This is the second in a series of guest posts written by women who got pregnant after loss or infertility. Each post will focus on a special natural fertility or wellness tool that boosted the author’s health, happiness, and fertility on their journey!
This is a guest post by Denise Wiesner, author of Conceiving with Love: A Whole-Body Approach to Creating Intimacy, Reigniting Passion, and Increasing Fertility. She is the founder of the Natural Healing and Acupuncture Clinic in West Los Angeles, and is an internationally recognized traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. She specializes in the Whole Systems Chinese medicine approach to women’s health, sexuality, and fertility.
Denise’s story of Secondary Infertility
It was a gnawing pit in my stomach that made me nauseous and other times made me want to cry. It was an emptiness that resided deep inside that said, “Why can’t I have a second child? What’s wrong with me?”
I watched as others around me seemed to fall pregnant easily; women with full round faces and bellies sticking out of tight-fitting dresses that strangers smiled at. As in touch as I was with my body, being an exercise physiologist and a Chinese Medicine Doctor, I couldn’t understand why my body wasn’t cooperating. I felt invisible.
I finally took it upon myself to get help. I went to see one of my teachers, Dr. Zhu, who specialized in infertility. I sat in the big red lacquer chair across the desk from her.
A Chinese woman in her late 60’s, Dr. Zhu was well preserved. She had short dark hair that framed her face and eyes that smiled at me through her rose colored square glasses, a relic from the 1980s. I watched her little hands take the notes, the same hands that I saw give a pelvic exam to a patient at the student clinic many years ago. She was a gynecologist in China and even though she wasn’t supposed to do the pelvic exam, the patients softened when Dr. Zhu declared the patient would have no problem falling pregnant. And she did.
I was sure she was going to help me, but instead she wanted to focus on my allergies. Didn’t she know I wanted to conceive? She had me do a basal body temperature chart to look at my menstrual cycle. This just gave me stress as I watched the temperatures vary every day. I was losing it.
Trying to Conceive & Miscarriages with Tay-Sachs
I was doing everything but nothing was happening. Every day I bargained with God. I knew having another child was already challenging enough because my husband and I were carriers of Tay-Sachs, a genetic disorder where the baby has a 25 percent chance of being born with the fatal disease.
I was lucky enough to have one healthy child. Three years later luck turned her cheek when I had a miscarriage at nine weeks. Then three months after the miscarriage, I got pregnant again. This time I made it to the genetic testing for Tay-Sachs. I remember the day I got the news of that pregnancy. I was driving home from work when the nurse called me.
I pulled the car over to the side of the road, my hands shaking, as I gripped the black steering wheel with one hand and pressed my ear to my cell phone with the other hand. These were the days before headsets and car speakers. I listened to the tone of her voice, the way she proceeded slowly, cautiously, when she told me her name. I glanced at the red stop sign on the corner, then down to the middle console where my dark hair strands were wrapped in a purple hair band, then noticed the water spots on the window to my left through which the sun left a yellowish dirty hue. The news was not what I wanted to hear: The baby had Tay-Sachs. I collapsed inside. I would have to terminate my pregnancy.
Grief set in, but like most of the women I knew, I just kept on trying and trying and trying. I was tired and my husband saw the change in me. I was so focused on getting pregnant that all I cared about was sperm meets egg. Not only did I do acupuncture, but I went to naturopaths, healers, psychics and anyone who I thought could help. I was desperate. Intimacy started to fade with my husband. Neither one of us enjoyed sex anymore and we didn’t talk about it.
The burden of infertility
I decided we needed to go on vacation. I heard so many stories of women who went away and got pregnant. With our four year old, we ended up staying where a Native American ceremony, a sweat lodge, was taking place. As the name implies, you sweat a lot. I participated for a short while but my husband decided to stay the whole time.
As time passed, a woman came to get me, telling me my husband had almost passed out from heat stroke. When I saw him spread out in a tent like a sea lion, I was furious. “You killed your sperm and I am ovulating” were the words I uttered instead of being compassionate and caring about his wellbeing.
It was then that I realized I had my priorities backward. I cared more about making a baby than I did my relationship. I vowed to be different.
Deciding to rekindle the love relationship
I had forgotten that babies are made from love between two people, so we both decided to spend time together connecting. We practiced yoga, held hands, looked in each other’s eyes instead of working on projects in bed. Slowly our relationship got back the juiciness it was missing. I let go of pregnancy as the goal and accepted how things were. I tried to live in the moment and have fun.
I decided I would make every effort to make my love life exciting again. I looked around my bedroom and realized that I had turned it into a child’s playroom. I couldn’t see the top of my nightstand because it was covered with books, dirty cups and child’s toys.
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Make your room a love-making haven!
The first order of business was making my room into a love area. I bought red pillows, cleaned up all the toys and put the pictures of my son in the other room. I read that the bedroom should only have pictures of the couple, not anyone else, so I took that advice to heart. I created an altar with items like crystals and spiritual statues and made sure I had some soft lighting in the room.
Anna’s note: A fertility altar filled with symbols, crystals, saints, or goddesses of fertility would be perfect here (just tweak for your own personal spiritual beliefs!). Just make sure your candles are non-toxic :-). Beeswax with a lead-free wick is ideal. Check out my Fertility Altar ideas on Amazon!
Then, I actually went to the store and bought lingerie. I had been sleeping in my husband’s old t-shirts—I am sure that didn’t help get me in the mood. I wanted to feel my sensual self again. I bought beautiful candles and special massage oil so we could have massage night. We had both forgotten to touch each other as we were getting down to business as fast as we could.
Tantra for Fertility
Then I got books on Tantra from the 1970s. These people knew how to be intimate. With pictures of couples eye-gazing, I knew this was missing from our relationship. We rarely looked at each other.
The hardest part was having to ask my husband to look at me while we made love. His eyes were always closed. At first we just laughed, but then we practiced this exercise where we sat across from each other and just eye gazed for four minutes. It’s amazing how much more connected I felt to be seen. We looked to this book for more exercises and practices to do.
Part of the reason I wrote Conceiving with Love was to share all the intimacy-building exercises I learned.
Months later, I fell pregnant and just like that it turned out the genetics were fine. I carried to term and had a beautiful baby boy.
These days I try to hold on to the lesson that infertility taught me: to live with joy in the moment and connect with love. Some days are easier than others. When I forget, I am reminded that we don’t always have control over everything in our lives, but despite that we can live with an open heart.
Eye-Gazing Practice for Increasing Partner Connection
- Pick a space that resonates with both of you. You may wish to light a candle or turn the lights down; it’s best without bright fluorescent lights.
- Sit across from each other in a comfortable position. Prop yourself up on pillow if this feels more comfortable. Hold hands.
- Take a moment to close your eyes and simply breathe. Feel grounded and calm. When you’re ready, you can squeeze each other’s hands and open your eyes.
- Softly gaze into each other’s eyes. Some people say it’s easier to stare into the left eye-that’s our receptive side-but it’s also okay if you switch between the left and the right.
- Maintain this contact for four minutes, if possible. Notice what feelings come up. Notice the urge to look away. Be aware of all the sensations that arise.
- Close by giving each other a deep embrace.
Don’t forget to check out Anna’s free e-book on Keeping Love Making Hot while Trying to Conceive!
Yes! Baby-making sex can be HOT!