My Dearest Daughter,

As always - a big thanks to Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville for the photos

As always – a big thanks to Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville for the photos

You competed in your FIRST EVER triathlon yesterday. It was a 1/2-mile run, a 1-mile bike, and a 25-meter swim. You had body markings and a transition area, everything like when your Daddy does his triathlons. You trained very hard for this race and you were very excited. You had a new bike, a new swimsuit, and new tennis shoes. You had been working on your swim for 2 months, but it was still your weakest event. Your bike and your run were cake. You’ve done 5Ks before, you weren’t even concerned with the run. You were ready to roll.

When you started that race yesterday? I cried. I know that seems silly to you, but I was just so proud of you for even doing it. Knowing you had this race this weekend was probably the main thing that helped me conquer my fears and do my first triathlon the weekend before. I couldn’t let you be a triathlete before me! Your bravery helped me in my race. It truly did. If you weren’t brave enough to sign up for your triathlon, I might not have ever done mine.

You ran that run and you biked that bike with a speed and intensity I’ve never seen before. You went into the transition areas like a pro. The only small problem you had was with your swim. You got a tiny bit overwhelmed and needed help crossing the pool.

And my sweet angel? I was still so very proud of you. But, I knew when I saw you needing help that you were not going to be proud of yourself. When I got to you after the swim, you were heartbroken. You just kept crying because you were so sad and so upset with yourself. And my precious darling – this broke my heart. You were so upset with your swim you were unable to see how amazing you did just being there yesterday. You were unable to see how proud your family was of you. Your big brother got out of bed at 7am to see you and he was proud because he’s 18 and has never done what you did! Your little brother was proud because he is still riding his bike with training wheels! Your grandparents and your aunt and uncle have never even done triathlons before either! They were so impressed! And your Daddy? I’ve never seen him so proud of you. Never. He looked at you and was just overcome with how awesome you were. He was smiling bigger than I’ve ever seen him smile. He was so very proud of you.

No one thought anything bad about your swim. No one. We all looked at you and saw this amazing girl do this amazing thing and our hearts were all bursting with pride.

I hope you will truly try to remember that. I know you want nothing more than another chance to do better. And that’s a great thing. That will make you a great triathlete in your life. But I hope you will always try to look past any of your struggles and learn to be proud of even getting out there and doing it. You may not win. Sometimes, you may not finish. But, if you were brave enough to start, you should always be proud of yourself. There will be people who are your age right now, they will live to be 100, and they will never feel brave enough to do a triathlon. Yet there you were, at 7-years old, doing one.

You are my inspiration. You are my hero. You make ME want to be better. Be stronger. Be faster. Please, always know that. And I will help you in whatever way I can to reach your goals, but I will also always be there to remind you how amazing you are, no matter how you do on race day.

Your PaPaw, my Daddy, had a favorite saying: “The journey is the reward.” I want you to try to remember that. The fact that you signed up, that you trained, that you participated…those are all parts of your reward. That was your journey. That finish-line was just the end of that one challenge, but the reward was all of the hard work you did getting to that finish line. Everyone in our family is so proud of you our hearts hurt. We don’t even care that you needed a little bit of help. You were braver at age 7 than we all are as adults. Please don’t ever forget that.

Your #1 Fan,
Mom.

Seriously. Don’t Read This Post.

At least if you’re a boy. Seriously. If you’re a boy this will be too much for you and feel free to come back tomorrow when I talk about my new favorite TV shows.

Or, if you’re a woman who does not want to hear about the nightmare it is living with my reproductive system, feel free to turn away.

I am writing this entry because I don’t feel like my husband truly understands the misery I’ve been living this week so I need to tell other people (WOMEN) who will hear this and give me the, “Oh…hon. Bless your heart…” I’ve been needing.

But seriously. I’m going to be as delicate as possible but my endometriosis and fibroids have been making my live beyond miserable this week and it’s not pretty. This your last chance to turn away. TURN AWAY!

So, in reality, uterine fibroids and endometriosis both cause reproductive misery. Anyone who suffers from either deserves a huge hug. Although, menorrhagia (extremely heaving menstrual bleeding) tends to be associated with fibroids and the severe pain (including pain for the 2 weeks before menstruation) tends to be associated with endometriosis. Since I have been diagnosed with both, it tends to blend together for me. (AWESOME.)

Since my miscarriage and D&C last summer, I feel like every menstrual cycle has been worse than the one before. This is why we’re moving forward with the ablation. (First appointment? July 17th, hopefully we’ll schedule the procedure soon after!) But this month has reached new levels of awful.

First of all – before these last few months it’s always been the pain that keeps me home. The menorrhagia sucks, but the pain sucks worse. But since the miscarriage? The bleeding started becoming worse than the pain. And the pain didn’t subside at all, the bleeding just got worse.

