Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feeling like myself

The thing I've heard most about second trimester is that you'll finally be back to feeling like yourself. A chubbier version, maybe, but at least more like a human than in previous weeks. I don't think I realized how tired I was for first tri- I was incredibly lucky to only have mild fatigue, the kind that requires weekend naps but still allowed me to keep up daily exercise and prevent the house from looking like a disaster- until I entered second tri. I might not have felt that tired, but 3 months of feeling kinda sorta run down still wears on a person.

In celebration of this, and after having one of my very rare cups of coffee, I went for a run OUTSIDE. It is well documented on this blog that I have no great love for running outside. My area has an abundance of roadkill, rude drivers, and limited options for non-road running. However, the weather was amazing on Sunday and after a week of lackluster prenatal workouts I was ready to do something challenging. So I brought my dog with me.

She watched me eat every bite of that orange. 

Kiwi is not the best at walking on a leash. That's our fault. We don't take her on frequent walks because of afternoon heat and since she can get exercise and playtime in our big yard. She doesn't pull terribly, but she does not focus on the task at hand well, so there's a lot of yanking to get her attention refocused on forward motion. I thought that running (she's jogged on the leash with Nick for short distances before) might keep her attention because she'd be moving fast enough to not notice every single leaf on the ground. That's what I get for thinking. 

She was all over the place. We had a few moments of "yes, this is how it should work" but not too many. She got better as she got tired, because she didn't have enough energy to be distracted. In the end, we did 1.3ish miles together, walking/running combo. I'll definitely take her again, and hopefully with practice she'll get into the groove. I hope she liked it, she seemed to be happy to be trotting instead of her usual walk.

The highlight of the day was yet to come. I dropped Kiwi off at the house and headed out by myself, with my headphones on and the sun shining. I haven't run outside since... November? Geez. It had been a while. The weather was perfect and I felt sprightly. I kept my breathing under control and went at a comfortable pace and took lots of walking breaks.I didn't see any roadkill, but I did get to hurdle my neighbor's adorable guinea hens as they wandered back and forth across the (40 mph speed limit) road. That was good for a midrun laugh.  I ended up with 4 miles, including the ones I did with Kiwi. It was an endorphin high like I haven't felt since last fall. The last song that came on Pandora as I was running was Katy Perry's "Roar" and I might have been singing along while running toward my house, thinking about how empowering that song is, and how I'll teach my son/daughter (it's empowering even if you're a dude) to embrace his/her personality and suddenly I'm crying (and still running) because I'm pregnant and running and just so damn happy and THE HORMONES MAKE ME ACT LIKE THIS. 

The day after, my legs reminded me that I haven't run outside, on pavement, on hills, at a speed faster than 12 min/mile, in 9 months. I was sore all over but whatever, running (and music, and nice weather) made me cry with happiness. I'm ok with that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Working out"

I actually sort of like to sweat. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I have a good dose of endorphins. Of course, this contributed to my over-exercising issues, but even in my new, more reasonable state I still want a workout to feel like a workout.

Enter: the prenatal workout. Now, the general recommendation, and what my midwife confirmed for my case, is that pregnant women can continue to do whatever you did before pregnancy, within reason. For me, this meant running in short bursts and some fairly long, sometimes intense walks (yes, walking can be intense when you're watching Gossip Girl... I made it 29 years without seeing that show and now I cannot quit it)

I wanted to add some variety and strength stuff to my routine so I checked into some prenatal workouts. Between Google and poking around on Youtube, I have browsed/watched/participated in 5 different workouts, and been impressed with none of them. They're either ridiculous about pregnancy (hands on your belly! It's so important to connect with your baby! I talk to my baby while I work out! *gag*) or silly easy (Don't go too low! Don't need to push yourself!). I want neither of these things! I am not a delicate flower and I am certain the baby will not fall out from doing squats. I would like to actually exert myself. Also, +10000 points if the instructor is actually pregnant. Denise Austin, I will listen to you talk about how sexy pregnancy makes you feel when you're burping stomach acid into your nose and discovering cellulite on your lower back (I'm officially the hottest wife ever... and yes, I know I have 6 more months of things getting much, much worse). 

My best solution so far has been to do the "low impact" stuff from FitnessBlender, which continues its reign as my favorite workout provider. They have several low impact or "for beginners" workouts that still manage to kick my out of shape ass. They clock in around 30 minutes. That's a good length for me to feel accomplished, sweat sufficiently, and still be able to shower and eat dinner at a reasonable time. Between those videos and the treadmill, I will try and keep myself in not-sucky shape for the next 6 months. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Trimester- A summary

I promise this won't be all pregnancy, all the time (do all bloggers say that? And then go back on their word?), but I wanted to do a "how the first trimester went for me" update.

