I have heard the adage, father knows best. However, countless women recognize unequivocally that mothers run the show. The motto, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” seems difficult to dispute. Perhaps all the insights my mother alleged did have wisdom wrapped within. One notable anecdote was my mom’s recollection of fertility in the 1960’s. Her doctor told her she would probably have difficulty conceiving, considering her small frame and irregular cycles. His advice was to go home, relax and not think about it. Taking his advice to heart, she did exactly as told. She got pregnant three times within four years.
Thirty-five years later, she told me that story, advising me to go home, relax, and not think about it. Unlike my mother, I thought about it incessantly. I charted my ovulation, measured my body temperature each morning, and checked my pee on a stick, figuring out scientifically the exact hour the window opened for optimum conception opportunity. Without success, my husband and I visited the Reproductive Science Center for testing. The results were inconclusive, except that my husband’s sperm were active with remarkable motility; he promoted himself to macho-man status. Our sex life improved dramatically with such newfound confidence; we increased our efforts. Yet, results still left us baby-less.
Almost a year later, with autumn approaching, new beginnings and changes upon us, I resigned myself to a life as a childless woman, imagining travel adventures and a variety of careers that would recharge my soul. The prior spring, my husband and I had purchased our first home, imagining our life with children. We chose a great school district with the expectation that our offspring would attend the neighborhood elementary school. It was laughable to think about the plans we made to make our dreams happen. Even more comical were the giant hips I was granted at age eleven. For decades, I had assumed that God could only have made me this way for one purpose: bearing children.
Even more astounding was the number of women getting pregnant around me. It seemed that every week, another friend announced that she was “expecting,” as if to say, “nah, nah, na nah, nah.” Even bunnies in our yard appeared to multiply exponentially. Actually, that was not that surprising. What you think about, you bring about; the law of attraction was in perfect harmony with my life.
With bits of discord, yet surrendering to reality, my husband and I lived fully, traveling to Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Arizona and Alaska, attempting to embrace our freedom, while practicing baby making at every juncture. Sex in the wilderness of Alaska, sex in the exotic backdrop of bamboo forests and waterfalls, sex in romantic cottages, sex on the beach, sex, sex, and more sex. We attempted each position, wondering if anything would bring about conception. Through all of these experiences, we enjoyed life, taking in the moments of adventure, living, laughing, and loving. Yet we also cried, full of sadness that life was not what we expected. There was deep anguish from not knowing if children would be part of our future. I attempted to imagine my life without offspring. By September, I conceded, accepting whatever life offered me.
It is significant to note that when you release control and surrender, life brings the extraordinary to you. Day-to-day moments feel immensely exhilarating and powerfully beautiful. I pondered this thought as I weeded garden beds at our home. It was a warm September day full of possibility; the smell of lavender filled my senses. I was wearing ordinary, beige gardening gloves and shorts. At some point, I removed one glove to sever a vine from choking a birch tree. Taking off that glove, unwrapping that vine, releasing the tree from strangulation, my life was forever changed. The following month revealed how.
Within a day, my legs and hands started itching with an abundance of bumps. I was miserable; poison ivy had ravaged my entire body. About ten years had passed since my last poison ivy outbreak. I looked like a burn victim with wounds full of puss, oozing and scabbing. Within a week, I went to see my primary care physician. He asked how life had been going besides the obvious ailment; I reported the story of poison ivy acquisition, and mentioned that I had been trying to get pregnant for the past year, only to receive multiple negative pregnancy test results.
Putting my poison ivy treatment aside, he whispered, “Don’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. My colleagues would think I am nuts. But my sister pretty much had the same story as you. She went to an acupuncturist for some treatments and I now have four nieces and nephews.” He proceeded to give me the name and number of an acupuncturist and a prescription for Prednisone to treat the poison ivy.
Within a week I was meeting with a Chinese acupuncturist, who told me unambiguously that I would be pregnant soon, similar to her last two fertility clients. She explained that my chi (energy) was out of balance. With three one-hour acupuncture treatments, swallowing five brown Chinese herbs three times per day, and doing the “deed,” I was pregnant. Some will say that the Chinese herbs readied my body for pregnancy or the acupuncture relaxed my body and ripened my eggs for conception. However, if you asked me what happened, I would say that my mother knew best. Go home, relax, and do not think about it.
As I lay on the table during those acupuncture sessions, I felt at home, relaxed and thinking about nothing in particular. My mother knew something that I did not. Forget the predictions, the calculations, the control you think you have, and surrender to the present moment. That is where you find peace, where the extraordinary lives. Whatever your ailment or desire for the insurmountable, allow yourself to go home, relax, and do not think about it. Let it come to you. Mother knows best.