The IVF Journey Part 2 - The Clinic and Testing

Our appointment to attend Wessex clinic in Southampton for the procedure that would, one way or another, determine our future, was booked for mid-January. It was exciting and I couldn’t wait to just get on with it now.  I was still feeling positive and had begun the New Year completely focused and intent on a successful process so 2013 was – as far as I was concerned – all about faith, trust, fertility and getting pregnant.

Living on Guernsey, where fog is always an issue, we flew out to Southampton the evening before the appointment to ensure that we wouldn’t miss our booking. At the time E was a member of the Best Western, so we booked ourselves into the Chilworth Manor House in Southampton, which turned out to be a bit of a gem and I would highly recommend to others who have to go to Wessex. 

We didn’t get there until late in the evening, and while the hotel itself is a little quirky in lay-out, it wasn’t until the morning that we got to see that the gardens are something else. It may sound silly but the opportunity to calm ourselves in nature was well received, because despite our best efforts, we were both feeling a little anxious.  So after E had eaten breakfast and I’d taken that time to practice yoga on my mat instead, we ventured out into the grounds of the hotel and did exactly what we needed, grounded ourselves a little.

The hotel is located within 12 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and right next door to a conservation area. It’s truly stunning. I will always remember our wanderings that morning. It was one of those bright, crisp and very cold winter days.  The ground was frozen hard, there was a layer of thin ice on the pond and our breath smoked in the air. It was ever so quiet and peaceful, just us and the odd dog walker, and the sound of our feet crunching across the hard and icy earth.

We came upon a collection of tall Cypresses trees, which had been planted in a circle and created what looked like a sacred site within.  We later discovered that this was a deer circle used to herd the deer, but to me it seemed more appropriate as a ceremonial area and clearly others felt the same as there was evidence of a fire in the middle.  I was rather uplifted by our find and took myself right to the centre to feel its beautiful central energy for some ritual yoga and prayer; I could almost feel the eyes of the wood sprites upon us as we walked away!

Back towards the Manor House itself we came across a very old Cedar tree with an absolutely enormous trunk.  It’s understood that the tree is approximately 420 years old, which is some age, apparently the oldest tree in the UK.  Well this was a bonus for us, there’s nothing quite as grounding as hugging a tree and especially not one that is that many years old – wow.  Can you imagine the changes that tree has seen, and all the time its just stood there doing its thing – incredible!  You can learn a lot by spending time with the trees and it made me consider that we too just have to do our thing wherever it leads.

We took a taxi to the clinic and were surprised to find it a little incongruous, set in a residential area and back from the road a little, with no evidence from the outside that it is a fertility clinic as such.  It made me realise that there still is – or was at that point in time – such stigma about fertility and fertility clinics and yet to me, it just seemed to be something you did if you couldn’t conceive naturally, no big deal.

Still, I have a dear friend who had gone through IVF to conceive her first born and was very keen that no one knew that she and her partner had had to have IVF and so they tried to keep it a secret for fear of what others may think. I’d never really understood this myself, because I’d never really seen it as an issue. However, seeing the clinic building made me consider that maybe I was the one who had got it wrong, perhaps there was a need to be secretive about this way of bringing new life into the world and perhaps I would encounter negativity if I mentioned it to others. 

There again, it crossed my mind that maybe I needed to be the one who didn’t worry about what other people would think, and could help others going through a similar thing and also assist a little in removing some of the stigma that still exists. I don’t feel that it needs to be secretive, there is certainly nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, the outcome is the same regardless of the process so what does it matter? It was certainly too late for us anyhow, we’d told most of our close friends that we were having trouble conceiving naturally and they knew we were meeting with the clinic for further investigations.

Entering the clinic, I noticed that the walls of the entrance hall and either side of the stairs leading up to the reception area are covered in photos of babies who have presumably been conceived through IVF at the clinic. I guess it helps to reinforce the reason we were there and I hoped that one day a picture of our own biological baby may also make it on to the walls, as proof that it really does work, IVF that is, and that it is possible for dreams to come true!

