I first dabbled in herbalism some 16 years ago, when my desire to become a mother intersected with my intention to earn a diploma in holistic nutrition. I was so successful at the first endeavour that the second took a back seat and I never completed my studies.
But knowledge acquired through active living is worth, to those of us who subscribe to more traditional healing practices, a whole lot more than that which is passively acquired in the classroom, and not only did I come out of a very targeted exercise in herbalism with my first of three beautiful daughters, but I developed a deep and lasting respect for earth medicine and a desire to return to and deepen my practice one day.
The first thing I did when I moved into this new living space is to designate a shelf for my mason jars full of the herbs I’ve been collecting over the last few years. In my old, enormous, shiny, and uncontained previous kitchen, they barely made an appearance. And now that they are out on display, daily infusions have become a pleasure to concoct and ingest.
I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge on the herbs that will ease me through the transitions of the next ten years, physical, emotional, and spiritual, and I intend to involve my daughters in brew rituals as I develop them, and to teach them, as I learn, of the abundant spirit of our very own herb garden, starting this summer. After all, we just have to slide open the kitchen door, step off the balcony, and all we need will be at our fingertips.
But in the meantime, I’d like to reflect a bit on the herbs around which I regulated my menstrual cycle, learned the signs of ovulation, connected deeply with my feminine wisdom, and was able to take charge of my fertility.
First thing’s first – if you will ovulate, if you are ovulating, if you know someone who can ovulate, if you have children born into bodies that ovulate, I BEG you to pick up a copy of Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Read it. Absorb the wisdom. Marvel at all the things no one ever told you about the way your body works, tune in, take charge, and celebrate that which is much more under your control than you ever knew possible. Half the battle is simply understanding how clearly you body will signal, if allowed. I became so familiar with the ritual signalling of my body that I was able to plan two more pregnancies almost to the month, and completely avoid all forms of birth control. I know the Fertility Awareness Method doesn’t work for everyone, but it does require devoted and committed attention to being IN our bodies and being willing to say, “I hear you”, day in and day out, without fail.
Fertility. It’s a word that inspires horror in some, despair and sadness in others, but which, ultimately, reminds us of our biological purpose.
I will not debate women’s rights. I’m simply using this space to convey my acquired wisdom and to funnel information into the minds of those who need it. Birth control, abortion, menstruation, gender rights, etc, are all issues I have opinions about, but my mandate, in this particular segment of my time on this earth, is to focus on wellness, plain and simple, providing sound holistic advice that helps the body to kick into a state wherein it can both heal, and then kick the pleasure of simply being in it up a notch or five.
I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and that three babies were meant to use my body as a passage into this world. But that first baby proved tricky. I wanted her SO badly, but she wasn’t going to connect with me until I’d learned the lessons I needed to.
My cycle in my early 20s was irregular, which, by current standards, is not unusual. However, there is the hormonal irregularity of the newly minted women, aka The Teenager (I got my first period at age 14), and there’s plain old irregularity due to what I now recognize is blood sugar dysregulation (ASK ME ABOUT THE WHOLE30 AND PALEO).
My youth and desire, along with my deep interest in nutrition, meant that I stuck to a daily regimen that gently and gradually eased my menstrual cycle into a beautiful regularity that I could count on. It took nine months of investment, plus weekly sessions with a therapist to purge myself of mother baggage, to conceive the first time, but it happened just when I decided to surrender to what was, rather than to how I thought I NEEDED things to be.
My reference bibles were:
I drank a daily infusion of red raspberry leaf, red clover, nettle, and oatstraw.
It’s powerful medicine, that earth magic.
My cycles regulated, like clockwork. I threw in a few sessions of acupuncture, and for the first time ever, I bled red. And one cycle later, I had a BFP (big fat positive) on that pregnancy test.
The first thing I would tell any woman who desires to become pregnant is that you MUST stabilize your blood sugar. I was in a multitude of TTC (trying to conceive) groups on Yahoo back in the day (there was life before Facebook??) and the number of women on metformin to control their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was astonishing. If only we’d all had more information about how easily the body wants to heal from metabolic dis-ease, huh? (Pssssssst! I’m a Whole30 Coach! Ask me what the Whole30 can do for YOU!)
When blood sugar is dysregulated, the body simply cannot do what it needs to do to produce stable and consistent fertility hormones. I’m not getting into the biology of this, and it’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, because I’m not into the science of the body, but many others are so start here.
Have you been struggling with regulating your cycle and getting pregnant? Reach out and share your story with me! Want one on one nutritional coaching? I’m your woman! I’m not a nutritionist, nor am I a therapist (dang diploma I never completed), nor am I an MD, but I’m a mother and my own guinea pig and I’ve been collecting the stories of women’s struggles with fertility for 16+ years now!