Written by Diana Palmentiero
Many women think of their infertility issues as a struggle. Having lived through the “struggle” twice and survived, I have come to realize that I was on an incredible journey. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
My journey began in the spring of 2004 when I was 37, married for 6 months and trying to conceive for the first time in my life. The first month we tried, I became pregnant. Wow, that was easy! Then at 5 weeks pregnant, I began bleeding. I was shocked, confused, disappointed and every other emotion you can be when you miscarry, especially the first time you are pregnant.
After the first miscarriage my husband and I tried again for several months but we were once again disappointed when I miscarried the second time I became pregnant. Now my feelings included “what did I do to cause this to happen?” I was a healthy woman with no medical issues and now I had had 2 miscarriages in less than a year each time I had been pregnant. Somehow this must be my fault. Miscarriage is not a topic that many people discuss so I had no one to talk to about it. I was becoming increasingly despondent. If I wanted to feel better, I knew that I needed to take action.
Being 38, I realized that my eggs were not getting any younger so my husband and I decided to visit our local fertility doctor. The next thing I knew he was telling me that I had a little problem called high FSH and that I had a less than 1% chance of having a “take home baby.” I was going to need his help and quickly. So we started fertility treatments. I was put on the highest dosage of fertility drugs that anyone could possibly take and then felt like I had PMS for 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week.
Between the high dosage of fertility drugs and the emotional roller coaster that I was on, I became depressed. If someone looked at me the wrong way, I would start to cry. Holidays didn’t help either. The worst was having to go to the hospital to wait for someone else to give birth. I spent most of the time in the bathroom crying until the baby was wheeled up to the nursery glass window.
After 6 months of roller coaster emotions and only being able to go through 2 IUIs, we did not get pregnant. Although I desperately wanted to have a child, I hated all the medications that I was on so I began to explore other options.
And where do you turn to when you need alternate solutions? The Internet, of course! That’s where I started to read about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. The idea behind it is that “infertility” happens when a woman’s body is not in balance. I never realized that so many things in our bodies need to happen perfectly for conception to occur. When a woman’s body is not in balance and it’s trying to have a baby, then either (a) conception won’t happen, or (b) as in my case, it will happen, but a woman won’t stay pregnant. I then discovered a book called “The Infertility Cure.” What a great title! Who wouldn’t want a “cure” for their infertility, as if it is a disease? I quickly ordered one. Here’s a link to find out more about her at The Fertile Soul. Dr. Lewis also holds retreats so I found out where her next retreat was being held and headed out to Austin, Texas. By this time it was January 2006.
What a life altering experience the retreat was. It lasted for 5 days. Along with Dr. Lewis, there were dynamic speakers, classes, spa treatments, and group healings. Dr. Lewis herself claimed in her literature that I “would enter a lifestyle path that [I] won’t ever want to leave.” One of my favorite sessions of the retreat was on nutrition. She stressed the importance of eating whole, natural and organic foods and especially not eating foods that are processed. She also stressed eating gluten-free and dairy-free. Before I knew it, I had lost 7 lbs.
When I came home from the retreat, I felt like a changed person. Although I had a back-up plan to start IVF a few months later, I believed that I was going to get pregnant without medical intervention. Dr. Lewis referred me to an acupuncturist, Dr. Michael Berkley of The Berkley Center, who performed acupuncture and prescribed herbal teas from a pharmacy in Chinatown called Kamwo. And sure enough, one month after I came home from the retreat, I was pregnant! As I continued on my pregnancy journey, I realized that Dr. Lewis was right and that I wanted to continue on the path that had helped me to have a child. I made some changes in my life that I had learned at the retreat which would also be beneficial for my unborn child. My husband and I continued to eat more natural and organic foods.
When my daughter April was born in 2006, we decided that she would be breast-feed for 1 year and eat organic baby foods when she began to eat solids. Later, as I was cleaning the house and April started to crawl around, I realized that I did not want her to breathe in the fumes from the cleaning products that I was using. This made me change my cleaning products to more eco-friendly ones. My fertility issues and experience at the retreat made me aware how important it is to know exactly what is going into your body, no matter how it goes in.
When we tried to have a sibling for April, we again went through the same struggles. April was nine months old when I had my third miscarriage after 5 weeks. We again decided to try acupuncture and herbal teas. Dr. Berkley referred me to Dr. Yaron Seidman of Hunyuan Fertility. He made some further, individualized dietary suggestions such as eating more liver. (That wasn’t much fun.)
The next time we had a miscarriage, I had not been using acupuncture long enough. That’s when I knew it was time to give my body a rest. We took three months off from acupuncture and trying to conceive. When we began again, I started going to acupuncture and brewing and drinking herbal teas. This time it worked and my son Cody was born in July of 2009.
And now, almost 6 years and 2 kids later, I am doing things that I never thought I would do. For the past 2 years, I have joined Sport Hill Farm’s Cash Crop program, so that my family can enjoy farm fresh vegetables. We now eat mostly organic foods from meats to breads to cookies and jellies. We recycle as much as we can and use healthier cleaning solutions. My fertility struggles led me on a journey to where I eventually became a part of the “green revolution.” Who knew that would happen but I think it is incredible!