One more period

The last couple cycles I haven’t paid much attention to. I realized I hadn’t logged them onto my calendar and haven’t counted days, which I mainly did just to see if the cycle length has started changing with age. So it took me a minute to realize that this coming period will be my last. Maybe not forever, but for now.

Several months ago I was trying to anticipate my future cycles, not so much for ttc purposes anymore, but for the timing of my first marathon. It was looking pretty good but all it took was a couple wonky cycles to throw everything off. Now it’s looking like I better go on the pill soon so that I can curb or ease my next period, because that’s the last thing I need is to deal with one of my ferocious periods while trying to run for 5 hours!

I realized this was it. The end of the road. The end of the “race” I’ve been battling for a long time – so many times, wondering if I should throw in the towel on running and focus on ttc while the factory still operates. Every time I’d have a painful run, dealing with either my knee or my leg or back, I’d secretly hope to be get pregnant instead.

Then something magical happened.

On my training run last week, my longest benchmark yet – 18.64 miles, I was pain free. Nothing. No knee pain. It felt like a dream. So I did it – I officially signed up for my first full marathon that I had been nervously and cautiously training for all these months.

And now, this is it. I need to shut down the factory. Maybe just one month, maybe more? I really don’t know what the future holds. But what I do know, by the time this next period rolls around, it will be cycle #60 since we first started ttc. I will be within days of turning 40, and about a month away from running 26.2 miles.

Maybe it’s time?…

Bad anniversary

On July 30 I checked my calendar from last year just to confirm what I already felt was true. It was the one-year anniversary of our fourth and final IVF attempt.  No wonder I’ve been subconsciously feeling down and off in the days leading up to it. It also marks the one-year anniversary of when my sciatica issue started. It either started the day of the transfer or the day after, but I’ve been in some degree of pain ever since.  

Fitting.

When I went to my physical therapy appointment, I told the therapist that it’s been a year since the pain started and ironically a year since the treatment. He said, “that’s a bad anniversary.”  I nodded and agreed that it sure was. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. 

It’s been a whole year since declaring we’re done. I mean, not done done, but done with IVF and other expensive and invasive procedures that get us no further along than trying on our own. A year. I’d like to say I’m doing better with moving on, and in some ways I am.  But the pain I feel either in my leg, back, or knee every single day is a constant reminder of this bad anniversary. 

I popped into a certain bed and bath store yesterday to look for a new shower curtain and I flashed back to another anniversary. The one that matters most. Ours. I thought about how we registered for our wedding gifts at this store and how fun that was. I thought about how it was as a couple just starting a life together before several painful and difficult years of ttc took over.

I miss that.  

So as I recover this weekend from another horribly painful period – cycle #58 maybe? I’ve lost count, I will try to continue moving on. It’s now officially less than a month until my 40th birthday and I’m starting to think that maybe going back on the pill to manage the pain might be the way to go. 

I’ll be 40 and carefree…

One monthish

Wow. It’s been almost a month since I last posted. It also happens to be about a month away from my big 4-0, but who’s counting?

So what’s been going on? Let’s see. We are still working on my dad’s situation. We try to visit him at the nursing home each week and thankfully his dementia hasn’t progressed too much yet. This is a blessing because his house still hasn’t sold. Not real thrilled with the realtor, but hopefully we’ll get a buyer soon and can close this horrific chapter in our lives.

I’ve been trying to continue my first-ever marathon training and it’s going so-so. Still dealing with a lot of pain. Not so much with the sciatica issue, but more with the IT band/knee issue – the issue I had before all the disc/sciatica nonsense. It finally got to the point that I pushed my sports med doctor to write my “new” old issue into my progress report so that physical therapy would be allowed to help me.

And ever since then, I think we’re finally onto something. The past few appointments have been enlightening. I told the therapist that as my mileage increases, I’m back to having the knee pain that I had before. I said I couldn’t help but think the two issues were related in some way. As he did a bunch of tests on me, he had a few theories.

First, he asked about my training in years past. I said first half-marathon, no issues. Every big race after that, I’ve been in pain. He asked what was different between my first and recent training attempts and I told him IVF. I always wondered if this was the root of my problems. He said that the medications used, particularly progesterone, can weaken ligaments – just as a pregnancy would. It’s quite possible that every time I tried to start training again after a failed attempt, it was with weakened ligaments, causing a whole domino effect of issues.