Month 1:
The two week wait following IVF was the worst. I was on progesterone and estrogen supplements, so I had a ton of "symptoms" that didn't mean anything. I basically just drove myself crazy counting the hours until I could take a test and have a meaningful answer. I got my positive 8dp5dt, cried, but was still in disbelief until 2 blood tests confirmed it. I got ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) from the IVF process + pregnancy hormones. This meant I gained >10 pounds over the course of a few days and had an enormous swollen belly. My doctors monitored it and mine never went beyond moderate, but it was still incredibly uncomfortable. You might recall I went to Firefly Music Festival during that time. That was an adventure with all of my symptoms and my very new, very tentative pregnancy (walking 8+ miles/day, weird food, secondhand smoke, ugh). Here's a picture I didn't post from that time. It's fuzzy (we were walking) but it really shows how swollen I was. That's a good 5 month pregnant tummy right there.

Month 2:
Still on supplements. Still felt crappy. Still had OHSS, plus now I had morning sickness! I puked a couple of times, but nothing too crazy. I yearned for a nap every day, but did my best to keep up some level of activity in the form of walking. The OHSS started to back off toward the end of the month and I was able to go back to some of my normal clothes. My coworkers probably all strongly suspected I was pregnant for Month 1 and 2 (one of them even congratulated me... when I was like 4 weeks, 2 days), but then I shrank and confused everyone. My boobs, however, grew exponentially (they're still growing.. this is weird, but I won't complain!) so that part of me still looked pregnant.

Month 3:
Intermittently crappy. Finally got off the supplements, started feeling a little better. I ran. It felt fine. Saw our midwife (we're planning a homebirth) and got the official ok to run as much as I felt comfortable with. I have run/jogged about once a week since then.

That's about it. Mostly uneventful so far. I have a ton of little symptoms- my heart races when I lay down at night (due to increased blood volume), my normally weak nails are growing like a weed (awesome!), lots of digestive issues (I'll get back to that in another post), charley horses in the middle of the night, and my anemia is back (semi-common for pregnancy but still needs to be addressed- seeing my hematologist soon). However, my symptoms don't really affect my daily life aside from making me more unpleasant to be around (sorry, Nick!). I know a lot of women have far worse pregnancies, and I am so thankful to be "normal" and be able to put the infertility experience behind me. However, it never feels like it's truly behind me. I still have a lot of uncertainty about this pregnancy but I'm trying very hard to just let it happen and enjoy it. This first baby is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I don't want to wish away the weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Big Reveal

I have written about my fertility issues on here several times, but I have to confess, I didn't always tell the whole truth. This blog is public. I know that. Someone can Google the right combo of words and figure out way too much about me, and I didn't want everyone to know all the details of my struggles as they happened, live time.

Now, I'm sorry I kept it a "secret." Because infertility is common. If you are at a party with 7 other couples, odds are, 1 of them has experienced infertility. The treatment is isolating. The experience is humiliating, heartbreaking, and all-consuming. I spent so much with my pants off, I don't even flinch anymore. New ultrasound tech? Here ya go, take a peek! I had my blood drawn dozens of times, maybe a hundred. I was poked and prodded. I cried. I resolved not to cry. I cried more anyways. I felt the wrenching pain of feeling like a complete failure, like I was defective, like I could not accomplish the ONE THING my body was designed to do. I thought about evolution and how if we didn't have science, my genes would end with me, because I couldn't make a biological child. Maybe I wasn't meant to have a child?

It was not a good time for me. But I didn't share it. I was ashamed and it felt so personal. But it's not personal, it's not just me, it's something that so many women go through. Those times I felt jealous because my friends and acquaintances were getting pregnant so "easily"-- I do not know what those couples were actually going through. I cannot possibly know if they had trouble or didn't. But the stigma around infertility still exists so we don't talk about it. I didn't talk about it. I didn't use this outlet (blogging) that makes me feel better and helps me sort out my thoughts because I was worried about being judged. That is so ridiculous in retrospect.

So here's the some more details about what I went through.

