Ep 85: Finding a New, Creative Approach to Fertility with Jasmine Katatikarn

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We have a really interesting story this week about fertility, perseverance, and creative thinking. Our guest is a great example of someone who took control of their fertility journey and advocated for herself through a long and difficult process. Whether you are on your own fertility journey or not, I think you will be inspired by Jasmine's story and her approach to starting a family.

Jasmine Katatikarn is an artist, wife and mom of two based in New York City. She also helps other women discover and use an artist’s mindset to uncover multiple paths to happiness on their fertility journeys.

Jasmine and I talk about her fertility journey and why it took six years to get pregnant with her first baby. She shares the ups and downs of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and what she and her husband went through emotionally during the process. Jasmine also describes the moment she decided to apply her designer's mind to her fertility journey and how this helped her turn a corner emotionally and physically. 

She also talks about why she kept her struggles almost completely secret and what convinced her to tell her story and help other parents. This is such a wonderful and uplifting story - I think you all will love it!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why Jasmine thought she would get pregnant quickly when she started trying at 30
  • How IUI went and why she and her husband then decided to pursue IVF
  • What Jasmine felt when she was told she had poor egg quality and a less than 1% chance of having a baby
  • Why she decided to pursue acupuncture and how it fit into the rest of her fertility journey
  • How Jasmine realized that she needed to use her creative thinking and artist's mindset to explore new options in her fertility journey
  • How she advocated for herself in the face of doctors and other providers who weren't supportive of her wishes to keep trying
  • Why Jasmine realized she needed to share her story and help other people going through fertility struggles

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Nicole: On today's episode of the podcast, we have artists, Jasmine Katatikarn sharing all about her fertility journey. Welcome to the all about pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Callaway Rankins a practicing board certified OB GYN. Who's had the privilege of helping hundreds of moms bring their babies into this world. I'm here to help you be knowledgeable, prepared, competent, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer @ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

Nicole: Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 85. Thank you for being here with me today. So on this episode of the podcast, we have Jasmine Katatikarn, Jasmine calls herself a fertility warrior. She struggled to have a child for six years after multiple intrauterine inseminations, as well as her second IVF attempt that's in vitro fertilization. She was told that she had less than a 1% chance of having a baby and basically to stop trying, however, Jasmine chose a different path using her background as an artist, she applied an artist mindset to overcome her roadblocks and design a life that gave her control of her fertility journey, as well as her life moving forward. As a result, she became pregnant within months of being told that she had that less than 1% chance. And today Jasmine and her husband now have two children, both through IVF. I was really intrigued by Jasmine's story in her perspective. And in this conversation, we take a deep dive into her fertility journey, including how she initially didn't really share what she was going through and how that played out during her journey and how that also influences her current work. We talk about how she approached fertility with an artist perspective. I was really curious to hear what that meant, and then her freedom method, which is how she uses her designer point of view and tools in order to show you how to find control in your own fertility journey as always, this is a great conversation. I know you will enjoy it. Lots of useful information, whether you're struggling with fertility or not. Now, before we get into the episode, let me do a quick listener shot out. This one is to Tanya_Lamb, and the title of the review says, "Thank You". And this one is a little bit different, so let's go ahead and hear it. And the review says, "I found your podcast because I was interested in learning about getting pregnant at 40 something in childbirth. I like your podcast thus far. I listened to the episode with Dr. Cindy Duke, and it got me a little scared because I couldn't afford to freeze my eggs and I want to have children. I'm trying to get my spouse on board since I am in my forties, but it is challenging any advice to help me stay positive and not increase my anxiety about getting older"? Well, Tanya, thank you so much for leaving that kind of review. And I hear you. It can definitely be a struggle making these decisions and choices and you're right. Fertility is more challenging as you get to be older and definitely over 40. The reason that I wanted to mention this review is because Jasmine dropped a lovely surprise offer in the episode for my listeners who are struggling with fertility, where she is offering a free phone call in order to help you work through some of these issues and think about how you are approaching your own fertility. So she talks about that at the end of the episode. So you definitely want to wait and listen to hear how to do that, but thank you again, Tanya, for that lovely review, hang in there. I know it's hard. You will be able to come to a resolution about something that works best for you. Okay. Without further ado, let's get into the episode with Jasmine.

Nicole: Thank you. You so much, Jasmine, for agreeing to come onto the podcast, you have a really interesting story and approach towards fertility. So I'm super excited to have you on.

Jasmine: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Nicole. I'm very excited to be on today.

Nicole: Yeah. So why don't we start off by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, your work and your family. If you'd like.

Jasmine: Yeah. I live in New York City where I live with my husband and my two kids. I have a four year old daughter and a two year old son. I work my day job is a senior lighting artist on feature animated films. So if you've seen movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand Rio, Spies in Disguise, Peanuts, if you wait until the very end where all you see credits of, you know, hundreds of people, you can find my name in those credits.

Nicole: That is really cool.

Jasmine: Oh yeah. I enjoy it. It's creative and technical.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. So why don't we hop right in and have you start off just telling us about your fertility journey.

