Archive | June, 2014

Letchworth Trail Adventure–an open invitation

20 Jun

I keep alternating between being sad, angry, and frustrated that we aren’t going to be able to take our cross-country road trip this summer.  I know that we will do it (possibly next summer) eventually, and that we will have a great time.  The thing that helps me to get over the negative emotions is that the trip was really just going to be about camping and exploring nature–we weren’t planning to stay in hotels or go to certain “tourist places” so much as just drive, camp, hike, drive, camp, hike our way across the country.  And the camping and hiking and trail running can all still happen, just in a different place.  Am I sad I won’t get to see the Pacific Ocean or climb a mountain or see how my body handles being at altitude?  Sure.  But I am optimistic that this summer will be filled with new adventures, closer to home?  You betcha!

 

A few years ago, Eric and I decided we were going to hike every trail in Letchworth.   We started out strong, but then the wheels kind of fell off.  We are super busy hitting all the trails in Monroe County (not to mention the ADK hiking we like to do) in the summer.  So we don’t get down to Letchworth nearly as much as we’d like, which is unfortunate because it really is a beautiful park and one of the first places I learned to love being outdoors (my parents would take us there all the time when we were little kids).

 

So when our plans for a cross-country road trip extravaganza fell through, we started talking about a trail running/hiking/camping trip closer to home.  We kicked around a few different locations, but settled on Letchworth State Park, mostly because of its proximity to Rochester.

 

We would LOVE it if our friends could join us for any or all of the trip.  Our plan is to take about 9 days and hike/run EVERY trail in Letchworth State Park.  This adds up to over 100 miles over the course of the trip.  At first, I thought that seemed daunting, but then I reminded myself that we know people who run 100 miles in 1 day!  So without further ado, here’s the trip itinerary:

July 28th (4ish miles): Get to Letchworth.  Set up camp.  Trails 10 and 10a are by the parade ground entrance. We could set up camp, then go out and do those, OR we could hike, then set up camp…it’s maybe about 4 miles.
July 29th (20ish miles): In the AM, drive to and then run trail 1, which is 14 miles out-and-back. Have lunch at the falls, hang out there, then hike 2, 2a and 3 (they all connect it’s the mary jemison trail that we did before) which is like 6 miles 1 way, then come back on the roads, which will be a decent chunk of hiking on the roads to get back to the car (or backtrack, but that will definitely add miles).
July 30th (15ish miles): drive to trails 4 and 5 (4 miles round trip); drive to trails 11, 14, 13  ( 5.5 miles round trip); go back to campsite, have lunch/chill, then hike over to and do 17 to 15 to road back to 17, which is about 5 miles (from the campground it may end up being closer to 6).
July 31st: (23ish miles): On the other side of the river by the parade grounds we will do trail 7 in the AM (it’s 11.5 miles round trip), plus 6 and 6a, which adds about 2 miles. We could do this in the AM, then in the PM, do 8 to 8a to 9, back on 8 to the car, which I think would be 9ish miles.
August 1st (9ish miles): Hike to and take trails 18 to 19 to 19a to 20, then all the way back to our campground (we’d leave from the campground). This would be about 9ish miles.
August 2nd: Anything we didn’t do/missed/hang out and recup day.  Maybe go hang out at Wolf Creek for a bit for old time’s sake (where we did a lot of fabulous trash-the-dress pictures).
August 3rd: Run the Dam Good preview run (14 miles), hang out in the parking lot with people and enjoy life.  Then leave from the Dam Parking lot and hike the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), which is about 24 miles long.  We’ll do this over the course of a few days.  This day, we’ll go to the first lean-to, which is about 5 or 6 miles in.  Set up camp, relax for the evening.
August 4th:  Hike another 8 miles to lean-to number 2.  Set up camp.  Check out some of the side trails (as needed/desired) as we hike along.
August 5th:  Leave our gear there, hike 9.6 miles to the end of the FLT, then turn around and hike 9.6 back to lean-to #2.  Enjoy another night.
August 6th:  Get up, hike 12/13 miles back to the Dam parking lot and our cars.  Go home.
If we had multiple people, we could leave cars on different ends of trails and not have as much mileage (particularly for the FLT).  We can put one other tent on our campsite, which means it would be $10/night, otherwise you’ll have to book your own site ($20/night).  The sites are pretty full already, FYI.
If you are interested in joining for any/all of this adventure, shoot myself or Eric a message with dates you want to join.  First come, first served for camping on our site.  We’d love to have you join us!!!

