Haiti, Fertility and How We Heal

By on January 24, 2010

What do the tragic events in Haiti have to do with our fertility? What do they mirror and how do we receive the healing they offer?

A few years ago, Ellen (not her real name) a woman in her early forties, came to the workshop in Woodstock. In her introductory email she told me she was a veteran of 11 failed IVF cycles.

What she wanted from me was approval of her plan to continue on the IVF road. She hoped I would reassure her that the imagery exercises and the work we did during the seven hours that Sunday, would turn things around for her next treatment.

I couldn’t do that. I would’ve been lying.

What I did tell her, was that as I saw it, continuing with treatment would be a mistake, that she needed to stop, breathe and begin to heal every aspect of her Holy Human Loaf. I said that if she couldn’t give up the idea of IVF entirely, at least she should take a three-month break.

That’s not what Ellen wanted to hear. She had a new doctor, and a brand new protocol. Something she hadn’t tried yet. Time was running out and she needed to keep moving. I never heard from her again.

If Ellen could’ve just for a moment glimpsed a view of herself through the eyes of the UM, she might’ve seen a frightened, motherless child. She might’ve seen a powerless, battered woman, whose decisions were forced upon her by panic. She might’ve seen all the ways that she had harmed herself and had allowed others to harm her. And such images might’ve moved her to reconsider her next move.

No, I’m not blaming Ellen. In many aspects of my life I’m as scared as she is to look into the Mirror of Truth. I’m hoping that remembering her story can continue to teach me something. Perhaps it could be useful for some of you.

And what about Haiti? The vast outpouring of aid speaks well of our ability to be there for one another in times of crisis. But a fundamental change of the Haitian story will take a much greater commitment than signing a check through our favorite charity. As Mark Danner, the author of Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War writes in a recent brilliant New York Times op-ed piece: “…Act of nature that it was, the earthquake last week was able to kill so many because of the corruption and weakness of the Haitian state, a state built for predation and plunder. Recovery can come only with vital, even heroic, outside help; but such help will do little to restore Haiti unless it addresses…the man-made causes that lie beneath the Haitian malady.”

We are co-authors of the book of our lives. Not authors. Co-authors. But unless we are willing to read and re-read the chapters we have written so far and learn from them, we will continue to write the same story over and over again.

We can’t undo the pain of 11 failed IVF cycles, nor can we change the reality of the Haitian horror. But we can turn the losses of our lives into a source of healing. If we can resist the lure of collective denial, and gather the courage to tell the truth, our past suffering can even become the seed of our greatness.

The Ultimate Mama knows the high road to the child. She also knows how to reach out to the people of Haiti in a way that would initiate a fundamental shift in the course of that country’s history.

How then do we take her hand and follow her lead?

Perhaps we can begin by retracing our collective steps; by giving some thought to what it is within human nature that keeps us from hearing our own bodies’ call for help; what is it that we all do, that has made a tragedy of the Haitian magnitude possible?

Maybe we cling to the Ultimate Mom by attempting to see the world through her eyes, by “receiving” all that life places within our field of vision as an invitation to be a little braver as we face our own private battles.

18 Responses to “Haiti, Fertility and How We Heal”

  1. Robyn says:

    I’ve read and re-read this post about Haiti. It’s difficult to get my mind around the scale of challenges the people there seem to face — how much need, how much work it seems there is to do. Water, food, medical aid, construction, security, law and order, the list goes on and on.

    I also really responded to Heather’s post, about the life-changing journey she has embarked on. Congratulations on the pregnancy Heather! and also for the richer, fuller life it sounds is building in the process. You’ve captured so much of my own journey in your words. From learning to listen to sticking up for myself and my needs (even to myself) and, bit by bit, unearthing and respecting my own truth along the way.

    So, back to Haiti and by extension, the often extreme challenges people face all around the world. I guess what I’ve come to is this: The quest for a more peaceful world might not stop at the borders of our own individual lives and the day-to-day our own little worlds, but I think for sure that it starts there.

  2. Stéphanie says:

    Just finished The fertile female. I’m still trying to take it all in and understand it all. I guess the orphaned in me is the one that feels so lonely and sad about that my baby is taking so long to arrive in our life.

