This evening, following a good workout at Crossfit and while enjoying a gin and tonic in the bath, I came across this article. For anyone in the same situation as me, i.e. involuntarily childless, it’s a good read. Actually, it’s a good read for anyone. Might make you think a little. Take some time to read it.
So this time, seven months ago, I was just setting out on the IVF journey. It was a short-lived journey, but it was a journey nonetheless. In fact, I’ve just been re-reading that first blog post Motherhood… or not and it’s reminded me just how much I’ve, sorry, we’ve, been through in quite a short space of time. Actually, in reality, I didn’t start the journey seven months ago. It started long before that. But the sciency bit started then. The drugs and the needles started then. The short-lived hope started then. But I always had a plan B. I had to have a plan B. I knew the odds. They were stacked against us from the start.
Plan B was to get fit. To train. To complete three full distance triathlons in 2017. Well here we are, at the end of the season and I have done it. In fact I have spent 13 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds racing in full distance triathlons. But that’s not all. I’ve also completed a 10km trail race, a sprint distance triathlon and I’ve started doing Yoga and going to Crossfit. Oh, and I’m taking part in a 100 mile cycle sportive on Sunday… Yep, you got that right, I have become an exercise junkie!
Don’t get me wrong, I still like drinking cider and gin (not together, might I add) and eating cake and I still find running more of a means to an end than something I actually ‘enjoy’ but I’m loving the endorphines that I am getting from it all. The sense of achievement. The focus. The community. It’s what I need. There will always be a huge hole in my life, one that can never be filled with anything else, but this helps. It definitely helps.
So what now? Well, now I’ve proved I can do it, I need to do it better. I want to train properly. I want to improve. I want to get stronger, fitter, better. I want to eat better (that’s going to be the toughest challenge) and I want to feel good about myself. I’ve already signed myself up for a sprint triathlon in March, the Adventure Triathlon Series (same as I’ve done this year) and a trail half marathon. I also want to go out to France and cycle up Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez (I’ve done this one before on our honeymoon but I want to do it properly). I want to get better at lifting weights and I want to improve my flexibility and my core strength. I want to be happy in myself and happy in the life we have without children (obviously Elton has a daughter who I love heaps but you know what I mean) and I want to get joy from the simple things.
I seriously believe that without the training, without the hard work, I would have slipped into a depression. This has saved me and now there is no going back 😀
Blimey. I mean where did it go? Oh to be a child again when summer actually meant something. Time off. Hanging out with friends. Indulging in some freedom. Not the case for us. I suppose it’s our own fault for planning a big trip away at Christmas. Summer meant work. And more work. Although I did manage to squeeze in an additional triathlon 😂
It was great actually. It was a sprint tri in Llanrwst run by a local triathlon club (who I never knew existed but do now and have joined) called GOG Triathlon Club. GOG stands for Great Orme Goats – it’s based in Llandudno, home to the Great Orme and its goats 😀
Previously I have always been put off by sprint triathlons, purely because of the word ‘sprint’, but I thought I’d give it a go. It was great fun, very friendly and I even got my fastest average speed on the bike, managing to overtake 3 people in my wave. They did, of course, take me on the run but I can live with that.
It’s now just 10 days until the Sandman Triathlon, the final one of the Always Aim High adventure series. I’m feeling good and hoping to beat last year’s time but I haven’t done that much specific training. I have, at least, managed to get out in the sea swimming a couple of times which is better than this time last year! Got freaked out by the jellies last time though 😯
Moving back to my health and hormones and stuff, I finally managed to pluck up the courage to see the doctor. He sent me for a full whack of blood tests and they all came back normal apart from a low iron count. Went back for a chat and saw a different lady who has put me on HRT. She said it sounds like I am premenopausal. Great. I knew but I was dreading having it confirmed, which I haven’t really as it’s all speculation. I suppose I’m no better off than I was before 😕 Reading the common side effects of the medication was fun. I may even be worse off…
I haven’t started taking them yet. I’m scared to. I just keep looking at them and feeling a sense of utter sadness. It kind of signifies the end for me. An end to any slight chance that I still might of had of getting pregnant. Even though, realistically, the end has already been and gone with that line in the sand.
