The Fertility Journey
You've been there before-perhaps dozens of times. The ovulation indicator shows you are nearing your surge, and what started out to be a sense of excitement in your body has come to be replaced by an unmistakable feeling of tension and foreboding. A million thoughts and feelings swirl through your mind and body: "Will I be able to conceive this time?" "Why is this so difficult?" "Am I unworthy to bear a child?" "Why is it that everyone else can get pregnant but me?" "Did I wait too long?" "Am I too old?" "Why is it that I can be successful at everything else I do, but not this?" "What is everyone going to think if I can't get pregnant?"
These are some of the heartfelt emotions expressed by my fertility clients, women who are frustrated and grief-stricken by the inability to conceive, women who are asking the question: could there be something else in my psyche that might have been overlooked in the standard approaches to treating infertility.
Millions of women are struggling with the dilemma of a "diagnosis" that has been handed them: "unexplained infertility" or "old eggs" or "high FSH," and a one size fits all solution: stimulation drugs, intrauterine insemination (A technique, commonly referred to as an IUI, where sperm is injected through a flexible catheter directly into the uterus.), in-vitro fertilization (A medical technique, commonly referred to as an IVF, where follicles are retrieved from a woman's body, fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, and then the fertilized eggs are put back into a woman's uterus.), donor eggs and medical treatments and procedures that feel unnatural, come with a very high price tag and often fail. But for the woman who feels that this is simply not what she can embrace either morally, physically, financially or emotionally, too few alternatives have been available.
My first infertility client told me the same story that I've heard hundreds of times since that day: she had been told by a fertility specialist that she would never conceive naturally due to poor egg quality, but she could undergo an IVF procedure with fertility drugs, artificial hormones and donor eggs and then she would have a fairly good chance of having a baby. But this particular client didn't want to use drugs or medical procedures or donor eggs. She wanted to conceive naturally and have a baby her own way.
So, we started her program by reducing stress through meditation. We worked with a visualizing process where she created the conception in her mind. We incorporated mind/body healing techniques that were based on both Eastern and Western medicine, and most importantly, we focused on identifying and processing the deep-seeded issues that appeared to be interfering with her conception.
After a few sessions her outlook changed: she believed in herself and that she could have a baby. Three months after she started working with me, she was pregnant naturally. Nine months after that, she had an amazing baby boy.
Since then, there has been a steady stream of people coming to work on their infertility, and as I worked with them, I began to notice patterns and trends. First and foremost, women struggling with infertility needed someone who believed in them and could be there for support. Many of the women had lost much of their confidence and self-esteem. Many of them felt defeated and no longer believed they could get pregnant. Many of them felt like they were letting everyone-husbands, families, in-laws-down. Many of them had been discouraged and incredibly saddened by the diagnoses they had received from their doctors. Many of them felt like for the first time in their lives they had failed at something they never imagined would be difficult. Many of them were blaming themselves and their infertility on things that they had done or experienced in their past. Many of them were putting intense pressure on themselves to try to somehow make this happen. Many of them talked about the sadness or depression that was becoming more and more difficult to overcome. Many of them were on the verge of giving up hope. Many of them were in a state of extreme stress because of the invasive tests, techniques, procedures and appointments. Many were simply heartbroken.
What I saw was a million emotions that had been building up during their struggle and no one there to help them heal those emotional wounds. And since the popular belief has always been that emotions have nothing to do with one's ability to conceive, what these women were given was more tests, more procedures, more drugs, more expenses and more feelings of frustration and defeat. In essence, they were being told was that their feelings and emotions were not important. But something about that message didn't feel right.
In the past, the medical community has acknowledged that stress and anxiety can be at the root of a myriad of physical disharmonies including migraine headaches, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel issues, acid reflux, skin rashes, insomnia, but when it came to infertility, the medical community generally took the position that the ability to conceive and carry full-term was strictly a physiological process and the mind and emotions had nothing to do with it.
Infertility is not simply a physical issue, and it's time to acknowledge the need to address the mental and emotional components that play a vital role in creating conception. Feelings, emotions, fears, frustrations, anxieties and stressors are all major factors in this very complicated process.