 

 

 

 

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When life hands you more lemons than you can fit in your backseat…

19 Jun

I think most people have already heard about the shitty news we just got from the district the other day.   In true district-style, someone else messed up her job, and we will suffer for it.  We were told, even as late as the end of April, that we would be receiving a $3,400 retention stipend.  When it never showed up, I emailed to ask what happened and was told, “Oh yeah, sorry about that, but you’re actually not eligible.  Sorry I never followed up with you.”  Sorry don’t pay the bills, honey.  Legally I’m not allowed to get the stipend–it’s part of a grant that I really don’t qualify for.  But it’s not my job to check the grant and make sure I’m eligible–it’s the woman’s who told me in April that they money would be in my June check.  Eric and I budgeted on that money.  We planned a vacation around that money.  And now that vacation isn’t happening.  More fucking lemons.  Sometimes it feels like we can’t catch a break around here.  I mean, again, things are really good in our lives and we’ve been blessed with a lot, but it feels like the things that aren’t going well are one step forward and two giant leaps back, time and time again.  It’s beyond frustrating.

 

So I was pissed and sad and throwing myself a nice little pity party about all of it.  Not only will this mean no trip (which I’ve spent HOURS planning out), but it will also mean a seriously restricted budget for the summer.   Limited going out, limited driving around, limited EVERYTHING.   The thing is, we COULD just put a lot of stuff on our credit cards and pay it off when we start getting paid again after the summer’s over.  But neither of us wants to do that.  We’ve worked so hard to improve our financial situation (if we could just get rid of our damn student loans we’d be good to go).  There’s no sense in destroying the hard work now just for a little instant gratification this summer.

 

So I was pissed.  But what I love about Eric and I is that even when things are shitty, we figure out a way to make them better.  This summer will not be what we had planned.  But we’re already talking about what we’ll do instead–some high peaks-backcountry camping before heading out to Indian Lake for our annual trip, bike rides to the beach, campfires in our yard, rock climbing and the MAG (because we’ve had free passes for both sitting on our fridge for a long ass time now).  And one that I’m super excited for–a camping/running trip, that we’re working on now (I love planning stuff, thank God).  Hopefully some of our friends can join us for some/all of the trip.  Running (or hiking for the non-runners) from place to place, then evenings together setting up camp/cooking on a fire/sitting around a campfire all evening.

 

We are pretty simple people, and the things we enjoy most are pretty cheap.  Hanging with friends, running, hiking through the woods, swimming, campfires… It was what our trip was going to be anyway, so we’ll still do all those things, just in a different location and this time hopefully with a lot of our friends.

 

 

Lots of this...

Lots of this…

and this...

and this…

 

and this!

and this!

 

When there are too many lemons to fit into the backseat...just be glad you have a great copilot by your side to figure out what to do with them all! <3

When there are too many lemons to fit into the backseat…just be glad you have a great copilot by your side to figure out what to do with them all! ❤

Please stop telling us to “just do IVF”

14 Jun

It is astounding to me the number of people who feel comfortable giving us advice regarding our fertility.  Absolutely astounding.  People who have no idea what we are going through, but who have read an article in the newspaper or who have a friend who has a friend think that they know enough to solve our problems…as though they can suggest something that the billion and one doctors who have access to my medical records and years of schooling and experience haven’t thought of themselves.

ivf2

 

One of the most annoying things people say to us is “well you can always just do IVF.”  It’s frustrating on various levels, and in an attempt to get people to stop flippantly suggesting IVF, I’d like to explain some things about it and why it is most likely never going to be an option for us (and this is not to dis anyone who has tried/successfully had a baby through IVF).

 

1.  It took me 3 years to even decide I was comfortable taking medicine to mess with my brain/hormone levels.  I still have nightmares sometimes that we’re going to get pregnant and the baby is going to have 3 arms or be missing eyes or I’m going to wake up with massive tumors in my body as a result of all the drugs.  The things I’ve taken have so far been proven safe, but who knows what might be discovered in another 20 years?!?  IVF involves A LOT of medications and “procedures.”  If I was scared to use medications, I’d have to get over it real quick if we were to go this route…

 

2.  IVF is expensive.  We’re talking $10-12k a cycle.  This is money paid with no guarantee of a baby.  In fact, many cycles end in a BFN (big fat negative).  I’m not really sure that amount of money can be justified.  Seems unconscionable to me to PAY to have a child anyway (which is ALSO one of my major issues with adoption, FYI).  I’m having a very hard time reconciling that there are starving people in the world but we can possibly save up 10k to throw at a possibility of a baby.  10k could feed a lot of hungry people…and may or may not result in a baby (33% of IVF procedures end in a healthy pregnancy–this is, in my opinion, not very good odds).

