Spence: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Conception Channel, a podcast brought to you by the Being Fertile Program and Yinstill Reproductive Wellness. I have the pleasure of being here today with Katie. We go quite far back together, we worked together when she was trying to do everything she could to accomplish her dream, a family. She’s been kind enough to share her story, she’s quite an advocate for anyone needing any support in any way that has the same goal and is at a point in their life where they’re struggling. Welcome, Katie.
Katie: Thank you so much for having me, Spence. Pleasure to be here.
Spence: I know you just got back from Hawaii, and I know it was a lot with little ones as you just mentioned, but you look so great, a nice glow.
Katie: And as refreshing as I can be with little kids. Thanks.
Spence: You got out of your regular routine. That is part that changes once you reached your goal. I said that to Katie as soon as we jumped on the Skype call, and her instant reaction still was, oh, but it’s such a gratitude for having her little gifts.
Katie: I think gratitude is what carries people through this journey. It’s what you got to keep in your back pocket the whole time. And yeah, I certainly didn’t have that at the beginning though. I was kind of in a fog for several years. Even before we met, I’ve been trying to get pregnant since I was about 32 years old. My husband and I realized we wanted to start a family, and I was not getting my period regularly after I went off the pill, and this was kind of a warning sign. I really dragged my heels, it took me time to get my doctor to discuss it. I thought, oh, we’ll work it out, we’ll work it out, everything will be fine. Months go by, years go by, and to get a referral from your GP than to a fertility clinic was a big leap emotionally for me. I did not want to be in that fertility or infertility category, and so, I didn’t let myself accept the referral. I wanted to see a regular gynecologist and just hope they could help me along with some other measures. In the meantime, I saw two naturopaths, I saw an energy healer, I started doing strange yoga, I did everything I could. My husband was a big partner of mine in that, and things were not coming along. So, I finally saw someone at a fertility clinic, and there are great doctors there really. They were encouraging but very realistic about my chances. I was diagnosed with PCOS, I also had hypothalamic amenorrhea. I had some overlapping symptoms. I was a regular person going to work like everyone else, had different problems and happy times as well, but this was definitely a shadow that I was having a hard time acknowledging. I think I mentioned to you that even at the library, there’s a stack of books on infertility, and I was reluctant to sort of dive into that category. I didn’t want to be part of that ISBN number at the library. I wanted to be over in the new parent section of the library, and it was really hard for me to start reading up about what I needed to do.
Spence: To clarify – can I just back up a second? PCOS, atypical, Katie’s a slender lady, and hypothalamic amenorrhea just to clarify leads to no periods or periods that have an extended length between them. You started realizing that right after you got off the birth control.
Katie: I knew that from going off it periodically in my twenties that my period wasn’t normal, but my doctor said, you know, it takes a little while after you get off the pill for it to become regular. I got very good at recording it. 50 days, 60 days, 100 days, 200 days went by, and then when a year went by, I realized I’m in a big trouble here. If I’m not getting a period, I’m not ovulating. Coupled with this, I think the anxiety of not being able to get pregnant led to stomach problems. I would have stomachaches that would last for days. I just couldn’t enjoy my life because these stomachaches would come and go, and I sort of thought they were linked. I saw a gastroenterologist, I saw an endocrinologist because I had some mild hypothyroidism, and I just didn’t get very far. It became a big problem to conceal this. I was concealing this problem from a lot of people that I cared about because I didn’t want to disappoint them with possibility of not having a child. I didn’t want them to take on the burden of my sadness, it was enough that I had to deal with my sadness, I didn’t want to sort of compound that with carrying someone else’s worry about me. What I really learned was that worry gets you absolutely nowhere, and stasis was killing me both in my job and in terms of dealing with this problem. As a prophet of a previous generation once said, if you’ve got a problem or if something’s wrong, you got to whip it, got to whip it good. And once I started addressing it by actually going to fertility clinic and speaking with doctors, I felt like I was moving along. I ended up having a laparoscopy to look at my tubes and move some endometriosis that was possibly causing me some pain abdominal. That was good. It was so gratifying to get the results of that surgery and have the doctor tell me that ‘your uterus looks healthy, it looks like you could carry a pregnancy’. I had nothing but bad news, my periods are stretching up to 200 days, and I thought, wow, someone’s saying that I can really do this. That’s a miracle. The assessment from my doctor was that I was capable of carrying a child, and that I was making enough eggs. I could make eggs but they weren’t going to be fertilized easily. I had a 3% chance of getting pregnant in his estimation without any intervention. So, we settled on IUI so that I would start taking the injections and stimulating follicles to make eggs.
