Tag Archives: endorphins

Meandering through June

I ran 8 miles in the pouring rain early on Saturday morning. I felt slow and heavy, and my legs still burned with the after-shocks of the hard (untrained!) effort of running the race last weekend. But I reveled in every step. I felt relief that the storm kept the Moms and Dads with their baby joggers off the lake path. I sloshed along and felt my lungs searing, my quads burning and my feet freezing; it all felt good. And then I walked/limped into our apartment, looking like a drowned rat, and I poured a mug of steaming coffee, cuddled into a cozy sweatshirt, and just sat there sort of staring into space: too tired and numb to think or to be scared or to feel sad.

Running is my escape.

*****

Hubs and I joined a CSA for the first time this summer! We’re sharing a weekly delivery of farm-fresh produce with three other friends. The first shipment…..romaine lettuce (sorta a snore, we’re using for side salads), spinach (we used it as a topping on a homemade deep dish pizza last night), kale (sauteed with shallots and garlic and lemon and served alongside leftover grilled chicken after a late night at work on Friday). With the leftover spinach, we’ll make this awesome bean dish, which is hearty enough to serve as a main course. The real toughie in the box was rhubarb, which hubs and I have never cooked with. We’re making a strawberry-rhubarb crisp tonight to follow hubs’s pulled pork and my homemade potato salad (with real mayo, no store stuff!).

You can see why I really should run 8 miles every day, right?

****

Meanwhile, we spent Memorial Day weekend planting veggies, herbs and some flowers. We also bought some cushions for the wrought iron furniture on our (tiny) front and back decks. We’ve live in this apartment for three years and had never done all of this! OMG, now I could literally live (with a book and a glass of vino) on my back deck. It. Rocks. (Dudes, I went to Home Depot four times and Target two times in the course of three days!)

I must say that I melted a bit watching hubs get down and dirty with the plants as we potted them last weekend. He keeps checking on them, too, making sure they have enough water and remarking on the weather and how the sun or clouds might effect them. 🙂 Ohhh, my sensitive little heart. Imagine if I ever get to see him with our baby?

****

We’ve also been decently social lately. (Ugh, I’ve been such a little hermit. Especially with the break…I just…I have nothing to say to anyone right now and it’s horrible, I know, but it’s how I feel.) We went to a birthday party for a college friend on Tuesday night. I was sooooooo not in the mood to be social and celebratory, but I sacked up. It ended up being a fun party and it was distracting. It majorly helped that the group we were hanging with was mostly singletons, so babiesbabiesbabiesbabies = not on their minds. Thursday night we went to a spur of the moment dinner at a restaurant called Schwa with some friends. That was freaking awesome. (More on that in another post. We went to THE BEST restaurant in Chicago/possibly the country and it’s not really fair I’m acting all, Ohhh, whatevs, I’m being social about one of the best meals of my entire life!!!)

*****

We have our consult with the new RE on Thursday morning. I’m sure I’ll get nervous in a few days, but for now I’m just excited. I wonder what this new RE will think of my treatment thus far? I’m worried he’ll look at my nine months with clinic #1 and say, “I cannot freaking believe they had you on Clomid three times given your hormone levels!!!!” or something like that. I’m equally worried he WON’T say something along those lines. 🙂 Oh geez, can I give an RE a break?

Anyway, T-minus 3-days until the Dr. Awesome consult. Looking forward to the appointment takes a bit of the sting out of my daily cocktail of BCPs, Pre-Naties, supp supps, etc. I’m gonna run and cook and garden my way through Thursday.

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I miss the old me

The BFN on Wednesday was expected but of course it still sucked. I got back into bed and quietly cried while hubs hugged me. But I think I bounced back pretty well. I talked myself into focusing on the positives of the cycle and tried to see the BFN as bad luck….not further proof that my body is f-ed up. I have to work hard not to think about it too much. Not to wonder if there’s more bad stuff going on with my body that I don’t know about. “Normal couples only have a 20% chance of conception each cycle.” Haven’t we all been told that a bazillion times? I know it’s true. But normal couples don’t have the meds to produce multiple follicles. And they aren’t taking Ovidrel to ensure a strong ovulation. And they aren’t having expertly prepped swimmers deposited into their uterus at the perfect time.