To that end it’s been a bit of a g&t month. I’ve been tasting some different gins but my favourite is still Opihr with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic and a slice of orange. Oh yeah 😀 The hubby has been good too and bought me some beautiful flowers. It must be difficult for him. I’m terrible at just cracking on with stuff and filing away my emotions. Don’t listen to my own advice at all.
So here we are, four months on from finding out we’re not going to have children, probably ever. I’ll be honest, I’ve actually dealt with it a lot better than I thought I would, although that may be because I haven’t actually had that much time to think about it. Still, life does go on and on it has gone. So much so that it is now only 41 hours until my second triathlon of the year. Onto that later.
The biggest hurdle I am having to face right now is the fact I am very likely starting the menopause. This is not going down well with me. I am only 43. It wasn’t that long ago that the prospect of having children was still a reality. I don’t know for sure that I’m starting the menopause but there are a few pointers: night sweats and restless nights, very heavy and irregular periods, complete lack of sex drive (which of course doesn’t just affect me). I know I need to go and see the doctor but I’m petrified of having it confirmed. Surely I’m too young? According to the NHS, the average age in the UK for women to start the menopause is 51. I suppose it would confirm why we struggled to conceive.
I found out today another friend is pregnant. Apparently she has had a tough time and has been through the IVF process to get this far. I’m super happy for her. For them both. It’s hard not to feel jealous though. And a bit angry. Not at them, just at life in general. “It’s not fair” is all that is going round my head right now. And that’s true. Life’s not fair. It’s what I tell the young people I work with all the time. But I have a choice. I have a choice to accept it and move on, or not. And I choose moving on, even if sometimes it’s super hard and heart breaking.
Now I’m writing this I can’t stop crying. Ridiculous really as I had a stand-off with a young person the other day who was crying and crying. It started off real and then became purely for attention. I told her that crying was a voluntary process and that she had a choice, a choice to stop crying and get on with the activity or a choice to carry on and get herself into a state. She stopped. I’ve stopped. I digress.
Just looking back at what I’ve written I realise I’ve written a lot about choice. I’m a bit of a follower of William Glasser’s Choice Theory which I read about when I was working as a youth worker. I firmly believe that we set the path of our lives according to the choices we make. For example, I can choose to get angry about the tourists driving around Snowdonia at 40mph or I can choose to not get stressed and leave a little longer for my journey into work in the morning. Likewise, I can choose to get really defeated about the amount of litter around or I can make a positive difference and pick it up. These are smaller choices, granted, but it applies to the big things too. I can choose to wallow in self-pity, wondering ‘why me, why me?’ when it comes to not having children, or I can focus my thoughts on the other things in life that give me joy. Beautiful landscapes, sunsets, rainbows, cuddling up to my husband on the sofa, swimming in the rain, feeling like flying when I’m descending a long hill on my bike, getting to the top of a mountain after a hard slog, gin, watching the waves on the beach, sunrise, running with my dog, cake, the complete exhaustion after a good workout, the sound of the river in full flow, morning cuddles with the cat… I could go on. In the words of Trainspotting, I choose life.
I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. I’m not saying I won’t ever have times where it gets me down. Today has just proved that not to be the case. But I will cope. I will survive. I will achieve. I will be the best I can be.
Anyway, I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that it was 41 hours to my next triathlon. It’s now 40 1/2 hours 🙂 I am quite nervous about this one. The weather forecast is looking a bit pants.
The swim will be manageable as the lake is shallow and warm. In fact, I’m hoping wetsuits won’t be compulsory so I don’t have to try and get out of it in transition (I’m rubbish!!). British Triathlon rules state that the water must be over 14 degrees for wetsuits to become optional. I reckon the lake is warmer than that, the problem is the amount of rain we have had over the last few days as it might have cooled.
