How do I talk about my struggles with infertility? Infertility is terribly lonely and sad. You feel flawed or broken, like a disappointment. You feel paralyzed by the constant uncertainty. You feel helpless. Some days are fine, but others can feel like a full blown crisis. I’ve kept all of this to myself because it’s extremely personal, and talking about it is daunting. It’s easier to socialize on a superficial level. Easier for me and easier for everyone else.
I know many of you are tossing out your conventional products and replacing them with clean ones. You may be merely interested in a greener lifestyle, or you may be struggling with an illness that requires an overhaul. I’m here to help. I’ve been a makeup artist for over 15 years, and I want to share what I’m learning, and the products I’m discovering. And finally, I’m ready to share my full story and let you in on my journey to health.
I’m a planner. That’s a nice way to say I have control issues. When my best friend got pregnant, I finally felt ready to start trying for a baby. I’m the youngest of 7, and my mom is one of 17. Piece of cake. The only challenge would be if we got pregnant too quickly!
I bought books on doulas, midwives, spiritual parenting, home births, and pregnancy recipe books. I watched every documentary I could on birth. I was so excited. Before we even started I completed a to-do list including blood work, dental x-rays, and vaccinations. I started taking pre-natal vitamins and cut down my alcohol intake. I stopped using Latisse and retinol, both harmful for pregnancy.
Every month I used ovulation tests and charted my basal body temperature putting all of the data in a very pink app on my phone. (Women love pink.) I waited until the day my period was due, and if I was even a few hours late I took pregnancy tests, just knowing this month was the month. I had signs that I was definitely pregnant. My boobs were more sore than normal. Why was I suddenly craving a burger?? I never normally break out on my jaw! The mind is infinitely capable of supporting any idea we give it. Pregnant? Sure! Of course you are!
But I wasn’t. For months I wasn’t. That’s ok, plenty of people take a few months to get pregnant. Months turned into years. The excitement waned, and I started to lose hope. Our insurance didn’t offer any fertility assistance, and I continued to think we just needed to keep trying.
My sister, who is a spiritual healer in Bali, had a vision that I needed to take an Ayurvedic supplement called Shatavari. I dutifully ordered a bottle online. Who am I to argue with Balinese visions? After taking Shatavari for a month or two I was seized by crippling abdominal pain. Sharp cramps were searing through my body. I was home alone, and terrified. I considered calling an ambulance thinking maybe I was having a miscarriage. I suddenly thought if I could get into a bath I would feel better. I stayed in the tub for several hours. The moment I got out the pain ripped through me again.
A friend suggested I may be experiencing cysts. I searched online, and the symptoms all lined up with what I was feeling. I went to the doctor hoping for answers. A nurse practitioner there accused me of self-diagnosing, and derisively told me I was likely having gas from what I was eating. Because I was having a hard time with conceiving, she begrudgingly sent me in for an ultrasound. The next day I received the sweetest voicemail from the same woman confirming that I had cysts on both of my ovaries, and recommending me to a specialist.
It turns out the Shatavari supplement stimulates estrogen production. Escalated estrogen levels exacerbate cysts. Ergo, my sister’s recommendation did help in a roundabout way. Had I not taken the Shatavari, I would have been completely unaware of the cysts.
Fast forward a few months, and I was in the hospital preparing to go in for laparoscopic surgery to remove the cysts. The doctor was worried if we didn’t act fast, the cysts might quickly take over both ovaries, leaving me infertile. He wanted to operate which would give me a 3-4 month window of viability for pregnancy. I was feeling very disconnected and scared. We had been trying for so long. Was I even ready for kids? What was I doing in this cold hospital with iv’s in my arms? At that moment a couple walked in with two beautiful baby boys. They were bringing their twins to visit the nurses who had attended their birth. As I watched the beaming parents and the joyful nurses coo over the babies, I was flooded with emotion. I was ready for this, and I could do whatever was necessary.
Ten months have passed since my surgery, which revealed I also have advanced endometriosis. Last month I had an ultrasound showing my ovarian cysts are back. The doctor suggested I could have another surgery. I felt utterly defeated and ready to give up.
I had lunch with a girlfriend who has always been tremendously supportive (Dana of Gem + Remedy). She mentioned that Lacy of Free + Native was working with women to get them pregnant. That’s me! I’m a woman looking to get pregnant! Lacy works with Alisa Vitti's Woman Code protocol, based on epigenetics and eating to balance your hormones and sync with your cycle. The program is designed to heal cysts, endometriosis, irregular cycles, and infertility.
I’m on a strict program that requires me to cut out alcohol, dairy, sugar, soy, processed foods, and pesticides. She asked me to examine the products I use to weed out any chemicals or fragrances that could be hormone disruptors or estrogen stimulants. Lucky for me, my skincare and makeup were already completely natural, but my hair care and perfumes were still full of potentially harmful ingredients! So I’ve gotten rid of my beloved hair care (several drawers), and my fragrances (an entire shelf in my fridge), and am exploring green beauty beyond skincare and makeup.
I’m also seeing a fertility specialist. He supports my lifestyle changes, and is willing to test me again in a few months to check my progress. Best case scenario the cysts have disappeared. Worst case scenario my body will be in incredible shape for fertility treatments and hopefully pregnancy. Either way it feels good to be proactive about my body and my future.
I always wanted to be a makeup artist who loved natural products just for the sake of them. I abhor scare tactics and drastic warnings. Switching to safer beauty products should be fun and rewarding. Do it to simplify your life and support small businesses. Do it to promote health in your life. Do it to see just how gorgeous you can look (and smell and feel!) without all of the unnecessary ingredients.
And if you need an expert’s advice, I’ll be right here.