    Just a little bit about me. 7 years ago my boyfriend and I decided to have a baby. Always thought it would be easy for us. My cycles are predictable and I’ve been mostly lucky at everything. After 2 years of TTC, we consulted to know what was going on. I went to a series o tests but nothing wrong was found. My boyfriend was diagnosed with low count and low motility. Even after the diagnosis I kept believing that it would happen for us. We did 3 IUI’s and never got that BFP. I’ve seen different specialist trying to find a solution to our problem. During that time a lot of ups and downs. Everytime getting my hope ups but always being dissapointed. Our relationship has had it really hard. During all this I found that we are strong. I found that I am strong. I wouldn’t change anything beside the fact that I still want that baby. I think that what life is throwing at us is a challenge and I will be able to make it through it. My visionary is still seeing us being parents but how and when says my orphaned. We applied for adoption, we’ve been to a different clinic to get him retested and we’ve considered IUI with donor. This is all on the table we are just waiting and see what appeals best to us or what feels right. I wished my boyfriend would be as positive as me. For a while now I’ve been trying to feel better and help myself. This is not only about having a baby, it is about feeling good about myself.

    During this whole time I became stronger. I realised that I had a voice. I could speak up and tell what I really wanted. It was so hard at time to tell my boyfriend what I wanted. It was for us to be strong and be a couple who has fun together and if we can be blessed with a child I will be very happy and we are more prepare now to take care of this baby then we were 7 years ago. We are not affraid to tell each other what we want and what we expect of each other. During all this we have learn so much about each other and ourselves as well.

    This is my second phone call and for the first time I allowed myself to talk. I surely like being part of the phone circle. I never know what to say. I always wonder if it makes sense or if it is relevant to what Julia is asking. I am learning that I am not alone and it feels very good. I feel like we are friends. I realised too that just like others little things matter. I am so gratefull for everything I have in my life. I don’t forget what I still want but I can more appreciate what I have. By the way I am having such a hard time seeing anything during the imagery. Most of the time it is blank or jumping from images. My band-aid for me was to never feel the pain. It is pretty thick. Maybe a reason why I have a hard time seeing something. I just always believe that there is worst things in life than what I am feeling or living.

    Thanks to all for sharing and being parf of my life. :)

  3. Caroline says:

    Thanks Julia, for another thought-provoking piece profound truth. It’s so simple, and yet it’s so difficult. I didn’t immediately “get” the thing about turning your pain and loss into the source of your healing; some instinctive part of me instantly knew it was true, but the very cerebral part of me that generally likes to run the show didn’t quite see how it could be done. But now something has shifted, the penny has dropped, and the light has come on :o) If I had to explain it, I’d probably still flounder, but I’ve given the brain permission not to be in perfect control of everything all the time, and I’m learning to open up to the feelings, the glimpses, the words that are trying to rise up. And I am infinitely grateful to you for leading me here.

    Thanks also to Maria – your story could very nearly be my own, and your insight about being afraid that another pregnancy might mean another miscarriage resounded with me on a very deep level. I love the way that here, as in the phone circles, other people’s words and experiences can be so valuable on your own journey.

    So thankyou, everyone, for sharing your insights and experiences. They really are very precious.

  4. Kristina Jensen says:

    Beautifully written. It is always easier to put a band-aid on something then to truly heal it. What the people of Haiti need – as well as you and me – is for people to come along side us with support and care to give us the strength to do the work. My prayer for Haiti is that in addition to supporting people with money, we take the time to learn the source of the hurt and commit for the entire process of healing. It is more time consuming and negates the elation of instant gratification that comes with sending a text for $10 and feeling good about oneself (though that is certainly needed!), but it is the only way that true healing can come.

    Thank you for teaching me to put the band-aids back in the cabinet and tend more lovelingly to the wounds in my own life. The process is more healing than I ever coud have imagined.

  5. Maria says:

    A couple of months ago I had a great break through with Julia, and I’ve been working with it, but after a while I have been wondering were or what my other orphans were… I’ve been working with imagery but they were hiding from me (or maybe I didn’t want to find them). This Haiti blog that Julia posted, reminded me of my two persona earthquakes: 2 miscarriages I had a little over a year and a half ago.