Spence: Like a super ovulation.
Katie: Yeah, like a super ovulation. Then I would be inseminated with my husband’s sperm and that would hopefully result in the pregnancy. The emotional toll that learning to inject yourself takes is also something that I was a little bit unprepared for. I thought if I learned the process of how to inject myself, and keeping track of when I have to be at the doctor’s office that maybe I could win at pregnancy. Maybe if I just organize my way into this, that if I have enough sticky tabs on my portfolio of documents, volumes of documents, that I can win, and it doesn’t work like that. There is a lot of luck involved, and it’s an art, it’s a magic as well as a science. There’s no sort of perfect formula for how this works, and I think that’s a good thing. In my experience, the doctors are highly responsible, kind without building you up too much about your chances. Hope is great, and it was a wonderful thing, but I don’t feel like I was falsely promised anything. I was pretty realistic. Anyway, I got through the first few days of these injections, and they’re monitoring you as you go, and then my doctor found that I had not responded well to the medication, that I was making far too many eggs. I thought this was a wonderful problem. I thought, finally fecundity after feeling barren for my adult life. But that’s a problem in terms of multiples in pregnancy. So, I had the option of canceling this process, this round of IUI all together and kissing our money goodbye and our sort of emotional investment, or switching to in-vitro halfway through. Something that is far more costly and something that my husband and I were not prepared for. It’s more invasive, and we had to wrap our minds around that in one day. We had one day to decide. And I remember I met my husband at the library, dragged him out of work, and we had to come up with what we were going to do. It was a very hard decision, very hard decision, and we decided to go for it. That is just when I met you, Spence, actually. I looked to get some acupuncture and some support before egg retrieval, and I think I had one session with you, and it was all prepped to go for it. I had the eggs retrieved, waited a few days. I had a few eggs ready to go, and I was all set to go and have those implanted.
Spence: Embryos actually.
Katie: Embryos, yeah. So, embryo is formed, we were really excited, and then the morning that I was set to have those embryos or embryo implanted, I got a call from the clinic saying, I’m sorry to inform you that none of those eggs, none of those embryos have survived, and you won’t be coming in today. I was heartbroken, I thought, a fertility clinic, why are you a business if you do this to women. It seemed like some cruel punishment, to put me through the wringer and then end up with nothing. I’ve learned since, oh, that happens every two or three months at the clinic, that it doesn’t work out, and I had a horrible day. I just wanted to hide into a little hole. What I’ve learned since is that when you’re in those dark periods, at least, I did something. As horrible as it was, it’s better than doing nothing. I got to lay of the land at the fertility clinic through, I got a crash course in it. And even though everything came crashing down, it allowed me to start to cultivate some gratitude in my life. For instance, I’d never been pregnant before in my life, so that means I’d never lost a pregnancy, and I was grateful. I’ve had friends that have gone through that. I was grateful that I didn’t have to experience that. I was grateful that I lived in a country where these options were available to me, that we were where we could pay for this kind of treatment. I started to realize that if I’ve had been born elsewhere, I might have been cast out of the village, and that would have been it.
Spence: A different era for sure.
Katie: A different era. Once I became a little bit more aware of those things, I think I was better prepared to be on a mission to try it again. It was my doctors that really encouraged me to try it again, and I’m grateful to them for that. I was prepared to look into adoption or something else at that point, and they said, you know, you’ve got a chance that if we tweak the medication, the injections, you can have a successful pregnancy. I think it might be worth it to give you one more try. So, I did.
