant!” in a public setting lest your friend sneak off to the bathroom to cry. Her tears in no way detract from her joy at your blessed good news. She is happy for you; sad for herself. That is all – and, yes, I know it feels like we’re being hypersensitive divas. Total Arethra Franklins without her Snickers. We don’t mean to be. We are in pain.

Say: “I know it must be hard to relax going through this stressful time.”

Not: “You should just try to relax.”

This is the one we hear the most. “Just relax.” It’s also one of the most insidious and shudder-inducing for the eardrums. The proverbial nails on the chalkboard comment to the infertile. Why? For three main reasons.

For many of us, relaxing will not get us pregnant. Many of us have 100% medical conditions that 100% prevent us from conceiving naturally or caring a baby to term. Imagine a woman with no tubes for which an egg to travel down. Imagine a woman with no eggs left. Imagine her husband has grave sperm morphology. There are so many medical reasons where they cannot just “relax” and execute babymaking at home. Even if your friend has a chance for success without medical intervention, you’re safer to operate under the assumption that her condition warrants the expert care she is seeking, which ‘relaxing and unplugging’ won’t fix.

You wouldn’t tell a gay couple to just relax, and they’ll get their baby. Nope. They have to do something. Something that could probably end up being stressful. So any tip to just relax quickly becomes bunk because THIS IS A LIFE CRISIS, people. <– She says with a smile.

The “Relax!” comment is a minefield because it also suggests that we are the problem. What we hear is, “If you were less stressed/more relaxed, you wouldn’t be in this pickle.” That problem you have? You’re causing it. That is what our vulnerable hearts hear.

And finally, infertility is a medically classified disease. Epilepsy is also a disease. If you had a friend struggling with epilepsy, you probably wouldn’t tell her to just relax.

Exhaustive studies have been conducted to uncover whether the old adage is true – that “once you relax” or “once you adopt” or “once you stop trying,” then you will get pregnant. The research shows that the percentage and likelihood of conceiving is the exact same for those who “stop and relax/adopt/take a break” as they were before such action. Study after study confirms this. So let’s put this myth to rest.

Say: “What can I do or say to help you?”

Not: “I had this friend who just [adopted a baby, got acunpuncture, went to a mountain, went gluten-free, gave up coffee, gave up running, stopped trying, fill in the blank]…and then got pregnant!

This one is tricky because we are genuinely happy for your friend. She is the success story we crave to be. We know your story is coming from a place of love and helpfulness. It’s just that…we’ve heard a lot about The Friend. And the cumulative effect of so many people having “cracked” what we need to do, amounts to one big pile of over-input and confusion, it hurts the brain. We cannot process it all. Chances are, we’ve already tried three-quarters of what you are suggesting. We are following a treatment plan that feels right to us at this time, and deviating from the script disrupts the fragile House of Coping we have constructed.

We do appreciate the advice though. When in doubt, remember that less is more.

Say: “My children are a blessing – I know how lucky I am.”

Not: “You’re so lucky you don’t have to deal with some of the awful [kid/baby puking/sleeplessness] stuff I’m dealing with.”

That one really stings. All that crap that is so tough for a new parent? Bring it on! I’m ready to face it, moan about it, and deal with it.

Say: “You don’t deserve this.”

Not: “This is all happening for a reason.”

I don’t know what that reason is, or whose reason it is, but that reason eludes me. We’ll never know. We have to leave it at that.

If you got through all of this, you deserve a trophy for being a true and loyal friend.

Thank you for looking out for us.

xo

Hammy

Cups

cup 2a 2IVF is a really hard ordeal for men.

It’s really painful because it requires them to have that awkward orgasm involving a plastic cup.

It’s really hard on them having to deal with that crusty, tattered edition of Playboy July ’98. The one with Jenny McCarthy on the cover. And the men, bless their hearts, know what she’s turned into. And they’re just not in the mood – and that’s way hard.

They never know just how close to the Fill Line they need to go. And then that uncomfortable walk-of-shame to the lab, where they pass all the moaning women keeled over on gurneys, in their post-surgical morphine-fog after an egg retrieval. Hospital-gowns-a-blazing. And the sweet men stand there, holding their cups, cheeks all flushed.

And then they have to worry about the condition of their swimmers. That one of their millions of tadpoles might boink one of her seven (measly) eggs on the dish.

