I have been working at Acubalance for over 11 years now. And I spent my first 7 years here, trying to become a parent as I helped my patients do the same. Looking back over the 7 years, it would seem like patience must have been part of the picture, and it was – but not without the rest of it too. There was just as much impatience, stubborn determination, frustration, anger, anxiety, grief, depression, envy, and a whole lot of fear. It was really hard. But I was fortunate to be in the care of the leading experts in the field. Dr. Emilie and my other colleagues at Acubalance collaborated with me on my case, and Dr. Beth Taylor was my main RE.
The first step for my partner and I was for each of us to optimize our reproductive health by optimizing our overall wellbeing with acupuncture, herbs, change in diet,exercise, yoga and meditation practice. In Chinese Medicine, we believe in cultivating the healthiest seed possible, and nourishing the soil before planting it. This was our starting point, and we continued to cultivate this healthy lifestyle throughout the seven years, which was a crucial empowering part of our process.
My partner was diagnosed with low motility and morphology, but we were able to improve his sperm parameters through acupuncture, herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes.
We will also be forever grateful to Dr. Taylor, Dr. Hitkari (who stepped in to care for us while Dr. Taylor was away) and the rest of their team too. They supported us with such genuine care. Once I felt strong and ready, I had surgery for removal of uterine polyps, and we pursued un-medicated and medicated IUI’s with oral and then injectable medications.
Throughout the 7 years, we conceived naturally once, only to have an early loss, and then conceived again with an un-medicated IUI after an operative hysteroscopy for removal of uterine polyps, performed by Dr. Taylor. Unfortunately we miscarried again after 2 months, and pathology revealed a chromosomal abnormality.
I had had a complication when I was 19 years old, when I haemorrhaged after a cervical polypectomy. I needed 2 blood transfusions and a subsequent surgical procedure under general anaesthetic. This experience was traumatizing for me, and as a result, I was terrified of surgical procedures. It took a lot for me to finally feel ready to face the intrauterine polypectomy to normalize my uterine cavity.
I relied on Chinese Medicine to prepare for the procedure and it made all the difference to know that I was in Dr. Taylor’s hands for the surgery. I felt secure and confident in her care. Her attentiveness and care was evident in her thorough follow-up after the surgery, as she presented me with photos taken inside my uterus during the procedure, and a carefully written note addressed to me, describing how the procedure went. I then followed up with post-operative Chinese Medical care, to help my body heal and recover from the procedure while also addressing the underlying pattern of imbalance that resulted in the polyps in the first place.
Despite how well the surgery went with Dr. Taylor, I still found myself paralyzed with fear when it came to the idea of IVF. Yet, I found myself over 6-years-long into the journey, I had done due diligence with taking care of everything that I could have both medically and naturally, and the next step was IVF. I was exhausted and defeated, but I knew that my body was ready with all of the preconception care that I had done through Chinese Medicine and surgery, and it finally occurred to me that I was ready to overcome my resistance to IVF.
On the same day that we finally decided to move forward with IVF, I learned that Dr. Taylor was moving clinics and would not be able to do any ART procedures until they found a new location and built a new lab and clinic. Once again, I was devastated.
Shortly after this disappointment, my partner and I registered for a 10 day silent meditation retreat, so that we could take refuge in our meditation practice. On the second day of the retreat, as always, I waited for my period to begin on its expected due date, and was confused when it didn’t come. To my shock, a home pregnancy test revealed that I was pregnant. We had managed to conceive naturally again, and I was ‘trapped’ in a silent meditation retreat!
I had all of the thoughts and feelings – I was excited and elated, and I was also worried, anxious and terrified of having another pregnancy loss. I was forced to sit and simply be with it all. I couldn’t tell my partner and I couldn’t have any early monitoring done. These silent meditation days were like a culmination of the entire journey. I anchored myself in the steadiness of my breath, as I practiced watching the storm of thoughts and emotions bubble through my mind, without judging them, or letting them take over me.
People always ask me what was the one thing that finally made the difference. But I can’t say that it was any one thing. The biggest struggle for me was grappling with the fear, frustration and grief of ultimately not being in control, and not being able to make a pregnancy happen, despite all efforts.
Integrated care helped me to cover all the bases to empower myself to take care of all the pieces that I did have control over, to optimize my physical well-being. My mindfulness practice helped to anchor me, so that I didn’t get so hi-jacked by the unpredictable emotional storms of the moment. It gave me the inner space and calm to recognize and take good care of what I did have control over, while cultivating openness and deep acceptance of whatever outcome I did not have control over. Mindfulness meditation helped me deal with the stress, negate stress’ negative impacts on me and my body and to let go- without giving up hope and to hope without feeling desperate or grasping.
There was no one single thing that made the difference, every piece was important: Acubalance and the wisdom of Chinese Medicine’s pre-conception care and optimization of my overall wellbeing, Dr. Taylor, her team and the scientific western medical interventions that they offered with care to my body, and my Mindfulness Meditation Practice for the inner refuge and antidote to the damaging mental-emotional turmoil that both accompanies and is perpetuated by this journey.
We are deeply grateful for the tools that Eastern and Western medicine offered to us, as well as the power of Mindfulness Meditation. The integration of these three modalities helped us to balance our bodies, minds and hearts, and we know that without all three of these elements, we would not be blessed in the way that we are, with our beloved little boy.
April 2021 Update
As I witness so many brave people share their stories, in honour of CIAW & helping to normalize the conversation around infertility, I will take the opportunity to share my own story. I am #1in6.
I’ve been working in fertility health since 2007 & for a good 7 plus years of this time, I found myself in my own struggle. Being immersed in it, it was both a blessing & a curse to be working in the industry, as I struggled to find a single moment when the thoughts & emotions associated with infertility didn’t dominate.
It was a rollercoaster of hope & disappointment & I was fortunate to know very well that I wasn’t alone but still held it close & couldn’t speak of it openly because it felt sensitive & private & I never quite knew when I would well up & cry. It was always just right under the surface & I felt the need to hold it together, so I held it mostly inside.
I did all the things & at times I did none of the things. It wasn’t a linear path, but I did my best to meet every moment with as much awareness & kindness as was available to me. Finally after much hope & heartache, surgery, acupuncture, herbs, healthy eating, terrible eating, yoga, exercise, languishing, loving my partner, wanting to strangle my partner, miscarriages, IUI’s, supplements, & the like… we managed to conceive our son.
Funny enough, there I sat in a 10-day silent meditation retreat, in the surrealness that the home pregnancy test I took in the retreat centre bathroom was positive. There I sat with the disbelief, the excitement, the happiness, the fear & the dread of another loss & couldn’t speak of any of it to anyone. Being with it in silence and watching the storm of thoughts & emotions for another 7 days. The culmination of 7 years into 7 days of silence with nothing to do but watch & accept & breathe with it all.
May you find the inner space and calm to recognize and take good care of what you do have control over while cultivating openness and deep acceptance of whatever outcome you don’t have control over. Be kind to yourselves.
Inclusion of all gender and sexually diverse people is an important value of Olive Fertility Centre. We are continuously striving to create an environment of compassionate belonging where all of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are supported, valued and respected.
Olive Fertility Centre resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Tsleil-waututh Nations (Vancouver and Surrey clinics), of the Lekwungen people (Victoria clinic), of the syilx/Okanagan people (Kelowna clinic) and of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (Blossom Fertility clinic in Prince George).
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