Spence: Is that – sorry to interrupt – is that approximately at that time when you had put your faith into the medical model, in-vitro, and it didn’t even result in a transfer? Is that when the soul-searching and the spiritual part of the journey kind of began?
Spence: Yeah. It began with meeting you and coming to Yinstill. I also quit my job, we went on a long vacation, and all of these things had to fall into place. I realized that there was no sort of fast-food version of acupuncture therapy before embryo transfer. I came to see you maybe two days before I was having this embryo transfer, we hadn’t worked together and sort of been able to build myself up, I was flailing. I needed months of acupuncture and some nutritional assistance even though I’d been to culinary school. I knew what it was doing in terms of my food intake, but I went on a cleanse, we eliminated a lot of stuff from our diets. We tried to just both of us feel as good as we possibly could going into it. By the time I tried around again later that year, I think we waited four or five months before doing it again, I was the happiest infertility patient going into that clinic. I bounced in there because I made the decision to do it again, I thought what have I got to lose. I’m unlikely to get pregnant without it, so I might as well go in there expecting the best. I remember the nurses were marked on it, they’re like, why are you so happy. It’s not my disposition typically, but it was like, you know, I’m here, might as well give it a try, why make this harder than it has to be. Again, I started to just feel a little bit more grateful for things. It was funny, because I was in the waiting room at the fertility clinic, I mean, someone should do a study about waiting rooms and tell you about a place, an environment, the people. It’s filled with women just like me, all pretending not really to notice each other, and families and gay couples trying to conceive. And they have a little wine cooler filled with bottled water, and I think my husband remarked that, oh, look they had free water, and I said, no, they don’t, that water is ten thousand dollars. Nothing’s free. My sense of humor got me through it. We were delighted to go in there every day for a few weeks, but I continued to obsess over statistics. At the time I started looking into becoming pregnant about 32, I was 37 by the time I made my way to meet you and to the fertility clinic. They give you the stats on how many embryos you can possibly make and how many survived. You have to become comfortable with the fact that you are going to lose eggs, you’re going to lose embryos, lose potentiality, and you’re not going to suddenly gain a few in the process once they’ve been retrieved. Again, you sort of want to be successful, you want to have as many options as possible but, that’s not the way it goes. You are going to lose as you go, and it was very important for me to stay focused on the fact that I wanted a healthy pregnancy. I would give anything for it, so I tried to stay focused on that goal and stay as cool as a cucumber as I could. Ultimately for me, remaining cool meant not discussing it with anybody except for my practitioners and my husband and my brother and keeping that close-knit, it really worked in my favor. I regret telling a wider circle of people that I was doing infertility treatment the first time I did it because it meant I had to make some really difficult phone calls afterwards. I think a lot of women would react differently to that. I mean, they need people to know what’s going on with them, but for me, that’s not how it worked. I was really happy to keep this private, because when you conceive the child privately, that’s a very private thing between people typically, and I felt like I already had 20 people involved. As a result, I had 20 people rooting for me, which is what’s nice. I really felt I had the right kind of support.
Spence: That’s so good. How did you prepare yourself? You weren’t even sure if you were going to ever do this again.
Katie: Well, like dietary things that I did or…?
Spence: I don’t know. If I remember correctly, it was even a challenge to get to the place where you wanted to step into that arena again, to subject yourself to in-vitro or stimulation. Some of the nuts and bolts you did because you had some stomach problems.
Katie: I found that cutting out a lot of things before we did the next round of treatment helped. I hadn’t been drinking a lot for years. The main reason I stopped drinking in truth is it didn’t feel good, and also I got tired of reacting to people when they noticed that I wasn’t drinking at a party. Because you could get sort of nod or wink from someone saying, oh, is she pregnant. I thought it would be much easier to just stop drinking so I’d eliminate that sensitive point. That was very interesting just to sort of take that off the table entirely.
Spence: So much is premeditated it’s crazy. You are protecting yourself.
