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One Dad’s Story

(from Cooking to Conceive the Inconceivable)

Devin 43 and Sarah 43

baby girl conceived spontaneously

I remember the day when Sarah and I met. We actually first connected online. I had been living here in New York just a few months; she had lived here for thirteen years. We went to the same college, UC Berkeley, at the same time. But we met and fell in love here in New York.

We had also worked in the same industry, and, of course, we were both from Northern California. Not that we would have run into each other there, but we had the same home base, same home area. All of that really helped.

Towards the end of that year, it was pretty clear to both of us that this was it, that we’d found the love of our lives and we wanted to be together. One of the benefits of being in your late 30’s and looking for somebody is that you really know what you want at that point. We had a conversation about wanting children pretty early on. That was actually one of the questions on the online form for chemistry.com. I had resigned myself to being an older dad, but you don’t want to waste your time dating someone if you already know up front that they don’t want to have kids. It was something that we discussed right away.

We ended up getting married about a year and a half after we met, and it took about two years before we started trying to conceive. We knew we wanted children, but we also wanted to have some time together.  When the time came, Sarah looked at things like IVF and different fertility treatments, because we were past 40. Every website, every book, was telling us how difficult it was going to be. But she is both very natural in her approach to eating and medicine and health overall, and she also just doesn’t react well to medication of any kind. For her, to consider treatment would be only as an absolute last resort.

She read Julia’s books before we even started trying. We were going to attend the workshop together but I ended up being out of town, so she went without me. The workshop was quite cathartic for her, and she came back excited about finding something she could feel good about doing. She joined Julia’s support teleconferences and became very active in that community. She also occasionally worked with Julia privately. She was quite excited about what she was learning.

I was resigned to being an older dad, but I was also sensitive to it because my dad was also older. He was 44 when I was born, and he was not super active. The difference between me and him was that my dad had been in World War II, and he had been injured and actually lost some of his lungs, so he was physically weakened. He was perfectly mobile—you wouldn’t look at him and think there was anything wrong—but he wasn’t someone who could go out and run around and throw a ball. He was pretty sedentary. I had this association growing up, of having an older father who wasn’t physically involved. I had this fear of playing a similar role with my child.

As time went by and we were not getting pregnant, I felt more and more disappointed. I knew that Sarah was also disappointed, but I felt uncomfortable showing it because I didn’t want her to feel like I was disappointed with her. It was very difficult for both of us. I didn’t know what to say or not say, and sometimes that made it worse.

It was tough for me but I think it was much harder for her. She was internalizing a lot of it. I wanted to pull her out of it, I wanted her to feel better, but I just couldn’t figure out what to do or say.

There’s no question that in terms of getting pregnant, Sarah did all of the heavy lifting. Having made the decision not to take any drugs, not to do IVF, she radically modified her diet and took all sorts of vitamins and supplements. I was cavalier about the whole thing. I had this attitude of, “you do what you have to do. I’m fine.“

After a few months, Sarah asked me to go to the doctor and have my sperm checked. I went into it, very manly, just thinking I’m fine. Why should there be any problem? But there was. My sperm count was fine, but motility and morphology were very low. That was a real shock to the system for me to realize that I was letting Sarah go through this, doing all this by herself. I couldn’t do that anymore. I shouldn’t have been doing it to begin with.

I started also radically changing the way I was eating. Sarah had been working with Julia’s books and on the teleconferences, receiving guidance with those adjustments. I dramatically reduced the amount of sugar I was eating. I also discovered that I was gluten intolerant. My mother has Celiac disease. I stopped eating gluten completely. I also started taking the supplements that Julia recommended.

Sarah kept me very much in the loop about the Fertile Heart work. She shared the imagery with me. Sometimes we did the imagery together. She shared some of the passages from Julia’s books with me.

And it worked. I went back to be tested, and three months after making those changes the motility and morphology had improved.

Finally, we ended up going to the workshop together. Since I missed it the first time, I felt that I wanted to leave no stone unturned. What I liked about the workshop was that Julia was not promising miracles, she was not saying that her work would immediately fix everything. She offered a space that helped us open our hearts to having a baby in whatever way it was going to happen. And she offered real tangible tools and ideas that helped me let go of trying to control the whole thing.

As it turned out we conceived naturally a few weeks after the workshop. It was Sarah’s first pregnancy at 43. Lena is two and a half, and we are having so much fun with her, we couldn’t be happier.

(excerpt from Cooking to Conceive the Inconceivable Copyright © 2018)

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