November 2013- saw reproductive endocrinologist after 5 months without a normal cycle. Started testing. Found nothing else wrong with me except for a complete lack of normal female hormones.
December 2013-scaled back and eventually quit running
Late December 2013- started injectable FSH (Menopur) to try and get me to ovulate. Gave myself shots for 25 days. Monitoring appointments every other day sometimes every day, including Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Cycle was ultimately a failure
January-March 2013- no treatments. Tried to see if meds had reset my body. Continued not running and gaining weight.
Late March 2013- another round of injectable meds. Daily shots, this time for 19 days. More monitoring appointments. Another failure.
April 2014- Another round of injects is unlikely to help us, so we start discussing IVF. My cycles still have not returned on their own. Begin prepping for IVF.
May/June 2014- IVF cycle. I wrote about it over on another blog I started (and kept secret). The details of growth and all that are on there.
June 2014- If you click over to the other blog, you already know the ending to the story... it worked! We were fortunate enough to conceive on our very first IVF cycle and I am, as of today, 13 weeks pregnant. It's been a roller coaster, but here we are, and we are over the moon excited to meet our little one in February.

More updates to come... 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park- Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2, we learned that hiking at high altitude is hard, and that Colorado has more than its fair share of beauty.

In Part 3, we'll learn that maps lie, mountains are big, and listening to your stubborn wife is often a mistake.

Our final hiking day was also the day we flew out. Our flight wasn't until 6ish, so I did some math and figured we needed to be back in the car by 2:30 or so. Nick wanted to do some driving around after that, and I thought, hey, no problem, we'll have time to spare. Nick chose Deer Mountain as our final trek because it got great reviews, was convenient, and seemed like a good distance that would fit within our time constraints (3 miles up and the option of 4.5 back if we took an alternate route).  We got a not-detailed-at-all map from a park ranger and headed on our way. The trip up was uneventful and very pretty. We also got an early start so we were alone for the majority of the ascent.
Nick got lots of pretty flower pics on the way up.

The summit. Great 180+ degree views

I would like to live in Colorado. 

After the ascent, I talked Nick into taking the long, back of the mountain, way down. We should have known when the VERY FIRST SIGN we came to was unclear that this wouldn't go well. My argument was 1) getting a little more time on our feet for our upcoming Italian hiking vacation and 2) see the other side of the mountain. Who doesn't want to see more scenic vistas?

At this point, it was nearing noon. The weather was gorgeous, but warming up quickly. The way down was entirely on the exposed side of the mountain without more than 10 seconds of shade. The trail also seemed to be doing things that weren't indicated on the map. Instead of heading back toward  the parking lot, it was curving away, out of the park and toward the nearby town. So we set some distance goals- if the trail doesn't start going the right direction in a mile or 1.5 miles, we'll turn around. We didn't consider that that first 1.5 miles was steep, rocky, switchbacks. That would have been horrendous to go back up. Luckily, we found a runner and a hiker who both confirmed that we were going sort of the right direction, but one warned us that we had many miles ahead of us, despite what the map said. 

Pretty descent picture.

We just kept going and going... we skirted multiple mountains and wound our way around Deer Mountain and its neighbors. When I thought we had no more than 2 miles or so left, we saw a sign that said 4.2. Ugh. That was disheartening. 

No shade. none. Not even a little. 

In the end, we survived. Obviously. Total distance was between 10 and 11 miles- far more than we had planned on. Time was short and we were both grouchy. In retrospect, we should have gone back the more easily-traveled way and saved time to drive over the Continental Divide, but obstinate me had to see the other side of the mountain. We did end up seeing it, but it wasn't worth the stress of feeling lost for an hour or so.

And so ends our Colorado trip. We both fell in love with the state, got some good exercise, got to see one of my middle school friends (We're adults now! When did that happen?), and learned some valuable lessons. The end. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park- Part 2

Don't worry. Only 3 parts to this story.

After our adventure on Flattop Mountain, we had a slightly better idea of what elevation gain and distance was manageable for us. Our first day's hike was about all we could handle, so we didn't want to do anything much more intense, but we did want a challenge. Enter: Sky Pond.

On paper, this looks totally doable, right? 4.5 miles each way, far less elevation gain than the day before, and a slightly different part of the park than the day before. Seemed like a winner. Well. Yes and no. If you read that link, turns out that part of the "hike" to Sky Pond involves a 100 foot steep vertical climb/scramble up wet rocks. We did not know that. The first part of the hike is gorgeous, with only very mild elevation changes.
Gorgeous Alberta Falls

More falls. more beauty.
Loch Vale, one of the top 10 prettiest places I've ever been

Then it got real. Real steep. And snowy

And then the slippery vertical...