    At that time my family and friends said that it was still good: “at least you know you can get pregnant” they said (we had been trying for 2.5 years by the time I got pregnant the first time), “and after a miscarriage, conceiving again is really easy, now your body knows how”. It was true for a second time, but then it didn’t happen for me anymore. We’ve been trying for over a year with no pregnancy again, and I’ve been wondering if it was ever going to happen for us again, or if those two pregnancies were just a flook (sorry, I’m not sure how to spell that word).

    On Tuesday, after attending the phone circle, reading this blog and doing the imagery exercise where you go to your wisdom room and you ask a question, I found out that I am afraid to get pregnant again, because of the possibility of another miscarriage. It is interesting, because I had convinced my self that I wasn’t going to let that happened, yet the fear came and hide where I couldn’t find it… if it wasn’t for this OVUM work, I don’t think I would have ever found it. Now the question is how do I get rid of it? Any suggestions?

    Congratulations Heather!!! Thanks for sharing your encouraging story with us, I wish you all the lock with your pregnancy and your new baby! Keep us posted :) And for you Julia, another victory for your records!! There should be more people like you in this world! Thanks again!

  6. renee says:

    Thank you Heather and everyone for your thoughts.

    I have been doing FH work for 4 months or so now and have identified and heard from many orphans and yes, the UM and V, too! The orphan I am comforting right now is “The Longing One” and she is demanding a child! She is both so very sad about having miscarried and thinking it cannot happen for her… and alternately mad, jealous and demanding a child of the Universe!

    Today I learned that my partner’s semen analysis is very poor. I’m healthy and 46, and I suspect that if we walk through the door of R.E. they will have little hope for us and shuffle us toward donor eggs and possibly donor sperm. We don’t have a budget and, frankly, I don’t think I have the sheer guts it would take to go that route.

    When I got this news, though, I am excited to report that I did not crumple into any of the orphans that could have taken front stage. I felt many different feelings and decided to breathe and not try to “solve” or fix anything today. Just be. Pray. Breathe. I can feel the Longing One so upset inside, and I will do some FH work with her tonight. However I am aware that there is a strong one, Visionary? within that is unharmed by this news.

    We humans are truly remarkable beings with such capacity to experience diverse, even conflicting thoughts, emotions, and the cellular responses that accompany. My UM did not allow the Longing One to upset me to the core, as she has so many times before.

    So I am off to bed but first, to listen to the BodyTruth meditation. I love that one, including Julia’s introduction to the mediation.

  7. Leslie says:

    Heather – your story truly inspired me too, as did Julia’s piece. They both remind me that, as it is said, each of us is “the hero of our own story.”

  8. jasmin sanders says:

    what a sweet image of loving our orphans with tenderness and patience. thank you jane!

  9. jane Molloy says:

    Julia, thank you for such a thoughtful and thought provoking piece. Like so many, I have been impacted by the suffering of the Haitian people and also their courage as the lucky few are pulled from the wreckage often smiling and sometimes even singing. For me, there is something terribly poignant about the relatives, friends and rescue workers who listened at the rubble and kept on listening when hope was almost gone, until they heard signs of life. I see that it is the same for my orphans. I need to listen and keep listening until I see them smile and maybe even hear them sing.

  10. D.S. says:

    When tragedy strikes it’s so easy to blame others or outside factors. But if you’re brave enough to look within and actually ask what you can learn from the situation wonderful things can happen. Heather’s entry is proof (thank you for sharing, Heather, and congratulations!) I truly believe my journey to self-awareness although sad at times will give me so many gifts. I was like Ellen, too. I tried to make things happen on my timeline using the quickest and easiest route which I thought was a fertility clinic. But that proved to be a dead end for me. I could have stopped there and given up hope, but I’m choosing to continue. It may take longer but I’m finding there’s so much to see and learn along the way. And I’m going to do all I can to make the most of this opportunity and use the fertile heart tools to open my eyes, heal, grow and meet my child halfway. I think the same has to happen for Haiti. Eyes need to be opened and responsibility needs to be accepted and then the work needs to be done. I hope the people in power can be brave enough to dig in and start the healing so great things can happen. Thank you for an insightful piece, Julia!

