“You have less than a two percent chance of getting pregnant with your own eggs. I suggest using eggs from a donor if you want to have a baby.”
Those were the words I heard from my fertility doctor in August 2012. I went to him after suffering a missed miscarriage from a naturally-occurring pregnancy earlier that year.
When I started trying to conceive in February 2012, I knew it might be challenging. I was 41 years old, after all. I’d always heard that a woman’s fertility takes a nosedive as she gets older, particularly after the age of 35. I didn’t even meet my husband until I was 34, and we married when I was 38.
But I still figured that I’d be pregnant after a few months. I did get pregnant the second month trying, but had the miscarriage, followed by the testing that delivered the news that my egg supply was “undetectable,” even for a woman my age.
Thankfully, I had an open-minded doctor. When I said I wanted to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) first because it wasn’t an invasive procedure, he didn’t try to talk me out of it.
The first IUI brought me another positive pregnancy test, and another miscarriage. Early monitoring showed that the embryo wasn’t viable.
The second IUI was unsuccessful. What would have been the third IUI was cancelled because I had ovarian cysts and raging hormone levels. When that happened I felt so inadequate that not only could I not keep a pregnancy on my own, my body couldn’t even handle basic fertility treatment.
After my cancelled cycle, I didn’t resume treatment right away, largely because of holidays and travel schedules. While this was initially disappointing, I found it an unexpected blessing to have the break to reflect and regroup.
I took stock of my life, and I realized that just because I didn’t have a stockpile of eggs left, that didn’t mean there weren’t any. I was positive I had a good one in my body somewhere, waiting to become half of a new human being. It was my responsibility to find that egg and create the best possible space in my body for it to grow and be fertilized and nurtured.
I also realized that I couldn’t control my age or my horrible fertility test results, but I could control the way that I lived my life. My lifestyle choices would have tremendous power, in all areas of my life and certainly in achieving my dream to become a mother.
It was then that I shifted my attention.
Up until that point, I was fixated on the future-oriented goal of having a baby. I decided to focus more on setting an intention, which was firmly grounded in my present life. I viewed my intention as creating the space in my body and my mind to prepare for motherhood, and this drove all of the changes that I made in my life.
I was living a relatively healthy life, but saw opportunities to make positive improvements. I began eating breakfast regularly and eating a cleaner diet overall, with lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less processed food. I began taking vitamins. I started going to bed earlier at night and noticed a marked improvement in my outlook and ability to handle stress from getting more sleep.
I faithfully kept up my yoga practice that had been a huge part of my life since my 20s. However, instead of just doing the poses, I put more effort than I ever had before into the spiritual aspect of the practice. I focused on holding the poses and getting lost in them, knowing that I was making my body stronger for the next pregnancy. I knew intuitively that the next pregnancy was going to be the one that stuck. At the end of every yoga practice, during savasana, I meditated on my future child, encouraging him or her to feel ready to come to me.
During my final, successful, IUI cycle, I created a meditation that I wrote in real time, as my cycle unfolded, including details from my doctors appointments.
It felt more like I was writing the story of my child’s conception. I recorded it myself, as I felt that listening to my own voice articulating my intentions out loud would be more powerful than listening to a stranger. I listened to it during my commute, and in bed while falling asleep at night. I wanted the story to become part of my subconscious.
Exactly a year after that first failed pregnancy I got pregnant again. This pregnancy was normal and uneventful, and my son Charlie was born in December 2013. I beat the odds and achieved that two percent, at the age of 43.
They say that motherhood transforms a person. My transformation actually began during the year of my fertility journey. Now that my beautiful Charlie is here, the transformation continues every day.
[originally appeared in elephant journal, 4/14/16]