For those of you wondering what the exact definition of menorrhagia is, here’s a good one, “A normal menstrual cycle is 25–35 days in duration, with bleeding lasting an average of 5 days and total blood flow between 25 and 80 mL. A blood loss of greater than 80 ml or lasting longer than 7 days constitutes menorrhagia.” For those of you not fluent in menstruation blood flow, a tampon holds about 5ml. So, a normal period would – just using basic math – use anywhere from 5-16 tampons over the course of a 5-7 day cycle. I’ve used more than that for 10 years. To me, that doesn’t even sound like a period.

But these last few months? It’s been ridiculous. I used to have one day where I used a tampon every hour. That’s bad. That’s menorrhagic. After the miscarriage? That increased to 2 days. And then the last few months the hour decreased. I stopped being able to even go an hour without a backup pad to go with my tampon. Let’s not discuss how many races I had to run this year with a pad and a tampon because I’m lucky enough to have settled into a 28 day cycle where the worse days were always Saturdays. BAH. (My cycle has stretched a bit now, thank god.) This month though? 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. For three days now I’ve had to be prepared for a bathroom trip every 20 minutes. Now, that’s not all day. All day I’m still at about an hour. But for 2-3 hours once or twice a day I can’t leave the house. And I don’t know when that’s coming. I can just feel it. THREE DAYS I’ve basically been trapped in my home. I had to leave yesterday to take Nikki to the doctor and ended up making a big mess of myself because I had to stop and get an Rx for her on the way home and misjudged my timeline.

TWENTY MINUTES.

Last night I went through four super plus tampons in under 2 hours. I was crying about this to Donnie and he was as sympathetic as he could be, “That sounds awful…” but, you know, he just doesn’t get it. Which is why I had to vent here. I need someone to feel REALLY SORRY FOR ME. I know! That’s so selfish! But, dammit, I’m sitting on towels everywhere I go! I’m doing a load of my own laundry a day! I’ve gone through FOUR BOXES OF TAMPONS in the last 10 days because. TWENTY MINUTES. I feel like I just need to say that over and over again. TWENTY MINUTES. That’s how fast I’m going through tampons. There have been several times in the last 3 days where I’ve bled over 20 mL in 2 hours. When the “average” period ranges from 25mL-80mL for the ENTIRE CYCLE. I’m certain I’ve come close to 80mL a day for the last 3 days. If someone tested me now I’m certain I’d be anemic. I have no energy. I’m depressed. I JUST WANT THIS PERIOD TO BE OVER WITH ALREADY.

The good thing is? I work from home now. I can do my job. I used to work in an office and if it was this bad I would just not go into work. I also can take regular baths and use a heating pad and wearing gross clothes I don’t mind messing up. But seriously. MISERY. Every morning I’ve woken up thinking surely TODAY it lightens up some and I’m hopeful for today. Three heavy days is the most I’ve ever suffered through, I’m praying things are better today. But who the hell knows. It’s like my reproductive system knows I’m getting ready to burn the SHIT out of it with an ablation and it wants to treat me to one or two REALLY DREADFUL months before hand, to make sure I’m truly comfortable with my decision.

So…thank you for letting me whine. I’m sorry if I grossed you out. I’m hoping anyone who would be grossed out stopped reading early on.

July 17th. We’ll talk to the doctor, get a checkup, see where we’re at and come up with a plan that starts with an ablation and possibly ends with me yanking out my reproductive system with some BBQ tongs.

(Too much?)

Either way – by the end of the summer I will hopefully get to live a normal life again. One not trapping me in my home for several days a month. One not involving toxic levels of ibuprofen and 6 outfit changes in one day.

Next Up? Birkenstocks!

How adorable do my babies look in this picture? They're so tiny! And angelic looking! What happened?

How adorable do my babies look in this picture? They’re so tiny! And angelic looking! What happened?

I did a lot of thing in my early years in college due to peer pressure. I found a crowd I really wanted to be a part of, so I did everything I could to assimilate into that crowd. I wore long floral skirts, I put hair wraps in my hair, I obsessed over the Grateful Dead, and I stopped eating meat.

That last one was really the only one I look back on as a positive change in my life. I mean, I’m glad I lived that life for awhile, but DAMN…hippies are JUDGMENTAL. God forbid you listen to top 40 radio or shave your legs.

(I shaved my legs.)

I remained a vegatarian for 5+ years, even doing a brief stint as a vegan in an effort simply to see if I could do it. But then, life got crazy, I fell in love with a meat-eater, and all of that fell to the wayside.

The problem is, I have always missed being a vegetarian. I stuck to it for as long as I did for several reasons.

  1. Health: I was forced to make healthier decisions. Now, when life got crazy with a kid, school, and work…I found myself eating more crackers out of the vending machine than vegetables. That’s part of the reason I gave it up. But when I had time to think and plan? I planned well. I ate well.
  2. Global Economy: It always felt weird that many of the pounds of ground beef we ate were raised on land that could have been used to harvest grain for the local starving people. I was never a big fan of the global impact of the meat industry. That weighed heavier on me than any of the “animal cruelty” arguments did.
  3. Pride: I know it sounds like a lame reason, but I was always proud to be a vegetarian. I can’t really explain why, but I loved wearing that label.