The bike ride is 70km around Snowdonia. with 1,132m of ascent. I don’t mind hills so much on the bike (although I’m better at going down than up) but if it’s wet and windy this is going to be horrendous. And then, to top it all off, the 9km run is an ascent and descent of Moel Siabod (featured image on this post) with 696m of ascent 😮
So why do I do these things? I’m not really sure is the answer to that. I enjoy being pushed physically. I enjoy a challenge. I like the sense of achievement for finishing. I want to improve and get stronger and fitter and healthier. I enjoy being part of something. I’m competitive. It’s outside. There’s lots of reasons although today, looking out of the window, I’m not so sure… 🙂
Last Sunday I took part in the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon. I didn’t run the marathon, I ran the 10k. Elton was in the marathon but unfortunately he tore his hamstring at about 7km into the race and had to quit. This was really hard for him. His blog about it is here. I went into the race thinking that I would just treat it as a training run for this weekend. I didn’t want to kill myself the week before the triathlon. It was a super hilly route! I was actually really pleased to complete it in 1:18:33. Not bad when I definitely could have run it faster 🙂
I’ve also got a new addiction. I’ve started Crossfit. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this video. I’m right at the beginning of my Crossfit journey but it’s great. There’s definitely a real sense of community, no preening and looking in the mirror, just people of all shapes and sizes, working out, getting strong and challenging themselves. It’s fab!! I go to the Crossfit Place on Anglesey.
Sorry for the disjointed blog post and for leaving it so long in between posts. Some of you may be thinking that I’m trying to throw myself into too much fitness ‘stuff’ in order to stop falling down the rabbit hole of post-IVF-fail depression. Maybe I am. But it’s working 😀
39 hours to go…
I’ve been wanting to write another blog post for a while. After all, it’s been a month since my last one. Problem is I’m not sure where to start, how the middle is going to work out and I’m definitely unsure of the ending. There’s an advert on TV at the moment, I can’t remember what for – internet or mobile phones or something – anyway, there’s a moment when a woman turns on a blender and the top isn’t on it and her smoothie goes all over her face. It always makes me giggle. Problem is, I’ve been worried that this blog post is going to end up a bit like that. A kind of uncapped explosion from my brain that ends up in a big mess all over my face. But without the comedy. Hmmm 😮
I’ve been sat staring at the screen for a while now since writing that first paragraph. I hoped that once I got started it would just flow. I was wrong. It’s not even that I’m feeling low or having a particularly bad time, I just have a whole heap of stuff in my head that I feel like I need to get out. But now I’ve come to get it out, I can’t quite verbalise any of it. Very frustrating 😦
Well, I’ve got to start with something so I’ll start with babies. I’ve now managed to get up close and personal with a baby. In fact, it was the same baby that I deliberately avoided during a friend’s hen weekend (see a previous blog post). That friend has since got married and, at the wedding, I managed baby cuddles. The first since IVF fail. It was fine. Well it was mainly fine. It was fine until someone said to my husband ‘watch out, you’ll be next’. That wasn’t fine. Still, I wonder how many times I have said something to someone without really thinking about whether or not it could stab through their heart like a knife. Do we really know anyone? Do we really know what could be a trigger? Of course not. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.
I’ve also managed good friends of mine having a baby. I haven’t met said baby yet, but I am super happy for them. Genuinely. I can’t think of two more wonderful people to bring a child into this world. That does bring me onto a slightly different topic however (see, it’s flowing now). Friends. I feel like I’m slipping away from my friends. Not all of them obviously, but certainly those that are far away from where I live. Those that I have considered my closest friends for the last 12 years or so I just don’t see anymore. I feel like we have less and less in common although in reality there is just the one thing. Children. Wow. I didn’t realise how upset that is making me. Just writing that down is making me cry. Ok, time to move on to another topic.
