Sometimes I have a long relationship with my clients as I have been working for over 20 years as a fertility specialist.
I may meet a woman when she has irregular, painful periods or PCOS and she wants to look at nutrition and lifestyle advice to help balance or regain her menstrual cycle once this improves I may not see her for years until the time comes when she wants to think about her fertility in a more focused way.
Ayesha came to me when she had been on the contraceptive pill (for 15 years) but not currently in a relationship, we had a general discussion about her health and what she wanted in the future.
Like many single women I see she wanted to be in a loving relationship but despite dating and keeping an open attitude to who she may meet she was alone and lonely. She decided to stop taking the pill as she had taken it initially for her problematic skin and we discussed that it was a strong medicine, that required mandatory liver testing every 6 months, and the effects of this should be considered.
"Like many single women I see she wanted to be in a loving relationship but despite dating and keeping an open attitude to who she may meet she was alone and lonely."
Happily things took a positive turn and she began a relationship with someone who had been a very close friend it was strange in some ways but also wonderful as they already had a deep friendship and understood each other.
Ayesha wanted to start a family and although it went against her cultural and family background to do this before she was married she recognized she was approaching her 37th birthday had an extremely busy and responsible job in finance and had to travel abroad for her job so she wanted to have a realistic overview of her health and fertility.
I recommended she went to see an excellent gynaecologist to assess her hormones and fertility and we started a programme to help reduce stress and support her sleep. She worked a little less, as late nights at the office (and weekend sometimes) did not seem as attractive as being with her partner and enjoying downtime and some self care.
After 6 months with both herself and her boyfriend improving their lifestyles they had the wonderful news that she was pregnant.
Their first child was born by an elective c-section and the family were delighted and her parents had already planned the wedding with followed a few months later.
I saw such an amazing transformation in this woman from someone who was a person who worked in finance and operated in a very masculine/yang way, who had previously not shown much interest in children, to a wonderful, loving mother who was certain that she wanted to add to her family and have a sibling for her first born son.
As she was 38 when she gave birth the first time she wanted to give her body time to recover from the pregnancy and c section so when her son was 18 months she started to think about her second child. She and her now husband expected the second child to come as easily as the first but this did not happen.
After extensive testing over several months she discovered that there were complications that had arisen from internal scar tissue after her c section.
Our work together focused on supporting her through:
- Anger and disbelief that this was happening to her
Panic that time would run out
- Blame she felt lay at the hands of the person who carried out her C section
- Resentment of all her pregnant friends and women who had 2 or 3 children whilst she struggled
- Confusion about which route to pursue
She commented many times how glad she was that we had an established working relationship and she could be honest about her thoughts and feelings no matter (in her words) how bitter and ugly they were.
After 18 months and
- 2 operations
- 3 fertility clinics
- 4 IUI’s
- 2 IVF cycles
A positive pregnancy test finally came. My role during that 18 months of treatment was to provide a safe space to express her
- Disappointment of her husband that he did not seem to want it as much as her.
- Frustration at the lack of care and continuity from fertility clinics
- Stress of the two week wait
- Sadness and despair when the pregnancy test was negative
- Envy of her friends giving birth all around her.
The pregnancy continued and her 12 week scan was scheduled by the hospital on her 40th birthday it felt like such a landmark.
She was alone when the news was delivered that there was no heartbeat after repeated attempts to find a sign of life the baby had suffered a fetal death.
It is impossible to convey to you the grief and devastation she felt on that day and for months to follow. Our sessions together now incorporate grief counselling and dealing with the trauma of receiving a letter from her insurers stating a charge for a “spontaneous termination”
This is something she felt you elected to do – a choice not a reflection of the soul that had cruelly been snatched away from her.
How does one begin to recover from this? How do you go on?
How to shower and dress and face the day?
She did because she had her first child to consider and she felt immense guilt and even shame she was not being the mother she should be to him.
Again this was the focus of our weekly sessions – how to recover? How to continue for the sake of her child and her marriage?
I can honestly say I am extremely proud of our work together as I was one of the only people who allowed her to express herself over the next 2 years of her fertility journey when she said “ I just know … I just know there is another soul out there for me. I know I will be a mother again.
I understand how heartbreaking and painful it was for her husband, mother and 2 brothers and they witnessed the pain, disappointment and heartbreak of more attempts at IVF and IUI ending in negative results.
They told her to stop to give up.
Plus a grandmother that said “It is because you had an illegitimate child God is punishing you” and another friend who said “I don’t understand why you wasted all that money – just be happy with one!”
One can hardly imagine the stress and trauma felt by this woman.
During these 2 years we focused on healing, we decided to think again about achieving another pregnancy. She felt this was her last chance and she wanted to ‘throw everything at it.”
I encouraged her to do that but also to make sure she had time for her relationship and her son. This was not an easy journey but she never gave up she felt in the depth of her heart she would have another child.
She took everything on board
- Guided visualization
- Extensive nutritional support
She did several more rounds of IVF and IUI and then decided she was done with hospitals, doctors and clinics. No more treatments, no more injections, no more hormones, no more hospital appointments but she did have a strong unshakable belief she would have another child
2 years after the tragic loss of her baby at 12 weeks she had a positive pregnancy result and shortly after her 43rd birthday gave birth to a beautiful healthy daughter.
I cried when I saw that baby I cried tears of joy and I admire the fact she stayed true to her intuition.
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