Katie: I protected myself in so many ways. I remember early on, someone mentioning to me when I said that I wasn’t getting my period, someone said, well you know, maybe that’s a sign that your body is trying to tell you that having kids is not for you. I carry that around with me still. Biologically, my body wasn’t ovulating. What does that mean? Does that mean that I’m not supposed to be a mom? I suddenly began to question my reproductive self, my feminine self, what it means to be a woman. I’d never been sort of goo-goo about having kids or gaga, I’d never bought parenting magazines, I’d never collected baby clothing, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have every right to be a mom. And if my biology is sort of telling me one thing, why is the core of my being pulling me towards parenthood like a force that I couldn’t explain? My advice to women going through that or having people say, you know, maybe your body’s trying to tell you something, sure, take the signals that your body is giving you, take them on board, but also filter out the noise. If there is something that’s not serving you, or some advice you’ve gotten that’s not serving you because deep down you know, then leave it alone and start talking to people that will give you the resources you need and the tools to move forward. I wish I’d realized that sooner.
Spence: These comments like that, it’s so much in life, even little things. People are far more sensitive, and saying just something simple like someone getting mad at you in traffic, certain people, that can affect them the whole day. You cut someone or whatever. I’ve been working with women like yourself for 15 years, and I blame our environment, our world, our social conditioning, everything for biology that isn’t in harmony with its true nature, and that’s all that is. It’s not that, oh, well, you know, God gave you a uterus. It’s just okay, we live in a toxic soup, whatever that might be, and we’ve got to find your way back, and yours is unique.
Katie: It’s fascinating. I hope that in my lifetime, we’ll find out more about why my period stopped, or why I have the condition I do. I had a healthy childhood, healthy teen years, but I question, did I microwave too much plastic in the 1980s before we knew stuff like that, like what happened to me. We likely have learned something in the years since, and I lead my life differently now, but who knows.
Spence: It’s funny, when I try to talk to women about treating themselves as though they were pregnant and cleaning up their home and their personal care products, all these things as though if it’s only suited to their baby, whether they have it in their home or use it on themselves. I think that is such a great place to start from, even in such a toxic generation that our parents lived in, everything was prepared and packaged. Monsanto was like the king, and our parents still try to find Johnson & Johnson unscented no baby tears shampoo. Kudos to that. You can do what you can. There were these 10 steps that we went through. It’s like do what you can, create a plan, than have faith that’s going to change trajectory. From there, it is, okay, now I have faith and I can surrender to the fact that I’m taking care of me. And now, it’s more of a spiritual journey and working with the resources that are out there right now to the village to accomplish my goal.
Katie: I felt helpless, I felt like I can’t do anything to affect the way that my body is behaving or not behaving. To have a plan like that means you’re doing something, you’re getting out of that stasis, which is healthy in itself, I think, for the mind to sort of focus on something else, and not obsessively but to modify what’s coming at you. Unfortunately, there are industries that are geared to women about to conceive or women who become pregnant, and these products look all shiny and new and wonderful and so many of them aren’t. And it’s hard to believe that something that’s marketed so intentionally towards women in my position that is not healthy. My radar started early because of meeting you and because I started to learn about it. That was great.
Spence: I kind of remember the time where it was like, I’m ready, now I need to reconvince my husband, and it’s a step forward.
