Unbelievable Hope: Julia Indichova’s Low-Tech Infertility Cure

By on November 15, 2013

Unbelievable Hope: Julia Indichova’s Low-Tech Infertility Cure

by Bethany Saltman

Louise Lawson had her first miscarriage at 40. After months of failed attempts to get pregnant, she became so despondent that she couldn’t sleep. Eventually, Louise began attending a Mind/Body fertility support group, which helped her insomnia, but not the infertility. Someone she met in the group told her about an Over 40 fertility study looking for subjects, and she signed up. After her first free round of IVF, she became pregnant, but then miscarried again.

All in all, Louise received 5 free rounds of IVF and had three miscarriages.

Cured Unexplained Infertility photo

Amy Smearsol with baby Zeph

Feeling deeply discouraged, she stumbled upon Julia Indichova’s book Inconceivable: A Woman Triumphs Over Despair and Statistics (Broadway Books 2001), which she says offered, “unbelievable hope.”

It wasn’t long before Lawson attended one of Indichova’s workshops at her Fertile Heart Studio in Woodstock, NY. Immediately, Louise knew it was “a life-changer.” When Indichova announced to the group that infertility is a gift” Lawson recalls, “my friend looked at me like, this woman is nuts. But I got it.”

A few months after the workshop, Louise conceived naturally. Her son Daniel was born nine months later when she was 44 years old.

Infertility affects some 7.3 million people in the U.S., It is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected, “well-timed” intercourse. Because confronting the possibility of never having a child is so painful, women and men who have been given this diagnosis go to any lengths to overcome it. And so, the infertility industry’s medical solutions are difficult to resist.

Sadly, these seemingly sure-fire solutions  don’t always work. In fact according to the most recent report by the Center for Disease Control, the IVF success rates for women under 35 is 41%, and plummets to 12% once a woman turns forty. Still, these poor odds don’t keep women from getting hooked on the promise of the quick fix.

Indichova, a pioneer on the low-tech road to parenthood says, “Luckily for me, my diagnosis was so bleak that high-tech was not an option. Otherwise I, too, might not have been able to resist it.”

The fertility chapter of Indichova’s story didn’t begin until she was 42 years old. She was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her husband Ed, walking around with her baby strapped to her body, eating bagels in that slow mommy-baby time warp, checking out double strollers, and gearing up for Baby #2, who was sure to arrive any day. After all, she and her husband had conceived their daughter Ellena on their first try. The fact that things were taking a little while didn’t scare them.

Just for good measure Indichova made an appointment with her OBGYN who did the usual workup, discovering her Follicle-Stimulating Hormone of 42, which the doctor described as an indication that her  “ovaries are not working as well as they should be.” He added, “With an FSH of 42 there is not much I can do for you. You’ll need to see a fertility specialist.”  The first specialist they called wouldn’t see her, the receptionist explaining that the doctor, “doesn’t think he can help you.”  The next specialist recommended IVF with donor eggs, or adoption. The psychologist in the practice told the couple that, “there is no documented case of anyone conceiving with those numbers.”
News like this is not unusual. In the high-stakes field of fertility, patients want answers, and, for better or for worse, often receive them. However, Dr. Jamie Grifo, Director of the NYU Fertility Center, says that, “A doctor who uses the word ‘never’ is overstepping our bounds. We’re not that smart.” When talking to patients, “We use data to play odds, while managing expectations. We want patients to be optimistic, but realistic. The person who doesn’t listen feels victimized. When you’re a victim you never recover.”

And that is at the center of Indichova’s work: to ensure that people dealing with infertility don’t become victims, and that this becomes a life-affirming mission no matter what.

During Indichova’s personal fertility journey, she introduced herself to what we now consider widely-accepted “alternative” fertility treatment such as yoga, acupuncture, exercise, cleansing, and, attention to diet, and continues to encourage making smart choices in these areas.

However, her Fertile Heart Ovum method goes deeper than that. Developed over years of counseling and teaching, and documented in her second book, The Fertile Female: How the Power of Longing for a Child Can Save Your Life and Change the World (Adell Press 2007), the carefully crafted tools of the Fertile Heart practice include brief visualizations, movement sequences, food recommendations and other mind body techniques, designed to reveal the hidden obstacles that might be blocking conception on a physical or emotional level.

