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Knibb-Watson

Our journey to become parents was anything but a smooth road trip. I hope that our story will become part of your survival guide. After almost five long years we did get our happy ending. Our gorgeous boy is here earthside, running around the house, teaching us to embrace toddlers! Baby number two is on the way, teaching me to embrace all that pregnancy has to offer, even morning sickness! 

We were the textbook love story. Met as teenagers, fell in love, got married, bought a house and were ready to start a family. When you decide you want a baby you want it to happen now. You eagerly wait each month wondering if you are pregnant. You overthink every little twinge and niggle. For us a year passed, then another and another. We were no closer to achieving our dream of becoming parents. We buried our grief in work and building a business. 

Since you can remember, you were told always to be careful. It only takes one! Sure, it does only take one but that one has to be healthy, strong and know how to swim in the right direction. My husband said for years that he felt something wasn’t right but he was too embarrassed to go to the doctors. I never pushed him, his body, his choice. 

After years of trying and hoping we finally went to the doctors. After a series of tests we were told that his sperm was poor in quality and quantity. I remember the doctor saying: “there is no other option but to go straight to IVF”. So we did. It was the most horrendous thing I have ever put my body and our relationship through. After two failed cycles we were both emotionally exhausted. We couldn’t keep doing it, our relationship was too fragile to keep failing. 

I had been wanting to see a Naturopath for years, but my husband wasn’t convinced. To him, if doctors couldn’t fix the problem, how was “witchcraft and wizardry” as he called it going to help? After many months of what seemed like begging, he agreed, and that is when Vanessa came into our lives. 

From our very first visit Vanessa gave us a sense of hope. She was there for us every step of the way, gently nurturing us down a path to better health. Vanessa’s approach is full of warmth, understanding, compassion and kindness. 

After three short months of working with Vanessa, overhauling our diet, changing our mindset and taking a variety of supplements, we were staring at a positive pregnancy test. Sadly our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Although deeply devastated by our loss, our hearts were still full of hope. Another three months and another positive pregnancy test! Our beautiful baby boy arrived nine months later. 

Vanessa’s love, guidance and support goes way beyond a positive pregnancy test. She is often sending us emails to see how we are going and we love sharing our happy family snaps with her. Vanessa will always be such a special person in our lives. We will be forever grateful that she helped us create our beautiful little family we had been dreaming of.

Almost a year had passed since the birth of Jack and we were ready to welcome another baby into our family. Working with Vanessa throughout my first pregnancy, we learned how important and powerful preconception care was and how our bodies and minds needed to be healthy to conceive. Three months before we started trying for our second baby we went back to Vanessa. We went back on our supplements and made a conscious effort to nourish our bodies. On our second month trying I was pregnant! I know that I am doing everything possible to grow a healthy baby. 

I hope that our story will help you find the courage, strength, reason to see a naturopath before trying IVF. Your body, soul and relationship will be forever thankful! 

Ellie Knibb

I will start my story with a little bit of background information on me. My name is Rohan Watson and I am 31 years old. I am a carpenter by trade but now I run a commercial worm farm in Stony Creek. I was born on the Gold Coast and grew up on the Sunshine Coast. I met my wife Ellie in 2007 and we got married in July of 2014. 

From puberty I always knew my dangle-y-doos didn’t hang quite right but like most men I just ignored it and carried on until one day in August of 2013 it got the better of me and I went to the doctor to get it checked out. 

Now for me, this was one of the most nerve racking things I have done. The thought of having to drop my dacks to another bloke so he could have a feel was really uncomfortable, but I knew it would ease my worries. I was referred to the radiology clinic to get an ultrasound. The results came back as a  “minor discrepancy between the testes with the right being slightly smaller than the left but this is not pathological. There was a small left varicocele.” After meeting with the doctor again to discuss the results he informed me that having the varicocele can hinder my sperm count and quality though I shouldn’t get too concerned until after we had been trying for children for 1 year.

Move forward to 2014 when, after a crazy year of getting married, buying a 45 acre farm from the other side of the state and the passing of my wife’s grandfather, we decided to start trying for kids. Now my whole teenage life I was hammered with “If you have unprotected sex you will get a girl pregnant” so I assumed that it wouldn’t take long, how hard can it be? The first month came and went, nothing. Again the next month, nothing. After a late night of reading articles, I decided that it was just going to take a few months. In the back of my mind, the whole varicocele thing was lingering like a ghost but I just did what men do best and ignored it.