You know?

So I wonder…..what went wrong in May? Did my mature follie(s) hold a good egg or was it empty? Did I even ovulate? Did we time the IUI correctly? Did we fertilize an egg? Did the embryo divide correctly? Was my lining too thin for implantation? Did an embie try to implant? Did it start to and then stop? What went wrong? Everything? Nothing? Bad luck? And so on and so forth.

******

So I went to CD2 monitoring very early this morning and unfortunately the injects left me with a cyst on the right ovary. Once again, I expected it. I mean, I pretty much talk about my cysts and benched months ad nauseum. But it still hit me pretty hard. I was secretly hoping for a miracle….that I could begin injecting tomorrow night and numb myself—to the questions I posed above—with a fresh start and some hope.

But my body let me down again. My body can’t ovulate. It doesn’t produce LH like it should. It has trouble with its lining. It can’t get pregnant. And it develops cysts and benches me. Over and over again.

*****

I used to be very proud of my body. How it can run marathons and bike for hours and swim more than a mile and walk all day. How it carries groceries and lifts weights effortlessly. How it sits at a desk all day and works hard. How it sleeps soundly. How it still can play soccer and basketball and tennis 13 years after I stopped playing competitively. How much love it is capable of. How motivated and disciplined and overachieving it can be. This year has slowly eroded my confidence and love for my body. My body keeps letting me down. It feels weak and fragile and jealous and lonely and….broken. I don’t even recognize it most days. Especially not on monitoring days.

So I’m doing something crazy tomorrow morning. I got a last minute entry into the 10-mile Memorial Day Weekend run I’ve done every year since I moved to Chicago. It will undoubtedly be my slowest 10 miles, EVER. I am not trained or even close to prepared. I’ve run once in the past 2.5 weeks. But I think I can finish the distance and I want to participate in a race—where I feel happy and comfortable and hopeful and excited and joyful. I want to feel the sore muscles all weekend long and remember that my body can accomplish awesome things.

I need to remind myself what my body is good at. Because I am losing faith in it by the day and it’s breaking my heart.

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Figuring more stuff out (kinda)

I mentioned that Dr. K doesn’t think my endurance exercise from 22-years-old to 30-years-old—10 marathons, almost four dozen half-marathons, one Half-Ironman, four Olympic-distance triathlons and too many 10Ks, 5Ks and Sprint triathlons to count—are responsible for my infertility. If they were, I’d have some red flags in my blood work. (Low estrogen, low LH and low testosterone.) And I don’t have them, except for the LH.

I told her I enjoy exercise and asked if she would give me some guidelines for a healthy amount of working out. If she had told me that it would be wise—even JUST IN CASE—to nix exercise, I would’ve gladly done it. I was so desperate to hear there was something else I could DO to help my chances, I would’ve given up my workouts. But she didn’t say that all. She said she doesn’t want me to stop exercising or doing so little I don’t get the benefits I enjoy—clearly for me it’s a stress reliever. That was encouraging!

This morning hubs and I jogged to the gym (about 1.25 miles) and then lifted for about 20 minutes and then jogged most of the way home (maybe 1 mile). The old Egg would’ve SCOFFED at that workout. I mean, really, I would’ve felt like I hadn’t even earned my breakfast. But I am totally cool with it these days. While we were jogging home, hubs asked if I felt like now I would get back into my old exercise routine (not training for anything, but running about 25-30 miles a week, plus Spinning/swimming/x-training and lifting) given that Dr. K doesn’t think exercise is remotely related to my fertility issues.

Honestly? No. I don’t have any desire to. I’m embracing this new way of working out. I’m excited about getting into yoga, which I’ve dabbled in over the past year. I’m enjoying running because I want to, because it feels good, because it makes me feel clear-headed and less-stressed and anxious. I’m learning that I do not have to run 6 miles to get those benefits. Sure, I miss my flat stomach and toned upper body….but I do not miss feeling guilty if I miss a day or getting so wrapped up in the intensity and sweat of exercising. Truthfully, if I want to be a little slimmer I can eat fewer cheeseburgers and cookies, I do not have to train for a half-marathon.