The program, validated by an increasing volume of mind-body studies, is meant to empower each person to fully engage in their own treatment process. Sometimes the barrier is pain linked to the person’s own birth, or a belief such as, “I don’t deserve to have a baby.” Other times, it’s endometriosis, or impaired thyroid function that inhibits a full term pregnancy.  Regardless of the nature of the problem, the Ovum work is about choosing the most health-enhancing path toward parenthood.

This is powerful medicine, which, as in the case of Lawson, and hundreds of others, has succeeded where the medical model has failed. In the Fertile Heart retreats Indichova’s compelling combination of earthiness and wit makes it clear that this material is serious, but the mood in her workshops is often light, and even funny. And, hopeful. In one New York City support circle of 13 women, 8 conceived after years of failed attempts. In another workshop, 8 out of 11 women conceived within five months of attending.

Watching a group of women and men in the Fertile Heart studio in Woodstock standing in a circle, eyes closed, swaying from side to side as they sing one of Indichova’s many original tunes—a lullaby—to the child of their dreams, is like seeing an energy that knows no bounds. Dr. Christiane Northrup, the author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, in her Foreword to Inconceivable, describes what can happen when we learn to listen to our own deepest truth.  She writes, “All the rules change. And so does our biology. Statistics no longer apply to us. We enter the realm of possibilities.”  

Amy Smearsoll, who traveled from Switzerland to attend one of Indichova’s all day workshops, was diagnosed with early menopause at the age of 38.  “I was told that my only chance at motherhood would be through egg donation or adoption.  Every doctor seemed to give me a fruit analogy…the apples at the bottom of the barrel. The bad berries that stick to the basket.” Smearsoll, like Indichova, had not even qualified for IVF, her eggs so unviable. The physicians she worked with “gave me no hope.” But after attending Indichova’s workshop, her view of the diagnosis changed.  “Everything I learned that day felt right to me. I said, this is it, I am not a statistic. I didn’t know if it would happen, but after the workshop I felt that pregnancy was possible for me. ” Three months later she conceived naturally.  A year after the workshop, at age 39, Smearsoll gave birth.

An Israeli study reported in the 2009 issue of Fertility & Sterility showed that women who “let go” and “relinquish their control” during their IVF cycle are about twice as likely to get pregnant as women who are less able to deal with the pressure of treatment.  True as this may be, it doesn’t amount to much more than the infuriating advice to “just relax.  Julia Indichova and her Fertile Heart work can help those wanting a baby to learn what it is they need to let go of and how to do it. But more than that, she offers the women and couples who seek her guidance a path to fully live their longing in a way that leads to fruitful lives regardless of how they resolve their fertility challenges.

And what if it doesn’t work? What if the baby just doesn’t show up?  For Michelle Jasmin Sanders, a pediatric nurse who birthed  her family through adoption, the “Fertile Heart work was strong and ongoing through the adoption journey and a path of allowing the truth to unfold has been a blessing.”  Suzanne Guest, a London based psychotherapist who has participated in Julia’s international teleconferences puts it this way:  “No matter what, I will keep birthing myself and using my fertility and mothering in other ways in my life. I have grown and learned so much through Fertile Heart and continue to embrace this challenge with every part of my being. At the end of the day I feel incredibly lucky because not everyone gets to live their fertility journey in this way.”

Michelle Jasmin Sanders with baby Anastasia

Michelle Jasmin Sanders with baby Anastasia

Bethany Saltman www.BethanySaltman.com is an editor and writer whose prose, poetry and interviews can be seen in national magazines and journals such as Parents, The Sun, Shambhala Sun, Whole Living, Witness, NY Quarterly, and many others. For permission to reprint contact Bethany at BethanySaltman@gmail.com.

This is one of the best articles about the Fertile Heart Ovum Program. Thank you, Bethany Saltman for permission to reprint!

14 Responses to “Unbelievable Hope: Julia Indichova’s Low-Tech Infertility Cure”

  1. Hautbois says:

    I, too, love re-reading this article, many times, along with all of the great comments about it.
    Thank you, Bethany Saltman, for writing this.

    Not only do I love how this article brings the OVUM practice to life, but I also love how it brings all of us on this pilgrimage together. As we read this, we feel affirmed, we feel the support of one another.

