Category Archives: Infertility

Om lost and found

I’ve told the story before of how my grandfather, who died 3 months before my daughter  was born, may have sent Tessa to us. But I’ve never told the story of the possible cosmic doings behind Reed’s joining us.

Because I lost the words. Literally.

While we were in the Adoption Wait in 2002, I was attending energy work classes with my mentor, Ethel. One day Ethel brought sets of  japa mala beads that she’d made, more than enough for each person in our class. I chose this pink quartz  and burgundy glass set.

Ethel gave me a Sanskrit chant to say daily with my beads, one that would draw to me a soul who would teach me.

She said it was a good idea to say the chant to music. So I took the tune of a children’s song I had learned years previously in Japan and inserted the Sanskrit syllables.

I fingered my japa mala necklace faithfully, fondling each bead as I chanted the given sentence, eyes closed. Daiy I went around the circle twice for 108 repetitions. I knew when I was finished when I arrived at the bigger guru bead.

As you can probably guess, seven-and-a-half months after I began Om-ing, Reed was born about five-and-a-half weeks early and subsequently came into our family. There’s some intriguing math in there.

When I began blogging, I wanted to share the mystery words with other infertiles who wanted to invite a soul into their lives. Being the documentarian that I am, I knew I’d be able to easily find the mantra.

But I couldn’t. I scoured my daily journals. I re-read my notes from class. I perused my dream journals and every scrap of paper I may have written the prayer on. I tried to dig up the words from my own memory. I even asked Ethel, and she had no idea where they had come from. The words were lost to me. I finally gave up looking.

One day while sitting under the dryer at Crystal’s hair salon, I thumbed through a Yoga Journal. I opened to a page that featured an article ABOUT MY CHANT.

I scribbled down the words giddily. And now I can give them to you.

So if you are seeking a soul to teach you and are willing to open yourself up, get some prayer beads and find or make a tune that fits these words:

Om namo bhagavate vasu deva ya.

More on this mantra here and here (meaning varies from what Ethel told me). You can also find videos on this chant on YouTube.

The Motherless and the Childless

This weekend, as women celebrate the mothers they are and the mothers they have, let’s take a moment to honor the childless mothers and the motherless children.

motherless and childless

I won’t name you, but I’m thinking of you, those who are childfree not by choice. Those who, like me, are not able to create or carry life. Those who experienced neonatal or infant loss. Those who have an empty place at the dinner table. Those who placed a child into the arms of another. To all of you women who feel an ache today, I honor you.

I won’t name you, but I’m thinking of you, those who are not able to invite mom to dinner, call her on the phone, to send a card. Those who lost a beloved mothers to illness, to accident, to age, to circumstance. Those who have an empty place at the dinner table. Those who have an an unmet or distant birth mother. To all of you women who feel an ache today, I honor you.

Abiding with you and wishing you peace today. 

Image courtesy audfriday13 at


Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.


What if?

What if I hadn’t ended up with the children I have?

The thought is an unsettling one.

The adoption road is multi-forked with countless paths not taken. Indeed, all of one’s life is (each time you choose one thing you forgo the other things), but adoption tends to make a family especially aware of untrod paths. Here are some that I wonder about.

What if we had tried another round of IVF? Would I have ended up with a biological child? Would I have been able to buck the astronomical odds and give that child a sibling? Would I have ended up with nothing other than depleted savings and retirement accounts? Would I have shortened my life by the long-term effects of all those hormones?

What if Crystal’s first choice to be parents of her unborn daughter had said “yes”? What if Michele had chosen a different adoption agency through which to place her son, an agency we were not working with?

The implication of each of these simple questions is profound. What if Tessa and Reed hadn’t ended up as my children?

I find it difficult to go there. It is unfathomable. We are so tightly interwoven that it seems there is no way we could have NOT come together in the way we did.

These are some of my What Ifs. But there are others in my home, as well.

My children are beginning to understand they, too, have paths not taken. Tessa, 9,  is in contact with both Joe and Crystal, her birth parents. She sees them parenting (separately) her half-siblings. She’s been to their homes. She wonders aloud, on occasion, what it would be like to live with Joe and/or Crystal. Would she have a dog? Would she have her own room? Would she have fewer chores, a later bedtime, more Dr Pepper? What would it feel like to see her own face in those of the people raising her?

Reed, 7, has not yet vocalized his thoughts about living with either/both of his birth parents. But he did ask the other day:  what if someone else had become his parents? While his sister sees the singular possibility of her biological parents raising her, Reed gets that he could have ended up with, well, just about anyone.

Except that he didn’t. She didn’t. I didn’t and my husband didn’t. All roads converged here.

At the center of my universe.

Image: my family’s portrait by Mary Elizabeth Graff


Bloggers from the ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertility) community are writing about WhatIfs for National Infertility Awareness Week, April 24 to May 1. To add your own thoughts, link here.

This post is part of the Bloggers Unite Project. For more on infertility, see Resolve.

My watershed moment: the breakthrough I needed to become a mom

I’m re-running a post from my archives that I found during my move. If you are in the throes of infertility, this one’s for you.


October, 2000. I am on the therapist’s table. She leads me to a relaxed state of deeper consciousness. She asks me to look at my shoes. I do.

They have buckles, and my story flows forth. I am 14 years old, living with my parents in a place that’s cold with a dirt floor. I have just gotten what Mother calls “the Curse.” It frightens me at first, the blood.

The therapist guides me to the next significant event. Now I am 19, and my parents and the community are gathered at my wedding. The groom is a kind, balding man with spectacles. My parents have chosen him for me. The therapist asks what I think of this arranged marriage: “It’s what we do.”

Another scene. My son is 7. Josiah has piercing blue eyes and brings me joy. He is out with my husband (his father) one day working the fields. A horse is spooked and kicks Josiah in the head.

For 14 years I take care of my once-vibrant, bedridden, now simple son. I blame my husband for this life lost, even though I know it was an accident. We don’t have another child because to me, children = pain. I am called “barren.”

Despite my ministrations, Josiah dies as a young adult.

I live a numb life.

The therapist brings me to my own funeral. It is in a bleak church with no color — only shades of earth. There is nothing remarkable about my passing. It is a relief. The mourners are there because “it’s what we do.”

The therapist alerts me to some beliefs I carry:

  • Life is bleak
  • Children bring pain.
  • There is little room for self-direction. We are carried by the thought, “it’s what we do.”

Once I am aware of these beliefs, we release them. Ethel, the therapist, is an energy worker, and she brings me to a decision point where I can choose to carry or not carry these beliefs with me in my current life.

I get off the table and ask for time to journal. She concludes our session with a huge glass of water to help move the energetic debris we dislodged.

So, was this an actual past life or not? Or was it just another way — like Freudian free-association or Jungian dream interpretations or a Rorschach test — to glimpse the unconscious beliefs I carried and that thwarted my desired to be a mom?

And does it matter?

I felt immediate relief after that session. I was lighter, unshackled, empowered. I can tell you that from that point on, we had smooth sailing.

That week we chose an adoption agency and resolved to complete the HUGE application packet by the first of the year. Right after New Year’s, we turned it in.

Three months later our daughter was born. Because, among other things, I cleared the way.