My garden. I am completely and utterly in love with my new garden. Sorry, our new garden (it’s mine really, it came out of my head!) 😀 I love sitting in it, I love eating breakfast in it, I love doing yoga (badly) in it, I love watering the plants, I love watching the cat roll around on the paving and I love the dog curling up on the small section of luscious grass. Did I mention that I love our garden. It has become my solace. When I look out of the window at it, I smile. When I get back from work and walk down through it, I smile. It’s the tiniest of gardens but it’s ours and it’s beautiful.
Work. I’m currently covering someone’s maternity leave. Ironic? Maybe. Anyway, I love my job and I love where I work and the people I work with. I’m super lucky. I was working there for a year and a bit on supply before I got the maternity contract. I don’t want to go back to supply. I like being permanent. It’s nearly July. That leaves me with around 4 months of stability before things suddenly get out of control again. I’m worried. I’ve got used to having a stable income coming in. As much as I love working freelance, I also quite like the security of permanent. Part-time permanent would be my ideal situation but then I can’t choose. My husband is self-employed. Winter is never good for us work-wise. I feel like my future is a bit out of my hands at the moment which is just another thing rolling around my head.
Training. I’m back training. Ridiculously I have got myself into exactly the same situation. I now have only 6 weeks until my next triathlon. Training had to go on hold for two weeks as I slipped at work in the mine and gashed my shin really badly on a slate boulder. My leg then got infected and I was on antibiotics for a week and a half, unable to run and cycle and not allowed to get my leg wet (not great for swimming). Thankfully I have kick-started although my body is aching right now. Run on Tuesday morning (where I managed a couple of PBs no less), open water swim on Tuesday evening, yoga on Wednesday morning (this is where the aching has come from), a cycle to work and back yesterday (back nearly killed me as the wind was so strong) and a pool swim this morning. I’m feeling quite good but nowhere near ready yet.
Things are going to slip a little next week as well as I’m away working in Austria. I might be able to get a couple of runs in (I’m definitely packing my running shoes) but everything else might have to go on hold. Problem is the next triathlon, the Snowman, another classic from Always Aim High Events, is a real toughie. 1km swim in the lake, 70km bike ride around Snowdonia and 10k run up and down Moel Siabod (that’s a mountain for those of you that don’t know the area). It’s a beast.
Right, that’s enough head mess for now. I’m knackered just talking about it all. Hopefully that means I’ll sleep like a brick. Luckily, I usually do 😉
So it’s fair to say that this year has been a mixed bag of emotions and stress and it’s only May. Still, life goes on and our childless future is becoming more bearable day by day (see previous blog posts if you have no idea what I’m talking about here). There are lots of things that have helped including planning for a big trip to India and Nepal in December, being busy with work and training for three triathlons!
So today was triathlon number one. The Slateman Triathlon in Snowdonia. It’s organised by Always Aim High Events and is one of the toughest out there with a 1000m swim in Llyn Padarn (that’s a lake for those that don’t speak Welsh), followed by a 51km bike ride over the Llanberis Pass and through the Ogwen Valley and an 11.5km run up through Dinorwig Quarry (not for the faint hearted…). Because of the IVF treatment happening through February and March and then me having a nasty virus, my training was limited to around five weeks. Not ideal.
It’s been a tough five weeks where I have felt both not ready and completely ready at various times. I was mainly terrified of the swim as this was my nemesis in the triathlon I did last year and I was definitely not looking forward to the run – way too much uphill 😮 Training intensified over the last couple of weeks, especially with swimming, when I could fit it in around work.
The weekend started well with my mum and dad coming up to stay and us having a ‘garden opening’ BBQ on Saturday evening with a couple of close friends. Of course, in true North Wales style, it rained, although the sun did come out eventually 🙂 The garden has been an ongoing project for a few months and was finally finished on Wednesday so it seemed right to open it officially! Mum and I also had the task of completing some gin tasting for a friend who is starting up their own distillery locally, Dinorwig Distillery. Possibly not the best thing to do the night before a big event but hey ho 😉
This morning I was up at 6:15am, fixing my race tattoo, filling up drink bottles, having breakfast and finishing my bag packing. Then, at 7am, it was off to Llanberis to get the closest free parking space I did. It was raining and the wind was blowing. Not a great start. By about 8am the rain had stopped which was fab. I bumped into a friend and her boyfriend (he was also taking part) and then the hubby and mum and dad turned up around 8:45.
