NEW LIFE: Fertility Stories
Each of us has a story from the very start. Some of us are readily created — Others come into this world after an intensive journey toward conception.
Pregnancy is quite an orchestration of body chemistry, medical history, and jam-packed with emotions.
Through my experience assisting couples in this quest, I am witness to the nuances — where my work shines.
Clinical tests guide us and affirm my approach through each monthly cycle — bridging the space between Fertility Clinics and recalibrating our bodies through Herbal (Plant) Medicine and Nutritional Therapeutics.
It seemed — through a series of 3 brief stories that I posted on Social Media about my Fertility successes — that each of those stories deserved a bit more background to appreciate their journeys.
Each one is so very different from the next.
Perhaps we need to take this back a little further, to gain a bigger picture perspective…
Each of us as Individuals are like our Fingerprints. We may share certain diagnostics or physical imbalances with other people, but we have entirely unique: genetics, cultural + ethnic backgrounds, lifestyle habits, emotions/perspectives, mental or emotional frame of mind, conditions of life, past circumstances of physical and emotional nature, chemical or medication exposures, required prescriptions, life crises, variations of family or social support, additional hormonal-immune-metabolic imbalances or tendencies (current or past), age of symptom onset…… you get the picture.
We begin with two entirely separate Individuals who come together — integrating these factors combined with the current ages of both partners.
This is why every one of us are miracles — regardless whether we are created with or without some form of assistance. Considering additional circumstances of single women pursuing pregnancy without a partner via donor, it is essential to point out age variations with these successes.
In order to tell these stories from my perspective, I will need to avoid names and too much identifying information. Equally, I will skip too much clinical lingo and keep this about their stories.
I will tell you straightaway: There is little else that feels like the news, “We are pregnant!” — The JOY that fills my heart and entire body is indescribable! Its a RUSH of endorphins — a decided HIGH — for sure!
It was 2003.
My first pregnancy success were a young couple in their 20s, who had been seeking to conceive for about 2 years.
In THIS instance, I am able to share their names — because they generously opened their lives and this journey to a Video Testimonial: Rachael and Jay.
[ CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO ]
Please note that this was the first version of this video, when I used my practice name “Sundance Wellness, Inc”
The addition of the name “The Medical Herbalist Apothecary” came along over a decade ago (per 2023). I did this to better convey exactly what I do, so people looking for this approach could actually find me online. I also modified the website address listed on the video end-screen, so I’ll add my updated details at the bottom of this post.
Rachael and Jay courageously shared their journey with me through this video, so that others know they are not alone in their experience, and what can be expected with my work.
Pregnancy didn’t seem to be happening over a seemingly adequate period of time of trying (approximately 2 years), so they embarked on a wide array of conventional medical testing for discovery.
Every possible scan and blood test available was pursued at that time, leaving no stone un-turned.
They had some specified concerns with timing, because Jay was in the military on the Front Lines, and they were pressed to make things happen between deployments at war time.
You can imagine the stress of saying goodbye to your True Love on repeated occasions — not knowing whether he would be returning.
Not-knowing where in the world he is stationed.
The uncertain safety at any moment meant they were working to conceive between tours despite all of the unknowns.
With no diagnostic abnormalities or irregularities to report, doctors had no other answers — other than suggesting they begin the process of medications to super-ovulate and other aims through IUI therapy.
IUI is the first step in treatments to enhance Fertility utilizing various hormonal medications. As you can imagine, this was a weighted commitment for them with such timing constraints.
Understanding this, and opening up to me about their struggles, Rachael and Jay opted to give Natural Fertility support with Herbal Medicine a focused good-faith effort before all else.
I had only just returned from 5 years of University in the United Kingdom, for Phytotherapy (Clinical Herbal Medicine) — eager to hang out my shingle and dig-into General Practice.
I had already built-upon an initial BS degree in Exercise Physiology with Psychology — but this was my official transition into private practice with internal preparations (including – yet beyond – dietary support).
Much of this work with Fertility was all theory for me at the time, because I had done my primary clinical training in London (UK), and some hours in Vancouver, BC (Canada) — yet I was newly in-practice after all of that clinical training.
Conditions I observed in the London Clinic for Phytotherapy (Herbal Medicine) through my years in University ranged broadly.
My point is: This was my FIRST Fertility case (not merely my first “success”).
I was going on what I learned… what I knew. I felt confident to be of assistance, as this was what I worked so long and so hard toward providing. I believed this approach was worthy of their limited windows of time while Jay was at home.
I explain to ALL Patients that anything of hormonal nature often requires AT LEAST 3-4 monthly cycles to begin truly recalibrating any obvious or sub-clinical (asymptomatic) Hormone Imbalances.