The staff at the clinic were very friendly and welcoming and we took our seats to wait for the appointment. It is only a small clinic, or at least it was back then (not that I have a comparison) and the small waiting area was filled with a few other anxious looking faces. It was strange to think that we were all there for one common goal, to conceive, and yet presumably all of us having some different complication that was preventing this from happening naturally. It gave me a sense that fertility issues are more common than I may have previously realised, and that we were certainly not alone in our quest for conception.

There was a part of me that couldn’t believe that we were here.  It was all so new to us at that point, a whole other world that we needed to learn about. I’ll never forget working with a Reiki client a few years earlier who was having trouble conceiving and was undertaking IVF.  That was my first real exposure to anyone having IVF and I remember it as if it was yesterday as something about it made me take note, not least because it was even more secretive back in the day, but because I really felt that the Reiki would help her conceive, but also because it seemed so stressful for her and now here I was going through the same process myself – its funny how the Universe leaves signs along the way.

IVF itself stands for in vitro fertilisation: in vitro means “in glass”. Essentially it involves an egg being fertilised in a Petri dish in a laboratory under very carefully controlled conditions. It’s quite amazing that science allows scientists to do this - and that’s said by someone who has never really been interested in science per se. I know not everyone agrees with this process, and perhaps that’s the reason some people are secretive about going through IVF, but it’s a miracle of science really.

I remember reading a book about gentle mothering, in fact it could very well have been entitled that, and in it the ‘spiritual’ author suggested that if you found out that you could not conceive naturally, then perhaps that was the Universe’s way of saying that you are not meant to conceive in the first place and instead you should try and reach some level of acceptance and either look at adopting or finding a child-free path instead.  She was very anti-IVF and made it sound like it was the work of the Devil, simply because it wasn’t a natural approach to conception and thus had no spiritual element to it.

The author’s comments touched a nerve because I suspect in the earlier stages of my spiritual journey, I too had probably felt that science lacked the spirit.  However, my perspective has shifted enormously since those earlier days – the Universe has continuously provided me with situations that have encouraged me to become a little more open minded to science and the value it brings to life, and indeed the fact that the spirit resides in all life, in scientists and in non-scientists too! Now here I was being given the opportunity to learn that IVF can be a spiritual journey – it is all about perspective!

In a woman’s normal and natural cycle, usually only one egg ripens within a growing follicle - an ovarian follicle is a fluid-filled sac that contains an immature egg, during ovulation a mature egg is released from a follicle. The egg is released and, if fertilised in one of the fallopian tubes (penetrated by sperm therefore), it travels to the uterus (womb) where – in theory - it implants and grows into an embryo, which eventually becomes a foetus at week 11 of gestation (9 weeks after fertilisation).

With IVF the aim is to cultivate multiple follicles to harvest many eggs, which are surgically extracted and fertilised with the sperm outside the body. If all goes well, the embryos are transferred into the uterus three days later. Depending on the age of the women, and because it is difficult to predict on day three which embryo is more likely to produce a pregnancy, it is not uncommon to have two embryos transferred in the hope that at least one will result in a live birth.  The downside (depending on your perspective) is the risk of multiple birth, which brings with it its own risks in terms of complications during pregnancy and the emotional and financial demands this can place on couples.

For some couples there is also the option of blastocyst transfer. A blastocyst is a highly developed embryo that has divided many times to a point where it is nearly ready to implant on the walls of the uterus. A blastocyst has come a long way from its beginning as a single cell. During maturation, an embryo rests inside a protective shell called a zona pellucid. You can think of this protective shell as being like a chicken egg, only that, unlike chicken eggs, the human embryo does not remain within a shell.  Instead, the embryo hatches (breaks out of the shell) on the fifth or sixth day so that it can attach to the uterine wall (implantation). Just prior to hatching, an embryo becomes a blastocyst.

