A PLACE TO EXPLORE IDEAS
AND HAVE CONVERSATIONS
Step 1: Nutrition (Natural Treatment Protocols for 7 Hormonal Conditions)
Step 2: Self Acupressure & Yoga (4 Instructional Videos to Thicken the Uterine Lining)
Step 3: Mindfulness Meditation (2 Audio Meditations to Reduce Stress and Depression)
The Fertility of Bewilderment
It is very clear to me that our normal approach to problem solving isn’t working.
And as a society when we don’t know what to do, we enact something familiar.
When our expected trajectory has been disrupted, we seek to make sense of it and frame it in familiar terms.
Like the frame, infertility is a disease.
I find this framing to be a convenient diversion from the feeling of panic most women feel in the face of this unknown.
But, where is “infertility” coming from? Why, all of a sudden, are 1 in 8 couples “infertile?”
The conventional way of problem solving in our society depends on finding a single linear cause and then trying to “fix” that cause.
The cause that is most favorable is usually amenable to the type of solutions we already use.
The problem is low ovarian reserve. The cause is advanced maternal age. The solution is ivf with donor eggs.
The problem is recurrent miscarriage. The cause is an auto-immune disease. The solution is ivf.
The problem is poly-cystic ovaries. The cause is a metabolic disorder. The solution is ivf.
All of these things we are identifying as the “cause,” are a symptom of something that is deeper and more complex, of course.
We know this because the ways in which we attempt to impose a solution are ineffective.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) is often limited to 3 or 4 treatment cycles, new research shows the effectiveness of extending the number of IVF cycles beyond this number.”
The researchers note that for some couples, the emotional stress of repeat treatments may be undesirable, and the cost of a prolonged treatment course, with several repeat oocyte stimulation cycles, may be unsustainable for health services, insurers, or couples. “However, we think the potential for success with further cycles should be discussed with couples.”
You see, if “infertility” is a “disease,” then things will be fine.
Most of our culture feeds into this mythology. There is a “bad guy,” otherwise known as a “disease” called “infertility” that needs to be identified, found and fixed and we will be ok.
Because then, we know what to do.
We are comfortable with situations that have a “bad guy” or a “disease” or a “bad part” of ourselves that we go to war with and kill or know how to “fix.”
It is convenient to believe this. But it is often untrue.
Medicine is not the “bad” guy, by the way – nor is the “disease.” Doctors are indoctrinated into the mythology of “solutioneering” geared toward “fixing.” They are taught to “fix.” This is their job. They aren’t “bad guys.”
No, “disease” is not the “bad guy” and “medicine” is not the “bad guy” and “infertility” is not the “bad guy” and doctors are not the “bad guys.”
You see, there is no “bad guy.”
When there is no “bad guy,” however, we manufacture one and project it inwards, onto ourselves as well as outwards, onto “others.”
This is how ingrained the mythology of the “bad guy” is.
When there is no target, when there is no single linear cause, we manufacture a target, and project “bad guys” everywhere.
Women have generally taken on the role of the scapegoat in our civilization. When there is no bad guy – we internalize “him.”
This is why we feel so much shame about fertility challenges, because we perceive ourselves as “bad” for having “it.”
We also project the “bad guy.”
This is why the most popular blog post written by infertile women is entitled, “10 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Woman with Infertility.” Implying you are “bad” if you do say these things.
You get how insidious the mythology of the “bad guy” is.
The “bad guy” mythology is built on a deeper mythology, however. The mythology of separation that holds us as separate individuals in a world of “other” fertile men and women. We are bubbles of psychology bouncing around locked in a prison of flesh, separate from each other, other beings in nature, separate from the world and most importantly, separate from our bodies.
In the mythology of separation, we interact with our bodies but we are existentially separate from them.
When we are in that story, the body is just a bunch of stuff below the head to fix. When we are in that story, the barren uterus, of course, is proof of our separation – our isolation.
If “infertility” isn’t a “disease” and we pretend that it is, we will never heal. Ask yourself, since the advent of IVF 30 + years ago, is our fertility improving? Is IVF more effective?
We have to be in reality if we are going to heal.
Maybe you have had this moment already if you are reading this. A moment of realization that you are participating in a delusion.
Maybe that is why you found my website. Maybe that is why you feel so panicked and hopeless.
Maybe you feel the overwhelm, because you have had the realization that you are participating in a delusion. That you do not know WHAT TO DO and nor does anyone else.
I call this the fertile ground of BEWILDERMENT. And it is a good place. It is an empty space that allows a new response to emerge. A new mythology.
That stunned moment when you realize the futility of the current response to the 1 in 8 becomes apparent.
We have to learn to become comfortable with our not knowing. Because when we think we know and we actually don’t know, we are profoundly ineffective.
I hesitate when I write any of the terms like, “infertility” or any information about specific diagnoses on my website because I know that women will think that there is a KNOWN solution I am selling. That if they buy my products and practice long and hard, then they will get pregnant.
