Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Point of Acupuncture

I have a new friend out there: BakingABaby, who commented on my Thanksgiving post. A fellow traveler in infertility, she asked why I stopped acupuncture after my first failed attempt at IVF. Here is the answer.

I've been guilty of piling on so many stress-relief activities in the past that I have actually gone a little crazier than I was before I started. One example is the meditation class I took once that made me hyperventilate with stress once a week because I had to drive there in rush hour and find a non-existent parking place in downtown DC. Boy, did that not help.

Like destressing, de-infertilizing can consume one's life. On my first go'round on IVF, I took the shots, took a leave of absence from my work, joined a gym, went to therapy, and did acupuncture. My acupuncturist told me that acupuncture could help almost any infertility-related condition except blocked tubes. That was what I supposedly had. So that made the acupuncture mainly for stress-relief, just like a lot of the other activities.

When the second IVF round happened, I had taken a full-time job again because we needed the money to keep up our habit. Right after I got my first BFN (Big Fat Negative), my beloved acupuncturist had moved to Dallas. I didn't want to spend the time, money, or psychic energy on finding another acupuncturist, then scheduling and keeping one more appointment a week. So in the interest of simplifying my life, I cut out acupuncture.

What was the point?

That's an acupuncture joke.

I do still believe in acupuncture, like I believe in most traditional Chinese medicine. I think those old medicine men and women, over thousands of years, have figured out a lot of stuff that we modern ludites can only guess at. The National Institutes of Health are conducting studies to try to figure out why acupuncture works; what the "chi" really is. Some medical insurance plans are (reluctantly) paying for acupuncture treatments because it seems to work well as preventative medicine, and is a lot easier and less invasive and more effective -- oh, and cheaper -- than Western treatments.

What makes me a fan personally is that years ago I saw an acupuncturist as part of my manic anti-stress regime. After a "cleansing" where he stuck about 10 or 15 needles in my back and left them there for a half an hour, I had an incredible experience. That afternoon I was driving on the parkway and felt a sensational rush of wellbeing. It felt like the fog cleared and the air was suddenly fresh, clean, and embued with lots of extra oxygen. I felt like I could do anything. In that instant, I made plans to write a book and do all sorts of lofty crafts projects that would save the world. After a while the feeling faded and I went back to normal. But damn. There's nothing like a drug-free euphoria.

If acupuncture can do that, why can't it make your ovaries work too?

Below is a picture of my friend's new little baby, conceived after three years with the help of Chinese medicine. Let's ask him what he thinks. When he wakes up.

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