My Spiritual Awakening: Thoughts from Renee Waggener of Xtraordinary Fertility

I’m constantly amazed by the opportunities for meeting those dealing with infertility, and helping them on their journey through art and story telling, that ART of IF is allowing me as the project grows. One upcoming opportunity is to present a prayer flag art workshop at the Revive Your Baby Making Mojo retreat in Ben Lomond, CA. Ben Lamond is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the Redwoods meet the ocean. Sounds awesome, right?! It’s an incredible experience any time there’s an opportunity to get together with others living with infertility so I hope you’ll consider joining me in California to create some art around your infertility experience. There’s still room at the retreat and it’s an amazing value ($197 includes food, lodging, and all activities when you register by September 1st) with a great line up.  This event is being hosted by Renee Waggener of Xtraordinary Fertility October 2-4. Maria and I met Renee at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day this year and she is sharing as our guest blogger this week. Thanks, Renee, for inviting ART of IF to share through art making at your retreat and for sharing with us through your blog post this week!


My Spiritual Awakening

I just got done listening to 13 speakers in the Meditation your way to Millions Master Class lead by one of my super hero’s Lisa Cherney.  It was awesome.  Each speaker gave away super cool tools and insight into what “spiritual Practice” has lead to their business success.  I found so many parallels in how you integrate your spiritual habits into building a business with how each of us builds a family.  This sooo doesn’t surprise me, because the same section or chakra of our bodies… the root chakra is all about “Creation”.  Whether it’s a creation of a business or we are creating a baby thru our bodies or adoption… we still need a spiritual “Practice” to help each of these succeed.

I’ve never really tooted my own spiritual horn because I really believe that we each need our freedom to choose for ourselves what works for each of us.  And one of the things that really hit me in the summit is that I need to start speaking more from my heart when it comes to spirit and the message that I’m spreading with Fertility.  I believe deeply that each of us is surrounded by a team of angels, guides, God, Universe, Mother Earth… and sometimes I call all of that “Spirit”. You call it what feels right for you.

My personal spiritual practice has gone in waves through the years.  Sometimes I do something and sometimes I don’t, which is when I’m hiding or scared to connect.

This past year, I’ve put into practice a journaling exercise that I’ve been consistent with and it has opened me up to more possibilities, new relationships and deeper growth on my own personal purpose path in helping all of you in the fertility community.

Now that I’ve listened to these awesome speakers and what they do; I’ve realized it’s time to step up my practice.  This is so much more than thinking positive, or prayer.  It’s building a life practice that will not only help me help you, but more than that it will deepen my connection to spirit, give me more confidence to “Let Go of the outcome” (harder to do) and Really Trust in the process so that I can reach more people and help them (YOU) have babies and ultimately live a Fertilicious Life well into parenthood.

With that I really want to give to you today’s tips:

Knowledge is Power. There are many treatment options available for your infertility, so the more you know about each procedure will help you to make an empowered decision for you and your partner.  There’s no one size fits all solution here. Don’t compare your decision based on what others do.  Also, when you do the research, you don’t have to make a decision right away. Let it sit and let your intuition guide you on your “next best” choice.

Tick-Tock. Determine how long you will try to conceive. Being on the same page as your partner is important and you should agree on this.  There is no right or wrong decision here.  Choose a reasonable length that is comfortable for you and your partner. Also, know that this can be subject to change at anytime.  Maybe even schedule in some breaks to where you are NOT thinking of your fertility.

Cha-Ching! Determine how much money you are willing to spend on treatment. As you may already know, fertility treatments can be costly.  It’s important for the health of your relationship to determine how much money you are willing to part with. Again, this number will be different for each couple. It has to work for you! Also, look at your relationship with money. Do you have some beliefs around money that inhibit you? (I.e. I’m broke all the time = I’m unworthy) Notice this, then call me because I can help with this at the Revive Your Baby Making Mojo Retreat October 2-4.


Register Here

I look forward to seeing if this touched you at all.  Please post a comment on FB if it did.


With Peace and Light,





We’re featuring artwork from the project’s permanent collection in this week’s blog post.  Marissa McClure has created this piece, s/m/othering, in which she has removed the babies, children, and reproductive organs from well known pieces of art. She then invites others to choose an image that speaks to them and share their reaction to the image by pasting it, along with their narrative, in a book.

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We’ve been traveling with the book and it’s been in Iowa City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Northern California with us so far. We’re sharing some images and stories from the piece this post and you can look for us, and the book, at our upcoming events in New JerseyMichigan, California, Illinois, and Arizona where we’ll invite you to share your own story through Marissa’s piece, mini interviews and photo sessions, and some other fun interactive projects we have planned.

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You can read Marissa’s complete paper on s/m/othering at this link. Thank you, Marissa, for sharing your art with us!

