“But I am a woman! I am supposed to have babies!”
And so began my desperate attempt to the second fertility specialist I had visited that month. There is too much to discuss about who said what but suffice it to say that no one was listening to me nor were they interested in my family history of all the female members on my father’s side having the same conditions as me and all conceiving naturally. I could not have children without chemical treatment they said due to my sever P-cos. Having just lost my beloved father-in-law to cancer, my husband was having a very difficult time accepting this news. So in the underground parking lot of the fertility clinic my husband, then fiancé, turned to me and said with absolute finality that we have to, we must have children. Now this stressful statement, along with living and working in another city, commuting to Johannesburg and back daily, having to sell up my happy home on the mountain in Pretoria I shared with all family, cousins and friends all through my College and work years to move to Johannesburg and start anew and having just commenced studying again all eventually took its toll. It was in that second, in the cold grey unhappy parking lot that I realised that this was not the finale to my life. I knew, knew with every fibre of my being that I could have children when the time was right. I also knew that I was not ready to have them-my body just could not deal with the colossal task at that time. My body was not a robot for me to command it to fall pregnant and it willingly and immidiately doing so. And more than anything else, I knew that if my body was unaccepting at that moment in time, how on earth was it going to react to invasive, chemical therapy and how long would it take to process this new stress and more importantly would the therapy result in a new found illness? I knew what I had to do.
I do not always follow my own advice. I had already commence the study of Clinical Nutrition and the Human Body and knew full well the wondrous abilities all our bodies have if given the chance. And that chance was just to stop. Stop being the crutch for every person’s struggle, be the strength when everyone else was weak and to stop pushing myself when I was tired, body, mind and soul. More importantly, I commenced following my own advice and started a new way of eating. A life plan if you will. Small, slight, easy, logical and realistic changes. No more chemical, processed, high sugared and GMO foods. I also started working on my sleeping patterns, which became easier the longer I was on my new eating plan. I still had the occasion chocolate, Nandos and pizza etc. The key word being occasional. Nothing much changed – we still frequented our favourite eateries and cafes. I only snacked on raw foods through the day and drank good clean water. I became more active and made more time for myself – “me” time, if you will. Four months after this way of life, as March 2011 was in its first week, I found out I was five weeks pregnant with my first son. Exactly two years later I was pregnant again with my second son. They are born on the same day.
Please take note that I in no way feel negatively toward any professional Medical Doctor. Many a doctor has aided my loved ones and me. They are always a great source of relief and help and I am indebted to them a million times over. But they too sometimes get it wrong. And that’s okay because we are all human, made of flesh and bone and at times, get it wrong. Besides, only you really know what you need and what is best for you. The natural route is not for everyone nor will it work for everyone. Same can be said for fertility treatment. It has had much success and failures but again it is a path that only you know which to take.
So after all of this I decided to study, research and interview whoever was interested in assisting. You can read the testimonials to see some of the ladies that aided me as well as my own story and some case studies. I also found much research relating to very slight changes or adjustments that saw scores of women conceive naturally, some after years of trying with and without the use of fertility therapy. There was no main thread linking all these loose ends but, in my opinion and after much focus and research I did find there to be three main attributers to falling pregnant naturally. They were stress, nutrition and psychology. I found that if the three factors were in balance it was a definite and sure big step in the right direction. Lifestyle, genetics and medical conditions such as P-COS, Endometriosis and with some ladies, weight, also featured as negative factors regarding the ability to fall pregnant but these almost always and to some extent rectified or healed when the three main factors listed above were in sync.
I also realised that financial strain, family pressure, marital stress and a big loss of confidence were major attributes to factors relating to infertility in women and continued failure to conceive whilst on fertility treatment. Financial strain seemed to top the list. Examples are if the couple could afford a child, with one partner for and the other against it. Colossal medical aid expenses, if they opted for treatment, which is not covered by the medical aids so that was a major source of conflict. Guilt was also added to financial strain as the infertile partner felt like good money was being squandered on something they should have been able to do naturally. Can you see the negative knock-on effect taking place? After this comes the loss of confidence as a “real” woman can and should conceive naturally. Then the marital stress comes along as being infertile is very stressful to a couple. This in turn causes fear of abandonment, guilt, fear and stress. Added to this comes the family pressure of why there are still no grandchildren, what is taking so long, blame on either sides of the family and so forth. This last factor is very prevalent in South African ethnic groups.
Research and making contact with various professionals at Universities, colleges and institutions the world over made me realise that the body does not want much to function at its optimum capacity. The slightest stress can cause havoc. We have just become so accustomed to dealing with stress everyday that we don’t even realise we are, in fact, constantly under some form of stress and pressure. A great example of how stress affects conception was published in the Human Reproduction Journal. Hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine rise and remain high during stressful times and it affects infertility differently in each woman (the research was conducted on women only). It found that pregnancy occurred more when couples felt good, happy and relaxed. It occurred less when couples felt tense and anxious. This is only one example. There are many.
Do I believe that every woman can fall pregnant naturally regardless of their medical conditions? I don’t know the answer to that. I have witnessed miracles – of such magnitude that the very doctors who could not assist one woman in particular to conceived after eleven years of fertility treatment as well as having to deal with a very aggressive fibroid tumour, delivered these wonder babies and themselves stated that it has been the first time in their 20,30,40 year careers that this has happened. The wonder woman in question is my sister Georgia. After a thirty day fast and lifestyle change of mostly raw foods as well as changing her psychology of bearing children as the end all and be all of her life, fell pregnant twice, thirteen months apart and giving birth to two of the most perfect and beautiful pigeon pair of angels I have ever seen. A visit to her facebook page or a quick chat to any one of the five local and international fertility specialist will attest to this wonder. And she is only one of many.
The more we search for such success stories the more we find them. Can it really be so hard? The more I look into it the more I see very clearly that no, in fact it is not. How many times have we heard that an infertile couple finally adopted a child to love, only to fall pregnant almost straight after? I believe this is because the psychology has changed from “I must have a child, I am failing as a woman, I am under pressure and stress, I am unhappy”, to “I am finally a mother, I have a child to love, I am successful as a woman and mother, I am happy”. The stress and pressure is gone. The body responds by this relief of pressure and stress by conceiving. And how often have we heard of couples finally accepting that having children of their own is impossible and moving on with their lives only to find a few months down the line that they are expecting? They just stopped. They stopped the unnecessary anxiety, pushing their bodies to do what it couldn’t do at the time. I believe that we have the majority control over our bodies as we do our minds. All we now have to do is get all the information available to us from all methods of healing – medical, nutritional, holistic etc and choose what is right for us.
Believe in the beautiful power of your body. It is after all, the most perfect machine ever created. It was not constructed by any human being. And that is a very comforting thought.