My Transformative Introduction to the Brennan School Approach to Energy Healing

Last evening I had an amazing experience with a practitioner trained in the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. Brennan, a former NASA physicist and now healer, speaker and as best as I can tell a successful and effective entrepreneur. Her website describes “Brennan Healing Science” as “dedicated to the evolution of the human spirit.” The system “combines hands-on healing techniques with spiritual and psychological processes touching every aspect of your life” and is founded on a mind-body consciousness that speaks clearly to me at a personal, spiritual and intellectual level.

As of last night, I can say it also speaks to me at a visceral, physical level. After my initial session with a seasoned Brennan-trained healer yesterday, I can say I would recommend this to anyone needing to re-ground, re-balance, re-energize and – above all – heal on so many levels. In my personal experience, a connection to my healers is critical and I am so grateful for a local friend’s recommendation to see the healer I did last night. I also owe warm thanks to Just Another Infertility Blog for first telling me about Brennan energy healing work and opening my heart and mind to this new modality.

For more information on Brennan Healing Science or should you wish to look for a practitioner in the U.S. or internationally (you can also do distance healing via Skype or telephone), please check out Brennan’s website.

I am not emotionally in a place to dive into what my session was all about as it touches on some of the most vulnerable places in my life at the moment. Those vulnerabilities need my tending and time before I can share them or some of them. What I can tell you is that I feel so much better than I have been for weeks. I feel whole again – not super-hero strong, but whole – and both enlightened and lighter. I believe in me and in my abilities to do “this” – all of it, the pregnancy, the immune therapy, the endless medical appointments and risk calculations, the sense of shortcomings and personal failure at work and at home – again.

That is huge, friends. Huge.

I also felt this incredible connection to the spirits of those who I have felt with me on this journey, especially in the months preceding and during this pregnancy, namely my Mom and Azulito/a, this little spirit baby who has stuck around and made comeback after comeback when medicine, my immune system and who-knows-what-all-else failed me time and time again. Finally, I felt and continue to feel a profound bond in my heart and being with the LP. I see now that I needed this affirmation – that despite the strain that our journey to create and now grow our family has had on each of us and on the LP and I as a unit, we have a bond that does have super-hero strength, that is unspeakably beautiful and enduring – as much as any other.

This healing session could not have come at a better time. This afternoon we have our follow-up anatomy ultrasound to assess whether there are any abnormalities that could be attributable to the elevated alpha-fetoprotein test result I received early last week. I am nervous but I am not falling apart. I credit the energy work in which I engaged last night as making a tremendous difference to my state-of-mind this morning and hopefully my mind-body wellness going forward during the next week of medical appointments, medically-necessary travel and testing.

Today, I am in love with you, Azulito. And you, LP. And you, Miracle Toddler, despite your penchant for way-too-late bedtimes and your almost-unhealthy current obsession with all things super-hero. And I am feeling an abundance of love and compassion for me today – a feeling not easy to come by lately but one I realized that has been sorely missing and much needed. Welcome home, everyone. There is room in my heart for all of us. I am so grateful to carry you there with me.

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Sometimes the Heart and Spirit Know Best

This morning I reached into my dresser drawer where I keep my gemstone pendants and other odds and ends roughly fitting a jewellery-esque description and went straight for the Lemon Chrysophase pendant I bought sometime around when I was pregnant for the third time in 2013. That baby we nicknamed “Mandy” because she was conceived at a certain hotel in Las Vegas where an abbreviation of that sort might fit (no, we didn’t stay at copacabana and see Barry Manilow. Is he even still alive? If he is, I probably should see him. I used to love that song Mandy which I heard was about his dog when I was a child. I digress.)

Back to the Lemon Chrysophase. I thought that baby would make it. To be fair, Mandy made it further than anyone else in 2013 or 2014 to date. But her heart eventually stopped and the Lemon Chrysophase went into the drawer, another trigger and a reminder of my broken heart. I pulled the gemstone out again in my first IVF cycle in 2014 but it did not feel right. Back in the drawer it went.

Somehow, however, the last few days, that stone has been calling to me. Something about it felt like it belongs to these embryos we transferred – Gertrude and Alice as I’ve dubbed them – or to one fo them. Or maybe to the metaphysical union that has become of them if they are now one? In any event, it called to me and I added it to the long silver chain around my neck on which I have been wearing since I started this cycle two other pendants.

