March and April were pretty jam-packed with fun stuff—maybe too many distractions with my birthday, sailing lessons, another epic Ragnar with Team Endurance Planet, a wine tasting trip, and plenty of dolphin sightings from my SUP. Thinking about pregnancy truly became an afterthought.
Then it all started to chill out around late April, no more distractions, at which point I began feeling emotionally discontent, despite really trying to keep a positive mindset. It seemed like I was in a good place, but apparently not quite yet. I had no idea why I felt so shitty and was lacking my usual happiness and spunk. Not every day has to be all unicorn and rainbows, but this was dragging on. Unhappiness is usually a sign that change—in some way, shape or form—is needed and I was ready to see what else that meant for me.
I felt certain that trying to conceive (TTC) was not the source of these woes. I had truly changed my attitude toward baby-making (as discussed in previous posts here and here), and I knew I had come so far in letting go. Perhaps TTC was still related, probably was, but it was not the forefront; this felt like something else, something bigger than just that.
John and I both agreed it’d be a good idea for me to talk to a therapist. Hire a professional to help get it out of me—instead of continuing to keep whatever it was pent up inside. Right away I found someone and got started. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done for myself.
Another reason I decided to hit up therapy was after reading Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard’s memoir, In The Water They Can’t See You Cry. She also sought out therapy later in her career, and it seemed like things really fell into place for her thereafter. Her whole story really resonated with me, and while I’m not an Olympic-level athlete, it doesn’t matter, female athletes with intense minds like ours can cause havoc in our own lives. We just put ourselves through a lot of shit, often unnecessary, and as we get older we realize it doesn’t have to be so tough—and also how to seek help and not be so damn stubborn!
Therapy felt so relieving, just the mental housekeeping I needed—it's basically like having a coach except she's not also telling me how to train and eat, lol. I am and always have been a very thoughtful, deep person, and when I sat on that couch I just spewed it all out and we made some sense of it. My therapist did a great job of giving me the feedback I needed to hear. I have great people in my life with whom I can talk about anything, but having a therapist is just different. I’m a fan.
It really doesn’t matter what the nitty gritty of my issues were, the fact is we all have our shit and sometimes we just need to talk to someone and find peace. I think I’ve done a pretty good job about addressing most my shit, and even opening up about it on a public platform, but apparently there was more work to be done, more deep digging. I ended up going to places I had yet to go. It was hard but so good for me.
In addition to adding therapy, I worked on a few more minor changes, things like...
I realized that in the past couple months I had been drinking more, probably at first as a way to rebel against not getting pregnant. I was basically having a nightly glass (or two) of wine and more on weekends, and for me that’s just too much to feel ideal. So I cut back on wine as soon as I recognized it. Leave it for the odd night and special occasion. Easy.
I also tweaked my free-time routine—mostly investing more time into my mental wellbeing. I started meditating a bit more, stream-of-consciousness writing and reading books on happiness. One book in particular hit home with so many wonderful messages, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams.
I also went back to the fitness & diet style I love best; not trying to manipulate things in hopes of getting pregnant. I allowed myself to workout more freely and not put restrictions on it—SUP, a bit more running miles and strength training. I even got my butt back into bikram yoga after feeling too lazy and frumpy to go in recent months. Second, I started lowering my carb and crap-food intake; I had started eating more liberally for fertility reasons but didn’t like how I was feeling from that. I just do better on a nutritionally and calorically dense lower carb diet—and I know my limits as to not let it screw with hormones, wellbeing, etc. There’s certainly always room for indulgences IMO, but eating mostly a clean nutrient-dense diet along with limited drinking seriously is what I prefer.
Next, I decided to move forward with taking a break from hosting Endurance Planet for a few months. I had been dabbling with this and kept going back and forth. It was not easy to come to this conclusion and quite frankly felt (feels) scary, but it's for good reason, it's just a break, and not forever. I actually already miss it a ton, so don’t worry if you’re a loyal EP listener, I’ll be back! Not to mention, I recorded extra shows in advance before the break, and Lucho will still be doing our ATC show, woot!
In the midst of all this, early May we had a wedding to be at a couple hours away and it’d be with many of my old high school buddies and lifelong friends. It ended up being a wonderful night away; John and I somehow hung with the group till after midnight (that literally never happens anymore). The timing was perfect—it really helped me hit the reset button and put things in perspective. I was relaxed and happy with old friends, and I felt a sense of relief, like I was getting back to a good place with everything I had going on not to mention a new and better understanding of myself.
Last but not least, after a few therapy appointments, of course pregnancy and babies had come up, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to fully stop trying to get pregnant for now, and John was ok with that. I was literally thinking about telling him the next time we… ya know… that we needed to use protection again.
So all that in a relatively short amount of time (we're talking weeks!) and, man, that was everything I needed! I was feeling a lot better and it all seemed to happen so fast.