Katie: Yeah, it was a financial decision, it was an emotional decision, he didn’t want to see me disappointed like I was. I think the feeling was that this would be it, and that you are putting all your eggs in one basket. I always knew that, well, IVF is out there, we had to go that route, we could but he took a lot of convincing, and I had to convince myself. Because there’s no sort of magic solution to infertility, it’s not one thing. As we got deeper into learning about how fertility works, I realized we could not count on IVF, there are so many things that have to fall into place for it to work. It was very difficult, it put stress on our marriage to come to a place where we could agree to do it again. Once he was on board, I felt like he was more on board than he was before, and that’s because things were on our terms, we were doing it privately, he was doing a lot of soul-searching, he’s ready to be a dad. He could see how desperately I wanted it. I was willing to do this again. Again, I became a really good patient. I got good at injecting myself. I remember I didn’t let it dictate my day, I wasn’t sort of freaked out about the injections, I would bring my little kit with me and go to the YMCA. At the time, when you’re supposed to inject yourself, do that privately in a little cubicle, get myself all sorted and then go and work out. I didn’t make it a big deal because I figured a lot of people have to go through a lot more, and so I felt good going in. When I had the eggs retrieved, it looked like we had a decent number, I thankfully don’t remember how many we had, but a few days go by, I think day 5, I was waiting for that phone call to say you can’t come in, there’s nothing left. But we had two embryos that looked good, and that was unbelievable. Based on my history, having never been pregnant, having been sort of trying to become pregnant for over five years, my doctor recommended that we have two embryos implanted. Now, this is such a complicated decision, and again, I’m so grateful that we live in Canada where there are regulations about these kinds. Even if I had six embryos, there’s no way those are going to be implanted all at once, it’s too dangerous. But right up into the parking lot of the fertility clinic, for the embryos to be implanted, my husband and I were debating the merits of one or two, one or two. There was a possibility to save one for family planning later on, but there are risks associated with defrosting so to speak. I like that we had the option for two. When we got in there and I got my scrubs, doc said, we’re doing two, right, and I said, yeah, we’re doing two. Because I thought what are the chances, what are the chances that me having never been pregnant would be pregnant with two – that would be hilarious an unbelievable, and let’s cover all our bases here, yeah, let’s do two. Then there’s a period of a few weeks where you’re not supposed to take your home pregnancy test, you’re going to wait for the blood test so that you can find with absolute certainty if you’re pregnant or not pregnant. Two days after those two embryos were implanted, which by the way for people about to go through it, this is not a painful process physically, the transfer, neither is the retrieval. I was very comfortable throughout all of it. In fact, through conscious sedation, I started to talk about things in the conscious sedation I shouldn’t talk about, I was very, very comfortable through the whole process. But days after those embryos were implanted, I became so overwhelmed with a different feeling, I thought, if this is not pregnancy, what is going on. I was convinced that physically something was going on with me. I thought if it’s not twins then what is it, because there’s no way that someone who is pregnant with just one child could feel this possibility of pregnancy. I was absolutely certain and sure enough once the blood tests came back. My numbers were sort of sky-high indicating the possibility of two. We didn’t know at that point, but we got a lovely phone call from the doctors saying, yeah, looks like you’re pregnant. I was lucky enough to receive that phone call on a beach with my husband, just out for a relaxing stroll, we knew we’d get that phone call. It was a lot more glamorous than being in a bathroom alone together. I really treasure that moment, and I will for the rest of my life. It was a great feeling.
Spence: I love how you framed this, it’s so awesome. So… now?
Katie: Now so much had happened. I feel like I’ve lived ten lives in the space where I last saw you. I had a great pregnancy. I went for my first sonogram, and there on the screen were two black plums, and I thought is that what I think it is, and the doc said, you know, how excited you are, someone’s going to react. He said, you know what that is, don’t you, Katie, and I said, yeah, that’s two, it’s two babies. I was only six weeks along. I mean, what a privilege to get that knowledge so early. Some women are in the dark at that point. Well, I knew way too much, I looked back at my husband, and that look on his face that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It was shock, and the first thing I said to him was, we got to get a car. Like not new car, a car. We need to stop taking the bus. It was frightening for 24 hours. Two babies that I have to carry and be pregnant with for nine months, how am I going to do it? But I felt so lucky, and five years ago, I would have given anything to have had this problem of twin pregnancy. Honestly, a day went by, and I was thrilled and I remained thrilled through the whole pregnancy. There wasn’t a day that went by that it was like, this is terrible. It was magnificent, and I’d never, never felt better until I met them. That was better, that was awesome. I had a wonderful time being pregnant with them. What I learned while I was pregnant was that there is no singular, perfect pregnancy. I thought that immediately as a twin pregnant woman that I would be subjected to high-risk everything, and that things might not go my way. But I met a lot of women with the regular pregnancy, you can see the old-fashioned way, and they had autoimmune diseases they were dealing with or some issue or some bleeding, things come up, it’s not perfect. It’s still magical and wondrous, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think that’s a good thing. The whole thing felt very natural, aside from the fact that when you’re carrying twins people notice your pregnancy in a different way, especially towards the end. So, that issue of did she receive IVF to conceive these children, that comes up when you mention that it’s twins. It was weird to wrap my head around that. The fact is now that I did conceive my children this way, I have no trouble acknowledging that that’s the way it came about, who cares. If someone had told me, someone probably did early on that, hey, if you go through this process and you’re successful, you’re not going to think about that for a nanosecond after. It won’t matter. You will be wrapped up in other stuff. Even if it doesn’t go well, even if you have a conclusion that is not what you were hoping for, at least you tried. I felt like even if I went through the unsuccessful round, at least I made an effort to do something, and I was not ashamed at that point. I was ashamed at the beginning because I didn’t know how wonderful it could be. I ended up with two healthy babies, and that’s so great.
