Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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With Infertility, What Do We Hold Onto and What Do We Get Rid Of?


Infertility - Holding On and Letting Go

infertility spring cleaningSpring cleaning almost always brings to mind what we want to get rid of; what is ready to be thrown away. That makes sense, doesn’t it? We need to clear out space for new things. In a garden, we need to trim away and cut down and even dig out the old for new growth to have space to evolve into.


With infertility, there are all these old feelings that come up. Not each one for every one of us. This is not a universal truth. Still, it’s typical and common for feelings of frustration, sadness, hopelessness, disappointment, fear and more to show their faces and stay a lot longer than we would like.


Going into the garden and digging, pruning, clearing out is a natural for me. And I have done some major damage that way for the simple reason that not every plant in my garden needs to be dug or pruned at the same time. Or at all. Some plants need to grow on last year or the last decade’s growth. It doesn’t grow anew every year. The perennials need to be removed if they weren’t all ready in the fall. They will not grow back. Careful where you dig, for the bulbs that you can’t see from the surface, they are there; resting comfortably, knowing it’s not quite their turn yet.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t only about getting rid of things, or even cleaning them up. Spring cleaning is also about recognizing what is valuable; what you want to keep. Perhaps it’s peace of mind. Or perhaps it’s something else that is very difficult to hold onto. Something very elusive.


There are fine and beautiful things in my garden and my home that I cherish and want to have remain in my life. Things in my garden that I cultivate, things in my home that I move out of the reach of my cats, (is there such a place?) so that they can survive unbroken.


It’s tempting to think that spring cleaning is a purge. Out with the old, in with new! Get rid of it all.


While I don’t like the feeling of being attached to material items, I have to confess that there are items that have a lot of meaning for me. In the case of a house fire? My animals are what I want out of the house, no further discussion needed. If I had time to rescue a few more things though, these are the things on the short list:


  • My photographs
  • My wedding rings if they weren’t already on my finger
  • A plate with some very special handprints on it
  • A drawing that a dear friend of mine gave me


Wow. I’m amazed at how difficult that list was to create because when I carefully consider what I want out there on the lawn if I were watching the house burn down; there just really aren’t things that I feel that attached to anymore. The objects in my house, while I’m very fond of, are not irreplaceable or inherently essential to me.  The intangibles, now there are a few of those that I would want to hold onto. Here are just a few that have become more significant to me of late:


  • Peace of mind
  • A sense of calm, that ability to pause before acting or saying something
  • My feeling of delight by the smallest of moments.

Getting back to spring cleaning. What do you want to hold on to as you toss out the stuff that you feel so done with?  You may be as surprised as I was to realize what was on which list.



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Growing Hope in a Fertility Garden - Open Your Heart and Mind


Lessons in a Fertility Garden

fertility garden and infertility hopeThe word fertility has such a sweet sound to it. When I think about the word, it conjures up growth; soil freshly tilled, turned, weeded, ready to be seeded and planted.


A few summers ago, I worked with a group of my friends on a piece of land lent to us by an elderly farmer, instead of joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which is a way of getting fresh produce each week from a farm.


Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Southern Foodways Alliance)


You make a commitment in the beginning of the season, pay a certain fee up front and then get a weekly amount of veggies/fruit/herbs; whatever is ripe that week. That summer I got the privilege of working on the farm itself.


This was not a twenty foot square garden. I am talking about a 5 acre farm (tiny for a farm, but rather large for a garden). To give you an idea of mass, a twenty foot garden is 400 square feet.  Put into perspective, one acre is 43,560 square feet; our "garden" was five times that size.


The idea behind the work was to grow enough vegetables for the families that were involved and for the different churches, homeless shelters, temples, etc. that help people in need. This part of the project particularly touched my heart as I heard about more and more people struggling in our economy.


So I spent 6 hours a week rolling around in the dirt and mud. We did everything by hand and used no pesticides. Weeded and mulched; back breaking work. Lots of fun too.  An excuse to get down and dirty, easier to get dirty and get the work done. By down and dirty, I do mean, down. On my knees, because it saved the back, crawling around in the rich, deep, fertile soil.


