Archive | May, 2014

The post-ultra-runnin’ blues

29 May

I have read a lot of stuff about how runners often get depressed following a big race/major accomplishment, particularly with marathons and ultras.  You spend months of your life training and working so hard to accomplish a huge goal, then you meet your goals, so you feel fabulous for a long time, but after the fabulous fades away you are left feeling aimless, uncertain, depressed.

 

I never experienced that after Corning or Buffalo. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it had to do with trying to have a baby. I was going from one major life goal to another, and there was so much hope and excitement both times.  I had something to look forward to and another major accomplishment to achieve.  That never happened, obviously, and part of the decision to run Buffalo was also to give my mind and body a break from the never-ending disappointment and achieve something pretty awesome.  We decided to register for and run our first 50k in large part for the same reasons.  It was never spoken, but I think a major underlying factor was that this was something we could do together–a mutual goal that we KNEW we could achieve, since the real goal we wanted was seemingly unattainable.

 

I felt amazing last week, after the Dirty German 50k!  I was already contemplating my next 50k before I even crossed the finish line. Making it even sweeter, Eric and I crossed that line holding hands, to cheers from some amazing friends (thanks, Kevin and Liz!).  Post-race, I had experienced minimal soreness, I ran on the Tuesday after with minimal discomfort (although hiking was far better).  It’s funny how completely reasonable and simple 50k seems now…it seems like ages ago when I jokingly said how I don’t know why anyone would run 5 miles.

marathon4

 

Saturday, we got to watch many of our friends from #TrailsRoc take on Sehgahunda Trail Marathon. Spectating is amazing–I have said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to feel motivated, inspired and feel a serious sense of community and love, spectate a race. There were a lot of emotional moments for me, and I felt kind of like all of the tears that I thought I’d cry at the end of the 50k would spill out at the finish line of Sehg, which would’ve been silly. I held it together, though, but damn was I proud to call these warriors my friends and watch them do something so difficult. Marathons are no joke. Trail running is no joke. Super mud is no joke. Saturday’s race was no joke. They are badasses to the core.

 

or an ultra...

or an ultra…

We left the race, and while I was feeling inspired and in awe of all of them, I was also feeling an overwhelming sense of sad aimlessness. What am I doing with my life? Where do we go from here?  Just like that, I had my first case of post-race blues.

 

I suppose the blues didn’t come out of nowhere.  The Monday after our race, we had a doctor appointment. It sucked to have an appointment right after such a great day, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring me down just a notch or two. Luckily this time when the bad news came like it always does, as the doctor probed around with a worried look on her face while I held my breath and tried not to start crying prematurely,  I could distract myself with the race from the day before.  Basically this appointment was filled with bad news–my IUI didn’t work–and NOT because I ran.  Because the trigger shot didn’t work, so I never actually ovulated (which is extremely rare and seemed to confuse her a little bit).  Therefore, the IUI was a waste of time (as was the shot in the ass…fabulous).  Because of this and because of how long we’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) with oral medications, the doctor thinks the next move should be injectibles.  This means daily shots to the stomach (more than normal for me since my ovaries are being stubborn), along with even more monitoring (MORE ultrasounds AND bloodwork, too).  I am quickly getting over my dislike of needles.  We can’t start any of that yet, though, because the follicle that never ruptured to release an egg is still there–a lingering follicle that has to shrink before we can do anything else.  This is it–the last step before the only option remaining is IVF.  I have been saying for a long time that I don’t think IVF is something I’d ever be interested in, but when it becomes our only option, I wonder if I’ll change my mind…

