Little by little, a little becomes a lot. Tanzanian Proverb

Name: Monica

Age: 36

Time TTC: 9 Years

Diagnosis: IVF, Failed IVF Cycle/s, Unexplained Infertility, Female Infertility, Miscarriage / Loss, Poor Egg Health, Auto-Immune Issue

Strategies: Ovulation Charting / Tracking, Fertility Diet, Fertility Herbs, Fertility Massage, Fertility Yoga,  Supplements,  Reflexology,  Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Lifestyle Changes, Functional Medicine Practitioner

My fertility story

We spent three years naturally trying with not one BFP. I was fit, healthy, active, happy, in love, wide hips and ready to push one out! I have always had a regular cycle, and the only thing I struggled with was the occasional ovarian cyst, but no major “fertility” issues.

The only thing related to fertility that might have given insight was a low AMH score. They collected 12 eggs on my first IVF, great news considering my AMH, but it went downhill from there. Only six eggs mature enough to fertilize, and all embryo development was poor – deplorable really. We were now left thinking we couldn’t make healthy embryos and the doctors were no help either, stating: “They are keen to consider a further attempt, but are aware that the overall chances of an ongoing pregnancy is lower than average given our findings during the cycle and they do you appreciate that the treatment itself does provide a lot of information about the underlining quality of the eggs within the ovaries.”

Luckily I was finally ready to take matters into my own hands. I got ahold of the book Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage & IVF Failure – Explained by Alan E. Beer, M.D., started to see a Functional Medicine Practitioner and we found a clinic that at the time was offering the controversial “Chicago Testing.” So after almost a year of clean eating, we were ready to start our next round of IVF (still no natural BFP). We got talked out of doing the genetic testing; the consulting doctor thought we didn’t fit the mould. We followed along with their advice and the outcome of the second round were 100% better- six healthy embryos, one put back in and five on ice. All the hard work and sacrifice paid off, but unfortunately, the results were that same- I didn’t even make it to 28 days.

We demanded the Chicago Testing, even though the doctors felt it was a waste of time. And there it was, our answer to my “unexplained” infertility, High Natural Killer Cells (over active immune system, which was attacking the embryos and not letting them implant). We had taken some more time off, and I kept focused on my mental and physical health, which helped me stay immensely grateful after our first FET was successful, but at our seven-week scan, there was no heartbeat. Tears did fall, but I was grateful that we finally found our answer to why I wasn’t getting pregnant.

We took some more time to recover, I went on the Autoimmune Protocol diet, and with the help of immune-suppressing drugs, we finally got to hold our first child. During the time of the pregnancy and over the following year, I stuck closely to a diet that worked for me and was confident we were going to have a baby out of the last two embryos that were on ice. When I got a positive on my pregnancy from our third and last FET test, I wasn’t surprised. So when I started to miscarry just a week and a half later, I was gutted.

So that was that we were done with medical assistance and I would go on living my new lifestyle of clean eating and mindfulness. We wouldn’t be using contraception, so technically we would be naturally trying, but not charting, testing or obsessing! To our surprise, only two months after the last miscarriage, I was pregnant naturally for the first time ever! I worked so hard on my diet & lifestyle, with the knowledge that reversing my NK Cells was doable and getting pregnant was possible. But not this soon, no way! You only hear about this kind of stuff happening from your friend who knows someone who…… (You know that really annoying story that someone has told you along the way – insert roll of the eyes here). So I’ve come full cycle – after nine years of dealing with infertility, I’m about to have our second child and close the door on a very long chapter in our lives.

The lowest point in my journey and what helped me recover from it

When our second IVF failed – I didn’t even make it to 28 days. We worked so hard to improve our mental and physical health, and we had high-quality embryos- why didn’t it work!?! For a short period, I gave up on my body and even printed out a surrogacy application.

Where I am right now in my journey

I feel like I’m at the end and the beginning of my journey all at the same time. After eight years of infertility & five years of medical treatment, we walked away with a beautiful baby boy, who was created on our second FET. This was shorty followed by a surprise natural pregnancy after three years of working hard on reversing my High NK Cells. I feel like I’ve come full circle and I’m looking forward to enjoying motherhood and supporting others on their journey.

What I learned from my fertility experience

1. What true health is. I went years without knowing I had an autoimmune issue that was making me infertile. I had no obvious symptoms and all the doctors put it down to “one of those things” or “unexplained.” But it was far from either of those explanations! I know there is different medical help that can be used to combating High NK Cells (I used them). But none of that medical support fixes the problem, and I want to be around in a fit and healthy way for my children for the many years to come – especially now being an older mother. Diet and lifestyle is the best way to make sure this is a possibility.

2. Being mindful of the life around you. Once I started to focus on everything I had and could do in the “right now,” not being a mother yet didn’t seem to hurt as much. Seek out what can help you become a more positive you – yoga, meditation and journaling have been my go to support.

If I had to start my fertility journey again: What would I do differently

I wouldn’t have wasted years with my head in the sand. It took me three years to wake up and realise that the way I was eating and living life, just wasn’t going to get me pregnant. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be that girl who could eat and drink whatever she wanted and get pregnant without even trying! It would have saved us time, money and a lot of heartache. Being mindful about the right now and clean, healthy eating (making sure you find the right diet that works best with your body) are the two key elements you need to improve your fertility health, the quality of your embryos and your overall chances in get pregnant.

My favourite resources about fertility (websites, books, blogs or articles)

Read more about my story & all my top tips about changing your diet and lifestyle to increase your fertility health over on the Fertility Health Coaching blog 

There’s a list of all the books, blogs, podcast & other resources that I used over on the Fertility Health Coaching website 

Check out the Baby & Me 3 Year Mindfulness Journal, that can be used for all different types of journeys to parenthood and beyond over on Mindful Me 

What I would tell someone else going through infertility right now

Fight to find your answer; it’s out there. If you feel like you can’t find it yourself, find someone who is willing to look outside the “conventional medicine” box to help you figure it out. Also, start noticing the amazing life you have now. Find the joy in the small things – don’t waste years like I did being mad, angry, jealous and feeling hopeless. Life is way too short, and those emotions aren’t going to help you achieve your dream family anyways.

My favourite inspiring fertility quote

Little by little, a little becomes a lot. – Tanzanian Proverb

 

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