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 😀
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!!!
So those of you that read my blog will know that my life plan B for this year is competing in 3 triathlons. The first one is in 12 days. Well 11 really, as it’s now nearly Wednesday.
I’m not ready for it, physically or psychologically, but I’ll do it anyway. That’s because I’m a stubborn bitch. I’ll be in agony because I haven’t trained enough (the IVF is mainly responsible for this) and my back is currently playing up (I have a long history of lower back problems) but I’ll get round. I can’t not do it. It’s my life plan B. That’s what you do when plan A fails. You go with plan B.
This triathlon that I’m doing on Sunday 21st May is called The Slateman. It’s run by a company called Always Aim High based here in North Wales and it’s a toughie. 1000m swim in Llyn (that’s lake in Welsh) Padarn, a 51km bike ride with over 500m of ascent and an 11km run with over 300m of ascent. And I’m not great at hills 😮
On Sunday I had a bit of a trial run. My boss came out and rode the bike route with me and then I ran the run. Actually I’m lying. I walked quite a lot of the run and ran some of it. Meant I could take some photos 😉
Anyway, I survived. I managed the bike and the run. My legs were hurting after and I had to sleep with a hot water bottle between my knees to stop my adductors cramping but this morning I managed a 4.5km run and this afternoon I swam 1200m in Llyn Geirionydd so maybe I am ready. Bring it on 😀🏊🚴🏃
So it’s now Thursday and I suppose things have settled down a bit and got back to normal. The cough has finally said its goodbyes and yes, the gin and the Nightnurse certainly played their part in that. I’m back to hauling canoes and children about at work and I’ve had two long hot baths.
Training has re-started with two runs: one lovely one around Cwm Idwal in the sunshine on Tuesday morning (see main picture) and one in the absolute pissing rain in Capel Curig yesterday afternoon. So things are moving on. Except they’re not.
Today I have been bleeding. Heavily. Sorry fellas but it’s period talk. It has been so heavy that I have been incredibly dizzy and have actually lost balance twice. It has stirred up a whole heap of (possibly bottled up) emotions. I’m sad. I’m incredibly, almost overwhelmingly, sad. I can’t really describe it any other way.
I’m also tired. Despite sleeping better these last few days than I have in months, I’m knackered.
This is what I am calling the IVF hangover. Too many hormones. Too many emotions. Too much stress. Too much strain on my body. Too much rain over the last few days! It has all led to today. I’m hoping that, like a hangover, it will pass. I’ve said before, I’m not good at not coping. But tomorrow is another day. Hopefully the sun will shine.
It was the news we were expecting. We’re not pregnant. I knew. It doesn’t make it any less sad but we’ve been down this road before and now we are at the end of it. The end of the road, the end of our journey, a line in the sand.
The last couple of years have been an up and down of emotions and the last few weeks have been a condensed version of this. We knew our chances were slim but we had to try. Now it’s time to move on.
I’m sure I have more crying to do but right now I feel a bit numb. But I also feel like I need focus. Luckily I prepared for this. In 8 weeks time I have my first triathlon of the year. I have some serious training to do (after the gin I will be drinking tonight). Time to get back in shape and on with the year ahead.
We are devastated, of course. We both wanted a child to complete our little family, but we will survive. We are strong. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along this IVF journey. It has been so helpful to me to be able to talk about it.