 

truth

truth

I’ve struggled for a week now to put all of this into words that are comprehensible.  My thoughts and feelings are a jumble of junk.  We’ve had so many people tell me that running is bad for me, that it’s the reason why we can’t get pregnant, which insinuates that I’m being selfish and knowingly trying to sabotage our chances by running. It’s hurtful, because running is what I do. It’s who I am. My social network is almost exclusively other runners. Running is my sanity when everything else is shit. I can honestly say that I don’t know how I’d get through any of this if it weren’t for an amazing husband and running.  Post-RE-appointment runs make me feel a little better–traipsing through the woods alone and seeing the beauty around me reminds me that there IS good in the world, feeling the pain in my legs from a hard effort lets me know I can do things and that my body is not completely useless, and hanging with friends afterwards reminds me that I am more than a broken woman.

marathon2

 

And I guess that seems selfish to some people, who think that I should quit running and just sit around on the couch, which will miraculously make my ovaries function again. Except that I’ve consulted with numerous doctors. 5 to be exact. Almost 4 years ago, I sat down with my primary care doctor and explained that we were going to start trying to have a baby. I was concerned about my asthma/allergy medications, mostly (all fine to continue according to her), but I also brought up my running. She laughingly assured me that anything I heard about running being bad was not true. As long as it was what your body was already used to, you’re fine. Shortly thereafter, I asked my OB/GYN about it, when she first started me on Met. Later, I’d ask yet ANOTHER OB/GYN in the practice the same question when I had to go in for a “don’t explode the ovaries” check during a cycle of clomid. She told me that as long as I’m not severely underweight, she had no concerns and didn’t think that was the reason that we were having problems. When we made the appointment to go to see an RE, it was one of the first questions I asked.  As she took down mine and Eric’s medical histories and family information, the question of exercise came up, and I filled her in on my typical routine, which she assured me was perfectly fine to continue.  The day before my first IUI, I asked again, and was again told that I was free to do whatever I pleased. Immediately following my IUI, with tears still streaming down my face, I asked if it was ok if I ran long that weekend, fully expecting to be told to keep my feet up that weekend. Both she and the doctor shadowing her (to become a specialist, too) told me whatever I wanted. I nervously expressed exactly how much I was going to be running–a 20 and a 10. “Have fun, run some miles for me, too!” she encouraged, looking down at her own broken ankle.

 

So I’m running.

 

The post-ultra blues hit me, and I think it was a combination of more bad news from the doctor and a lack of a training plan/goals for the future.  I didn’t know where I’m going.  Having a baby isn’t looking too promising…but I’m all about focusing on changing what I CAN change and just dealing with what I can’t change.  So I did what any sane person would do.  I registered myself for the Mendon 50K on November 1st.  This is a major deal–I’ve never pulled the trigger on a race longer than 10k before.  I rely on Eric to do it for me.  It felt good to take charge of my running and make a decision.  It’s affordable, so if I need to drop down or drop out, I won’t feel badly about it.  I’ve spent months of my life not registering for races because I MIGHT get pregnant…and then regretting it on race day, when I was not running because I thought I would be pregnant.  We have made so many decisions around “might” and I can’t do it anymore.  It makes the disappointment that much greater every failed cycle.  I can’t let what MIGHT happen run my life.  I run my life.  I choose to live here and now and love every mile that I am able to run.

 

Thankful for what I have...

Thankful for what I have…

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Gettin’ dirty…German-style…The Dirty German 50k

21 May

I have been kicking around running an ultra for over a year now.  As with all big decisions, I struggle to actually MAKE a decision.  I am always worried to make the wrong decision and will over analyze everything in my attempt to figure out what is the best decision not only for today but for the future.  I mean, an ultra is months of commitment.  So I really prefer other people to pull the trigger for me on big decisions.

 

So when Liz and Kevin met us out for a beer and some live music, and she started talking about this cool ultra she found that we should “think about running someday,” I started researching and plotting.  We’d only have 11 weeks from the day she mentioned the race to the actual race.  Most ultra plans are 16 week jobbers (if not more).  We’d only been running about 8 mile long runs (and about 20 miles total for the week), and most ultra plans have you starting post-marathon (so your long run is already double digits) and running 40-50 mile weeks.  We were coming off the worst winter imaginable, so we’d been hardly running, and when we DID run, it was a struggle.  The odds were stacked against us.

