Clove’s Training and Fertility Treatment Log: Week 1, Cycle Four

Nope, not celebrating a pregnancy.  But we ARE enjoying the many blessings and opportunities our lives present, each and every day.
Nope, not celebrating a pregnancy. But we ARE enjoying the many blessings and opportunities our lives present, each and every day.

The results are in – in the title, that is.  Week 1, Cycle Four, otherwise known as “An Introduction to Nun Piss and the Part Where Sh*t Gets Serious.”

But more on that later.

Saturday, May 18:  26.2 miles, Ogden Marathon.  I wake up with a bad crampy feeling and the sad (in this case) realization that my breast soreness has virtually disappeared overnight.  These are not good signs for a girl who desperately wants to be knocked up, but DB reminds me that I’m also not bleeding and it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.

The Ogden Marathon, normally an unbelievably beautiful jaunt through the most gorgeous of rural and mountainous Utah, is a brutally crap experience.    The weather is dark, low 50’s, and rain.  My group makes the best of it, and when Aaron starts telling us all the story about how his wife’s longest training run for the marathon was only 4.5 miles – because she was diagnosed with leukemia two days later – we all realize what a gorgeous day it really is.  Because we’re alive to see it.

I’ve got another major problem during the Ogden Marathon, though.  Remember all that drinking I did Thursday night?  It seems to have caught up with me, and between the soaking rains, the altitude and the imbibing (of non-alcoholic fluids), I’ve got myself a nice little case of mild hyponatremia.  I’m peeing rivers like a champ left and right, and have the swollen marshmallow hands to prove it.  I’m a bit prone to hyponatremia if I’m not careful, and I take salt on an hourly basis during 100’s, but here it is.  Luckily, there are bananas on course, and I know the potassium in those along with not drinking for the remainder of the race will be enough to get me to the potato chips in the hotel room.

Right, speaking of that whole thing.  I have a suspicious feeling when I get back to the hotel room, and it is quickly confirmed.  The fat lady is not only singing, but rapping like Nikki Minaj.  Lucky for me, knowing that Saturday was revised D-day, I took precautions before the race, saving me any extra indignity.  Except the part where I have those cramps that feel like my uterus is being ripped out of me while traveling with three guys.

Sunday, May 19:  5 easy miles on junior trail.  Hyponatremic much?  My weight is an astonishing 104, which is two pounds OVER my treatment weight.  Here’s the deal:  when I’m training for a 100 miler, my weight fluctuates between 96 – 98.  In the off-season, between 98 – 100.  When I’m doing fertility treatments, it gets up to 102 when I’m on the Prometrium, but that’s part of the game.  104 is … well, it’s a LOT of water.

DB initiates the “come to Jesus talk,” and basically gives me an out.  Tells me that the four months was arbitrary, and I’ve done really well, and if I want to take a break now and train for Burning River, he’s okay with that.  I know he’s being so kind and thoughtful, but instead it upsets me.  I’m trying so hard to maintain resolve, especially in light of yet another major disappointment, and being offered an out is almost more painful.  I end up telling him that it’s like I’m at mile 90 of a 100, and my pacer is telling me it’s okay to DNF.  The good that comes out of this conversation is our resolution that while we have to fully consider our finances, we can continue treatments this fall if we want to.  He definitely wants a break as much as I do, but if we don’t feel like we’re done – we don’t have to be.  We have three firm resolutions, none of which we have yet violated:  1.  If the doctors ever tell us we are reaching the point that the hormones could be harmful to my future health (i.e., reproductive cancers), we stop.  2.  We will not go into debt for these treatments, but do only those treatments for which we have saved or can pay for in cash.  No credit, no second mortgages, no going into investments.  3.  We do not feel IVF is the right path for us.

That drama over, we decide to have margaritas and chips for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant (note:  only the margaritas and chips) followed by enormous cups of frozen yogurt.  Because we’re grownups, and we can.

Monday, May 20:  Two back to back spin classes.  Weight down one pound to 103.  At 12:45 we have our baseline scan, but it’s with our favorite doctor and the one that oversees our care, so that helps.  His opening line is “So, what do we have to do to you to get you pregnant?”  Well, doctor, if we knew the answer to that question, you’d have a lot less of our money.  We have one major cyst on my right ovary again, about the same size as the one two months ago, but we do not have the additional signs that would indicate an early pregnancy.  Because it’s a single cyst and can be documented (and therefore not confused as a follicle during the cycle), he decides we can move forward – but with a new drug.  We are done with Follistim; while I “respond well” to it, it’s clearly not getting me pregnant.

We are moving on now to Bravelle, which is a purified form of FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone.  Follistim is the hamster/lab preparation, partly synthetic.  Bravelle is completely derived from human urine – nun urine, to be exact.  That’s right, it’s derived from the urine of post-menopausal nuns and is the purest human FSH you can get.  Much dark humor ensues between DB and I:  is this inspired, or sheer desperation?