Then he said there’s several things going on. My left hip flexor is tight and that leg is stronger. My right side is weakened, which I’m sure the flared sciatica isn’t helping. My right knee also points inward, something I was born with. When I told him I would get self-conscious about how my foot points outward and try to point it straight, he said “don’t” and that was my body’s way of putting my knee in correct alignment. Ah-ha.

So as I run, I’ve tight problems on one side and weak problems on the other so the body tries to do all these things to compensate and over time, it’s quite possible the disc problem started, as a result. He said the spine is good about bending forward and back, and side to side, but with a diagonal pivoting motion that my body is forcing it to do, not so much. In time, the disc may just wiggle out and back surgery isn’t the answer. If we don’t correct the problems, he said the disc problem will just go right up the chain. Ah-ha!

The good news is, he thinks I can keep running and training, but we are really trying to work on the issues. He’s added some cushioning to the insole of my right shoe, to keep my foot from rolling inward, when my knee and hip flexor start to fatigue, and some specific stretches and strengthening exercises for me to work on.

Two weeks ago, I reached a new benchmark in mileage = 15.5 miles. I couldn’t believe it. I wish it were pain-free, but we’re working on that. I really hope I can complete this marathon because now that I’ve gotten a lot better at blocking out ttc at this point, this is what I want. This is my new goal and I’ll be pissed if it doesn’t happen. I don’t need more failure.

And lastly, the other thing that’s keeping us busy is that we decided to add a deck and patio on to our house. We kept putting it off because most of our money was going toward toward the bills for the 10 children we never got to meet, but now that we’re doing better, we decided it was time. It was a tough decision at first because we both went through phases where we wanted to move out of this neighborhood and start a new life “just the two of us” but doing that would be financially stupid. The market is showing improvement and we are in a newer development with several lots left to sell. It just makes more sense to wait it out a bit longer and not move hastily. So we are going to enjoy our house, throw lots of parties and cookouts, and do the best we can to move on.

Unfortunately, a certain big-box store has been screwing us over with the delivery of our decking materials and we’ve been patiently waiting to put the boards down on our deck frame for about a month now, because why would anything go smoothly for us, right? Ugh! So then there’s that, too.

Hopefully in a month from now, I’ll be kicking my feet up, relaxing on our deck, realizing 40 isn’t so bad, not needing to ice my knee too much, anticipating my first marathon. Perhaps life will be good.

No magic

Had a very candid conversation with the new OBGyn yesterday and there’s just no magic “thing” that will ensure a pregnancy. Logic has been barking this fact at me for years but my heart won’t listen. So to finally hear it very matter-of-factly was a bittersweet blessing, I guess.

So all my stessing over whether I would like this new doctor was really pointless. The fact was, I liked her. She’s blunt, but caring. But as one of my neighbors who sees her says, “don’t expect any hugs.” I was fine with that. In fact, maybe this is what I need to move on. A reality check.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom though. I’m still having somewhat normal cycles and even if the length wavers here and there, she’s not concerned. She seems to be in agreement that if I’m still ovulating, there’s always a chance. There just isn’t anything special I can do in the meantime. It is what it is. When I asked her opinion on my tests, AMH, etc, she said some people’s bodies just age quicker than others.

We did discuss the endometriosis issue and she broke the “tie” as to whether having another laparoscopy would be helpful. She agreed with the RE that if I’m in unbearable pain, we can take care of it. If it’s for the hope of improving fertility, it’s unproven to help at all. We also talked about the large fibroid and she agreed that leaving it be is best for now. Again, if we were to have surgery, it would compromise my uterus too much. It’s the lesser of two evils leaving it be. But if my periods are getting worse, it could be to blame. Just like the endo, when I get to the point where I can’t deal anymore, we’ll do something about it, but that something would likely be the end of ttc, so for now I’ll deal.

In some ways I felt a relief like this is my signal to move on, live my life, do other things without worry of interferring with ttc. But in other ways, it still stings. The finality is creeping in. In a strange turn of events, while I was at this appointment, I got a call from my physical therapist’s office that they had two cancellations this week and that I could take one of the sessions.

Guess marathon wins. I’ll focus on that for now. When I cross that finish line, I’ll be 40. We’ll see what happens then.