And we had to climb this too (hi Nick!). No climbing pictures because it was too treacherous.

Made it to Mirror Lake


And finally, Sky Pond!

Sandwiches were earned.

This place just does not quit.

The climb back down was even more emotionally draining than the way up because steep verticals feel steeper on the way back down. Plus, increased fatigue meant we had to be constantly cautious with our footing. Regardless, it was an unforgettable day and well worth the journey. Sky Pond was one of the most remote places I've ever been. I imagine the waterfall climb scares many people away, so even on a picture-perfect summer Saturday, there were only 5 or 6 other people up there with us. Such a perfect day. After showers, we went to a Nepalese (strikingly similar to Indian...) restaurant for dinner and ate our faces off and got ready for our third and final day of adventures. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park weekend- Part 1

Subtitle: Marry me, Colorado.

Nick had a conference in Boulder a couple weeks ago, so I flew out to meet him on Thursday after his conference was over. I spent my adolescent years in New Mexico/Idaho and I miss the mountains an awful lot, so this was a nice return to some familiar territory. I had not realized how stupid tiny the "mountains" around my home in Maryland are. It's just silly. The Chesapeake Bay has a certain kind of beauty about it, and the sunsets here are to die for, but craggy mountains warm my heart in a way that beaches never will.

Our first day was exploratory and pretty short because I got in mid-afternoon and was wearing flip flops, so no big hikes were planned. We briefly went to Settlers Park and wandered along Boulder Creek. Coloradans, you know you live in a ridiculously beautiful state, right? That rocky, rushing creek beside rock walls is just amazing. We even got to eat Ethiopian food for dinner outside, along the creek. OUTSIDE. You cannot routinely eat outside in Maryland without getting attacked by bugs or sweating your ass off.

The second day was our first real excursion. We were staying in Broomfield, which was very reasonably priced and convenient to Boulder. Our hotel was also very close to supermarkets, which meant we could buy ice cream late at night and eat it in the comfort of our room. I have priorities. We left our hotel pretty early, before 8am, and had breakfast in Boulder at The Buff. I died of happiness. It was so good, we returned the next day. My friend recommended their pancakes, and while I am not normally a pancake person, I will make an exception every day of my life for theirs. They were fluffy bites of joy. From Boulder, we went north to Rocky Mountain National Park. A coworker had recommended it to me and said the $20 weeklong pass was a great deal. That was the 2nd best recommendation of the weekend (after the pancakes, of course).

After the drive to the park and getting our bearings, it was already 11am. And it was overcast/drizzling. This actually turned out to be very lucky for us, since many people were scared off by the rain. We were heading toward all the trails when everyone else was heading away! We decided to be ambitious (read: maybe a little stupid) and summit one of the more manageable mountains in the park, Flattop Mountain. It had about 2800 feet elevation gain over 4.5 miles one-way. That sounded like something we could do, but we're also from sea level, which we should have taken into account.

The hike up seemed never ending. Luckily, there was a lot of wildlife and some mind-blowing views, so at least during our frequent breaks we had something to look at.

It just went up and up... Those rocks above my head were still several hundred feet from our destination, and we'd been on our feet for a couple hours already at this point.

Adorable little pika (about the size of a small guinea pig or large hamster). They made little "meep" noises. 

A ptarmigan. He barked. 

Marmot. We saw dozens of these. They were adorable but almost too friendly. Like if you had a chip in your hand, they might come and steal it. I'll avoid rabies, and keep my distance, thanks.

We had to hike across snow. In July. Crazy times. Yes, I was a little cold.

The views from the top weren't anything special, unfortunately, because as the name states, this is a flat mountain. 

The peak to the right of me was another 500 feet or so of climbing, plus it did not have a clear trail to it, so we didn't want to venture that direction. It was also really chilly and breezy at the top of the mountain, it was getting late, and I was so, so tired. It was time to go. 

The trail back down was uneventful, but banged on our quads. It felt like we'd never reach the bottom. We planned ahead and had tons of snacks and fluids, but by the end of the day we just wanted to be done. I was never so happy to sit in a car and take off my boots as I was that day. I don't think we realized how hard hiking at elevation would be. In hindsight, duh, of course it's hard, we're lacking oxygen, but at the time we thought hey, we're in ok shape, no problem! We were both spent at the end of the day. But we still had 2 more days of hiking to go...