When I got married in 2011, I felt ambivalent about having children. Mashing up the worst of what I’d witnessed in my own and other families, I imagined that—having aborted my nascent writing career—I would turn into a harried ball of fury, barely able to meet my little ones’ incessant demands for attention, care, cash, and more.
Fortunately, over the years, my fears dissipated: I published my first book, and developed a robust writing practice. I gained confidence that I could partner with my husband on home- and childcare. I got better at making money. And, in 2015, we left Brooklyn for Beacon, where we have a quarter acre and plenty of chores—I mean educational experiences!—to share with any ambient kids.
However, as I slipped into my forties, I assumed my window for birthing a baby was closing. Or closed. No, I was not going to try the high-tech route to pregnancy. No, I did not want to engage a surrogate. No, I did not wish to foster, or adopt. (Yes, I am going to scream if I hear one more nugget of unsolicited advice, direct or implied—please, spare me the heartwarming stories about women who adopted and then got pregnant. Or spontaneously conceived triplets after securing their first bundle of joy via in vitro fertilization.) And no, I was not going to dissolve into a puddle of snot, slobber, and tears if I ended up childless. Childfree. Or somewhere in between.
That is, I was fine with mystery. Uncertainty. Letting a child show up, or not.
My husband, on the other hand, fervently wants kids; he’d once assumed we’d have several. And so, when we both read “Healing Quest: Julia Indichova’s Natural Fertility-Boosting Program,” in Chronogram in December 2019—the month I turned forty-three—I knew he was going to ask me to investigate further.
In 1994, at the age of forty-four, Indichova gave birth, naturally, to a child the Fertility Industrial Complex had deemed inconceivable (Inconceivable, by the way, is the name of her first book); ever since, she’s been further developing and sharing the Fertile Heart practice, which makes way for women (and men!) to access, and act on, our own deepest knowings. She sees each human as sacred, and mysterious; she believes every aspect of our experience reverberates through our tissues (either inflicting wounds or healing them); she views medical intervention not as a one-size-fits-all solution, but as a precious tool—to be used, judiciously, by women who choose, from an empowered, informed, sovereign place, to use it.
For Indichova, forty-three is not “too old.” Neither is forty-four or forty-five. She’s helped clients give birth, the old-fashioned way, at ages that would make the Fertility Industrial Complex have a (test-tube) cow. However, she doesn’t focus solely on getting those babies; rather, she guides Fertile Hearters to create a “conception-friendly space.” To cultivate fertility of all kinds. To walk toward our children—or any other creation—by nourishing, heeding, and mothering the orphaned parts of ourselves.
Reading about Indichova’s work—first in the article, then on her website (fertileheart.com), then in her two books (Inconceivable and The Fertile Female)—I noticed that, for the first time, I was experiencing the quest to conceive not as a race against time (that I was already losing), but as a journey of discovery, likely to yield great gifts, whether or not I ended up with a child.
So I dove in. I signed up first for an introductory series of teleconferences, then for the ongoing “Visionary Moms” circle. And, while doing the Fertile Heart work has helped me dissolve a few more blocks against having a baby—and made me long all the more for my tiny Caledonia (why not make a name of what I consider the most beautiful word in any language?)—it has also helped me turn myriad challenges into sources of fertility. Plus, it’s reminded me that, when engaging mysteries as profound as conception and creation, all I can do is take the next right step.
What does this have to do with villaging? The FIC—and the GDP—grin with glee each time a woman succumbs to “last good egg” panic and rushes toward the mirage of the quick high-tech fix. The web of relationships, on the other hand, rejoices in the repairs we can’t help but make, strand by strand, when we choose process over product, wonder over impatience, curiosity over false guarantees.
Helen Zuman—author, chocolatier, reweaver, walker, wife, daughter, sister, and witch—details her first (ill-starred) attempt at villaging in her memoir, Mating in Captivity (She Writes Press 2018). Get in touch via email (email@example.com); read more at helenzuman.com; find her on Twitter @HelenZuman. Use either Federal Reserve Notes or Currents to buy her book!