Now all of that said, I still struggle with this transition. I admit I did feel intense pangs of “I miss that soooo much” while I was following the Boston Marathon coverage on Monday. I am SO FAR from being in that kind of shape—or any racing shape—and it’s a difficult pill to swallow as races begin popping up around Chicago. An extra layer of complexity? Part of my job is covering racing/running/athletic–related news. So I cannot really escape that world. A couple of weeks ago a business contact emailed me about joining her team for an upcoming 10-mile race. I declined and recommended a couple other staffers who might be interested. She immediately emailed back: Are you pregnant? It kind of sucked. I turned bright red in my cube and felt like smashing a brutally rude reply into the keyboard. But I just said, No! Definitely not. We are traveling to so many weddings that I’ve decided not to train for any long distance races this summer.

I am SERIOUSLY considering feigning an injury—something I’ve never done!—to suppress more questions like hers. A lot of colleagues are already asking me if I’m training the Chicago Marathon this summer and my current bumbling response, “Maybe, I don’t know! I’m so burnt out on training so I’m not sure….” is literally inviting them to continue asking and asking. That—combined with the 10-15 pounds I’ve put on—is all a bit suspicious. I don’t want another person to ask me if I’m pregnant. I’ve taken to carrying Diet Cokes around the office.

The truth is, I’m comfortable with where I am, most of the time, and that’s what matters.

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P.S.

I have been sort of wallowing in my own stagnation lately. My mind has wandered to dark, dark places. A lot of you sounded like you wanted to kick my as$ after my last post. I appreciate the candor and the thoughtful comments.

I think I should clarify a few things. 1) I am still running regularly and I enjoy it immensely. 2) I am proud of my athletic accomplishments. 3) Wondering if the endurance running/exercise triggered my anovulation is not me beating myself up. It is me searching for answers.

Many of you have, with your RE’s help, pinpointed why you can’t conceive: poor ovarian reserve, or hypothyroidism, or male factor, or fibroids, or endometriosis, or PCOS, or [insert totally sucky infertility issue here]. It all freaking sucks. All of it. Yet knowing WHY a woman can’t conceive has the small silver lining of presenting a targeted treatment plan. My diagnosis, like many women out there, is a little hazier. I have unexplained anovulation. My hormones are a little bit all over the place but nothing so wacky or out of the range of normal that it raises a red flag. (In fact, in my consult with Dr. K today, she said we are “literally shooting in the dark” with me. More on that in another post.)

And it’s my personality to wonder, why? Is there something I did to cause this, and if so, can I never do it again? I agree that life would be eaiser and I’d probably be taking this whole “infertile” thing a lot better if I could stop trying to understand why it’s happening—if I could simply accept that it “is what it is.” My friends, I wish it was as easy as turning off a switch.

This is who I am. I wonder. I obsess. I stress. It’s just….me. I’ve always been tightly wound. In middle school I used to be on the verge of vomiting the night before track meets because I would get so nervous. Once I actually started running on race day, everything was fine. It was the build-up. And the same is true as an adult. Before a job interview or big presentation at work I make myself sick with anxiety. When it’s finally time, I perform well. It’s just the waiting, the wondering, the dark possibility of failure. And so it goes with IF. When I’m actually DOING something (Googling, writing, taking supplements, going to acupuncture, scanning studies online, cycling, whatever), I feel more in control. It gives me a small sense of solace. I have been benched for six of the past eight months, so I’ve had a lot of time to think and worry.

I realize that all of this stressing and wondering and worrying is counterproductive. I know that if I could JUST RELAX it would boost my chances of conception. All I can say is that I’m working on it. It’s a daily process. I have been talking to an IF counselor. I asked for a package of yoga classes for my birthday. I told hubs he could tell his Mom about our IF problems. Just this week I began turning down freelance projects to focus on recharging and having fun on the weekends. I booked a spa trip with my Mom. I recognize that my quest to know WHY may not be as important as I sometimes wish it were. And I’m trying to do positive, Zen-ish things for myself, because I know that mellowness can only help me at this point.

