My Journey to Conception

belly shots week 23 x2

Over two and half years ago my husband and I embarked on what i knew was going to be a crazy adventure but had no way of knowing the course it would take to get where I am now. On the first of February, 2012 we decided to start a family and now on the first of February 2015 that small hope will become a reality.

Matt and I had already been together and married for over 5 years and in those last 2 years my clock had begun to tick louder and louder. Baby stuff would come up here and there and we would have minor discussions of if and when but knew we just weren’t ready to make that dive just yet. Matt wanted our home and income to be stable and l just needed the acknowledgement from myself and he that this would hopefully one day occur. I had an enormous stigma about pregnancy through years of fear of getting pregnant too young, having an wanted pregnancy, or feelings of judgment by others. A small part of me knew that I would need to overcome these ingrained thoughts and accept the beauty and want of conceiving and having a child.

I had many expectations of what I thought I knew about getting pregnant and was beside myself that very first night we tried. Everything that I had been taught had been drilled into me: “it only takes once!” “If you don’t use protection you’ll get pregnant” among other phrases to scare me into being extremely cautious and convinced that it would take no time. Not to mention that I was a surprise to my own parents. I never allowed myself to think that this could actually take time.

This became a reality after the first month of trying had gone by and the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth! I began to get nervous. This was not meeting my preconceived expectations. Was there something wrong with me, with him? Of course all of the information you get is if you are under 35 years of age then you don’t need to seek help until a year of trying. A year! Twelve months of depressing agony every time my cycle comes round and I don’t know why?! I tried to go in at 6 months just because I always had a certain feeling that maybe there was something preventing me from being able to conceive.

My mother had severe endometriosis and the doctor’s still scratch their heads as to how she had her children at all. This is technically genetic and I could fairly easily have this issue. But the doctor I visited was not ready to perform any tests and said “Just keep trying.” I was pissed.

I began to go to a Naturopathic Doctor convinced I would find something wrong with me. She did find that my progesterone levels were too low along with my cortisol. All of these hormones are interconnected and if one is off that can and does lead to reproductive imbalances including infertility. I began a regiment of heavy duty licorice extract (which if in strong enough form is basically a drug) and a pre-progesterone extract. At the same time I decided to visit my herbalist as I was dealing with minor weight issues, frequent migraines, and hypoglycemia. After a month of the naturopathic supplements my condition worsened exponentially where I was barely able to function the majority of the month.

My herbalist finally knocked some sense into me. I definitely have a hormonal imbalance issue reproductive and otherwise, however I had to look at my issues in a different light. Giving myself hormones whether naturopathic or allopathically is only throwing a band-aid on the crux of the issue. Once I start giving myself these hormones, over time my body will not see the need to produce them herself. I would perhaps reach my goal of getting pregnant if the hormones were the issue in the first, but I would have just created a whole new set of problems and my body would not be balanced naturally.

What I needed to address and correct was my basic health so I could begin on firm ground and adjust from there. I didn’t need to jump right into fixing my reproductive hormones but rather the more distressing issue of my sugar and digestive imbalance. Everything is connected in the body and if I am having insulin issues then that will certainly throw off everything else.

More and more I realized this was going to be a long haul and I needed to get myself in line before I even considered bringing another human being on board.

For the next year and a half I worked through herbs, diet, and exercise to recreate a healthy base line. Working with my liver and yes even some reproductive herbs to begin a balance, and ensuring adequate protein intake my symptoms began to disappear. My sugar lows and crashes dwindled to maybe one or two a month, my headaches were nearly gone, and my energy levels balanced out all within 4 months. I began biking to and from work 13 miles a day and watched my body tone and brighten. Magnesium, Vitamin B, and Fish Oil supplementation also helped kick things into gear and I was the healthiest I had ever been.

By the end of 2013 I was a new person. Fit, healthy, no recurring health problems and kept to my regiment with blinding faith. Come February 2014 I hit the 2 year mark of trying to conceive. I was officially infertile and was becoming depressed again now completely convinced there was something wrong with me physically.

We had of course checked out Matt and his sperm count was lower than normal but according to the doctor not low enough to be of any real concern. The only likely culprit for him was an unknown reason for hormonal imbalance. Matt doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke, work near chemicals (in fact he works in our house or outdoors), and so I decided to whip him up a male reproductive tincture focusing especially on his liver to help correct whatever issue might be there.

My gynecologist was stumped and said after 2 years you should have conceived by now. It’s time for further tests. Guess what most of those tests aren’t covered under insurance! We couldn’t even afford the first test they wanted to try and the fertility center requires a $600.00 deposit just to be seen for the first time. I was beyond frustrated. I wanted to conceive without the need for intervention and without the need to dish out thousands of dollars even before there was even the possibility of a child. We broke down in March and scheduled our fertility center appointment. I remember telling Matt “we need a miracle”.

Now at the beginning of 2014 I decided to finally try a couple of things that for whatever reason I was dragging my feet about doing. After all this time I only sort of knew when I ovulated. A high school friend of mine suggested an incredible book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

I knew that charting, temping, and checking cervical fluid was helpful but I just couldn’t get my head out of my ass to actually try! Well I tried it and was blown away by the information I could glean about my own body, the actual knowledge of how my system was working, and well taking charge! I have to convince myself not to go to “what if I had actually done this when I first started trying” because I would drive myself insane.

The author of the book said that if I didn’t get results within the first 4 months of trying then it would be best to seek further assistance. The first month went by, second, third, and the fourth. We even purchased that pre-seed lube to see if maybe we could help out these little swimmers a bit. I poured over the forum attached to the book online and read positive and not so positive stories. I read my chart over and over and was diligent about temperature taking. Also around this time I started charting I decided to try Susun Weed’s fertility tea blend of Raspberry Leaf, Red Clover Blossoms, and Stinging Nettle. I drank this infusion by the quart every day.

Then as the fourth month was about to slip by I noticed some strange things around the time I was supposed to bleed. I didn’t get the regular cervical mucous color- change that I see when I am about to start and I distinctly remember feeling very odd cramping right where my uterus should be – it was almost imperceptible and I was 2 days late.

Now I have been convinced SO many times before and never allow my mind and heart to hope. But this seemed different. Finally I had Matt take me to the store to get some tests because I never had them on hand (I hated taking those things) and came directly home to pee on a stick. This was evening time and I knew it was better to test in the morning but I bought two boxes so thought I would try again in the AM if it was negative.

A strange thing happened though. Where there is usually one horizontal line I began to see the faintest outline of a vertical one intersecting the first. I thought I was seeing things — but then it grew darker, and darker until I was staring at + sign. I calmly walked out of the bathroom, found Matt and said “Could you help me interpret this?” As calm as ever he said “Well, looks like a plus sign.” I honestly was in shock and just started laughing. Laughing at all of the lessons I had learned on this journey, laughing at the pain and heartache, and laughing from joy and fear that it was now a reality.

I am celebrating my 6 month mark this week. My goal of conceiving and bringing myself to healthy level with only herbs was achieved. I have had so far no complications and am radiating with health and that pregnancy-glow (or so I am told). I don’t know if there ever was physical problem and may never know and will probably never know why exactly it took so long. But I am glad it did. I have learned about myself and as the lifelong student that I am I now can take these experiences and help out the women in my community. There is still a fairly long road ahead until that day I can deliver this little bundle but I can take the time to feel proud and grateful for this journey.