Welcome to my third “Resolve to Know More About…” interview. Today’s topic? The Mind/Body Connection! This one is pretty near and dear to my heart, because I credit a lot of the success with my first and only IVF cycle to the degree to which I tapped ifnto the mind/body connection in the months leading up to my cycle.
Today we welcome Joanne Verkuilen, Founder and Co-CEO of Circle+Bloom, a company that specializes in mind/body fertility and wellness programs. Let’s get right to it!
Hi Joanne! Tell us a little bit about your story: what was your family-building journey like?
Joanne: My infertility journey started in my late teens. Not because I was trying to conceive at that age, but because I was diagnosed with PCOS. My doctor uttered the words that are hard to hear at any age under than 50 you want to hear: “pregnancy may be difficult.”
So, when I was married more than 10 years later, we were very cautious in our thinking on becoming pregnant. There was of course a lot of uncertainty around it, and our first child came after about six months of trying (but not really “trying”). It was trying for our second child that the problems really started. We suffered through two painful miscarriages before finally conceiving Abigail almost five years later.
Not to sound like a Pollyanna, I do firmly believe that all of our life’s experiences form the fabric of our identity, and I am convinced that our family building happened just as it should… even with the uncertainly, the roller-coaster emotions, and the painful miscarriages. We became closer as a couple, I learned a lot about myself, we have two beautiful children, and I would never have started Circle and Bloom if things happened differently.
What piqued your interest about exploring more about the mind/body connection to fertility?
Joanne: I became interested in the mind/body connection after attending one of those hypnotism shows as a freshman in college. Witnessing what the body was capable of after entering into a state of relaxation prompted me to help a friend with visualization to help treat alopecia. And then, years later, after seeing my best friend go through infertility and seeing the mounting stress, I started to connect dots that no one else seem to have done.
Visualization had been used to help treat cancer patients with sometimes miraculous results; stress has been shown to have a negative impact on our fertility, so why couldn’t we use specific programs to help us? The idea for a daily program that would help us visualization what our body should be doing during each day of the cycle hit me like a bolt of lightning one morning over coffee. I sought professional advice from Dr. Bernie Siegel and various REs and our first series of programs were born. My life was forever changed.
What are some hesitations that people have about approaching the mind/body connection to their fertility? How do you ease fears, doubts, or questions about the mind/body connection?
Joanne: It is shame, really, that this ancient form of healing has been forgotten. And we only need to look at the consistent and real results from the widely accepted placebo effect. It is incredible to learn that even show when participants know they are taking a placebo, that the results are still the same.
The bottom line is this: the mind, our belief systems and emotions all have real and lasting effects on our molecular structure. And when you step by and truly think about it, how can it not? Modern medicine approaches everything from the neck down, but in order for us to truly heal from the inside; we must look at the entire belief system as well. I have an increasing interest in diet and food as medicine, which should also be taken into account to form a truly holistic view of health. However, our success with Circle and Bloom in terms of word of mouth shows that when put to the test, this form of healing works, and our success stories are proof.
What are your words of wisdom for those still on the family building path? What advice would you have for anyone considering adding mind/body therapy to their fertility treatments?
Joanne: Try to use this experience to truly dig deep and learn about yourself. Realize that you are always in control, even when you feel in the darkest of moments. Most importantly, never disparage yourself for having these feelings. You are not being selfish, and it is completely natural to have feelings of jealousy. Try to use the experience to gain increased intimacy with your loved one, try to write out your feelings and talk with others that you trust. It always really helps to have a support network as well, and there are some incredible online networks out there that may be a great way to connect with others going through something similar. You are not alone, and never give up.
What’s next for you and Circle+Bloom? Where can interested folks go to learn more about you and your work?
Joanne: There are so many things we want to do! We are constantly dreaming up and planning for more programs to develop. I also have a more personal interest in forming a more complete view on best alternatives for diet, as on a personal level we have gone plant-based in our household and I have never felt better. We are also thinking of developing a new way to connect the online community to share all the wonderful ways we can incorporate stress-busting techniques and mind-body techniques into our daily lives.
I would love to make sure people know about our free program for fertility – a 20 minute program that you can download immediately designed specifically to tap into the powerful mind-body techniques for women who are trying to conceive. You can download directly from our home page. We also have a whole library of programs designed for almost all stages of infertility: from a natural cycle program, IVF / IUI, Frozen Embryo Transfer, PCOS, egg embryo and donation, etc. I am most proud of our always free Healing + Recovery program to offer women support through recovery from a devastating miscarriage.
Thank you Joanne for sharing your story and how you’ve helped give back to this community in such tremendous way! Stay tuned: tomorrow, we hear from Rhonda Levy of Empowered IVF.
#NIAW Interview Series:
“Resolve to Know More About…”
(All links will be live at the conclusion of the interview series.)
- » The IVF Option
Keiko Zoll, The Infertility Voice
- » The Surrogacy Option
Whitney Anderson, Infertility Advocate & Kymberli Barney, The Smartness
- » The Open-Hearted Adoption Option
Lori Holden, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption
- » The Mind/Body Connection
Joanne Verkuilen, Circle+Bloom
- » Empowered Treatment Options
Rhonda Levy, Empowered IVF
- » The Resolving Without Parenting Option
Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Silent Sorority