At the end of 2014 we moved to our farm in Stony Creek and I thought that with a new place, a fresh dream of farming worms, this would be the year for kids. But how wrong I was. Month after month would roll by with nothing. Making it worse was that several of my friends were posting their pregnancy announcements on Facebook. While I was trying to be happy for them, the dark shadow of depression and self doubt was increasing its grip on my mental state, and while I knew the answer could be in going to the doctor and talking about our situation and getting some tests, there was a part of me that feared the result. “What if I was shooting blanks? What if I couldn’t get my wife pregnant? What if I don’t get to be a dad?” All the negative thoughts were building and the fear was keeping me from the answers.

As time went by I clung to the hope that just one little swimmer would make it through, I mean it only takes one and there are how many million in each ejaculation? But it was seeming more and more that it just wasn’t going to happen. After going through a dark spiral with working nonstop, Ellie and I sat down and had one of those serious conversations about our fertility problem and we agreed that a visit to the doctor was necessary.

At this point I had to  swallow my fear and get a test. In September 2016 we went to the local GP for a chat. After going through the usual chat about how often we are trying etc, we came to the part I feared, my varicocele. We had the results from the ultrasound years before and of course the first recommendation was a sperm test.  So later that week we did a trip to the coast where we knew my mum’s house would be vacant and close to the designated drop off point as there was a small window to get the sample there. With Ellie giggling in the kitchen, the deed was done and the sample rushed off to the collection point. So now all there was to do was wait.

1 week later we received a call to say the results were in and we made the appointment for as soon as possible. I still remember sitting in the waiting room, the nerves were killing me. In we went for the results: sperm count 260,000 per ml. I thought that cannot be too bad until I saw that a healthy male has a minimum of 15,000,000 per ml. To make things worse, only 19% were moving. That meant that 81% were dead or motionless. My heart sank. I remember the doctor saying some other facts but they were just going in one ear and out the other. The bright side was that there were some good swimmers, but not many. All I could think was “I need a drink”. The doctor ordered a repeat of the test to be done in one month to rule out any environmental factors.

So one month later it was off to my mum’s house to repeat the test. Results were a little better this time with a count of 331,000 per ml, but still a far cry from the 15 million. From here we were sent to the Sunshine Coast Urology clinic for further examination. After meeting with the doctor, surgery was looking to be the answer but it was only a 50/50 chance that it would help. So at the beginning of December 2016, under the knife I went. The operation went well but we wouldn’t know if it had any effect for at least 6 months.

So along came June of 2017. It was time to again drive to the coast and use my mum’s house (by the way, she doesn’t know we did this so just keep it between you and I.) Several days passed and we anxiously awaited the results. After receiving a phone call to make an appointment, it was back to the urology clinic for the results. 800,000 sperm per ml. It was well short of the number I was hoping for, again my heart sank. And as if the low count wasn’t enough of a blow, the motility was only 21%, that’s 79% dead or not moving, there was no improvement there. I was reassured that the surgery has improved the good sperm and that IVF was a viable option.  

So while disappointed with the result, the news that IVF was still an option kept me going, but this was a whole new world we were about to step into. We made an appointment with a coast based IVF clinic to have a chat. Off the bat, they were lovely people and were accommodating to our situation. Ellie was opposed to the idea of IVF and required a bit of convincing and who could blame her? All I had to do was jizz in a cup, she had to take the injections and have the eggs harvested so it was more a burden on her. But she knew we had to give it a try. So after a sample of my sperm was taken for genetic testing as well as bloods, we were given the go ahead to start a cycle. It seemed that though my count and quality were down, the ones that were good were capable of doing the job, in theory at least.

So we paid our  $10,000 and started our first round. For the next month, our lives ran to a schedule: injections every night and blood tests, then egg harvesting. We got 7 eggs and while things could have been worse, it could have been a lot better. We decided to use ICSI to fertilise the eggs due to the poor quality of sperm. 3 of the eggs failed instantly when the sperm was injected directly into the egg. One egg was successfully fertilised. The development of the embryo was slow and several days behind where it should be for the time of implanting. Although only a morula, on day five we decided to transfer and prayed it would stick

After several days, Ellie’s period came and we knew that it hadn’t worked. By this stage we were both mentally and physically drained. I couldn’t help but feel the full responsibility for all that we had gone through. If I was made right and didn’t have the problems, we could have avoided this all. I was just trying to focus on my work as it seemed the only distraction. I had logged out of social media and just didn’t want to have anything to do with the world. 

