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.
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" -- an addition of the name "The Medical Herbalist Apothecary" came along several years ago. I did this to better convey exactly what I do, so people looking for what I do could actually find me online.. I also shortened the website addy name/email and phone number listed on the video end-screen, so I'll add my updated details at the bottom of this post ]
They courageously shared their journey with me through video, so that others know they are not alone in this experience, and what can be expected with this type of care.
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 at that time, 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 to the Middle East 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 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 — and as you can imagine, medications do have common side effects. 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 treatments (including - yet beyond - dietary support).
Much of this work with Fertility was all theory for me at the time, because I had done my clinical training mainly 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 from supporting Kidney Failure to Systemic Candida to Urinary Infections to Eczema to Ulcerative Colitis to Cardiac and Blood Pressure issues to Autoimmune Condition Management to Hot Flashes of Menopause to Severe PMS to Migraines to Anxiety, Mild Depression and Sleep Issues…… well, you know what I’m saying. It was a wide array of concerns, yet we hadn’t seen any Patients on-site for Fertility.
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 try and be of assistance. This was what I worked so long and so hard toward. I believed it 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 close to 20 years ago now (writing this in 2020), 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... and, as unprofessional as it may have been... I SCREAMED in ELATION: “We DID IT!”
It is strange to know that baby is now a JUNIOR in High School and looking forward to College (or perhaps Culinary School). The decade of the 2020s will see my FIRST Fertility case grow into ADULTHOOD.
It is tough for me to say that being 40 is “later life” — because I am now mere months away from being beyond my 40s...
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 — but she was very unsettled, consumed with fears and worries, and seeing results simply could not come soon enough (understandably).
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.
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 and their influence upon her Adrenal glands 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? I certainly wanted this just about as much as she did, but we simply can't know precisely how long each Individual will require care! Truth be told, I didn’t know if she was going to make it to Month 3 or 4 — her impatience was palpable 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 support certain hormones, such as Progesterone), and support the Nervous System alongside Adrenal care.
Something to be aware of is that 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” to draw from and respond to a stimulant, you basically compound the existing imbalance! (making things worse) Careful selection and concentrations of each plant is paramount and there are no cookie-cutter recipes for success -- its 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...
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, 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.
As with Rachael, 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. So, we kept her on a modified preparation until the doctors would see her.
While “high risk pregnancies” such as older Individuals over 35/40 are often seen sooner by their doctors, many practices won’t see a new pregnancy until Week 6-8. Rather than risk losing this pregnancy, we supported 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 nick of time” before that appointment! Timing truly IS everything, hey?
I sensed she was ready to “jump ship” from our approach at the end of the third month with my care... 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 we began working together)
One good aspect of the Fertility Clinic was that they provided detailed testing, and identified the presence of an underactive Thyroid in the wife — which was also in her mother’s medical history. Normalizing the Thyroid was part of this bigger picture. They also suggested the potential existence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (also known as PCOS or PCOD) — but that was not decidedly confirmed.
In my assessment, she didn’t have the 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 applied for the sperm quality had to be easy on the stomach — which did limit certain plant medicines I could apply.
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 we affirmed she COULD get pregnant... knowing that the sperm morphology (development quality) WAS IMPROVING...
We had a normal menstrual cycle after the miscarriage, and once again... I got that 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 small preparation to support this pregnancy until her doctors would see her around Week 8. I simply would not take any chances in losing this pregnancy!
Something essential to note is that IUI had an added stressor for them. Providing sperm samples and constant physical examinations was overwhelmingly unpleasant for them, as 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, 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!
There is simply nothing to accurately describe what it feels like as a Practitioner -- and as I reflect upon my purpose in this lifetime -- to be some part of creating NEW LIFE... Assisting 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 much heart, endurance, and 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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