Hello, feminine center. Hello ovaries, hello uterus, follicles growing strong. Hello fallopian tubes, open and ready for their time of adventure. Thank you for doing your best. Thank you for healing, for receiving, for your wisdom and strength.
I’m sorry if I haven’t always fully believed in you. It’s not that I didn’t trust you – I did. I just didn’t fully trust that you (or your hormones) were in proper working order.
Proper working order...How sterile is THAT? How about “balanced abundance”? That feels better, doesn’t it?
I hope I’m always patient. I trust your wisdom, messages, how you honor me and pace yourself – help me slow down and appreciate everything. I promise to be more open, relaxed, receiving and giving in our loving relationship. To continue to care for you and honor you and express my gratitude for how you’ve protected me, helped me flourish in ways that might not have seemed so in the moment.
Nice to see you again.
Oh that piece above? Yes, that's a letter I wrote to my reproductive organs.
Why am I writing a letter to my reproductive organs, you might ask? Or not. Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, I mean, why wouldn’t you do that?” But, odds are, you’re not, so let me explain why I’m doing it and why I felt compelled to share it with you.
I’m currently reading a book called The Energetic Fertility Method. It sounds about as woo as it is, so, as per usual, I scoffed when I first heard about it: “Ha. Okay. Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t need energy to get pregnant: I need a freaking miracle.”
Oh, how naive we can be. How easily we can keep ourselves stuck – and how easy it can be to unstick ourselves! Okay, maybe not easy.
I’m doing all of the things – or at least a hefty handful of things – to unstick and open my body and mind. I’m going to weekly acupuncture appointments, seeing a functional medicine doctor, getting a monthly massage, eating meat for the first time in 20 years (and loving it, I might add), taking about 27 supplements – including CoQ10, fish oil, flax oil, probiotics, maca powder, two kinds of magnesium, and even...wait for it...desiccated beef liver. That’s liver in a capsule form, ladies and gents. It’s as weird as it sounds, but it’s tasteless, so BOOYAH.
I’ve been using a really handy app called Headspace to meditate semi-regularly for the first time in my life (something else I didn't believe in until I tried it), I’m halfway through a 30-day commitment to meditating for 10 minutes every single day, and I've been seriously working on my relationship with stress – which has basically spun a 180 over the past month in the most magical of ways. Did I mention that I’m going to start writing down 10 gratitudes every evening? That’s the next addition.
I’m also writing letters to my reproductive organs.
Y’all, D and I have been on a year-long fertility journey – since May 2018, to be exact. The thing about fertility that continues to blow my mind is that you have no idea how it will go until you start trying. I didn’t know what would happen with us, but we started seeing a fertility doctor about two months into trying, because I had my doubts. I feared that my eating disorder 15 years ago (plus that many years on birth control) would affect my ability to conceive. This was a deep-rooted fear – so rooted that those roots had basically begun to petrify. I wanted to get the ball rolling ASAP, so we did.
My hormones were indeed a little off...but then I got pregnant in October.
I was afraid. I wasn’t afraid of pregnancy or motherhood: I was afraid that my body couldn’t sustain it. It felt fragile. I didn’t want to get too excited. I told myself I was remaining calm and open to whatever happened, that apathy would soften the blow that might very well come later. We tell ourselves lies every day, people, but we do usually do so in the name of self-protection, because we don't want to face what's really going on in our emotional cesspools.
Every day felt like a week, waiting until we could have the first ultrasound. (Because I’m crazy in-tune with my body, I caught onto the pregnancy very early.) As D and I walked to our appointment that afternoon, I felt like I was going to vomit all over 5th Avenue. I tried to push back the black cloud hanging over my brain, but it’s as if my body knew I wasn’t there yet.
The doctor found the gestational sac, but all we saw was black. It was empty.
The technical terms are "anembryonic pregnancy," "empty sac," or "blighted ovum." It means that the embryo never developed. Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that point, but I knew. I wasn't sure which was worse: losing a fetus, or losing a...whole lotta nothin'.
I remember reading a coworker’s blog around that time: “Our conception journey.” She wrote about going off birth control, her normal cycle returning right away, and experiencing no symptoms of post birth-control syndrome. She wrote about trying for a few months before discovering the truth about how to track ovulation. She wrote about how they “finally” got pregnant the next month. (She was due in a few months.)
I tried to be happy for her, but I just thought, “That’s not a journey.”
I asked a friend to share her journey. Three IUI miscarriages. One natural pregnancy and miscarriage. IVF. Five years of trying, only one year with no pregnancies. And now an egg donor. She shared her fear about the pressure: she was the one who had to prove that her body wasn’t defective. I was grateful for her, the strongest woman on the planet in my mind.