To make matters worse, the obstetrician who was running our plan was unable to give us any reason as to why it failed. We took a month off to regather ourselves. During this time, we did lots of reading of reviews and people’s experiences online and it seems that it is quite rare for IVF to work on the first go. It seems that most couples had to go an average of five cycles before getting a successful pregnancy. This really tore us down. The emotional toll the first cycle put us through was rough and the thought of having to do 4 more was terrifying. After a discussion we decided to try again. But this was it. if it didn’t work this time we were going to have to find another solution. 

During this time off, I followed some different paths to try and get an answer as to why so many aspects of my sperm were good, just not the number or quality, the two that really mattered. One of my hormone tests found that my FSH levels were high. FSH is the hormone the brain releases to regulate the reproductive organs in both males and females. My levels were substantially high and I wanted to know if this was a cause for the issue. After making an appointment with the local GP who specialises in men’s health he referred me to get an MRI of that part of my brain. 

He also recommended I go see an Endocrinologist, these are doctors who specialise in Hormones. The MRI came back all-clear showing no abnormalities. The meeting with the Endocrinologist wasn’t much help either as she is able to raise low levels but it is a lot harder to lower high levels of FSH, as it appears the brain is sensing the sperm issue so is trying to send a stronger message to my testicles to fix the problem. So after all my investigation work, the conclusion was drawn that it was a problem with the factory. 

So in December of 2017 we started the second round of IVF. We were both very sceptical, trying not to get our hopes too high, and again after the weeks of injections and scheduling we came out with 7 eggs but again only one fertilised. We clung to that one. While this time it did better it was still one day behind in development when it came time to be implanted. It didn’t look good, but we kept our fingers crossed for the little blastocyst. Again, Ellie’s period came and I knew that this was it for me and my hopes of becoming a dad. One thing that was discussed during our second visit was the use of donor sperm. For me this would be the sign of my failure as a man, and the thought pushed me into a dark spot in my mental health. I was torn with two feelings, one that it would be extremely selfish of me to deny Ellie the right to be a mum and two was would I resent the child for my failures? I was praying that I wouldn’t have to make the decision. 

After a meeting with the Obstetrician, all we wanted was some form of explanation as to if anything could be done differently or better but we got the answer: “poor eggs, poor sperm, try again.” This was devastating for us. It was at this point that Ellie put her foot down and said: “we have tried it your way, now it’s my turn”. I knew what she meant, she wanted to go a natural way and work with a Naturopath. 

Now I was raised in a household where, if modern medicine cannot help you, then that’s it. But we had reached our end with modern medicine, our only option was to keep pursuing IVF and we both weren’t keen on that so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and said: “let’s make an appointment, I mean, what else have I got to lose?”

This is when we met Vanessa at the Integrated Wellness Clinic. We walked into her office and straight away, she could tell that I was not a believer in herbal medicine and all this natural stuff. After reading through our collection of paperwork, she turned to me and said: “I am confident that I will be able to get you a natural pregnancy or at least be able to support you through an IVF one. But you are going to have to work at it and make some sacrifices.” I am sure I would have rolled my eyes or something, I mean how can she help what a range of different doctors cannot? But hey, I had nothing to lose so I said let’s do it, but with 3 conditions: I am not giving up chocolate, beer or bacon. She agreed that they were fair terms and we started to discuss the plan of attack.

Now I never considered my diet to be unhealthy. I mean, looking back now, I did eat a lot of processed food and a lot of high-sugar food, but I was a working man, I needed all that energy. Little did I know but my diet was one of the biggest factors holding me back. The first thing Vanessa told me was to cut back the sugar and to replace the processed foods with healthy options. That meant no more Arnott’s Cream Biscuits. I shuddered at the thought but after everything Ellie went through for me, I knew that it was only fair that I put 100% into this, and boy I am so glad I did. 

