A fertility expert and her patient reflect on the road to baby, and the empowerment they found along the way.
The following is the first in a series of posts from Angela Le, the founder of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness in NYC, co-written by one of her patients and WRNY contributor, Liz Pacheco.
Liz: Angela seemed to float into my life at just the moment I needed her. After month upon failed month of trying to conceive while temping, charting and using Ovulation Predictor Kits, I was determined to heal my body (and put a baby in my belly while doing it!). My husband and I didn’t feel ready for traditional fertility treatments and were seeking a more natural alternative.
When I finally found Angela, I was so nervous for that first appointment! I wondered if I would like her, if she would like me, or if she might find something terribly wrong with me. But she instantly put me at ease. I remember telling her that I was there with high hopes of getting pregnant but that above all, I wanted to be okay (okay with potential IVF, infertility, or anything that might come my way).
At that first appointment, we talked a lot about diet and Angela asked me to keep a food diary for the next week. I was confident that she would find me to be a healthy eater and that any food issues would be quick fixes for us. But instead she said my diet was filled with inflammatory foods, especially the carbs and sugars that were likely feeding the root of my fertility issue: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The journey to change my diet was one of the hardest things I've ever done but I was committed to giving it a go.
Angela: Liz came to me after she had been struggling to conceive for over a year. She was looking for an alternative to Clomid, a medication recommended to help induce ovulation in women with PCOS. After meeting Liz, it looked promising that I could help her ovulate, so we started by adjusting her diet. Part of my practice is using food as medicine and we soon discovered carbohydrates were exacerbating her PCOS. Liz struggled with the diet changes. It is never easy to let go when you are in the throes of something -- food addiction, fertility challenges, emotional stresses -- as a culture, we turn to comfort food to help ease what ails us. Liz worked through the challenges and came out on the other side. She started to feel balanced and at peace with where her fertility journey had taken her so far.
After Liz changed her diet, there was space created for the work that would lead to deeper healing. She started to feel the benefits of our sessions influence other areas of her life. We slowly added in meditation and similar exercises to promote mindfulness in order to nurture this new exploration. What happened next was life-changing.
Liz: It's hard to find words for what happened next without sounding like I just drank the KoolAid, but a transformation began to take place inside me. I started to recognize things about myself that I had never acknowledged before: my obsession with control and perfectionism, my relationships with family, friends (and food!) and the impact those things had on my physical body.
I look back on it as my summer of awakening with Angela as my cool big sister/guide through it all. Her down-to-earth approach offers the perfect mix of Eastern and Western medicine and makes her perfect for the job: during some appointments, we talked all about hormone levels, at others we discussed diet and supplements, and sometimes we talked about spirituality.
Most importantly, we forged a partnership along the way and I finally found myself at a point where I knew that I was going to be okay (but don't get me wrong, I was still anxiously awaiting a positive sign of pregnancy or even just ovulation!). Once I stripped away the rough foods and chemicals I was exposing myself to and calmed my racing mind, my body began to heal itself enough to be able to ovulate for the first time in months, maybe even years!
Angela: Empowerment is a huge part of the work I do with patients. Liz started to feel empowered through what had previously been a confusing and overwhelming fertility experience. As she became an active participant in her own health and wellbeing, Liz found herself looking at the bigger picture – questioning what would work best for her. She was looking inside of herself for answers and as a result began to take responsibility for her own health.
Liz: The spiritual journey that I embarked upon with Angela was one I never thought I needed. I have a supportive network of friends to lean on, great communication with my husband and a mostly blissful life in NYC. But I found that we all have emotional healing to do, especially when faced with a challenge like infertility. I’m not going to lie: the work I did with Angela was hard! There were lots of tears, bursts of anger and days filled with great disappointment when I didn’t see immediate results. But in the end, it was SO worth it! Yes, I ovulated (hurray!) but I was also able to forgive myself for my imperfections and to truly trust my intuition for the first time in a long time. A few doses of Clomid certainly couldn’t have achieved that.
Angela: Liz is a wonderful example of the powerful changes that can happen when a patient commits to their own healing process. Yes, there are often quick fixes for many conditions, but why not get to the root of the deeper issue? There is a real opportunity in infertility, and Liz seized it. She reconnected with herself and experienced profound physical and emotional healing, using her fertility struggles as a catalyst. For me, the biggest joy comes from Liz got pregnant on her own terms, while following and trusting her intuition – leading to results that will last a lifetime.
We’re happy to report that Liz is currently six months pregnant with her first baby! Although she says that her pregnancy hasn’t been a cakewalk, her continued work with Angela has kept her healthy and prepared for all that’s to come.