IVF is hard on the Daddies-to-Be because they can get callouses on their thumbs from injecting their woman so much with needles.

Finger Band-aids® don’t buy themselves, you know?

It’s way hard.

______________________________

Okay. Imagine all of the above uttered in the voice of Amy Schumer.

Because you see, if you know me, you know that I’m being super duper sarcastic. I don’t feel bad for the men who get to have an awkward doctor’s-office orgasm.

I say to them, “Where the f@#k is my orgasm?”

Why does a round of IVF mean 117 injections into my abdomen, 27 vaginal ultra-scans, mood swings that make me behave like Gordon Ramsey with PMS, hypertension, bloating, ovarian cysts, cramping, bleeding, metal speculums that feel like a car-jack for my cervix, and 15 pounds of water-and-Oreo-weight-gaining; and YET SOMEHOW, when society reflects on the IVF ordeal, we fret over his awkward orgasm.

His role: an unfulfilling solo dalliance in a creepy medical office. Her role: see list above. Acknowledging that it is a less-than-perfect moment of ecstasy for him in the broom closet, I say “boo-friggin-hoo.” From a place of enormous love and respect. Because IVF is really hard on the men too.

Giving credit where it’s due, my husband has had 13 intimate encounters with cups in his life, and he hasn’t complained about it once. Except that one time I told him to think about me. That was going too far.

On season 2 of HBO’s True Detective, the character played by Vince Vaughn tells Colin Farrell’s character, “My wife and I are going to do IVF! Man, I’m not looking forward to spooging in a cup.”

Martin and I bursted into laughter. That, my friends, is IVF in a nutshell, explained by the dude from Old School.

He gets a dark room and a magazine. I get 1,416 needles. (Yes, the number keeps growing the more I type).

Who has it the worst?

Probably Jenny McCarthy.

Testing Day

bloodWhy infertility hurts so bad. Reason #106.  When you start trying to get pregnant, you summon so much love for the baby that will come. Let’s call it pre-love. It swells inside you, growing bigger by the day. Every month, you follow the signs to see if you’re any closer to being united with that one you already love. But your baby just can’t find its way to you. And you feel so lonely.

Nobody knows that baby that you miss. They haven’t met or seen the child the way you have. They couldn’t possibly understand why you are mourning thin air. Missing, what isn’t there.

Today was the holy blood test day for our latest IVF cycle. 14 days ago, we transferred back two embryos, 4 cells each. Mild fragmentation, all even size. “Not bad chances,” said the embryologist. I’ve been on a dose of prednisone in the morning, estradiol tablets three times a day, and progesterone injections, also three times a day. I’ve had all the symptoms. Heightened sense of smell. Sore breasts. And then, the period. That didn’t come. The same period that comes every 25 days, on the dot, didn’t show up. The only time it didn’t come was when I got pregnant on IVF cycle #1, ART treatment #7. The other times, it always arrived, three days before testing day. Like a zombie, I showed up for those rote tests, knowing it was all over.

But this round? This was our chance. I felt amazing at the clinic this morning, proudly offering up a vein for the sweet phlebotomist to draw one full test tube. Martin squeezed my knee as if to say, “We got this.”

I overheard the 46-year-old patient before me tell the nurse that she had taken a home pregnancy test that morning. And it was positive! She beamed as the nurse rubbed her leg.

So I was not prepared for the phone call just one hour ago. It was nurse Camilla saying, “I’m so sorry, Camryn.”

It’s negative.

The hardest part of today’s event was having to call Martin. He is just as shattered.

We have so much love to give and nowhere to place it.

And I wonder if our baby misses us just as much.

Pregnancy, interrupted.

IMG_3613The day that I lost my pregnancy in 2014 I was rushed into emergency surgery. My beta-hCG hormone levels were rising rapidly, but at the 8 week heartbeat ultra-scan, my uterus was empty.

The infertility specialist treating me at Copenhagen General Hospital (not it’s real name, it’s actually Rigshospitalet) scrambled to set an urgent appointment, three floors down, with the chief of the Gynæcology department.

The silver-haired professor scanned me and offered us a blank stare. He asked when I last ate. He proceeded to say that they would perform laparoscopic surgery on my fallopian tubes later that evening to check for signs of a pregnancy outside the uterus. Such a measure was to save my life and avoid an even bigger surgery down the road. “And no, we cannot move the pregnancy from your tube to your uterus,” he chuckled. Answering something I never even asked.