I was in the 4th wave of swimmers and started at 9:15am. I had a strategy and that was to stay out wide so as not to get kicked by any other swimmers. The water was chilly but seemed warmer than on training days. Perhaps everyone was peeing… 😮 The buzzer sounded and we were off. The first buoy seemed a really long way off but I managed to get into a rhythm and cracked on. I actually felt pretty strong. The first buoy came and I took it wide so as to avoid the crush on the corner. Then it was on to the second. Again I took it wide and then it was the home straight. We were into wind at this point and I did take on a few mouthfuls of water but it was all ok and I had a feeling I had done a reasonable time.
Out of the water and off to transition. The difficult task of removing my wetsuit was upon me. I had prepped with baby oil but it still stuck a bit. I eventually managed to get it off, get my socks and bike shoes on with the rest of my kit and set off. My feet were completely numb but otherwise I felt ok. Out of Llanberis and up the Pass was straight into a headwind. It was hard work but eventually the top came and then the long downhill to Capel Curig, with a tailwind, was there to be enjoyed. It’s a bike route I’m familiar with – it’s my ’round the block’ ride – so I was happy and felt good on the bike. On Wednesday I had got new wheels, much lighter than my old ones, and my bike was running well. I felt fast.
Managed to complete the ride in just over two hours which I was pretty pleased with, especially with the wind and then it was the bit I’d been dreading, the run. Having done the run a couple of weeks previously, I knew it was going to take me about 1 1/2 hours. And it did. This is mainly because there was no way I was running most of it. To be honest, it was a hard enough task walking up some of the hills!! The ups were steep, the downs were technical and the flats were few and far between. Not really my type of run. Still, I managed to keep going despite feeling like my legs were going to give way most of the way round. I made it across the finish line in 4 hours, 9 mins and 33 seconds. I’m pretty chuffed with that, especially after only 5 weeks of training and a cycle of failed IVF. Actually I take that back, I’m not pretty chuffed, I’m super chuffed and very proud of myself.
My mum and dad bought me a super duper Dryrobe to congratulate me and my lovely husband took me out to dinner to have a well-deserved pint of Crabbies and a delicious gluten-free pizza at our favourite pub, the Tyn-y-Coed 😀
All in all a great weekend. Now it’s time for a week of relative rest (I still have to work) before training re-starts for my next triathlon in July!!!
Wow. Got a lot of stuff whizzing round my head right now. Triggers everywhere. Photographs of close friends getting together with all their kids, reminders of friends that are pregnant, going to a hen weekend with a friend and her 7 week old baby. It’s impossible to keep away from it. But I haven’t quite worked out how to deal with it yet. Jealousy is evil. It eats you up. It makes you angry. It makes you hurtful. It makes you hardnosed.
My friend with the 7 week old baby probably won’t read this as she doesn’t do social media. But anyway, I apologise. I’m sorry for completely ignoring your son last weekend on the hen do. And today, at Parkrun. It was all I could do. Acknowledging him would have tipped me over. I didn’t want to look at him and I certainly didn’t want to hold him. Hearing him cry made me break inside. And then I had to deal with all the other people cooing over him. I had to walk away from them too. I must have come across as a right bitch. Maybe I am. The drinking helped. And the fudge. And the hot tub. It’s been a while since I got that drunk and boy did I enjoy it. Well, until the next day anyway.
