infertility

Infertility and Body Shame

By | Body Love, Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | No Comments

Love-Letter to Body_2Three months before my wedding date, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, placed in drug-induced menopause and told I would never bear children. I was 21. My soon-to-be-husband and I were devastated at this news. We hoped for a few years that my condition would improve, but after 5 surgeries in as many years and 3 rounds of drug-induced menopause, my body entered natural menopause when I was 26.

That’s when I began to hate my body. I felt that my body was a traitor, a betrayer, that it had unfairly taken my God-given right to bear children away from me. So I began to punish it – subconsciously, but punish it the same. I became the epitome of good health by exercising regularly and eating healthily. I was on a mission to prove to my doctors – and my body – that I could be ‘normal’ and ‘healthy.’ Unfortunately, my Inner Mean Girl is a perfectionist and my “health kick” soon turned into an eating disorder; my exercise routine became a minimum two-hour-a-day obsession and my list of ‘bad foods’ became so restrictive that I was barely eating enough to keep a bird alive.

Fast forward 9 years.

When I was 35, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He quickly deteriorated and I made the decision to spend the summer helping my mother take care of him. Something happened that summer that forever changed my life. After being in menopause for 9 years, I got my period. My doctors told me it was impossible, a fluke. You can’t cure yourself of menopause, they told me. 28 days later, it happened again.

That summer my mindset began to shift. As I watched my father die, my own body came back to life. And I was grateful. Having been raised to think my menstrual cycle was “The Curse,” I never dreamed I would be so happy to have it back. I began to see my menstrual cycle for the gift it is – my body’s ability to renew itself each month, my ability to create and give birth to life.

After my father died, my husband and I decided to try to have a child. After 3 rounds of in vitro fertilization, I realized that while my menstrual cycles might have come back on line, my endometriosis was still preventing pregnancy from happening. Feeling betrayed by my body once again, I gave up, gave in, and let my eating disorder take over – punishing myself and my body for my inability to bear a child once again.

Two years later, my husband and I finalized our divorce. No longer worried about not being able to bear him a child, I allowed myself to let go of the dream of having children. I stopped punishing my body. I stopped exercising obsessively and started eating foods I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in over a decade. I allowed myself and my body time to grieve – the loss of my father, my marriage, my fertility – I allowed myself time to heal.

One day I took a long, hard look in the mirror and I realized I needed to heal my relationship with food, my body, and myself. So I took a vow and I wrote a love letter to my body, letting it know all the things I was grateful for – cellulite, muffin top, wrinkles, scars, adult-onset acne and all. I made myself read that vow and that love letter to myself every day for a month. You know what happened? It started to sink in. I began to actually be grateful for things I once loathed. I began to see myself as beautiful, my body as a work of art, a sacred temple of Divine crafting.

If you don’t have a good relationship with your body, I invite you to listen to a free call I did on 7 Sacred Steps to Body Love. You can sign up for the replay here. You’ll get a copy of my vow and love letter along with the call. Then write your own vow, your own love letter. I can’t promise you that you will heal your relationship with yourself overnight, but I can promise you that if you do this daily practice for your body for at least 30 days, you will begin to see yourself in a different light. You will heal your relationship with your body and with yourself. You too will learn to love your body and the woman you see in the mirror.

 

Truth Be Told…

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 12 Comments

I am enoughFriday I found out that my ex-boyfriend is in a new relationship. This knowledge cut me to the core. A friend encouraged me to dig deep on why the knowledge that my ex is now in a relationship stings so much. The deeper I dove, the more I discovered how little it actually had to do with my ex and how much it had to do with me.

 

Truth be told: it's actually not my ex-boyfriend’s new relationship, it's the sting of rejection. My 21-year marriage ended over the fact that my ex-husband blamed me for my infertility, so I felt rejected by him because I have endometriosis and couldn’t bear him a child. When I met my ex-boyfriend, he was so awesome about making me feel whole and beautiful. There were other issues in that relationship, but my infertility was never one of them. But for some reason the knowledge that he is in a new relationship made me feel rejected once again. It brought up all of my insecurities around the fear that no one will want me because I can't have kids. I thought I had gotten over this – thought I had done all the healing I needed to do; apparently I have not. And I think it centers around this: it wasn't the rejection of me by my exes, it was the rejection of me by myself. So the sting I'm feeling is that I'm still rejecting myself because I don't feel like I am ‘enough'.