 

As ill-advised as it was, Eric registered us for the race one day after we’d talked about whether it was feasible or not to actually complete a 50k in 11 weeks.  No backing out now.  We texted Liz and told her to sign up, she did, and it was on.  I made a training plan based on the plans I’d found online and named it the schnitzel and sauerkraut training plan and we got to work.  I have said it before, I’ll say it again–the best part of the feeling of accomplishment you get after a long-distance race is knowing how hard you worked to get your body prepared for it.  The day-of is pretty cool.  But knowing that for weeks you sacrificed, you got up early, you ran for hours at a time, sometimes alone, sometimes with amazing friends, you suffered, you laughed, you felt good, you were hurting…knowing all that you overcame leading up to the big day is where the real joy lies (at least for me).  I was a little nervous with our training–I’d only run 2 20 milers, and neither felt good because I’d done 10 the day before each. But it was what it was, and I decided that even if we ran 20 miles and had to hike the last 10 or so, we’d have done well.

 

We drove down to Philly Friday night after work.  We spent the whole day Saturday sightseeing in Philly.  I had never been, and I LOVED it.  I’ve always said if we had to move somewhere, I’d want to go to DC.  Philly was a lot like DC, but much more walkable and “homey” feeling.  We wandered the Reading Market for a while, marveling at all the different foods and people.  Then we hopped onto a double decker bus for a city tour.  We got off the bus, wandered for a bajillion hours to try to find a pizza place (we’d driven by one on every corner on the bus, but once we were off, there were none to be found).  We finally stumbled into a little place called Paul’s Pizza right on jewelers’ row (or something like that–just diamond stores everywhere except for this one little pizzeria).  The pizza was so good.  I mean seriously the best pizza ever.  We finished up and then wandered the city some more, went to the Rocky statue and ran the stairs to the art museum.  We got back on the bus having walked over 7 miles.  Possibly not the smartest way to spend the day before an ultra, but an amazingly fun time nonetheless.  We drove down to the park to check it out, but once we got there, we realized that we weren’t really interested in walking around any more.  We went back to the hotel, I took a nap (unintentionally), and then we went out for dinner.  I had french fries, which is clearly the best option for a pre-race meal.  They were delicious.

 

I woke up feeling mostly really calm.   We got to the park around 7ish, an hour before our start time.  The 50 milers were set to go off at 7:30.  We watched their start, picked up our packets and hopped in the porta potty line.  There we realized 2 important factors:

a.  people in PA know how to use a toilet.  As a relatively fast bathroom-user myself, I appreciate a porta potty line that moves along because people are in and out pretty quickly.

b.  ultrarunners in PA love them a big mustache.

Team Me, Shme and Thee ready to take on 31 miles

Team Me, Shme and Thee ready to take on 31 miles

We lined up for the start at 8 AM, were started by 8:05.  Game on.  Eric’s plan leading into the race was to start SLOWWWWW…10:30 miles.  I said maybe 11 was a better choice, but he insisted.  As we cruised through mile 1, we were stuck behind a lot of people.  I felt like we were really moving, but at one point Eric checked his watch and said, too slow we gotta go around they’re only doing 12s.  WTF.  I felt like we were flying.  We have to run FASTER????  We passed a bunch of people and set it on cruise.  The course was really beautiful (the most scenic course I’ve ever seen), running next to Pennypack Creek for a good chunk of the race.  It was mostly singletrack.  There were a lot of different types of running surface–we started out on dirt/mud, found some sandy areas (luckily nothing too long), and there were a ton of rocky spots (which felt terrible on my feet).  There was also a section of about 2 miles of paved bike trail, which was by far the most tedious part of this race.

