Somewhere Over the Rainbow... by Lucy Cookman
Crossing the finish line to any marathon is quite honestly the most exciting, tiring and life changing moment. I remember coming round the final corner and seeing the finish sign in front of me, with Buckingham Palace behind me and thinking, ‘"I did it, I ran the London Marathon!"
You see running and fitness offered me a rainbow when I was stuck in a fog. I’m Lucy and over the last 10 years I’ve unfortunately suffered reoccurring miscarriages. However sad that is, I do always start a miscarriage conversation with, "I don’t want you to feel sorry for me". In fact, I don’t often talk about it, because I don’t want people to feel sad for me. I am very lucky with the life I have. I might not have the happy ending that I expected, but I have a husband who loves me, I have a job I love, a family who are always there, a house, friends, travel and running. So, although I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, I do have a story to tell. An important story. A story of a being stuck in a fog and searching for a way through it. I may not have that conventional happy ending, but I am happy. Really happy. So my story might just offer hope and a rainbow to help someone else out of their fog too.
Of course, like anyone who has been through any baby loss situation the reality is that it’s messy, and heartbreaking. But throughout a decade of multiple miscarriages, I found a way through the fog, and through the fog I found my rainbow. There can be a lot of dark moments during the whole process of trying and failing to have children, from the moment you hear someone close to you is pregnant, or sitting in a waiting room watching couples come out with their scan pictures (the ones you'll never get). There are lots of tears, lots of blood and a lot of moments of feeling like a complete failure. It is hard even now, to read of new research and other people’s successes after miscarriage, when you are getting no closer to ever having your own children. However, ‘the fog’ or the ‘dark place’ isn’t somewhere I like to be and I tend to search for happiness even in the darkest moments: noticing a snowdrop on a winter day or splashing in a puddle on the rainiest of days - my glass is always half full. For me, I literally ran my way out of the dark, ran my way to a happier place. Finding my way through took me to a whole world of adventures and happiness that I never imagined I’d find.
It's been two and a half years since I last miscarried. I’ve had all the tests, waited for answers, the perfect fix, and sat heartbroken while I was told by specialists that there were not any answers. I think that was the hardest thing to hear… that even after all that time, after reaching the three reoccurring miscarriages, there still was no answer. I hated being part of the “1 in 3 women” statistic, but hated even more that it wasn’t something they could fix. I hated my body for failing me so badly. At that point I had to step away and look after myself (and my husband). During Christmas, weeks after hearing there was nothing they could do, I had to make a change. I’d started down the same spiral I had gone down each time I’d miscarried. You see, after three miscarriages you become a little cold about the ‘process’. You know what your body will go through, you know how to keep it calm, you know what you need to recover, and to a certain extent, what you need to move on. Whilst out running I wondered what I could look forward to, if it wasn’t the anticipation of a baby. That although it fills you with dread each time you fall pregnant, there is the thought that maybe, just maybe, this time it will just be a success. So I made a decision. Instead of another year of failure, I would run more. I would box, lift heavy weights and step away from the baby world and do something with my body that I could control. Running had been the one place I could really smile, I could control a goal and achieve something, and with that I could make people proud of me. And perhaps more importantly, I could feel proud of myself. In that moment on a cold frosty run I decided I would make running my rainbow. The next week, having only run 13.1 miles 3 times and very slowly, I decided that I would run a marathon in 2018. Only 2% of the world had run a marathon and I would be in that statistic.
Now, I’m pretty determined as a person, but in May 2018, the hottest May bank holiday on record, I set off around the Milton Keynes marathon to run that marathon, with no idea whether I could complete it physically. But I knew I was stubborn and knew that I would get round one way or another! The reality was, it was the most wonderful day, and I genuinely was so very proud of myself. I felt pride like never before and from that moment, I caught the marathon bug! Now, I’m no sprint runner, I’m never going to win or come in the top 100, I’m not even going to come in the top 1000. In fact, I do sometimes wonder if I might even come last, but that’s the joy of running… it doesn’t matter. I’ve ended up over the last two and a half years surrounded by positive people, people who believe in me, and running has become such a happy achievement, in which my body never fails to amaze me. This feeling I couldn’t imagine feeling two and half years ago.
It didn't matter how fast I ran. What mattered, was that I did it, and felt happy. That first marathon was for me, it wasn’t for anyone else. Just me. It was about loving my body, pushing my body and moving on. Crossing the finish line was the moment I grabbed the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow! Running a marathon is hard, it’s probably up there with the hardest thing I have ever done. But anyone who has run a marathon will tell you, after you have finished, you literally think you can do anything. Still, when doing something new, I say to myself, "you have run a marathon Lucy, you have totally got this!"
Since 2018 I went on to run the London Marathon in 2019 and I am currently in training for this year's Stockholm marathon. Each run I do, each moment I feel the cold winter air on my face, or the warm summer breeze, I’m reminded that my legs are strong, my body is good, my heart is full. I am reminded that I am so lucky to have these moments. Getting up to run while the sun rises on the longest day of the year, crossing Tower Bridge whilst running the London Marathon, running in the Colorado National Monument on holiday in the USA, running barefoot in the Gower Peninsula in Wales, working out with the best group of “cheerleader” friends, all with different goals, but one amazing team… all these moments make my rainbow brighter, and they keep it shining.
People talk about a rainbow baby, post Miscarriage, for me it wasn’t that. But in searching, in trying to find my way out of the fog, out of the sad moments, I found a rainbow. Not the rainbow I expected, but my rainbow is full of friendships, smiles, moments that have taken my breath away. Like so many, fitness and exercise helped me find a way to move forward: determined and strong.
By Lucy Cookman