Then one morning in mid/late May I woke up feeling odd for that time of month in my cycle. I should have started my period the day prior, and I shouldn’t have had the symptoms I did. We had plans with friends that night and wine would possibly be involved so just to be safe I took a test...
It was positive.
I took another test because I didn’t believe it.
I did some quick thinking on when we likely conceived—that wedding!
Getting pregnant was truly the last thing I expected to happen during all this. We were both in shock. Just like that, our lives changed forever.
Baby Gibson arrives January 2018.
|Oh yea, and I still did that standup paddle board race I mentioned, at 6 weeks pregnant, but switched to the short course (5 miles) and battled nausea all the while. As for the post-race Napa trip? We went of course, but obvi NO wine for me haha.|
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To be honest, I really debated whether to say something on my blog and social media at all about getting pregnant. After my first couple posts about not having success I connected with many amazing women who shared stories of their own struggles with TTC. Many had gone on to have babies. But many hadn’t yet—and I could feel and sympathize with their pain. Trust me, I know what it feels like to see the news that someone else you know got pregnant and you still aren’t—it’s tough. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be that person saying, “Hey, look at me, I got pregnant.” So I hope this post doesn’t come across as a brag or insensitive. I’ve always openly shared my journey—the highs and the lows—and this turn of events it simply another chapter. Plus, if Im being totally honest, finding out I was pregnant didn't quite come with the response you'd except. It was mixed emotions. Of course I’m thrilled—we're thrilled—but it’s been a mindf*ck to be on this rollercoaster.
I decided to share the news because I’m hoping that my story can provide some comfort to women out there who are wondering if they’ll ever get pregnant. Whether it’s a gal with amenorrhea wondering if she’ll ever get her hormones back on track and one day start a family, or a gal who’s been trying for months with no success. Obviously I can’t sit here and guarantee success for everyone and there are mysteries of infertility in which it seems no one has the answers. But you just never know. I am reading a book on natural childbirth right now (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) and one of the birth stories is by a German couple who said it took them 15 years to conceive—they never used birth control because it just never happened, and then one day it did.
My journey to conceiving was a long one, if you think about it. It actually started in 2013 when I decided to change my ways, scale back on training and stress, and get my period back after 10 years of amenorrhea (I got my period back in about 10-12 weeks after making the official commitment). Obviously I was in no rush to have kids then, but certainly having kids in the future was a huge motivator—and having a partner like John definitely made me realize I wanted to have a family with him. Years went by before it was time for us, then from that moment in Hawaii, October 2016, when we decided to start trying to the moment it happened, May 2017, it was an 8-month journey. Quite frankly, I'm a better person thanks to the many months it took.
To all you gals who have depleted hormones and absent periods like I did, have faith that you can get your body back to a womanly state in which having kids is totally possible if you desire that. There’s no reason to believe you’re doomed. My story is a victory for all of us!
That said, it’s not just about your hormonal state or your man’s sperm. Those things matter but they aren’t everything. I’m fully convinced that in our case hormonal or medical issues were not the reason it took so long. It was my mind—and this goes beyond the advice of, “Just relax,” which, for the record, is still the most annoying thing ever that you can say to a woman who’s trying (so don’t it). I had to reconnect with my happiness, find peace with certain things in my life and work on me. In months prior, I had tried acupuncture and so many pregnancy hacks, none of which worked. Then when I went to therapy, mostly for reasons other than TTC, right away I got pregnant. I know that’s not the answer for everyone, I totally get it, but crazily enough that’s what worked for me.
Getting pregnant is such a mystery. Then when you do become pregnant it seems like there are so many more mysteries that no one has clear answers to because we’re just all so different. What I’ve learned the most so far (I'm 8 weeks pregnant at the time of publishing) is that pregnancy and having a kid is all about letting go of control. When I let go, it didn't take long to get pregnant. Now that I’m pregnant I’m continuing to let go of things. For example, once I got pregnant, I started freaking out about a few things (miscarriage risk, those multiple glasses of wine I had before I knew, whether my baby will be healthy), and I was a bit of a mess for a few days. Thankfully it didn’t take too long for me to realize I had to let go or I’d go crazy—there’s absolutely nothing you can do except enjoy the process, minimize stress, and do your best to treat your mind and body well. Otherwise, this whole process is completely out of our control. As a control freak, that scared me, but already it’s allowed me to grow and mature at an incredible rate. For the first time in forever I’m 100% at peace with just letting things be as they’re going to be and not overthinking or worrying about things at all. Even right now as my nausea and fatigue are through the roof and my food cravings and aversions are completely psycho, I’m just living each moment and listening to my body. I’ll eat gf waffles instead of vegetables, I’ll take 2-hour naps, and it just is what it is.
I also plan to have a natural birth, and out of everything thus far I’m actually the least afraid of that despite all the things that could be freaking me out regarding natural births.
So, no matter where you’re at in your journey, I hope my story can help give you a glimpse of hope and please know I have your back.