Fertile Ground Yoga

Christmas morning when you’re a kid. That’s what today’s like. I’ve been meaning to write about yoga and fertility, yoga and pregnancy, pre-natal yoga and all things yoga and maternal, but the last two years have been so filled with personal hopes, dreams, seeming successes and events I’ve sought not to feel as failures that I haven’t felt qualified or steady enough to share what I know or my experiences, or better yet, where they intersect.

I’ve taken additional training for pre-natal yoga, I’ve taught pre-natal classes and kids classes and, well, let’s just say I have some experience in the matter. When I landed in my pre-natal yoga teacher training class, I was pregnant. I was one of those pregnant women who can’t stop talking about it and whose hormones are like prozac on steroids. It’s good that nothing tragic happened during that short time, because I was seemingly incapable of anything but radiant bliss. I can’t imagine the kind of pain in the tush I’d have been if something truly depressing had asserted itself.

Until it did. But the happening was simultaneous with a drop in hormones, since the happening was a miscarriage. We were stunned. Perfectly dumb founded. But our midwife gave us great hope and assurance, and so we trod on. We saw a fertility specialist – Reproductive Endocrinologist, to be specific, supposedly the best in the SouthWest. Bah! It was like a cattle call with no time for individual variances or questions and a ham handed caricature of a doctor who tried to talk office politics with a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand poking against my cervix and rolling around like a mixing wand in cookie dough. I’m a paramedic and he wanted to talk city and medical gossip. The only information we were interested in had to do with my internal organs and my husband was less than amused.

We did learn that all my specs – hormones, follicles, tube patency &c – were in tolerance and that his contribution checked out, too. So we went back to what we know best, in full faith that magic would strike again in the midst of the hustle and bustle of three dogs, paramedic life, scientist life, writers’ life times two, yoga teacher life and general living life. In the mix were two cross country moves, two fur friend deaths, two surgeries and a couple of years.

We consulted another REI (not the outdoor store, the fertility doc) in our temporary home in Silicon Valley, to be reassured again all was well, not to worry, all in good time. Mind you, I now have a hip replacement and have seen 43 birthdays come and go. As deeply as I appreciate all the stories of friends who became pregnant at 45, I’m doing math. And a 16 year old at 61 is enough to make anyone think twice.

Undeterred, we gave ourselves enough time to return to our desert home, settle back in and find an amazing REI – Dr. Francis Byrn at UNM (for anyone who wonders), who takes time to answer our questions, is tremendously thoughtful and gives us a full range of options . I’m on my third round of Femara (fertility enhancing estrogen blocker that stimulates follicle stimulating hormone) and today, for the very first time, we’re trying IUI (IntraUterine Insemination).

I was like a kid on Christmas morning leaving the office this morning after another of those trans-vag ultrasounds. This one showed follicles the size of golf balls (who KNEW?!? I’d always pictured demure little mustard seeds…) and prompted an intramuscular shot of HCG (human chorionic gonaditropin, used to ensure and promote ovulation) in preparation for the turkey baster this afternoon. The most romantic way of conceiving? Perhaps not, though there is plenty we can do to make the day a celebration. The surest way? Nope, not that either. Turns out, it raises our chances by a mere 5%. But it’s raised my mood and anticipation by 10 times that much. And suddenly I’m ready to talk about fertility, infertility and yoga.

Are my hopes up too high? I don’t know. Are the hopes of the kid who wants a bicycle up too high on Christmas morning? Maybe… depends what’s under the tree. But if the wish is for something wonderful, the process is thoughtful and the alternative something you can only bear if you’ve done what you’re doing now, then I think I’d be foolish not to enjoy the hopefulness, the possibility, the wonderment and put all of that into a prayer. Prayer is never too hopeful. It’s a way of living your life, embracing both desire and uncertainty and of sanctifying the entire mucky, clinical, sticky, pokey, dreamy, mundane and fascinating process.

There. I got through this first entry on “Fertile Ground Yoga” without using the roller-coaster metaphor. No promises going forward. Why do I call this page “fertile ground” if I’m having trouble having a baby? Because the journey, our emotional, my physical, career, identity changes, our discussions and growth have been the very essence of fertile. Our life throughout all of it, before and I’m sure will be after, is fecund, rich and filled with joy, heartache (which can only happen after joy), texture, meaning and love. Fertility is not how quickly you get pregnant, or how you end up that way. Fertility is a product of attention, commitment, care, showing up repeatedly for yourself and one another, being present even when it’s  not pleasant, loving what you find. Yoga has been an integral part of creating that kind of life for both of us, so our home is fertile ground. No matter what.

I’ll share more specifics, like meditations, asanas and pranayam, here in future posts. Today, I just wanted to tell you about why I’ve decided I have something to share, a point of view and a story to tell.

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