Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Infertility Awareness Charley’s Story by Allison Silver
I recently found out that April is Infertility Awareness Month. Since this is a topic that many of us older moms deal with I thought I would take a few minutes with you and share my story.
Like many girls my period began when I was twelve and seemed pretty regular. When I was fourteen I got hit by a car when I was crossing the street. I broke my left leg and shattered my left ankle and had to go through nine reconstructive operations. As a result my period just stopped. The doctors told me that it was common for this to happen when your body experiences major trauma and they all told me it would come back. Well it didn’t.
When I was sixteen the doctors recommended going on birth control pils to help regulate my cycle. It did make me have a regular period every month. But what I didn’t understand at the time was that it was just masking the issues. I was technically having a period but I was still not ovulating. During a routine physical exam, when I was eighteen, the gynecologist discovered that I have a rare condition where I have two uteruses. This seemed to further complicate the reason as to why I might not be ovulating but the suggestion was to stay on the birth control pill.
In my twenties I had several gynecologists tell me that they were not sure if I would be able to carry a pregnancy to full term, due to my double uterus, or even conceive since I was not ovulating. In my mid to late twenties I started having hormonal issues. I seriously thought that it might be a side effect of being on the birth control pill for 10+ years but every gynecologist I went to just blew off my concerns and told me to stay on the birth control pill. When I turned thirty my hormonal issues were getting worse and I was beginning to have some premenopausal symptoms. This is when I seriously began taking control of my own health. I did some research and found some doctors online who specialized in women’s health and who spoke with me via phone consultations. They agreed with me and thought the best thing for me would be to get off the birth control pills. It was wonderful to finally have validation. I wasn’t going crazy! They also spoke to me about my overall health and really encouraged me to start to eat a more natural diet with less processed foods.
I did what they recommended and got off the birth control pills. At this point I had been on those suckers for over fifteen years. After a few months I started feeling better and my symptoms of hormonal imbalance began to subside. My period did return but very sporadically. I would have it a week one month and then not again for six months to a year. Since we were not actively trying to conceive my gynecologist told me she was not too concerned about my period and wanted me to go back on the birth control pills. He’ll no was my answer! I told her that although they were making me have a period they were not helping me ovulate. Her response was, “Don’t worry we can put you on a drug that will make you ovulate.” This did not sit well with me.
With our mid thirties quickly approaching my husband and I knew we wanted to start trying but we both felt very strongly that we did not want to use drugs or homone therapy to help us get pregnant. I also felt that my underlying issue was the fact that my period had never returned regularly since I was fourteen. I had had my fill with the western medical providers so I started researching Eastern medicine. In 2010 I visited an Eastern medical provider in Pleasanton CA who used acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs. She felt very strongly that my body was still harboring the stress and tension from my car accident when I was fourteen and that acupuncture would help to regulate my cycle. Unfortunately, our insurance would not pay for her treatments and although she was a bit pricey it was pretty reasonable compared to other infertility options. I began seeing her twice a month and after a few months my cycle began to regulate to every two months. This was the most predictable it had ever been! And I was finally confident that I was actually ovulating. Six months later we found out that we were expecting!
I continued to go to her throughout the pregnancy. I was very concerned about going into preterm labor and I felt that continuing to see her could not be a bad thing and if nothing else woud help reduce my stress. My pregnancy progressed pretty smoothly and at twenty five weeks we found out that I had geststional diabetes. At thirty two weeks my doctor congratulated me on making it this far and told me that I would most likely have a cesearean delivery since the baby was in a breech position which is very common for women who have a double uterus.
At thirty four weeks and five days my water broke while I was at a teaching workshop in San Francisco. Later that day Charley Ellen Silver was born at 4lbs 7oz! Although she was small she was extremely healthy and only had to spend one night in the NICU. I strongly believe that one of the reasons she was so healthy was because of my acupuncture treatments. I will forever be greatful to Dr. Shen at Eastern Medical Center!