 

The irony is that the day I found out he was in a new relationship was the day after the launch of my new group program Perfect As You Are flopped big time. After 2 months of building and promoting this program, no one enrolled. Now I understand why: I can’t sell a program I don’t buy into myself. I truly thought I did. It’s not like I was leading everyone on. I have healed and am generally incredibly happy with who I am – just as I am. I do believe I am perfectly imperfect and I love me just as I am, or at least I thought I did…

 

After Friday blew up in my face, I decided to do some profound healing work this weekend. I took my own advice: I meditated. I journaled. I reached out to friends for support. I wrote myself a letter asking for my own forgiveness for my self-rejection. And I cried, oh how I cried. As I let the tears flow, I felt something shift inside of me: my ‘not enoughness’ began to feel whole again. Like maybe, just maybe, I really am enough – perfectly imperfect just as I am. That doesn’t mean that healing doesn’t need to occur – it still does.

 

And so I am taking some time to heal, taking it easy on myself as I process this latest life lesson. Allowing myself to move a little more slowly, and spend a lot more time outside. Allowing myself to just let the tears flow as they will. It’s a beautiful thing, really. This surrender. Because with each tear that falls, with each word I write, I know that I am becoming more congruent with me: the me I want to be, the woman I know in my core that I truly am. And

 

 

Say Something; I’m Giving Up on You

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 10 Comments

candleI started my period 10 days early. This is the third time in as many months that's happened. The first time I thought it was a fluke. The second time I thought it was because I had forgotten to take my bioidentical progesterone the night before. This time I had no explanation.

So I did what academics do: I went into research mode. Why do women short cycle? If you're my age – 40 – short cycling pretty much means one thing and one thing only: hello perimenopause, goodbye fertility.

So once again, I find myself in tears. Feeling betrayed by my body, shortchanged of my reproductive years by my endometriosis, by the 9 years my body was in menopause from the ages of 26 to 35, robbed of my Goddess-given right to bear a child to a man I adore.

And then I went to that dark place; the place where I'm flawed because I'm infertile. The place where no man wants me because I can't bear his child. It's a familiar place; one I've visited often in my 40 years on this planet. One I've been continually reminded of by the men in my life.

I don't want to believe it – that my reproductive years are over, that my train ride to Menopauseland has left the station – again. Only this time I harbor no illusions that I'll be able to heal my body back out of it. I'm not 35 anymore.

I found myself compelled to have a heart-to-heart with my body. But my heart-to-heart ended up listening to A Great Big World's “Say Something” on repeat. Not fair to my body, I know, but there it is. I also got a bit melodramatic in the process, but I chose to honor my feelings rather than forcing myself to be “rational” about it. So bear with me… there is a point to my ramblings.

I asked my body for a sign that I was mistaken about the loss of my reproductive years.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

It didn't respond.

I'll be the one, if you want me to.

The one to bear a child, the one to be a mother to more than my dogs.

Anywhere I would've followed you.

To the moon and back if I had to; that's what you do for your children. You go all in.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I am feeling so small.

So insignificant – the unimportant, flawed, infertile me. Wrong somehow.

It was over my head;

I know nothing at all.

I never understood the luck of the draw aspect of fertility; why 16-year-olds abort babies they don't want while 30-somethings would give anything for a child of their own that they can’t seem to have. Why children are born to those who don't want them or can't take care of them, yet those who have the means to provide for and want a child desperately can't have one. Why our most fertile years occur before our brains are fully developed and we are mature enough to handle being a parent.

And I will stumble and fall.

Repeatedly, over this and many other issues in life. I guess that's part of living. Life is but a journey. A lesson.

I'm still learning to love;

Just starting to crawl.

I struggle with self-love and self-acceptance, especially when it comes to my fertility. It is so difficult not to go into self-blame. After all I was blamed for my infertility for 20 years. It's difficult not to pick that torch up again.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.

To the unborn souls wherever they go when they're waiting for a body to be born into, to a child waiting for a parent.

Anywhere I would've followed you.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

My body responds with silence; the tears continue to fall.

And I will swallow my pride.

You're the one that I love,

And I'm saying goodbye.

Goodbye to my fertility, my reproductive years, the mother chapter of my life that I never truly got to experience. I give in, give up. Let go, release. To the universe, to all that is. I don't understand why some things happen but I do believe that everything happens – or doesn't happen – for a reason.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.

Say something…

And after three hours of tears, the Universe responded.

My man came home. He held me, held space for me, for my tears, my sorrow. He reassured me that everything would be okay, that it wasn't my fault, I wasn't flawed, broken. That I was beautiful and a wonderful mother to our three dog children. That the Goddess has and will continue to bless us. And that he still loves me.

And still the tears fell. Of pain, of sorrow. And of gratitude. Gratitude for this man who doesn't blame me or think I'm flawed or less of a woman. For this man who asks me what I need from him in this moment. Who draws my bath and tells me I deserve it and need it after what I've been through today. A man who lights candles for me and holds them steady as it feels like the flame of my reproductive years is burning out.