In the case of Fertility, we typically require continuing herbal medicine dosing through:
- Repeated cycles of adequate Uterine Lining development and shedding (Menstrual Flow)
- Normal/Regular patterns of Ovulation timing
- Time to establish adequate dietary changes with WHOLE FOOD, not nauseating handfuls of supplement capsules or tablets
- Time to establish adequate sleep cycles
- Time for repeated blood testing (as necessary)
In Rachael’s case, I don’t believe we had any repeated conventional testing, because she achieved pregnancy so quickly — at the end of the 3rd month of our work together!
While this was 20 years ago now (publishing this in 2023), I remember it like yesterday…
It was Thanksgiving weekend, late in the day. We were finishing the end of her 3rd month of custom compounds and preparing to refill for a 4th cycle.
Rachael had been a couple weeks late with her period, yet we didn’t wish to get too excited.
That said, I didn’t want to refill “just in case” we had achieved our aims, and have a custom preparation compounded that we couldn’t use for anyone else.
She took a pregnancy test just before I moved forward with a refill…
I got a call… and with butterflies in my belly, I answered…
With her calm, comforting demeanor, I hear, “You don’t need to refill for me, Tami… WE’RE PREGNANT!”
I felt that “pins and needles” rush of blood rising from my belly (or maybe even my TOES!)… my face flushed and I am certain my heart was pounding as loud as it was fast!
As unprofessional as it may have been… I SCREAMED in ELATION: “We DID IT!”
It is strange to know that baby is now in COLLEGE. The decade of the 2020s will see my FIRST Fertility case grow into ADULTHOOD.
It is tough for me to say “later life” — because this must be taken within context of the window for successful conception. According to references, pregnancies over 35-40 years of age is considered higher risk, based upon the limits of ovulation and sustaining pregnancy to-term.
“Peri-Menopause” can begin with asymptomatic (not obvious) hormonal changes in the mid-30s — and every woman ceases ovulation at differing ages.
Some women continue ovulating further into their 50s, but many women naturally begin with irregular periods in their 40s. On occasion, we do see outliers for completing ovulation in their late 30s and late 50s.
Again, every woman is as unique as her fingerprints — and its essential that we are clear to avoid unnecessary stress over arbitrary age limits.
This next Fertility success was a 39-year Female, just weeks away from turning 40. She was a career-centered professional in an intense industry that relies on deadlines, and commuting to New York City every day with a high-pressure job was quite depleting.
The Anxiety and Worry of difficulty with conceiving a child was simply unbearable, alongside the incessant thoughts that time was not on her side at 40. It was all-consuming.
She came to me as a referral from her Acupuncturist who was also a Chiropractor. I don’t recall how long she was working with the Acupuncture and Chiropractic by the time she came to me for assistance.
Understandably, she was unsettled — consumed with fears and worries — and seeing results simply could not come soon enough.
The stress was palpable.
When I explained the general timeframe of 3-4 months to BEGIN to see true recalibration, it was not received with the greatest of ease, but she was willing to give it a go with my support.
I aimed to reassure her that the body will gently respond to the herbal medicines over some time — and emphasized the critical aspect of managing Stress – Anxiety – Worry. Each of these factors deeply influence Adrenal gland function and overall hormonal balance.
We know that Cortisol plays an essential role in egg quality, but also influences all other hormonal pathways — so I keenly felt her angst throughout this process.
Talk about “pressure”, hey?
We simply can’t know precisely how long each Individual will require to see results. Truth be told, I didn’t know if she was going to emotionally tolerate the process to Month 3 or 4 — her impatience was evident and growing steadily, and I understood why.
In her case, she was still having regular periods, so my aim was to improve the quality of the uterine lining, rebalance the Pre-menstrual Symptoms (evidence that we needed to enhance production of certain hormones, such as Progesterone).
Equally, it was essential to support the Nervous System alongside Adrenal care.
Something with which to be aware: We DON’T wish to over-stimulate her already taxed and depleted Adrenal glands. We don’t just throw just any random “Adaptogens” at someone who is under constant stress. Some plant adaptogens STIMULATE hormone output, and if there is very little “fuel in the tank” from which to draw and respond to any given stimulant of daily living, you basically compound (or deepen) the existing imbalance!
Stimulating output from a stressed hormonal resource can make any imbalance worse!
Careful selection and concentrations of each plant is paramount and there are no cookie-cutter recipes for success. It is all about understanding the nuances of the Individual’s medical history, how they navigate stress, dietary concerns, lifestyle and family obligations, subtle observations in hormonal functions, working with any blood work or scans for insights, et cetera.
I remember this situation just as keenly as my first experience, because we were at the end of the 3rd monthly cycle of herbal medicine preparation:
It was early December, just before the holidays. Once again, I didn’t wish to refill until we ran at least an over-the-counter pregnancy test, as she was a couple of weeks late with her period.