It is known that embryos developing to the critical blastocyst stage have a much greater chance of implanting successfully and resulting in an ongoing pregnancy. This is because these embryos have passed an important test.  During the first few days, the embryo relies on the mother’s egg for all its nutrients. However, in order to survive beyond day three or four, the embryo must activate its own genes.  Not all embryos are successful. Those that are successful are understood to be more highly-developed, healthier and stronger and have a higher implantation rate when compared to day three embryos.

It perhaps goes without saying that the ability to develop embryos to blastocyst stage allows clinicians to have greater certainty about which embryos are more likely to implant. Still, blastocyst grading standards are still under development and it is difficult to accurately predict which blastocysts are destined for success. That said, if clinicians have the opportunity to allow embryos to develop into blastocysts before being transferred back into the uterus, then this is the preferred option.

Regardless of the science to it all, I was also well aware from my holistic research that you can have perfectly healthy blastocysts, but your uterus may not provide the ideal environment for them to grow - it could be too acidic for example, or the uterine lining not as thick as it is meant to be thus preventing implantation.  In short there is absolutely no guarantee with IVF that the process will result in an ongoing pregnancy – it is absolutely not an exact science!

Furthermore, IVF is a highly technical procedure and I was only too well aware of the huge demands that the IVF drugs places on the body. I don’t like to take pharmaceutical drugs at the best of times, and now here I was hoping to be given the go ahead to start IVF and be prescribed huge dosages of them to supress my natural cycle, so that my body could be manipulated to stimulate ovulation and grow as many follicles as possible. A delicate hormonal balance would then be maintained artificially to allow the eggs to ripen but prevent ovulation from occurring before the clinic has a chance to retrieve the eggs. All of this controlled by high-dosage pharmaceutical drugs with serious side-effects.

The thing is, side-effects or not, when that is your only option to conceive, well you overlook all the stuff that would ordinarily have you saying, “no, no, no”.  It’s not ideal but I was very aware that there wasn’t a holistic path available to us, no amount of Ayurvedic herbs or Chinese medicine, let alone Bach Floral or Homeopathic remedies were going to help us to conceive. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t compliment the IVF process, but they alone were not going to create a baby. If they could however, well I would have chosen that option first, I don’t feel that anyone should put their body, mind and soul through IVF until they have exhausted all other more natural options!

Still at that point we weren’t entirely sure that we could conceive through IVF either and this was the reason we were here at Wessex in the first place. Our earlier test results in Guernsey had implied that we didn’t have between us what was needed to conceive our own biological baby. However, our consultant was fairly confident that with some further testing – invasive testing at that - they could find what was needed, so here we were for that invasive testing.

The testing was focused on E at this particular appointment, and I shall never forget the moment that our friendly consultant joined me later on that morning in the then-empty waiting room.  She excitedly told me that the good news, that the results of the testing were positive and that while a medical condition would prevent us from conceiving naturally, there was every chance that we could conceive a biological child through IVF. I could have jumped with joy, what a relief; instead I went outside and telephoned my parents and duly burst into tears conveying the good news!

I think often people forget that there are two people involved in conception, at least in terms of requiring both healthy sperm and healthy eggs and when IVF is mentioned, people tend to presume it’s because the woman has fertility issues.  Studies indicate that in the UK, infertility affects at least 20-25% of couples who are of reproductive age. This means that 1 in 5 couples you know will be affected by some degree of infertility. Of the couples having IVF treatment, 50% will be due to male infertility and 50% due to female infertility.

These are interesting statistics and I have become aware that male infertility is often another reason that couples keep their IVF journey a secret. I guess its more of an issue to men from an ego perspective than it is to women to have to admit that they are unable to impregnate their partner naturally. Furthermore, the infertile man may often feels a lot of guilt that their healthy partner has to pump herself full of strong pharmaceutical drugs and go through the stress of IVF to fulfil her dream of becoming a mother when there is actually nothing wrong with her fertility wise.

