Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Life along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border

I had said that life was back to normal. And, in fact, life has been way better than normal. We have been on vacation in Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul and now La Crosse, WI living a sort of peaceful dreamlife. But every once in a while I get these panic moments, where, in a few seconds, my brain goes through denial, anger and acceptance. Actually, maybe I never get to acceptance. In fact I have this constant underlying feeling that my body is faulty. What I used to be so proud of is now my source of shame.

It is amazing how much of a woman's identity is created by her perception of her body. I used to think of myself as the athletic, healthy woman who also could be feminine at the right times. You know, and have healthy babies despite exercising what many consider to be an extreme amount.

But then this force of nature comes along and you realize once again you are powerless. The process of miscarriage seemed SO natural at the time, that is was easier to accept than I had expected. But then that sneaking feeling of "I'm an inadequate woman" makes it hard again. Maybe I am to some degree at fault, maybe it has nothing to do with me. And that is why no one woman should ever represent running in pregnancy. Or veganism in pregnancy. Or skydiving in pregnancy. Or truckdriving in pregnancy. Look at statistics and studies and your own beliefs of what is healthy. Don't look at me. Well, that being said, you're welcome to keep reading. It is our relationships with living people that are meaningful, afterall.

For four days after the race, we got "stuck" in Duluth, having forgot our passports to go to Thunder Bay. But we had abolutely no desire to leave, anyway. We enjoyed days of windless Lake Superior, sitting on the beach as if we were at the end of the world and watching the golden full moon rise. We stayed at the William S. Burrows Bed and Breakfast, where the two owners knew what had happened and treated us like their long lost children. There was amazing food, company, a piano, a view of Lake Superior. It was hard to deny being extremely happy and comfortable. Though I felt as though I nearly lost my entire blood volume over the course of a day and a half. They told me to come back to the hospital if a soaked a pad an hour and I was quite close to that. I actually never did go back for my ER follow-up. We decided they'd just repeat the beta-HCG and it would be going down and that would be that. Actually, I'm sure I would have learned something, but I'll never know what that was.

We ventured reluctantly into the big city of Minneapolis. I only say reluctantly because neither of us are really that fond of big cities. But once we were there, my sister immediately did our laundry and showered us with gifts. I felt totally inadequte and SR, like a typical European, was in awe of their view of the Minneapolis skyline. Why was I so concerned with this unborn baby when my sister, who I hadn't seen in nearly a year needed me in her own way to catch up? Well, we at least argued about music and shared our new favorites, as we always do. And it was fun.

My sister and her husband:


And here's the part some readers are scrolling down for: The next day we met Steve Q and Helen Lavin Helen Lavin for a run at Steve's fabled "Brickyard". I must point out that Lavin is pronounced like "lava" not "lake" by the way. Anyway, talk about four completely different and somewhat insane people getting together for a run. Actually Helen's not insane, she is just insanely successful at everything she does. And truly modest and funny and cute, but perhaps that's not news to anyone. In all reality Steve Q is not insane either, he gave us a very interesting tour of this steep hill by the Mississippi in St. Paul-Lilydale where bricks used to be made in the early 20th century. And fossils are still collected. Not that old, though, just about 1 million years. We saw the brick-making caves, but no fossils. He had a story about every path and every apple crab tree. He even shares his water, though very reluctantly. For those of you who don't read his blog, you may not appreciate the fact that he IS quite normal, and you probably should give his blog a read, or at least his description of our run, which differs slightly from mine and Helen's.

Maybe it was because it was hot or because I was really slow, but we didn't run that many hill repeats and the ones we ran weren't very fast. Maybe it was mostly because we had too much fun chatting. And that's why we spent most of the time at Jerabek's in St. Paul, eating kolochies and looking at fun old photos of Steve, including one where he took 5th in his age group in the Twin Cities Marathon. And one he had of me from Voyageur last year where I thought I looked fat. It made me feel better about how I look now. Anyway, Helen had also brought us two T-shirts from the Afton Trail race and Ultra Running magazine.

Jerabek's Bakery. You can probably figure out who everyone is.

The astute readers will see how sallow I am compared to the pictures from the race. When I am anemic, I tend to look like I have liver failure. Below is a seemlingly unrelated photo of SR grabbing a gray lion's balls.
And here's a happy mom, in her new Afton T-shirt, finally reunited with her little boy, who hasn't quite weened himself from nooks.


Running Song of the Day: Enemy Within by Frida Hyvönen

17 comments:

olga said...

You know what I have to say? I am truly enjoying my life without training right now...I know, it's unrelated. But may be it is. I enjoyed reading about your "normal" life, where you hook up with folks, and even though go for a run, it's not "all out", and then you eat food (I did same this morning). Where you sit on a bench and watch the sunset (or sunrise, or full moon). Where you deal with guilt, and probably will never rid of it, or of your body image (neither will I, fully, everf, forgive myself for many things, or stop worrying about a spare tire I carry). And where it is all quite regular, and is called "life".

SteveQ said...

There's going to be someone who'll point it out - it was fifth in age class, not overall at TCM.

So, how was Chelsea's wedding???

Marathon Princess said...

I might need to check out that bakery and the "brickyard" hill. Next time you're in the Twin Cities it would be fun to get together for a run.

cherelli said...

