Life is full of challenges isn’t it. So its always a relief when you surmount one of these and your dreams become a little bit more real.
Four years ago now, I remember sitting in the specialist’s office here in Guernsey listening to the specialist tell Ewan and I that we may never have children of our own. I’ve done an awful lot of praying and growing since then and I am delighted that we are now one step closer to realising our dream of bringing another spirit into the world, creating new life and giving Elijah a sibling.
Yes, that’s right, I’m pregnant again! And for this I am eternally grateful to science for without its advances we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today – and I’ll be honest, I’ve never been particularly interested in science, unless it’s the science of yoga of course, but science is, in my opinion, amazing!
It’s been a long old journey. We had ICSI 4 years ago now, where individual sperm are injected into individual eggs and embryos grown from this. We were lucky, with that initial treatment back in 2013 I produced a number of quality eggs which resulted in two embryos (grown to three days) and three blastocysts (grown to five days and meant to have a greater chance of taking when implanted within the uterus).
Two of those blastocysts, both of which were good quality, were implanted and while one of them didn’t make it, the other resulted in the birth of Elijah – IVF is not an exact science, some take, some don’t, what I’ve come to recognise is that there is more to bringing spirit into this world than merely science alone, incredible as is it in creating the opportunity in the first place.
The same day that those two blastocysts were implanted in me, the remaining blastocyst was frozen, together with the two embryos. I can still remember the moment the consultant told us that they were doing this because I experienced this incredibly strong feeling, a knowing then (as confident as one can ever have a knowing with IVF) that the remaining frozen blastocyst was going to result in a second pregnancy one day, and at least we would have to give it a try.
Last October we went through our first frozen embryo cycle where the two frozen embryos were defrosted, one of them didn’t survive the thawing process while the other survived and was left to grow a further two days in the laboratory to form a quality blastocyst. This was implanted but sadly never made it – this wasn’t a surprise as such, I felt a pressure due to our ages to get on with it but deep down neither of us were ready –I was still breastfeeding Elijah (a big ‘no, no’ in the IVF world), sleep deprived, exhausted and certainly not ready mentally for another baby. It was still sad though and I wrote about it at the time.
This meant that we had one remaining blastocyst, the one frozen four years ago now. We knew it would be our last chance – IVF, while a miracle in so many ways, is in my experience an expensive, invasive, emotionally exhausting and stressful process to go through – and we weren’t prepared to go through it again. Its not just the drugs, which put an enormous strain on your liver and on your body generally, but all the blood tests and scans and making sure you follow an exact schedule with all its demands and the need for secrecy.
Plus, being such a clinical procedure it lacks heart and a holistic approach, which I found particularly tough. And its crazy really because you can do exactly what you are told to do by the clinic and it may well still fail, hence it not being an exact science, so that actually something else has to be involved. That’s the reason I’m a true believer that the Divine plays a role in this and that you have to be mentally and emotionally in the right place – you know how it is with life, there’s a timing to everything and once you’re aligned to this, well it makes it easier going.
So following our failed cycle, as with the initial ICSI cycle, I dug deep into my practice and re-established my connection with the Divine, which had faltered a little following the full grade Placenta Previa I experienced with Elijah and the resulting interventional birth so that absolutely nothing about Elijah’s arrival into the world, from conception to birth was in any way natural or as I had hoped, although he did receive a lot of Reiki! I lost a lot of blood during the birth so that I almost needed a blood transfusion and I was angry for a long old time over that as I felt so dreadful.
So I lost my way a little. I was delighted to have Elijah obviously, but I was sick for a good few months and I struggled with the ongoing sleep deprivation of a baby who didn’t want to sleep, and woke every 3 hours for a good two years until I stopped breastfeeding. He still doesn’t sleep through the night at two and a half years old, I’m woken at least once and he is a late settler and early riser so its been tough. Anyone who’s been through this or is going through this will know how debilitating sleep deprivation can be, especially when you’re working.
