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Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics [Paperback]

Julia Indichova
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 9 2001
A memoir of hope for the thousands of women struggling with infertility, from one who beat the odds by simply tuning in to her body and tapping her well of sheer determination.

At a time when more and more women are trying to get pregnant at increasingly advanced ages, fertility specialists and homeopathic researchers boast endless treatment options. But when Julia Indichova made the rounds of medical doctors and nontraditional healers, she was still unable to conceive a child. It was only when she forsook their financially and emotionally draining advice, turning inward instead, that she finally met with reproductive success. Inconceivable recounts this journey from hopeless diagnoses to elated motherhood.

Anyone who has faced infertility will relate to Julia’s desperate measures: acupuncture, unidentifiable black-and-white pellets, herb soup, foul-smelling fruit, even making love on red sheets. Five reproductive endocrinologists told her that there was no documented case of anyone in her hormonal condition getting pregnant, forcing her to finally embark on her own intuitive regimen. After eight caffeine-free, nutrient-rich, yoga-laden months, complemented by visualization exercises, Julia received amazing news; incredibly, she was pregnant. Nine months later she gave birth to a healthy girl.

Unlike the many infertility books that take a clinical “how to” approach, Inconceivable simply professes the wisdom of giving expert status back to the patient. Julia’s self-discovery, and her ability to see her body as an ally once again, yield a beautiful message about the importance of honoring the body’s innate powers, and the power of life itself.

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Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics + The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting             Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies + Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility
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About the Author

JULIA INDICHOVA is the founder of FertileHeart.com, one of the few independent fertility related advocacy groups with a global community of patients and healthcare providers. The website offers a wide range of support services such as studies, Guest Teacher Teleconferences, and ongoing fertility -support-circles for US residents as well as European and international participants. Indichova’s work and story have been featured on the The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Oxygen, and NPR’s 51%, as well as in in Natural Health, San Francisco Chornicle, People magazine, Health magazine, USA Weekend,  and other outlets.  Her second book The Fertile Female: How the Power of Longing for a Child Can Save Your Life and Change the World documents her original mind-body program The Fertile Heart™ Ovum Practice developed through a decade of and a half of counseling and research. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

Diagnosis

Oh, if there were in me one seed without rust . . .

--Czeslaw Milosz, The Song

I love teaching. After twenty years of working in the theater, I recently got a master's degree and was lucky enough to land a job teaching Russian and musical comedy in the hottest junior high school in Manhattan.

But Kathryn, our daughter's baby-sitter, has quit. Now Ellena wants to have nothing to do with any of the possible replacements. Except one. Me. She is only ten months old, and every time I leave the room her wailing reels me back in. There is only one thing to do: stay home until she becomes more comfortable with new people.

After a couple of weeks at home, I realize Kathryn's sudden departure was a gift. I would never have dared to choose full-time motherhood over work. Never found out how much I enjoyed the preciously unhurried hours with my daughter: cruising with the baby backpack through our morning errands, walking around the Columbia University campus just north of us, or savoring our raisin bagel in the nearby bakery. We live in a fifteen-story prewar building across from Riverside Park, and if I lean far enough out the kitchen window, I can see a patch of green. It's not unusual to meet up with a cluster of park-bound strollers in the lobby. Within a week, Ellena and I are part of a neighborhood play group. As long as we can manage financially, I will teach in the evenings and continue being a full-time mom. Thankfully, my husband, Ed, supports my decision.

There is an added bonus to all this. With no teaching schedule to consider, the second baby could come anytime. Let's see, if it arrived nine months from now, my two children would be only nineteen months apart. Lying in bed at night, I take a deep breath and imagine movement under the slope of my belly. I see myself lean against the weight of a double stroller and wonder whether it will fit through our front door.

Three months later, I'm still a full-time mom, now a part-time teacher of English to speakers of other languages at Hunter College. It seems Ellena's sibling is taking a little longer than we anticipated. I'm not really concerned. After all, the last time I got pregnant on the first try. Three months is not very long. But I'm forty-two. A consultation with my gynecologist might be in order.

"We should take an FSH test," suggests Dr. Y. "It's one of the first things we look at in women over forty." A week later I call for the results.