Jasmine: Yes. I'd be happy to share that. Um, I'll start off saying it's a long journey. It was nearly six years of trying and I started, I had, you know, this kind of plan in my mind that I honestly did not really think about it. It was the plan that was kind of given to me as a young child. I'm that kind of perfect life plan where, you know, you study hard, you go to college, you get a good career, you get married, you have 2.5 kids moved to the suburbs really hard and then retire at 65. Right. Right. I think a lot of people are familiar with that. And that's, that's what I was fed when I was younger. And honestly, I didn't question it that much. I just kind of was going along that path blindly in a way. And um, for better or worse, I was checking off the boxes. Right. I went to a good school. I had a good career. I, um, got married and it was when, the point where I was to have, you know, those 2.5 kids is when I hit, hit the hiccup. And I started at age 30 trying to conceive. And my, my master plan was to have three kids. By the time I was 35, I remember thinking like, Oh, it's going to be so easy. Right. Just five years, three kids. I was so naive. And I started the first month, you know, nothing happened. Of course. And I still remember joking with my husband. I was like, Oh my God, I can't believe I'm not pregnant. You know?

Nicole: Amazing. Like when you think back, it sounds so ridiculous. But in the moment it's like, what is going on?

Jasmine: Exactly. Well it's cause you definitely know until you start trying. Right. And then when you start trying and all, all my only references were really, because I didn't have that many friends. I didn't have friends that I knew had problems conceiving or no one told me about it. And the only references I had were, you know, not to say, I believe the movies, but you just hear stories of like people getting pregnant by accident. So it was, I mean, I didn't really expect to get pregnant the first month, but yeah. Part of me was, I was just like, Oh, you know, it should be easy that this is what my body's meant to do. Right. And you know, that first month turned into three turns into six and eventually a year. And, um, we, I was not, did not get pregnant. And you know, at this point I was definitely starting to get concerned and we went to see the doctor and my, my OB GYN said, you know, you should go see a specialist. And we went to see a specialist and got all the tests that, you know, both sides, me and my husband and nothing came out that seemed like it was a problem, which seems like a good thing. Um, but at the same time, there was obviously something that was up the doctor said, you know, nothing, nothing looks wrong, but you know, it's been a year. So maybe something is going on that we're not seeing. So at this point I got diagnosed unexplained infertility.

Nicole: Right. Right. Which like you said, it can be, you know, you're happy to know that nothing's wrong, but at the same time, you're like, well, if nothing's wrong, then why am I not pregnant?

Jasmine: Exactly. And part of me was kind of thinking like, well, if I knew what the obstacle was, it'd be, you know, something to focus on fixing.

Nicole: Right.

Jasmine: But when you don't know what the obstacle is and everything seems fine, then you're kind of left, lost. At least that's how I felt. And then you like, you're shooting in the dark. Cause you're trying everything because there's nothing that you don't, you don't know how to target your energy. And that's exactly where I was at this stage. And we started doing IUI, which I'm not sure if your listeners are familiar with,

Nicole: So that's intrauterine insemination guys where you basically put sperm inside the uterus.

Jasmine: Yeah. I always joke. It's like the medical turkey baseder.

Nicole: Exactly.

Jasmine: I was like, that's a good way to think about it. So we did that multiple times and with no luck and, um, we probably did it around four times until the doctor said, you know, maybe still, uh, they did not know it was going on. I still unexplained. But they said, maybe you should start looking into IVF because nothing's happening. So maybe you should look into IVF because you know, something's going on and the IUI's aren't working and at this point, time goes, it's so funny. Fertility, like time goes by really slowly. But at the same time, it goes by really quickly as you're doing all these cycles and you take breaks in between. So another, um, I believe like a year, almost two years have gone by at this point. And at this point I'm exhausted and not only with the IUI, but I've been in the Google black hole too, you know, trying to do everything that I can to get pregnant. And I, and we said, okay, it's time to, I was ready. I was ready to do IVF. But at this point in the journey, this is where I started learning a little bit more that, you know, it doesn't only depend on the doctors, but on the labs, especially when you're doing something like IVF, where it's fits the technology and the resources that also matter. And the only reason I, I became aware of this, cause my father's a doctor and I, I asked him about it and he's actually the only one I spoke to, or even told that we were having fertility issues.

Nicole: Wow.

Jasmine: Out of all these years, I kept it to myself. I didn't even tell my sister not.

Nicole: Wow.

Jasmine: Yeah. I, I was just really, um, like looking back at it on it. I was just, I was ashamed a little bit. I was just, it was something my body was meant to do and it wasn't working and I didn't want to share it and I kept it all inside. And that, that also made the, these beginning years, like really difficult. And I didn't realize that of course.

Nicole: Right.

Jasmine: Um, but so this is when we actually changed clinics. Cause um, my father was like, well, if you're going to do IVF, I go with like one of the larger, more established clinics, um, that have like bigger labs and whatnot. So we did actually change clinics at this point. And at the new clinic, uh, the doctor said, I still remember meeting with him. I think we're probably 30. I was 33 at this point. And he said, you know, he was like super optimistic. He's like, you're young, you're healthy. I had, he like basically guaranteed that I'd be able to get pregnant through IVF. I know they can't guarantee, but he was like super optimistic. I remember being like really excited about it. But before we were able to do that, we actually did some more IUI's at this clinic partially because they wanted to see if an IUI would work since it didn't seem like there is any problem with, you know, my tests and whatnot. And also it was partially insurance because once the insurance wanted to see a number of IUI's before they would even think about, you know, covering an IVF cycle.

Nicole: Oh well, that's great that your insurance even covered some of the IVF.

