My story is not unique. Divorced parents, some depression, acting out and abusing my body with unhealthy habits. Mindless adolescent behaviors led to an absence of monthly periods that lasted from teenage years well into my 30’s. Possibly I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), possibly I have hypothalamic amenorrhea (a term used when the pituitary shuts down and stops producing key hormones), or possibly I have a hybrid of both. Regardless of the official diagnosis, I was told I could not have a baby without drugs or help from the western medical system. So I gave up on the idea of wanting a child because I was stubborn and wanted to do it my way, without any outside assistance – medications, technology, etc. And I didn’t want to deal with the reality that things may not go according to MY plan.
When you reach a certain point, maybe its through a moment of despair, you can start to let go. When I was about 37 years old, things naturally began to shift. I let go of needing to be safe, of needing to be in control. I let go of routine and welcomed change. I nourished myself in ways I’d never done previously with blood building, and Kidney tonifying foods and herbs. I slowed down with my ashtanga practice. This physically strong practice that was as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth, was also interfering with my menstrual cycles. I decided to treat my thyroid even though my lab values were considered normal by medical standards. Slowly my periods returned after being absent for almost 15 years. They were long and irregular but they were back. Three irregular cycles later, I was pregnant. My partner and I were shocked. So was my gynecologist. However, as with what happens to many couples, the little light did not stay. Twelve weeks later, my body expelled the tissue in the most painful night of my life. It was savage and sad.
Recovering from a loss is not easy physically or emotionally. It is a painful reality that I share with hundreds of thousands of women who are on their way to parenthood. Every period that comes is like a small death when you’re trying to conceive. Month after month of disappointments break you down. Sometimes in that dark, low moment you can feel peace. I felt that peace for a second after I had the miscarriage. Then a week or two later I felt it again for a minute or so. That peaceful feeling started to grow roots and I knew I could always find it inside. It was a deep understanding that whatever happened after the miscarriage was all part of the journey, regardless of whether or not I birthed my own child. I had grieved and felt excited to move on.
Professionals will tell you that you can’t have children because your eggs are too old or the numbers on your lab tests are too high or too low. With good intentions, family and friends can tell you to “just relax and it will happen!” Google can scare you. Facebook can make you sad. The whole experience can be exhausting to the spirit. Holding on even tighter, gripping with all your strength to something that is ultimately out of our hands shuts down the flow of life. This is how emotional stress gets in the way of conception. Stress can literally tell your body it’s not safe to have a baby.
Everyone talks about letting go. To let go of something requires being aware of what you’re holding onto. For me, I held on to being safe and sticking with predictability. Two and a half years ago, an opportunity came to create a beautiful space for my acupuncture practice with my two dear friends Maria and Joe. There is zero predictability in starting a new business. It was a scary thing to walk away from a practice that I knew and loved, but deciding to move on encouraged a profound growing experience. And the week we opened our clinic, after years and years of infertility, I became pregnant with my now 1 and a half year old daughter at 39 years old. Another shock because my energy and resources going towards birthing the business, and I had also inadvertently let go of trying to have a baby.
This is my personal story. While on some level, anyone struggling to conceive can benefit from cleaning up their diet, balancing their lifestyle, optimizing their thyroid levels, and reducing stress levels, there are hundreds of ways to support healthy conception. These will depend on your unique story. I utilized my experience as a health care practitioner to guide my journey. I urge you to be your own health advocate because nobody will care as much as you do. Do the research to find someone you trust. Run your labs with a functional medicine specialist, eat foods that are fitting for your constitution and lifestyle, find ways to let go of worry and instead let it bridge creativity, learn how to de-stress. There is potential for change in every situation, regardless of anyone’s diagnosis or opinion. This journey will become much more than just about how to get pregnant.