Our miracle baby Nia was once the tear streaming down her daddy's face as he sat alone in his car waiting for my D&C (dilation and curettage), a procedure that removed the remains of the sibling Nia will never know. She was once the words my pain-consumed heart uttered as I rocked on my knees asking for a miracle. Nia was the subject of our prayers every holiday, for ten years, when our family linked hands to pray and say, “Next year, there will be one more.” She was once the awkward silence between all of us, because for 10 years things remained the same. Nia was once nothing more than the unyielding tenacity of our HOPE.
As I pen these words now, I cannot help but marvel at how I survived the pain of living them! In 2001, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids — smooth muscle tumors that form in the uterus. From that moment, infertility, a result of those fibroids, became a heartbreaking reality I fought to overcome.
The road to my healing was a long and grueling one that included:
- Fourteen years battling fibroids with more than 120 days in the hospital;
- Ten years battling infertility;
- Ten surgeries — five of them for fibroids;
- Five in vitro fertilization cycles;
- One heart-wrenching miscarriage;
- Our Nia fighting the fibroids that were siphoning off her blood supply when I was only 21 weeks pregnant;
- My heart stopping on the delivery table; and, thankfully,
- Our miracle baby being born at 2.5 pounds and 14 inches on September 8, 2011!
My family enjoyed a storybook ending, but as a Fibroids & Fertility Coach, I hear stories like mine daily from women who are still fighting fibroids and infertility. About 20% to 80% of women develop fibroids by the time they reach 50 — some having their personal and professional lives derailed by infertility, life-threatening bleeding and resulting anemia, debilitating cramps, embarrassing incontinence (loss of bladder control), and so much more.
Having experienced these symptoms, here are three critical things that help me:
- A low-estrogen diet: There is research that suggests there is a correlation between estrogen and fibroids, so I worked with my naturopathic doctor (a doctor who uses natural treatments) to eliminate the estrogen from my diet. I switched to an organic, plant-based diet. I avoid things like pesticides, sugar, processed foods, soy, wheat, rice. Instead, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables such as mangos, melons, kiwi, kale, grape tomatoes, sweet peppers, butternut squash, purple potatoes, wild yam, shelled hemp seeds, black walnuts, pumpkin seeds, black lentils, red bananas, and so much more!
- Zero-tolerance for toxicity: I believe in the mind, body, spirit connection of healing, so I went on a quest to detox my spiritual, physical, and emotional life. For me, this means eliminating negative people from my intimate circles, cultivating a mindset of self-love and acceptance, choosing all-natural toiletries and beauty products, and more.
- Exchanging my stress for rest: Stress is how our brains and bodies react to the pressure we experience as part of our fast-paced and demanding lives. In response to this reality, I engage my “Double E Strategy:” Establish healthy boundaries and Embrace my limits. This includes:
- Making Today Count: I focus only on the three or four things each day that will have the greatest impact on my overall vision and goals. This means getting comfortable saying “no” to other people’s last-minute projects as well as learning how to accept and recognize what is and is not in my control.
- Mindfulness: I pause several times daily — at least once every two to three hours — for a mindful minute of silence. It also includes prioritizing prayer as part of my daily ritual to release my cares and concerns.
- Movement: I engage in mind and body practices that involve gentle movements and postures with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation.
- Mandatory fun: I prioritize people, things, and activities that fill me with peace and joy.
I cannot imagine what my life would be like today if I’d allowed my fibroids and infertility to stop my pursuit of motherhood. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that I had to stop being superwoman and start prioritizing my spiritual, emotional, and physical health to serve the world with my purpose. It’s time you do the same!
Share your fibroids and infertility stories during National Fibroids Awareness Week and National Infertility Awareness Week (April 23–29, 2017) using the following hashtags: #MyFibroidsStory, #MyInfertilityStory, #NIAW, #NFAW.