Thursday, October 8, 2009

The End of My Love Affair with Woo

Before I went through infertility hell, I was a firm believer of woo. I took herbs, I went to a chiropractor, I attempted (and failed repeatedly) to meditate. I believed that humans could consciously manipulate unseen flowing energy to manifest material desires and perfect health. I paid attention to synchronicity and saw patterns in random events. The universe was a benevolent place, there was a plan for my life, and all my adversities were merely life lessons meant to aid me on my spiritual journey.
Then the roof caved in. Nothing I believed, no remedy I tried, could stop my miscarriages from happening. Whatever lesson I was meant to be learning was lost on me. If there was a God, or a Benevolent Universe, He or It was repeatedly killing my offspring before they could even get started becoming people. Who could be cruel enough to do such a thing?
I cast about for answers. I believed I could heal myself and bring forth new life. I just needed to get my chi aligned or my chakras cleared, or ... something. Vitamins, maybe? How about jumping rope to stimulate my ovaries? Acupuncture? Reiki? Exotic fruit?
My insurance didn't cover any of that stuff. It did, however, cover a reproductive endocrinologist (mentioned in a earlier post). I figured, what the hell? I'm desperate enough to try anything. I began working with Dr.K and in the meantime, I did some research on "alternative" fertility treatments. There was a clinic here in Austin whose website caught my attention. Through a combination of acupuncture, herbs, and various other "non-Western" modalities, they practically guaranteed success. It was tempting, believe me, but it was also expensive, way more than we could afford. I considered starting a savings account or trying to hit up family members. But first I wanted some kind of evidence that the stuff worked. I asked Dr.K for advice and he said, very diplomatically, that if I thought it would give me a sense of control and make me feel better, there was probably no harm. But he was careful not to endorse or recommend it.
So I looked into it, starting (of course) with the google search, and branching outward from there. I started reading Junkfood Science, Respectful Insolence, Science-Based Medicine. I started reading the blogs of people who comment on those blogs. I started learning how to interpret evidence, how to find flaws in logic, and how to separate emotion from reason. What I discovered has led me out of the darkness of ignorance and back into the fold of rational, scientific thought.
My miscarriages weren't the result of a misaligned spine or negative energy. They were complex biological events happening at a level completely beyond my ability to control. I didn't need to explore my soul; I needed to get to know my body, in real, concrete ways. I needed to let my doctor find the problem so he could find the solution. Along the way I got a complete overview of my health -- no genetic abnormalities, no blood disorders, no immunological problems, healthy thyroid, clear fallopian tubes, a healthy uterus and beautiful ripe ovaries -- and learned that I am, in fact, a very healthy person. This was in stark contrast to my former beliefs, where every bad mood or period of tiredness heralded a serious malady of body and soul that could only be cured in an obscure, often expensive way.
I put my faith in medical science and my lifelong dream of motherhood was fulfilled. Not because I learned the right lesson and the universe saw fit to reward me, but because with a combination of hormones and surgery, my knowledgeable and attentive doctor was able to compensate for the biological misfire that was keeping me from staying pregnant.
For all of this, I'm a better parent. Not just because of the losses and the greater appreciation they bring, but because I want to teach my child to think critically, to not fall for the same nonsense and illusion that I once fell for. I'll do him a huge favor by teaching him how to think like a scientist. I'll raise a thoughtful child who will grow to be a decent human being. And that has been my goal all along.

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