"Oh, yes," reports the nurse, "your numbers are fine, within normal range." A sigh of relief, a phone call to Ed, all is well. In a few days I call to schedule further testing. I am stunned to find out that, although the numbers are not "abnormal," all is not well.

"The follicle-stimulating hormone helps the follicles inside your ovaries to develop into eggs. If the level is--over 20--" Dr. Y pauses--"your ovaries are not working as well as they should be. With an FSH of 42 there is not much I can do for you. You'll need to see a fertility specialist."

I sleepwalk through the rest of the day. How could I have been so arrogant, ignoring my age? Did I think my biological clock had stopped ticking just because it took me so long to find the right man? We should have started trying sooner. And what is my problem? Why does this hurt so much when I already have the most wonderful daughter in the world? How dare I lament with all those childless couples out there? Yet I can't undo the feeling of despair. I know how much Ed wants to have another child and how much we would love Ellena to have a sibling. Dr. Y refers me to a specialist. That must mean a specialist can help.

Dr. N strikes the first blow.

"I'm sorry," says the receptionist. "Dr. N will not accept you as a patient. Your FSH is too high. He doesn't feel he could help you." A decent man, he is saving me money. Yet all I hear is that it's so bad, he doesn't even want to try.

"What happened? You look sick," says Ed as soon as he opens the door. Of course, he's shocked. Last week there was nothing in our way except a few months of practice until we got it right. My impulse for self-flagellation wins out once again: "If only we had started right after Ellena's birth. They say that's the most fertile time. We should've known!"

A line of fear cuts across his face, but he is enlightened, as always: "We couldn't have moved any faster, we were not ready. Everything will work out. Do you remember when we first held Ellena? How tiny she was? How easy it was to love her? We'll love this baby no matter where it comes from."

Ed is right. I mustn't for a moment forget how lucky I am. Ellena, Ellenka. Her name combines the names of her two grandmothers (Edita, Helen) for double protection. In return she carries sparks of them in her blue eyes, the color and texture of her sun-bathed hair. I must be there for her. I can't give in to the feeling of defeat that sneaks up on me when I least expect it.

My friend Lisa and I went to college together. Our relationship has gone through its ups and downs, but still my hand automatically dials her number in times of crisis. She and her husband, Gary, have been members of the infertility subculture for the past four years, having gone from specialist to specialist to finally adopting their son, Sam, three months ago.

"This is the worst part, when they tell you something's wrong. It gets easier after that," says Lisa.

On Lisa's recommendation I call Resolve, a national organization for people with infertility problems. They might have some new information. I'm hoping for a recent breakthrough in research, someone to discount the FSH alarmists.

I leave a message briefly describing my situation. The woman who returns my call, Shelly, is only thirty-seven. She has an FSH problem as well. Like me, she has one biological child, though she had trouble conceiving the first time. Our hormone levels create an instant bond.

"I know how you feel," Shelly says sympathetically. "Our doctor suggested IVF, but it's not an option for us. We can't go through it again. We're in the midst of the adoption process."

I ask her if she ever tried alternative treatments. "Like herbs? No, not really," she replies. "I guess you never know, do you?"

Across a haze of information, a list of doctors and IVF clinics, I hear a certain resignation, a weariness I fear might be contagious.

The complimentary Resolve newsletter arrives a few days later with an entire page filled with information on support groups. I am not ready to join one, but it's comforting to know they're there.

I'm surprised no one mentioned the effect of a high FSH on your environment. Seemingly overnight the entire Upper West Side of Manhattan swells into a giant, mocking belly. The playgrounds are invaded with mothers expecting their second or third child, or cradling newborns against their breasts. It seems almost daily there is joyous news of yet another one of Ellena's playmates becoming a big brother or sister. Each time the news feels like a humiliating betrayal to me.

Dr. C is at the top of Lisa's list of referrals. Getting an appointment is surprisingly easy. His office is on the street level of a lovely brownstone in Greenwich Village. Ed takes a late lunch hour to meet me for a two-thirty appointment. Finally, my first specialist.

A young woman with two screeching bundles is holding court in his waiting room. That's what I call a good omen. "They're Pergonal babies," she says to no one in particular. "We worked hard for them."

I imagine her gravely injecting her thigh while staring at a Gerber baby taped on her refrigerator door for inspiration. She walks out energized by her new motherhood and proceeds to load her car with the precious cargo.