  11. jasmin sanders says:

    so good to be back here. i have been moving to new mexico during the last week and have had some time away from this website which is so dear to me.
    Thank you Julia for the insightful clarity of your words and vision and for the patient and clear reminder that we must keep a strong connection to our UM and V as we take steps in our lives. the beauty and strength and truth and integrity of these fertile heart tools is in their reflection of what the creation and unfolding of life can really look like when this unfolding comes from our connection to our UM and V and love of the orphans. as we work together with our common Visionaries and Ultimate mom’s anything becomes possible. i personally am really struggling with the loudness of my orphan’s demands and fears. i regularly give time to let them be heard and try to lovingly hold the motherless children inside me but am trying water the garden of my visionary and um. i am learning what that means and having many contractions! the orphan that most want to become a visionary for me is my “urgent” “something has to happen this moment or i am going to die”. whew…she really is sooo scared and needs to be held and nurtured. the energy of change and transformation that she brings though, when she can relax and trust is so great and i am learning to experience what this transformation looks like. i am looking forward to this night’s circle and next week’s rebels circle now that i am more settled here. thank you julia for the courage of your honestly and call to truth.
    love jasmin

  12. p says:

    Thank you for your beautiful stories. They all encourage me to continue on my healing journey and tell me that my thoughts, my experiences are heading in the right direction. I’ve lately realized like Gal that the little things matter, that once we learn to pay attention to our needs we pay more attention to the people around us, and we pay attention to the consequences of our actions at different levels. Then we are rewarded with the gift of awareness – well, at least a little bit of it…
    Never before I felt how much the personal is indeed political, it gives a new meaning to something I read in my textbooks and never fully appreciated. Heather, your story is particularly heartwarming, thank you for sharing it with us and many many good wishes for you and your family!

  13. gal says:

    I believe I began this journey much like the “Ellen” Julia mentions in this blog topic. I was looking for a straight forward simple solution to my inability to conceive a second child – some magic potion I could have discreetly purchased on the internet would have been perfect. It has taken time to peel back the onion of my life and get reaquainted with the pleasures and achievements and regets and losses. I realized I had become disconnected from myself in our attempt to conceive a second time. And I realize now I must never do that again and I must live life as it really is at times messy and difficult and at times profoundly beautiful. And I must really embrace my longings and what I really want. I have learned to share this new approach with my family and some friends which is a very big step for me.

    One other thing I have learned recently is how much things I used to think were simple and small do matter. I realize so much more how vulnerable I am and are so many others as well. I get enjoyment now out of just a cup of tea, or hearing my 2 year old say “weinerschnitzel” or really listening to what my husband or friend or someone I just met is saying. I really don’t know much about the political history of Haiti, but tonight I will add them in my prayers. I recently remembered how much this helped me through my childhood and early 20’s. It feels good to have faith again and to feel that something so simple might actually help.

    Heather – Congratulations on your good news!

    take care everybody,

  14. Robin says:

    Thank you, Julia, for your comments about Haiti. I believe, also that many of the world’s challenges are spiritual in nature. Thank you for the Ultimate Mom, the Visionary and the Orphan. When we can heal ourselves, we can heal our families – those here and those yet to come. Then we can heal our communities, nations and the world. Ultimately we can bring the peace that makes corruption go away so that these “natural disasters” can be much less severe. Thank you so much.

  15. Suzanne says:

    Just one more thing. As I re-read my comment, I realised I forgot to say that yes, we have the orphans who believe they are to blame. This is why we need access to our Ultimate Mom and Visionary. Because the orphan just stays stuck. That is my experience anyway. So I can cry all I like and feel the pain of my orphan, but I need to keep working at transforming the orphan into a visionary so that I can make a difference and speak my truth from a visionary-rooted place as much as I can.

  16. Suzanne says:

    Julia thank you for another inspiring piece of writing.

