Infertility Hidden Stress: This is the story of a woman who, like so many other women today, tried almost everything to get pregnant. It is the story of a doctor’s wife, who had “unexplained infertility.” She was tested, poked, prodded, monitored, scheduled, ultrasound-ed, hypnotized, sweated and silenced (read on), you name it. She literally tried everything. And yet, nothing and nobody could tell her why she could not conceive. Her case was, what they continued to call, “a mystery.” Her body was healthy, her hormones were great, and her husband was in perfectly working order. But, at the age of 34 and after six years of trying, still no baby.
Aging, Treatments, Success Stories, and the Hidden Stress in our Conversations
It’s no secret that women are having children later in life. While waiting to start a family is becoming the norm, the physiological risks remain the same. Women are reminded of this…a lot. After the age of 35, we are told that conception becomes more difficult and the risks of birth defects increase significantly. Medically speaking, pregnancy at or beyond this age is even referred to as a “geriatric pregnancy” (something tells me that this terminology was not a woman’s idea). For women pass the ripe old age of 17 (the best age to conceive, physiologically speaking), conceiving a child can be a battlefield fraught with statistics and speculums, bombarding and invading you every step of the way. Thus, testing, treatments, remedies, advice, and plain old witchcraft for fertility are everywhere. These sometimes-effective methods seem comforting for a woman reaching or passing her prime. The idea that eastern-driven methods like yoga or acupuncture, or more western medical breakthroughs like IUI or IVF can indeed extend our shelf-life can put even the most “elderly” 30-year-old at ease. Even the happy-ending stories about other women who tried and tried and finally succeeded can be of comfort. But, what does this constant bombardment of reminders about our ever-aging ovaries (even in the reassuring form of testimonials of women just like us) do to our stress level, our bodies, our nervous systems, and by extension, our ability to conceive? It seems like a lot.
Interrogating Fertility Advice
The following attempts to interrogate the hidden stress that comes with all of this attention to our age and the available fertility protocols out there. It then naturally ends with yet another happy-ending and links to another comforting fertility treatment and chiropractic fertility protocol. But, it is an endeavor to emphasize the utter ubiquity of fertility advice, the countless treatment options, and the disorienting and in many cases damaging effect these ostensibly reassuring methods can have on our bodies. It leaves us with the reminder to remember ourselves first and to pay attention to what is right in front of us.
A Fertility Warrior
Meet Dawn Rofrano, founder of the blog Spoonful of Health, wife of Dr. Thomas Rofrano, and, somebody I’d like to call a fertility warrior. This is yet another story about a woman who couldn’t conceive, but ends with a beautiful baby girl and gorgeous family (no pressure, reader). It’s an exceptional (and yet also an oh-so-common) story of a woman who went to the other side of the world and back again, attempting to fulfill what she saw as her “God-given right.” It is a journey of courage, disappointment, and even tragedy in which this protagonist progressed quickly, steadfastly, and resolutely, but who could only reach her goals after she just stopped. She stopped thinking and worrying, and yielded to that which was inside of her and right in front of her. I now yield the floor to Dawn….
“Initially I tried everything: calendar method, temperature plotting, cervical fluid-hand held mini microscope, and a fertility monitor.
After that didn’t work, I had an evaluation and blood tests from my primary doctor, ob/gyn and fertility specialist. I had ultrasounds, CT scans, exploratory surgery (which was tortuous), and the conclusion after all of this was: ‘unexplained infertility.’ They called me a ‘mystery,’ as my body was slowly becoming a puzzle to myself.
A Fertility specialist recommended an IUI (intrauterine insemination), which is very effective for many women. The first treatment did not work for me. So, I had second and a third one. Each time I had to inject the fertility medicine, Clomid. Another time I used a different injectable that resulted in ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I produced 8 eggs, which was very painful due to the swelling of my ovaries. I was very lucky my ovaries didn’t rupture.
I saw 2 different acupuncturists, massage therapy, yoga, colon hydrotherapy, detox diets, meditation, breathing techniques, hypnosis, praying, reiki, and sweat lodges in Mexico.
I even dragged my husband, Dr. Tom Rofrano to a new-age vegan silent retreat in North Carolina, thinking this would be the perfect antidote to my stress-induced fears of not conceiving. I also traveled to China to learn Qigong. While there, I received Qigong treatments and acupuncture to balance reproductive energy and had Shamans pray and chant over me.