Now the first few weeks were hard, I was going through a sugar withdrawal. I didn’t even know this was a thing but I felt flat, I was craving anything sugary. So to make things easier, we got rid of all the nasty food and only brought healthy snacks, so I just had to push through. And it didn’t take long before I was getting back to my usual self though I was feeling a lot better. One of the first things I noticed when we started was how long it now took to shop. We took the time to read the packaging and to see what was in the products we were buying. This was a big eye-opener for us. So many products that we were buying were loaded with added sugar and other preservatives that would have been holding us back. It took us a while to get a list of approved products together and as time went on, the shopping got easier and I wasn’t missing all the sugary products that I was relying on for so long. In fact I just skipped those isles all together, except the chocolate section of course.

Aside from healthy eating, Vanessa also prescribed us a collection of herbal tablets and a delightfully disgusting herbal tonic. We took our collection as per the care plan and three months later, upon arriving home late from work, Ellie surprised me with a positive pregnancy test. This was a shock to me. I sat there holding the test in complete awe and saying “really?” How could all the years of modern medicine fail me and yet three months with Vanessa I was holding a positive test? Unfortunately our joy was short lived as Ellie miscarried before 8 weeks. Our little glimmer of being a parent was ripped away. 

Though saddened, we understood that life was complicated and that if it didn’t work then there was a reason why, even if we may never know the reason. This story does have a happy ending. We continued our healthy eating and herbal supplements and another three months later again she returned a positive pregnancy test. The excitement was overwhelming as this confirmed the first one wasn’t a fluke. 

We were cautiously optimistic after the years of lows we had been through, though obviously someone was smiling down on us. Nine months later our son Jack was born. He is now 16  months old and is the greatest little miracle that could ever happen to us. 

After returning the two positive pregnancy tests, curiosity got the better of me and I made an appointment with the local GP to request a Sperm Test. After 6 months of working with Vanessa and using her supplements combined with a healthy diet, I returned a total sperm concentration of 5,000,000 per ml. Although we were unable to raise the motility rate from the previous 19%, when multiplied by the volume it meant that the sample contained 30,000,000 sperm and even at 19% there were 5,700,000 good healthy sperm. 

Vanessa and her skills in naturopathy have made a believer out of me. In case you’re still sceptical, a few months before [my son’s] first birthday we decided that we should go and see Vanessa and get back into taking the supplements and tonic that we used to help get Jack. Two months on and we have a positive test and Jack’s sibling is on its way.

Watson Rohan

I met Vanessa in our first year of trying for a baby to discuss prenatal care and making sure I was as healthy as possible pre-pregnancy. We’d been trying to conceive for close to two years when we decided that it was time to look at further testing. 

These tests came back showing that we had male factor infertility on all levels. Less than 0.01% count, poor motility and morphology. On our initial consultation with the obstetrician we were told that we would have no hope of conceiving a child without IVF/ICSI and even with this, it would be difficult to conceive. This was absolutely devastating news and we were both shattered. 

I’ve always believed in a holistic approach to medicine and convinced Aidan that natural medicine could be our last hope. From the moment we walked in, Vanessa made Aidan feel so comfortable, especially with such a sensitive topic. 

We left feeling hopeful that with the recommendations from Vanessa we may still have some hope of having a baby. Aidan followed the recommended diet and supplements 110% and noticed positive changes within a few weeks. His joint pain reduced really quickly, he had more energy and ended up losing 14kg. After 6 months of the lifestyle changes we had more testing done and there was a huge difference! Although the sperm count was still quite low, the morphology and motility had greatly improved.

Seeing this drastic improvement we decided to give IVF/ICSI one go.  It was hard on both of us but we kept a positive attitude and really looked after ourselves in this time. We fell pregnant on this first go and our beautiful healthy baby girl was born in April. 

We are forever grateful for Vanessa for helping us conceive Mae. We truly believe that Vanessa’s guidance and Aidan’s commitment made all the difference to making some healthy sperm! Our IVF journey was a lot easier because we knew we were both in great health at the time. Aidan has stuck with the lifestyle and is a lot happier and healthier for it! Vanessa, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for helping us get here.

