Meeting Your Child Halfway: A Fertility Workshop

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning (and if you have, I love you, mwah!), you might remember me mentioning Julia Indichova. She is the author of two books, Inconceivable and The Fertile Female, both of which I read and loved when I was trying to get pregnant with Lettie. The short version is that Julia had trouble conceiving her second child and a billion specialists told her that getting pregnant would be medically impossible without donor eggs. She was 42. For the next eight months she changed her diet, tried every alternative treatment in the book and, most importantly, in my opinion, focused on the mind-body connection. She basically used her longing to have a child to change her life for the better. Eight months later, she was pregnant—completely naturally—and carried that pregnancy to term.

For the past twenty years, she’s been teaching what she learned on her fertility journey through workshops and phone sessions. This past weekend, I got the chance to attend one of those workshops. It was called Meeting Your Child Halfway: An All-Day Workshop With Julia Indichova. The all day thing was no joke—it started at 11 am and ended at 6:30 pm.

When Tim and I pulled up to her house in Woodstock, New York, I had no idea what to expect. Upon arrival, Julia had us take off our shoes and then escorted us into her studio. Inside, the floors were covered in carpet and oriental rugs. The walls were decorated with birth announcements. Outside the high windows, I caught wisps September-blue sky. 14 other people sat in a semi-circle—four solo women and five other couples. Julia separated the couples—eek!—so I was on my own. Tim was all the way across the room.

Shit got weird really fast. First we observed a moment of silence. Ok, cool. No big deal. Then Julia said, “Ok, you’re going to repeat after me. Do exactly as I say and do.” She started waving her hands and moaning. She covered her face. She whimpered. It was awkward city.

Then she said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

And we said, “I don’t want to be in a workshop.”

“I just want a fucking baby,” she said.

“I just want a fucking baby,” we said.

At this point everyone was laughing, and even though we’d just had to endure seemingly endless minutes of moaning and moving like we were in some sort of improv warm-up, the ice was broken.

Next we went around and introduced ourselves. Immediately people started crying. Crap, I thought. What have I gotten myself into? I’m kind of an anti-crier, at least in front of other people, especially in front of strangers.

But guess what? After those initial introductions, I had tears in my eyes the whole time. Tim did, too. There was just something about being in a room of people who were all experiencing similar things. It felt safe. For once, I didn’t feel the need to justify or defend my dream to add another child to our family. Every single person there got it. Some were trying for their first child, some their second. Some had unexplained infertility, some low sperm count. It didn’t matter. Every single person wanted the exact same thing.

The day consisted of visualizations, one-on-one exercises, body movement (which Julia calls “body talk”) and even a lullaby. Picture a room full of people who want nothing more than to get pregnant, signing a lullaby to their unborn children. Only a robot would not tear up in that situation. Just sayin’.

Julia had a lot of great things to say. One of them was that it’s ok to not think positive all the time. “As a society,” she said, “we’re in danger of positive thinking ourselves to death.” She said that we should let ourselves feel the negative emotions—rage, cry, be jealous, get pissed off, whatever—but at the end of the day we should be moving forward in what she calls the current of the truth and life. Those emotions should be felt, but it doesn’t serve us to get stuck in them. This was such a relief for me. There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo out there in infertility land that says you must think positive or else. I got sucked right on into that—I would often feel guilty for not being able to think positively every second of every day.

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details of exactly what we did. And even if I tried, I don’t think I would do it justice. Bottom line, though? The workshop was pretty amazing. It was just what my soul needed at that time, on that day. I left there feeling clear-headed and hopeful. I felt alive. I felt, with certainty, that my baby was waiting for me, some day, somewhere.

And yes, I am totally ready to meet him or her halfway.

Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
Lunching in Woodstock before the workshop.
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Living the country life at our B & B.

The Reset Button

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Last week, our family traveled to Vermont. For me, it might have been one of the most-needed vacations ever. The weeks leading up to our trip were filled with fertility treatments, dental visits (seriously, people, they never end) and just a general sense of family unease. Tim and I were fighting. I felt distant from Lettie. We needed a place to start fresh. Vermont, as always, delivered.

The air is crisper there, even in the summer. There’s nothing to see but green and green and more green. Our dog Beaker ran around off-leash like a wild runt.