Tug-o-war

I’ve had two goals that have both increased in urgency lately. Or at least it seems that way. It couldn’t be because I turn 40 in two months (and one day), could it?

My marathon training has been a little sub-par. I ran a half at the end of May and have since been struggling a little with getting my mileage where it needs to be. It was super disheartening to have a ten-mile training run just two weeks after my half, nearly tear me apart. I wanted to lop off my leg, it was so bad. So I figured it was still early enough in the schedule to tone down training a little, to make sure I could heal before getting to the weeks of big mileage. I started with physical therapy to check the IT band issue that always seems to plague me. Unfortunately, his schedule has been jam-packed with no sign of getting in right away, so I resumed the class that he teaches. At least it’s something.

Then I went back to my sports med doctor to follow-up after my third back injection. It’s really frustrating knowing that it will be almost a year of disc/sciatica pain at the end of this month, with a sporadic IT band issue thrown in for shits and giggles, just when I’m starting to get back into a running groove. We discussed the option of a booster injection, even though they usually like to keep it to three shots. But since the first two were sort of a waste, not being injected in the right spot, he feels like one more from the new doc might help. So I need to decide if I’m still doing this marathon, and then when to strategically time this shot. If I play my cards right, it could get me through training and race day. But as my doctor pointed out, this is just masking the problem, not fixing it. My body should have healed this injury by now, and it hasn’t. Another big fail from my uncooperative body. No surprise there.

Then we discussed surgery. I do not want surgery but then I start to wonder about all the implications of this disc problem. What if it really is interfering with some miracle conception/pregnancy? What if I actually did get pregnant with a nagging bulging disc pressing on my nerve? Then what happens? It’s hard to really think about this because the reality of it happening is still pretty slim. But what if? I’m certainly not going for surgery before attempting a marathon, so do I consider it afterward? Right before winter so I can have plenty of time to recover before wanting to run in the spring? Does this mean I go back on the pill for a while? I’ll be 40 years old, what will that even do to me and my wacko hormones? It’s sad that I can’t even do the one thing that tries to keep my mind off ttc nonsense.

And then there’s my other “goal.” The one I’ve been trying to achieve for the past 4.5 years. To be honest, I don’t even know if I’m ovulating anymore and with more and more issues going on, I don’t know if I even want it anymore. I think I do, but I’ve grown numb. Or maybe that’s my sciatica talking. Today, after waiting months for an appointment, I’m finally seeing my new OB/GYN. I was so sad to move on from my OB but insurance dictated the change. I remember when I made the call for the appointment. I was desperate. I was in the middle of trying to decide if it’s worth another laparoscopy as my former OB felt it would help and my RE was dead-against it. My cycles and periods were horrific and I just wanted it for the pain relief and if there was any sliver of truth it could help fertility, then bonus. Now that my cycles magically seem more manageable (probably as I creep toward menopause), I wonder if I even need the new OB to be the tie-breaker. I will certainly bring it up though.

I don’t even know where to begin. How do I explain my history quickly in one visit, while the main reason I’m there is for my annual? I hope she looks at my history and I’ve heard she’s a really good doctor who specializes in fertility issues, so that’s good. So why am I not as excited about this? I’ve waited months. I just feel so defeated. Physically, mentally, reproductively. I really hope she can help. I hope she lets me run my marathon, too. This should be interesting.

My two goals couldn’t be any more mismatched, along with two potential surgeries to consider, one for each goal. Should be interesting.

Disaster from the waist down

I’ve always told myself that if my bum ovaries don’t want to cooperate, then I’ll just keep up with running and training for races. With my first race of the season under my belt, I was planning to continue on with my training in the hopes I’ll do a full marathon this fall. That was until this past Saturday. The training group was slated to run 10 miles, a distance I actually enjoy when I’m feeling strong. But I was stupid. I decided to try and run without my knee brace. I thought how will I ever know whether or not I still need the darn thing if I keep relying on it like some security blanket. I’d prefer to run without it. One less thing to chafe my body on long runs!