ivf

 

3.  IVF is time consuming.  There is a ridiculous amount of monitoring that must be done–ultrasounds and bloodwork.  There are multiple daily injections.  Here’s a good generic overview of all that IVF entails.  I think many people are under the false assumption that they just take some eggs, take some sperm and boom.  I’m not sure if people understand what it takes to get those eggs and then get the embryo back into a woman’s body.  “Test tube baby” (which is actually a misnomer anyway and really shows how little is known about IVF in the mainstream), shoot it up in you and you’re all set.  That’s not at all the case.  An IVF cycle requires many weeks of medications, tests and doctor’s visits.

 

4.  IVF is emotionally difficult.  All of this is.  This may be the most frustrating part of infertility–the lack of understanding and empathy from people who haven’t experienced it.  Even people who say they get it, who tell you they’re sorry–they turn around the next minute and say something insensitive that cuts to the core and makes you cry the minute you are alone.  You get hopped up on hormones that create what can best be described as PMS on steroids, you’re unsure of how it all will end, and your life becomes consumed with doctor’s visits and tests (which in our case always end in a negative manner).  “Just relax” and “forget about it” are ridiculous–you are reminded every time you have to take a different medication, have blood drawn, an internal ultrasound done.  I can’t forget about this–every day, I think about it.

ivf3

 

5.  IVF requires eggs.  This is perhaps the most important reason, the one that trumps all the others: Eggs are the whole problem in our case.  My body, thus far, has not responded to a single medication designed to make me ovulate.  Without eggs, there is no IVF.  And before someone suggests using donor eggs, please understand that adds thousands of dollars to the cost and also means carrying someone else’s baby.  And you can tell me that it will be “mine” or “ours,” but the truth is that in my head right now, that baby would be someone else’s, on loan to me.  And it’s very easy to say I would feel differently as you hold your own children created by “natural” means.

 

I guess my point is that none of these are “easy” decisions to make, and flippantly suggesting IVF makes it seem like they are.  I realize the suggestion comes from people who often don’t know–and the passive Shme would say that’s ok, don’t feel bad about it.  But the assertive Shme says if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should probably just shut your mouth.  And really even if you DO know, you should probably not give unsolicited advice.  Truth is, all we really need people to say is “wow that really sucks. Sorry you’re going through it. Let me know if I can help.” I don’t write about our issues to get medical advice–that’s why I go to the doctor.  Mostly I write because I want people to understand where we’re coming from, why we make the choices we make and to prevent unnecessarily rude/hurtful commentary.

 

While IVF seems like a great solution to people who are not “in the know,” it is not for everyone.  It’s not that easy.  Nothing about this is.  So if you don’t know, please don’t tell us.  If we don’t ask for it, please don’t give advice.  As always, what we need is your love, your willingness to listen to us talk (but only when we want to–no prodding, please), your understanding when we are going through a tough time and don’t want to hang (particularly if you have children), your thoughts and prayers.  We have a doctor, we do our own research, and we talk (a lot) about what to do, what is right for US.  The decision of whether or not to try IVF is ours and it’s very complicated.  The decision of how to proceed with our treatment is OURS.  Just because we’re choosing a path you disagree with does not mean we are wrong or we want a baby any less.  It means we are deciding what is right for us as a family, using the combined knowledge that we and our doctors have….

when life hands you lemons, throw ’em in the backseat and drive cross country…

6 Jun

I feel like I’ve been muddling through this whole week.  I’m here, but not really here.  I am functioning pretty normally–I go to work, I lead runs, I make dinner, I even cleaned the house for a bit this morning.  But all of it feels a little disconnected to me, like I’m having an out-of-body experience, or this is just a dream that I’ll wake up from any minute now.