 

Anyway, we cruised on to aid station 1.  I grabbed a twizzler and refilled my water bottle, happy with the fact that in 3 miles I’d drank half the bottle already.  Then we kept moving.  We ran for what felt like forever before we got to aid station 2 (7.5ish miles in).  By that stop, I needed water pretty badly.  I drank a bit, ate a few of my honey stingers, then we moved on.  At this point, we were on the dreaded bike path–apparently Liz and I were running 9s.  We were feeling ok, although the pounding from the pavement was really starting to hurt my hips and knees.  I was thankful when we got back on some softer single track.

 

Around mile 10, I started to get cranky.  The course, which is advertised as fast and flat, is extremely runnable, but not exactly flat, particularly the back half.  Now, by ultra course standards, it’s not a bear or anything.  But there is as much elevation (a little more actually) as there is in the Mendon 50k–about 5,600 feet of climbing in all.  I do not like hills.  I am a huge wuss.  I do not like to be uncomfortable.  Part of my draw to this race was the “flat” description.  So I was pissy for a couple of miles as we climbed, then descended, then climbed some more.  At one point, we were running up a hill, I got to a bend and saw it just kept going up and said “fuck this shit man” and stopped to walk the rest of it.  It was at this point that Eric told me that he’d already seen the elevation chart and compared to Mendon and they were pretty equal.  Oh brother.  It was around here where I took my first electrolyte tab because I noticed some tightness in my calves.

 

We hit some windy single track and it was so nice–the constant twists and turns kind of slowed you down a bit, but it felt really good to do the turning (my sides and hips were a little tight, and this somehow stretched them out).  We crossed the creek, and there was no way across but straight through.  The cold water felt like heaven on my feet, and I made a mental promise to myself that when we finished the next loop, we’d go sit in the creek and “ice bath”  our legs.  We crossed through the finish line in 2:50:xx.  I thought about changing socks and shoes, but decided against it (mostly to save time).  I grabbed a cup of coke on the way through the aid station, drank it, ate a few more gummies and we were off again.

Refueling

Refueling

 

A mile into the second loop, I noticed a hot spot on my foot.  Shit should’ve changed shoes.  It was too late for that, though, so we kept going.  We hit the 1st aid station and I took another electrolyte tablet.  Eric’s stomach was not doing so hot, but we’d made it to 18 miles without incident, which is amazing considering around 10 miles is when previously there’d been issues.  He was even able to eat a few gummies and drink water.  However this is where he started to notice he wasn’t sweating very much anymore (which is WEIRD for him) and his stomach started cramping really badly.  One of the things that continually amazes me about Eric is his ability to push through the pain and to run without eating.  When I’m running long, I want to eat every 30 minutes or so (just something small–a couple of gummies maybe).  I don’t really know how he did what he did on Sunday on about 160 calories of food.

 

We told Liz to go on without us several times before she finally did.  Here would be a good time to talk about Liz.  We met her through trail running, and I love her.  She has a very peaceful, calm aura about her.  She is also the most amazing runner.  With little speedwork, she had just recently run a super-fast half marathon.  She finished long before us and ran so well–super proud of her, thankful for her finding this race, and really excited to have gotten to know her so well over hours of running.  Liz is my sweat sister for sure.

 

And of course at this point I have to make a side note about Liz’s amazing husband, Kevin.  Kevin drove us around, packed up our shit, took pictures and cheered.  He sat outside in the park for over 6 hours, most of that by himself, waiting for us to come back around.  This is how Kevin is.  He is one of the most supportive husbands (and friends!) I’ve ever met. Liz and I have spent many hours running together, and our conversations often turn to how lucky we feel to be with men who support us and are there for us.

 

Thankful to have 2 amazingly cool people like them in our lives!

Thankful to have 2 amazingly cool people like them in our lives!

So back to the race, at this point, Eric is super cranky. This was good for me–getting a taste of my own medicine.  Normally I’m the grumpy one and he’s the one who has to ride out the storm with me. There was a lot of negative self-talk, and I got nervous that I was going to be cranky soon, too, and then we’d have a miserable last hour or so.  Luckily, I felt really good the whole time.  So we stopped at aid station 2 for a bit, thanked all the volunteers (this ALWAYS makes me feel better in a race), then kept on going.

