Donna Barnekow lives in Melbourne with her husband Glen and two children, Isla and Archer. A Midwife and Registered Nurse with more than 20 years of experience, she recently gained qualification as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Fertile Body Method Therapist (UK).
Donna persisted through years of infertility and IVF, leading her to develop The Conceiving Mind, a support program specifically designed for women experiencing infertility and the stress associated with IVF.
"After enduring years of infertility and IVF, I have a great appreciation of the emotional impact it can have on our lives. I understand how hard it is to try and manage your diet, exercise, work, social life and relationships while trying to absorb all the science of treatment and somehow still stay relaxed." Donna Barnekow
My story began after Glen and I tried unsuccessfully for 18 months to conceive a baby. I was diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes. I thought IVF would be a certain success for us as our infertility was ‘just a little transport problem’. How wrong I was.
After five years and 13 cycles of IVF with zero pregnancies, I was anxious, sad, frustrated and angry. Very angry. IVF had taken over our lives.
As a couple, we’d stopped doing many of the things we used to enjoy doing while everything revolved around the next cycle and nurturing our dream of holding our baby. I wanted to get back to feeling like my old self and stop feeling so helpless and angry all the time.
I found my work as a Midwife especially challenging as every day was a constant reminder of how easy it seemed for others to become parents.
I felt very alone.
Some good friends suggested (very delicately) that I see a highly-regarded hypnotherapist. I took their advice as I was open to trying new things on my journey to parenthood. Seeing the hypnotherapist helped me to realise there is more to our health than just the physical aspects.
I found the session was more than just relaxing. I had been so focused on what I had to do physically to put my best foot forward (attending appointments, doing injections, ultrasounds, acupuncture, exercising and eating well) that how I was feeling emotionally wasn’t even considered as I put my head down and tried to manage everything I thought I should be doing right to have a baby. This was all done while going to work and still trying to live my life as a normal person.
I began reading and researching in more depth about the mind-body connection and I slowly began opening my mind to the benefits of being kind to myself emotionally. I started applying the skills and techniques I'd learned.
I felt so much better in my everyday life. The change was incredible.
With the next cycle of IVF, I did not become pregnant, but at every stage of that cycle I felt a sense of control over my emotions and it helped to ease the burden, significantly.
Around that time, I was becoming much more open to change and that’s when my niece Karina offered to donate her eggs. I am forever grateful that I accepted her selfless offer because after four more cycles of IVF, we now have two beautiful children.
Throughout our path to parenthood, I always knew I wanted to help others who were struggling with the very intense emotions associated with infertility (particularly IVF). As someone with a strong science background, I loved studying further and deeper in this field, bringing together the mind-body connection and this is how The Conceiving Mind was created.