Big mistake. And it didn’t help that the course we ran was a big loop so if you get about halfway out and decide you can’t make it back, you can turn around and head back the five miles you just ran, or keep pushing forward through the five miles ahead of you. Either way you end up back at your car with the mission of running 10 miles completed. My knee started feeling a little bit tweaky just before mile 3, but nothing that seemed alarming. At the three-mile marker, I stopped at chatted with one of the coaches and debated jumping on the half-marathon course to play it safe. But I really wanted this, so I kept going. Then starting at mile 5 and every mile after, I had to stop and walk and stretch my leg. The other runners in the group were so nice, stopping to ask if I was ok. I felt bad that I just couldn’t stick around long enough with any of them to carry on a conversation while we ran, hoping it would be a nice distraction. It was a beautiful, scenic course to run, too, but I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

Then around mile 8, I found myself on a trail hill. I walked. No, I hobbled. I grunted. I tried not to cry. I could feel angry tears welling up and I wanted to scream. Not from the pain but from the fact that the only thing that keeps me from dwelling about my infertility was being stripped away from me with every step. When those thoughts came racing back as I stood in the woods, I was so angry with God. So angry with myself for not using the knee brace. So angry that I took on way too much physically at work, without having any time for my stretching exercises, or my yoga class. So angry that my back injections probably didn’t work as well as they should. I was angry that the one thing I was setting out to do with my goal of running a marathon would likely be over. Just like making a baby.

I finally got down the hill and very gingerly ran a slow, steady pace and completed my 10 miles. The rest of the day, I could barely walk. I finally caved and took one of my NSAIDs that I used to use for my sciatica/leg inflamation and it took the edge off. I took one the next night as well and will plan to see my physical therapist tonight. Figures I have a 5K on Friday night that I signed up for months ago.

***

In other news, we made it through another Father’s Day. Actually, it was quite nice, considering we have it a little rough in the “dad department.” We visited my dad at the VA home and spent some time outside there with family on what was a really beautiful day. Afterward, we went to the cemetery for my husband’s father. It was the first time I’ve gone because it was also the first time he’s been back since the burial almost twenty years ago. I’m very proud that he decided to go and was honored to be at his side when he did.

***

And in other news, we learned about yet another 35+ miracle. Truly. They were “one and done,” on the pill no less, and completely shocked. It makes you think about what it must be like to be surprised and completely caught off guard. The way it should be with this sort of thing. Well, maybe not so much if you’re on the pill. But anyway, another story from my “people” to give another glimmer of false hope that this could someday happen for others my age who continue to wait.

And just when I thought about all the great things we experienced this weekend, thinking maybe some great miracle could still come along telling us it’s our time, I realized those stupid NSAIDs I took were the ones that came with the warning that they WILL mess up ovulation. Fantastic.

I really am a disaster from the waist down.

35-39

There’s been many tough age brackets in my life. Teen years come to mind, or the 20s where where people often split their time between partying and finding a job, or the early 30s where people should start to settle down, have a family and/or a rewarding career. But I think the toughest age bracket of all for me has been ages 35-39, the one I’ve spent the last five years documenting on this blog.

Coincidentally, still being a relatively new runner, this also has been the same age group I’ve checked off every time I signed up for a race. Which is fitting in some ways, as my life has been feeling more and more like a marathon with each passing day. One with a finish line that’s so far out of reach that I’m getting tired of “running.”

I started trying to conceive at the ripe old age of 35. And two months before my 36th birthday, I started running. It started off as something to try for exercise and losing weight when nothing else worked, and to my surprise, it turned into something that was so much more. It cleared the mind. It helped me cope. But in recent times, it’s started to make me feel old. Injuries, back issues, leg issues that may or may not be caused by running and a mind that has been filled with “can’t” have emerged.

I’ve run three half-marathons with the third and most recent being my worst. I had to walk. A lot. My sister, who is in the same age bracket as me, came in 15th out of 127. I was 85th. I made a joke to her that I needed to find a new age bracket and the reality is, I’ll soon have my wish. It really got me thinking.

In some ways it’s interesting that I started both of these potentially life-changing things at the same time, at the same age, and while both are failing me at the moment, I thought one would eventually prevail. I had started to make peace with the several rounds of Clomid, 2 IUIs, surgeries and procedures for both of us, 4 IVFs and every single thing we’ve tried, like vitamins, supplements, chiropractor, acupuncture, yoga, diet changes, cleanses, etc. because someone else swore that’s what worked for them. We finally started to feel like we could move on after working to recover financially from the thousands of dollars that all of the above set us back, keeping us from living life.

I was starting to learn that sometimes time does heal wounds and I felt like we were there. Right. There.