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Naturopathic Medicine and Fertility

This week’s blog is from Dr. Aumatma, who I had the pleasure of meeting at her practice in Oakland, CA last month. She’s delightful, very passionate about what she does, and since I was interested in learning more about her work, I invited her to share a blog post with us. Dr. Aumatma will be at the Xtraordinary Fertility retreat in Ben Lomonde, CA October 2-4. I’ll also be there, leading a prayer flag art workshop. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better and hope some of you will take the opportunity to join us there. You can learn more here. Thanks, Dr. Aumatma, for sharing with us!


What is Naturopathic Medicine and is it different from acupuncture when it comes to treatment for fertility?

Lots of people struggling with infertility know about acupuncture. There is lots of data. And, it’s pretty popular to be getting acupuncture while you’re optimizing your fertility so that you can start that family you dream of. What you may not know is that acupuncture is quite different from Naturopathic Medicine, though they have a similar philosophy of using nature to support the healing process. From this article, I hope to inspire you with something that you haven’t already tried or considered, and encourage you to reach out sooner if you are on this path—the sooner your reach out do a Naturopathic Fertility Specialist, the better… because this medicine really will help you fill the gap between your Western doctor and your acupuncturist. So, in a lot of ways, Naturopathic Doctors are truly integrative doctors, with an ability to understand both eastern and western thought.

Naturopathic Medicine has a few basic tenets that seem almost common sense. Use of natural substances (such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and homeopathy) to help rebalance the body and allow for the healing force to heal itself, is the ideal. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in 4-6 year medical programs that integrate eastern and western medicine. While Western Medicine is primarily focused on diagnosis, followed by “fixing” the problem, Naturopathic Medicine is focused on discovering the root cause. Many people consider Western Medicine to be a proficient band-aid. Western Medicine does have many advantages such as the advance of technology that allows doctors to help with things that even a hundred years ago may have appeared miraculous.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, have gotten good results for helping women rebalance their bodies from stress, reverse the damage to ovaries and eggs, as well as tonify the body overall to be able to conceive. I know lots of women get great results with Acupuncture.


Naturopathic Doctors fulfill a very different need, however. NDs consider it fundamentally important to understand the functions and pathways of the body and intimately understand hormones that can affect health and wellness. In addition to this foundation, however, Naturopathic Medicine also includes training in natural modalities for supporting the vital force of the body to heal. These therapies vary from Naturopathic doctor to doctor, as different practitioners may focus on different therapies. A majority of NDs do practice herbal medicine, functional medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, energy healing, and more.

Infertility is a complex diagnosis with many potential underlying causes. Naturopathic Doctors are particularly proficient in helping uncover a deep underlying cause that may not be obvious. Because Naturopathic Medicine views the body in a holistic way with a myriad of connections (that could be deemed otherwise unrelated), it is easy for NDs to recognize the deeper issues that may be contributing to a couple’s inability to conceive.


In my experience, Acupuncture is a great adjunct to Naturopathic Medicine & IVF/IUI. My recommendation is to go all out, with multiple approaches, because the complexity of infertility needs to be addressed on many levels. All of the different approaches fill very unique needs for the client, but there’s no one right answer. When we, as practitioners, collaborate fully, our clients get results faster. And, that’s what I am all about! When couples are ready to start a family and they are getting older and don’t have a lot of time, I think it’s ideal to use a multi-disciplinary approach. It breaks my heart when clients come to me after having tried acupuncture for 5 years… I wonder why they waited 5 years before trying something else or adding something else? Often, they come from referrals from their acupuncturist, but it’s only after they have fully exhausted their time with the acupuncturist. And, I have been able to help most of these couples– however, I just wonder if they wouldn’t have been saved anguish and disappointment if their work with me was started sooner, in collaboration with acupuncture.

So, overall, what I can offer clients is very different from acupuncture. Acupuncture can strengthen the body, help with stress, and re-balance the energetic body. I really like to work on the physical-mental-emotional from a different perspective. On the physical level, we want to detoxify and clear the channels of the body. Then, we are testing and rebalancing hormones (often undiagnosed abnormalities that Western Medicine missed). And lastly, we work on the mental – energetic layers. In short, using a mind-body approach to conceiving and birthing a healthy child is essential — and can happen easily when you have a team of practitioners caring for you and your partner’s health and well-being.

Remember they say, “it takes a village to raise a child?”…. these days, I say, it takes a village to conceive and birth a child. Who’s making up your healing village?

By Dr. Aumatma

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Expanding In/fertility: Our Mission and Cole’s Story


The ART of Infertility’s mission is to break the silence around the experiences of infertility, offering art and storytelling as therapeutic heuristics to capture and express the realities, pains, and joys of the experiences of infertility. This project recognizes the diverse voices and perspectives that represent infertility — ranging from those in a heterosexual relationship who receive an infertility diagnosis upon trying to conceive, those who identify as single-mothers-by-choice and undergoing fertility treatment to become pregnant, even those who identify as LGBTQ and encounter many of the same infertility decisions. In this way, the project attempts to speak back to dominant perceptions and assumptions of who is infertile. Our goal in doing so is to broaden the public’s understandings of infertility, making the claim that infertility impacts far more than just the older heterosexual couple attempting to conceive.

