Our Individual Life Paths
When I decided some years ago to turn my love of healthy living into a formal qualification as a Holistic Health Practitioner little did I know the wider journey that it would become a part of.
Initially it was my passion project, a way to get some work life balance doing something I really enjoyed while maintaining my ‘proper job’ as I viewed it as the time, working for a large software corporation in Account Management, overseeing a number of blue-chip organisations.
Ring ring – Wake up Call From The Soul
I had a huge amount of respect and admiration for the people I worked for but at a deep soul level I felt unhappy and unfilled. If our jobs define to some degree who we are, what makes us thrive, what nourishes us at every level of our being, an expression of our true essence, I felt I could not be further removed from that. I absolutely believe we all have a purpose, we all have unique gifts to contribute, that sweet spot where what brings us joy intersects with what we’re good at. However at that time I just hadn’t figured that out, all I knew if I was asked was that the job just wasn’t ‘me’ as much as I dug deep to excel to the best of my ability. Then one day my body decided enough was enough and I had a panic attack on the way to a client meeting following a chronic bout of anxiety. It was completely debilitating and it took a good few months for me to literally find a way back to ‘normal’ again. Thankfully the company was very supportive and helped facilitate my recovery before a respectful parting of the ways, for which I will be forever grateful.
Fast track two years later and I was now flourishing undertaking various health studies and courses, including becoming a certified yoga instructor in Costa Rica.
Amongst all these great life affirming and enhancing experiences, following many heart to heart conversations, I parted with my long term partner. As much as we loved each other he just could not visualise himself having children, whereas for me motherhood was something I yearned for deeply. Fast approaching 40 and with no indication he would change his mind I made the decision to leave to enable me to forge ahead on my own.
Once I felt emotionally healed from the break-up I started to explore options as a potential single mother. What felt right for me and my desires at this time was to find a sperm donor and then embark on IVF treatment. Personally I did not feel I had the time in hand to meet someone new with whom there was a mutual desire and attraction for a long term relationship and a family, and adoption was not something I resonated with yet. I looked into various donor banks both here and abroad but despite the innate drive within me to have children I was pretty half hearted in engaging their services. For me, not really knowing the person that made up the other half of my child to be, was something I was struggling to embrace, but I didn’t feel or maybe believe there was another way as much as I may have wished otherwise.
Multiple Blessings and Heartache Blips
Well The Universe had other plans, or maybe it was the Law of Attraction responding to my desire because a few months later a truly amazing man entered my life with whom I now have the deepest bond of friendship I think it is possible to share with someone. After some months of knowing each other he offered to be my ‘donor’ and it just felt completely serendipitously right. We both had a basic fertility work up and were given the all clear to progress to IVF. Given my then knowledge about health and wellbeing I chose to do a ‘natural’ IVF cycle, the benefit being no drugs are used, so there is no risk of an adverse reaction and research has also shown that egg quality is better preserved. We got a single embryo of top grade and I duly fell pregnant. I felt very lucky and incredibly blessed for it to have worked with relatively little effort.
But then when we went for the 6 week scan I was given the devastating news that the embryo had not properly implanted and was what is termed a blighted ovum and I would soon miscarry.
Four years on to present day and I have had two further pregnancies, again both ending in miscarriage at about 7 weeks and four IVF failures. It takes three miscarriages before most medical establishments place you in the recurrent miscarriage ‘category’ and as such recommend more intensive and thorough diagnostic testing. It was subsequently found I had an over active immune system, whereby the body does not recognise the pregnancy as self, but rather as an invader and hence goes into attack rather than protection mode. Being someone who never gets ill, not even a sniffle, was not such a gift after all it seemed. At this point I was pretty beat, struggling to go on and finding the faith to continue. After each loss and failure I felt more and more broken. I’d do my best to put myself back together but each time I felt a little less of the person I was before. I’d spoken to some of the top fertility specialists and reproductive immunologists across the globe, I’d had pretty much every possible test going, I’d researched both western and eastern healing philosophies, modalities and treatment, I’d undergone various immune treatment protocols incorporating the best of what I knew at the time in terms of herbs, supplements, lifestyle changes and still no baby. I felt very alone, lost and overwhelmed, but mostly very scared, scared that my baby dream may never happen. Any sense of joy to be gleaned from life had all but disappeared. Amongst my circle of friends none of them had had any difficulty conceiving and not that I would wish any aspect of my own journey on anyone, I was feeling increasingly isolated, like no one really understood the depth of sorrow and heartache that I was trying to navigate through.