E and I have certainly gone through our own angst with this and while from an IVF perspective we present as an infertile couple, we are fortunate that the sperm provided by E were good quality. From my side while tests suggested that I was ovulating, we wouldn’t know until we began the IVF treatment whether my eggs would be of a sufficient quality to create a baby. Only time would tell.

Sitting in the waiting room awaiting E, I reflected on the irony of our plight.  I had spent years and an awful lot of time and indeed money trying to balance my hormones naturally.  At the age of 17 I had developed an eating disorder which had caused my periods to stop for a few months and ever since then I had struggled a little with PMS, which became much more intense during my twenties and led to bouts of all consuming depression.  It was PMS and the depression (and running the London marathon and the detrimental effect this had on my body) that led me to yoga and Reiki in the first place back in 2003.

I have worked with both yoga, Reiki intensely and extensively over the years, so too Ayurveda, homeopathy and other complimentary therapies, to help to heal the root cause of the hormonal imbalance naturally. I haven’t suffered with PMS or the bouts of all consuming depression for a good few years as a result of this healing work.  And now here I was about to pump my body full of very strong and very high dosages of pharmaceutical drugs, to control and manipulate my hormonal balance so that I could conceive new life in a test tube in a very clinical environment.  It certainly wasn’t the stuff of dreams.

However, despite the nature of IVF, I was still feeling very positive and extremely excited about the fact we now had the opportunity to try it.  I believe when you’ve had to consider that this may not happen, it’s just a relief to know that there is a way, a possibility, some solidity or grounding then, to the hope that you’ve been feeling.  I recognise that I am lucky and I need to make that point, because I know other couples, friends, family and students who have not been so lucky, who cannot, even with the help of IVF, conceive naturally (at least not their own biological child) and I appreciate that that can be a heart-breaking reality.

While I am a believer that everything happens for a reason, I do struggle a bit with understanding why some people are able to procreate and others do not have that opportunity physiologically.  Accepting that you cannot have your own biological children must be tough. I don’t know what we would have done if we had found ourselves faced with that reality – just it even being a possibility was enough to challenge me. I have seen those who cannot conceive go on to adopt or take donor eggs/sperm, and others decide to take a different path in life and immerse themselves in their pets or nieces/nephews instead.  

I have seen others become angry and bitter so that they cannot bring themselves to communicate with those who have children or who have managed successful IVF cycles. I guess we each have our own way of dealing with what life throws at us; some manage to find some peace and others struggle to find the level of acceptance required to experience this. I have a huge amount of respect for people who have to go through this and cannot imagine the strain it places on relationships, let alone on one’s faith.

For me, my faith was strengthened as the consultant told me that we were good to start the treatment when we were ready and that this would involve using ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection). In conventional IVF at least 100,000 sperm must be placed with each egg to have a realistic chance of achieving fertilisation. ICSI treatment involves the injection of a single sperm directly into each egg, which is really rather incredible when you think about it.  The treatment leading up to and after ICSI is identical to the conventional IVF cycle.

I was keen to get going with the treatment as soon as possible and the clinic were happy for me to start on my next cycle in February.  This felt right somehow, not least because it was the earliest we could begin and I am impatient, but more so because it was the beginning of Spring and from my perspective this was important energetically. Spring is all about new beginnings as nature begins to awaken again from her winter sleep and new life arrives daily so that you can feel the lighter vibrancy of this ‘new life’ energy in the air.

Even Zita West in her fabulous book, “Fertility & Conception” writes, “In my experience, IVF seems to work better in spring and summer, the time for growth and renewal within the natural cycle. In autumn and winter nature is dormant and the body needs rest and sleep rather than action. If time is on your side and you have the choice, opt to begin treatment in spring rather than winter”. So I guess there must be something in it; intuitively it just felt right for us regardless.

