My first child was an IVF conception. After trying to become pregnant for three years, we finally resorted to IVF. At the time I was suffering from work related anxiety and stress, had a horrific diet, and drank way too much alcohol.
All the signs of being in a bad state of health were there: feeling constantly sluggish, waking multiple times at night, having anxiety about everything, experiencing brain fog, feeling irritable and feeling no joy in my life. Yet I didn't do anything to change this in order to conceive. I carried on with my toxic lifestyle and didn't make any changes until I realised that the chances of falling pregnant through IVF were only 27%.
Only then did I become committed to my health - I stopped drinking alcohol, started drinking more water, went to yoga classes three times per week, changed my eating habits, and gave myself a good talking to about managing my work related stress. This was the reason that we were successful the first time. My body was prioritising dealing with the stress and lack of mental and physical nourishment over becoming pregnant. By listening when my body was screaming at me to change, I was able to rebalance and bring conception back to the top of the priority list.
I am so grateful that we were able to conceive my son after three years of struggling, BUT when I think about how he was conceived, I am consumed with guilt. A warm, safe womb was replaced with a cold, clinical lab. As he has grown, we have discovered he has issues with his gait, coordination and focus. After searching tirelessly for somebody who could help, I finally found a neuro developmental therapist.
One of the first things she said to me was that, on a deep and neurological level, my son does not feel safe. When I heard these words, everything suddenly made sense - I understood why he would cry if he was not held at every moment during his first year, why we could never put him down. Everyone thought I was so chilled out as I never had that 'first time parent anxiety' of needing to see where my child was at every second. In reality, I knew he would never go anywhere more than a metre away from me, as his need to feel safe was, at that time, determined by knowing I was close. He would wake up to ten times per night and now I know that he needed to know I was still there next to him.
The therapist also told me that 70% of her patients were conceived through IVF. She said this to educate and inform me, not in anyway to make me feel bad, but I feel immense guilt because I should have tried harder to get pregnant naturally, I should have known what I know now, and if I had made more effort, my son wouldn't be in the position he is now. Right?
But how could I have known? I was in a different space, lived a different life back then. When I look back on how much I have grown as a person and as a practitioner, I doubt my 30 year old self could have imagined how much my life would change let alone recognise the me that I have become.
I do feel I missed the opportunity to fall pregnant naturally. I don't think that feeling will ever leave me. But now I know that my health is my responsibility and mine alone. One of the worst things about infertility is the feeling of having no control. Taking responsibility is empowering. After I learned more about where health comes from and stopped outsourcing my health to outside agencies, I was able to become pregnant without even 'trying' and grew two extremely healthy and robust children.
My natural fertility podcast shares my knowledge about what you can do to fall pregnant naturally. Have a listen and empower yourself.