Say something…

Even in your darkest hours. Ask and you shall receive. There's always a light at the end of every tunnel. Even if it's not what you expect. Sometimes, it's even better.

 

Coming to Terms with My Infertility

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 15 Comments

Pregnant womanI got divorced in August of 2013. One of the many issues that lead to the downfall of my marriage was that my ex badly wanted to be a father – of his own biological child – and after 4 failed fertility attempts, I was done trying. He wasn’t.

Soon after the divorce was finalized, he found himself an insta-family: a woman who had 2 children already (and thus was obviously fertile). As much as it smarted that after 21 years he ‘replaced’ me less than a month after our divorce was finalized, I was more hurt by the the fact that he got what he always wanted – a family. Whereas I got nothing, but my infertility rubbed in my face again.

No worries, I said to myself. I’m okay with my infertility. I didn’t want children anyway. I was 40 after all. My biological clock had ceased ticking a long time ago.

But somehow, somewhere underneath the ‘I don’t want kids’ exterior, I still felt flawed. Jilted. Like my goddess-given right to have children had been prematurely and unfairly taken from me.

So I made it crystal clear to every man who expressed interest in me that I couldn’t have kids. I thought it only fair to both of us to not even pursue a relationship without him knowing I was ‘flawed.’

Because you know, I was fine with my infertility. I wasn’t.

As I’ve said before, I believe the universe gives us just what we need when we need it. When we don't listen to that message/lesson, the universe keeps sending us increasingly louder reminders until we get it. Gentle nudges turn into shoves. Shoves become cosmic 2x4s.

I thought I had dealt with my infertility. I thought I had accepted it, gotten over it, moved on. Apparently I hadn't.

I met a man two months ago. I told him I couldn’t have kids. He said he was fine with that; said he didn’t know if he wanted them anyway. We chatted almost daily; talked about meeting again (we don’t live in the same state – we met at a wedding of a mutual friend of all places). I was apprehensive, wanting us both to be sure before we tried to make a long distance relationship work. He finally broke down my reserves and I agreed to meet him. We only had to work out the when and where.

Two days later, he changed his mind. He wasn’t sure if he wanted kids or not and I couldn’t have them… He needed some time to think it through.

I was devastated. It's apparently still a very sore subject for me and it felt like I was being rejected by yet another man for something I could not control. I spent more time in my office that day crying in between my classes and meetings than I care to admit.

You see, I thought I had dealt with my infertility, but I hadn't. So the universe sent me this man – yet another cosmic 2×4 for me.

The shock I felt, the betrayal hurt like hell. Yet, I am grateful to him for inadvertently pointing out another lesson I need to learn. A lesson I didn’t know I needed to learn, but can now deal with it so it doesn't come back to bite me in the ass again. And now I know that I need to be even more clear with any man I might want to date about the kid issue. To make sure that he gets it and is okay with it before either of us invest any of our time or ourselves in the potential relationship. It just hurts too much to keep going through this. And I now know that's something I need to deal with and work on. I owe that to myself.

And so I told him I was finished. I wasn’t going to wait for him to ‘think about it.’ My heart can't take another beating for something I have no control over. I have worked so hard to not see this as a flaw in myself. It's not like I asked for this or brought it upon myself somehow. Endometriosis is hereditary (although my ex seemed to blame me for it anyway). I cannot pursue anything with a man knowing he sees me as flawed. I have too much self-respect for that.

I wished him well and said I hoped he could find someone who can meet his needs. I think we both deserve that. Everyone deserves to be happy.

If there is a plus side to this it’s that it did in fact make me re-think the kid issue. It made me ask myself, “Do I want children?” And I came to terms with the fact that regardless of my endometriosis, at age 40, I actually don’t want kids. There – I said it. I know that statement will make me a pariah to some, but it’s my truth. I feel that I have many gifts to share, but they will be with friends, family, students – children of my heart, not of my womb. And I am okay with that. I can move forward knowing that I am not flawed for not being able to have – or not wanting – children in my life at this point.

I also realized something. I am a good catch – for the right guy. I just need someone who wants the same things in life that I do. I need someone I can pursue my dreams with (and he with me) without feeling like I am letting either of us down. I've done that before. No more. It's not fair to me and it's not fair to my future Mate.

So I’m putting it out there for the Universe to hear and deal with. I want a romantic partner who is also my Soul Mate – not because I need one, but because I want one. And I am more than willing to wait for the right man at the right time and the right place in my life. Someone who won’t judge me or see me as flawed. Because I’m not. I’m perfect just as I am – infertility, deciding I really don’t want kids, and all. Even if it takes months, even if it takes years. I will wait.

Finally, I surrender.