    “Watching a group of women and men in the Fertile Heart studio in Woodstock standing in a circle, eyes closed, swaying from side to side as they sing one of Indichova’s many original tunes—a lullaby—to the child of their dreams, is like seeing an energy that knows no bounds.”

    When I read Bethany’s above description, I tear up, remembering those powerful, life-changing moments at the workshop….and I feel united with all of the Visionary Mamas, and our teacher, our guide Visionary, Julia.
    Thank you.
    (And, I plan to share this article with my sister and Mom this holiday season when I am with them. I think it expresses so clearly my path.)

  2. Carla says:

    This is such an inspiring article for all couples that are struggling to have children.
    However I very much disagree that IVF is a “quick fix”
    After trying for a baby for 5 years with no luck at all we got approved for 1 free session of IVF and ICSI.
    After going through this process I can assure you this is no quick fix! It is extremely hard and you go through every emotion possible, not just the couple going through the treatment but close family too.
    Thankfully we got our beautiful baby girl at the end of it.
    If we was judged on our fertility statistics we would have never been approved as there was the smallest chance possible it would succeed so thankfully we was not treated in that way. The clinic have since said our baby truly is a miracle.
    I truly do hope this method does work for anyone that is trying to have a baby though x

  3. Danitza says:

    Reading Julia’s book, Inconceivable, allowed me to nurture myself and treat myself more kindly. When I received my high FSH diagnosis (FSH 24.4 and AMH .19), I was devastated. Worse yet, I became angry. Why me? What did I do that caused this? I let go of all of that once I read Inconceivable. I became a great parent to myself and took greater care in how I ate, how I breathed and the thoughts I allowed to enter and remain in my mind.

    October 21, 2013: I received my high FSH diagnosis.

    October 24, 2013: Read Julia’s book. Devoured her book is more like it.

    October 29, 2013: Saw my first RE who said I had to do IVF if I wanted a chance of conceiving with my own eggs.

    November 19, 2013: Saw the IVF doctor who said he’d be happy to work with me but that I should know, my chance of conception with my own eggs was very low. But with donor eggs, my chances were 80% or greater. Tempting I thought. IVF doctor ordered me to call his clinic on the first day of my next period.

    December 10, 2013: Period due.

    December 11, 2013: Positive HPT!

    December 13, 2013: As I type this I am awaiting HcG and progesterone test results. I am staying strong and hopeful and whatever happens, I am a stronger and healthier person for having read Julia’s incredible story.

    Thanks to everyone that has shared their struggles and successes. I was able to get out of bed and go to work and stop crying, in large part thanks to the many women who had the courage to believe and share these very personal struggles.

  4. Lori says:

    I have been blessed to be able to access not only Julia’s books & CDs, but her workshop as well. I thought I was actively practicing the OVUM method, but in reality it was in the workshop that everything- and I mean everything- actually clicked for me. As a single 43 yr old woman who has been told that my eggs are old and probably won’t conceive w/out donor eggs, the OVUM practice gives me not only hope, but peace about where I am in my pilgrimage. I have told anyone I know who is struggling with fertility to check out Julia’s work. I truly feel blessed and honored to be part of this community.

  5. heather says:

    Dear Think Positive- You said is so well- this journey is about thinking, feeling, and acting for yourself. It will be a long journey but reading and rereading this article gives me hope. It’s such a profound gift and the writer really hit all the right notes about fertile heart. This article has been my go- to when I have felt overwhelmed and frustrated over this holiday week. I am so grateful to the author and Julia for sharing it!

    Heather

  6. MiracleHope says:

    “The Fertile Heart practice include brief visualizations, movement sequences, food recommendations and other mind body techniques, designed to reveal the hidden obstacles that might be blocking conception on a physical or emotional level” –> For most of us who are going through this emotional turmoil, this practice has evolved as a life saver. Firstly realizing and acknowledging the desire behind our longing itself is so important. Secondly, understanding that a feeling, whether its longing, jealously, rage, frustration, sadness etc are different energies that are all linked to the fertility and instead of treating them as bad or as good feelings, ability to turn those feelings into fertility energy is amazing. I have been TTC for past 6 yrs and went through all possible medical interventions and currently no high tech option is an option for me anymore and through my desperation to find hope, I stumbled across fertile heart OVUM work. Its the power of this work that is making me stronger, providing me the vision to see my longing, to believe in myself and follow my deepest truth and the quote by Dr. Northrup that “what can happen when we learn to listen to our own deepest truth – All the rules change. And so does our biology. Statistics no longer apply to us. We enter the realm of possibilities” now started making sense.
    I am truly grateful to GOD for showing me this path and introducing me to Julia Indichova. Now I dare to dream and expect to birth my child one day. Thank you Julia for all your guidance and support!!!