 

At this point, we were mostly walking the course, and I kept doing math in my head to see if we could finish in under 7 hours (my goal…my A goal was under 6 hours, but that train passed a long time ago ha).  If we were walking the whole rest of the course, it’d take us over 7 hours.  Luckily, Eric’s stomach finally felt ok to jog.  We spent the last 5.5 miles doing some walking and some jogging.  I tried to make conversation to distract.  As we ticked off miles, we talked about how many we had left and got excited as the number dwindled. I had fallen into a groove and I was kind of on auto pilot. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s the greatest feeling, though, when you’re just going and don’t have to think about it.

 

We also met a lot of really cool people while out running.  The cool thing about trails and ultras is that people are SO friendly.  We ran with people from all over, most of them experienced ultra runners.  They were all very encouraging and talking about favorite races/strategies/running/life helped to pass the time.  I felt like miles 22ish through 30 flew by!

 

We crossed the creek and all of a sudden a guy comes flying up behind us screaming, “IF WE HURRY, WE CAN FINISH IN UNDER 6:30!!!”  Eric says “uh how close are we to the finish and how close are we to 6:30?”  Less than a half mile and about 8 minutes to go.  Suddenly we picked up the pace a bit.

 

Crossing the finish line, holding Eric’s hand in 6:27:00 (ish), all smiles, was the greatest feeling ever.  We had planned to run a marathon together, but then for some reason that never happened.  I’m so glad we waited and saved a long race for a trail ultra.  I love being lost in the wilderness with Eric.

 

We hung out with Liz and Kevin at the finish line area for a bit, then hopped in the car to head back to Rochester.  We got here and I was pretty convinced I wasn’t hungry (because I’d eaten so much candy from our aid station good luck gift from Pete and Jen!)…but Amber and Greg had a pizza delivered for us, and I devoured 3 slices before going to bed.  I am already plotting when we can go back to race this again, and even before we finished I knew there would be other 50k’s in my future.  I’m not particularly fast, but I can run for a long time if I want to.  I had a great time.  Yesterday, I was a little sore, but could walk up and down stairs no problem.  Tonight we ran at Abraham Lincoln, which is a super hilly park.  We were very slow, there was a good amount of walking thrown in there, but it felt good.  I’m excited for the next time I run 50k because I KNOW that I can nail a sub 6 hour.  Game on. 🙂

trapped

13 May

 

Eric posted this to my Facebook wall today.  It’s a really good reflection on Mother’s Day, particularly in church, for women who for various reasons don’t have children and are therefore not “mothers.”  It made me think and question and it really resonated strongly with me.

 

Last Thursday, I started to get really nervous about Mother’s Day, particularly about church.  We were going for Emily’s First Communion (truth be told, had it not been for that, we may very well have skipped Mother’s Day this year).  I’ve sat through enough Mother’s Day masses at Saint Gabriels to know what was coming.  Because there’s always the moment when the priest asks all the mothers and moms-to-be to stand up and be recognized.  To Father Dan’s credit, he did add in “grandmothers and god mothers,” but it didn’t matter.  My heart still broke.  Being a big sister, a teacher, a mentor, a god mother…those things are all amazing and wonderful and I’m so grateful to have experienced them all and to have been able to play an important, nurturing role for so many amazing children.  But they are no substitute for being a mother.  They don’t magically erase all of the years of suffering, heartbreak and despair that we’ve already gone through.  And they offer me little comfort in the journey we are now on.  Asking me to stand up and let that be “good enough” is cruel.  It’s painful.  It’s heart wrenching.  In a way, I’d rather just be completely ignored as a non-mom than be given this “consolation prize.”

