Twelve hours after my last post, I went to bed, woke up, morning routine, bathroom, wipe, red. Done. Just like that. After nine days of spotting and wondering and falsely hoping, it was on to cycle #64. It’s stuff like this that annoys the hell out of me. When something completely different and unexpected happens during a cycle, after I’ve made a conscious effort to stop analyzing things. This is what I hate the most. It’s like TTC and infertility never lets you leave. It keeps reeling you back in for more slaps to the face or suckerpunches to the gut. I guess this is how it will be until menopause finally waves the white flag.
So now it’s back to reality. The holiday busyness. The end of the year wrap-up at work before taking some much needed time off. And another holiday season of “just us two.” I hadn’t given that part much thought this year until this stupid cycle thing happened. It stinks. The thought of sitting at home in a quiet house, wondering how family or friends with children are spending their evening. Maybe sitting at the dining room table enjoying a meal. Maybe opening just one present before Christmas morning. Maybe playing games. I just can’t do this “empty nest” thing. Can you even call it that when the nest was never full to begin with?
Things have been so busy with work, the holidays, and life in general that I really thought I was getting better at moving along. In fact, as I head into this holiday season, I’ve yet to cry once. I don’t even pay attention to the cute baby themed holiday commercials or tune into the sad Christmas music. It was finally going good.
When I had a spare moment, I was looking up last minute travel deals in case we try to getaway after Christmas. I was daydreaming about us opening a B&B someday. I was thinking about all the fun holiday parties and things we had coming up. I was getting my head into the game at work. I was trying to get out and run, even when it was cold out. It was good.
That was until I started spotting. On day 20. Like, the earliest I’ve ever spotted outside of maybe an ovulation type spot. I didn’t even know it was day 20 until I counted. Normally, if I’m to get a short cycle, I’ll start spotting around day 23. In a longer or more normal cycle, it might be on day 25. So I thought great, this will be an even shorter cycle than ever, meaning anovulatory or menopause or who knows. And then I went about my day.
Day 21 another spot. Not much but it was a spot.
I continued to spot the next few days. Again, not much for even a liner, but enough to be annoying. But I went about my business.
Day 24 I had a ladies outing. I actually considered taking a test but quickly asked myself WHY?!? What’s the point? I already know it wouldn’t be a positive and then I’d have to sit there with 29 other ladies sitting around me calling each other “hey, momma!” So I went about my night and enjoyed my wine without the disappointment of a negative test.
Day 25 I had a 10K to run. Of course, more spots. Maybe a touch more than before, enough that I didn’t want to deal with running and worrying about it, so I used a tampon. Ended up being not much at all and I ended up with a PR!
I thought for sure the running would bring on AF, but no.
Day 26, Day 27, spot, spot. Nothing.
Day 28 is today and more spotting. Again, nothing a liner couldn’t handle. I know my cycles fluctuate, but lately if I even make it to day 28 it’s a miracle. All day I kept praying don’t start. Please don’t start. No period. Please.
It was so weird to even think like that again because it’s been pretty pointless for 4+ years now. By the time I got to my car to leave work, I sat there and seriously contemplated buying a test on the way home. But again,why? I was not about to go to the store for one thing. A test. I was not about to have to make small talk with the cashier about my purchase. I was not going to waste good money on another test.
So then I debated the dollar store but I had no cash on me. I was not about to scrape up four quarters and like seven cents for the tax for ONE item. I was also not going to charge ONE one dollar item. All to end in the same damn way it always does.
Just when I think I’m fine. Just when I’m so busy being consumed by the life I have. Just when I begin to think about a new life plan instead of the one I wanted so badly. Just when I think the holiday season won’t be so bad this year.
It’s been one month since turning the big 4-0. I seriously don’t know where the time went. I guess that will happen when it’s the busiest year of your working career + you spent the entire summer on backyard construction projects + and threw in marathon training for good measure. I’m beat!
And I decided I want out…on the baby sites, that is. I’ll be completely honest here. I was getting tired of being part of FB groups inundating me with posts. Yes, I was that hopeful person at one time, scouring for tips and hope. But I can’t be the support system anymore. I have nothing to say to anyone still waiting. I have no advice. I’d like to say “It will happen.” But sometimes…it doesn’t. This may sound harsh, but at some point I need to live my life and move on. I just didn’t think staying was the answer. I was also tired of being a part of the fertility clinic’s page, watching people thank the very doctors that I often felt let down by. Watching the latest and greatest developments being posted, AFTER we drained our bank accounts and threw in the towel.
So I opted out of three FB groups just now. And it feels pretty damn good. Let me just say that it was not easy to do. Not because I was reluctant, but because FB was finicky. I tried clicking the dropdown to “leave group” and there was no option to do that. Just a flash of that option but as soon as I’d move my mouse there, it would disappear. It took me 10 minutes to click out of three groups. It was like I was stuck there in infertility pergatory, with FB giving me an evil muhahahahaa laugh. The more I clicked, the more I wanted out. Out. Out! OUT!!!! I finally managed to get out of two groups and the third I had to do from my phone and that took a while to register as well.