Furthermore, compounded by the sleep deprivation, I struggled to adjust to the demands of this motherhood malarkey. I absolutely love spending time with Elijah but I also love spending time on my yoga mat and writing, plus I’m very driven and love working! It was a struggle fitting it all in, what with the day job. That said, being a Mum is tough whether you are working or not, women don’t usually talk about that, we’re all trying so hard to hold it together! So I made some adjustments along the way, but if I’m honest, I was still doing far too much and getting a little stressed and exhausted from time to time.
Thus I realised that I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle and to my way of thinking – its all very well saying you’ll do less but if it has become a behaviour pattern, as it had for me, then it can be quite a challenge to change things. So there needs to be a recognition of where you are losing energy, time wasting and making life harder for yourself, and once you’ve identified that (Facebook was a big one for me believe it or not, not only time wasting but energy draining too) you have to reach a level of acceptance to let that go and move on – well in theory anyway, I’m sure there’s still room for improvement!
So I looked honestly at my life and started to change things, I started writing again which makes my soul happy, and I did a whole heap of healing work including an Ayurvedic Pancha Karma with my Ayurvedic doctor who specialises in fertility, Ki massage, Reiki, Bowen and I retreated a little from the world, from my friends and from socialising generally!
Plus, I dug deep into my practice, re-establishing a daily sitting practice, doing a whole heap of restorative yoga to re-energise, a whole heap of Yoga Nidra working with the ancient and well tested Sankalpa (and Vikalpa to notice resistance), embraced my fertility crystals and did a whole heap of praying both to the Divine and to the moon, the Goddess of Fertility so that I was well and truly focused on a positive outcome. As a result, I deepened my connection to the Divine and increased my faith again – and I give thanks, Amen.
So by the time late January arrived and second and last frozen embryo cycle began I was more than ready – we had timed this with Spring, when we’d done our initial treatment in 2013, to tap into that Spring energy of fertility. I had to go through seven weeks of treatment (both pills and injections) before we sneaked off to the UK for the transfer a few days after the Herm retreat.
Fortunately, the blastocyst survived the thawing process (there is always the risk you do all that treatment and then it doesn’t survive the thawing process) and was implanted. It’s a clinical experience but the consultant was lovely and we saw the star of the blastocyst going into my uterus, which we’d seen with Elijah but not with the failed cycle.
I felt the energy in my tummy immediately, its expansive and new and light, its an incredible energy if you are ever fortunate to feel it. Its just so new and so alive and so vibrant that I can’t liken it to anything else. Its new life essentially and that is pretty powerful, you’ll know a little that feeling from Spring, which abounds with this energy but this is something a little different too.
It changes within a few days and the only way I can describe it is to say that it feels like pearls, at least that’s what I kept feeling and seeing in my head. The energy is like running your hand over a run of strung pearls. Its like the energy becomes a little more contained, a little heavier, but with movement, circular movement as I guess, the cells divide. I really wish every lady who undertakes IVF could feel this, because at least you know then that its still alive and growing inside you.
While I could feel it, and while the signs were there – oh my gosh the signs were there; three days before we were due to take the dreaded test someone at work made an offhand comment about me getting pregnant next, and two days before we took the test, again at work, on a course this time, we were given these UBS sticks and one of the guys mentioned that it looked like a pregnancy testing stick and he accidentally dropped it on the floor and it landed just by me so he reached down to pick it up and said to me, “oh it says you’re pregnant Emma”. I laughed inside because little did he know that in two day’s time I would be taking a test that would tell me this!
There were other signs too - my angel cards flung up child related cards and robins and feathers were everywhere I looked so I knew the angels were surrounding me – not to say there’s anything special with me by the way, just that I had aligned myself on that level and was feeling the support of the Universe, which really helps.