That day, life came to a screeching halt. Our hopes and dreams and future and happiness were all tied up in the little being that was supposed to be beating inside of me. And then they told us, that little one was no more. It was over.

This can’t be happening, we thought: We had been triumphantly beamed up from our parallel universe of infertility madness? We had been given a 2-month breather inside the kingdom of smug, expectant parenthood. How could we be evicted? Tossed back onto the island of the infertile, where we had frantically been fleeing? Our heavenly reprieve, over.

Pregnancy, interrupted.

The anaesthesiologist roused me from my deep slumber after the surgeons made their exit, and he whispered into my ear, “You are going to be fine.” A porter wheeled me back to my hospital room where a relieved Martin gripped my hand. It was 11 pm. I was drugged up, loopy and wondering why I didn’t feel an urge to use the bathroom. The nurse showed me why, flicking the catheter chord beneath my leg. It would stay in through the night.

Feeling embarrassed, dopey and mopey, I sent Martin home to get some rest.

I dozed in and out of consciousness for the next few hours as Tine, the night nurse, scurried in and out of my room. She had been instructed to take my vitals every 30 minutes, as my blood pressure was scarily low.

And then it started: the primal screams. It began as a female voice, seeping through the porous tile floors. The volume swelled slowly, going from pale and faint to dizzyingly loud. She was screaming and then, another one was screaming. They were breathless, gasping for air in between ear-splitting lashes. The women were hurting. Screeching. Agonizing.

They were giving birth.

“Yes,” said Tine, glancing at her watch. “We’re directly above Labor & Delivery, so we hear all the screams.”

“Is this some kind of sick joke?” I wanted to ask. But I didn’t. I smiled – a release of tension at the brutal irony, agitating the usual equanimity I reserve for strangers.

In my sleepless Propofol-hangover, I processed the sensory inputs that were assaulting my freshly operated-on body of feelings: The tangy ethanol balm of my bleached up quarters. The thick, 80s-era curtains casting a cool blue glow on the un-hyggelig space. I lay there alone, hollowed out, stitched up, barren and broken. And one floor below me, a person was entering this mad world, under the lullaby of her mother’s heaving chest.

I let them scream for me.

The soundtrack of my ending pregnancy would be the murmurings of the alive-child, one floor below, entering a brightly-lit world of cold metal, tears, back-slapping and jubilation.

Life was chugging along. That damn circle everyone talks about. I could not escape it, nor would I want to.

This not-so-gentle whisper was all the prodding I needed. Yes, we had been robbed. Yes, we were royally f*cked. Yes, we had been evicted. But our journey wasn’t over. Babies would continue to make their glorious debut. And I was convinced now, more than ever, that one day, I swear to God, I would be back in there. One floor below.

And it would be my turn to scream.

Infertility & Marriage: I’m a Lucky Girl

_MG_0001

I have a theory about what happens to couples who go through years of infertility. It’s not grounded in any scientific evidence. It’s all experiential, based solely on what has happened in my marriage, and what I’ve seen with other fertility-challenged couples whom we know.

Two things can happen to a couple – you grow closer, or you grow apart. You will not stay in the same place. The status quo of married-life does not subsist like it once did, pre-infertility.

So there you have it: you come together or you come apart. It’s a tragic situation for a lot of couples who find themselves on the apart-trajectory.

Going through years of infertility is the ultimate marital stress-test. It’s always there, hanging in the room that you share with your partner: that one thing, that isn’t there. Your togetherbaby. Your baby is missing, but you both want that baby. You are both saddened by the absence of the baby. You grieve and you struggle – and you grieve and struggle differently. Maybe one of you is more crushed. Maybe one of you is more ready to throw in the towel. Maybe one of you is making herself crazy, mining blogs, journals and millions of pages of data on the World Wide Web, digging for clues. Maybe one of you is shirking other duties, on account of the obsession with that person who isn’t there.

With our baby Bjørn, a polar bear in Iceland.

With our baby Bjørn, a polar bear in Iceland.

There is a place in my heart that I reserve for all the couples going through infertility who are not on the same page. A woman in my American support group recounted that she has endured Clomid and 3 IUIs alone (her husband begrudgingly offered some sperm samples). But he is against the idea of working this hard to have a child. “Why don’t we just get a dog?” he asked his shell-shocked wife.