We understand in articulating such a mission that we may offend some in the infertility community. Our intention in adopting such a mission is not to offend and create divisions amongst the infertility community. Instead, we aspire to bridge the multiple and diverse experiences of those who face decisions of infertility. We believe that by honoring these diverse stories we may build stronger bonds and greater awareness about the multiple faces, stories and realities of infertility. We look forward to fulfilling this mission and today we begin by sharing one of the unique and humbling stories of infertility that rarely get told.

Meet Cole, once Nicole. He has made the decision during his transition from Female to Male to preserve his eggs so that one day he too can have a family that he so desires. Read the text and play the audio clips below to learn about Cole’s journey.


We met Cole, a recent high school graduate, at his home in the San Francisco Bay Area where he was recovering from top surgery. Top surgery, in Cole’s case, involved a mastectomy and chest reconstruction and is a procedure he underwent as part of transitioning from female to male. From an early age, Cole knew he was transgender, even though he didn’t know to call it by that name. Here, he shares what the experience was like for him growing up, how he made the decision to transition, and how he shared the news with his family.


When first visiting the doctor, Cole was shocked by what they told him he’d have to do in order to transition. “They gave me some type of information that we ended up not going by that horrified me. It said I had to live like a man (for a certain period of time) and I didn’t really know what that meant, what it means, to live like a man. As I said, I feel like a man so I’m living how I feel like a man should live. Is there a certain way? Do I need a rule book to live this way?”

Cole worked with a number of physicians and counselors before it was finally time for him to begin testosterone injections to begin transitioning. On the day he was to self-administer the first injection, he was sitting in the doctor’s office when he was handed a brochure about fertility preservation.

The testosterone Cole was prescribed to transition from female to male would negatively impact his fertility. Undergoing fertility treatments and having his eggs retrieved before he started testosterone would give him the best chance of having a biological connection to his future children. This, in part, is why sharing his story is so important to Cole. He wants others to know it’s possible, so they might have the same chance he will. Cole took one look at the info given to him and passed it to his mom.

“I told my mom and, if it was something I wanted to do and I thought about it and considered it, she supported it. But, financially, there was a conversation about how we’d pay for it because transitioning costs a lot too. As far as the support, she said, ‘if this is what you really want to do, we’ll do our best to make it happen for you.'”

“I’ve always wanted to have kids so it was a no-brainer. I didn’t really know the whole process but I knew I wanted to do it. My mom did some research and we met up with Dr. Aimee.”

While Cole was excited about the opportunity to freeze his eggs for future use, he was frustrated by having to delay starting his testosterone shots and putting transitioning on hold. Still, he didn’t let it deter him. Here, Cole describes what the experience of undergoing fertility treatment, which includes transvaginal ultrasounds, and the egg retrieval was like for him.


Cole has an impressive collection of athletic shoes.

Cole has an impressive collection of athletic shoes.

Besides dealing with ultrasounds, there was another challenge in store for Cole. While taking medication to stimulate egg productions, physical exertion has to be limited because of the potential risk of ovarian torsion. For Cole, a former basketball player who has shifted gears to have more free time to work out and lift weights, the combination of surgeries he’s undergone recently have meant that exercise has been off limits for quite some time. He shared this with us.


With the egg retrieval behind him, it was time to start the transition from Nicole to Cole with his first testosterone shot.


Another reason Cole wanted to move away from playing basketball was to have more time to share his story.

“I think if I had anything to say is that the purpose of me sharing my story is not for me it’s for others. It’s to educate people about the infertility egg process and why people do it. Its also to educate people about what being transgender means. I do it to help people find themselves and not feel alone. To inspire people not only the LGBT community, but everybody to be themselves regardless of what society or anybody says. I’d rather take the hits about it than any other kid stressing about it.”

Cole has found a community with others, who are also in the process of transitioning, on Instagram. He’s had others ask him about his experience with fertility treatments.


“I don’t really want to live undercover or anything. Some people, when they transition, don’t tell anybody they are transgender. I wouldn’t want to do that because that’s who I am. You know, I want people to really know me and love me for me and not for somebody they think I am.”

“I wish everybody could just know so they could decide if they like me or not but I don’t really know how that’s going to work. It’s just kind of new. I’m just going to have to see when I get there I guess. The state I’m in right now, is just the beginning. Sometimes I’m he and sometimes I’m she. Sometimes I pass and sometimes I don’t, but after my top surgery I started to pass in public and a lot.”

While Cole rolls with the punches now, it hasn’t always been so easy. Along the way, he sometimes turned to art to help him process his emotions.


Cole created this piece during a free draw in his art class.

Cole shared his process in creating this image in his sketch pad.



It’s an exciting time of change for Cole and he’s looking forward to the future and, one day,  using the eggs that were retrieved this spring.


Thank you, Cole, for sharing your story!

Cole’s reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, has set up a Go Fund Me account to help Cole pay for the storage fees it will take to keep his eggs waiting until he’s ready to use them. If you’d like to contribute to the fund, you can click here.