    The pride thing is the one that hits me the most. And as silly as it sounds, it’s the part that always has me thinking about going back to the meatless lifestyle.

    Here’s the thing. It’s summertime here. I’m addicted to Farmer’s Markets. I get to roast the SHIT out of some fresh veggies (my favorite method of cooking all vegetables: ROASTING!) every night and the fruit is beautiful and ripe. I was thinking last night that the only reason I was eating the pork on my plate was because I felt like I should, but in reality I just wanted to put more zucchini in the spot on the plate.

    There are times when I love meat. And I don’t ever hate it, but in reality? I’ve always been more of a veggie/meat/grain kind of gal. Like last night, I wanted to skip the meat but I didn’t because that just felt…weird.

    So…why not? Summertime in Alabama is a great time to give up eating meat. There’s so many options to choose from. I’ve been reading up on how to be an athlete without meat. And I need some inspiration in the kitchen.

    Am I making some sort of permanent life change? Hell no. Since when did those ever work for me? Nope. Right now, I’m giving up eating meat. I’m going to see if I can manage it and still keep my family fed their omnivore diets. I’m going to research fueling on plants and grains. I’m going to roast the SHIT out of some vegetables. And just see if I can gain back some of that pride over my diet.

    It’s silly, but the more I analyze my relationship with food, the more I try to make decisions that encourage good feelings about food instead of bad. So, going with a plan that allows me to be proud of what I’m eating? Seems like a good instinct to follow.

The End Of An Era

threenewborns

Three Newborns, In Order Of Appearance To The Zoot Family

I’ve discussed before that the last miscarriage I had was the last straw for me emotionally. The 10 weeks of anxiety followed by the eventual loss nearly broke my heart. Each miscarriage seemed to be harder for me to “get over” but that last one was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I needed professional help. That, combined with my constant state of reproductive hell due to endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts – and I settled in to really wanting to give up on any more kids and to have an ablation. Unfortunately, Donnie wasn’t on the same page yet.

Well, a few weeks ago Donnie wrote out his Five Year Plan to map out his Ironman goals and his Master’s Degree goals. No where on the plan did it allow for more kids. When I pointed this out he admitted that he’s kinda settled into the same view I had. That if we could just be given a kid sans anxieties or miscarriages, we’d take one in a heartbeat. But he didn’t want to see me go through another eventual loss. He also has noticed that my “good days” every month are getting fewer and fewer. And my “bad days” are getting worse and worse. The pain and the hemorrhaging some days make it so I can’t be away from my home for more than an hour at a time, and seeing your wife cry from the kind of pain she could have surgically remedied? Starts to make you shift your perspective.

But mostly? He’s enjoying our life sans young children. He likes being able to think into the future and make plans without having to consider the delay another baby would add.

So, it’s time. I really feel like he’s at peace with it, which means I don’t have to fear it hanging over our marriage for the rest of our lives. I’ll go for my checkup/consult and we’ll make the plan. I’d like to have the ablation done before the summer is over so it won’t interfere with my fall/winter training. Then we keep track of things and see if that gives us a substantial improvement. If it does? That will hold me over for years. If it doesn’t? We’ll talk about removing pieces of the reproductive system that has made my life all sorts of hell outside of the three healthy children I brought me.

I am – honestly – equally relieved and sad about this. I’m relieved – and almost happy – to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. This week has been a bad one especially. I was in tears last night I was in so much pain and let’s not talk about the concern I had about needing a transfusion at the substantial blood loss. Yesterday was REALLY bad, but this whole last 10 days has been pretty shitty. So, yeah, thrilled to maybe start a normal life with normal amounts of pain and discomfort. But – oh my god – I’m also so very sad. We bought this huge house so we could grow into it. I bought an 8-person dining room table. We have a minivan. We made all of these SPACIOUS decisions allowing for another child or two and now? We’re done. Officially.

We still have always considered fostering children. My parents were foster parents before I cam around and I would love to carry that on someday. So none of that space will be wasted, but the intention is dead. And if I said that didn’t break my heart, I’d be a big fat liar. Because it does. But this whole journey has had it’s share of heartbreak. Each miscarriage took a bit of my heart with it, and that heartbreak doesn’t go away. The sadness over the loss of any future children…that will heal. That’s what I keep telling myself. We can officially move on to the next phase of our lives. The, “We don’t have to add a ‘What if’ to all of our plans…” phase. We don’t have to feel bitter at other people’s pregnancies. We don’t have to save baby clothes and toys. We don’t have to figure out where a new kid will sleep.

But most importantly? I don’t have to live through another miscarriage. A that’s the key. I don’t want to get into the dark place I went to after my last loss, and I don’t want to see how much darker it gets down there.