I can’t even imagine. I can’t imagine walking this deserted road alone, with no one holding my hand. Or carrying me, the way my husband has. I would not have lasted a month going through this agony were it not for my hübster, my musmus (my “treasure-mouse”). There hasn’t been one turning point on our journey where we were not aligned about what to do next. We somehow always manage to sync up. To  hold each other, process, grieve and research…and then synchronize our action plan. We handle the grief differently – sometimes at the same time (and that’s not very fun, when it’s 2 falling apart, not 1), but usually, we take turns. I get to fall apart when a round of IVF is cancelled right before transfer. I get to fall apart when the doctor with whom I’m assigned to rehash the implosion of a cycle doesn’t speak any English. I get to fall apart on the hospital bed when the doctor gives us bad news and I don’t know how to save face in the traditional Danish-stoic way.

My stone-faced husband gets to shudder after he injects me. He gets to grieve and scream in the shower after we lose a baby in the first trimester. And he gets to “stand on one leg” (our marital term for the über-dramatic flip-out) when coming to grips with the fact that he will soon be without a job. As if our bad luck couldn’t get bad-er. So we take turns being dramatic. Who has to be strong – and who gets to fall apart today. And I count my lucky stars that I am with a man sensitive enough to feel the depths of this ravaging sadness; whose bouts of frailty give way to my own spurts of other-worldly strength that I didn’t know I had in me.

Going through infertility with this man, I found out that I married an angel. A strong, steady, 2-meter-tall-Viking angel who will go the distance for me. And with me.

I found my happiness and my safe harbor when I found Martin. I would have discovered the gravity of that good fortune in time, without this fertility madness, but I’m grateful for the jolt of reality the last few years have delivered.

Before I got married, I often considered the old adage: “You need to find happiness on your own before you can find happiness with any other person.” As a single woman – pre-Martin – I needed to love myself and be happy, all by my lonesome. And I maybe did that. But I’m not really sure. Because my happiness entered another level when I got to have him, after several years of friendship.

Infertility has shown us that we can survive anything, as long as we are DSC02355surviving, together. On my darkest days and my gloomiest nights, Martin still strikes me as a miracle that I wake up to, every morning.

I do not have a baby, but I have him and that means: a minimum, guaranteed state of being okay and happy. Even when this infertility stuff is literally killing me softly, I know I will maintain some modicum of happiness.

Because I have Martin, and for that, I am extremely lucky.

On gratitude

heart is tired

Does anyone have tips for dealing with women/friends/sisters/strangers with babies who talk about how hard they have it? One of my favorite bloggers who shall remain “nameless” (Cupcakes and Cashmere) gave birth 3 months ago, and her recent entry on how terrifying it was “to realise her baby needs 1 bottle of formula before bed” — which has torn her up to bits — made me want to toss my computer out the window. All the commenters lauded her bravery, sympathising with the grief of realising formula-supplementation might be wise.

I know I’m just a cold-hearted biyotch for not giving two hoots — and for feeling rising wrath for her. But then the cycle of guilt started up. And I wondered, how do others in the TTC community cope with ungrateful idiots with babies?! Why do I call them idiots? Am I as mean and cruel as I sound? What has happened to me?…I asked my husband. It’s all perspective, he said. Her problems are monumental. To her.

Will I become one of those gals who obsesses over the “small stuff” when I join the ranks of privileged new moms? Are there any “small stuffs” when you’re a new mom?

Will I ever have the chance to worry about cloth versus disposables? To buy a Sophie the Giraffe toy for my teething baby to chuck on the road so I can obsessively sanitize it with organic wet wipes from Whole Foods? Will it ever be my turn to be a freaked out, bean-counting new mom?

When it is my time — and I have to believe it will come — I hope I have the long-term memory and the good grace enough to know when to keep my pie-hole shut, lest there be the ear of a grief-filled woman grappling with infertility, who’d give anything for a baby to whine about.

Happy Mother’s Day?