Similar to Rachael’s experience, I anticipated and received that call… “WE’RE PREGNANT!”
In THIS case, however, I was concerned about adequate Progesterone levels to sustain the pregnancy in the initial weeks — just before the placenta would take hold and produce enough hormone to sustain implantation within the uterus.
Most Obstetricians do not see a pregnancy for the first visit until Weeks 6-8 — and until the placenta takes over for adequate Progesterone production, we kept her on a modified preparation until the doctors would see her.
While “high risk pregnancies” such as those at/beyond 35-40 years of age are often seen sooner by their doctors — rather than risk losing this pregnancy with sudden changes to our routine — we supported with the custom herbal medicines until some blood work could confirm we were in the clear.
She disclosed to me at the time of the stellar news that she had JUST made an appointment with a Fertility Specialist (doctor) in New York City for the end of that month — so we made it happen “in the nip of time” before that appointment!
Timing truly IS everything, hey?
I sensed she was ready to “jump ship” at the end of the third month with this approach… so it was a tremendous relief to achieve that success when we did!
You may assume correctly: I am certain I screamed (unprofessionally) in JOY and overwhelming ELATION with the news!
This final story involved a couple in their early 20s who were in the middle of IUI Fertility Treatments following unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a baby.
IUI Therapy was quite stressful for them, with repeated visits to the Clinic for medications, tests, and sperm sample submissions — experiencing less-desirable hormonal blood work values that caused the doctors to suspend treatments and recommended the Patient begin Birth Control Pills as a means to recalibrate. (they opted not to take the pills at that time, and reached out to begin working together)
A favourable aspect of the Fertility Clinic was that they provided regular detailed testing, and identified the presence of an underactive Thyroid in the wife — which was also in her mother’s medical history. Normalising the Thyroid was part of this bigger picture, and they opted to take a conventional approach with that. Their doctor also suggested the potential existence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (also known as PCOS or PCOD) — but the practitioner was inconclusive.
She didn’t have obvious symptoms of PCOS/PCOD, but we were mindful of that potential based on a lack of regular menstrual cycles.
The husband was told by the doctors that his sperm had Low Morphology — which is an underdevelopment of sperm.
In light of this, we agreed that it was essential to support BOTH partners in this case.
Sleep, Stress, and Anxiety Management, along with some dietary changes were essential for the husband in order to improve sperm quality. We had to equally address the presence of Gastrointestinal Reflux (GERD), because everything we do with my work requires the digestive system to take these herbal medicines. We had to be mindful that anything taken for sperm quality had to be easy on the stomach — which did limit selection of plant medicines.
This was an interesting case because the Wife did not have regular periods through the entire year we were working together!
Ordinarily, we watch the monthly cycles and quality of menstrual flow, and then modify the formulas based on these observations.
Since this was not happening regularly, we would watch the cervical mucous changes to know whether she was ovulating (or not). Her mother had the same experience when conceiving my Patient, so we were working from this understanding.
We had some periodic blood tests to work from through her Endocrinologist along the way, for insights into hormonal levels.
At the end of that summer, the Patient conceived, but had a miscarriage early-on. It was quite emotional, but they were committed to continue — assured that she COULD get pregnant. We also knew through periodic testing at the Fertility Clinic that the sperm morphology (development quality) WAS IMPROVING…
We had one normal menstrual cycle after the miscarriage, and once again… I got that charmed call….. “Tami, WE’RE PREGNANT!”
Since Low Progesterone was a chronic issue since her time with the Unsuccessful IUI treatments, we kept her on a preparation to support this pregnancy until her doctors would see her around Week 8.
Something essential to note is that they expressed to me how IUI was an added stressor for them, and we know how profound stress can be on Fertility.
Providing regular sperm samples and constant physical examinations was overwhelmingly unpleasant for them, as they explained that it was intrusive on their spiritual beliefs and religious practice. They felt they had to “drop everything” to dash to the clinic when ovulating for exams and blood testing — so they had finished one last attempt with IUI at the beginning of their time working with me.
They made a collective decision to trust and focus exclusively on their work with me at that point, and while it DID take an entire year to happen — it HAPPENED.
The GIFT of these sweet Souls to place so much TRUST and FAITH in me to help them was both an incredible honor — and quite a loaded responsibility.
Once again, I’m sure I screamed (unprofessionally) in ELATION on that call!
Since that first child was born, they were able to conceive Baby 2 on their own!
There is simply nothing to accurately describe what it feels like as a Practitioner, to be some part of creating NEW LIFE.
It is a privilege to assist at a time when the dream of creating a family unit was struggling to manifest… knowing that New Life will be deeply loved and cherished by parents who poured whole hearts, emotional endurance, and profound hope into a Natural Approach to Conception, Healthy Pregnancy, and Baby’s Arrival.
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The Medical Herbalist Apothecary
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