I wanted to write yesterday while this was fresh in my mind, but I just had nothing more to give.
I ran my first marathon. I’d love to say that I nailed the time I was hoping for. I’d love to say I was pain-free. But neither would be the truth. But I will do my best to describe the entire experience as best as I can recall.
I went to bed before 10pm, knowing it was at least an hour too late, but also knowing I’d lie in bed staring at the ceiling most of the night. My husband said by the time he came to bed, I didn’t stir. It was definitely after 11pm and I remember hearing him but I tried to keep my eyes closed. 4am would come quick.
When the alarm went off, for once, I got up without thinking about being painfully tired, like I did every single Saturday during training. I had everything out and ready the night before and the hour I needed before heading out the door, flew in the blink of an eye. I got to my sister’s house a few minutes late, thinking she’d kill me, but she seemed completely calm. This was her third marathon. I was a nervous wreck.
We drove downtown but probably should have left sooner because we got caught in traffic due to blocked roads. It started feeling stressful. Turn by turn, we’d try a new route to find parking, and it would be blocked. With the race starting at 7am and it was 6:20, we started to feel panicked. Eventually we found our way to an open lot, but there wasn’t enough time to find the training group to see familiar faces that we trained with for the last five months. It was the kind of calming thing I needed, being a newbie, but it wasn’t meant to be.
My sister and I parted ways to our respective corrals. Even though I was surrounded by thousands of people, I suddenly felt alone. Thankfully, I eventually connected with my training buddy who lined up with me. This was the first time I decided to wear a “throw-away” shirt so I could be warm at the start. It was one of my long-sleeve race t-shirts. My friend watched me take it off and set it on a railing. I told her it happened to be the shirt from my 5k PR, so I guess it was sort of a rite of passage letting it go.
In the minutes before the start of the race, I thought about all sorts of things. Did I have enough songs? Should I have carefully constructed a playlist, or is the shuffle method I decided on, the way to go? Did I eat enough? Did I eat the right things on the right days? Did I drink enough fluids? Did I pack enough fuel? Can I do this? I can’t believe I’m here for a marathon. A FULL freaking marathon! I remember hearing my friend tell me how she likes to approach the race (this was her 4th), but I don’t really remember the words. I felt like I was in the ozone.
And then we were off. The first two miles feel like you’re doing nothing but dodging people to get what feels like a somewhat normal stride. It takes a while. My pace was slowish. Sometimes I’d find a clearing and lose my friend, sometimes she’d find an opening and I was bottle-necked. But we both knew that we wouldn’t always be side by side and that was fine. I thought it was nice that she was sort of looking out for me when she could.
The next two miles were quicker. Maybe too quick. I started thinking maybe it was too fast, so by mile 5, I slowed. But in the sixth mile, I must have sped up again, wanting a good 10k time. Miles 9 and 10 were fast and by miles 11 and 12, I felt some tweakiness with my knee. That familiar ache from my IT band was starting to flare. I thought maybe I’d stop and readjust my knee band. I was getting closer and closer to the halfway point so I waited. I wanted a good half time and ended up with my average time from my half-marathon experiences. Probably not a good idea for a first time full.
And then it happened.
My knee went out. Like completely gave out. I hobbled over to the side and eventually lost my running buddy. I don’t think she even realized and I’d never ask her to hang back anyway. I did some IT stretches. I cursed. I wanted to cry. Then I set out again, could run for a minute or two, and then spaghetti knee. I’d hobble to the side and repeat. I couldn’t believe this. I couldn’t believe all this training. All these people who were so proud, waiting for me, had no idea I was about to fail. I begged and pleaded with God to let me have this. Let me finish.
For the next two miles, I hobbled along, with a few nice runners stopping to ask if I was alright and if I wanted them to jog along with me. I wanted to cry because I thought that was so nice of them. Complete strangers wanting to help. This is why I love runners. Just before mile marker 15, there was an aid station so I stopped to see them. The physical therapist was an absolute godsend. She kept digging her thumbs in, using ice and working the tight areas where the IT band was messing with my knee. It hurt like a bitch but I said do what it takes to fix it and asked if she could find the magic spot to reapply my knee strap. At this point I sent a text to my husband, telling him what was going on and how defeated I felt. And I threw a status update on FB, expressing my defeat. The physical therapy team all asked if I wanted to continue the race, while asking me to fill out a form. I turned and saw two young runners, both with ice strapped to their knees and was told they dropped out. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t quit. They marked my bib with what I call a “boo-boo report” noting MM15 and sent me on my way.
I prayed. I started praying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Mumbling to myself. Sometimes I’d finish a prayer and other times I’d be distracted and have to start over. I found moments where I was calm again. When I’d feel a tweak, I’d pray. Miles 15, 16 and 17 were slow. I’d lost a lot of time at the aid station and was nervous about pushing it, plus it was a hilly stretch. Miles 18, 19, and 20 got better. It was a nice part of the course, very residential, with tons of people out on their lawns cheering the runners. It was here that I started to get a boost. A little girl holding a sign, read my name off my bib, telling me to “go!” I started to cry. At that same moment, a perfectly timed song from my shuffle playlist came up. The emotions finally hit me. I was going to do this.
