Wednesday, February 13, 2013
That's a sentiment that unfortunately has been missing in the journey I'm on with infertility.
This journey has been one with many ups and downs. As I dealt with that rollercoaster of emotion, I decided that I needed to take some time to focus on me. I signed up for a glass blowing class. I tried to exercise my creativity. I've learned to say no. I've learned it's a good thing to find ways to relax and take care of me and that I need to learn to put myself first sometimes.
But the biggest decision was that I decided that in order to conquer infertility I needed to start liking my body again. For me the scariest part of infertility has been how much I have come to resent my own body. After all it’s not like you can just exchange your body for another or step outside of it for a time. You’re kind of stuck. And yet, it's suffocating to spend every day resenting my own body for failing. So I had to find some way to break that pattern, because that's something only I could change. In the past I’d thought countless times about doing the Couch to 5K program. I'd heard of people it worked great for and it eliminated my main exercise pitfall - diving in too deep too fast and burning out. The problem though was that while I've always envied runners, I never really figured I'd join their ranks. I don't look like a runner so why try?
But one day I realized all the treatments, supplements, diet changes and so forth probably wouldn't make a difference if deep down I honestly truly resented and hated my body because of its failings in regards to having a baby. And why did I feel that way? Because at the end of the day, I can follow every bit of medical advice, old wives’ tale and internet suggestion and yet still not be pregnant. I’m a rule follower in part because generally if you do then you achieve your goals. This journey though wasn’t so clear cut. Never before infertility had my body failed me. So I got the idea that if I could do a 5K I could regain control of my thoughts and emotions regarding my body. Maybe that coupled with everything else would be the tipping point in us having a baby. And if not the worst that would happen is I’d get some good endorphins out of the deal.
Training was going great. Every time I'd jog longer I was amazed. I even found I really loved getting out and jogging. It helped relax me. I was proud of my body. I was clicking along the program no problem until the week of the 5K. Then my brain got in the way and I started doubting again. I wasn't able to jog as long as before. But I kept going and the morning of the 5K arrived. I gathered with 12,000 others. A friend who is a true runner and has been the best cheerleader along this journey was planning on doing it alongside me, but was late getting to the race. I started it by myself alternating between wanting to sob, vomit and laugh at the nerves. But I did it. I was jogging. It was going well. Then new shin pain turned to sharp knee pain. Panicking I was headed to a major injury, I started walking. My friend caught up and I tried jogging again. I quickly gave in to the pain and went back to walking. I told her to leave me behind. She stayed by my side. We alternated walking and jogging the rest of the race, setting and meeting mini goals along the way and her cheering kept me trying. In the end I finished as I began - jogging and overwhelmed by emotion.
It wasn't what I had pictured, but I did it. As I crossed the finish line I realized that the journey of the 5K has been just like this infertility journey. It's been full of ups and downs, but I've learned I'm stronger than I ever realized. I can do this and when I'm able to cross the finish line and become a Mom I'll be a better one for the journey. I just have to keep trying and take the time to be my own cheerleader when I need it. And for those moments of doubt I have the memory of my husband clapping at the finish line, my friend cheering as we crossed and the feeling of knowing my body carried me through a 5K. I did it.
What moments have you experienced where you realized your own strength?
Jennifer Erickson is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist with Texas Health Resources who is actually considering doing another 5K in the near future.