But I don't really think that's the whole story. I got the inspiration for this blog when reading
http://musingsofawannabemommy.blogspot.com/ yesterday, which made me painfully reminiscent of my infertility days from not so long ago. As I've probably contemplated to death over the past year on my blog, one of the things that was most difficult for me about infertility was not knowing what would happen, (would I ever become pregnant?) and not understanding why stupid sucky-face infertility was happening to me. I used to spend hours surfing the web, looking for a solution. Because good god! there were a lot of people on the Internet who had gone through infertility and gotten pregnant. Somebody had to know the secret. I actually remember finding teaser sites of couples who did "know the secret" and for the small fee of a few hundred dollars, would actually sell it to you. I hope those people catch a very bad case of diarrhea in public.
So now that I'm pregnant, do I know the secret? No. But having gone through it, and looking back on it, I do think I have a few insights to it that I couldn't see quite so clearly before. I don't think there is any one secret to overcoming infertility. I think that every one of us is different, and that infertility goes above and beyond the physical makeup of our bodies. I'll never be convinced that my experience with infertility was solely due to physical factors, especially since I still don't really understand what the physical problems were. Anyway, I do think there are a lot of things that helped me to get pregnant above and beyond that whole massive medical intervention thing. Maybe that's because I'm not a massive medical intervention kinda girl and it's just too hard for me to believe that after three painful years, the one and only answer was to let Western medicine take over. I think that the reality of it is that the right things came together at the right time. I found my secret recipe. And because we're all different, we probably all have different recipes.
So I don't have any massive revelation to make. Just that I think overcoming infertility is really about finding the right holistic recipe. And I'm not even sure I know the entire recipe. Because while I may over analyze every aspect of my life, I'm still on the outside looking out. But I thought it might be helpful to share my ingredients. Here they are:
- I joined an infertility support group. Nothing fancy...a small group of self-led, local women going through the same painful process. I had resisted this for a LONG time. Going to a group made infertility seem so real. I didn't want it to be real. But I finally gave in, got together with these women, and shared, and laughed, and cried.
- I got addicted to acupuncture. I went every day to a walk in acupuncture clinic which is much more affordable than the cushy one-on-one sessions that are lovely but for me, cost prohibitive.
- I cut out soy. I've always been quite the fan of tofu and soy products, until I started really looking at research on phyto-estrogens. I decided that my body didn't need any more synthetic hormones, and I cut out most soy products cold turkey a couple months before I got pregnant. I did continue to eat tempeh in good quantities, because it's fermented.
- I read. My two favorite books on the subject are "The Fertile Female" by Julia Indichova, and "The Infertility Cure" by Randine Lewis, Ph.D. "The Fertile Female" told me everything I needed to hear. It comforted me, and helped me to begin thinking of myself in terms of fertility, rather than INfertility. "The Infertility Cure" helped me to feel empowered. It made me feel knowledgeable about my body and offered many holistic solutions. I followed the instructions of this book pretty closely. Not everything made sense to me, so I took what I needed and left the rest.
- I purchased the guided imagery/meditation CD "help for infertility" by Belleruth Naperstek. I LOVE this CD series, and often miss how relaxed and comforted I felt when I listened to it. And I listened to it A LOT. Like, every day on my drive to and from work (almost two hours round trip) and many nights on headphones while I was falling asleep. I listened to this incessantly during every car trip to and from IVF appointments...especially before and after my embryo transfer.
- I followed (mostly) the dietary recommendations of my acupuncturist and "The Infertility Cure." For me, that meant cutting out sugar and cold foods.
- I DID NOT cut out alcohol. My wonderful OB/GYN gave me permission to do this...I'm so rigid sometimes that I actually needed permission to drink as I wanted. Most infertility advice tells you to cut out alcohol. If that works for you, great. But my doctor one day said to me, "Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you living like a nun? Have fun. If you live like you're pregnant each month, then each month when you find out you're not, how much more painful is that going to be? Relax, and have a glass of wine if you want a glass of wine." And I did. I had quite a few, in fact. And it was great. It helped me to live in and enjoy the present moment.
- I drank a lot of pomegranate juice before my embryo transfer. You're supposed to load up on fluid ahead of time to help aid in the transfer process. I chose pomegranate juice because of its antioxidant qualities because I was worried that maybe inflammation was hurting my chances of getting pregnant.
- I cried. Whenever and where ever I wanted. I gave myself permission to live fully through the emotions of infertility and to stop trying to control the experience. To the horror of some friends and family members, I made crass jokes about infertility when I was in the mood. Blogging helped in this process. Once you put it out on the Internet, well. For me, that helped solidify my commitment to living fully and honestly through it.
- I allowed myself to feel hateful and jealous toward pregnant people. Non-infertiles might not find this to be a redeeming quality. It's probably not. But good god, it's survival.
- I did a lot of fertility yoga. I followed the DVD, "Fertility Yoga" by Monica Morrell, Ph.D.
- I ran my ass off.
- I had very supportive friends and family, and a wonderful, accepting, loving husband.
I think there are more ingredients as well. But I'm ending the list here for now, because I just scrolled back and realized how long it is. I used to really hate it when pregnant or fertile people would tell me how to overcome infertility. "Just relax." "Stand on your head after sex." "I don't know what to tell you, all I have to do is look at a man and I get knocked up." This list isn't a list of recommendations, just a list of what was helpful for me. If it makes you feel better, then stand on your head all you want. I think that's actually what I'm really saying in all of this.