The first pendant was a gift from the LP. It is a white and yellow gold modernist wishbone with an amethyst (the Miracle Toddler’s birthstone). The other is a small silver leaf that reads “Courage” which is on loan from one of my acupuncturists and friend.

The first one I chose for this cycle because I wanted to remember that if all else fails, I need to hold fast to the knowledge and my gratitude in having the Miracle Toddler in our lives and because I believe above all else that he is a miracle. I also believe that he is a bringer of good fortune and carrying something that commemorates the gift he is to our lives – and the gift that is my love for and relationship with the LP – is grounding in a very visceral way for me. I love that wishbone pendant and all it means to me.

I wear the second one with great honour. I am grateful and touched that my acupuncturist and friend – whos has seen me through every one of our 6 losses in 2013 and 2014 – loaned me the courage pendant. And I believe her when she says it has been passed around among many women and has brought each one the courage they needed when they most needed it. There are tears in my eyes as I type this. Of course I chose to wear this.

I have not taken off this chain except for acupuncture treatments. And now to complete the collage around my neck, as of this morning the Lemon Chrysophase has taken up its rightful place. I did not clearly remember what spiritual or other attributes are associated with Lemon Chrysophase when I bought it although I had looked up it and other stones I was considering when I went shopping for a new stone. I certainly had no recollection of what it stood for or what it can do when I picked it up and put it on this morning. I looked that up in anticipation of this post and learned that among its attributes, Lemon Chrysophase:

* enhances perception
* encourages feelings of trust and security
* helps to instill wisdom and self-confidence
* helps to release emotional tension and stress
* is the stone of the heart and encourages compassion, loving acceptance and kindness
* is said to help increase fertility and other sexual imbalances

That seems perfect. In my heart and spirit I know that either Gertrude or Alice or both of them really wanted this stone nearby. And nearby it now is. For whatever that is worth, for whatever effect it may have between now and ultrasound number one this coming Saturday (when I hope and pray to see a little bean measuring 6 weeks and 2 days with a beautifully beating heart), there it is.

For all you fellow ravens (or other creatures fond of shiny objects), I leave you with a photograph of my little trio of pendants.

pendants

3dp5dt: Holding Fast to Blissful Ignorance

This morning some fearful thoughts tried to sneak their way into my mind. I beat them back with a stick and sent them packing.

Up until that moment, I have enjoyed a very uncharacteristic confidence and sense of calm about this transfer. I never spend the two-week-wait (or the ART variation thereof) in a zen-like state of calm. I am never flooded with peaceful energy and thoughts of my life being pregnant for the coming 8-ish months. Never. Until now.

I feel rather chilled about the whole thing. Yesterday my acupunturist and TCMD asked if I felt optimistic. I could not say yes, not because I don’t have hope but because until I thought about how to answer that question I had been simply feeling comfortable. Comfortable and content. Comfortable that I have done everything possible for this cycle to be successful and odds are that I am pregnant. Content believing that even if it is a complete delusion.

I have discovered the experience of blissful ignorance. How completely fascinating.

I have never understood women saying they did not want to take a home pregnancy test before their beta because they wanted to savour the belief that they were “pregnant until proven otherwise” (an expression I feel quite loathsome toward, even now that I have clearly drank the kool-aid). I’ve always been a band-aid ripper-offer. I routinely and compulsively test early and test often. I have never not tested out my triggers, for example.

This time, I had no trigger. All of my low-dose hCG injections were complete well before transfer (Dr. Braverman prescribed them to help implantation, in lieu of Lupron since we did a protocol without that drug this time). I have no trigger to test out this time. I pulled out tests to stuff into the bathroom drawer last night on the basis that I would start testing Saturday because it is a special day for the LP and I. I knew that would be too early (4dp5dt) but I thought it could give me a baseline against which to measure any changes.

Today, I am reconsidering my decision. What if I feel completely anxious after testing and getting a negative, even though I know it will be negative? I will lose this moment of bliss. My zen-like, peaceful, “optimistic” state will be dashed and it is unlikely I will be able to recover or restore it. Or will it? Can I maintain my faith and find peace in all of this even if I start testing early?