  7. dmama says:

    What an inspiring article! I so love hearing the stories of women who have been directed to donor eggs and adoption about failed IVFs but then got pregnant naturally while engaging with the OVUM practice. I too have been giving little to no hope of conceiving naturally but don’t believe that is true–it just doesn’t seem to be my truth. The OVUM practice is allowing me explore myself and feel real feelings while working to become a more fertile person.
    Thank you, Julia.

    • MiracleHope says:

      Dear Dmama
      I loved the way you mentioned and felt so excited with the mere feeling of your statement. I have been given a similar diagnosis
      MH

  8. ThinkPositive says:

    The article captures well the OVUM essence. Before i was introduced to the practice my mother in law kept telling me to relax and of course just made me sooooo frustrated. “Don’t think about it” others advised. Oh really? Let’s see…how can i not think about a pregnancy if i time my ovulation, support it with different supplements for different phases of the cycle, not to mention the times i do get the help of fertility clinics…But then i bought Julia’s books and then Julia’s CDs and then i signed in for a conference call that helped me use the OVUM tools and guess what? Relaxation naturally followed…Julia’s OVUM tools took me through a process of self healing My 2 years of theraphy barely touched the surface. I’ve been starting to feel, think and act for myself as never before and i know it’s just the begining of a long journey i am willing to take no matter what.

  9. SC07 says:

    It was an inspiring read and filled me with hope once again. It is a difficult position to be in when one is advised that time is running out on medical intervention. When that medical intervention goes awry, where does one go? What options is one left with?

    With Julia’s help, I was able to connect with imagery exercises that have had a calming effect on me. Listening to Julia and everyone else on the teleconferences gently nudges me to look deep within myself and keep searching for my own truth.

    Thank you for sharing the article. I have read it multiple times by now.

  10. RachelSF says:

    The OVUM practice is deep work, that is not always easy. I have already found that my life is richer and more meaningful because of this practice. And, as the article says, it is a “life-affirming” approach.

  11. Ktrags says:

    This is one of the best articles I have read on Julia’s work. After working with Julia over the years and birthing one son with her help, I found myself re-inspired after reading this to keep practicing the OVUM tools. I know they work, but it is so inspirational to hear other’s stories. Thanks Bethany for spelling it all out in such a clear concise manner and as always, thank you Julia for all you do to help so many find their way. XOXO ktrags

  12. Robin says:

    This is a wonderful article about the Fertile Heart work. I have attending a Fertile Heart Workshop and the Teleconferences. This piece captures so clearly the essence of the OVUM practice. It is descriptive enough to give the flavor of what is here and presents wonderfully inspirational material about what is truly possible.

    So often women who don’t conceive using medical intervention are left with nothing if the treatment doesn’t result in a child. The Fertile Heart approach continuously seeks the most life enhancing way to truly live life. So no matter what the result, there is always that gift of the possibility of living an amazing life.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article, Julia.

  13. heather says:

    Words cannot express how profound and hopeful I found this article. It does an amazing job of summing up the core of your work Julia and it offers a beautiful ray of sunshine into all of our hearts. As someone who tried, struggled, and failed with the IVF process, I felt without hope. I thought surely if an IVF doesn’t work then nothing will work. After reading and rereading both of the fertile heart books and buying the CD’s I decided to give the teleconferences a shot. I loved the sessions and I am now in the visionary mom’s circle. For the first time I feel like I have control and I have a focus. I have decided to go as low tech as possible and I am returning to a more natural path. This article gives me hope and the fortitude to keep moving forward. It also reminds me to treat my fertile heart work with meaningful intent. Thank you for posting and sharing this- the timing is such a personal blessing to me in ways I cannot describe.

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