Disconnect

I’m actually a very good sleeper. I sleep a little like a brick, usually from the moment my head touches the pillow until my a few minutes into my sunrise clock coming on in the morning. I might wake up once during the night to pee, but I go straight back to sleep. That is, until I get my period. Then it’s all change. I’m fidgety. More fidgety than usual. I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m hot again. I itch. I itch everywhere. I’m uncomfortable. In every position. It absolutely sucks.

I used to suffer with insomnia a lot when I was younger. Night time was when my brain came to life. When every single problem, no matter how insignificant, came to the forefront of my consciousness. Where all my creativity ignited. It was exhausting, draining, hard to manage. And then I got diagnosed as a coeliac and went on a gluten-free diet and the insomnia stopped. I’m not suggesting for a minute that gluten causes insomnia but it was definitely diet related for me. Apart from when I have my period, obviously. Then it must be hormone related. Damn hormones.

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Anyway, as I’m up, at 3.45am, I might as well put my brain to use instead of just uncomfortably tossing and turning in my bed. There’s been a lot going on recently. I have separated from Elton. Most of you that know me, will know this already as it happened back at the beginning of December. It had been on the cards for a while, things just weren’t right. Unfortunately there has been a lot of grief in our marriage. Miscarriage, failed IVF, the realisation that a family is not what I will have, it’s all tied up with Elton. It’s not his fault but I can’t move on with him. I need to disconnect.

And that just momentarily brings me back to why I’m up at this unsociable hour. Why the fuck do I still get periods? I’ve gone through this before I know, but it still makes me so angry. Not that I’m desperate to go through the menopause but having a monthly reminder of what could have been is just like a sucker punch. Every fucking month. Anyway, I digress…

So, disconnection. It’s an interesting word for me as it has recently come up in my therapy sessions. One thing that I have had an issue with my whole life is feeling disconnected to things that I have done. This struck me most when I got back from nearly two years of travelling. Almost as soon as I got back I felt disconnected from the whole experience. I had memories and a bunch of photographs but, the only way I can describe it was, it felt like it had happened to someone else and I had just been told about it, rather than experiencing it for myself.

I have recently been through this experience again. For those of you that follow my other blog page, you will know that at the beginning of January I ran the equivalent of three marathons in three days as part of an ongoing challenge I have set myself this year. Now I haven’t run a marathon since 2011 and I have NEVER run three back to back. It was incredibly emotional, going through pain, joy, disappointment, happiness, pride, elation, relief and a whole host of other emotions yet almost immediately I felt completely disconnected from it. Like it had happened to someone else.

So this feeling of disconnection became the topic of conversation when I recently met with my therapist. And what an interesting conversation that became! I am adopted. I was removed from my mother after a few days and put in foster care and then adopted at the age of 10 weeks. Just a wee baby. I’ve never had any issues with this. My parents are amazing, loving and incredibly supportive and I have never wanted for anything. I have also met both my natural parents and their families and still have a close relationship with my natural father and my half-siblings. I’ve never felt that my adoption was a ‘trauma’ in my life. However…

The way my therapist described pregnancy is that mother and baby are one. Joined not just by the physical umbilical cord and subsequent breast feeding but in every other way as well. The first three months of a baby’s life are fundamental. The child develops into an individual but is grounded by this continued bond with their mother. Any child removed from their mother during this time is quite likely to go on to develop some issues in adult life – I’m not a psychologist so I’m not going to attempt to go into this any further, suffice to say, the way it was explained to me made sense.

So I went through a physical ‘trauma’ when I was just a couple of days old. I obviously don’t remember this but it has left a scar. I am disconnected. Disconnected from myself. I seek out relationships, activities, experiences, adventures that make me feel things but these feelings are short-lived. They are in the moment. My emotions feel very real, they feel very intense, but then they’re gone. Like they happened to someone else. In order to really ‘feel’ emotions, I need to reconnect to myself.

A dream that I have had many times throughout my life is that I can breathe underwater. How cool is that? I mean, sometimes, when I’m swimming, I actually question whether it’s true as the dreams have felt so real! I’ve always just thought this was a cool dream however, as my therapist pointed out, there is only one place in reality where you can actually breathe underwater. The womb. Boom. When he said this it was like a lightbulb moment. This is my safe space. This is my point of reconnect. These dreams are positive. I need to have more breathing underwater dreams. Slowly but surely I will reconnect with myself and then, maybe, I will be able to connect properly with everything and everyone else.

I think the closest I came to reconnect before was when I was pregnant. And that makes sense to me now. Perhaps that’s why it’s been so hard for me to get over my miscarriage. It wasn’t about losing the child, although that was a huge part of it, it was also about losing part of me. It was like a step backwards in the ongoing reconnect that has been my life.

Sorry, I think I might be rambling. It is 4.30 in the morning and I am tired. And my hormones are all over the place. Damn hormones. Still, this has all been a bit of revelation to me. Some of you may be thinking it all sounds a bit kooky, and I think I would too if you were telling me. But it resonates, it has ignited something inside me. It has raised something in my subconscious. I actually feel the head of the nail has been hit.