About a year prior a close friend had mentioned they would consider acting as a surrogate and feeling no closer to a solution as to how to best treat my own body to sustain a pregnancy I re-approached her and was overjoyed when she said yes. We did a natural IVF cycle, using my eggs and she fell pregnant with a singleton. To say I was grateful was a huge understatement; I felt incredibly fortunate and felt sure this was going to be ‘it’; I was at last going to be a mum. I was completely on edge on the run up to the first scan, bearing in mind, every time I had gone for that 6 week marker it was only to be told that the pregnancy was not viable as there was no heartbeat. I was too nervous to go along and I just remember feeling nauseous with anxiety waiting for the news, constantly looking at my phone to see if she was still at the hospital. Then at last it beeped and there on the screen was a video showing a blue pulsating dot. The baby had a heartbeat. I allowed myself to exhale; it felt like I’d been holding my breath for hours.
The next scan at 8 weeks came along pretty quickly but again I chose not to go and did a rinse and repeat of waiting to hear the news. The relief to hear all was well was even more intense and for the first time since the positive pregnancy test I felt I could start to relax. The doctors were all very positive, stating the statistics of a full term healthy pregnancy given a healthy heart beat and embryo size at this stage boded well. Hence I felt relatively confident in actually going to the 12 week scan. We went into the exam room and again I felt a huge surge of gratitude to have this friend undertaking this experience for me. Again I held my breath, not daring to look at the scan, just waiting for the nurse to say something. Silence. I still could not look at the screen but I could tell by looking at the nurse’s face that not all was well. I remember just going completely numb as I listened to the nurse from what felt like miles away tell us that the baby had stopped developing at about 11 weeks.
Rock Bottom – the further you fall the higher your potential to bounce
Looking back I really don’t know how I got through the immediate few days. I remember just lying in bed, not talking to anyone, unable to eat anything, not bothering to wash or dress; everything seemed so pointless. During this time and the subsequent weeks the compassion that I witnessed was extra-ordinary and something I will always treasure and never forget. Friends that rallied round to ‘scoop’ me up when the numbness wore off and the dam of emotional torrent broke through and immersed me. They were my life raft to keep me from drowning in complete sorrow. I know people experience much worst things in life and survive but when you’re in the eye of your own personal storm, you’re in it and you can’t rationalise or get perspective on it, it all just hurts too much as you just try to figure out how to get through the next minute, then hour, then day, before you are at a point you realise you are out the other side. One of the ‘gifts’ of my journey and certainly one of the largest gold nuggets as I like to call them was the kindness shown by the hospital staff who treated myself and friend through the miscarriage. Their level of care and concern which extended to them co-ordinating with the local church for a special service went way past their day to day duties and meant so much and was a lesson in selfless generosity which profoundly touched me. Witnessing such compassion helped significantly in shifting me from a place of berating the Universe, with thoughts such as 'why me', 'it is all so unfair' and similarly negative dialogue, to a place of gratitude that enabled my mind and heart to feel soothed enough that I could step out of myself and connect back to life again. In turn this experience awakened a deeper capacity for compassion within me - it's one of many examples I could give on this journey where without the proceeding 'rain' I would not have been gifted with seeing the 'rainbow'.
At this point with no plan B in place, I decided to take a break and start living again, rather than just be in survival mode from one fertility cycle to another. Emotionally, physically, spiritually as well as financially, I was spent and with absolutely no idea what to try next. My fertility specialist at the time wrote the last miscarriage down to ‘just one of those unexplained things’ and though my amazing friend was still open to trying again, after putting her through a very harrowing miscarriage, there was no way I felt comfortable to risk putting her in that situation again.
My Promise to Myself and the conception of Purafertility
I sold my property in London, put everything in storage and packed a suitcase. They say wherever you go you risk taking your problems with you, but for me traveling has always been cathartic and has a way of keeping my mind and thoughts much more in the present moment. The new sights, scenary, culture has a way of grounding me,and keeping me focused on the now like nothing else.
As the engine accelerated on the runway and we soared into the sky, I felt a spark of optimism and hope. I actually felt excited about what lay ahead, rather than fearful, I made a promise to myself as the earth fell away that I would solve my own fertility puzzle and in doing so if it could help anyone else struggling to conceive and sustain a healthy pregnancy then maybe, just maybe it might all be worth it. Maybe this scenic route to parent hood, as opposed to getting the fast track pass, was my ‘assignment’. As much as I would not wish the lows of the last few years on anyone maybe this was my purpose and so the idea of one day launching Purafertility was ‘conceived’.
On returning to the UK, although the time away had lifted my spirits and given me renewed resolve and determination I still had no definite plan as to what to do next. With every set back it seemed more questions were being raised than answered and advice seemed increasingly conflicting. I had grown very reliant on the opinions, analysis and prognosis of the ‘specialists’ which had culminated in my losing complete faith in my own body as well as my innate ability to make decisions and trust my own inner guide as to what to do and what was best for me. I realised I was being treated by the majority of doctors by what had worked for the 'average' women with a similar fertility history and diagnostic work up as opposed to being treated as an individual. I realised that in my desperation to have a child I’d completely lost sight of the principles of holistic health where one not only treats the ‘whole’ person but looks to treat the root cause of any imbalances within the body rather than the symptoms. I had become so untrusting of my own body, it was like it was completely separate to ‘me’ and I kept looking outside of myself, to other people, the ‘professionals’ to fix it. If someone had said stand on your head three times a day and you’ll have a baby I’d have done it no questions asked. I was certainly not walking my own talk; that the power is always within us to be our own best advocate, that we have our own internal compass to help navigate ourselves through life …. The body has the power to heal itself when we connect back to it and start asking it questions, such as what do you need from me today to be better than yesterday.