Before he sends us to the nurses for our new injection instructions though, he gets a bit serious with us.  Has to make sure we understand that this is the last stop if we’re not going to do IVF.  This is the strongest and most pure that the ovulation induction drugs get – Plan A is Clomid, Plan B is Follistim, Plan C is Bravelle.  Plan D, he clearly states, is IVF.  Well, there’s also laparoscopy, which is where they pipe a camera into my abdomen to see if there’s anything (fibroids, endometriosis, scar tissue, etc.) they’re missing.  But with no history of disease, miscarriage or abnormal pap smears, a clear HSG and no surprises thus far on my ovarian and uterine ultrasounds, it’s highly likely they’ll go in, find nothing, and stitch me up.

Also not an option.  For us.

We get the new instructions, and while I know it’s important to pay attention, I don’t make it past more than “snap cap,” 1 ml, mix it up, shoot it in.  There are pros and cons both to the switch to Bravelle; on the plus side, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated, which is huge for the amount of travel that I do, and it’s actually about the same price.  On the con side, it has to be mixed every night, which adds a step, and the user-friendly epi-pen like device is gone – I’m dealing with real needles and syringes, every night.  There’s nothing like picking up a bag of two dozen needles to really bring a point home.

"The part where sh*t gets serious."  Yep, that about says it.
“The part where sh*t gets serious.” Yep, that about says it.

150 iu’s of Bravelle, suspended in 1 ml fluid.  Okay, for the next con:  this sh*t BURNS.  It subsides after about two minutes, and what do we expect?  After all, I’m pretty much shooting nun piss into my leg.  (Thank you, kind sister, for assisting us on this long journey).

I’m very worried that this is going to spell the end of my running for the month, as it’s the same needle I use for the trigger shot, which feels like Vin Diesel punching me in the quad.  I’ve been told to administer the shot differently, though – for this one, I’m to pinch the skin AWAY from the muscle, as opposed to relaxing the muscle and shooting it directly in.  Sounds like a load of horse crap to me, but hey.

Tuesday, May 21:  8 afternoon miles with DB.  Wake up with shrieking, piercing headache.  The good news:  the leg isn’t sore.  As a matter of fact, there’s no evidence of the injection at all.  But there’s no way I can run with this headache.  I take two Tylenol with a coffee chaser and manage to get to Pilates/core class an hour later.  Weight down another pound, but still hovering at 102+.  150 iu’s of Bravelle.

Wednesday, May 22:  8 morning miles with the neighborhood group and a single spin class.  Yay!  Headache is much more subdued this morning, so it looks like I’m going to adjust fine.  Get out for a fun run with the morning crew; weight is 101.6.  Not happy, but it’s progress. 150 iu’s of Bravelle.

A post-run selfie of me and my pineapple popsicle in the Lauderdale sun.  Apparently "floating my boat" also required scowling at the camera.
A post-run selfie of me and my pineapple popsicle in the Lauderdale sun. Apparently “floating my boat” also required scowling at the camera.

Thursday, May 23:  8 morning miles with the neighborhood group before heading out to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend.  Still have a minor headache, but it’s bearable without medication, and I’m down to 100 pounds, which is a welcome relief.  The trip to Lauderdale is built around DB’s Badwater training; he’s doing three consecutive days of 25 mile runs in the 80-degree heat, which has not hit Ohio quite yet.  But for a number of reasons, including dinner with a childhood friend of his (Rick) in celebration of Rick’s 50th birthday, we kick off the trip with champagne.  I am allowed.  When we spoke with our doctor on Monday, I explained that I am very “good” and take this very seriously – I drink only 12 ounces of coffee a day, I abstain from liquor with the exception of the first three days of my period, and I have accepted a 50% reduction in my mileage.  Now I am going on a (mini) vacation, and we know that I am not pregnant and I will not have ovulated.  I ask him about cocktails and running, both in the presence of DB, and he tells me that I should “go ahead and do whatever floats my boat.”  With the caveat, of course, that it ends when the plane lands back in Columbus Sunday night.  I’m not looking to go on a bender, but it’s definitely nice to let the restrictions go for a few days.  150 iu’s of Bravelle.

Friday, May 24:  8 hot(!) miles with DB along A1A (Beachfront Avenue!)  It is toasty warm, and I’m definitely feeling the heat in the last two miles.  I’m in shock that DB did so well before I joined him – the heat isn’t atrocious in and of itself, but we’re definitely out of practice with it.  We have fish tacos and slushy drinks at the pool to unwind, followed by a pizza feast on our balcony to carb up for the next day’s adventures.  150 iu’s of Bravelle.

Weekly totals:  63 miles (“floating my boat”), three hours of spinning, 750 iu’s of Bravelle.

Trail and adventure enthusiast. Girl who swears like a sailor but not when she's teaching Sunday School. Survived infertility without a successful pregnancy. Self-employed, primarily working for Clif Bar and Company. Thirteen 100-mile race finishes with seven top 3 placements. An original Saltine.

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  1. Oh arse. I knew there was no happy ending, but arse anyway. At least you got some champagne, that always makes me happy. And the nun pee did make me laugh a LOT!

  2. I’m sorry that that you’re moving onto cycle 4. I’m fascinated by the nun urine. Do they know why it’s being collected, I wonder.