Dr. C is an elegant, gray-haired man in his late fifties. On his desk sits a photograph of a beautiful woman holding twin girls. His daughters? Maybe his very first Pergonal twins? Nothing's sacred anymore.

Unaware of my silent indiscretion, Dr. C begins to take a brief medical history. He asks me about first menstruation, first pregnancy, Ellena's birth, and the regularity and duration of my ovulation cycles, all of which he finds satisfactory. Prior to this visit, Ed was asked to get a sperm count, and it's comforting to know we're not lacking in that department.

Dr. C looks at the lab report with my FSH. "Forty-two is high. Very high," he says, sounding concerned.

"Doesn't the number fluctuate? Couldn't it just drop on its own?"

"Of course it could, but the fact that it even once went up this high is discouraging. Ordinarily, I would recommend Pergonal. It's a fertility drug that helps you release more mature eggs. You could administer it to yourself by daily injections into your buttocks. Only, I don't think with these numbers it would do much good. I wouldn't want to give you any false hope. The prognosis is poor. In vitro fertilization is an option. Of course, you would have to get an egg donor.

"I still think we should run all the basic tests," he adds. "To make sure everything else is all right. And you'll need to have them if you elect to go the IVF route. One more thing: before we schedule the tests I'd like you to meet with our staff psychologist, Dr. R.

"Hope we can help," he says, shaking hands. Later I hear him repeat the phrase to another desperate, smiling couple.

Three weeks later, as we go through subsequent visits and discuss lab results and additional options over the phone, it becomes quite clear Dr. C has no idea who I am. Literally. I have a feeling he loses track of his patients in the maze of sonograms, biopsies, sperm counts, and referrals. Maybe he doesn't need to know me, as long as he knows his trade. As long as he updates my chart. Knows not to give me too much ...

