Guest post by Amanda L. Johnson, a nutrition and wellness coach specializing in natural fertility guidance and enhancement, as well as supporting the health and wellness of clients during the process of advanced fertility treatment.
At the fairly young age of 26 I started my journey trying to conceive knowing that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but without an understanding of what I would encounter along the way. I never went through the standard year of trying to get pregnant before seeing a specialist because one look at my basal body temperature charts and my doctor knew the problem was obvious and complicated; I rarely ovulate. At the time I was devastated and overwhelmed by the diagnosis of PCOS but I was grateful that we knew this from the start and would be getting some assistance. Being a bit naïve I assumed starting on Clomid would help me become pregnant right off the bat, but I was very wrong…
Over the next 4 years I tried many different methods and procedures but none resulted in a pregnancy. Many days were difficult and I couldn’t think of anything but having a baby, and I started losing interest in my corporate marketing career and realized that nothing about my job seemed as important as a baby. It was when I finally started to distract myself from the infertility that I started to grow. When you go through something like infertility you often ask the question, why me? I also wanted to get to the root of what was causing my PCOS; most doctors just told me I would have to be on birth control pills for the rest of my life, yet my acupuncturist was telling me that’s most likely what caused the disruption in my system. In searching for an answer I wondered if it was time for a career change as I had always been interested in a job in the health field and just didn’t know where to start. I finally understood that I was meant to help women going through the infertility battle, but the healing had to start with me. Once I opened my mind and started focusing on my health and well being, many inspirational people and opportunities came into my life; Funny how things work out that way.
Around year 3 of my journey I decided to apply to holistic nutrition school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition because I believe many of the causes of infertility can be solved through real food and better health. I grew up on refined foods, junk food and soda, and meats contaminated with hormones and antibiotics. It’s not much of a surprise that I had a disease associated with malfunctioning endocrine hormones and pre-diabetic conditions. I was told by many medical doctors that there is no cure for PCOS, and even if that is the case, I believe it can be managed through diet and lifestyle. Some overweight women with PCOS start ovulating as soon as they drop some weight! My goal is to help women reestablish a balance within their health and lifestyles.
Halfway into my nutrition program I decided to leave my corporate job to focus on the remainder of school and starting my health coaching business. Amongst all the craziness, this gave me the opportunity to reflect on what the last 4 years had really been like for me, the good and the bad. In the end, more good definitely came out of it! My husband and I could go out whenever we wanted, took at least 3 big vacations as well as long weekend getaways. We were enjoying life and time with each other, which many of our friends with children couldn’t easily do anymore. They were jealous of us, but I was finally done being jealous of them. I love and cherish the time my husband and I have had together that gave us the opportunity to build a strong foundation for our marriage, which will certainly be the foundation for our family when we have our own children.
Around this time I turned 30 years old, and after the countless natural cycles and several failed IUI’s my husband and I decided to pursue in-vitro fertilization (IVF). I thought if I could just get some assistance having the first baby that I would attempt the natural route again when conceiving a second child. I knew that IVF was no walk in the park and it would take a healthy person to succeed and sanely get through the process. One of our priorities during all of these challenges was to move back to our home state to be closer to family and friends, especially once kids were part of the picture. In the middle of our first IVF cycle our house sold in one day and we found ourselves scrambling to make living arrangements with family back in our home state until we could buy or build a home. Handling the physical and time demands of IVF, selling a house, building a new house in a different state, and starting a new career all at the same time was the perfect mix for disaster and stress. However, these were all things we wanted for ourselves so the excitement and enthusiasm remained with us. Through eating well and keeping up with exercise and yoga, I was able to keep myself feeling good while I let the IVF medications do their work. I also consistently started to meditate using the Circle & Bloom IVF/IUI program. The program helped guide me into understanding that I could accept the medications and hormones instead of feeling angry every time I had to poke myself with a needle. I felt amazingly strong and had a great sense of pride that I had the courage to get through such a process with a smile on my face and without letting the hormones affect my mood. I finally let myself focus on the future because focusing on the pain that infertility caused me in the past did no good. And when I found out that I only had 3 embryos from the IVF procedure, I could have been devastated but I stayed positive, not something I could have done easily before this journey because I didn’t know how before.
Today I am still recovering from my IVF cycle, but simultaneously celebrating that I’m 9 weeks pregnant with twins! Sometimes I would envision what this day would feel like, assuming and hoping I would forget the battle once we won. But now that I’m here I can’t fathom writing off the last 4 years of my life and the journey I’ve had along the way. Journeying through infertility and into motherhood has made me stronger and more courageous than ever. My relationship with my husband has soared, and I’m much happier in my new career as a health coach helping other women overcome these processes. What I most look forward to is that I’m finally going to be a mother, and a good one! I am proud of myself and forever thankful for the journey that made me who I am today.