Five days after my D&C, it came. It hadn’t yet managed to push its way through the gray shroud, but, suddenly, there it was, like a geyser. D heard it start from the other room and walked in. He knelt in front of me curled in a ball on the couch and held me as the sobs cracked me open. He held me as, slowly, my breath unstuck itself from my throat, until I no longer emitted a pitiful wheeze with each exhale.
“This is the first time you’ve done this,” he said.
I had made the rookie mistake of sharing the blessed news on the earlier side, so a lot of people knew about the loss. I received an outpouring of love, and so many women shared their own losses. The words that healed me the most came from a childhood soul-sister friend, who wrote this:
“Those baby souls have all these things to align – buddies and homies must be present for the soul’s true success. Maybe its best friend wasn’t ready yet?!”
Kindred spirits need each other to thrive. That actually made sense to me, more than any other "explanations" or lack thereof. That brought comfort like nothing else did.
A few days after I received that text, I finished reading The Stories of Eva. It ended with this:
There are all kinds of stories. Some are born with the telling; their substance is language, and before someone puts them into words they are but a hint of an emotion, a caprice of mind, an image, or an intangible recollection...Some are taken from reality and processed through inspiration, while others rise up from an instant of inspiration and become real after being told. And there are secret stories that remain hidden in the shadows of the mind; they are like living organisms, they grow roots and tentacles, they become covered with excrescences and parasites, and with time are transformed into the matter of nightmares. To exorcize the demons of memory, it is sometimes necessary to tell them as a story.
I’m telling this story to you. I haven’t written about it until now, because 1) it has been a personal journey, and 2) it’s all about timing. I had to get to other side of where I was before sharing.
The more we can talk about the tough things, the more connected we feel. So many of my friends got knocked up this year at the drop of a hat, and I had a hard time stomaching most of them. I was absolutely filled with joy for them, of course, but a sharp heart plummet quickly followed. It didn’t seem fair. Yeah, I know: life’s not fair. But you don’t automatically go the logical route when you're working through a miscarriage and a uterine cyst (that happened, too) and 13 months of "Maybe this month..." and you’re practically surrounded by immaculate conceptions on a daily basis. You just feel alone...and broken.
You see, it wasn’t just about preparing my body. It was about preparing my mind. My heart. My soul. Taking a good hard look at those deep-down scratchy patches of scars and muck, then holding them and honoring them until I was ready to let them go. It wasn’t a step-by-step process, and I can’t fully explain how I moved through it. All I know is that about one year later, I'm finally on the other side of it.
For a long time, I couldn’t quite wrap my heart around what happened. Was it really a loss if there was never anything there? Was I even pregnant? I wasn’t sure how to feel. It was a loss that so many go through, alone in their grief, and I was fortunate in that I lost mine early. Not all women are so lucky.
But it was still a loss. And, for months afterward, deep down, it confirmed my greatest fear: that I had ruined my own chances of birthing my baby.
Writing a letter to my feminine parts last weekend sounded so simple – dare I say childish. It was, in truth, surprisingly profound. Expansive and embracing. (Again, I often lead with judgment, but give me two seconds, and I’ll slide into grace.) As much as I’d tried for so long to stay positive, it wasn’t necessarily loving, or patient, or kind. It was more...accepting. Neutral.
Now it’s affirming. It’s beautiful, empowering, compassionate, and honest. I'm not forcing it, I'm breathing it. I had it in me, but I’d been too self-protective and hesitant to dive into such self-love.
Writing that letter was, in word, relieving. It affirmed that I’m finally ready – in body and mind and heart and soul – to fully receive. I trust my body, and I believe with everything I have that I will be a mama very soon. In short, it took me a full year (or, really, fifteen years) to reach the place where my husband has been all along. Thanks for your patience, D. I was definitely a little slow on the uptake there.
One more quote here, because, as an avid collector, I appreciate when I actually get to return to them in a meaningful way. It takes a long-ass time to type them all out:
The painful things…seemed like the knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place.
~ The Red Tent
Life is full of beads and knots. The beads are sparkles and joy and love and beauty, but it’s the knots that challenge us to heal ourselves, to return to our core selves. It's the knots that actually hold more beauty – a beauty that you appreciate more because it's so much harder to reach.
And, you know, those knots also sometimes inspire you to write letters to your reproductive organs.
Thanks for reading. Send us some positive vibes for our first IUI, and keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.