I knew it was essential to prepare for IVF to give the process the best possible chance of success and I had been doing this already but now it was time to up the stakes so to speak. I was also aware that it was vitally important to maintain the positivity and to believe in the IVF process. It may not be ideal, it was certainly not the way I had imagined or indeed dreamt of conceiving but it was a way and I was very aware that I needed to seek out any resistance I had to this and let it go if I was going to stand a chance of getting pregnant. 

Sadly, I have witnessed this resistance resulting in repeated failed IVF cycles for some couples.  It comes back to one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given in terms of IVF and it was given to me by a good friend who has successfully conceived through IVF.  She told me that under no circumstances was I to ever give into self-pity during the IVF process. I have found this to be incredibly true, because the moment the self-pity sneaks in, the more you give your power away and lose your focus on the outcome.

This is not to say that self-pity did not sneak in, or at least the opportunity to recognise it appeared. Despite all my positivity and excitement, a week after returning to Guernsey from our Wessex appointment, I had a bit of a down moment. I had to go to MSG here in Guernsey to meet with a local nurse to pick up my prescription for the drugs, run through the treatment schedule and be shown how to inject myself.  It was while she was demonstrating the two different ways in which you inject yourself with the medication that I had been prescribed that I burst into tears. 

I had done so well up until then and had managed to remain fairly level headed, but all of a sudden the reality dawned on me that I was really going to do this, I was going to consciously inject myself with incredibly strong pharmaceutical drugs. I know it sounds silly, because I knew this was the only way I would achieve the outcome I desired, and I thought I was ok with it, but all of a sudden I wasn’t ok with it after all. I was only too well aware that some of the prescribed medication has side effects as serious as recognised links to uterine, breast and ovarian cancer – not ideal that you are consciously injecting that risk into your own body!

As a result, I found myself questioning what I was doing. However, I knew that I had little choice if I wanted to conceive and with that, I was a little saddened at the seeming injustice of it all and the self-pity crept in.  How come it was so easy for so many of my friends and family members to conceive naturally, and why was it so difficult for E and I?  What was the Universe playing at?  It all just seemed so unfair.  I was going to have to do the very thing I had spent years standing against (here was the lesson, right?!), not least the pumping of my body with drugs but also accepting allopathic care and allowing my body to be viewed as just that, without much of a heart or soul, just another statistic, another woman who needs intervention to conceive.  I was heart broken really.

The nurse was very kind and softened the blow as best she could.  The trouble is there is a degree of pity involved in this whole sorry process because IVF is absolutely not an exact science and as a nurse said to me years later, it’s a little bit like taking a roll of the dice. You can do all you are told to do by the clinic but this still may not result in a successful pregnancy and as such you are often pitied. However, I suppose it was this bit, this little flaw in the science of it all (in that it wasn’t an exact science) that gave me a reason to bring my heart and soul into the process, and helped to strengthen my faith.

Here was my chance to truly tap into my spiritual approach to life, and also to the complimentary world, which is called that for good reason as it compliments allopathic care and healing. So in many respects I began to see IVF as another mission, a little like healing from depression, or the eating disorder, and all the other physical, mental and emotional challenges life has presented to me. And believe you me, IVF demands of you not just physically but most definitely emotionally and mentally. And for many, whether they realise it or not, it has a potentially huge spiritual element to it too.

I guess it was in that moment, in tears with the nurse at MSG, that I came to recognise what my friend meant when she had told me not to buy into self-pity.  And it was in that moment that I resolved to let go of any resistance I had to the IVF process, to the drugs and the allopathic care and all the stuff I don’t usually invite into my life, and just surrender to it.  While IVF was not on my list of ways one connects more deeply to spirit, I was coming to recognise that in doing IVF, one has the opportunity to connect more deeply to spirit in the lessons it provides – and the ability to surrender (and therefore let go of the way you believe things should be) is a huge lesson in this.