Jasmine: Yeah, that's true. I am very grateful for that because that is a huge factor in fertility is the finances. So we did even more IUI and I've lost count at this point of how many I did. I probably did seven or eight and none of the IUI's took, and this is nearing, you know, four years never. I feel I had never even gotten a positive pregnancy test. It was, I felt like I was never even close. And finally it was time to do IVF. And I was like, okay, this is the moment, you know, everyone gets pregnant even like, I didn't really think that, but you know, after yeah. It's like, okay, now if I do IVF, that's it, that's it I'll be like, I'll be able to get pregnant.

Nicole: Right. Plus you have this doctor who's so optimistic. Yeah.

Jasmine: Yeah. And like, so we did the, we in our first cycle of IVF, we, you know, everything went pretty. Normally the one thing that I did find out is that I just don't respond that well. Like I don't produce that many eggs. So the most I got were around like 10. So I think that's what I got that cycle. And so they retrieved, um, around 10 and I believe like six of them fertilized and we were scheduled for day five, fresh transfer. And I still remember being so excited. Like it was the closest in all these years that I finally got a chance to, you know, feel like I was, I might be, get pregnant. I might get pregnant I mean, I, I had hoped in the past like IUI, but there's just so many. And this is like the most work we've done too with all the meds and you know, everything that goes into an IVF cycle. And I still remember I was out out the door the morning of the day five transfer, and the phone rang and I picked it up and it was a nurse from the clinic. And she said, your appointment's been canceled. Your transfer has been canceled. And I was so confused. I was like, what do you mean this is, this is my day. This is getting the transfer. And she said, well, we checked this morning and none of them made it.

Nicole: Oh my gosh.

Jasmine: And I didn't even realize that was a possibility, to be honest with you. Cause I was like, Oh, they fertilize. Yeah. I know like the hardest choice I'll make today was how many to transfer, you know? And it was devastating because well, one, you know, like anything in any cycle in fertility, you, every, every cycle I feel like it's like, your, your hopes are so high. Right? It's like, this could be the one, you know, that's going to work. And, but also like with the IVF, it was so hard because I had gone through so much. I had gone through the whole IVF cycle, you know, with the needle, the, the meds, the appointments, the surgical retrieval. And I didn't even make it to transfer. I felt like I did all this work and I didn't even get to like play in the game, you know? So the next day I went to the doctor's office and she said, she sat us down. And she said, well, I think I have a new diagnosis for you. And she, um, and then she said, I think it's poor egg quality. And at first I was actually like a little bit happy about it. Cause I was like, finally, there's something that I could target. I could figure out how to fix. And my next question was, well, how, okay, so how do I improve egg quality? Right. And her response was, well, you can't, you can't improve egg quality. And um, I remember just, I kept pushing her. I was like, there's got to be a way that you're telling me there's no way to improve it. And then finally, and then she like kind of hesitantly. I was like, well, some people say acupuncture can help with egg quality. And I took that information and I ran, she could have said anything and I would have, you know, you know, and um, she'd be like, give me a million dollars and I'll get it.

Nicole: Like stand on your head every night and you know, you'll do it right.

Jasmine: It's like, definitely. And so that very, I remember leaving, I got a suggestion for a fertility acupuncturist. I was, I was on the phone before I even left that office making an appointment. And the very next day I met with, um, a fertility acupuncturist Ann Jolie and she was awesome. And that was also the first time. And this is almost five years and it was my first time talking to someone out loud.

Nicole: Wow.

Jasmine: I know. And I say it now, I can't believe I bottled it in for so long. And I kind of joked with her later that she was like 80% therapists kind of, for me and like 20% acupuncture because it was such a nice release to like finally talk to someone. And we, like, she put me on a three month kind of detox of my body, um, to prepare me for the next IVF and with regular acupuncture, um, and changed my diet and everything like that. And it was actually the first time that I took time for myself and I allowed myself to just slow down and be okay about slowing down.

Nicole: And do you feel like, did you, I mean, I feel like we don't do a good job in quote unquote traditional Western medicine of kind of recognizing how some of those things work together. I mean, I'm glad that she suggested a acupuncturist, but was this sort of the first time of a suggestion of some other things or approaches or things that could be done?

Jasmine: Yeah, I agree. Um, yeah, it was the first time and, and I'm glad that you suggested to, I had to push her on it. She, wasn't going to suggest anything to be honest with you. And I do agree in speaking to people in their journeys now it is true. Like I have full respect for doctors. My, my father is a doctor, but at the same time, it's so great to get different perspectives. Um, because honestly my experience from, you know, Western medicine doctors, if you ask them about things like diet and, you know, it was just stress levels and stuff, they do tend to dismiss it. They tend to be like, no, and they kind of shoot out the probabilities of things, right? This is the probability of this. This is the probability of that. And I totally get that. It's a very data scientific based field where, you know, when you go towards like someone that's more holistic, then they'll kind of put that into play too, which is a nice combination to get both sides.

Nicole: Sure. Absolutely. Something that we do not do well enough and we needed to do more of cause it works. That's is the other thing, like it can actually work.