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Lettie played in the grass, dipped her toes in mountain ponds, checked out salamanders and frogs, and explored like a champ.

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At times, it felt like there was no one else in the state but the three of us. And I liked it that way.

We hiked.

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And hiked.

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And then hiked some more.

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We went out to breakfast.

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And dinner.

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And walked through quaint towns.

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It was a perfect week. In such a serene setting, it was easy to give myself permission to put my worries aside. To not think about the future. To appreciate my family just as it is now. It’s easy to get caught up in fertility treatments and the possibility of future babies. Scary easy. I am thankful that we got this time to breathe and regroup.

This morning, we found out that our fourth and final IUI did not work. Now we take a month off. After that, it’s time to pull out the big guns and head on over to IVF Town.

I’m scared—not really of the needles or the meds or the bajillion monitoring appointments. I’m mostly scared because IVF is the final frontier. After that, there’s pretty much nowhere else to go in terms of fertility treatments. It’s the last stop.

I’m also grateful. Grateful to science and doctors and insurance for even giving us the chance to walk down this road. For whatever reason, it appears that IVF is meant to be part of my life’s journey, and I want to accept that with grace and compassion.

I feel blessed that, before things get really crazy, we had this week to reconnect as a family. I’m telling you, Vermont is like a salve to the soul. If you haven’t been had the chance to bask in its majesty yet, jump in the car and get thee to the Green Mountains!

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The Healers & The Faith Keepers

I’ve been trying to write this post for weeks, but I’ve been feeling too meh to do it. Tim and I are smack in the middle of fertility treatments, and although what we’re doing right now is not super physically challenging, I am tired. Like, mega tired.

I think when I last talked about this topic I was on track to take progesterone for two months. That seemed to work well with my body, but I did not get pregnant. Now we are taking a drug called Clomid, along with a procedure called IUI (intrauterine insemination). This involves two monitoring appointments, five days of pills, multiple blood draws, one shot and then the actual procedure. In fertility land, this is chump change—nothing compared to the more hardcore treatments. Yet still, it is mentally and physically draining.

Our doctor said this Clomid and IUI combo has a 25% chance of working within four months. We’re on month three right now. If it doesn’t pan out, we’ll move onto IVF (in-vitro fertilization). This means there’s a 75% chance we’ll be doing IVF. I’m struggling with finding the balance here. On the one hand, I want to remain positive that we’ll be one of the 25% and IUI will work for us. On the other hand, statistically, it looks like IVF is likely and we need to plan for that. There’s the money thing, for one. It’s expensive. What does our insurance cover and what do we pay for out of pocket? Getting this answer is not as easy as it should be. Then there’s the question of where. We love, love, love our current doctor, but our current clinic’s IVF success rates are below the national average. We’ll need to ask our doctor about this, as well as meet one or two doctors at other clinics for a consult. IVF would be a huge deal, not to be taken lightly, but like I said, there needs to be a balance between planning for the future and having faith in what we’re doing right now. I’m not even close to finding that balance.

Honestly, I’m writing this on a bad day. If I would have written this even a few days ago, I would said how positive I’m feeling. It’s a roller coaster, my friends, and today I am at the bottom of a drop.

In spite of my current mopey-moperness, I will say that I have been feeling very loved and supported throughout this process. Yes, it can be an isolating experience, but I have people standing behind me. I like to think of these people in two different categories: the Healers and the Faith Keepers.

The Healers are people like my acupuncturist, who invited me to her house for a private session when I couldn’t get an appointment at the office. People like my doctor, who is stylish and lovely and makes me laugh every time I see her. She says things like, “I’m sorry,” “Take a deep breath” and “You’re so brave.” Or the the nurses at my clinic who call me back within minutes and who answer any question with kindness, now matter how mundane.

Then there are my close friends, who I like to think of as the Faith Keepers. They say things to me like, “Tell me about your ovaries.” They ask about my appointments, my ultrasounds, how I’m feeling. They let me know, in so many little ways, that I am loved. Most importantly, they keep the faith for me when I can’t.

We’ve all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but I think that, sometimes, it takes a village to make a baby, too. Today, I am feeling overwhelmed. Today, my hope is buried underneath the details and the what-ifs. It’s all good, though. My village has my back.