Tuesday, 9 December 2014

So, what worked? - TTC edition

I know I'm very lucky in naturally conceiving and bearing a healthy first baby in my 40s.  I'm recording what I did here both for posterity and to remind myself of the hard work good luck often is founded upon.  I made a lot of effort to conceive Pickle and on those days when I start to wonder if I am not cut out to be a mother, I can remind myself of how much I wanted her and the effort I put into it.

For the record, I think IVF is an amazing tool however, at 40 it was strongly inferred that, although my numbers all came back okay, I was simply too old.  For that reason (and the fact I dislike the idea of unnecessary medical interventions) I didn't pursue the referral the doctor half heartedly offered but decided to do what I could to create an optimum environment in my body for conception.  If I fell pregnant, then good.  If not, I'd be in better health in my 40s than in any other time of my life.

Ha!  I say that like I was sane, but in fact I was like any other woman having difficulty falling pregnant... slightly obsessed.

I did a lot of reading on fertility and fertile health in both men and women.  I learned more about my cycle.  Until my late 30s I was unaware that my menstrual cycle could be straightforward and pain free.  I had always experienced extreme pain from cramping, dark blood and large clots.  I thought this was normal and just to be suffered.  It was eye opening to learn otherwise.  Seriously - this information should be taught to girls when they first menstruate instead of teaching them to self medicate with painkillers.

I started recording my basal body temperature each morning and learned I was still ovulating regularly.  I made changes to my (already pretty healthy) lifestyle to improve my cycle and the health of my eggs.  
  • I ate for fertility ensuring my diet was rich in nutritious foods.  On the advice of Emma Cannon's "The Baby Making Bible' introduced both red meat and home-made bone broth into my diet.  I started eating breakfast and cut out alcohol and sweets to promote stable blood sugar.  I bought a slow juicer and drank freshly made organic green juice every day.
  • Following the advice of Zita West and Marilyn Glenville, I took supplements (COQ10, Royal Jelly, Omega3, clover infusion, nettle tea, spirulina, maca, selenium) to improve my reproductive health.
  • I've never been one for cosmetics, but swapped my skincare products for olive oil soap and coconut oil as moisturiser to decrease my exposure to topical toxins.  I have to say my prone to eczema skin has never felt better.  
  • I stopped using the sauna and hot tub in the gym.  I can't remember why.
  • I was uncertain about acupuncture until I bought and read 'The Infertility Cure' by Randine Lewis.  I started seeing an acupuncturist and after only two treatments, my next period, for the first time in my life, was of the painless, bright red blood associated with fertile health.  I was thrilled to conceive Poppy the next time I ovulated after that.
  • I practiced meditation and yoga (as best I could) and fell asleep listening to the Circle and Bloom natural cycle fertility programme playing under my pillow every night.  
  • From a spiritual/energetic perspective I decided that if I wanted children in my life then I should have children in my life, so to that end I volunteered for the local cub scout troop each week.  I also made an effort to focus on creation and nurturing.  Starting a garden to nurture, inventing recipes to nourish, even starting this blog to foster and record my creative side.  
  • After my losses I sought massage to help my physically and emotionally process the grief.  I also consulted a hypnotherapist to identify and address any mind/body issues.
Of course with so many things, I don't know what, if anything, was the 'magic bullet'.  There is simply no way to tell.  It might be that after nearly five years of 'trying' it was just my time statistically.

On reflection, making an effort to do something (Anything. Everything!) to increase my odds gave me some sense of control and definitely helped my mental state.  Also taking good care of my body made me feel vital and healthy which also contributed to a better state of mind.

While I (probably like every other not-yet-pregnant woman) would be quite happy to throttle anyone who says 'maybe you should just relax', deep down I believe that, for me, (a bit of a workaholic), there may be an element of truth in it.  Not in taking a brief holiday, or not thinking about how to conceive, or anything cursory, but in consciously taking actions to de-stress my mind and body and prepare myself to be a mother as much as possible.

Ultimately, I believe not working and practicing extreme self-care gave me the opportunity to take a physical break and discover the mental space needed to slow down and allow a baby to come to me.

I am so grateful.


  1. I truly believe that the natural cures and remedies work together with medical intervention (when necessary) and a stressed out mind and body is not the optimal environment for a baby.


    1. Ooh, glad to see you're back Gypsy Mama! Yes, I don't think I knew how much stress I carried until I starting trying to reduce it.

  2. Enjoyed this entry. I am in a similar position: conceived naturally, but what worked? it's really hard to say. If we want to try to for a second child at some point I will have to think about it, though the notion is pretty overwhelming at this point. I agree that healthy lifestyle is a reward in and of itself, outside of achieving a pregnancy.

    1. Yes, if only I could pin it down, then contemplating number two might not seem like such an audacious prospect.

  3. I continue to be amazed by the depths of your knowledge and am so happy you had success! I'm so glad that you have documented so much of it here to explore your creativity and to provide a resource for others. I'm such a believer in self care and natural medicine and yet I can check off most on this list and I still had the horrible, painful periods and combined with male factor, low morphology for which J was not a believer in natural medicine (he believed the endocrinologists that told him there was no treatment), we ended up doing IVF. There seems to be so much more research and blog presence on female infertility that male factor.

    1. I tried to do some research into male factor as part of that essay I was writing, but found very little information. I'm so glad the IVF worked for you. I read somewhere it is common for your cycle to change after pregnancy - mine certainly did after Poppy. I hope there are pain free cycles in your future!


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