Time to go back to bed. Maybe I’ll dream I can breathe underwater. Maybe I’ll have a moment of reconnect. Maybe those moments of reconnect will become more frequent. I can live in hope.

Goodnight.

Let the adventures begin :)

Wow, roll back 10 months and things were a little different. There we were, balanced on the edge with our heads above the parapet, waiting for science to gift us with a child, or not. It seems like a really long time ago, and yet, it also feels like yesterday. I always said that I would find my way of dealing with it and I did. I do. Sometimes. I suppose what happens is you become settled in the life that is rather than dwelling too much upon the life that could have been. Well, most of the time anyway.

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Things have definitely moved on. I completed all those triathlons. My plan B. I got a new tattoo!! Other things have changed – my job for instance has become more permanent, albeit more part-time, but that’s good. It works for me. It gives me the freedom to do other things. Next year is going to be more about other things. Other work too. But mainly other things. Visiting friends. Spending time with my family. Getting out and living life to the fullest. This is the stuff that is important. This is what keeps me happy, keeps me on an even keel.

I’ve managed to spend some time with friends and their young child recently. I thought I might struggle but actually it was great. Obviously there were times that I felt a little choked up, but all in all I think I handled it pretty well. I need to be able to visit those friends of mine that have been lucky to have children. And deal with it. As well as improving my relationship with my step-daughter. This stuff is important too. Very important.

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November has been a funny month. I had a shoulder niggle that, if I’m honest, had probably been going on since the summer. Turns out I should have had it looked at a long time ago. And it’s not a shoulder injury, it’s bicep tendinopathy. So that put a stop to any lifting of weights and riding my bike or swimming (not that I was doing a lot of that anyway). Running it was then. My running partner had run every day in October and was planning on keeping going, so I joined her. Today I completed day 34 of running every day and I plan to keep going until Saturday when we head off to India and Nepal. I never really enjoyed running before. It’s always been something that I’ve done as a means to an end. Oh, and it comes at the end of a triathlon. But I have to say, I’ve rather come to enjoy it. I don’t think I’m one of those people that gets the ‘runner’s high’ just yet, but it’s been a good month. And I keep beating my time at Parkrun so I must be doing ok ๐Ÿ˜€

I also seem to drunk a great deal of gin in November . I haven’t been on the lash permanently but somehow I seem to have gone through rather a lot. Oh well, I have enjoyed it, especially finally getting to sample the new Blue Slate Gin from Dinorwig Distillery, the gin that I was part of the tasting crew for (see previous blog post).

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The sad news is that my grandmother died. That was a complicated relationship as I am adopted. She was the mother of my biological father who I have known since I was 19. She was a fantastic lady, always welcomed me into the family with open arms. She was a Scot, and a proud one. I feel honoured to have met her and to have had her in my life. Unfortunately she had been horrendously depressed since the death of my grandfather two years ago. I think, in reality, she died of a broken heart ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The happy news is that my little sister (half sister on my biological father’s side) got married. It was a really beautiful day, down in Gloucestershire, at Berkley Castle. They both looked amazing and I am so happy for them ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, enough of my rambling (I’m not even sure what this blog post is about anymore…) six more days and we’re off. Off on our big adventure. I’m getting super excited now. Plans have changed as they inevitably would but they’ve changed for the better. We’ve had our flights booked to Delhi for ages now but having finally decided on what trek we would like to do we are now flying out of India two days after we arrive and heading straight for Nepal. Two days in Kathmandu and then we’re flying into one of the scariest airports in the world – Lukla – the starting point for treks up Everest and other mountains in the Khumbu. How exciting is that??!!

We’re not going to Everest, or even to base camp. We’re heading to the quieter valley to the west. The Gokyo Valley. We will be hopefully summiting a mountain called Gokyo Ri which is 5357m high and offers superb views of Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Makalu. I’ve never been above 5000m before and Elton has never been above 3000m so it’s super exciting for us both.

From there we should, all going well, have a couple of weeks to then travel around Northern India and take in some sights. When we booked this, five weeks sounded like such a long time, now it seems like nothing at all. But I mustn’t complain. We are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. And we’re going to make the most of it, blog post to follow I’m sure ๐Ÿ˜€

Just had to share

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.

End of the season

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

Time to pause, time to choose

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 Theoryย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I am quite nervous about this one. The weather forecast is looking a bit pants.

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Looking lovely for Sunday, not ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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… ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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All ready to go on the Snowdonia Trail Marathon 10k race ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

39 hours to go…

It’s been a while

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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!) ๐Ÿ˜€ 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.

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The Snowman Run (I think it might be a walk up, roll down for me…)

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Slateman imminentย 

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

At the top of the zigzags looking back at Crib Goch
Some of the downhill is quite pleasant through the woods

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 ๐Ÿ˜€๐ŸŠ๐Ÿšด๐Ÿƒ