Jasmine: Yeah. And I definitely, yeah. And it's, it helped me so much in my journey. And so I did all this, um, this war kind of on the holistic side of things. And I was, so I was ready for my second IVF cycle and I went in nervous to be honest with you because of what happened the first time. And we, we essentially did the same protocol and it was almost too much like the first time, right. It's like, okay, you know, I retreat, I retrieve maybe like one less egg, like nine eggs. And then about five fertilized, again, just like dejavu. I had my day five fresh transfer I'm scheduled on the books. And the difference this time is I was in the acupuncturist office, the morning of my transfer it's to do an appointment, you know, to get my body or her for the transfer. And I was so nervous that whole morning. And when I finished my appointment, my acupuncturist came in and I saw the look on her face and she knew what happened the first time obviously. And she, and I knew when I saw her face and she said they called it's been canceled. And I was, I mean, the journey is so hard on, you know, so many reasons, but it's like these moments of like hope and then complete deflation, like devistation. And I was working so hard and that's the other thing, right? The thing about fertility, it's like, there's no guarantee it doesn't like, doesn't matter what you're doing. There's no, there's no a hundred percent guarantee. It's like, if you work and I think this is, what's so hard for me is like, when, you know, like I was taught like work hard, you'll get where you want to be, or you'll get, you know, just work hard. And with fertility, it's just, it's not that way all the time. So after finding out, I saw this, this is the moment I remember so well is my husband and I were walking back home across the park and I was crying. I was so upset. And part of, part of what was eating up inside me at this time too, was the guilt, the guilt that I was, I was the barrier of my husband becoming a father because at this point it was, you know, poor egg quality, it was my physical, you know, obstacle here. And, and it was one of those things where like, I didn't know when you meet someone and you know, they're meant to do something or they're be great at this. Like when I met my husband, even though we met when we were really young, that was just like, he would be an amazing dad. He's like meant to be a dad. Right, right. He's way more fraternal than I am. And I just, I like could not, I couldn't be the person to stop him from, you know, realizing that path for himself. And I told him, as we were walking back, I was like, you know, you know, this is I'm five years into it. And I was like, if we, if this doesn't work, I need you to go. I need you to like find someone else and have a family because I just, I can't, I can't live with that. You know, I think, and then I said, I was like, I'll be fine, but I just want you to be a dad. And I still get emotional thinking about this moment.

Nicole: Absolutely.

Jasmine: And, um, of course he said, no, right away, he said like, we're going to figure this out. And, and you know, we, we spent the, you know, the rest of that day together and talking it through and it was a hard day. And then, but by the evening and the next morning I had like pumped myself back up. I was like, okay, we're going to do this, you know, figure this out. And it's like, what you do these like roller coaster, emotional roller coaster, fertility. It's like, you, you just get horrible news. And then you have to pick yourself back up because it's a new cycle. It's a new chance, you know, to try. And so we went to the doctor's office again, then that next morning, and I was already for, you know, the next step or like, okay, what should we try next? And she sat us down and she started almost immediately talking about egg donors and adoption. And I was really surprised. I was like, wait, wait, can I not, can we not try another cycle with my own eggs? And she said, I wouldn't recommend doing another cycle with your own eggs. And I kept pushing her. And I said, well, you know, I still feel good. I still feel healthy. I'm young, you know? And she, and then she said, I give you less than 1% chance of having a child. That's hard. Right. It's like, that is really hard with women. We talk about probabilities all the time and fertility, and I feel like, you know, you're, you're always weighing, it's like, this is 12% chance of success, 22%. But then like hearing less than 1% chance was just devastating. And at this point it's like,

Nicole: Less than 1% , was she really wanted to say was there was there was no chance.

Nicole: Exactly. Yeah, that's exactly what I thought too. I was like a nice way of saying no chance. And here I was. And at this point I was 35 years old. And instead of, you know, three kids at 35, which was my, you know, master plan, it was sitting in this office being told I have less than a 1% chance of having my own child after five years of trying. Yeah. And just, I went numb and she just kept talking about egg donors to me and adoption, like two things. I just, I wasn't ready to hear it. Right.

Nicole: I was getting ready to say like, like it probably was just like, why, why are you talking right now? Like, this is just a lot.

Jasmine: Exactly. And, um, we left the, we left that appointment and we left it with her saying, she said, well, if you ever, if you want to do egg donors, then come back to me. And essentially, if not good luck, I was like, okay, well, um, I thought, I thought the previous day was like a very low point in my journey

Nicole: And it gets even low. I looks like, I mean, it's like, you can't even see that comment. Like how could it get even lower? And yes.

Jasmine: Exactly. I was like, I, I still was in shock and, and that morning we, the crazy thing is like me and my husband like hugged each other. I still remember outside of the building. We like hug each other. And we said, okay, let's talk about it tonight further. And then we just both went off to work. It's crazy. That's like part of fertility too. It's all done in secret. Like, no one knows I'm going through this. I can't just go into work. I mean, I, like, I can't go into work and be like, I was just told. Right, right. Exactly. Like, no, I have to pretend like nothing happened and you know, the days just any other day and put on a happy face and that's exactly what I did. And as I was working, I was trying to kind of occupy myself through my work. And I honestly did not know what to do immediately. I just was like, it would have been so easy to stop at that point.

Nicole: Yes. I mean, yeah.

Jasmine: I was exhausted five years of trying a professional. A doctor just told me to stop trying

Nicole: Sure. Exhausted physically exhausted mentally.

Jasmine: Exactly. And, and I felt like I had tried so much, I tried worked so hard and nothing was working. And then as I was, um, working on something at work where I work as a lighting artist on animated films and it's a very creative but technical, um, job, I was kind of troubleshooting a problem that I had, which I do almost every day. And it occurred to me. This is when I had my like aha moment.

Nicole: Yes. And so this is the, I'm so anxious to hear this, because you said that you, this is how you started approaching it through the eyes of an artist. So I'm just so curious to hear.