Hi SLG, I too am about to go through what you have been through (pregnant together, almost miscarry together, geesh). Standard fetal heartbeat check last week turned up no heartbeat, so I got my Beta HCG tested...yep, dropping. But it was high-ish (40 000 in the first test, 37 000 in next) so I am still waiting to miscarry (a second ultrasound 3 days later confirmed still no heartbeat)... Anyway, the doc told me a few days ago to make sure I do get a Beta HCG done after the miscarriage to ensure there is no "leftover material" in the uterus which the body continue to supply with HCG as this could become a tumor of sorts? HCG=0 means everything has been cleared out as it should, body is ready to re-set...anyway, just thought I'd pass that on. I feel like I've dealt with things already...yet i know there are more emotions to come. And suddenly I will get this feeling of sadness or just tears "pop-up" or I get angered easily....at the moment I feel in limbo KNOWING my body will miscarry soon. A part of me thinks I shouldn't have said so much so early, but then another part says angrily "This is life! WHY are people expected to hide this?" Anyway, FWIW you PROVED in your first pregnancy that exercise and a healthy baby are possible. Many other women are proving the same. You know what, a few chromosomes or whatever just got confused as they were multiplying at a phenomenal rate - what control do you have over them?? None. As you say, POWERLESS. I'm trying to see my loss as my body's way of being SMART enough to know EARLY this wasn't a viable pregnancy...that the next one will be perfect and my body will keep it because it will know it is perfect. Yours will be too. Thinking of you - I'm glad you got to enjoy parts of your trip, it sounded wonderful.

cherelli said...

Hi SLG, I too am about to go through what you have been through (pregnant together, almost miscarry together, geesh). Standard fetal heartbeat check last week turned up no heartbeat, so I got my Beta HCG tested...yep, dropping. But it was high-ish (40 000 in the first test, 37 000 in next) so I am still waiting to miscarry (a second ultrasound 3 days later confirmed still no heartbeat)... Anyway, the doc told me a few days ago to make sure I do get a Beta HCG done after the miscarriage to ensure there is no "leftover material" in the uterus which the body continue to supply with HCG as this could become a tumor of sorts? HCG=0 means everything has been cleared out as it should, body is ready to re-set...

sea legs girl said...

Cool, Olga. Yeah, I know what you mean. I just wish I would have been this relaxed when pregnant. But I gotta stop thinking like that :). Should I point out that we were on a bike ride when we saw the moon rising? I'm still not the type to just sit around, even on the day of the miscarriage. Some things about SLG will never change.

Steve,
Hmmm... I guess there is a slight difference between fifth overall and fifth in age class. But your time was still impressive!
Chelsea's wedding was not boring at all. But of course, it helped to know Bill and Hil so well.

MP, we will definitely invite you along for the run next time! It would also be so fun to see your beautiful little Ophelia. Maybe we could have a baby jogger race up the brickyard hill :).

cherelli said...

(and part 2 because apparently part 1 was long!) anyway, just thought I'd pass that on. I feel like I've dealt with things already...yet i know there are more emotions to come. I cango from happy to suddenly getting this feeling of sadness or just tears in an instant or I get angered easily....at the moment I feel in limbo KNOWING my body will miscarry soon. A part of me thinks I shouldn't have said so much so early to people, but then another part says angrily "This is life! WHY are people expected to hide this?" Anyway, FWIW you PROVED in your first pregnancy that exercise and a healthy baby are possible. Many other women are proving the same. You know what, a few chromosomes or whatever just got confused as they were multiplying at a phenomenal rate - what control do you have over them?? None. As you say, POWERLESS. I'm trying to see my loss as my body's way of being SMART enough to know EARLY this wasn't a viable pregnancy...that the next one will be perfect and my body will keep it because it will know it is perfect. Yours will be too. Thinking of you - I'm glad you got to enjoy parts of your trip, it sounded wonderful.

cherelli said...

oops. apparently the first long one did go through!

sea legs girl said...

Cherelli,

Oh no. I just started crying when I read your comment. I am so sorry. It sounds like you are handling it amazingly well, though. You have gotten pregnant once now, so you know you can, and you will again.

Thank you for the advice on the beta-HCG. I know about choriocarcinomas but it actually didn't occur to me to worry about it. I will be sure to get the level checked again. Thank you.

I have to apologize that I was writing the comment to Steve, Olga and Marathon Princess when you were writing yours. So I wasn't ignoring your comment. Anyway, wow, I guess we never expected to go through THIS together, but we will make it out of this pkay and maybe become stronger women. My thoughts are with you and Brett.

olga said...

Tracy, if you think I am sitting on my booty, you don't know me well enough:) I can't even lay in bed next to Larry when he is resting - I need to go and do something. Excercise incluing. What I do mean is that I am not training in running. I am training at the gym though:)

Angie Bishop said...

Olga's comment was so well said.
I love that the little one is still liking his nookies :)

Lisa said...

You seem a little down, which is understandable given the circumstances. I am glad (again) for your honesty and willingness to make yourself emotionally vulnerable in such a public forum. Many women suffer through miscarriage in silence. Glad you are brave enough not to be one of them.

仁南貞宣 said...
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PiccolaPineCone said...

apologies if this appears as a duplicate., i think my comment got lost the first time around.

Anger and Denial can be like irksomeparty guests who show up drunk and boisterous just after you are winding down and getting ready to go to bed. They'll hang around for awhile and I think ultimately they have to be entertained for awhile in order to get them to leave. They will leave, eventually, but you can't completely control the time. And it is good to listen to them a little bit, in any case one cannot help but listen to them a little bit. But do your thing, go about your life, they'll hang around for a bit and then ultimately get the hint and leave. I hope they leave soon.

p.s. oh how I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during those hill repeats.

SteveQ said...

While I'm at it, about the autism thing: you really shouldn't make pronouncements like that. I go out of my way to not show symptoms and they usually appear during stress; we were in places I know well, doing what I do well and there were no stressors like crowding or noise (bakeries in late afternoon being pretty empty).

sea legs girl said...

SteveQ, thanks for mentioning that. Sorry it took me so long to word it better... traveling again yesterday and no internet.

家唐銘 said...

haha~ funny! thank you for your share~............................................................