As I think about it, I believe Sunday is the day to start testing. 5dp5dt or 10dpo is the earliest I have ever had a positive HPT before and often the second line is not really visible to anyone not suffering from line-eye until 6dp5dt or 11dpo. But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Should I test at all before my beta next Wednesday? Whether I should or not, I will. That much I know. I just don’t have it in me not to test early. I am who I am.

In the meantime, I am deeply committed to the blissful ignorance that is my unwavering faith that Azulito and maybe a companion are along for the ride and have chosen this cycle to make his/her/their way home at last. I love you, little babies. I know you are only embryos right now but I’m calling you babies anyway. Science be damned.

The last two mornings I have looked to my Animal Spirit Guide cards (I used the physical cards, not the online link or the app). I asked for a message from Spirit about our embryos, Gertrude and Alice. Each morning I drew the Unicorn:

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Immediately after drawing the Unicorn this morning, I realized I had to indulge in some creative play. I took out my intuition journal (because I couldn’t find my art journal) and some oil pastels, picked up the pastel that my hand first gravitated toward (green – coincidentally the same colour as I had my toenails painted for this cycle), closed my eyes and put pastel to paper. Next my hand went to blue – Azulito’s colour – and I closed my eyes again. I continued until it occurred to me that when I’ve been visualizing the mind-body connection to my uterus lately it has been taking the form of a lotus flower. I felt strongly that oranges and reds belonged in the flower out of which the blue and green presences seem to have floated. Here is what resulted:

FullSizeRender

When I look at the finished product now, I see flames and our Gertrude and Alice rising out of the fiery lotus flower in phoenix-like resurrection. Gertrude (in green) looks a little rougher around the edges and Alice (in blue) a little more contained.

I do not know entirely what all of this means. But it feels right. And I like that.

I could get used to this blissful ignorance thing. It’s almost as good as Val.ium.

Some Good News for a Change

Today brought some welcome good news.  We can ship our embryos from the West Coast to the East Coast without engaging in a lengthy process with the NY state health department.  The department very recently (within the last week) gave effect to a new policy that will not require us to obtain an exemption letter (the estimated time line on that was anywhere from two weeks to over three months).

The LP and I fastidiously signed and filled out many consent and waiver forms (you have to promise not to sue the people who tell you they could lose or destroy your babies-in-waiting if you want to use a shipping company to do this – and we need a shipping company to do this given that we do not live on either the West Coast or the East Coast) and I have handed over my credit card information.  Now I wait to find out when we can expect wee Gertrude and Alice (I decided not to go with Ernie and Bert even though those embryos resulted in a successful pregnancy; I felt like I was encroaching on her territory after she sweetly told me she’d named her embryos after the cute muppet pair) to make their way across the continent.

In the meantime… I have been trying to find a skilled endometriosis surgeon in my neck of the woods.  I am of the view that having the laparoscopy before any more IVF treatments would be prudent.  The LP is scared of me having surgery and would rather we try without it.  The first time he witnessed me having surgery (D&C number one in January 2011), the surgeon came and told him my blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and they had to give me fluids intravenously and therefore I would have to spend the night in the hospital (despite the earlier advice that I could leave shortly after leaving recovery).

The second time he waited for me to get out recovery after surgery (from D&C number two in September 2013), things were better because I told the doctor about my reaction to general anaesthetic.  But then my blood pressure was checked in the room they carted me into post-recovery and it was something along the lines of 80/50 and the nurse checking on me nearly lost it.  I explained that my “normal” blood pressure ranges between 87-95 over 60-65 so this was not a big deal.  She looked skeptical but when I proved that I could make my way to and from the little girl’s room and that I was not losing buckets of blood, she approved our departure.

In addition to the blood pressure, I puke when waking up from under general anaesthetic.  I should say I dry heave because of course you are never allowed to eat before these events if they are scheduled. The anti-nausea meds work for this little problem so it has never been a huge concern for me.  I am not worried about the idea of having surgery.  I am worried about wasting another embryo because I did not have the surgery and maybe that could have toned down my immune issues and made the difference.