 

I had already teared up a few other times leading up to the “Big Moment”–when he’d welcomed everyone, especially the moms; when he’d called all the children up to the altar for the homily.  But when he got to the “all the mommas stand up part,’ I lost it.  I sat there, crammed into a little pew, women all around me standing up and smiling…and I cried.  I wanted to run.  I was trying to figure out an inconspicuous way to get from our front-and-center-pew to the back of the church and the bathrooms, but it was hopeless–people on all sides of me and nowhere to go but straight down the middle aisle past pews and pews of happy mothers there to celebrate their functioning reproductive organs.  I was trapped.

 

So I did what any normal person would do–I sat there and cried, feeling awful and exposed and raw, wanting to stop, feeling bad that any happy mothers around me were probably worried about me instead of enjoying their moment, willing my eyes to stop watering, but unable to stop the hot tears stinging my cheeks.  I wonder how many people saw me crying.  I wonder what they thought.  One of the girls I used to play soccer with in high school had her own battle with infertility and now has a beautiful son.  I wanted to say hello.  To ask her about her story.  To see if she’s over it–this feeling of complete inadequacy and failure–or if it still haunts her some nights, even though she’s got a baby of her own.   She was 2 rows behind me.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Emotionally I couldn’t handle it.  So I cried and Eric held my hand and was there with me, as usual.  And we got through it together, as usual.  We went to my mom and dad’s, we celebrated Em’s communion, I tried not to cry any time someone wished me a happy mother’s day, and we left relatively early.

 

A lot of the comments on the above blog say that it’s not fair to mothers to eliminate the standing.  “What other accomplishments should we NOT honor to not hurt the feelings of those who haven’t achieved them?” “We should be honoring the women who put their lives on hold for their children.” [If you want a glimpse into the kindness/compassion of church-goers, check out the comments on this blog.  I actually cried reading some of them.]

 

It’s like these women think we infertiles sit here, idly waiting.  Some probably think it’s our fault–we don’t eat right, we exercise too much/not enough, we made mistakes when we were younger that have caused our health woes, we just aren’t ready, God has another plan for us.  It’s easier to think those things than to accept that they are lucky for getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term; that it could just as easily have been them grieving their way through another Mother’s Day.  They think that I have not put my life on hold.  I have not had to take a ridiculous amount of time off for doctor’s visits.  I have not had to plan my entire life around medications and cycles and “prime time.”  I have not given up my body, sacrificed my mind.  I have not undergone painful, invasive, humiliating procedures.  I have not spent ridiculous amounts of money (“wait til you have kids–your budget will have to change–kids are so expensive”).  All because I have not yet been pregnant. These comments clearly come from women who never had to go through infertility and don’t know how HARD infertiles are working.  Every. Damn. Day.  “Just have fun trying.”  Yeah tell that to the doctor shoving a catheter into my cervix to inject my husband’s sperm into me.  Real fun.

ha

 

All that being said, I understand those mothers’ view that they want to be celebrated and recognized for their mommy martyrdom.  I do.  I think a lot about what it will feel like if we are ever blessed with children, whether Mother’s Day will always be a reminder of infertility.  Do you ever “get over it”?   Many moms sacrifice a lot for their kids and they do deserve a chance to be recognized (although I’d argue that should happen all the time, not just once a year, and Hallmark has really capitalized on our guilt for not being there and consumerism to blow this holiday up just like Valentine’s Day).  In a time in my life where I am a swirling ball of various negative emotions, wanting to “skip out” on Mother’s Day just adds one more log to the fire of self hatred.  I mean really how completely selfish can you be, Shme?  Get over yourself, slap a fake smile on again, and save the tears for when you’re home alone.

 

So I’ve been thinking all day since reading that blog.  What did I want to hear on Mother’s Day?  My initial thought was to skip it.  Sit it out.  I’m not a natural “sitter outer.” I’m more of a doer and a mover (unless I’m in the middle of a really fabulous book, in which case I can sit for hours like a champ). When I want something, I just work hard til I get it. I want a job:  I work hard at my education and wow all the people in my field until they realize I’m da bomb. I want the boy:  I persist in talking to him until he realizes he’s madly in love with my craziness. I want to run a marathon: I train for what feels like a bajillion weeks to get myself ready. My life is a whirlwind of “want-it, worked-for-it, got-it.”