Spence: You are such a model of gratitude, and you are a very sensitive woman. Not that most people are not, but you really needed to dig in and use the tools that you have that would benefit you to keep you in that mindset that you waited for so long. I admire you for that. I think that’s important. I am about to do an interview with a woman with not that dissimilar story, she went through everything but ended up on the other side, without children. We don’t hear those stories quite enough, so yeah, I really appreciate your gratitude in it. I think that’s one of the keys. I started to write another book, and it’s more about the spiritual principles, because I find the longer that I’ve practiced the more important those pieces are. Most of them are a practice. If you don’t mind, I would love to ask you just some quick little questions and your answers can be succinct. These are topics that I have noticed and found over the years that are so unbelievably important, almost principles that need to be practiced to achieve where you are now. How important was love?
Katie: Love is everything. Immediately I think of my partner and his love, but also self-love. It sounds kind of trite, but there’s a lot of self-loathing that happens when your body’s not working the way you want it to. Making changes in my life so I could get to a point where I felt a lot more lovable, that made everything a lot easier. I think it made the conditions in my womb a happy place for a baby to grow. When my husband and I were to connect and reach a decision that we’re going to move forward with this together, I felt like there was an environment where love would grow in the form of a baby. It is just so key. You’ve got to love the stuff that you’re doing, that side of yourself too. Switching job really made a huge difference to me. Cutting out people in my life that weren’t serving me. I saw who I wanted to. I made some modifications in my life to make it easier.
Spence: Did contribution or giving back, or did you find yourself in that role somehow, pouring yourself into that in any way?
Katie: Sadly, no. I have a hard time, my kids are now a year and a half making time for a lot of stuff, but it’s no big deal. I have no interest in becoming martyr or any of that stuff because people have a lot harder than I do. The small way that I give back is that I’m far more sensitive to the needs of people going through perhaps private struggles. I mean, my perceived struggle, as a twin mom, is very public and sort of on display when I walk down the street with two kids. I get a lot of sympathy, I get a lot of someone says double trouble to me weekly, and, frankly, it’s no trouble. I am very quick to say, no, it’s a double joy, I’m living the life here. It’s people that privately are struggling with something. I’m far more I think attuned to those things, and particularly women going through something, wanting a pregnancy, wanting a partner, this is invisible. I think we need to be careful what we say to people going through stuff.
Spence: It’s great. You have contributed in a few ways by my requests as well as being here today. These spiritual principles, you don’t have to dive into them, all you need is a couple and you need to practice, but what about surrendering, where did that step in?
Katie: You absolutely need to surrender, you can take surrendering in different way. You can throw up your hands and forget about the whole thing and just decide, well, this is not for me, or you can say, hey, maybe there’s something bigger going on, and I’m open to it, my body is open to it, my mind’s open to it. Now in my life, I surrender so much more quickly. I used to ruminate about problems, I used to overthink. I remember you handing me a book that had nothing to do with fertility so that I could steer my mind away from something, and that’s a form of surrender. Now, because my personal time is so limited, I have less time to ruminate about things, and so I’m very quick to surrender, this is not working, we got to change course. I think the sooner that anyone can do that if they’re facing hardship, the faster they will reach resolution.