Brigette, Aidan and Mae

After a disheartening time of miscarriage and trouble conceiving, I knew I needed to do something, and it was this that led me to Vanessa Lamaro. I knew as soon as I read about her online and all her experience with hormones and fertility that she was who I wanted to work with.  It was a wonderful journey… She was very thorough and helped me with my diet, did the necessary testing to see what was happening with my body and then got me taking vitamins to help balance everything. She was also so positive and encouraging… Just amazing support which I really needed at this challenging time. It’s thanks to her that I then fell pregnant and went on to have my beautiful and healthy baby girl (over 10 pound in fact!) I believe all the groundwork that I did with Vanessa in the lead up really assisted me in having a reasonably easy and problem-free pregnancy, as my health was the best it had been in a long time. Thanks so much again Vanessa, I am forever grateful for all your help ❤

Amy 

My partner and I had been trying to conceive for around 3 years. A friend had taken a screenshot of Vanessa in a magazine and sent it through to me. Vanessa offers a free discovery session to see if she is able to help. I thought that I had nothing to lose, so I booked an appointment and was lucky enough to be able to book for that week. As soon as I walked into Vanessa’s office I felt so comfortable and knew this lady was so kind and genuinely wanted to help. Vanessa helped me tremendously with my hormones. With her guidance I began taking supplements and a tonic to help balance my hormones and to get my body healthy and ready to carry a baby. 

After only 5 months of seeing Vanessa I found out that I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it, after only 5 months! I was so happy that we were able to conceive naturally without having to go down the path of IVF after our years of infertility. I had the most amazing pregnancy all thanks to Vanessa, who helped me prepare my body by fuelling it with the necessary supplements it needed to carry my little bundle of joy. We now have a happy, healthy, beautiful baby girl who is 6 months old. We cannot thank Vanessa enough for all of her help. We are so very blessed to have found her and we will be forever grateful. Without hesitation I would recommend Vanessa to anyone having troubles to conceive, gut health issues etc. Vanessa is now currently helping me with my dermatitis. 

Emily Bailey 

Buderim

I went to see Vanessa for debilitating pain with my periods. I can honestly say working with her has changed my life, though not completely gone there is no more sick days laying in bed in agony and no more heavy pain killers. She has helped me change my life.

Jemma K.

Maroochydore

Vanessa has been my Naturopath for over 5 years now and I just love having her there to help me on my health journey when I need it. I feel my health has improved so much over that time and I really think it is her support that has got me there.

Kelly M.

Mooloolaba

I am writing to say thank you for all of your help in our pregnancy journey. 3 years of infertility and failed IVF and here we are… pregnant. Naturally! Thank you so much for everything. You are an angel x

Sally Shaun

Buderim

To the wonderful Vanessa, I just wanted to say a big thank you for providing me fantastic advice that helped me through my recent pregnancy. My ongoing health issues of having arthritis in my hips concerned me being an older mum, The ongoing support I was given allowed me to be in the best possible health before my pregnancy. Your combination of advice on diet and supplements helped me to achieve new heights of wellness that allowed me to be at my peak of health before I conceived. At the age of 39 I was diagnosed with having arthritis in my hips and I was advised that I needed a double hip replacement. I also considered that I may want another child in the next year or so but I knew I was running out of time! This caused me to seek out natural advice. I was also concerned as my periods were starting to change too, But with your help we got my cycles back to normal! Vanessa put together a plan keeping all of this in mind and I experienced a no pain, no sickness full term healthy pregnancy at the age of 40 and naturally delivered a perfect health baby girl. I couldn’t be happier! Thank you so much!

Wendy Miller

Albury-Wodonga, Australia

With a history of miscarriage and being an older, not so healthy mum, I was concerned with conceiving a healthy baby in a timely manner. My husband and I sought help from Vanessa to get back on a healthy eating regime and for Andrew to give up smoking. These wonderful ladies helped us with diet and lifestyle advice and commenced us on naturopathic herbs and supplements to maximise our ability to conceive. Remarkably we lost weight, detoxified, Andrew gave up smoking and we conceived first try!! We now have two gorgeous healthy girls who have changed our lives. We will be forever grateful. Thank you so much Vanessa.

Ros Robertson

Melbourne, Australia

I have to say thank you to Vanessa for her amazing support and guidance that transformed me from a sedentary, unhealthy, overweight smoker into a fit and healthy Daddy of 2 beautiful girls! After some heartbreaking issues with miscarriage, both my wife and I decided to seek the advice of health professionals and get our bodies fit and healthy before trying to conceive again. We could not believe how easy it was to have both of our daughters after working with Vanessa and implementing the strategies she designed for us. Thank you so much!

Andrew Robertson

Melbourne, Australia