 

But a baby is not something that can just be “got,” as my body constantly shows us, month after month after month. And that’s something that most of the population misses out on experiencing (lucky) and can therefore never truly understand.  Even among my infertile friends, I don’t know many who have had to go to the lengths that we’re going to in order to get pregnant.  It’s tough not to feel isolated and hopeless when you know that MOST people got pregnant on their own with just one or two cycles of clomid and good ole-fashioned sex, and the women I know going through the more difficult processes of ART (artificial reproductive therapy–IUI, IVF, FET) are not getting pregnant.  They have moved onto the painful, time-consuming, expensive procedures that we are now facing, and they are having no luck.  Hard to be optimistic when you’re faced with that grim reality.

 

So my initial thought was that I’d want to just skip Mother’s Day–go somewhere warm and sunny and beautiful with Eric and just be together and relaxing.  So I started fantasizing what our childless life would look like and picking out vacation destinations for us to hide out for Mother’s Day.  Except when I really think about that, I realize that I would still be depressed and sad.  I’d still know the reason we were on a vacation together, the reason we weren’t with our families like everyone else was because my body doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and it may never work.  And that is SO incredibly frustrating.  So when I really stop to think about skipping it, I wonder if that might just make it all feel worse.

 

A lot of the blogs I’ve read (and comments on that blog Eric sent me) say that Mother’s Day is just a painful reminder of what they don’t have, what they are pouring all of their energy, finances and hope into.  Maybe I’m just different.

Because Mother’s Day is just ANOTHER painful reminder for me.

I WISH it were only one day a year where I had to get up and face the painful truth of our situation.  Mother’s Day is not A painful reminder.  It is just another day in a long string of painful reminders.  Another day to think about what might (or might not, as the case may be) happen.  Every day I think about it.  Every day there are a thousand tiny reminders of what we don’t have and what we want so badly. They’re things that probably go unnoticed by most of the population (again: lucky). But for those of us walking around, minds and hearts heavy with the knowledge of our barren wombs, they are subtle reminders. The truck carts at the front of the grocery store. The pictures of another teacher’s kids on her desk at work. All of those beautiful babies at work, especially the ones whose parents are clearly ill-equipped to actually BE parents. The extra bedrooms in the house that we bought thinking we’d fill it with kids. The constant posts on Facebook–who’s pregnant, who’s got a new baby bump picture up, whose kid said something really adorably funny today??? Turn on the TV, it’s a diaper commercial. Turn on the radio, it’s a song about being a parent (for a week now, I’ve heard the song “Laughed Until We Cried” and cried every morning in my car going to work. “My mind went back to a few years ago, when we tried so long we almost gave up hope. Then I remember you coming in and telling me the news. Oh man we were living. Going crazy in the kitchen. We sang and danced and held each other tight. And we laughed until we cried.” ) So the reminders are truly never-ending, and it’s exhausting trying to constantly maintain composure when all you want to do is curl up somewhere and forget about the world for a while.

 

So for Mother’s Day (or any day really), I just want one day not to think about it.  And what sucks most about that wish is that it will NEVER happen until we have a baby (or make peace with not having kids…although I think I’d still think about it all the time in that case).  There will never be a day when I DON’T have one single thought about my infertility in the very near future.  “Just get over it,” you may be thinking, just like those commenters on Eric’s blog link today.  So I give you a glimpse into a month of my life:

Days 1-5 of cycle: period (nope, not pregnant; think about it, especially as you go to the store to buy the box of tampons that you refused to buy when you were at the store over the weekend because you just KNEW you were finally going to be pregnant)

Days 5-9 of cycle: take crazy hormones every night…let the side effects begin!

