This week (April 19-25th) is National Infertility Awareness week. Infertility is a very common condition affecting 1 in 8 couples.
I’m writing this today to share my journey with this issue. I feel my story is one that could offer understanding to those unfamiliar with this issue, as well as support for those going through it.
Many people that go through infertility feel alone, or that they are the only ones going through this. This is my opportunity to say, you are not alone, and to help others feel more comfortable reaching out.
My journey will be different from others, and what worked for me may not work for other people. Sharing some of my experience is just for information and options; it is not the only way.
So, it’s time to get real!!
You’re going to learn some things about me you probably did not previously know. Oh, the drama!! It will seem very sad at first, but remember that it has a happy ending for us (Pookie!!)!!
But do keep in mind that for some people, it doesn’t, or hasn’t ended with a child and they’ve had to change their idea of what their family and life will look like in the future.
So, let’s rewind back several years to 2008. We thought we had waited for the perfect time to have a baby, but after about a year of trying, it became clear something was going on. We needed some assistance.
I was sent to an infertility specialist who provided me with a rather stark look at my condition and future. I was told I would never be able to have children without medical intervention. They wanted to jump in right away with some procedures.
This is definitely not what we had in mind when we dreamt about starting a family.
The feelings were overwhelming. A mix of complete devastation at being told I couldn’t have children naturally, shame for not being able to do the one thing my body is designed to do, guilt for being the one with the problem, and sadly, instant revulsion at every pregnant woman, mother, and child I saw. It was intense.
We went ahead with the procedure and my body did not react well. It was clear that medical intervention was not the path for us in building our family.
This realization was both terrifying and incredibly freeing at the same time. Terrifying to think, “What if we never get to have our own children? What if there is never a little Rob and Amy?”
But it was also freeing because I felt a quiet voice deep inside myself saying, “You can do this.”
All of this in retrospect was a huge blessing in disguise because it was the beginning of my journey to find health – not through medicine, but through connecting and trusting my body.
This is when I first saw an acupuncturist. I was very skeptical and scared (I hate needles). I also felt apprehensive about trusting my health to something that seemed so unproven and “hokey”. I will not be a Kool-Aid drinker!
However, that first appointment was the beginning of my new life. In one appointment I received health care attention that I had never received before. I got answers. I got tools to get better. And it was ME that would do it. My body. Not a medication. In that moment, I got my power back.
Within a few months of acupuncture and a special diet, I was pregnant – naturally without any medical intervention!
It was beyond exciting and the little voice inside was confirmed. I could do this! My commitment to diet and health was solidified at that moment. That was the answer for me.
Unfortunately, at our first ultrasound appointment (10 weeks), we received heart-breaking news. The baby hadn’t made it. There was no heartbeat.
I remember going to that appointment with a sick feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I just felt “off.” When the screen came up and we saw the baby, I knew immediately. The tech didn’t say anything, just excused herself and said she would be right back. I knew it was bad news.
When the tech returned, she told us the situation and we were crushed. All that hope and joy – drained and gone. My heart aches whenever I think of it.
My body still thought it was pregnant. I still had all the signs and symptoms. All seemed fine. But it wasn’t. This is what the medical community affectionately calls a “missed abortion.” I call it a “missed miscarriage.”
I was given several options for “aborting” the fetus, none of which seemed right for me. I didn’t know what to do, but I trusted my gut again and decided to return to where I had had the best results – my acupuncturist. He gave me a treatment and some herbs and within two days, my body passed the baby naturally.
As a side note, it’s strange to have a very small lost life in your hands. Our culture doesn’t have a plan for this. It’s too little for a traditional funeral, burial, or cremation, yet we needed to do something. We resolved this by having our own cremation for our lost baby, and all the hopes and dreams that came with that baby, at a campfire in the woods. I’m so glad we did that because it gave us both an incredible amount of closure. We could move forward.
We didn’t tell many people about that pregnancy or the experience at the time. It was just too much. Too much hope, too much pain, just too much.
So fast-forward through many years of continued trying, continued search for the highest level of health not only physically, but mentally as well. We suffered a few more early miscarriages and several derailments of health and caring about health (i.e., eating boxes and boxes of cookies). I also brought Western medicine back in to help with a few things.
After our year of travel, I immediately set up appointments to begin acupuncture and started seeing an integrative physician. My physician sent me to a lady to resolve underlying anxiety issues that I hadn’t fully realized I had, and from there he put me on a special diet (The Gundry Diet). After three months post anxiety treatment, being on this crazy diet, and receiving weekly acupuncture, I got pregnant. That was in March 2013.
So here we are, in present time. This little girl, our Pookie, is here. Alive, well, happy, and incredible.
Although it’s been a hard journey to bring her into our family, I am thankful for the many lessons I’ve learned along the way and the different paths we’ve had to explore. I feel I am a much healthier, much stronger person now, which will make me into a mother that I never could have been before.
My take away is that we have no guarantees in life. No guarantees of what we get to receive. No guarantees of the time we have with others. I am thankful for everyday I have with this little girl. I don’t know how long we will have together – whether it is a few more days or many decades – but I love her just the same and treasure every moment. It’s the beauty and tragedy of life.
Also, I don’t think that acupuncture or “just getting healthy” is the solution to this issue. It’s complicated and I had to use a variety of tools along the way.
I will conclude with one piece of advice. If you know, or suspect, anyone is experiencing a journey similar to mine, or is experiencing anything in life that is particularly hard, please remember to focus on the person, not the action that is happening. None of us know what to say to people in these situations, and many times people try to rationalize it, which just makes it more unbearable (i.e. “Well, this one just wasn’t meant to be…”).
I feel the following are suitable and wonderful things to say:
– You are strong and brave.
– You are beautiful and my thoughts/prayers are with you.
– I’m sorry you are going through this. I love you.
Please share this with anyone who you feel would benefit.
National Infertility Week is about bringing awareness to this issue and offering support to all those affected. If you’re interested in learning more, please visit Resolve’s website.
I’d also like to share my absolute favorite female health book: “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I feel EVERY female of child-birthing age should read this book regardless of your current plans or non-plans for children.
If you want to know more about the health professionals I worked with to achieve my health and family, please email me.
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