This Childless Woman Attended the Charlotte Walk of Hope

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy... & creator of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon at the Charlotte Walk of Hope 2024

Wobble Warning:  In this blog, I speak candidly about the Charlotte Walk of Hope, a DIY fundraiser for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.  I mention infertility, fertility, “p,” littles, and more.  My hope is that you will feel empowered by the end, but there might be some wobbles along the way.  Please, only read if you are feeling strong enough.

National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW), founded by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, wraps up with the Walk of Hope (WOH).  The WOH is a DIY event held in various cities throughout the US.  All monies raised via the WOH go to RESOLVE, whose mission is to raise awareness about infertility and ensure that family building options remain available to all.  Though I have written about the Walk of Hope in the past, shared about it via Not So Mommy… social media, and donated to this fundraiser, I had never actually attended the event.  Until this year…

Connecting with Sarah…

At the Night of Hope, I connected (in person) with Sarah Ekis—recipient of the Hope Award for Service because of her roles as a Peer Leader for a RESOLVE support group and Organizer of the Charlotte Walk of Hope.  Sarah invited me to attend the Charlotte WOH, so Dane and I registered as a team.

As the event neared, Sarah asked if I’d like a table, stating that she would mention me and Not So Mommy… during her opening remarks, or if I’d simply like to attend and walk.  After talking with Dane, I decided to accept Sarah’s offer to set up a table.

Sharing two of my favorite books…Photo of Kate Kaufmann's non-fiction book "Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No." and Daniela Petrova's fiction novel "Her Daughter's Mother" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blog

At my table, I decided to share some of the images I had created for this year’s NIAW social media challenges, as well as two of my favorite books—Kate Kaufmann’s non-fiction book, “Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No.” and Daniela Petrova’s fiction novel, “Her Daughter’s Mother.”  Both authors graciously agreed to give away a free copy of their book to a random winner.  So, I was able to do a raffle drawing!

The Day of the Charlotte Walk of Hope…

On Saturday, 27 April 2024, I was up before 6 am (no small feat, as I’m not a morning person!) and we were out of the door a little after 7.  We made the drive to Charlotte, figured out where to park downtown, and finally found the entrance to Truist Field!  Nervous, I saw Sarah who smiled and greeted us warmly.  A volunteer gave us our WOH shirts and showed us where the Not So Mommy… table was located.  We changed into our shirts, and I set up my display.  Then, I went back to get the beads that represent our journey.  Green represented childless not by choice, which made me super happy!  I know Sarah chose that color because of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon.  (Thanks, Sarah!)Olive Green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon on Not So Mommy...

Starting to arrive…

At this point, attendees were starting to arrive.  Many stopped at the fertility clinic tables.  Of course, this makes sense as most are infertility warriors—some still in the midst of their battles.  But some stopped by my table and asked about the books, signing up for the raffle.  A few even took my card…

Photo of Not So Mommy... card at Not So Mommy..., a childless & infertility blog

Opening remarks…

At 10:15 AM, Sarah made her opening remarks.  As promised, she mentioned me and Not So Mommy…, encouraging attendees to stop by my table and sign up for the book giveaway.  Next was the keynote speaker, Nichelle Sublett (Fertility Advocate, TEDx Speaker, and former Mrs. North Carolina 2018).  Then, we all headed to the track located around the baseball field to begin the 1.6-mile walk, representing the 1 in 6 who battle infertility.

On the track…Walk of Hope Logo

Once on the track, Dane wove us in and out of people until we got to an area that was less crowded.  He was trying to get us out of the way.  He actually walked us to the beginning of the line.  After taking a group photo, Sarah asked Nichelle to count us down.  And we all started walking, following the Knights bright green mascot, Homer.

Dane asked, “How did we end up being first?!”  “I don’t know!” I laughed.  But I felt a twinge of guilt.  Should the keynote speaker, Nichelle, be first?  Should the organizer, Sarah, be first?  Should someone in the midst of battling infertility be first?  Should someone who got the little be first?  And then, I decided…

Dane and I—a childless not by choice couple after a ten-year infertility battle—deserve to be first just as much as anyone.  In fact, I think there was something rather poetic, rather magical about a childless couple leading the way.  A couple showing that you can make it through the grief, you can find joy even if your battle ends without a little in arms.

Back at our table…Collage of Photos from Charlotte Walk of Hope 2024, on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blog

After we finished the 1.6-mile walk, we headed back up to our Not So Mommy… table.  I smiled as I watched littles take photos with Homer, the mascot.  I adored the moment when a little boy, eating popcorn, walked right up to my table and looked intently at the photos I had displayed, carefully reading about my story.

I’m rather shocked, but I didn’t wobble.  Not once.  I was genuinely happy for those who got the little.  Genuinely happy for the lady I saw who was pregnant.  Genuinely happy to chat with the little boy who came over to my table.

As I spoke with one lady, I offered the book giveaway.  She responded (with a smile) that she had her “hands full” with no free time to read.  It was such a “mom thing” to say!  But you know what?!  She did not say it in a condescending way.  And when I replied, “I get it,” she didn’t look at me like I couldn’t possibly.  I mean, I don’t get what it’s like to have your “hands full” because of raising littles.  But I do understand what it’s like to be extremely busy with very little “me time.”

She spoke her truth.  I spoke my truth.  And we both respected the other’s reality.

It was lovely.

Coming to an end…

By this point, it was nearly noon, and the Walk of Hope was coming to an end.  I packed up our table and gave Sarah a hug goodbye.  As others were heading home to snacks and naptime, Dane and I had a leisurely lunch, looked at a pond store (as we are building a koi pond in our front yard), and made the drive back to South Carolina.

I am so, so glad that we attended the Charlotte Walk of Hope 2024.  It was a phenomenal experience.  Truly, it is difficult to put into words how validating it is that RESOLVE and fellow infertility warriors who are now parenting after infertility are elevating the childless voice, recognizing that living childless is one resolution to infertility.

THANK YOU…

Saying, “Thank you,” does not seem like enough.  But it’s all I have.

Thank you, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

Thank you, Charlotte Walk of Hope.

Thank you, infertility sisters.  And infertility brothers.

Thank you for treating me with kindness and support.  For reminding me that my story matters.  For reminding me that I matter.  That I am worthy.

To my fellow childless warriors…

And to my fellow childless warriors…  As we head into May—one of the most difficult months for we childless—I want you to remember that you deserve your place in line just as much as anyone.  You deserve to speak your truth just as much as anyone.  You are worthy!  Your story matters!  YOU matter!

Hugs, fellow warriors.  So Many HUGS…

If you’d like to donate to RESOLVE, helping to ensure that family building options remain accessible to all, please click here…

If anything I wrote resonates with you fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments…

Do you appreciate the work I’m doing here at Not So Mommy…

Photo of an olive green heart on "Would you please donate?" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blog

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Featured photo:  Taken by my fabulous hubby; Edited by me, using Canva

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