Today I asked the Universe and God if the news about the removal of the exemption letter requirement was a sign that I should follow the LP’s preference and try the FET using Dr. Braverman’s immune protocol without doing the laparoscopy for endometriosis diagnosis/excision first.  I asked for a sign as I was walking to meet the LP to sign a number of consents related to the embryo transportation.  I found myself staring at a decorative plaque in the window of the nearby flower shop.

The sign read “IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SIGN THIS IS IT”.

Really, Universe?  Just like that? Is that my intuition clubbing me over the head or mere coincidence?

On a serious note, I’d love to hear what you would do in my shoes.  So… what would you do?

Hello, Spirit Baby! Long Time No See…

I started this blog after our third miscarriage in 2013.  That was my 6th pregnancy (5th loss).  Sometime between pregnancies 4 and 6 I started reading about spirit babies and the idea that when we lose a pregnancy, the soul or spirit of the lost baby does not “die” with the fetal tissue.  I was quite enamoured with this idea and still like thinking that our Miracle Toddler is the repository of the first soul we ever loved in 2010  and lost in early 2011.

The LP and I have chosen to believe that the soul of our first baby together (my first pregnancy) is alive and well in the Miracle Toddler.  This brings me great comfort, as my first loss was for a long time the hardest one for me to accept and survive.  I suspect that’s true for many women who suffer as I do from recurrent pregnancy loss.  The first one shatters our innocence, even if we knew the risks of miscarriage going into the pregnancy.

All of this is a meandering way of saying that I started and named this blog with my belief in spirit babies firmly in place and my hope that IVF would bring our spirit baby/ies home alive and kicking.  Along the way, with three more miscarriages under my belt (so to speak), my hope and faith have taken a serious beating.  Suffice to say I have considered throwing in the towel on more than one occasion.

Lately, the journey to have another living child has been less about spirits and more about numbers, finances, lab tests, research and investigations into my apparent immunological issues.  My heart left the equation and it’s been either cerebral and pragmatic or intuition-driven.  Our beloved spirit baby, Azulito (named little blue because that  is the primary colour in which s/he communicates with me), has been quiet and I have not had the courage, will, desire or je-ne-sais-quoi to insist on any direct communication.  As I said, my heart left the equation.  And with it, for a time, did Azulito.

That changed yesterday at my acupuncture appointment.  I had a lot to tell my acupuncturist – I’d made two appointments for the second opinion she encouraged me to consider getting, I learned that the geneticist would not see or help me, I’d finished the course of Prednisone, I’d finally ovulated (a couple of days late and with much breast tenderness – thank you, steroids), our current RE refused to work with a reproductive immunologist and preferred to transfer my care if that was the path I chose – and she ruminated a while then made some observations and suggestions that have resonated deeply with me.  I thought I would share them in case they assist anyone else facing similar circumstances.

First, she commended me on trusting my intuition (my gut, not the panic in my chest) to bite the bullet and commit the LP and I to flying to New York to see Dr. Braverman and not to go ahead with another FET next month during the presumed “immune quiescence” that our current RE said should follow the Prednisone course.  Then she said that I will need to tap into my intuition even more in the coming weeks and months as I receive opinions from specialists (Braverman and current RE among them) who will have their own world views and will offer opinions to which they themselves will by nature be rather heavily committed.

To do that she suggested I must work on developing and trusting my intuition. She recommend I start with a book that has been around forever but contains useful exercises (without which the book is of very limited usefulness – she didn’t say that but I read between the lines).  The book is Practical Intuition by Laura Day, for anyone who is interested.  I have ordered it as it was not available locally.  I will post an update after I have read and done some of the exercises but if anyone has already read it and has any thoughts or insights, I would love to hear them.

With that book I ordered one by Sarah Ballantyne, The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, thanks to a recommendation I got here on my blog (thank you, whereareyounumber2).   I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here but a few weeks ago the LP (who ordinarily eats like a 15-year old, sugar, simple carbohydrates and dairy were the mainstay of his entire diet) decided to try the Whole 30 plan, which as best as I can tell is essentially a Paleo approach.  I said I’d join him so I cut out even the non-glutenous grains I was eating and have tried hard to cut out sugars.  I was already off dairy due to the crazy allergic reactions I’ve been having since that miscarriage #3 in 2013 and wasn’t eating much sugar to speak of.  I am interested in the read and some new recipes so I figure it was time to invest in another book!