Okay, this is my space and I know I can say what I want to, but I felt I should give you bloggies some background on my last post since the comments were especially, um, poignant for me.

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Time did not fly

A year ago today I was running the Boston Marathon. I was super fit. I was happy. I was confident. Thinking back to this day a year ago, it does NOT feel like yesterday. It feels like that was an eternity ago. I don’t even recognize who I was back then. I feel different in every possible way.

When months and months went by sans period after going off BCPs, a lot of people (my Mom, Google, my acupuncturist, my new IF therapist, etc) suggested it was because I was currently/had been working out too much and needed to gain weight.

At my thinnest during training I weighed 118 pounds. Now, a year later, I weigh 135. (And I feel every pound I’ve gained….the love handles and bigger breasts….all the stuff you’re supposed to bemoan about pregnancy. Oh well.) I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’ve had quite an evolution with working out, even since I started this blog. I still run for endorphins and to de-stress and so I can eat two cheeseburgers in one weekend if I want to (like I did this weekend!), but I’m muuuuuuch less Type A about it. Now, if I miss a day or don’t feel like working out, I don’t, um, sweat it. Instead of feeling like a run has to be 5 miles long to “count,” I am now totally fine running for 15 or 20 minutes with my hubs or by myself. I haven’t been this lax about working out since I was in college.

It’s hard to know what those years of intense exercise have “done” to me fertility-wise because I was taking BCPs and getting regular periods the whole time. By the time I was off the pill, my exercise had gone down to running five or six days a week and lifting a few times a week. A lot more than the average person, but not much for me.

Dr. K, who hubs and I finally meet with tomorrow afternoon (cue the dropping-stomach and nerves), actually specializes in eating disorders and extreme exercise. I have never had an eating disorder. But I think if you do endurance events (over and over again) like I have, that counts as extreme exercise, so I welcome her opinions and thoughts about how my treatment might need to be tweaked given my history.

I’ve been doing a lot of research online (yes, always working toward my Google PhD) and some women who have extreme exercise in their pasts also have chronically low LH levels. I don’t know if I have this, but I do know my LH has never been high enough to trigger a positive OPK, even back in October when I “borderline” ovulated. For that reason, some REs give these women a FSH + LH injectable (like Menopur), instead of a straight-up FSH inject (like Gonal-F). I definitely want to hear her thoughts on that.

Blaming my infertility on running and triathlons hurts because there’s nothing I can do to take them back. But, there is something oddly appealing about being able to say, “Okay, THIS is why I’m going through this.” Does that make any sense? Those experiences were wonderful and made me who I am today, so I bristle at the thought of regretting them. On the other hand: I truly do regret them. They were ways to fill my time while I was waiting for hubs to be ready to have kids. They were not necessary.

On Friday afternoon I heard about some news about a woman who is an Olympian and actually came in THIRD PLACE at the Boston Marathon a year ago today. I am pretty much obsessed with her and have been for a while. She’s beautiful, down-to-earth, intelligent, and SMOKING FAST. She also was skeletor thin, had no body fat and ran 120+miles/week. She took time off her running career in September to start a family….and she’s already four-months pregnant. I just….kind of can’t believe that if I over-exercised and it’s the whole reason I can’t ovulate, that this person who runs for a LIVING, and has been beating up her body with exercise since she was a middle-schooler, could get pregnant within a few months of trying.

Every one is different. The body is a mysterious thing. Yada yada yada.

What’s wrong with me? If running and exercise didn’t do this to me, what did? Why do I even have to know? What does it matter?

Please fix me, Dr. K.

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Welcome to my world

Hi ICLWers! Thank you so much for stopping by; I’m happy you’re here!

To get you up to speed, here’s a quickie version of my TTC history….

After 10 years of BCPs I went off them and never got my period. I was prescribed Provera a few times to kickstart it: I’d get it but then weeks and weeks would pass sans period. Finally in October I began seeing an RE. Diagnoses: anovulatory.