Jasmine: Yes. So the eyes of an artist, so it means one, it doesn't mean you have to be an artist to do this. It's just the way it's a, it's a way of creative problem solving. So I realized as I was kind of tackling this problem at work, in the way that I've done for decades, which is essentially, you know, stepping back, looking at the problem, getting multiple perspectives on it and thinking about it in different ways. And then also, and then brainstorming several solutions to the problem. Not only one and then ultimately deciding to try to start testing it out. And then you test it's all about testing and iterating, right? So you start somewhere. If that, that doesn't work, then maybe you adjust it slightly. Or you go to one of your other solutions that you kind of brainstormed earlier. And then I realized what I was doing in my fertility journey. My own personal life was like completely opposite. I really never stopped to like, take it all, like look at it in the bigger picture, make sure I was going in the right direction. First of all, I just kind of went, I'm like, Oh, I went to the clinic that my OB GYN said to go to. I went there, blindly went, met with one doctor that's it just followed exactly what that doctor said. Then I went to another clinic, did the same thing and I never stopped to think like, you know, what's right for me, but also to get different perspectives on my situation. And I was like, why don't I just do this with my, you know, with my fertility, I have nothing at this point I have nothing to lose, nothing, nothing. I just had a doctor tell me I have less than 1% chance. Right. And I was like, okay, well, I'm not ready. I w I knew I felt it in my heart that I just wasn't ready to give up on, give up on trying. And I wasn't, I also felt like I wasn't honestly ready to look into egg donor or adoption. I don't want to think about that yet. So I was looking at, you know, my fertility, it was like, okay, what's the next step in? I always just told this one thing from this one doctor. Well, okay. I'll take that as not a definitive answer, not as like the only answer I'll take that as like, like kind of data, you know? Okay. That's a data point there. So let me go find other perspectives and other information. And the very next day I went to visit my acupuncturist. And that's where we kind of spoke about it's really nice, not only to get second opinions from doctors, doctors like multiple doctors, but also different areas like the Western medicine versus the Eastern, you know, more holistic is also a great thing to get. So, um, I went to my acupuncturist, which is more in the, you know, the Eastern holistic side of things, and then had a, had a good talk with her about it. And she didn't, you know, she did believe it was at quality, but she was like, I don't think that, you know, there's no chance I'm looking at what she knew about me. And then she said like, you know what? Let's there was this one doctor and another, yet another clinic, I think this, this clinic might be a better fit for you. And then I thought it was interesting, cause there's a lot of talk about like, not all clinics are good or equal, first of all, but not that one's lesser than the other. It's just like your body. I liked how she put it. Like your body might not like that clinic. Um, this, your body might like feel better here in the way that, you know, people are unique and they need different things. So just because you hear it works for someone one place, it doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna work for everyone. And so she suggested to go to another clinic and meet with this other doctor. And I said, okay. Yeah, that sounds great. Get a different perspective. So that's like the whole thing, getting different perspectives on things. And I met with that doctor and I still remember, you know, he also created, it seems like it's egg quality, but he didn't agree with the less than 1% chance. And I mean, that alone is like, think about it as like another data point would be like, okay, well now it's not like a, you know, I have two doctors saying this, plus I have that Eastern medicine and cluster yourself to like, I know I'm, I'm not a medical professional, but also like, you know, yourself.

Nicole: Yes. You know yourself better than anyone else. I tell women this all the time about pregnancy and birth, like trust, trust your inner voice. Um, learn how to trust that. Not just, and I'm getting off a little bit on a tangent, but in everything that you do in your life, you know, you have that inner guiding wisdom. I don't think we learn in our society how to listen to that.

Jasmine: Yes. I couldn't agree more. And yeah, I feel like we doubt ourselves a lot, but it's true. We have, we have the knowledge of our, about ourselves that no one else does. Um, so with that, uh, he suggested that we do another IVF cycle and this time around, instead of the biggest difference was instead of a five day transfer to do a three day transfer. And I was like, Oh, okay. That sounds great. Like, one I didn't even know that that was a possibility, but that totally aligns with, you know, the design thinking and testing and iterating like, okay, I did these IVF cycles, but it was a five day transfer and they both failed now let's change one part of it. Right. And see, and that's where I realized I actually got, I realized how that other clinic, basically the two of the sites, two cycles, identically, nothing change. They both did not work. And then they just kind of concluded that it was never going to work, which was shocking in hindsight, when I think about that and that, that's why it's so important to kind of, you know, test and iterate. So that's exactly what we did. I did my third IVF cycle and the same exact thing, like the beginning parts are always, you know, almost identical. And this time I had a three day transfer for each cycle, I will say, I produce, like, I always have a little bit less eggs like that are retreived, which was a little disturbing to me, like one or two less, but it was day three, the morning of day three. I was very anxious because of all my past experiences, but I went to the hospital. I was, I still remember being in the waiting room thinking like they didn't call me yet. I actually was so exciting. Um, and so I did transfer, I transferred to, uh, embryos and during a day three transfer and, uh, I got pregnant.

Nicole: Yay. Where you still with the acupuncturist?

Jasmine: Yes, I was still working with the acupuncturist. So I did do like the pre transfer and the post transfer acupuncture treatment. So I did two acupuncture treatments that same day,

Speaker 1: And was the doctor, like, did he know that you were doing that and was he, or were you just kind of doing this on your own?

Jasmine: Um, I think, well, he knew that my acupuncturist referred me, so it wasn't, it wasn't an active part of our conversation. I think he knew that I was doing acupuncture and I will say that. So I can't, I still can't. I still couldn't believe I was pregnant.

Nicole: What did you feel like in that moment?

