There are 3 things you should know:
- I was raised on my intuition by my psychiatrist father: an M.D. who also heals with his hands and crystals and taught me to use the I-Ching at 8 years old. I was encouraged to speak to my body when it hurt or was sick and ask it why. I was told to ask for a dream to help me make decisions. I did all these things and they worked. Thus began my life of spirituality and, eventually, magical thinking.
- I became a professional actor, at the suggestion of my father. My mother was a teacher and supportive of anything I did. I majored in Drama in college. I acted in at least one production every year from the age of 10 on. I got my Actors Equity card and my SAG card. I pounded the pavement in New York and LA. I got on some good TV shows and did some terrible movies. I believed acting was the reason I was on the planet. I thought it was just a matter of time until I was a self-sustaining artist.
- I married an atheist. He was raised Jewish, had a very tough childhood and does not believe in God. He is supportive of everything I do and have done or tried to do – however esoteric or spiritual. He only believes in science and proof and the seen. He is interested in meditation and Buddhism and that’s as spiritual as he gets. He balances me out and helps me keep my feet on the ground.
It wasn’t until I stopped acting that I wanted to have a baby. By then, I was 41. My husband and I didn’t meet until I was 35 – the year you are then considered to be of “advanced maternal age” (something that was never on my radar). I was never the person who HAD to hold the baby. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a mother. I knew I had to chase my dream of acting and I never wanted to take a dashed dream out on an innocent child. So we waited.
I have now been on a fertility journey for 3 ½ years. I’ve had 2 natural pregnancies, and 2 early miscarriages – a horrible experience if you’ve never been through it. We’ve done 5 or 6 IUIs with and without medication, 1 unsuccessful IVF, 1 egg retrieval that resulted in 2 embryos with abnormal chromosomes that didn’t warrant implanting them. I’ve been poked, prodded, had umpteen vials of blood drawn and tested. My tubes have been confirmed open with a blue dye that I saw go through them on a screen. I have no clotting issues, no endometriosis, had 2 uterine polyps removed and a perfectly shaped but retroverted uterus. In short, there is nothing wrong with me physically. I just have old eggs.
My husband has been equally tested – blood, karyotypes, sperm – and there is an issue with the shape of the sperm now that wasn’t there before. IVF is the only way around that since the best swimmers can be chosen to fertilize my eggs. It’s not possible to know if an egg is good until it gets fertilized. Not yet, anyway.
As you might suspect, all these concrete medical procedures and testing led to my spirituality being tested. Something I expected and welcomed really. I never left my spirituality; I just turned the volume down on it for a while. I find it hard to only dabble in that world. Because of my magical thinking past, it doesn’t feel truly spiritual unless I abandon the material world. And I just can’t do that anymore. Especially when I’m on this path with a partner who is of the other extreme. Regardless of science, it still takes two to make a baby.
However, all along this journey, I have also fed the unseen, ethereal plane where I believe there is a soul that wants to be my baby. I do yoga for fertility, I’ve done hypnosis, EFT, imagery work, bodywork, visualization, Feng Shui cures (something I’m actually certified in) and numerous workshops with women who overcame their own infertility.
I have gone to the extreme in both realms: the medical, physical issues I can try and remedy and the spiritual side of manifesting a baby. I have beaten myself up for not doing my chi gong every day. Or not eating the exact right foods consistently. I wonder if I just let go enough and practice non-allowance, would my baby magically appear? People who have not had difficulty getting and staying pregnant will tell you to just go on vacation. Phooey. You can get pregnant 4, maybe 5 days out of the month. If you went on vacation without thinking about this baby you long for, you would need to luck out and be in Tahiti on one of those 4 days of opportunity. It doesn’t work that way either.
My spiritual pendulum started out in childhood swinging as far as it could go into the unseen. I believed if I prayed and meditated and did rituals and read the right books that I could make anything happen. I still believe that I have power in situations like this. I have, however, balanced that out with some grounding.
Marrying my husband helped that. I came down to earth kicking and screaming – at myself and him – before I put my feet on the ground and got a full time job that could pay the bills. Doing that felt like I was giving up on my dream rather than supporting it in a way that could allow it to happen. I wanted it all to be true: that I could Abraham-Hicks my way through life and use an actual pendulum to help me make decisions and know what was true and right in the moment.
But I needed the balance. And I still do. The fact that I believe my baby is out there drives me to figure out my health: the medical fueling the spiritual and vice versa. I did not accept “unexplained infertility” as a diagnosis. I lifted every rock and stone until I finally figured out something physically wrong with me. Something that has a direct, although not yet proven, connection to fertility. I have SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). It’s a digestive disorder that is a very new diagnosis, so much so that most doctors don’t even think to test for it. I took a course of antibiotics to kill off the overgrowth and now follow a diet that is the opposite of what everyone thinks you should eat. I eat white bread, meat, and cooked vegetables only. I cannot eat whole grains, coconut water, yogurt, salads, hummus, beans, smoothies or seeds. Everything I was eating. Go figure.
Discovering this disorder and fixing it felt like finding the Holy Grail. And, then, to learn from the experts that most women who fix their SIBO go on to get pregnant without blinking an eye, well that news brought me to tears. The disorder can lead to low absorption of folic acid and lessened motility in your fallopian tubes. I figured it out! I fixed it. I explained my fertility.
But the physical is still only one piece of the puzzle. Like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin says, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And, when I now so desperately long for a family of my own genetic makeup, it’s just not that easy. I still need to do everything I can to be healthy and let go of the longing while feeding it at the same time. I can’t just put it aside. I need to walk the tightrope of the spiritual and the medical, the concrete vs. the ethereal and find the balance between the two.
To me, that is the very definition of a spiritual practice. Holding the tension between the two. Letting them both hold their own while allowing myself the space to be human. A human trying to create another human to start the process all over again. And let their pendulum swing as it may. However it happens, I plan to be a parent. I only hope that my experience on this path will help my child find their way. Until, I’ll keep moving forward – in body, mind and spirit.
photo by Floyd Rocker