By: Garrett Wood Kusmierz

I never imagined I’d have trouble getting pregnant. My mom joked about looking at my dad and getting pregnant, and in 2020, it pretty much happened to me when we conceived our son.

Our second fertility journey?

An twenty-month (and counting) experience that has tested the mindset coach within me and has led to almost every holistic lab test possible. From drinking water to sleep hygiene, no stone has been left unturned.

At nine months postpartum, I stopped breastfeeding and began “not not trying” to conceive. At one year postpartum, I began testing for ovulation. To my delight, I was ovulating and having regular cycles.

This began the “Steps Before IVF” journey.

Step 1: Denial

After ten months of trying, I chalked it up to a higher purpose. A cosmic perspective kept me sane. “We’ve been busy” was my tagline as I went from wedding to wedding, trip to trip. Having a regular period meant nothing was “wrong.”

Step 2: Confronting my health and myself 

This was my DIY moment. “I can figure this out,” I thought. After ten denial-ridden months of “ignorance is bliss,” I was compelled to take an honest look at my health.

For three months, I took copious notes of my body, mood and energy. From irregular bowel movements to nausea (which often duped me into thinking I was pregnant) to night-sweats during my period, there were yellow flags. I resolved to “research” answers on the internet, hoping things would change. In hindsight, I should’ve just gone straight to an expert, but I know I needed to acknowledge these health woes myself.

I asked myself hard questions like “How is my marriage?” “Do I really want another baby?” “Am I ‘mom’ enough to?” Just asking the questions was cathartic and a cornerstone moment of the fertility journey for me.

From there, my focus was to stay positive. I looked for signs and synchronicities everywhere. I even met with a spirit baby whisperer!

Step 3: Hiring a functional medicine expert

Diarrhea combined with nausea and night sweats, something had to give! Paying out-of-pocket, I surrendered to holistic tests I hadn’t done since 2017 to heal my leaky gut.

The first labs were a hair and mineral test to ensure I’d replenished post-baby, plus a stool test for microbial imbalances. Unfortunately, my OBGYN wouldn’t run six of ten blood panels from my functional practitioner because they were “out of scope” and my primary care doctor refused because I was “young and healthy.” I put my self-advocacy hat on, even meeting with the manager of the practice, to no avail. After Rupa Health did them, the results caught the attention of my new primary care doctor. (Reminder—trust your gut! My doctor did not consider 14 months of infertility a red flag to my health).

The findings—Hashimoto’s. I had elevated thyroid antibodies. This felt like a blow, but also validating. There was something to point to!

Two days after diagnosis, I recorded a podcast with Hashimoto's expert, Dr. Anshul Gupta of Cleveland Clinic. He outlined five reasons behind Hashimoto’s—stress, toxins in water, mold in your environment, co-infections, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

We had our well water quality checked by three sources—it was pristine. My practitioner had a hunch—is there mold in our home?

Mycotox urine analysis confirmed there were mold colonies in my body, but a mold expert found none in our home. I resolved to reduce foods that can have the most mold (peanuts, coffee, corn-based products, breads) and get on a detox plan.

Step 4: Integrating the findings—supplements, sauna and sex

One of the biggest threats to anyone’s health is stress. The elephant in the room was my stress level as an early stage founder—and luckily I had practices to manage it. Yet, taking gut, liver and thyroid healing supplements, in addition to cleaning up my diet, while rerouting my high-intensity exercise was inherently stressful at first. I couldn’t help but feel like I already had this new little soul in my life—they were changing my daily routine almost as much as a newborn does!

I had to walk a fine line to not fall victim to my health. I had to fortify my mindset to “I’m optimizing” versus “I’m unwell.”

Infrared sauna sessions are also helpful for lymph drainage and detoxing from mold, so I drove to one nearby and did at-home drainage massages on myself. Amid the protocols, the home inspections, the lymph drainage, and the diet changes, sex was still a priority. I needed to try to keep a fun and joyful attitude towards it. We didn’t want to wait until I was “healthy,” but rather trust that it would happen when it was supposed to on my journey to health. 

Amidst all of my testing, my husband wanted to make sure he was in peak condition. He was 50% of the equation, after all. Through Posterity Health’s at-home sperm-testing, his results led to speaking with an endocrinologist and further testing, which luckily ended in a clean bill of health.

Steph 5: IVF for Anatomy Tests

The only stones we hadn’t turned were anatomical ones. Gratefully, I have eggs and a healthy uterus.

This little soul, whether a prince or princess in a past life, has single-handedly reorganized our lives in ways we could have never imagined. From inspecting our house three times over to find that we need better air quality to adjusting our water to what tastes like fresh spring water from the alps, to getting my husband and I on an even better diet to antioxidant supplements and more, this little one is a great orchestrator whom we can’t wait to meet—whether or not they come to us naturally or through IVF. 

Having had a healthy son, I truly didn’t resonate with the word “infertility” before my journey—and I still don’t. What I’m learning is that there’s a lot to learn and a lot that still doesn’t make sense. I’m grateful that our process thus far has brought us to better health and awareness and that I’m no longer sitting in polarity with IVF. I’m privileged to move through it, if that should be what we choose.

If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed by the cost of IVF, check out Fertility Dreams Foundation.

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