Back to yesterday’s revelations.  In addition to the sage advice about developing my intuition because I will need it more than ever in coming weeks and months, my acupuncturist suggested that I probably already know from my experiences leading up to the birth of the Miracle Toddler and my parenting since then that our little ones have lessons to teach us and parenting is as much about what we learn from our children as what we teach them.  Sometimes the hurdles in meeting them is about learning lessons we will need to work with those little personalities once they arrive.

Shazam!  That rung true for me and I hastened to recount one early session in which I was communicating with Azulito using the techniques and questions suggested in Spirit Babies: How to Communicate with the Child You’re Meant to Have by Walter Makichen.

During the communication I recounted, I asked Azulito why s/he had chosen us and what we could do to facilitate him/her sticking around to become our next living child.  Azulito showed me a classroom with a teacher writing on a chalkboard (how old school, right? Azulito apparently doesn’t know about smartboards).  The message was clear and a single word resonated in my mind after that communication: Education.  I did not know if the message was that we were to learn from Azulito, that Azulito was to learn from us, that we could provide Azulito with the formal eduction s/he wants, some combination of these possibilities, or some variation that had not yet occurred to me, but of one thing I was certain.  Azulito chose us because of education.

As I was telling this story and my interpretation to my acupuncturist, I saw flashes of that electric blue light with a halo of bright yellow-orange around it that I know to be Azulito.  Yes! Yes!  It was as if Azulito were shouting in my head “It took you long enough!”  This poor spirit baby is waiting around for me to make these connections.  I have been thinking for some time – before the DE FET in May in fact – that I’m missing something, but I do not know what.  When those Azulito-lights flashed behind my eyes, I felt as though the light came on and I could imagine Azulito saying “finally, you are on the right track.”

I am so glad Azulito is back.  And I hope I finally am on the right track this time.  Time will tell.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Today I made an unequivocal move.  I called and made an official, in-person appointment for me and the LP with Dr. Jeffrey Braverman in Long Island for the end of this month.  I booked us flights.  I tried not to gag at how much the initial consult ($900 USD) and the airfare ($1100 USD) will set me back.  The testing is estimated to cost between $900 and $2000 USD, depending on what Dr. Braverman orders.  All of this is out-of-pocket for us.  For me.  I’m paying for it myself.  The LP pays for other stuff.

I then wrote to our current RE to tell him we really like working with him and would prefer to stay with him for our next FET (frozen embryo transfer).  I asked if he would be prepared to coordinate my care with Dr. Braverman should I choose to pursue an immune treatment protocol he might recommend.

The short answer is no, but he was very respectful in his response, which includes the following:

    • “When results don’t match expectations, especially those accompanied by unusual physical elements that appear to be immune in origin, it’s time to think out of the box.”
    • “Our field has very few proven remedies for immune issues as they relate to implantation failure and biochemical losses.”

He went on to say that his own knowledge reflects the current understanding in keeping with the College of which he is a member.  Since many of the interventions offered by “the ‘immune specialists'” are “unproven and in some cases risky”, he prefers only to have a peripheral involvement insofar as he is ultimately responsible for his actions in my care.  He concluded by saying he’d be happy to help me facilitate care with Dr. Braverman if we elect to pursue that.

And that, as they say, is that.   I feel a little like I’ve been fired or given an ultimatum, though I really do get the sense that my RE wants to help and is simply doing what I expected him to do – protect himself first and foremost.  He’s right, he is ultimately responsible for his actions and having acted for docs before in their legal woes, I get that.  I really do.  It still smarts a little to be dumped.

Overall, I feel sad and scared because the stakes and the expense just got bigger.  However, in my gut (where it matters) I know I have done the right thing in seeking some answers.  I need to know why my womb keeps destroying our pregnancies.  Even if the answers lead me back to our current RE and a rejection of whatever Dr. Braverman might recommend (which may be nothing at all though that seems unlikely, it is a big business he runs and all and they all want to make money… and lots of it), I need to ask.  I need some kind of explanation or the ability to make sense of what has happened and what I can expect to have happen in the future if we try again.  Without that I do not know how I could feel comfortable making decisions and moving forward until it is time to quit (either because we succeed or because we don’t and I am at peace with this journey being at an end).