Spence: So, tied into surrender, did having trust in faith, did that ever seep in and give you comfort?
Katie: I’m not religious, my family is not religious, but I remember having a very poignant moment with my father as I was in the midst of trying to conceive. We’re out for dinner together, just the two of us, and he could see that I was in a great deal of pain and he’s a doctor himself, and I could tell that he wanted to solve this pain for me and he couldn’t. He said, you know, Katie, I don’t pray, but I wish and I hope and I dream that you will have children. I wish this for you, and it was the sweetest thing. I’ll remember it always because I think dreams are good things. It’s okay to have lofty hopes and dreams. I sort of shut down the possibility at several points along the way, and I think it does me no good. One can come from a school of thought that’s like, well, don’t build yourself up. Maybe largely something that I carried around with me is lower your expectations and you won’t be disappointed. It has not served me well. I encourage anyone facing the same hardship to raise your expectations about what’s possible because you will inevitably lift yourself up in the process and get a little further on your journey. You might not get to exactly where you want to be, but you may get a lot further than you hoped.
Spence: How I interpret it is if you push yourself, you grow. How important was self-growth, personal development to help you achieve your goal?
Katie: I wish I’d done more, but it was key. I took a leap of faith, I guess you could say, leaving my job. Financially, we were able to be okay with all that happening. I went back to school, I got some education in another area that I was passionate about but that I never sort of waded into. I ended up meeting a group of people that had nothing to do with fertility or making babies that I became very close to and I’m still close to this day. A group of people I met during one of the classes I took, and I see them on a regular basis now. Cultivating your life in other areas I think is really big. If you expand your mind period, you’re open to other things, and I think your body is able to withstand a lot more when you grow in that way.
Spence: My next piece is – thank you – my next piece is gratitude, and I already gave you big props for that, but do you really believe that being grateful played a role as well?
Katie: Yeah, I do. I’m not that person, I think, naturally. I’m not sort of Pollyanna type, but I sort of turned into one, privately, because I think there are moments, little threads that you can pick up along the way everywhere where there’s room for gratitude. It can be as something as mundane as the breakfast you make yourself or a smile from a stranger or an acknowledgment of something well- done, a beautiful meal prepared for you. I love to cook, and so, when someone gives me props in that area, it makes me feel good. Something that was well-written, something that is beautiful to watch, art, anything. You have to find it because if you’re constantly complaining then you’re just going to perpetuate that. So, I needed to perpetuate something different, and once you sort of step on the gratitude train, you can get pretty far. It changed the way I walked down the street, it changed the way my face looked, and I needed that in pregnancy. I needed it not to become bogged down with my own changing physical body. As you say, preparing the house with certain products that you need before pregnancy, treat yourself as though you’re pregnant before you are. It made it very easy for me to transition into feeling happy while I was pregnant because I was already in that place before I became pregnant. I think it made for healthy pregnancy along the way.
Spence: Gratitude not only really helped you and your well-being, but do you believe that it helped on an esoteric level attract what you were hoping for?
Katie: Yes. I felt like a magnet for good through my pregnancy, I felt like it was the babies. People were just like, look at that belly, look at that giant belly. I got in touch with a group of people doing yoga that really helped me, and it just felt like I was all shiny and new. When I look at my most disheveled now as a parent, I try and remember that, particularly before I go to bed or when the day starts.
Spence: There’s those gratitude journals up now that are ‘five minutes before bed and five minutes in the morning’, I recommend those to everybody. I believe in the power of gratitude. Now, you mentioned that you’re clearly a spiritual woman but not a religious woman, but did you pray?
