“Have you tried getting a bird? I’ve heard it works in bringing fertility into the home. And make sure it’s a colorful one, like a parakeet,” a doctor says to me after completing what feels like my thousandth test to determine why I can’t get pregnant. A bird? That was the advice from a MD? I know she was only trying to help and she did preface it as an old wives tale, but I left bewildered and frustrated by the lack of solid answers—once again—to a heartbreaking saga.
That comment motivated this post: the parakeet feather that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Let me explain a few things before I continue. The Voyage Vixens have traveled near and far throughout the U.S. and in over 57 countries. And now we’re hoping to add the ultimate adventure to our list: motherhood. This trip will be our scariest, longest and most emotional to date. You see, both Lindsay and I have fertility on the brain. A lot. And we have some issues — vastly different ones, but ones that we know many women (and maybe men, too) can relate to — from being 35 and certain about wanting to be a mother but not having a partner (Lindsay), to being 38 with a longtime partner, but not able to conceive (me).
We’ve had many long talks about sharing our individual struggles and challenges and fears on the blog, for all the world to see. Our cons were many, such as the embarrassment of revealing such a private matter or questioning if fertility issues have a place on a travel blog. But in the end, we felt it was right to talk about our experiences in trying to conceive or preparing to conceive solo if or when a suitable partner is MIA. After all, the overall theme of this blog is about encouraging women to follow their passion—be it travel or becoming a truck driver. At the moment and quite coincidentally, our passion is the future of procreating. And hopefully by sharing our disappointments and failures with becoming mommies, it may help you or your partner if you’re in the same bitch of a barren boat.***
Did you know 6.7 million women in the U.S. face fertility issues, according to CDC stats?
My path to pregnancy started four years ago, at age 34. I had been with my boyfriend two years already. Since I was reaching that magical 35-year-old peak when eggs apparently start to rapidly shrivel up and die, we decided to go off birth control and see what happened. A year later, nothing happened. Not even a missed period.
Because my boyfriend and I both share a respect for alternative healing and a good dose of Western medicine skepticism, I sought out an acupuncturist and naturopathic physician (an MD that treats ailments with homeopathy, herbalism, and diet). I also started a Basal Body Temperature Chart: reaching for the thermometer from bed first thing in the morning, examining my mucus quality (ew) and monitoring the amount of blood flow during my period.
My vitamin cabinet looked like a Chinese herbalist shop, filled with all kinds of far out tinctures, teas and exotic herbs prescribed by the naturopath. And my fridge was filled with herbs, seeds and supplement oils. The dietary regiment was intense that changed every few days depending on my cycle.
The acupuncture treatments were the most enjoyable. I’d sit with my therapist and discuss the weeks’ events and then hop on the table to be needled. Depending on what meridian points she focused on, some sessions were relaxing, some I’d burst out crying for no apparent reason.
This went on for a year: Twice a week acupuncture, daily charting, scheduling sex around ovulation and hundreds of herbs and supplements consumed monthly. I went all out and was fiercely dedicated to the program, trying my best to find a solution naturally. And the herbs helped to lengthen the days of my period and increase blood flow (both were on the minimal side) plus, they balanced my hormones.
Of course, I also tried plenty of post-sex tricks recommended by other women like headstands and putting a stack of pillows under my hips. I even said daily affirmations, like “My uterus is a happy, healthy place where eggs love to implant” or simply, “I am pregnant”.
Every few months, I’d do a home pregnancy test, hoping and praying to see two pink lines appear. Without even a false-positive blip, each test the same as the last: negative. Sometimes with tears in my eyes and sometimes with indignation and anger, I’d toss the stick in the trash and tell myself that the next month would be different.
What the hell was wrong with me? I was healthy, had no cysts, never been in a some ovary-damaging accident, and periods and pap smears were normal. And yes, my guy has been tested.
After giving it my all for two years au natural and spending serious money with no results, my journey of getting pregnant came to crashing halt. Based on costs, I was not keen on doing IVF. So, I just gave up, basically ignoring it and focused on writing, traveling and building the Voyage Vixens brand.
Fast forward two years later. Something inside me ignited again. Was it hormones, the proverbial ‘clock ticking’ syndrome or feeling the need to compete with Lindsay as she started her own exploratory journey into fertility?
***Over the next few months, Lindsay and I will be publishing a series of blog posts about facing our own—very different—fertility issues. We’d like this to be a safe place for you to share your sorrows, successes and stresses with conceiving as well in the comment section below. Or if you have your own unorthodox solution you’d like to offer, like getting a bird, we’re open to any and all suggestions, feedback, and advice from your own experience!