“I saw 2 different acupuncturists, massage therapy, yoga, colon hydrotherapy, detox diets, meditation, breathing techniques, hypnosis, praying, reiki, and sweat lodges in Mexico.”
I was so desperate to conceive that I even bought a puppy and sent out birth announcements. My heart was broken. I had the deepest desire to be a mother and felt like a failure; after all it was my God-given right as a woman to give birth.
My diet included what I thought was healthy at the time. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, soy, and little amounts of animal protein became the norm. I still enjoyed the occasional glass of wine and continued baking with the popular sweetener agave, as I thought this was the most nutritious way to sweeten. I ingested many simple carbohydrates that I believed were healthy because I bought them in a health food store. Come to find out, I had completely missed the mark in terms of nutrition….more on this below.
I was taking a multivitamin and fish oil supplement. I tried evening primrose oil, borage oil, herbal female remedies, teas and tinctures, and even bathed in essential oils.
When I turned 34, I was feeling so defeated and depressed that I was ready to try in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is also very effective for some women. But, Tom suggested we hold off. He was insistent that we could conceive on our own. I felt so much pressure from all of the treatments I had tried, as well as those that were still available to me. And, I also felt like I was running out of time. Looking back on this now, I can’t even believe how well I was handling the extraordinary amount of stress I was under.
Around the same time, my mother-in-law called. After seeing a news program on television about how Chiropractic care can help with infertility problems, she asked Tom if I was receiving regular adjustments from him. Tom is a Chiropractic Physician and Functional Medicine practitioner with over 30 years of experience in providing natural healthcare to families, as well as many professional and world class athletes at his practice Natural Medicine Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. To her surprise (and Tom’s frustration) I was not. I had, of course, been adjusted on occasion, but not as a protocol for infertility.
Looking back, I allowed myself to be the last cared-for person in our lives and in Tom’s practice. I never wanted to bother my hard-working husband, and frankly didn’t think I had to. I was too busy chasing after every fertility treatment available to me to notice what was right in front of me. And, my body was filled with hidden stress from all of it.
After my mother-in-law’s phone call, I became an official patient at Tom’s practice and was on the schedule for care. Sometimes it takes an outside voice to see what is right before your very eyes!
Three months into treatment with Tom, I got pregnant. Nine months later gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Since then, my husband has treated countless women and developed a proprietary chiropractic method and protocol to treat infertility that is based on reducing stress in the nervous system and includes Functional Medicine and Nutrition. He is a strong believer (as am I) that stress is a root cause of fertility in many women. I have even started my own blog, Spoonful of Health, to meet the needs of our daughter’s gluten sensitivity and also to assist Tom’s patients during their own journey with his fertility protocol. As many of you Clean Cuisine readers are aware of, even our food contains physiological stressors that add to the hidden stress involved with infertility!
I do want to share one more component to my experience with infertility that I believe personally bolstered the effectivity of my husband’s chiropractic treatment protocol. It is a component that allowed me to calm the hidden stress that comes with infertility. During the years that I felt so much pain for not being able to conceive, I studied the bible and took classes to search for answers. I do not consider myself a religious person but more a person who is both spiritual and connected. So, I also read theological books about the power of prayer, the truth and promises God provided, and the Son he sent to save us. I had many questions not just about a potential pregnancy but also about why my brother died tragically during this time and what kind of God would do this to me.
I had so many questions. I have found, to date, many answers to life’s pending wonders. Yet, many of my questions still go unanswered; I would call this faith. It is faith that helped me through all that I had suffered during this process. My time studying and strengthening my belief in God brought an incredible sense of calm. It is this calm that allowed me to see what was right in front of me, and it is this calm that Tom has attempted to foster (albeit through less spiritual means) with his extraordinary Chiropractic/Functional Medicine program.
I am so grateful for my daughter, my mother in law, my husband and his incredible healing hands, and I am so very grateful for my faith in that which I cannot see that ultimately allowed me to see which is right in front of me. I urge you to access this calmness that is not only achievable but rightfully yours for the taking.”
As promised, Dawn’s story is a happy ending. It is not one that is meant to put more pressure on those who are having trouble getting pregnant. It is not meant to inspire you to travel to the end of the world in search of peace or even faith. It is a reminder to take care of yourself first. The anxiety that is produced just by mere mention of our ever-ticking biological clocks is enough to speed up time exponentially. It’s time we start talking about the hidden stress in conversations about infertility and focusing our efforts in providing a more relaxing atmosphere for women who are ready to conceive—especially those who are “past their prime.” Dawn’s journey helps us do just that.