We have tried three cycles of Clomid since October, taking breaks in between the first two due to cysts. In December I ovulated for the first time since TTC. (Yip!) But my lining was so thin (3.2mm) that even if I had conceived, there was no chance of it sticking. My most recent cycle was canceled on CD16: no follies over 10mm. But worse, my lining only got to 4.4mm. Yes, I do know that happens to a lot of women on Clomid—however, I was also taking Estrogen suppositories, so I really ought to have had great lining.

That seemed slightly worrisome, but became slightly crushing. Last week we met with our RE for a third consult and he informed us that my lack of response to Estrogen is a serious concern. He’s hoping I magically fluff up on injectables, but he warned us we’re nearing the end of the road if my lining doesn’t improve. (You can always try new and different meds to improve follicles and trigger ovulation; but without decent lining, you can’t get pregnant.) It was a pretty devastating conversation.

We are hoping with all of our hearts that injects do indeed improve my lining, even though I don’t respond to Estrogen. But if they don’t, we will seek a second opinion from an RE who’s willing to try alternative therapies on my lining. Or we’ll take a break. Or possibly both. That makes this upcoming injects cycle pretty important. Of course my heart physically yearns for a BFP. But above all else, I need my lining to get better. Otherwise, we will be heading down a new rabbit hole…

Now onto the more fun parts of my world: hubs, running, writing and cooking. I’ve gotten to enjoy them all today.

7am Suit up for a 5-mile race.

9:30am Finally cross the start line and run through downtown Chicago on a blustery, gray, frigid but awesome morning. Hubs runs it, too—the longest distance he’s completed. He ROCKED it! 🙂

11am Hubs and I relax with big cups of java in a coffee shop to warm up and then take a cab home.

12pm We prepare The World’s Best Pancakes with maple syrup–butter to celebrate his longest-ever race. And drink mugs of spicy hot coca.

1pm I work on some freelance assignments in front of the TV while hubs watches basketball. (I’m KU fan; my ‘hawks lost last night—so sad! Fortunately, hubs’s team, University of Kentucky, is still in the tourney and looking great.)

Up next Bottling hubs’s latest batch of beer (a Saison), cooking din, more freelancing…and injects training in the a.m.!

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Kinda-sorta forward progress

Happy Monday, bloggies!!!! Maybe if I use enough exclamation points I won’t be so bummed the weekend is ovah!!!! 🙂 How is the weather where you live? It was a grey, snowy morning here in the Midwest, but not too cold so I got in a nice little 5-miler along the lake path. It was enough to re-set me and lift my spirits, though I still have some impatience issues that just won’t. go. away….have I mentioned that this break month has been totally brutal? I am so antsy to cycle again! I feel like everyone in blog-land is IUIing and 2ww-ing and I am just twiddling my thumb, watching the days, weeks and months go by !  Ahhhh!

On the upside, I’m approaching—slowly but surely—CD1 again: I started up the Provera yesterday. (Never got that magical temp shift suggesting my leftover follie released an egg, no surprise there.) I really hope this is the last time I ever have to take it. (Okay, Provera? I’m sure you’re pretty sick of me, too.) As of this a.m., I have a faux temp spike going, so the progesterone is definitely alive and well in my system. I’ll finish it up on Saturday and hopefully AF will arrive within five days after that. (And then, hopefully hopefully that dang cyst is gonzo at baseline monitoring.) That all feels forever away, but at least I’m doing something, right?

In other news, hubs and I are meeting with Dr. C on Wednesday morning. I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not to keep this appointment, since I got some Qs answered in that mini post-HSG consult. But, I would really like hubs to meet the man who’s helping us make a baby. And, even though I REALLY want this upcoming last-hurrah Clomid cycle to work, I want to know what my treatment plan will look like if it doesn’t. Next step is most likely injectibles, and if I know what he’ll put me on, I can start shopping around for good prices and all that stuff. 

I’m kind of nervous for the consult. I have a memo going of questions, but I need to put some time into getting EVERYTHING down on paper. Anyone who has been on injects, is there anything you recommend I ask Dr. C? Something you wish you’d asked or that came up during your cycle?

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