The spectators were amazing. Especially through that residential area. They camped out with fresh sliced fruit and bowls of grapes for the runners. Pushing us on with signs that had the most inspirational quotes I’ve ever seen. I could barely hold back the tears. At some point during mile 20, another one of the best songs from my random playlist came on, right when I needed it. It literally took my breath away.
Earlier in the week, my husband’s grandfather passed away. I had asked my husband to pick a mile to dedicate to him. He selected 21 after the 21-gun salute they had at the funeral. I was there, about to start mile 21, the furthest I’d ever gone, so I sent him a quick text, which was the first he’d heard back from me after learning I was hurt. He started informing everyone I was still in the race. From that point on, it was like he was right there with me, “talking” me through via texts. After I finished mile 21, I told him 22 would be for my grandpa. Then he suggested mile 23 for his dad and 24 for mine. It really helped to dedicate miles to family members – some still with us, some not.
I kept praying, especially when I felt the pain creeping in again. Or when I started feeling fatigue from the temps that kept creeping up and up the longer I was out on the course. Mile 25 I found myself thinking it’s only two more miles, but I was so drained. I walked. Walked a little bit more. As I was getting closer to finishing, I can recall people talking to me from the side of the road. Encouraging me. Using my name. Strangers cheering for me. Again, I sort of heard them, and all I could do was nod my head. Then I’d run some more and nod. Mile 26 put me right near the stadium finish. I could hear the music and the crowds. I knew my family was there still waiting, well over an hour after my sister’s finish. She had sent me a text saying the weather SUCKED for running but “you got this!”
I prayed some more. Out loud. Didn’t care who heard me. Our Father, who art in heaven. Hail Mary, full of grace. Over and over until I rounded the last corner before the opening to the stadium. Then I started saying out loud to myself, “oh my God. Oh my God. I’m here.” It took my breath away to see the final stretch, lined with flags blowing in the breeze. I finally felt like air. I ran the final stretch and crossed the finish line. It was unbelievable. I just finished a MARATHON.
I honestly don’t know how I did it, as hurt and defeated as I was. I really don’t.
I’m not fast. I wanted to finish in 5 hours, but I finished in 5:35 and some change. While I wish it was better, I still did it. I really did it.
Later that day, I decided to post how I really felt. Not just about the day, but something that would sum up the journey I’ve been through, especially with ttc – when running was the only thing that got me through. If I wouldn’t be successful in pregnancy, I wanted to complete a marathon of a different kind. Running gives you a lot of time to think, so when I posted a pic of my medal, I left it with this:
I’ve learned that there are some pretty amazing things in life I can control. For the things I can’t, I chose to not let them break me. That’s all I wanted to prove today.
Thank God that last month’s cycle was a shorter one, which as I had hoped, shifted this one up by almost a week. This means that when I run my very first-ever marathon on Saturday, I won’t have to worry about a horrible, raging, crampy period getting in the way. The thought of trying to wedge several tampons alongside pretzel sticks and fuel chews into an already packed pouch on my belt was troubling.
Yes, it’s another period and while I say that I don’t count anymore, that’s true. Sort of. I really don’t sit and count days anymore. Hubs has a better sense of what day it is than I do! I log day one into my FF app and don’t really check it until I start spotting before the next cycle. I mainly do this to have a record of if/when my cycle lengths start changing. Other than that, it’s just about noting the cycle number. I don’t know that I will ever be able to stop that. Every month the number ticks up by one and while it’s sad, I try not to think much about it any more. Trying to move on to new things.
It’s been quite busy lately, so at some point I’ll hopefully have the time to sit and write more posts and decide where to go from here, but until then, I have more counting and numbers to think about. Five days until I log 26 more numbers. Oh, and a .2 – can’t forget the .2
For probably the first time since maybe my college days, I was thrilled to get my period today. It was an early/short cycle. Hooray! Why am I thrilled? Because this hopefully means I won’t need to go on the pill next month. It’s quite possible that everything shifted up by several days. I hadn’t been keeping close track of what day of my cycle I’m on, but rather counting ahead to pinpoint when my periods would hit. It was not looking good for a while there. There was no way I wanted to deal with my first ever marathon + a raging, heavy period, where I’d have to pack several tampons and liners and somehow carry them with me while running for FIVE hours! Running while on the rag is no fun and let me just say that the last time I ran with a pantyliner, it was quite the experience. Chafing doesn’t even begin to describe it. More like throwing an index card into your underwear and then running for a couple hours was a more accurate depiction.
So that’s the good news. The bad news is, I’m not pregnant for the umpteenthieth time. But I’m fine. I’m determined to run this marathon. It will be the first great accomplishment at age 40 and I’m hoping it’s the best way to raise the bar on my next decade. It will be a time to move on to many other things. I’m ready.
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.
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.
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.