Katie: Yeah. I think the day before the embryos were transferred, I probably did pray, a very quiet personal prayer. Not because I felt entitled to anything, but magically, once the embryos had been placed inside me, I had some acupuncture with one of your colleagues and listened to some beautiful music on headphones and had a very odd spiritual moment, a piece of Debussy music that as I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, it was the first piece of music I heard when those headphones were placed on me as I lay there minutes after the embryo transfer. I thought, wow, this is just about as spiritual as it gets, this piece of music meant so much to me in my marriage and my love for my husband, and here it was potentially guiding me towards a pregnancy. I thought, well, that’s a heck of a good sign. I’ll take that.
Spence: Did you ever meditate? I feel like prayer is communication with God, with the Universe, and meditation is listening after.
Katie: l certainly did. I meditated with Oprah, I meditated with myself at the beach, in yoga class there’s a lot of that. I think anything that can calm the mind is a good thing because we’re constantly just going over things in our head, and it’s not always the healthiest thing. You can’t sort of think your way out of something .
Spence: Yeah, you said that at the beginning. What about living in now? The Buddhists refer to it as mindfulness. Was that something that just kind of naturally was born from this?
Katie: Yeah. But it’s hard to put that into practice when you’re trying to conceive. And nowhere is it more fundamentally true than when you have a child or children. Now all I do is live in the moment. I don’t remember anything that happened three hours ago frankly, and I don’t know what’s happening three hours from now, and that’s cool, that’s fine. I’m a stay-at-home mom now, and I’m focused on the now very much so, and I I’m pleased to live that way. I wish I lived that way before, and I hope that in the future, that’s something that I’m concerned with because you can only really control the moments you have around you.
Spence: Eckhart Tolle would be proud, a spiritual guru, the power of living now. Finally, I will let you go. You’ve been so generous with your time. I feel like in a recipe for achieving your dream almost in anything, in particular here, getting to your family, one of the most important ingredients, may be perseverance.
Katie: Absolutely. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. I thought it was a sprint, I thought we can go this way, we can go this way, we can do things fast, quick, we’ll get this taken care of, but no. It’s a marathon. There are different hard patches, but I guarantee to the women facing this and the men out there too that are supporting them, starting the marathon is the hardest part. Because for me, I was just so reluctant to take a step forward, and taking any step forward is better than nothing at all. You may fear the depths of despair at an unhappy outcome, but really, I think the depths of despair occur before any step is taken. I think that’s essentially perseverance, isn’t it, to move into that marathon and not be afraid of the fight. I think in any challenge that’s so fundamentally key, to get started, just get started, educate yourself about your own body and become an advocate for your own body. If you’re not getting the information you need, then it’s time to turn to a different practitioner or a different group of support.
Spence: I have a theory that I have seen play out so many times over the years, now someone would say, well, you need to have willpower, you need to keep going on or starting the marathon, which is a great perspective, but to me, I feel like infertility struggles or difficulty conceiving or getting pregnant are a marathon that is very motivational, and perseverance is an inevitability most often because the ‘why’ versus the ‘will’. The ‘why’ is so powerful. And I think it’s Trump’s willpower in this case.
Katie: I think if you dig down deep and if you really want a family, then yeah, that’ll carry you through. I had people say, you know, isn’t it kind of selfish to want this, isn’t it selfish to want a child. I mean, what isn’t selfish in life? I knew that I was going to be able to do this, I knew I’d be good at it, I knew I was deserving it. I finally knew I was deserving having a family, even if it wasn’t sort of coming to me in the traditional way. Once I got over that, then I was able to move forward. Set your intentions, acknowledge the why and then move forward.
Spence: Any final piece of advice for the women who are watching?
Katie: I’m right there with you. I’m right there with you, and I acknowledge what a privileged position it is for me to be sitting here talking to you on the other side of it. I never thought I would be here. I feel extremely fortunate, you can hear it in my voice. I listen to other people talk about their success stories, it was painful to hear, but I hope it’s inspirational too.
Spence: Thank you so much for coming on the Conception Channel Podcast. I’m sure so many of your wise words and your courage to be here and your story will help so many women because I will do my best to make sure as many women that need to hear this will hear.
Katie: My pleasure, Spence. Thank you so much.
Spence: See you again soon hopefully.
Katie: See you soon.