Jasmine: Well, I still remember it when he called, um, he called me, I was at work and, and I, I remember being so, you know, he's he called with the news and he said, I have great news, you're pregnant. And I couldn't believe I actually said to him, I remember I said to him, like, are you kidding? Because it's been such a long journey. And I had just been told, I had no chance of getting pregnant pretty much.

Nicole: This is six, six, six years. Yeah. It's nearly six years in?

Jasmine: And, it was 6 years, and I still remember his response to me was, well, I'd be a horrible doctor if I just joked, if I just lied about that, or if I joked about that pregnant, I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That'd be a pretty bad thing as a fertility doctor to do that. And keep in mind, this was just only months after I was sitting in that office being told it has less than a 1% chance. And I couldn't believe it just to how quickly it turned around and I was pregnant and, um, that pregnancy, it was, it was great. And I now have a four year old daughter, um, from that. Wow. Yeah.

Nicole: Wow. And then how, and you also have a two year old. So you.

Jasmine: I have a two year old!

Nicole: Let me ask first, like how like how, how was, and, and, um, you know, we, don't probably, we don't have time to go into the whole experience, but how was your pregnancy experience for you?

Jasmine: I love being pregnant. I think. I mean, I still, I actually like joke. I still rub my belly. Sometimes I used to love rubbing my belly for me. Um, I had really a good pregnancies. I, I didn't, I was lucky enough not to get morning sickness or anything, but also for me, I was, I think one, I was so grateful to be pregnant. I, I enjoyed every moment of it, but also I, I joked with my husband when it came to the normal pregnancy part and the appointments are so few and, and the only big thing is like the sugar test that people talk about. And I remember turning to my husband, like the one in the very beginning of the pregnancy. And I was like, is this what normal people go through? Like this? And I was so jealous. I was like, Oh my, this is so easy to go in. Like once I, yeah. And, um, and then pregnancy, my first pregnancy was I did, um, I had planned on doing it all natural. I had a doula as well. I went to a birthing center for the birthing center, especially after all those meds that I had to do, like being as natural as possible.

Nicole: I can see that for sure.

Jasmine: So, um, of course with all best plans, it didn't quite go that way. But, uh, essentially it was, it was close though. I mean, I was, I was having contractions for about three days and like no end in sight. So on the third day I went into the hospital to, um, kind of, you know, check in to make sure everything was okay with the baby. And they said, well, the baby looks fine. Um, but at this rate they said at this rate, if you want to deliver naturally, it'll probably be another like five days. And it just wasn't progressing like quickly. And then their concern was like, even if I waited that long, I just wouldn't have the energy to, you know, deliver naturally. And at that point I was like, okay, let's, let's just do it. You know, I, it had been three days of no sleep with contractions. And, um, the good thing is like once they was admitted, I only got a little bit of medication. And that was enough that within, um, three hours I was fully dilated and I had my child. Yeah. So that, that made me happy. And it's like that thing after I got the epidural, I was like, why did I not get this? Right. Right. I mean, I, the natural, it would've been great too, but it was a funny moment when I got the epidural and I finally was able to sleep and I was like, Oh, why, why was I not doing this?

Nicole: That can be the key sometimes you just, you just need to reset. And then your body's like, thank you for giving me that time to kind of get back together. And now I'm ready. Let's have a baby.

Jasmine: Exactly. That was my experience.

Nicole: Were you ever scared? Like, were you like, is this going to be taken away from me? Like, were you worried during the pregnancy? I would have been a hot anxious mess.

Jasmine: Yeah. Well, yes, because obviously I had never experienced, you know, loss and miscarriage, but I knew all too well, what the stats were on that. So those first couple of months, yeah. I was, you know, every test that we took in at this point, I was over 35. So I was taking a lot of those additional tests that you take when you're at an older age to make sure, you know, the baby's okay. And yeah, like I was it's like that and I honestly still kind of have it. I was saying to my husband, like I get, it's like almost too good to be true, you know, after you're trying for something for so long, it's it, is that feeling of like it's going to be taken away. So yeah, every test and everything, it was, it was nerve wracking. But at the same time I was, I was really trying to stay positive. Cause it was, it was my first time ever getting pregnant after all this time. I think, I think it would've been very different if my experience, my fertility experience had, you know, more like miscarriage within it. Right. No, there's so many stories. Um, I think that would have been another factor, but after, after I, I kind of went through the initial like heartbeat, you know, that, that was even, I saw her with my second, like waiting for that heartbeat. It's by far one of the hardest, um, cause you don't want to get your hopes up. Uh, but yeah, I tried to, so to answer your question, it was, I was nervous, but at the same time, I probably wasn't as nervous as I could have been.

Nicole: It sounds like, you also were intentional about enjoying it. Like you said, trying to saver those moments,

Jasmine: Because for so long, this is what I wanted. Right, right. You see people that are pregnant. I always wondered what it would like to be, to have some, some, a human being growing in my body. And I couldn't believe I was able to experience it, to be honest with you. I kind of almost, I came to terms that, you know, it might not be in the cards for me. Right. Um, so I was really grateful for every moment.

Nicole: Did you have to do IVF with your second?

Jasmine: I did.

Nicole: Okay. Okay. And then how many cycles did it take that time?

Jasmine: Surprisingly. So what happened was so as I, I said, I didn't, I didn't tell anyone about my journey at all or my struggles at all. And it was only till like only at the very end. My immediate family knew. I think maybe I told one or two friends, but very few. And what happened was when my daughter was born, I posted a picture of her on some kind of social media. And one of my friends wrote a comment, Oh, you have the most perfect life. And I like stopped.

