It’s not a sprint

On the internet chat groups I’m a part of, every once in awhile a girl will pop on to complain about how hard it is to get pregnant. “I’ve been trying for 5 months… I’m so depressed… This is so hard!!” As you can imagine, this does not go over well. It is very important to know your audience. Complaining to a group of women who have been struggling to get pregnant for over a year, most of whom are undergoing invasive treatments and have long since given up any hope of getting pregnant on their own, is not going to get you sympathy for the fact that you are just now realizing not everyone gets pregnant right after stopping birth control.

I recognize that it’s hard. I remember hitting the 6 month mark of trying and wondering if something was wrong. I remember taking my temperature every morning, charting ovulation, taking OPKs and trying to time everything just right. And every month that it didn’t work felt like a failure. That only intensified once we started treatments. But something changed in the last few months, during our last break. Getting pregnant is no longer the sole focus of my life. I look forward to doing things this summer, and I’m not worried about weather or not I will be pregnant. Yes, we are still trying, it’s just that it isn’t all I think about anymore.

I liken it to a race. I would use a running analogy, but I’m not really a very good runner. I will instead use a rowing analogy, which resonates more with me. Spring is the main racing season for crew. We row 2000 meters in 6-8 minutes. It’s fast, and the last 500 meters is the sprint. For that last 500 meters you go all out, because you know at the end of that you will be done. That’s what the first few months of TTC are like. You *know* this is going to work, so you put all you have emotionally into trying. But sometimes the finish line isn’t where you think it is. We once had a coxswain who was horrible at estimating the distance to the finish line. “Last 10 strokes!” she would say, when there were really 30 or 40 strokes left. If you go all out for those last 10, you don’t have anything left for the rest of the race. After a few months of putting everything you have into TTC, you don’t have much left emotionally, because you keep thinking the finish line is just around the corner, but it’s not.

TTC is more like a fall race. Those are about 3 miles long, and take much longer to finish. They are a slower, steady race. You still have to put a lot of energy into finishing the race, but you know the finish line is not close. You know it is going to take awhile. It’s still hard. You still take small sprints throughout the race to pull ahead of other boats, which takes a bit out of you. But it’s nothing like a spring race and if you tried to row a 3 mile race with the same race plan as a 2K, you would die. You can’t approach TTC like a 2000 meter race. You will never make it to the end.

Infertility is like going for a long, slow row. There is no set distance, you just row. So you can’t go out hard, you’ll die in the middle of the lake and then have to limp home. You do short pieces of increased intensity as you go along, recognizing that after that “power 20” you will probably have to “paddle” for a few minutes to recover. For the most part though, it’s just slow and steady. You could get wrapped up in your head, worrying about your form, focusing on your heart rate monitor, wondering when the work out is going to be over. Or you could look outside the boat, notice the many different colors of green that are on the trees, keep an eye out for the bald eagle that lives near by, enjoy the sound the boat makes as it moves through the water. You may as well try to enjoy the time you are spending out on the water.

I initially thought getting pregnant was a race. I wanted a baby before I was 35. That was my finish line, but it has become abundantly clear that I don’t really have a finish line. We’re in this for the long haul and I think I have finally reached the point where I am able to enjoy my life outside of IF treatments. The treatments are still hard, and every time I hope that that will be the end of our journey. When it doesn’t work, I need to rest for a bit before I can push forward again. But I still have the energy to keep going. At least for a little while. And I’m going to do my best to enjoy what’s going on around me.

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3 Responses to It’s not a sprint

  1. Cristy says:

    Good post! And spot on. Before this journey, I was constantly comparing myself to others, worried about being left behind. Thing is, I now know that my journey is very different from others. There is no race because the path I’m on is different from 90% of the population. So I’m now in the mindset of conserving my energy so that I can finish this journey in one piece. And I believe, like you, I will be a better mother for it.

  2. circlesbecomeme says:

    As someone who turned to rowing as my primary way of dealing with my infertility, I REALLY love this analogy. It sure is a long slow steady state endurance thing eh…. good luck on continuing to manage your energy for the long haul, and for trying to enjoy the water time. When I actually let go and experience the moment, the stillness and peace of a slow row is priceless.. But still better when you can ramp it up, get the boat flying and get across some goal line too 🙂 Thanks for the post!!!

  3. Awesome post! I am trying hard to look “outside the boat” . Some days I can’t, but at least I am trying. Thanks for the reminder.

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