So I stripped everything back to basics, took everything I knew about holistic health and functional medicine; test results, nutrition, lifestyle factors, the mind-body connection and dived deeply into the process of re-connecting with my body and deciphering what worked and did not work for me physically, spiritually and emotionally to enable self-healing to manifest.
The best bit about this was that I felt empowered again, rather than helplessly and hopelessly adrift and the self-protocol I devised has gone on to become the basis for my Detox and Pre-Conception Care Program.
With this in place I also re-evaluated the specialists I was seeing and ‘recruited’ a team of people that I truly felt I both connected with and whom had a shared philosophy about tailoring the treatment protocol and also understood the premise of conscious conception.
Despite these huge positive changes if I was to undergo further IVF treatment it was deemed that given my age, at this time 44, my best chance of success was with donor eggs. Such a decision is extremely personal and is not for everyone, nor I do believe that everyone need make this choice so soon, if at all, but without a partner and given how a single woman of my age is viewed, especially relative to adoption protocols in the UK, IVF still remained my best option. In coming to this decision my own belief system helped enormously; the child you have is the child you were always meant to have, that it is the same soul, regardless of the dynamics of conception.
So having now found an egg donor I am in the process of preparing myself to ensure I am in optimal health on all levels for this next step.
If just before I undertook my first IVF treatment someone had told me there and then exactly what the next few years would have in store for me I often question whether I would have had the fortitude to see it through, whether instead I would have given up there and then. At times I do think if I knew then what I know now could that first pregnancy have had a different outcome, I’ll never know and it serves no purpose but what I do hold on to is the silver lining; if all I have learnt on this tumultuous ride can help even one couple to have the baby of their dreams, then it has been worth something and it was not without purpose. Such challenges give us the opportunity to prove to ourselves just how capable we are, just how strong, just how resilient, just how determined, just how creative, just how courageous we can be. I have experienced moments of complete despair, debilitating periods of depression, overwhelming anxiety and the deep pain of grief, but I truly believe that because of them I place much more value on their contrast; hope, happiness, peace and joy. I have witnessed and been on the receiving end of such moving examples of compassion and heart to heart human connection that I know I would not have been blessed to experience without the hurt that preceded it. I have developed a deeper level of empathy to suffering of any kind and hope I am a better person for it. I have been blessed with a close set of friends and an amazing family, who have shown up time and time again to walk by my side to help and support me, to get me through the darkest of moments and spur me on. The bond I have with these life-affirming people is completely unbreakable regardless of time and geography.
Where am I at now?
Now as I launch Purafertility I am at the point where I can fully embrace all that has gone before and find the perfection in the process. I now consider ‘fertility’ to be so much more than just ones baby making potential; it extends to our ability to create a rich and fertile life for ourselves, staying present and going in search of joy wherever and whenever we can. We absolutely do need to give ourselves time and space to grieve over our losses and disappointments, honouring that process to enable healing to occur, but that does not mean that when we resurface we should every deny ourselves a chance to feel happiness or ever feel we don't deserve it. I now seize what I call 'carpe-diem moments' whenever they show themselves. Life just feels too short and too precious not to. Be it running into the sea regardless of not having a swimsuit to hand, just taking a moment to feel the sun on my face while I sip my favourite tea, complimenting a stranger or chasing my little niece and nephew round the garden just to hear their gorgeous squeals of laughter. I'm braver, bolder and even more spontaneous than I was before. I certainly don't sweat the small stuff like I used to, in the bigger picture it seems so irrelevant.
Ultimately I know I’ll be a far better parent for the life teachings, the spiritual growth and the human connection my journey has afforded me. This beautiful quote by Anaïs Nin’s quotation perfectly encapsulates my ‘awakening’ to a better and far more authentic way of being...
I feel I have evolved to be a much better version of my former self in so many ways. I’ve come to learn that the fastest way to get over any challenge is to face it straight on with complete trust and self believe you will come out the other side and I promise you this, you will emerge the other side. And for all the struggle and pain it took to get there it is the catalyst that allows us to ‘re-birth’ our life’s into something far far greater than could ever have been possible before if we’re willing to open up to it. I would be honoured to serve you on your own journey, in guiding YOU to empower your own innate wisdom, connect with your inner knowing and make choices that best serve you in cultivating a fertile body, heart and soul to not only optimise conception and a healthy baby but also to optimise how you create and live your life day by day.