Because, anything other than knowing how to fix “infertility,” the “bad guy,” the “disease,” is considered irrelevant in the mythos of separation.
When we shift our view from mechanistic understanding, that says you make decisions based on quantifiable levels of various inputs that then have a predictable effect that we can model.
And change from that to seeing our fertility as a process, a living process, and seeing the health of any system as a complex matrix of living systems.
When we shift our thinking and treatment of the uterus as a static, not-connected part of our body without intelligence – to the understanding that the uterus has an intelligence that is embodied.
This is essential.
If we see the body as intelligent and connected, our attitude is, “I wonder what the importance of this “symptom” is?”
How is this an integral part of my physiology?
Then, we don’t see symptoms as “obstacles” or “diseases” separate from us.
We ask ourselves, how is this an integral part of my health?
When we adopt this attitude, the answers begin to come.
What makes us hurt so much that we are deaf and numb to the intelligence and inter-connectedness of our body?
What are the social conditions that create this disconnect?
These are the questions we ask in the Mindful Fertility process.
It is my experience that we feel anxious and hopeless because the logic that we operate in brings us face to face with futility. That dealing with the “disease” of “infertility” on the level that it has been presented to us is ineffective.
When we finally admit, however, that we don’t know what to do, we find that we also DO know what to do.
It is a paradox.
The things that we do know to do, are precisely those things that seem irrelevant.
The things that the heart says yes to when the mind says, “How could that possibly help?”
The things our dominant cultural infertility narrative does not have a place for. So they seem irrelevant or impractical or naive.
But when we understand the deep roots of the crisis, which is the totality of the story of separation. Then we see that these things are essential, because they change our foundation.
I get so many comments from women who begin the Mindful Fertility process, comments like this:
I have realized a few things. I am going to stop what conventional wisdom is telling me to do and go back to what I love, being me, detoxing from all these drugs. I don’t feel like myself anymore.
Paradoxically, this is what is going to help us shift the 1 in 8 statistic. The things that are NOT on the menu of conventional responses that are built on conventional logic, on a conventional theory of change that is NOT helping us improve our fertility. The things that we know to do.
1. slow the process way, way down – you’ve got time
2. learn how to have great sex with multiple orgasms again or for the 1st time
3. eat local, organic, nutrient dense, whole foods
4. talk about your differences
5. grieve, really grieve
6. give up the hope that happiness will come in the future
7. get here NOW and be present for the pain of the myth of separateness
8. move your body
9. understand that there truly is no “bad guy” or “disease” called infertility
10. do what you LOVE
11. listen to the wisdom and intelligence embodied in your uterus & all your reproductive organs right now
12. become increasingly aware of the intelligence that exists and connects all aspects of you and me and life – the same intelligence that exits within your yet to be born baby that you are not separate from.
The fertility of bewilderment creates an open space wherein a new story can emerge. Yes, there is a new and yet ancient story emerging in the fertility community. One where NO man or woman is a separate, diseased 1 in 8.
A movement where every single action you take matters – where nothing is irrelevant. Where failure is seen as new life longing for presence and deeply intelligent!
What motivates us to see ourselves as separate? The delusion that there is a single, linear cause AND therefore, a solution. The mythology of the “bad guy.”
Instead, I welcome you into the fertility of bewilderment, the fertility of confusion. And the wide open intelligence that already exists in the reality that I don’t know and you don’t know and we don’t know.
“True emptiness is not empty, but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects and all possibilities.” Jack Kornfield
Be bewildered, confused, overwhelmed, hopeless, panicked and LISTEN. Your child’s heartbeat is your heartbeat. What he or she needs to be born into the world is what you need to be born into the world.
You have not lost your chance.
I hope you’ll join us.
All my very best, always,
On your journey to conceive you have no doubt become aware of at least one or two waves of despair rising and falling within you. At times you feel down, hopeless, uninspired and unable to find any meaning.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your desire for a child. It’s so human, to have some yearning in the heart, some longing for connection, to be met in presence, to be seen, to be heard, to be touched, to be held and to hold.
Let’s talk about the brain again. We know from the findings in neuroscience that the mental and emotional changes we can create through mindfulness are transformational at the very physical level of the brain. By developing the ability to focus our attention on our internal experience in the Mindful Fertility meditations, we are picking up a scalpel we can use to re-sculpt our neural pathways, stimulating growth of areas of the brain that are crucial to mental health and fertility.
When I began my work with Dr. Smikle, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Medical Director at Laurel Fertility Care, in SF, California, I felt the impulse to try to find the culprit, to try to fix “infertility” for men and women trying to conceive.
In 1978, the year the first IVF baby was born, subjective experience was considered irrelevant in medicine. Now we know that what we do with our mind changes the health of our body; more specifically, the action and structure of our brain. And it is our brain that governs the complex task of reproduction.
Just before the New Year, I asked my subscriber’s this question, “What would you have to feel if you gave up the hope of love coming in the future this New Year?” Many responded to this question with resistance. I was touched by their incredible awareness.