Nicole: You were like, Oh no, she didn't just say yeah.

Jasmine: And then I realized, so this is what I realized. Cause during, during those six years of trying, me and my husband were traveling like crazy, like mad people because that was like one of my outlets.

Nicole: Therapeutic in a way.

Jasmine: Exactly. I still remember there was like a failed cycle and I turned the first thing I said, I turned to my husband. I said, where are we going? I need to go somewhere. Like I need to like get my mind off this. So I realized from my friend's perspective that wrote this comment, all she was seeing was us traveling the world. And then now it's like, Oh, now they decided to settle down and have this baby. And I was like, no one knows what, what went on? Like what went on all these years? And it was far from perfect. And I also felt so much guilt too, because, you know, especially when you're in a journey of struggle and social media feeds this kind of perfect picture of other people and all of a sudden I realized like I am feeding into that and I didn't want to be that person. So that is actually the moment where I decided to share my story.

Nicole: Okay. And is that what led you to, that's a perfect segue into now you do like you, you've shared your story, you do coaching, you have some free resources. So why don't you tell us about how that sort of transformed what you, what you do now?

Jasmine: Yeah. So once I told my story and it really, one, it was therapeutic for me because like I said, I kept it all in and I didn't realize how much trauma is keeping inside, but then it also, I realized how helpful it was for other people, people that I didn't know. And then friends that I did know came out and said, told me like how helpful that was for them or, and that's when I started realizing that I could help, I could help people going through their own fertility journey. And I actually decided to document my IVF with trying for my son. That's how I started. And I still remember, um, when I told my husband, I was thinking about doing that. He said to me, he like, he gave me this terrified face and he said, but, but what if it doesn't work? Like what, what is the IVF fails? And it's like, well, that's how it is, you know? And that's where fertility is. And it didn't actually, I was, I was, you know, and that's that fourth IVF is my two year old son right now. And, but I will say so ever since my son was born, I knew I wanted to share not only my journey, but my method, the strategy, my system, that I, it took me way too long to realize, you know, it took me five years and my first one to realize, but it made such a massive difference in my own fertility journey. And I also had, like, haven't seen it being spoken about in the fertility world, whereas a lot about either the meds and there's definitely like the mindfulness and the holistic approach and whatnot, but it's kind of like a strategy that I, I love to share the system that I implemented in myself and it made such a difference. So that's why I share it.

Nicole: And that's it. Is that your freedom method?

Jasmine: Yes. Okay. So the system I use is the freedom method, and these are the pillars that create the strategy around your fertility journey. And it's funny to say strategy, but it's kind of like it is, it is a strategy in a way it's creating a strategic plan that looks at where you are now and how to get you to your goal. And then the cool thing is that I'm also bringing in my artist's perspective and experience. So it creates a more holistic strategy to get you there. Um, I don't know. So I like to say like, imagining it, imagine it like a blueprint for your journey and it's almost like a choose your own adventure type of thing where it's like visually like can branch off to different, different ways, different solutions to the same problem. Cause like, for me, if you look at it, how it started out, when I was not using the strategy, I was just like very linear. You know, I was just kind of, I was kind of letting life happen to me. I was just like, this person says this, okay, I'm gonna do this. And then like not questioning it, but then when you apply the strategy to it, you kind of gain more data points and then you can kind of off shoot from that one linear linear path and see alternative, um, solutions and alternative ways. So when one, one thing doesn't work, then you kind of have this blueprint to be like, Oh, well let me try this one now or let me iterate and test it in this way that therefore you're always moving forward. You don't feel like you're stuck or lost, which I often felt when I didn't do this.

Nicole: Exactly, exactly. So that's yeah, that's exactly what I love it. Yeah. And guys, I will, we will point to all of Jasmine's resources in the show notes. So if you, and she has free resources on her website, like a free webinar that you can go through and kind of learn more about her approach and her strategy. I just think it's such a, it's something that can be applied even to how you pick your OB doctor, how you approach your, your birth in like, not necessarily following that. Like, I don't know, A B, C, D sometimes you need to stop it B and see whether or not C, D or E is the right option, you know, just kind of step back. I love how you said step back and kind of look at things and really approach it strategically. So we will for sure point to those resources that folks can check out.

Jasmine: Yeah, definitely.

Nicole: Yeah. Just to wrap up, what would you say is your favorite piece of advice that you would give to women who are trying to get pregnant?

Jasmine: How would say don't let life happen to you and be reactionary, have a plan and a strategy. So it will decrease your stress and your anxiety, and more importantly ensures you that you keep on moving forward instead of, you know, feeling lost and stuck in essence, like be your own best advocate and plan for everything. Well, that seems, that seems odd plan for everything,

Nicole: But you know what? It's not, it's not. And I think especially women, I think that is fantastic advice. And I think women in particular, we sort of get raised in an environment where that's not necessarily encouraged or in some places it's like actively discouraged. Like you're being, I don't know, difficult, or, you know, you're supposed to just kind of go with the flow. Why are you questioning things? And you're saying like, you don't have to do that.

Jasmine: Exactly. I couldn't agree more. And especially women, right. We're often told, like, don't speak up, don't listen to others, but we're strong, like especially fertility warriors. And we've been through so much,

Nicole: 100%, 100% and we could talk for another hour. I'm sure. But I do want to, Um, you to tell people where they can find you, gosh, she has the most beautiful Instagram feed. Do you draw all of those images yourself?