Days 10-13ish:  feel the side effects of the hormones (hot flashes, can’t sleep, headache, moodiness, weight gain/bloating–oh i’m so sexy now); go for ultrasound appointment to see if things are working the way they should (and be told all but once that they weren’t)

Days 14-28ish:  when you’re told it didn’t work, just wait to get a period…which never comes…so you go on some different hormones to force your body to bleed like it should’ve on its own; if it does work, have shot in the ass, the following day get turkey bastered, then proceed to take temperature, analyze every physical symptom and wonder if you are pregnant until you fail multiple home pregnancy tests and blood tests.

Repeat indefinitely.

 

So for those of you who say “get over it,”  I say “how?” Because until we have a baby, I am trapped in this cycle.  To those of you who still think it’s selfish to be hurt by asking mothers to stand up, I am just really thankful that you have obviously never had to go through this.  I hope you never do.  I hope your image of making a baby remains the traditional one, unmarred by the medical, sterile one that infertiles have to endure.  I don’t know what the answer to the Mother’s Day conundrum is.  No matter what, being unable to conceive a baby is painful–always has been, always will be.  All I know is that yesterday was a horrible day for a lot of women, me included.  I think what most of us want is just acknowledgement that things suck but we’re tough and we’ll get through it, just like we always do.  Acknowledgement that we’re here, it’s really hard, but we’re here for you, to celebrate you, even though we really don’t want to be.  Not because of you, not because you don’t deserve it–because of us, because we deserve it, too, and don’t have it yet…maybe not ever.  None of this is about you–it’s about us.  Which I guess sounds selfish to some people, and yet from this side, it’s something beyond selfish.  I don’t know what to call it.  We used to talk in Spanish class about how there are words in other languages that just don’t translate–they’re more than words.  That’s what this is–it’s more than words.   So please, mothers who are offended by the request to stop the standing up for Mother’s Day:  Save the judgements.  Save the accusations.  Save the medical advice (you’re not my doctor).  And just send hugs/prayers/good vibes.  Be the mother that you purport to be–nurturing, loving, kind.  Maybe that’s selfishness.  Or maybe that’s something else.  These days I feel like I don’t know much of anything except that I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone…

 

To those of you who sent me messages yesterday, thank you hardly seems adequate.  You brightened my day with your understanding, and I love each of you so much.  It’s really easy to feel very alone and scared, and it’s comforting to know we have friends who are thinking about us and hoping for us, even when they don’t know exactly what we’re going through.

let the tapering begin!

5 May

I know a lot of runners who hate the taper [side note for non-runners: tapering happens prior to a race to let your body rest and recover so you’re fresh for the race; for marathons/ultras, you typically taper for about 2 weeks, gradually cutting back mileage/intensity until race day]. 

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I love it.  I wait for it.  I embrace it.  By the time taper rolls around, my body is ready for the rest.  It’s ready for the recovery time.

 

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This weekend, I had 2 lousy runs.  Yesterday, we did 6 miles at Durand.  It felt like 26 miles.  All I could think about was getting back to the car… Today, Liz and I were supposed to do 15 at Mendon.  I called it at 13–again, if felt more like 26.  Every step felt like I had ankle weights on.  Tonight, my feet are aching.  My heels hurt just sitting on the couch.  I am pretty sure I’m a bit overtrained.  In 8 weeks, we went from 8 mile weekends to 30 mile weekends–it may have been a bit too quickly to up the miles that much. 

 

So I am ready to taper.  I am a little bit nervous for the race.  It’s so far–so much farther than I’ve ever even gone before.  I wonder what my body will feel like during the race.  I wonder what my body will feel like after the race.  But then I think about how much fun Saturday-exploring-Philly will be.  How cool it will be to say we ran 31 miles (before I turn 30, which was kind of a goal).  How totally badass I will feel (after all the tiredness and soreness goes away ha).  And then I am curious and excited.  It’s crazy to think that 2 weekends from now, I will be riding a super runner’s high and celebrating another major running milestone!

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