I decided that while I would read about the drugs on the patient information sheets provided by the clinic on the risks associated with the drug treatment, I would not research them in depth on the internet.  Nor would I be consumed by the side effects, other than just recognising what I needed to look out for in case I had an adverse reaction to them.  I would simply trust that the Universe had my back so to speak and do what needed to be done from a place of love rather than fear. This in itself, I was realising, is a huge lesson too.

I also felt it important to have some understanding of what they were meant to be doing to me, in terms of being able to feel and recognise this in my body - for example were they shutting my system down or stimulating it.  I am well aware that the mind plays a pivotal roll in the workings of our body so the more I could do mentally to support the process the better.  I felt that if I was resistant to the drugs mentally, then there was a chance that the drugs would not work as effectively as if I just embraced them and allowed them to do what they needed to do to achieve the intended outcome.

After seeing the nurse, I only had a week or so to wait until I was due to begin the treatment in earnest so I tried to settle into my zone. I was already practicing yoga and meditating daily, and doing Yoga Nidra where I could, just that now I tried to incorporate an 18-minute version of this healing and relaxation technique into my daily schedule and I started working with a new Sankalpa (resolution).

For me now, it wasn’t so much about getting pregnant (although of course this was still my intended outcome) but more so about producing quality healthy eggs. I was determined to live, breathe and visualise healthy eggs! Without healthy eggs then there was little chance of me getting pregnant, so this seemed an important stage in the process and to me it was all about stages and dealing with each in turn. Thus my Sankalpa now was, “I produce good quality and healthy eggs”.

A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever possess and egg health is understood to be the corner stone to fertility and thus they need to be nourished to be able to mature, ovulate, fertilise, implant and result in a baby. Evidently the amount and quality of the eggs are genetically determined and reduce over the years, although the environment that the eggs are growing in can be affected by lifestyle factors just like any other cell in the body.

The egg cell is the largest significant human cell in the body and is just visible to the naked eye. It is also the roundest cell, and therefore has the largest volume in relation to its surface. Sperm cells are the smallest of significant human cells and are the straightest cells. Egg cell and sperm are each other’s opposite, large versus small, round versus straight, cytoplasm versus nucleus.

The differences between sperm cells and egg cells are great, yet at the same time opposites attract and they belong together if we perceive the ovum as a sphere and the straight sperm as the corresponding radius.  It’s the coming together of the universal male, positive, yang energy and the universal female, yin energy. The male energy from the heavens and the female energy from the earth, or at least symbolically!

An egg lives for up to 24 hours, which is a short time frame, and it needs to be as healthy as it can be during this time. Furthermore, the right hormones are required in the right amount at the right time during the menstrual cycle to grow, mature and ovulate an egg. During IVF the hormonal levels are manipulated with synthetic drugs to increase the chances of a woman growing, maturing and ovulating at least one good quality egg. There is much we can do to assist this process and increase the chances of good egg health including:

·      Reducing sugar consumption;

·      Eating a diet rich in antioxidants to neutralise free radicals (which damage cells);

·      Ensuring adequate levels of B vitamins, zinc, Omega 3 and Essential Fatty Acids;

·      Eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods contained within cans or packaged in plastic (which contain toxins and affect egg health);

·      Maintaining a healthy weight;

·      Drinking plenty of water;

·      Ensuring adequate sleep and rest;

·      Taking adequate exercise especially yoga and walking;

·      Reducing stress levels;

·      Eliminating activities and people who exhaust and take from you; and

·      Making positive lifestyle choices.

Also, a number of studies have been conducted that have found a positive link between acupuncture and successful IVF cycles for some people. It is possible that this is due to the fact that acupuncture can help to increase blood flow to the pelvic area and the ovaries, and if the blood flow is good, then more nutrients are able to get through and increase the health of eggs. In addition, acupuncture may promote a sense of relaxation and positive thinking which can improve a person’s overall sense of wellbeing and increase the chances of pregnancy.