Jasmine: I do. I called them. Yeah. I call them my doodles and my Instagram doodles. You have got to check out her Instagram, just really beautiful images. Um, and then we're at your website with your free resources and your free class and any paid stuff. You have coaching, that kind of thing. So where can people find you?

Jasmine: Yeah, I mean, if you want it, the, my, my Instagram is @jazzkatat. And then for, um, all my resources, you can find it on my website @jazzkatat.com. And as a thank you for having me on this website, I'm going to offer a limited number of free calls with me to see, to help you and see how you can design your own strategy, um, to any challenge you might be facing. So

Nicole: That was a surprise.

Jasmine: I didn't tell you about that, but you can go to @jazzkatat.com/call, um, to find availability for that there.

Nicole: Yes. Well, thank you so much. Some people are going to hop on that real quick. So, so if you're interested, go ahead and get it now. Cause she said she's only a limited amount available, so thank you so much, Jasmine, for coming on to share your story. That was really powerful, really inspirational. I know so many women are going to relate to it on so many levels from the journey, from holding things in, from like presenting that perfect life when it's actually not, there's so many lessons here to learn. So I really appreciate your time.

Jasmine: Yeah. And thank you. So for having me, Nicole, I really appreciate it!

Nicole: That episode? I enjoyed it. One of the things that we didn't record is that Jasmine shared about how her struggles with infertility actually made her a better mother. Sometimes I see that for women who struggle with fertility, when they have the baby and things don't go exactly as they envisioned, it's not sorta like the fairytale picture and you have a collicky baby or difficulties or challenges. Sometimes it can be hard to connect with motherhood, but in her case, she felt like it just really made her a better mother that because of her difficulty getting pregnant, she so appreciates her children even more. And she's really grateful for the journey that she had to go through. All right.

Nicole: So, you know, after every episode where I have a guest, I do Nicole's notes where I go through my top three or four takeaways from the episode. So here are Nicole's notes from my conversation with Jasmine. Number one, fertility is hard. There's no way to get around it and it can be made even more difficult because actually most of the time it's unexplained where there's not a very clear reason why a couple is having trouble conceiving it's also can be a very long journey. There's only a very narrow window every month where you can actually get pregnant. So there's a lot of hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, when you're dealing with fertility issues. And during that time, it feels like everybody else is getting pregnant. You hate seeing pregnant people sometimes. So it can just be a really challenging journey. So it takes some time to look after yourself in your mental health. During that time, that's really important to help you get through it, whether that's through therapy, whether it's through the programs or something like what Jasmine offers, whether that's like through support groups, just take some time to take care of yourself during that process, because it can be difficult.

Nicole: All right. Point number two. There's no right answer in terms of how you approach infertility. Some people will choose to press on despite receiving difficult numbers the way Jasmine did. Some people will make the choice to adopt. Some will choose to have an egg donor. Some will choose a surrogate. A lot of it is just really knowing yourself, trusting yourself, trusting your intuition and trusting that you're going to make the best decisions for yourself. In this particular instance, Jasmine made the decision that she really wanted to press on, but again, other people make different decisions. Like for instance, Parashat Disha Pandey. She was on the podcast, a few episodes back sharing her birth story. She felt as though she knew that her body was not meant to carry a pregnancy. So after her first baby, that was more in very preterm. She ended up going with a surrogate and she was very confident and comfortable in that decision. Not that it was easy, but she knew that it was the right decision for her. And just like Jasmine knew that this was the right decision for her. Just trust yourself, know yourself and you'll make the right choice. Again, whether it's pressing on adopting egg donor or a surrogate, you will make the choice that works best for you.

Nicole: Number three, we need to utilize more complimentary medical modalities and marry Eastern and Western medicine together and use the best of both. We don't do that enough in the way we approach taking care of people today. So we definitely need to use that more. So I like how she talked about using acupuncture in addition to traditional Western medicine as well.

Nicole: And then the final point is that you never know what people are going through and you definitely don't know based on what you see on social media. Jasmine said, it looked like, you know, when her friend is like, Oh my God, you have this perfect life. You guys travel, you do all of this stuff. And then when you're ready, you have this baby. And my goodness, it was just didn't show any of the reality that the travel was part of a way to deal with the difficulties and that how long it took her to get to that point. So you never know what people are going through, don't base your thoughts or experiences on what you see like on social media. Also give people some grace, sometimes people come with baggage and things and difficulties that they're carrying. So do your best to be kind, do your best, to be compassionate, do your best to be empathetic. Because again, you just never know what people are going through, but definitely don't base it on things that you see on like social media.

Nicole: It's notoriously not an accurate representation of people's real lives. All right. So that is it for this episode of the podcast. Do me a favor and subscribe to the podcast, wherever you're listening to me right now, whether that's Spotify, Apple podcast or Google play. And I would really love it. If you leave an honest review in Apple podcast that helps the show to grow in so many ways helps other women to find the show and it helps them to know exactly what they're getting into when they start listening to the show. And of course I do shout outs from those reviews as well. So thank you for you leaving those reviews and Apple podcast in particular. All right. Now, next week on the podcast, I am talking about assisted vaginal delivery. That's a vaginal delivery where you use a vacuum or forceps. So come on back next week. And until then, I wish you Beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the all about pregnancy and birth podcast hit to my website and ncrcoaching.com to get even more great info, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on how to make a birth plan, as well as everything you need to know about the birth preparation course. Again, that's NCRcoaching.com and I will see you next week.