But as more and more couples we know our age continue to successfully get pregnant, I don’t think the sting will ever completely go away. I always found myself cheering for the 35-39 age group when it came to fleeting fertility. Always. Those folks gave us hope. But as I stare 40 in the face, it’s this very age group that now hurts me the most. It’s like a false hope. Anyone under the age of 35, I’ve just come to expect the announcements, even though infertility can affect any age. But it’s when someone my age becomes pregnant, it really surprises people, like defying the laws of nature or something. Like there’s something even extra joyous about it, squeezing in right before time runs out. It seems I can no longer relate to anyone, when my age puts me into the it-will-take-a-miracle category that so many others our age seem to somehow overcome. It’s a strange place to be. It’s like I should have my very own category or something. The I’m doing my own thing category.

The reality is, I’ll be rolling out of this age bracket soon and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. I can’t fix my ovaries. I can’t stop the aging process. All I can do is take care of myself and be healthy and strong, inside and out. As for running, moving into a new age bracket won’t make me any faster or the competition any weaker. It just is what it is. Another year older. Another bracket. Perhaps there is a finish line for part of my life. Perhaps it’s time to let running “win.” Perhaps it’s onto the marathon. For real. One of my many bucket list items for my new age bracket.

Back injection #3

Went for my third back injection today and in a moment where ttc wasn’t even on my radar, there were two lovely blunders. All I want is to be pain free and as the nurse walked me back to prep me for the procedure, her very first question was, “do you still get periods?”

I’m sorry, what? How old does she think I am? I’m not even fricking forty yet!

I told her I did and she went to get me a cup to pee in. Ahh yes the obligatory pregnancy test. After handing her my pee I went to get changed into my gown to await the IV prep. She comes back and says, “You’ll be happy to know you’re not pregnant.”

You’ll be happy to know you’re not pregnant?

Is it because I’m old? She already mistook me for being in menopause. Who is she to assume we’ve had kids already and are done having kids in our old age? Do I give off the “no kids” vibe which makes her assume we don’t want any? The thing is, I didn’t even have the energy to tell her otherwise. I have no fight left in me. We don’t have kids and we won’t. I’ll be in menopause soon according to my apparent appearance. I just mumbled “ummm” and left it at that.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to be wheeled back to a room where a giant needle would get shoved into my back. Anything would have been better than what I just encountered. Within a few minutes they gave me something to relax, which put me in a much better place. No cares in the world, the way I wish things could be from here on out.

More on that thought later.

NIAW 2014

NIAW 2014 edited

It’s that weird week where Administrative Professionals Day falls within National Infertility Awareness Week and for a brief moment I am sad that I am still a “childless secretary” and then it passes. It’s actually getting better with time. Each year is proving to be less bitter than the last so that’s good. I decided to be a little more brave with the NIAW awareness and quickly made up a banner/cover for my facebook page. (I blurred my name out for this blog because I really didn’t want to put my last name on here.)

I was a little nervous about the photo for a few reasons. It puts US out there. Like really out there. For those who wondered why we don’t have kids, well, there it is. For those who knew we’ve been trying but didn’t know to what lengths we pushed, there it is. For those who thought we tried IVF but not knowing we actually tried four times, there it is. Out there. And while I didn’t do it for response or pity, it was interesting to see how it was received. It was liked by 3 neighbors, one of which went thru IVF and succeeded, another who had a surprise pregnancy at age 40; 2 former coworkers, one of which went thru IVF successfully and the other whose daughter experienced loss but later was successful; a currently very pregnant friend who I went to school with during the height of my infertility testing, and her employer who I interned with, who is very spiritual person, and lastly, the hubs liked it, which was sweet.

I had a few friends who chose to speak to me via private message, including a cousin who wants to get together for a drink and chat and told me she prays for us daily. I had a neighbor who told me it was one of those “is it weird to like this since you are suffering through this or should I like it because of the awareness?” things. I said I know, it’s a weird gray area type thing to post. And then there were those who I’ve known for a really long time who remain silent, which always baffles me. But just knowing people are now aware has been a good thing. It shows our strength. It may have been one slightly difficult post for someone to stumble on, but for those who are currently dealing or have dealt with infertility, it’s a whole lot easier than sifting through all the child-oriented posts and photos every single day. One photo, one week, more awareness. I think folks can handle it.