So many of my clients define themselves by the number they are given by Western medicine. This number game involves age, FSH, antral follicle count or AMA results. Number readings can feel like a heavy burden in this journey to conceive. One of my clients, K. experienced the number game. She wanted to reach out to other women in the number game and convey her experience. At one point during her treatment process, she realized numbers are just numbers and don’t indicate failure or success. The power of moving beyond the definitions of a number representing fertility or how much abundance we have – can be freeing – allowing many different perspectives to open in our lives.
Numbers, most of us look for them everywhere. Where we placed for our age group in the running race, our class rank, the percentage of people that passed the exam, etc. Hearing these numbers never overly concerned me until I heard a number that changed my life. Three months ago my fertility doctor told me that my FSH level was 14.6, which meant a much more aggressive approach than our originally discussed fertility plan. I was then told that at best (assuming I made it into the IVF cycle) I had a five to ten percent chance of having a baby of my own.
This news was devastating and all I could do was wrap my thoughts around that 5-10% number. If I were a gambler and was given those odd I certainly would not place a bet. I couldn’t seem to move my thinking beyond that 5-10% and a part of me thought “with those odds, why bother?”. My optimistic husband continuously reminded me that we still had a chance of having our own baby. I continued my fertility cycles and began acupuncture.
In the beginning, I saw acupuncture as “a way to help me get pregnant”. After my fist session I realized it was so much more than that. I began looking inside myself and realized this journey was helping me move into a state of health and wellbeing. My thoughts moved away from the 5-10% chance and instead focused on feeling better mentally, physically and spiritually.
I went through two unsuccessful IUI cycles and learned that I was a poor responder to the drugs. My doctor decided to set me up for an IVF cycle with the understanding that I needed to produce at least 4 follicles to continue the cycle. Here I was again, focused on a number. I tried hard to block that number from my thoughts and reminded myself to focus on the things within my control. In the beginning of the cycle I only had three follicles. As my mind wandered towards the thought of only three follicles, I would stop and pull away. Getting caught up in the numbers was only wreaking havoc in my mind. This was an unnecessary stress that I could avoid by pulling away from the thoughts. I went in for another ultrasound on a Friday and once again had only three follicles. Thankfully my doctor decided to give me the weekend before canceling my cycle. Miraculously three days later a fourth follicle developed meaning that I had made it into the IVF cycle. The doctor retrieved all four follicles, and transferred one embryo.
I learned of our second miracle when I received the congratulations you’re pregnant phone call. We all face numerous challenges throughout life. For me, this most recent challenge has taught me not to focus too much attention on the numbers. Often times as patients we might feel compelled to hear the number…. “What chance do we have?”. But please remember that it’s just a number and that you have every chance as long as your body, mind, soul and spirit are in good overall health.