I had already been receiving regular acupuncture and certainly felt a benefit in my general sense of wellbeing and energy levels, so I increased these sessions to weekly and made them the main focus of my complimentary work. I had also been receiving regular Reiki, reflexology and massage in the lead up to the IVF and increased the frequency of these to help balance, ground and relax me, and increase my general sense of wellbeing and mental stability. I was fortunate, I should add, in being able to swap many of the holistic sessions (which were given by friends) in exchange for yoga classes with me.

Also, I was well aware that it was vitally important for me to maintain positive thinking and with that mental balance and clarity. Positive thinking is essentially a mental attitude in which you expect good and favourable results – it is a process of only allowing thoughts that create and transform energy into a positive reality.  This works on the understanding that we manifest situations, events and conditions in our lives based on the thoughts we are thinking; thus the more positive the thought, the more positive the situation created in one’s life.

Therefore, I tried to pay attention to my thinking and notice when I was slipping into either negative thinking or self-pity and with that I would try (try, try) to let the negative thoughts go and focus on being more positive instead. It is not necessarily an easy process but it can be very interesting as you start to recognise habitual thinking patterns and negative tendencies. It becomes easier with practice and with this new found awareness one realises that we are the creators of our own destiny depending upon the nature of our thinking.

It is my experience that positive thinking can be further helped by visualisation and in particular vision boards. Basically a vision board involves you putting together a sheet of photos or images of whatever it is you would like to attract into your life.  For example, if you would like to become pregnant and have a healthy baby, then you may stick images on your vision board of you with a pregnant tummy and you holding a healthy baby – you may need to do some cut and pasting! 

It is important that there is an image of you somewhere on the vision board so that there is a link between the images and you. It is also important that you feel what it would be like to manifest your intentions (images) in your life – or at least how you imagine you would feel! Vision boards have always been very powerful for me in terms of being clear visually about what I would like to attract into my life and the positive feelings attached to the images (and the ability to manifest accordingly).

Once you’ve finished your vision board, you should put it somewhere you may see it regularly so that you can remind yourself what it is you are trying to manifest in your life. The process of putting a vision board together may also help you to recognise any unconscious resistance you may be harbouring and which may unintentionally block the IVF/conception process. Such resistance may include you feeling that you don’t deserve to get pregnant and fulfil a dream, or that you are unworthy of bringing new life into the world.

Through my healing work I’ve also noticed that some ladies have unconscious resistance as a result of their upbringing. For some they may have had a difficult relationship with their mother so that they worry whether they can be good mother themselves, or they are so busy mothering other family members that they don’t have the energy necessary to focus on being a mother and creating a family of their own.

Others are bitter about something that has happened to them in their childhood and carry the victim and blame mentality into adulthood. Unconsciously they create some internal resistance to happiness - if having a baby would make them happy, then on some level they resist this, so they can continue to play out the victim role and blame others for their continued unhappiness rather than taking personal responsibility. Healing work is often required to address these deep seated issues so that the individual can forgive and move on.

Another thing that really helped me with the visualisation was placing a statue of a family – man with arm around woman, holding a baby in her arms – on my altar and practising yoga, meditating and praying in front of it. I found this really helpful in being absolutely clear about what it was I was trying to bring into my life and seeing it daily.  It was the same with the fertility bracelet that I bought a good 6 months before we began the IVF process and wore daily. This contained rose quartz, pearls and rhodonite - all crystals which help to promote fertility and which I hoped would put out a clear message to the Universe!

There were lots of other things I did to prepare myself for the IVF and you can read about these on the self-help page on my website under “fertility issues”. This meant that by the time it came around to beginning the treatment, I felt that I had done all that I could to prepare myself and now it was a matter of getting on with it. For the first time in a good 18 months my period could not have come soon enough, I positively welcomed it as it brought with it a new stage on the journey to conceive and with that the beginning of the IVF Antagonist cycle.