I know, I should probably speak to someone about it. Get help. But most of the time I actually feel fine. I’m pretty busy. I am ‘training’ although I’m not sure how well that is going… 😮 It’s just when it rises up and chins me that I feel it. Hard to get away from it then I suppose. Seeing a picture of all my uni friends together on the beach with their kids just triggered me this evening. They’re all looking so perfect, so happy, with their little families. Sorry guys if you’re reading this. I don’t mean to be mean. It’s just my coping mechanism. Pass the gin.
Tomorrow I’ll be over it. I’ll be thinking about the 5 kilos I’ve put on in the last month or so and how I need to get my arse in gear on the bike, even though the forecast is rain. I’ve been shopping for ‘stuff’. Shopping makes me feel better. Also, if I spend money on ‘stuff’ it motivates me to use it. So, this week’s shopping was a new GPS running/ cycling/ swimming computer watch thingemy-bob. It’s a Suunto. It’s cool. I used it today on my second run. Yeah, I said second – I’m in training, didn’t I say? I also joined British Triathlon (because it makes me feel like an athlete – hahahahaha!) and subscribed to 220 Triathlon magazine (mainly because I get a free tri-suit as part of my subscription). I have also ordered some new swimming goggles and a thermal swim cap as the water in the lake is frickin’ freezing! Brrrrr.
So my new strategy is, if anyone puts a baby in my face (or even a photo of a baby) I shall either run to my bottle of Opihr Gin or throw myself in the lake. Don’t worry, I’ll swim, I’m not about to finish myself off just yet.
I can’t believe, in the last few days, how many people I’ve heard moan about the responsibility of having children. ‘You can’t leave the house in less than half an hour with kids’; ‘I fell asleep in the afternoon which would have been fine had I not had to pick my daughter up from school’; ‘Sometimes it’s just nice to leave the kids at home, isn’t it?’; ‘We can’t afford to do anything now we’ve got kids’. These are just a few of the comments I have heard on the radio, in the shops, at the hairdressers. It’s true. I completely accept that having kids is a responsibility. But you know what, I wouldn’t have minded. Having a dog is a responsibility and I seem to have coped with that ok. Anyway, because we don’t have kids and I have very generous parents who have offered to dogsit for a whole month (I kid you not!) then we are planning a big trip. Why not? Everyone keeps telling me I should make the most of not having children. So fuck it. We’re off.
Ok, so we’re not going until December, but that doesn’t mean I can’t plan. Anyway, we’ve got rather a lot of saving to do which means rather a lot of work to fit in. Hey ho, keeps me busy. So, I hear you ask, where are you going to go? Well, we’re kind of between destinations at the moment. I really want to go to Northern India and Nepal (and maybe Tibet if we can get in) but the hubby is tending towards South America. Now I LOVE South America. In fact, it’s probably my favourite place in the world (so far). But I’ve been there before. Granted, I haven’t been everywhere, that would take some doing, but I’ve been to a lot of it. Now I wouldn’t not go there just for that reason, as I’ve said, I love the place but I’d really like to go somewhere that’s new for us both.
The reason Elton is thinking South America is that I am a seasoned traveller but he is not. I think he’s a bit fearful of India and Nepal, being so different to home. But surely that’s the point? Grab the bull by the horns is what I say. Throw yourself in at the deep end is what my mind is shouting. You only get one life, LIVE IT! I’m sure I could come up with some more metaphors and cliches if I tried… 😉 It’s not that he doesn’t want to go to Nepal and India, it’s just that he’s nervous. Personally I think it will be easier travelling. Most people will speak English in comparison to South America where, if you don’t speak Spanish, it can be a problem in some places – I do speak Spanish though… anyway, Nepal and India. I’m a coeliac and a vegetarian. India is the PERFECT place for me to eat!! 😀 South America on the other hand does not do vegetarian that well and eating on the hop is much harder.
So, I think the best thing to do is go out and buy a travel guide for India and Nepal and then get him to read it. Also, WordPress friends, Facebook friends, Twitter friends… if you have been travelling in India and Nepal, can you please give us some useful tips? Negative information is also useful, I want this contest to be a fair one. Well, fair-ish 😉