Last week I found out that one of my patients had died.
Although I hadn’t seen Alicia* in over 5 years, I thought about her often because she was one of the few women in my acupuncture fertility practice who I wasn’t able to help conceive. I treated her before I began working more deeply with the Wisdom of the Womb, an understanding of fertility on a more energetic level. When I was seeing her, I had sensed that more was needed, but I didn’t yet have the language or the methods to access these deeper parts. I always wondered if, had we worked together in this capacity, she could have gotten pregnant.
When she stopped seeing me, she told me that her insurance covered IVF but not acupuncture, and that she had decided to go that route instead.
I kept in touch with her for a few months, maybe a year. I knew she had had several failed IVF cycles.
I didn’t know that she had finally gotten pregnant or that when she was 5 months pregnant, she went to her doctor for severe back pain and was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer. I didn’t know that they needed to deliver the baby at just 4 lbs, 20-something weeks, because her cancer was too aggressive to go untreated. I didn’t know any of this until I found out she had died, less than a month after being diagnosed.
While it’s devastating news, I feel some comfort in knowing that, for those short 5 months, after almost a decade of trying, she was able to finally experience pregnancy, motherhood. I hope that she was able to experience it fully, without fear of loss.
I hope she was able to embrace the miracle of her body.
Because of the unignorable irony of the situation, I can’t help but think about her soul’s journey. In remembering her and our conversations, I knew that she felt her sole purpose in life was to be a mom. As an Alchemical Healer, my work with my patients involves exploring their deepest hardship, their greatest struggle as the place where they can experience the most growth. It’s usually the darkest depths to which we must dive in order for our spirit to reach the heights it was meant to. When I think about Alicia in this capacity, I wonder if there was a lesson in the infertility struggle that needed to be explored and why motherhood wasn’t a part of this lifetime’s path.
There are no answers, and even wondering if I could have helped her feels a bit too much like “playing God.” Of course I wonder if the medications involved in several IUI and IVF cycles could have impacted her liver, and I know they must have.
Learning of Alicia’s death forces me to linger on a topic I’ve been thinking about anyway. I recently joined some TTC and fertility groups on Facebook, and I couldn’t help but notice that many of the posts seem so … medical. DPOs, FSH levels, HCG levels, estrogen levels, etc. etc. etc. Of course these things are important and, in fact, I rely on these levels and numbers in my own fertility practice.
Alicia’s death, though, and seeing just how focused we are on “the numbers,” is forcing me to question if we’ve been relying too heavily on science. Because this seems to be a time of heavy “science denying,” I feel the need to say that I believe in science. But I also believe that science hasn’t even begun to catch up to the magnificence and magic that is the human body, the human spirit. In our deep reliance on science, on mental consciousness, we have lost touch with our experience of the magical.
Scientists are discovering things about our bodies every day, things that we couldn’t even begin to fathom even just 10 years ago, like the fact that we carry the trauma of our ancestors in our DNA. If someone suggested as much before science proved it, we would write it off as “new-agey” shit. But whether or not we can “prove” just how it works, the energy and magic of our body is where real transformation begins.
Fertility, along with pregnancy and childbirth, has become so medicalized that it has ceased to be a rite of passage. It has been stripped of its magic.
The women I work with are reclaiming their magic.
Yes, we can look at when we ovulate, our progesterone levels, our FSH levels, etc. We can tweak and supplement and track and chart. But when all of that fails and even when it doesn’t, it’s imperative to treat ourselves like the magical beings we are. It’s essential to begin to understand the underlying beliefs that might be impacting our fertility.
What do we believe about motherhood? What is our connection to Mother Earth? What are our ingrained ideas about femininity? What are the traumas we have experienced? What traumas have our ancestors experienced? What do we know about the women in our lineage? What traumas might our wombs be holding?
Fertility is more than just the numbers and the charts and peeing on sticks. On an energetic and soul level, fertility is about our relationship to our spirit, to our womanhood, to our power of creativity, to the way we value the feminine.
Most women don’t even recognize how disconnected we are from our own magic. When we take back our power, we take back our creative force and our fertility.
I believe that this reclamation begins by recognizing what has been lost, what has been taken from us. One of my favorite quotes of all time is this, from Tish Thawer: “We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn.”
It’s time to own it. To reclaim our power. To reclaim our magic.
*Name changed to protect the family (and for HIPPA compliance, of course)