Tomorrow, Jan 25th, is Holiday’s 3rd birthday. My second child and first daughter, who I chose to water birth after years of infertility, diagnosis, treatments and surgery. I’m writing about my infertility today because even though it is something so many of us struggle with, and something so many of us will never fully get to the root cause of, I feel that I have a better understanding of infertility now. After years of working with clients with infertility, as well as working on myself, I found that in many cases there are several unifying treatments, and tricks, that help those who do go on to conceive.
I wanted to start off by saying I obviously am not a fertility doctor, I’m just your local herbalist and fellow infertility sufferer. I have shared on my instagram snippets of my healing journey and I have guided my herbal clients as well. But today I wanted to lay it all out for those who may be too frustrated, too afraid to ask or seek help or for those who have exhausted all efforts and resources. Today I want to share with you a journey of mental and physical healing that has been necessary for myself, and my clients, in order to conceive, or in some cases to get over wanting to conceive… (more about this later)
I struggled to become pregnant after my first child. I consider myself one of the lucky ones since it only took me about 2 years to finally conceive, but not after many ultrasounds, diagnosis, treatments and even surgery. I have, or had rather, endometriosis – a disease brought on by imbalanced hormones of excess estrogen in the body. There is no definitive root cause of endometriosis, and at the time of diagnosis I had no idea what that really meant. But now I can tell you that it’s probably a mix of unchecked inflammation, and an accumulation of dietary and environmental influences on the body. I was, at the time, consulting for clients in nutrition, but I didn’t know much about diseases and medicine. This was also where my journey into Clinical Herbalism started as I talk about in my YouTube video HERE
I spent a year trying to heal myself after conventional medicines left me even more wounded than when I started my “healing” journey. I then focused on moving my healing inwards, as strange as it sounds (and I’ll be the first to denounce “woo-woo”), I wanted to start with my mindset and find where my heart truly was.
The first step in healing is mindset and heart-set.
Even with my herbal clientele now, the one thing that really sets those in the path of true healing are those who have their minds and hearts in the right place. Why do you want to conceive? Is it to fill a desire that is not truly your own? Maybe its your husband’s, or your parents, or the pressures from friends and society that having a baby is the solution to everything? Many times I asked myself this question. I had my own reasons for wanting another child, but really couldn’t pinpoint the true collective reason, until I started writing it down. Every morning take out a notebook and answer the question, Why do I want to conceive? Every morning try to choose and pick a different reason. It could be as simple as “I want to change diapers”, “I want to become a soccer mom”. This puts you in a mindset which I call “the-neutral”. You’re not writing down what you have to do to get pregnant, or why you’re not, so as not to put yourself into a stressful mindset. Nothing negative, nothing forceful.
Doing this every morning made me realize how much, and how little at times, I wanted to have another child. It is strange, but seeing my reasons pile up actually allowed me to let go. This gave me less stress and less worry about actually conceiving. I ended up with clients who, after months of journaling, come to realize that it was making them miserable to go through this process of trying to conceive, and were much happier to try adoption or to not have children at all. This brings me to number two…
The focus of your healing should be healing yourself, and not conceiving.
After a while I realized that whether or not I conceived, I wanted to heal myself. I wanted to be healthy for my family, my husband, my sister and for myself. There was something wrong happening within me. Something about me was not ok, was unhealthy and could possibly affect me in many ways other than not being able to conceive. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was allowing something to happen to my body, while I consulted clients on good health and nutrition. I felt like I failed myself. You have one important person to take care of, and that is yourself. I started to focus on healing my endometriosis for one reason only, to be completely healthy – because I owed that to myself.
- First: I started to do castor oil packs on the abdomen. I encourage and assist my clients to do this, if you would like some more information I will be posting it in my next post. Castor oil packs have been used for centuries. It is used for a variety of ailments including but not limited to: infertility, hormonal imbalances, GERD, constipation, cancer and more. With modern day science now in place we can see many studies proving time and time again the great effects of regular castor oil packs. The way castor oil packs work are allowing the oil to penetrate the skin barrier on the abdomen in the area of the liver and over the stomach. Castor oil is said to move the lymphatic system and aide the body and liver in detoxifying. At the time I did castor oil packs I was looking to reduce inflammation and to reduce the amount of free-floating estrogen hormones in my body. I did castor oil packs 2-3 times a week for about 2 months.
