“After that fifth failed IVF cycle, I realised I had to do something different.”
Students find Vedic Meditation at different times and for different reasons. For Anita Whittingham, she was navigating infertility and the prospect of never fulfilling her dream of becoming a mother. This is his BMC story.
I started meditating at end of September 2014, after my last failed IVF cycle. We went down to Melbourne to watch the Swans, they got dominated so that added to the depression. I was emailing Matt that weekend to attend his intro talk, but it was on a Monday night. That’s when my flight got in from Melbourne, but I made it in time. Actually, on the plane on the way home, I was reading The Beast and there was an article on Matt in there. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m on my way right now to see him.’
I got off the plane and went straight to see Matt. I signed up and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I did the course. I committed to meditating twice a day and in my second month of meditating, I got pregnant naturally. This was after five failed IVF cycles, four years of trying and a miscarriage.
An embryo is a life, and it’s a lost life. Every failed IVF cycle was a loss. And the first failed IVF cycle was actually harder than my miscarriage because I had kind of done this whole three-month preparation like no alcohol, no sugar, no fun. When that didn’t work, I was like, ‘But I did everything.’
I was too busy to go and see Matt. I was too busy to meditate twice a day. I was just too busy for it. I couldn’t fit it in with everything else.
That was really devastating and we were unsure if we wanted to continue or not. It was mixed emotions. . . just feeling defeated but then also thinking, you know, something needed to change. I needed to do something different, and I had my sister telling me to do meditation for like, that whole year, and I’d been given Matt’s number from my nutritionist a few months before.
I was too busy to go and see Matt. I was too busy to meditate twice a day. I was just too busy for it. I couldn’t fit it in with everything else. And then yeah, after that fifth failed IVF cycle, I realised I had to do something different. The whole path to having my baby, you know, I was willing to do anything.
I tried everything. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, all the different ovulation tracking. . . everything. But I hadn’t tried meditation yet, so I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ll try this.’ And we decided that we would keep trying and keep persevering to have a baby, but we weren’t going to do another IVF cycle. So we were going to have a break from IVF for the rest of that year, and we were going try again in the New Year.
In January during that break, I was just going to focus on meditation, myself, surfing, and having fun. And then that was it. . . it happened naturally.
Even though I didn’t really feel any different, there was one time I was sitting on my couch meditating and I thought I’d fallen asleep, but I saw a light. And then I remember going surfing with my friend and telling her and she was like, ‘What?’ And didn’t really think anything of it and then, later, I found out I was pregnant. Meditation can reduce stress, and I’ve been looking into our stress hormones that are created by our adrenal glands and how they’re linked to our sex hormones. Progesterone is made by the adrenal glands in the top half of our cycle, but if there’s too much cortisone and adrenaline then it won’t make progesterone because our body thinks it is in danger and there’s not enough food – which is historically what adrenaline and cortisol used to tell our bodies.
I didn’t know this back then. It so frustrating because everyone says, ‘Stop stressing it will happen’ and it’s just like, ‘Fuck off!’
But looking back on it now, [stress] is the only thing I can think of. There’s research on meditation and how it rewires our brain and decreases our stress hormones.
Every single test I had was always normal there was nothing wrong with me or my husband. We had what was called “unexplained infertility”, and I guess the fertility tests aren’t as good as they could be. Well, they’re as good as where they’re at. But that’s the diagnosis given because they don’t know.
You’ve got to set your intention and then trust and surrender that the universe will deliver when the timing is right.
I was really frustrated not knowing what was wrong. Why couldn’t I get pregnant? But looking back on it now, with everything that I know, I think it was the stress of just trying to be so controlling. You know, just trying to plan when I’d get pregnant, when I was due, when I would stop work. All of that. Whereas when I just stopped. . . I let go. You can’t be so controlling. You’ve got to set your intention and then trust and surrender that the universe will deliver when the timing is right. It will surprise you in a way you can never never know. Which is what happened to me.
I was a high school math teacher back then. I was busy that with Saturday sport, two training sessions a week, as well as trying to be fit at the gym and all of that. There was just too much. And then I think it was just the stress of trying to get pregnant. Thinking that I was getting older and I didn’t want to be as old as my mum when she was pregnant.
So I guess I just felt the pressure and the stress of the clock ticking and that added to the stress.
All of that combined with the stress of IVF, because I had to get over my fear of needles, which I just had to do because I was willing to do anything to have the baby. And then all of the IVF appointments. . . Trying to do the logistics before work, having the blood tests or the general ultrasound and then getting back to work in time, not wanting to have to take sick days and all of that. I had to take a sick day for embryo transfer and egg collection, but other than that not a lot of people at work knew and that kind of adds to the stress.
You want to keep up appearances. I also worked in a Catholic school and I was brought up Catholic as well, and so there were also those subconscious beliefs about how the Bible says you’re supposed to get pregnant naturally. It doesn’t say anything about assisted reproductive technologies.
I’m not as consistent [with meditating] as I was when I first started. Now it’s the morning meditation. I put my alarm on for 6 a.m. and I sit up and move to my daughter’s bed (she’s now in our bed and so I do my meditation in hers), and then the afternoon one I only sometimes do it.
When it comes to the cost, everything is compared to the price of an IVF cycle and it’s cheaper than IVF! It’s so worth it and if we got to the next IVF cycle, I’d still be doing it because I’d want to maximise the chances of that IVF cycle working.
Nothing changes unless you change something, so you’ve got to change your thoughts and emotions in order to create a new personality – to create a new personal reality – and meditation is something so simple anyone can incorporate it into their life.
Neuroscience has caught up to what’s been taught for centuries. It’s not all just guru spirituality anymore. It’s backed by science.