What a miracle the planting was. These tiny little seeds that you could barely see in your hands. I admit, that for me, seeing is believing. Believing those tiny little seeds would grow, not only into a plant, but into food, was a true leap of faith for me. I know that this is how things grow; I have a garden at home and grow plants and flowers. It is still always a miracle that something that looks like a poppy seed grows into food and nourishment.

A Leap of Faith to Create A Baby

This is just what you are doing in trying to create a baby. Preparing your body, heart and mind to be as receptive as you can possibly be. That's also what you do when you take that leap of faith. Faith in yourself, faith in your partner, faith in your doctor and practice.


I know that you are doing everything you can to create a healthy, happy, calm place for a seed to grow. While you're at it, let hope grow along with that seed. Let the hope grow just as straight and true and strong.


And please do let us know how to help. It's what we're here for.


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Unexpected Fertility


Monday text
Spring is coming. It really is. For instance, it’s raining, pouring even, not snowing. Melting the snow away, creating floods.


The earth’s going to be blossoming into fertility. At least it’s showier parts. Even below the snow, during the cold winter, with no flowers, no colors, no blooming, the earth is fertile.


I’m a lazy gardener, especially in the heat of August and then the business of the fall. Very often the flowers and bushes in my garden are not dead headed (dead blooms pinched off). It’s entirely usual for my garden to be left in the fall and cleaned up in the spring as opposed to cutting, trimming, pruning as one is supposed to do at the end of the growing season.


This past spring, my neglect of my garden paid off in a colorful, heart opening way. My entire garden bloomed purple and white with Columbine. Those dead, unattractive seed pods that I had left alone in the fall, had burst open during the winter and been covered lovingly by the snow until the spring. The five Columbine plants that I had turned into about seventy gorgeous bursts of color. I couldn’t have planned it any better if I had tried. It was a spectacular sight that stopped anyone passing in their tracks. I couldn’t claim any credit for it at all as I had done the opposite of what was supposed to be done.


Yes, it was mainly laziness on my part that bloomed last spring. Conversely though, the garden I tried to grow was a dismal failure last summer. I planted at the right time, fertilized with organic matter, layered compost when I was supposed to, watered, shaded, and pinched. All on time, all when it was supposed to happen in the right increments and nothing worked. My tomatoes were pathetic. Maybe I had 10 ripe tomatoes from 8 plants. This is not a good yield, in fact it’s terrible. I could have bought organic, heirloom tomatoes all summer long for what I spent on the 8 tomato plants, not even counting the time and effort put in.


What, you may ask, is the moral of this story? Be a sloth and be rewarded? Do all the wrong things and get pregnant? That is not my take away message here, at all.


What I learned is that sometimes despite all our best efforts, with all of our best intentions and follow through, things don’t work. I was horribly disappointed and even embarrassed about the tomatoes. My husband was kind enough to be put in over eight hours of back breaking labor, using his precious free time creating the basis of the garden. I was excited and hopeful and enthusiastic about the harvest we were moving towards. And it didn’t happen. Yes, it reminded me very much of my infertility quest. The perfect cycle, the perfect egg, the perfect embryo. And nothing. So I relearned the lesson last summer, in a much less emotionally laden way. The disappointment and frustration about these tomatoes didn’t hold a candle to the burning inferno that was infertility and fertility treatment disappointment.


What did the springtime Columbine colors help me understand? That sometimes, left to her own devices, Mother Nature knows just what to do. Mother Nature also knew just how to tend to those seeds that were allowed to drop. Allow a gentle breeze to spread them throughout the fertile soil. Insulate them from the cold of the winter with a blanket of snow. Water them when the air started to warm up. A few hours of sunshine on the right days and those seeds burst open.


Maybe consider that is what you are doing as well. Along with any medications and medical interventions, you are tending a garden. Eating well, sleeping well, breathing well, exercising in a healthy, mindful way and supporting yourself with words of kindness to yourself that you would extend to any friend who was hurting.


I’m excited about seeing what will blossom this spring. Last spring reminded me again, that there are unexpected surprises that will delight me, which the earth offers up. And last summer reminded me as well that sometimes no matter how hard we try, things don’t quite work the way we are hoping.


At least not in the time frame we would like.


The take away message is to invite yourself to be open to what is happening in the moment, embracing what is in front of you. And then allowing the moment to move on.



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