- Second: I took a really good look at my diet. There was a time where I thought consulting for nutrition was incredibly redundant. “Eat more vegetables, fruit, whole-food, grains…” but as I became sick myself I realized more than ever how much nutrition is all about the individual person and about being truly happy with the food you eat. I cut out bullshit health drinks, excess supplements, and weird packaged “health” food. And what I stuck to were hearty, colorful, home-cooked meals. I enjoy soup, especially filipino soup like Tinola and Bulalo made from scratch with extra vegetables… A LOT of vegetables. I enjoyed my husband’s homemade chicken adobo with free-range chicken and lots of pineapple. I enjoyed my carbohydrates and took time to take part in the creation of the meals I ate. I really don’t enjoy the thought of cooking, but when I’m actually doing it and in the zone of making something delicious for my body and my family, I truly appreciate the food more. But that’s not to say I cooked everyday, I did so a few times a week and left the rest to Ate, who still is an amazing cook.
- Third: I looked into herbal medicine. When I realized my body had probably accumulated toxins via diet and environment over the span of 25 years, I decided to cut out ALL supplements. This comes as a shock to my clients when they first sign on with me to help address their infertility. But you need to give your liver a break. Your liver is responsible for most of the detoxification happening in your body, that includes removing excess hormones that may be causing reproductive issues. And as much as you think you need that CoQ10 or Vitamin collage pill, you need more to quit it. At least for 2-3 months. Relax. Your body knows how to detoxify but how can it do it if you’re overloading it? After a good 2-3 months, I started to introduce only medicinal herbs for addressing hormones. I start with one issue first and then move onto the next, and this is how I conduct my herbal protocols today. I first started with a tea blend to detoxify, then I used a tea blend to address inflammation and finally I moved on to a supportive tea blend for the reproductive system. Notice how I only used tea, I found that I wanted the treatment to be potent but gentle on my liver. I didn’t want to take huge amounts of herbal pills, which after learning in clinical herbalism have almost no effect at all, but are also so hard on the digestive system.
- The last thing I did for myself was conscious movement. I’ve been active and sporty all my life, I’ve completed yoga teacher training, and exercised everyday. But what I wasn’t doing was conscious movement. Even in yoga sometimes your mind will start to wander and your body, even if in the most complicated position, will also wander too. After awhile you’re doing the moves because of muscle memory. And although I continued my yoga practice, I removed all high intensity workouts due to increased cortisol levels, I found conscious movement much more effective in my mental and physical healing. Where I could I took the stairs – and enjoyed it. I focused on the movements of my legs when I walked, my hips when I sat down, my posture and back when I sat, the way I turned my head or the way I took a shower. I made every movement important. I consciously took effort in every thing I did. From putting my socks on to brushing my hair. I brought awareness to my body and it has had a remarkable result on the way I use and care for my body.
The bottomline in all my journey, was learning how to let-go of what I had no control over and start controlling what was in my control; my health and my thoughts. I learned to appreciate what I had and be grateful for the body I had. Most of the time I try to get my clients into a space of simplicity, you don’t need to watch every calorie, take all those supplements, work out like a hog. This stresses the body out. It is so much easier said than done, when trying to conceive, to relax. But it’s at the end of everyday when you’re sitting in bed that you realize that all you have is what you have now, in this moment. And whether you believe in perfect timing, God’s plan or the universes wishes, what is going to happen will happen and what will not, will not. We have so little in our control if you think about it, and so take control over what little you have to control because the job is not hard, but I know that the societal pressure, the advertisements, the feeling of emptiness is hard. If there is anything I can do for you, it’s to at least share a story and hope you find something to hold onto in your own healing journey.