October 6, 2015
Had a great day volunteering and walking at the Resolve Walk of Hope in Tampa this weekend. I hate to start with something as banal as the weather, but it can sort of make or break these things sometimes, so I was so happy we had the BEST weather we’ve had in Florida in, like, five months. It was sunny but much cooler than it’s been. How cool? I dunno, I didn’t actually check the temperature, and cool is skewed here. All I know is we were all looking at each other like, Do you believe this? We weren’t fighting for shade or pouring water over our heads or changing into dry shirts moaning, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” There was a breeze, OK, more than a breeze, lots of our stuff was blowing everywhere, but we just chased it down—without sweating!!
The turn-out was great. How great? I dunno, I’m not good at estimating these things or, um, counting the number of registrants on the sheet that I was using to check people in. All I know is there wasn’t an overwhelming mob but there were plenty of people, some with miracle, rainbow babies and kids in tow, some not yet with, but just about ALL wearing orange or shirts saying something about this cause or their journey. But more so, there was a quality to the turn-out, a feeling of, yup, we’re all together in this, this is exactly why we’re here, let’s do this. For sure, there was a feeling of hope. And $28,000 raised for Resolve, woo hoo!
A couple of highlights for me:
*I wore this Beat Infertility shirt that my awesome, talented niece, Ashlynn, made. We modified the logo slightly to hold three hearts in the belly in honor of my three miscarriage babies, and added two big hearts with Jack and Sadie’s names in them, my own miracle babies. I wore this shirt for myself and my family, and I wore it in support of all the really, really amazing women in the Beat and Beat(en) Infertility groups, and I wore it to help spread the word that this wonderful podcast and online support and information group exists, and I wore it because I want to help BEAT INFERTILITY!
*Meeting Erin, a member of Beat Infertility, in person. You start to feel so connected to people in the group, it’s hard to remember that they literally live all over the world, but they do. So to meet Erin in Tampa felt really special. She is not only sweet and adorable, she is a powerhouse—she raised a TON of money for the walk. Erin, you are going to be one awesome mama, and I hope your time comes SOON!
*Meeting Alyson, another volunteer and a perfectly fertile friend of Jessica O’Connor, one of the Chairs of the walk. Alyson shared with me how she never really knew about the struggle of infertility until Jessica opened up about hers, and Alyson participated as a volunteer to support her and this cause. It is impossible to truly know and feel the brutal roller coaster that is infertility unless you’ve been through it. But for Alyson to care so much about Jessica and appreciate what she’s been through, and show such effort to support her, and all of us, really touched me. Thank you, Alyson!
*Then there was Jessica! She was fantastic in all that she took on to make this a great walk—organizing, fundraising (she raised a WHOPPER amount!), obtaining donations of food, drinks, etc., and I’m sure a lot of behind the scenes stuff I don’t even know about. But not only did she do all this, she did it, in part, while going through IVF and the first trimester of her pregnancy!!! I was lucky I could tie my own shoelaces without a breakdown when I was going through everything. I don’t think I’ll ever not be amazed by someone who could do all this while going through it. Here’s the best part: Jessica, her husband, Ryan, and their family and friends shared the wonderful news of her pregnancy at the walk, wearing T-shirts that said IVF Works! on the front, and Team O’Connor, Baby On Board on the back, and it was such an incredible statement of hope and happiness. At one point, I looked up and saw Jessica straight down the middle of the field giving a fist pump right when The Script song Hall of Fame was belting out, “You can walk straight through hell with a smile.” I mean, that whole song is awesome, but that line, at that moment, with that visual? I cried, one of those gripping, bittersweet, painful but happy cries, and I was glad for it. Jessica, thank you so much for everything you did and embody. What a mama!!
*Of course, I can’t leave out the walk itself, which I did with my husband, Wayne, son, Jack, 9, and daughter, Sadie, 3. I will never forget what I went through to have our perfect, beautiful, (if non-photogenic!) family, and I will be on-my-knees grateful every single day of my life for them. To be walking next to them now after years of blackness without them felt beyond what words can describe, honestly, as does every day with them. To anyone still struggling through this and still struggling to believe it will happen for you, I STILL can’t believe it happened for me, but it did. I am pulling for you, hoping that it happens for you soon, that you continue to find strength and peace as you fight to build your family. Keep going. It is worth it all.
A couple more shout outs:
My sister, Jen, for schlepping to Tampa with us (seriously, could someone please build a decent fucking road between east and west South Florida?!), and making the weekend even more fun. (What do you mean it was just for the geocaches?! )
Julie, it was great to meet you, and hopefully I’ll meet your daughter next year too. Next year we’ll have registration down!
Dr. Kym Caporale, Co-Chair, who for some reason I never ended up meeting, but thank you!
Rebecca Flick, Vice President, Communications and Programs at Resolve, it was really great to meet you, thank you!
Sponsors of the walk, thank you! (And to ALL of you OB/GYN and Reproductive Medicine practices who were approached and did not sponsor or donate, SHAME ON YOU!!! SHAME!!!)
And, of course, Resolve, for EVERYTHING they do to help people through this journey, thank you!
Looking forward to Florida Walk of Hope 2016!
(Seriously, someone in construction please get started on that road!)