 

Monday we went to a “class” on injectibles. It was one of the more uncomfortable moments of this infertility journey, which is really saying something.  We sat in the waiting room (crammed into it) with about 5 other couples (how this is legal with HIPAA laws is beyond me) and listened to another doctor in the practice talk about the pros and cons of injecting hormones to get pregnant via IUI or IVF.  When he pulled the needle out to show us that “it’s really not a big deal and most women just give themselves the shots,” I wanted to puke.  I would make a terrible heroin addict…  When he started talking about selective reduction (the nice way to say abortion: if you end up with too many babies–they apparently test each embryo and tell you things like what kinds of diseases the kid may have and the gender and then you decide which ones to get rid of), I wanted to drop through the floor into another place and time.  Preferably one with a beach and a lot of sunshine.  The chances of this happening are slim, but they have to tell you about it and make sure you understand that if you start shooting up the hormones, you MAY have to someday pick which of your babies live and which die, which is so ironic since the whole reason you are shooting hormones is because you haven’t been able to have any babies.  Who would’ve thought “too many babies” would ever enter my stream of consciousness???  Fabulous.

 

Tuesday we went back to the doctor for another ultrasound appointment.  It’s never good news when Eric sucks in his breath when he sees the monitor (because as he informed me afterwards he’s seen my innards enough to know what is normal and what is not) or when your doctor tells you, “Well this is unexpected and bad news.”  Then after a long pause and staring at my chart says, “How frustrating” and pulls out her “here are the options” paper to draw it all out for me (we’ve been through this enough at this point that it’s becoming very routine and predictable).

 

The lingering cysts that I had 3 weeks ago were supposed to go away–no medications meant that they would just disappear and we could do a round of injectibles before leaving for our cross-country adventure (more to come on that in a minute).  Instead, they’ve somehow grown to be bigger than even the size of a normal ovary.  Lovely.  At least I know now why I’ve been so bloaty.  So she gave me three options, two of which involved anesthesia/needles to the lady bits, so I obviously opted for choice one–time and the birth control pill since my hormones are apparently freaking the ef out right now.  I’ve been on the pill before for a couple of weeks to try to do a “hard reset” on my brain–the theory is that it gives a clean slate to work with because all of my hormone levels should come back to normal (or close to it) before we start playing around with them again.

 

So I’ve been in a kind of daze all week.  I feel like we are farther now from being parents than we were a year ago.  Back then I was excited and optimistic–I would be one of the lucky few who doesn’t experience side effects from the meds, and we would be knocked up within 1 or 2 rounds of oral medication.  Ain’t no thang.  I think about all the time and money we’ve spent so far, and I feel guilty that it’s all been wasted.  I am angry and bitter that we have gone through so much, and there is nothing to show for it.  Meanwhile people who don’t even want kids have them–horrible people who mistreat and abuse their babies.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what life would be like childless, about what point we throw in the towel and say we’re done and just accept the hand that’s been dealt.  I’m trying to find the good in this–more time to be a better wife/friend/sister/daughter/etc, more time to focus on my running, more time to help grow #TrailsRoc, being able to focus more on my students/lessons, not having to shell out money for baby equipment and day care and such…Every night we’re out and about, I remind myself that this would all change if we had kids.  So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, because our lives are really great right now if you take out all this doctor business.  Maybe we should just be content with having what we have, which is all amazingly, beautifully fantastic.  Why do I always have to want more?  And how do I know that “more” is going to be good?  Maybe a kid would just mess all of this up.  And what if we can only have one kid?  I never wanted an only child.  Ever.  But now I feel like we’d be lucky to end up with even one.

 

So amid all of these crazy thoughts, we’re planning a new adventure:  We’re going to drive across the country.  It seems like good timing, since I’m not pregnant and have to take a little break from all of the medications and doctor appointments anyway.  I’ve never been out west before, and I’ve been dying to go for a couple of years.  The hopeless romantic in me thinks that there could be nothing more perfect than weeks of driving all the way across the country and exploring amazing new places with my husband.  We have never had enough time because 0 SPF falls right smack in the middle of Eric’s month off, and we’ve never been in a place where financially it seemed to make much sense.  This year, though, the stars aligned and Eric has a couple of extra weeks off and we are in a more comfortable spot money-wise.  I am beyond excited–every day I research a little more and find more cool places to check out–beautiful, wild places with amazing trails and lakes and hot springs and scenery.  I’m not sure how we are going to fit in all the things I want to do and see.  I’m working on putting together a tentative itinerary–as of now it looks like we’ll do a day of driving, followed by a day of exploring/hiking/camping all the way out to Oregon, where we’ll spend some more time hanging out and sightseeing, then all the way back home.  All together, it should take us about 3 weeks or so.  3 weeks to spend time with my best friend and our favorite little dog, hiking, swimming, camping and exploring.  We are going to make the most of bad news and have a fabulous summer adventure.  You might want to throw lemons our way, life, but it’s not gonna stop us.