You may already know this from previous ramblings, but I’m a massive fan of angels, I talk to them daily (I’m not mad honest!) and I had this feeling that the angels were like, “oh come on Emma, you can feel the energy, you know its worked, we’re sending you all these signs, so heck let go of your anxiety”! You see the faith was strong, the energy I could feel and the signs were everywhere and yet still it was an incredibly anxious ten days.
Anyone who has gone through IVF will know what I mean about this being a hugely anxious time. And the silly thing is, you’re told to try and stay as calm and stress-free as possible and yet it’s probably one of the most stressful times of the whole treatment, waiting to see if its worked – because let’s remember again its not an exact science – ‘its like a roll of the dice’, a nurse told me when I was starting treatment for the second time.
So I had this full on nauseating and stomach churning feeling going on, so that I had to consciously remind myself to get out of the fear and into the heart. Fear does no one any favours but the trouble is we enter into that state so easily that we can lose ourselves in it and forget that fear is essentially, ‘false evidence appearing real’. This is the reason sitting can be so helpful, because you can feel the fear deep in the pit of your stomach and you can shift your awareness up into your heart instead and change the energy of it all a little and allow the anxiety to dissipate.
I think that it is during this waiting time that people begin to wish they hadn’t told anyone else about what they are going through. The first time with the ICSI we told all our close friends and family as we felt we needed the support and I was so confident about it working that I don’t remember feeling too anxious, more so excited. But once you’ve had a failed cycle, well that all changes, because you know how awful it is, how disappointing and sad it is then, to have gone through that whole process and for it not to work.
I made this mistake during our first frozen embryo cycle and really wished I hadn’t when we got the results. I knew that I wasn’t pregnant before I took the test, I couldn’t feel the energy of the blastocyst anymore and my head was elsewhere, but it didn’t help knowing that everyone else wanted to know. And while some undoubtedly wanted to know because they cared, others inevitably wanted to know because it s a bit of news, a bit of drama, a bit of gossip, and that made me very determined not to tell a soul, not even our parents, about our final attempt.
So it was much more intimate for us and while the parents had to be told eventually because we were going off Island, we enjoyed it just being about us this time. Not only did this keep the energy high but it felt like our own little journey that we managed to do all on our own without any negativity or influence from anyone else. And let’s face it, aside from perhaps telling our closest friend, how many people do tell others that they are having sex to make a baby that particular day, if you know what I mean!
So the result was positive, which I had expected but nonetheless this was a relief. The sickness arrived quickly this time, at 5 weeks and I’ve been feeling pretty rotten since then. Whoever named it morning sickness was having a joke, and please no one suggest to me to have a ginger biscuit, it makes no difference! I don’t think anyone can really understand the debilitating nature of pregnancy sickness unless you have experienced it for yourself.
Fortunately, I haven’t vomited, but I have felt nauseous from 11am until bed time absolutely every day for the last 7 weeks now. Some weeks have been worse than others, its true how this happens, weeks 7-9 were awful and week 10-11 was dreadful too. The only thing that has made me feel better is teaching yoga and going to bed early so I’m grateful that the Glastonbury retreat arose during this period as it gave me a weekend of distraction, even if I did feel utterly rotten the week afterwards!!
But it is all for the greater good. And feeling the baby’s energy and noticing my changing body is a blessing really. A dream coming true. And what we’ve been through doesn’t make me an expert in any way, but I’ve learnt quite a lot over the last four years and I am keen to share this with others who may find themselves in a similar situation to us. There is a lot out there already, a huge amount of this is fear based, and this does no one any favours. So I’ll be keeping things positive, because to be honest that’s the only way.
So if you’re having trouble conceiving and you’ve been told you may have fertility issues, well maybe my sharing will help, maybe not, but I feel compelled to share a little more nonetheless. It may take some time though; my energy levels are not quite what they were!!
I’m due 28 November by the way, two days before Ewan’s big birthday, and I’m intending to continue teaching until then – we have the Herm retreat in October after all and I’m very much looking forward to that!