Cam bboy

With the nephew

 

Today is a tricky one. It’s a beautiful day – one that is dedicated to all the mothers of the world. I am lucky enough to have the most sensational mama in my life, so I try to make today All About Her. Today is the day I honor my mom the same way I have done so annually for 30+ years. I try to ignore the fact that, by now, I should be in the league of all blessed women like her. I even ignore the fact that two of my sisters received cards and presents today because they are lucky enough to be mothers. I am an ostrich, sticking her head in the sand. Today is, what, a day for Nancy, my glorious mom? Fine by me.

I am trying not to think about the fact that this was supposed to be my first Mother’s Day. This was going to be My Year, when the cards would pour in and my husband would get me some flowers, and I’d walk around feeling a little bit sanctimonious and fabulous. But I’m not there yet. My baby lasted a short while, and didn’t make it, and my due-date in October came and went, and here I am, another year on Mother’s Day. Without the title I frantically crave.

My friend, Miss B, wrote me a little while ago. She has struggled, cried and hurt for years on end – waging her hard-fought battle toward parenthood. And she pleaded with me, “But Cam, we are mothers. We are.”

If it’s there in our hearts, and we nurture and believe and hope and love…and care for and cuddle and pray and cherish the little ones in our life (the real, the no longer, and the not here yet), then we are mothers.6959043_orig

And her reasoning stunned me, and freed me, all at once. I started making progress that started with: I am not not a mother.

And today, I want to go the distance. I have decided I will not allow myself to feel so lonely and left out. I am an aunt, a sister, a daughter and a wife. And I will say, without equivocation, I am a mother.

 

#ThisIsInfertility

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*Not our new house. This is Christiania.

Soon, Martin and I will move. We are downsizing to a smaller, cheaper apartment in a northern borough of Copenhagen called Nørrebro. AKA, NørreBronx.

Our week of packing happens to coincide with National Infertility Awareness Week in the United States. The movement – complete with hashtags and extensive social media efforts – has given me time to reflect on the current wave of emotions (read, bitterness) I am feeling right now.

We are moving because I struggle with infertility; my body isn’t working right, and this is my punishment. Losing my home, in hopes of gaining some money. To pay for the children we so desperately want. We will have to pay a lot of money to earn the title of Parents, esq.

I am trying to be less bitter about this fact. But I am. 11 rounds of fertility treatments, and we are back at the bottom of our mountain. Only soon, we are homeless. Uprooted, physically and emotionally. And you don’t have to tell me, because I already know: it’s only money – and it will be the most gratifying, heart-filling investment we will ever make in our lives. Without question.

But I see our move as a huge failure on my part.IMG_5148

We are moving → the wrong way. We are the Jeffersons, in reverse. ♫ “We are moving on down, to the North side, to a deluxe shanty that makes me cry.” This predicament has upturned the old canard I clung to, promising my ‘upward mobility.’ We are going from spacious and posh and high ceilings, to smaller and dodgier and a single chipped bathroom in that rougher ’hood across town. The one where the terrorist was shot after his shooting rampage on February 14th. There is no sparkling pool of self-pity for me to swim in there. There are people there in far worse shape than me.

I would like to not be the sweater-set wearing a$$hole that I am who worries about the square-metres of her new address. We don’t really need a big flat, because we are just two. But where will the crib go, over there?

The moving boxes all over the flat eat me up inside. I mope around the joint, and fill half a box every evening before telling my husband I’m too tired.

I am annoying even myself.

Martin has called in the big guns. His parents. My precious in-laws from the island of Fyn have temporarily moved into the new, bare-ass flat. They brought sleeping bags and meatballs. They wake early every morning, put on their overalls, and get to work, painting it top to bottom (while Martin and I have our butts planted in Danish-design chairs, in front of our computer screens all day).

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Actual photo submitted to adoption agency. 🙂

They’re sleeping on an air mattress every night in order to help us. And I still feel like I am entitled to complain. (I know I’m not). They don’t want to bunk with us at the old flat in order to “give us our privacy.” They get it. They know how our evenings are spent. Emailing adoption agencies in the U.S., fighting back tears.

I tell them, Tak. Tak så meget.

Thank you so much. I slipped into the kitchen during dinner last night to cry into the sink. Because their decency and generosity are things I feel unworthy of._MG_4739 copy

I am so mad at the world, but I love them so much. I love them for being so silent and loving. For helping us out in this confusing time. For making sure my amazing husband isn’t in that flat alone, painting it real nice for his bitter, infertile wife.

#ThisIsInfertility #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek