Guided Imagery Designed To Help With Fertility Problems
I first met Nancy Feldman-Saylor after my fourth heartbreaking "unexplained" miscarriage. My good friend, who was experiencing her own fertility problems, was seeing Nancy for counseling and convinced me that in some way, her pain was becoming more bearable through Nancyís unique combination of counseling and original mind-body connection audio-tapes. Moreover, my friend was feeling a genuine sense of hope for the first time in many years. Apparently Nancy had found a "sub-specialty" in helping women like us. I felt I had nothing to lose, and perhaps could use some help in dealing with my overwhelming sense of grief and sadness. I was literally a crushed, broken soul when I met with her that first day. Within in an hour I sensed that she seemed to have some sort of gift as a therapist. I still wasnít sure about the mind-body connection and the guided imagery stuff. I was willing to keep an open mind, however in part because Nancy was one of the first people I had encountered (professionals included) who did not push the standard lines of "it is Godís will" or "it wasnít meant to be", and all the other unimaginably ridiculous things you hear from people who are trying to help you. I cried and we laughed together; and I walked away form that hour somehow knowing I could heal. I felt immensely lucky that I "clicked" immediately with Nancy and that she did seem to truly understand my whole situation: my pain, my sadness, my grief, my hurt, and especially the unfairness of it all.
We slowly developed a "plan of action" for me to not only deal with my feelings, but to succeed in my dream to be a mother. As I listened to her speak of visualization, guided imagery, and the idea that if I truly saw and believed I would have a baby, it absolutely would happen, I thought, "OK maybe I thought this was hocus-pocus stuff that might work for some people but certainly not me. But hey, Nancy is passionate about this! And she is smart, and kind, and real, and I trust her, so I guess Iíll give this a try."
Nancy is constantly producing some wonderfully arranged audio tapes, general relaxation and meditation and visualization techniques with her own special touches; her soothing voice, and accompanying music. These tapes were great in acquainting me with this unique form of healing and spiritual growth. I was also fortunate to be led in guided imagery during office visits when she sensed I needed it. Although in the beginning these tapes were not fertility specific, I soon began to look forward to my daily time with my Walkman. I admit I found it difficult to discuss my therapy with my friends, family, and even my dear husband. It was almost as if I did not want to share my incredible little secret that was giving me such peace and hope. Looking back, I am sure they were all just so relieved to see me coming back from my deep depression that we had all thought would never end. I wanted to reach out to other women with fertility problems and share this hope with them, but I knew a success story would be received better.
So, here it is, not only my success story but also my absolute belief that my dream came true as a direct result of the things I learned. Fertility treatments alone had not worked for me. As my husband said when he read this to him, "Fertility treatments alone DONíT work because you have no control over the process. Fertility clinics should routinely offer mind-body connection therapy as the other half of the treatment process and the success rates would increase substantially." I had no idea until that moment that he too saw the incredible benefit of my goal directed imagery work and therapy. Nancyís InnerVision Studio, Inc. custom visualization tapes worked for me like this; they nurtured and encouraged a personal inner strength and power I never knew existed. My mind was now able to use this power to directly and specifically affect changes in my body.
All The Details
Nancy and I always had a good ironic laugh together about that "just keep trying", "itís just Godís will" stuff that I and other women in my situation heard ad-nauseum from friends, acquaintances, family, even doctors! Both of us sort of "knew" that there had to be a true reason for what I was experiencing: multiple miscarriages and periods of infertility in between that led to assisted conception, YEARS of hormones, pills, injectable meds, and inseminations, followed by a miscarriage and D&C, followed by more "standard" tests, and concluding with "Weíre sorry. Just keep trying." After my husband and I lost a baby boy at 14 weeks after seeing his heartbeat and watching him grow on sonograms, we decided we had to have some answers. At that point it had become a virtual quest for me that with Nancyís help I had decided I would not fail at. My infertility doctor thought it would be helpful to perform genetic testing on our baby to see if there was perhaps a chromosomal problem. And if there were my husband and I would also undergo genetic testing to rule out any possible inherited problems.
The next few months of our lives were an absolute nightmare. I was so grateful to be seeing Nancy on an ongoing basis and to have an established trusting relationship with her, because the results of the testing were personally devastating, crushing, and horrible for me. Nancy and I learned together about "balanced translocations". My little boy, it turned out, had an extra 14th chromosome and the cold lab report deemed the conceptus incompatible with life. My doctors explained to me that genetic and chromosomal abnormalities were thought to be the cause of many miscarriages, however, generally it was just a mix-up at the moment of conception and unlikely to occur again. They encouraged my husband and I to proceed with our genetic testing anyway as it usually turned out normal. Nancy was the only person who understood me when I cried that if that were the case, we still would not know what kept going wrong! Nancy, this busy professional women with numerous commitments to her patients and her ongoing education, would call from her cell phone between appointments and excitedly shared information she discovered from colleagues, patients, or the internet. While my husband and I awaited the results of our testing, Nancy and I tried to learn about this genetic stuff (there is extremely limited information available) and sort of have an idea what I could do, whatever the result of the tests were.
I was completely unprepared for the news I learned from the genetic counselor who met with us to discuss our results. She announced to me in a monotone voice that I was actually a "carrier" of whatís called a "chromosomal translocation". It slowly became clear to me that in fact my thirteenth and fourteenth chromosomes were switched and I had actually been born this way, and this translated to my babyís (and probably the other three babies also) chromosome count being "incompatible with life". I remember reading or hearing vague references to such an anomaly, but I thought this kind of thing occurred to people who severely abused drugs or were subjected to some grave environmental or radioactive toxins or such. My husband and I sat in the office as the genetic counselor explained that in my case, the translocation was "balanced", meaning that all of the genetic material was present, just arranged incorrectly. In the case of our children, at the moment of conception, they received too many or too few 13ís or 14ís from me. We were shocked and scared to learn that our children, had they progressed to full term, would be a far cry from other children with translocations (Downs Syndrome children possess an extra 21st chromosome and many live fulfilling, healthy lives). We were coldly told that a translocation 13 baby, a very real possibility in our case, would be unlikely to go to full-term. But they sometimes did, and this counselor cruelly confided in us that they were truly "monster babies", with numerous facial and physical disfigurements, organ problems and never surviving past their first birthday. She seemed to be bumbling into a segue on adoption as our only option. We were already investigating adoption thoroughly, and we knew we would be the best parents to any child, whether biologically ours or not. I just kept trying to understand this thing: I, as a carrier of a "balanced translocation" looked and seemed like a normal person. After all, I was born, I went full-term, and have had virtually no health problems my whole life except the infertility and sub-fertility issues. I pressed the counselor for answers: Was it possible, however remotely, for us to have a healthy baby? Were we doomed? I would have never had this utter determination and faith before I saw Nancy. This was the new me emerging, a person who refused to fail, because she taught me to BELIEVE. We were surprised to hear that many parents who are translocation carriers (mothers or fathers) actually get "lucky" and have a healthy baby the first time around. Then, they experience the periods of infertility and "unexplained" miscarriages, and genetic issues are rarely even considered in their cases, because after all, they had a healthy baby, carried to term, with no complications.
Michael and I carried home the stacks of information (extremely vague) and charts and statistics related to our particular issue and cried and screamed and desperately searched the internet for any minute shred of information that could give us hope.
Our infertility doctor told us that there were successful pregnancies and healthy babies born to translocation carriers, but that the bottom line was the outcome of any given conception was basically the luck of the draw, and that at some point, we could, possibly "in theory", conceive a baby that would survive. A surviving child could be like me, seemingly normal but also a carrier, or could be genetically normal.
Nancy immediately and excitedly made me see that this was actually GREAT NEWS. "Paige, donít you see? Now you know the problem, and look, youíve got two possibly exciting outcomes. You will do this." Then we also happily concluded that even if my child were a carrier like me, by the time he or she were ready to be a parent, the medical field could have learned enough by then that it may not be an issue, much less a stumbling block. Nancy refused to let me believe that I would not succeed. Something inside me energized, and I fed off of her incredible spirit and strength as a counselor, and now a friend, and thenÖwe got down to work. It would be in the next year that I saw that this woman was doing her lifeís work, helping someone in as strange and frightening situation as mine SEE and BELIEVE in my dreams- a child that was to be born from the love my husband and I shared. Every therapy session was emotional and overwhelming as I cried tears of joy understanding Nancyís perspective that all of my babies were not lost- they lived for a short time so that we may learn and receive blessings from them, in the form of providing us with our ultimate, once dead, dream, that was possible, and that would be born, because of what we discovered in them. There was no way I would have been able to see the meaning in all those years of pain without her help. Nancy has never made me feel that anything she opens my eyes to was somehow corny or contrived. The whole nightmare was becoming the biggest growth opportunity of my life, instead of the horrible hurt that I thought I would never stop feeling.
Nancy began making some very specific tapes for me, related to the actual chromosomes and possible outcomes and "alignments" that had to occur for conception. Our infertility doctor agreed with Nancy and me that we werenít sure how many more loses I could endure whether miscarriages, or D&Cís either physically or emotionally. We decided to increase our chances of having a healthy baby by doing in-vitro fertilization, with the thought being that the most number of embryos transferred at one time would increase the odds of one or more surviving.
I canít imagine going through the whole IVF experience without my sessions with Nancy and the incredible visualization she was able to guide me through. I pictured the actual eggs growing, being fertilized, and growing healthy, thriving, embryos. Nancy even had me visualize what I thought my baby looked like; what I saw when I dreamed. (Incredibly, when my beautiful daughter was born, she looked EXACTLY the way I visualized her for almost a year.)
We were lucky enough to transfer five "Grade A" embryos into my uterus (unheard of in a women under 35 with no genetic issues), and miraculously saw four beautiful heart- beats four weeks later. During these stressful four weeks Nancy and I had "phone visits" instead of office visits so that I could relax and stay in bed as much as possible. I felt excited and scared at the same time- we had seen heart beats before and then had been devastated. But there was a tiny voice inside of me saying, "BELIEVE". This time it was it. Nancyís voice had become a sense of strength and calm for me. Even if I had never laid eyes on her, her voice truly "spoke" to me. I sensed her own inner peace and felt it as my own. The infertility doctor was extremely stressed out and making arrangements for my husband and I to travel to Philadelphia for genetic testing on all four babies. The horrible term "selective reduction" became pert of our daily vocabulary. I have to say that Nancy must have some incredible insight and faith, because when we spoke she told me she felt that things were going to work out exactly the way God planned it, and she felt we would not have to make any agonizing decisions. Nancy understood my reluctance and feeling in regards to the "selected reduction" situation. We discussed the practical and unselfish reasons for testing the babies and allowing the healthy one(s) a better chance of surviving. Nancy also understood my excitement and constantly changing feelings of wanting ALL of those babies. Always, calmly and confident, Nancy conveyed she believed God wanted me to be happy, and not suffer, and that things would work out the way they were supposed to be. After learning so much through visualization and positive, goal directed thought, I never really felt, even in the scariest, darkest moments of my early pregnancy, that I would be unfulfilled this time. I canít explain the power and the strength of her guidance, knowledge, and beautiful visualization techniques gave me. This is a type of therapy I would have never really put much faith in, or definitely never attempted on my own. But now I saw my miracle before me. I am convinced that this was a direct result of my having learned to see and believe in my dream. This was not luck. It was the work I did emotionally that resulted in exactly what I came to believe would happen. By no accident, I know, we did not have to choose one baby over another. By listening daily to my tapes and knowing that it would work out in Godís way, I survived my early pregnancy physically and emotionally. At eight weeks I sat in the doctorís office bleeding, calmly speaking with Nancy on the cell phone. I had been through this many times before, and it always ended the same way. This time, however, an incredible sense of peace was with me and I felt no pain or fear. We lost two babies that day, but had two left. Sadly we lost the third baby 3 weeks later but even though all the signs of failure should have been imminent, I believed and saw my one healthy baby fighting, as I had done for her.
Every single day, for the remainder of my pregnancy, I practiced the techniques that I really thought before were hocus-pocus, or for the unthinking person. Happily, gratefully, my dream became a reality the day my daughter was born. I saw her, and believed in her, through the help of my wonderful, gifted counselor Nancy Feldman-Saylor. I feel so blessed to have worked with her, and to have had her voice on those tapes as such an important part of the most amazing, miraculous journey in my life. Nancy didnít tell me what to do- she showed me how to do it.