We did not come all this way to throw in the towel or waste the last chances we have.  I have to give this all I’ve got (and what I can reasonably borrow and hope to pay back in the foreseeable future).  It feels like this is the only way I can live with myself in all of this.  I need some peace of mind.  And in the world of recurrent pregnancy loss and immune system overlap, that seems to have a heavy price tag attached to it.  So be it.  I’m in it thigh-deep now, I may as well start wading.

As positive affirmations that something is going right, I have two happy notes on which to end this update.

First, I had a wonderful lunch date with my sister-in-law.  She said I look healthier and better than I have in a really long time and noted that she was really happy about this, because they’d been worried about me.  She’s been with us through the past 18 months and the 6 losses we’ve had in that time and she is the only non-medical person who knows we are using donor eggs.  It meant a lot to me to hear her say I seem calmer, more peaceful and I look healthier.  I needed that today.  More than I could have anticipated.  Thank you, SIL, you made my day.

Second, I won the “pay-day lottery” at my work today.  It was only $95 but hey, that will go toward the dinner to which I’m treating our out-of-town friends tomorrow night while the LP is away.  And it was like God’s way of saying “I’m sorry about the bad news but you’re on the right track here, kiddo.”  Or that’s how I’m looking at it.

 

The Manatee and the Failed Eviction Notices

Of course my body is not cooperating with my best-laid plan.  Why would it be?

I hoped to get my period yesterday.  I expected her by today.  Is she here yet?  Would I be writing this if she were?  Darn it! 

In an effort to while away the time waiting for Red to show up and to keep the faith (because I struggle with believing this is going to work, despite thrashing all thoughts of it not working within an inch of their lives every time they come up of late), I have been having a few adventures.

One such adventure involved the MB (Miracle Baby, now Miracle Toddler) inadvertently pitching my phone into a very hot bath (drawn to encourage Red to show up, of course).  I resent others for their addiction to their make-us-not-so-smart phones but did not appreciate until the last couple of days how much I rely upon my own (it’s my only alarm clock, it’s how I get updates about MB (MT) when I’m at work, it’s how most people I care about get in touch with me by telephone when I’m not at work, it’s my calculator, camera… the list goes on).  I am humbled.  I’m also a little annoyed to find out that I cannot get the one I want to replace the RIP phone until next week (all because I asked for one with more memory – the minimal-memory one is available sooner) but I’m accepting that hiccup as a lesson for me to live almost a week without a make-us-asocial phone (and all of the other tools it represents for me).  A teaching moment!

In a more productive effort to while away the time or deflect my attention to it passing without Red making an appearance, I have been reading some of my animal spirit guide cards by Dr. Steven Farmer.  Twice I have drawn the Boar, which guides us to face challenges with confidence and courage (I’m working on that). Most recently I drew the Manatee.  Ah, the beautiful, gentle Manatee who has the serenity to accept those things she cannot change and the wisdom to know what those things are.  Of course you are guiding me now.  Can you loan me some of that wisdom and serenity, dear Manatee?

I have come to see the magnitude of Manatee’s wisdom after having served several eviction notices on the lining of my lady cave.  All of my efforts have been for nought.  Red is never late.  Until she is.  And the more I will her to show up, the less evidence there is that she intends to do so before she is good and ready.  Why would this be a surprise to me?  Because I am not guided by the Manatee, obviously!

Thank you, Manatee, for coming to guide me when you have.  I am sorry I did not heed your call.  You warned me that your way was best.  And, true to form, I did not listen.  I have much to learn.

With any luck, Red will show up sometime soon and we will get started on our DE IVF FET cycle.  (I know what you’re thinking, I’m just showing off my use of acronyms – how many capital letters can I string together into a sentence?  At least 8, apparently!)  Regardless of whether she shows up today, I’m not changing my flight down to our new clinic next Thursday (unless she shows up days from now, God forbid!).  And I’m still hoping she comes for a visit yet so we can get this party started.

In the meantime, I plan to pay a little more attention to Manatee’s advice and try to let nature take its course.  If you don’t believe me, I can’t blame you.  Serenity and wisdom appear a little beyond my reach.  But I’m trying!  At least there will be no more eviction notices for the time being.