    Heather huge congratulations! It is always wonderful to witness the power of the Fertile Heart tools. I wish you all the best with your pregnancy.

    What struck me as I read your piece Julia is the idea of us being co-authors of our lives. I think I have wrestled with this in many different ways throughout my life.

    I had heard of the idea that children whose parents divorced often ended up feeling that they were the cause. I didn’t believe I was to blame for my parents marriage breaking down. But when I really looked deep inside I could see that, in a slightly more subtle way perhaps, I did feel I had something to do with what was happening to me. That the only way I could make sense of it was to believe that I must have done something to deserve this happening to me.

    This orphan has cropped up at times on my journey towards our child. The orphan who says that the only way to understand (the pain) is that I am being punished, I must be doing something wrong etc. Otherwise I would be pregnant by now. The magical thinking of ‘if I could just get it right, then I would be pregnant.’ Sounds more like a domineering author rather than a co-author.

    Just recently, I heard of a woman who as a child believed that she had caused World War 2. Imagine that! And of another lady who was left in hospital as a child, not understanding why her parents abandoned her and thinking it was because she was bad. It looks to me like we all have those orphans who think we are responsible, we are to blame.

    And yet, through the eyes of the UM and V, we can see this orphan clearly and after attending to the orphan, in a non-attacking way, ask ourselves what is within our power to change?

    One piece I heard on the news about the Haitan earthquake was of the huge numbers of children being moved to the States for a “better life.” Really? I thought to myself. Who can possibly be the judge of what a better life is and how does it take an earthquake for America and the World to wake up to this. And me, I am a member of the world.

    And I feel that is a good question I can ask of myself. What is my yet-to-happen earthquake that is calling for me to wake up to a certain part of myself? Or to take some action?

  17. Anna says:

    Heather thanks for telling your truly inspiring story. Many good wishes for the coming weeks and months. I’ve only more recently taken to the Fertile Heart path and already the imagery tools have unlocked some profound feelings that I had an inkling were there but had no idea the extent to which I actually had ‘issues in my tissues’ as Julia says.

    With any disaster it is a chance for us all to ask the question ‘why?’. We can choose to see the superficial apparently obvious answer ‘your FSH is too high’, ‘endometriosis’, ‘natural disaster’, ‘poor construction’, ‘corruption’… Or we can go deeper and find those inner fears or feeling of worthlessness as well as feelings of hope; we can find out out about the food we eat, pollution we are exposed to and the roots of our disease and what can truly so about it. In Haiti we can go deeper too, looking for the real issues on a systemic level and I think we all know that it will implicate all of us in as much as we sit in the society that has allowed it to happen. But in through our experience of Fertile Heart and similar practices we know that change is truly possible. Let’s take that chance!

  18. Heather says:

    Several years ago, I was like Ellen, full of grief resulting from five miscarriages. I too was a frightened, motherless child, making decisions in panic. I turned to fertility doctors to help “solve” my problem and underwent five rounds of intense drugs and IUIs before realizing that there was a better way.

    By starting to use the Fertile Heart tools and doing exactly what Julia speaks about in her blog, stopping to breathe and heal, I embarked on a year long process of really knowing myself. I learned to trust my inner guide and to live more in truth. I learned about my deepest fears, and what it felt like to live without them. I learned to unveil all parts of my personality and give them room to breath, even the ugly stuff (I also learned there was no such thing as the ugly stuff) I began to break the cycle of thinking that “I’m not giving enough” or “I am not enough.” I learned to be more assertive and selfish, and to put my own needs first, doing what was “true” for me. I learned to trust my own inner guide and I allowed myself to connect directly to God. I learned to pray, use my imagination, meditate and play. I learned how to ask and accept help. I learned to use food as medicine. I learned to listen to my inner most voice, to continue to listen, and listen some more. Above all, I learned who I really was, and in the process, gave birth to me.

    I’m now 15 weeks pregnant. Without the courage to really stop and hear my body and souls call for help, I wouldn’t be here today anticipating the birth of my child. As Julia states so eloquently, “by receiving all that life places within our field of vision as an invitation to be a little braver, we face our own private battles.” And might I add, we also emerge victorious!

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