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiration! Jan. 14 2004
By Penny
Format:Paperback
Far from adopting the attitude that "all infertility doctors are jerks and out to take their patients' money" as one reviewer asserts, Indichova sought alternatives when her doctors gave her no hope of conceiving with her own eggs. In conjunction with adopting a myriad of lifestyle, dietary and other changes, Indichova continued to periodically assess her medical condition with conventional Western doctors. In fact, if this reviewer had really read the book carefully, he/she would have remembered that Indichova had an appointment with yet another RE to discuss the viability of an ART procedure based her decreasing FSH levels on the day that she learned she had beat the odds and conceived her much-wanted second child!
Some of the reviewers seem to have a negative attitude about anything that doesn't fall within the strictures of conventional Western medicine and thereby assign the corrollary attitude (incorrectly!) to Indichova (that she is into "hocus pocus" and "wacko" stuff and disparages Western medicine (she does not).
I will agree with the reviewers who've noted that this may be a tough book to swallow for those infertility patients who are struggling with primary infertility *and* have never conceived any children. Indichova suffered secondary infertility, and until I emotionally reached the point where I desperately want a 2nd child (my first miracle baby was IVF 3 years ago), I too would have had little sympathy for someone in Indichova's position. My perspective now is definitely different, but women who've never conceived any children should be forewarned of Indichova's situation.
I've been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, and though my FSH numbers aren't high, I've been largely written off as a lost cause by Western medicine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You, Ms. Indichova!! Nov. 24 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As a 37 year old IF woman, with high FSH, I thought all was lost. Then I found this book. With an FSH of 25, and doctors all telling me that I could never have a child of my own without an egg donor, life looked very bleak to me. But upon reading this book, I decided to make some life changes. I gave up going out to lunch (and brown bagged it instead) and going to movies (nothing wrong with renting) to be able to do my acupuncture sessions. I also bought yoga tapes and guided imagery tapes, and started drinking wheatgrass. I did not do the vegetarian diet though. From 25, my FSH is now 9. While I will still go through with my IVF, I am going into it with absolute belief that it is finally going to happen for me.
When I received the results, I was overjoyed. And my doctors were shocked. They continued to test my FSH because they were sure it was an anomaly. They've been disappointed in seeing that my tests remain within a healthy range. I would encourage any and all who believe that in their body lies the key to fertility to at least give it a shot.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to learn here, if you suffer from IF Sept. 9 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I bought this book because it had been recommended to me by no fewer than a dozen women who also suffer from high FSH and a concomitant diagnosis of infertility. I was incredibly disappointed.
This is nothing more than the story of a woman who adopted the common mentality of "all IF doctors are jerks and don't want to help you" and embarked on a new age adventure in hocus pocus. Yes, some of the ideas in here are valid (healthy eating habits, working through depression with yoga and other exercise techniques), but there's no definitive lesson here for IF sufferers. Worse, it sends the message that all Western medicine is bad, and all Eastern medicine is good. And that the answers to IF can be found in your local Whole Foods market.
There's never any acknowledgment that a combination of approaches can be undertaken with success--leaving the impression that all Western medicine should be abandoned and that one should contact the local witch doctor (which this author did). That's bad advice, and unfortunately, too many women are taking it.
I'm glad Ms. Indichova got lucky and had her baby. It does give me hope. But I am not persuaded at all that her regimen is to be credited. Some women just beat the odds--and maybe that's what happened here. A simple nod to this possibility would have been appreciated.
That's not what we get. This book leads IF sufferers to believe that the answer lies in witch doctors, accupuncture, yoga, high colonics, wheatgrass shots, strange fruit concoctions, positive imagery, accupressure and daily visits to your local organic grocer--and ignorance of any and all Western treatments. Unfortunately, while those approaches may help a patient deal with the emotional, and some physical, aspects of IF, there's no evidence whatsoever that they work. Ms. Indichova does IF sufferers a disservice by not presenting a more balanced case.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I absolutely love this book! One of my all-time favorites (and I am an avid reader). This book provided me with strength, confidence and inspiration at a very difficult time in my life - at the age of 31, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure due to a high FSH reading and was told by my doctor that I would only be able to conceive, if at all, if I used an egg donor. Several other specialists in NYC re-affirmed this diagnosis. Then, I found Inconceivable. Not only is Julia Indichova an exceptional writer, but she was able to relay the exact feelings I was going through during this difficult time. I found her suggestions to improve your quality of life and health in a natural manner (via yoga, imagery, diet, etc. as opposed to taking medications) extremely helpful and liberating. Everything she said in her book completely appealed to me and I started working on improving my quality of life via the book's suggestions, despite what the doctors had told me. As of this date, I have lost count as to how many times I have read it - -every time I pick up the book I note new advice and tips. Several months after having first read her book and started taking steps to improve my quality of life, I found out that I was pregnant! I know that the lessons of Inconceivable were an invaluable tool that led me to my pregnancy. While Julia's story is also one of high FSH, anyone going through difficulty conceiving a child of their own will find this book immensely helpful. I cannot recommend it enough!!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
This well written, emotional book is loaded with wisdom. For couples who are struggling within a conventional medical system to get pregnant, this book gives hope. Read more
Published on June 30 2012 by Ann
1.0 out of 5 stars Helped me beat myself up more
First, let me say that I'm glad that the author had a success story.
But, let's face it. The reality is that not all of us will be so lucky. Read more
Published on July 9 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read!
I started reading this book as soon as it arrived and finished it in two days. I agree that diet, mind and exercise play a vital role in infertility. Read more
Published on June 27 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Skip it.....
This book is terrible. While she discusses some excellent topics like diet, relaxation and taking control of your own health, it's at a 50,000 foot level, there is no real factual... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2003 by Stuggling with IF in NC
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as helpful as I'd hoped
I agree with the other reviews that Julia's story is compelling and well-told. I expected to read an inspirational story that would be relevant to my situation (ttc 1+ yrs). Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally powerful!
As soon as I read this book, it changed my way of thinking. I found Julia Indichova's book by an extraordinary coincidence while I was walking through a bookstore in Boston. Read more
Published on July 11 2003 by A.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary and honest
This is a beautiful book. In a powerful and yet gentle way, it has changed my life. I read it in it entirety the evening I purchased it and have reread portions many times. Read more
Published on June 3 2003 by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional!!!!!!!!!!
Julia Indichova has written a book that is as much about empowerment as anything else. The fertility maze can be overwhelming, discouraging and terrifying. Read more
Published on May 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't try to deal with fertility issues w/o this book!
I am pregnant! 17 weeks. Via IVF. My second attempt. My first attempt after reading Inconceivable. Read more
Published on March 31 2003
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