On a stormy Tuesday afternoon in late April, and I was in the kitchen mixing the batter for my special oatmeal raisin cookies, hoping to distract myself. It was the day my doctor promised to call with the results of my FSH levels. My daughter, Ellena, was only a year old, and we’ve only been trying a few months, still, at 42, I was told my fertility was waning. I had no time to waste.
The phone rang, and barely catching my breath, I listened to the diagnosis. “The follicle stimulating hormone, FSH, helps the follicles inside your ovaries to develop into eggs. If the level is over 20,” explained Dr. Y, ‘your ovaries are not working as well as they should be, I’ll be referring you to a fertility specialist..”
My FSH turned out to be the same as my age, 42..
Armed with a list of fertility specialists, I began my search for a cure. “I’m sorry,” said the receptionist of the first endocrinologist. “The doctor will not accept you as a patient. Your FSH is too high; he doesn’t think he could help you.”
The five fertility doctors who did agree to see me displayed charts and diagrams with statistics. They showed me how I clearly didn’t have a chance. “No,” they intoned, “we have no documented case of anyone conceiving with these FSH levels.”
Lying in bed at night, I fluctuated between despair and guilt. How could I have been so arrogant and ignored my age? Did I think my biological clock had stopped ticking just because it took me so long to find the right man? “Besides, what is your problem,” asked a familiar voice in my head. “You dare lament with all those childless couples out there? To clamor for seconds before everyone gets their turn?”
My first step into the maze of alternative fertility treatments, was a Native American medicine woman, who opened her consultation by asking if I was having intercourse with my husband, and then proceeded to press down on my chest bones while recounting numerous stories of success. Before my departure, she discreetly motioned toward a small ceramic bowl where I was to leave my $150 in cash.
I tried homeopathy with its tiny white sugary pellets that melted under my tongue, and a month later decided to move on to specialized fertility acupuncture. The four acupuncturists I consulted commanded me to lie on narrow massage tables while they turned my body into a rare breed of porcupine, with needles pointing in every direction.. They also recommended jumping rope “to shake up the organs,” daily hot and cold showers, and making love on bright red sheet. I did it all for several weeks with little measurable change.
A year later I was still not pregnant, and the pile of unpaid bills warned me from any further pursuit of a miracle fertility cure. One day, as I skimmed through a diet book a friend had recommended, it occurred to me that becoming stronger and healthier could, perhaps, rejuvenate my wilting ovaries. Improving my relationship with food was something I had always intended to do. Someday. When my life hardened into a perfect mould, with self-discipline, willpower, and free time pouring in like melted wax. Now, I imagined my baby leaning over the clouds, dimpled hands cupped around its mouth, yelling: “Go, mom, go! You can do it!” Even if I don’t get pregnant, I thought, at least I’ll have the healthiest body I’ve ever had.
With hardly a whimper I bade goodbye to my afternoon cappuccino and cake and ushered in a diet of fertility foods: organic greens, brown rice, tempeh, millet and adzuki beans. Wanting a baby provided incentive to eat or drink anything that promised to improve the odds. More important, moving forward left less time for despair and helped me see myself as more fluid, alterable.
Two months after the initial adjustments in my diet, my sinus headaches disappeared and one day I noticed I was no longer scrambling for extra strength pain killers to quiet my rheumatism.
Inspired I began to look inward, and found an entire chorus of self-defeating voices calling for my attention. Instead of silencing those voices with platitudes of positive thinking, I engaged in conversation with them, and constructed my own fertility healing protocol of imagery exercises, movement sequences, and yoga practice..
For the first time since the diagnosis, I did not look for a fertility expert’s validation. What mattered was that every item on the list of fertility remedies made perfect sense to me.
Six months later, on a scorching hot August afternoon, the voice of the nurse on the other end of the phone announced my reward. “…I-N-D-I…,oh yes, Julia, the test came back positive. Congratulations, you’re pregnant.”
For many of the millions of women and men longing for a baby, fertility treatments offer a welcome alternative path to parenthood. For me, the fact that my fertility doctors knew of no current technique that would fix me turned out to create the most powerful opportunity of my forty two years. After a lifetime of abdicating all decision-making to experts, my elevated FSH levels were a portal toward becoming my own fertility authority.[ad_2]