Monday, March 3, 2014

Acupuncture and Fertility: My Personal Experience

Background: 

(TRIGGER WARNING: If the details of my fertility struggle will be triggering for you, skip down to the next section of this post.)

In Spring of 2011, my body started going through what I can only call a metamorphosis. Scars that I had been told would never heal began to do just that. I regained feeling in nerves that had been severed years earlier. Short version: Things got weird for me, medically speaking.

After a 6 month wait to get in for a consultation with the leading fertility doctor in Utah, I went through a battery of tests and was told that I could have another baby. This was a huge shock because my husband and I had been told that we absolutely could not have any more children after our daughter's birth in 2003. Abraham and I discussed it and realized that one of the communication issues we had been having within our marriage stemmed from never discussing how we felt about being told we couldn't have more kids after J's birth. This painful conversation finally happened and we were able to admit to ourselves and to each other that we both wanted another child.

Emotionally, our marriage had suffered some pretty hard blows. We continued therapy (note: we each had our own therapist) and after another 6 months, we determined that we were emotionally healthy enough to attempt a pregnancy. The following months were just awful. They were littered with positive pregnancy tests followed by negative ones. I had multiple miscarriages and we couldn't figure out why. With heavy hearts, we returned to the fertility specialist I had seen before.

The specialist referred us to another specialist. We jumped through insurance hoops and started fertility treatments. Skipping over a great number of details, I conceived again in March 2012. 4 eggs; 3 that looked promising. I was terrified. Sure, they had said I could survive another pregnancy... but nobody had said anything about whether or not I could survive a pregnancy with triplets. I knew going into fertility treatments meant that my risk for a multiple birth was greatly increased and I had prepared myself mentally for the potential of twins. Triplets hadn't been on my radar. When all four eggs failed to thrive, I didn't expect to be so upset. It was a confusing and painful time.






Within a week of that loss, I was on a plane to Costa Rica to serve as an Artist in Residency at the Sloth Sanctuary. I found time during my stay to lick my wounds and gather my strength again. When I returned home, I told my fertility specialist that I would not be doing any more treatments.



Where Acupuncture Stepped In:

I've been seeing Brighton at Utah Family Acupuncture and Herbs off and on for pain relief treatments and assistance with my weak immune system for years. During my fertility treatments, though, I had stayed away. I was scared and my specialist had told me that she worried acupuncture would negatively impact my ability to successful carry to term.

Now that I had decided not to do any more treatments, though, acupuncture was back on the table. I wanted to focus on getting myself back to my pre-fertility treatment self. What people don't tend to realize unless they've struggled with fertility is that it's a battle that can destroy your body and leave you feeling unbalanced. I had packed on 40 lbs and felt like I had lost a lot of muscle mass. I started going back to Weight Watchers meetings, joined a local gym, hiked whenever I could with my family, and made appointments with Brighton.


River rafting with the family for my birthday in June 2012


About a month later, the whole family got sick. A weird summer flu had hit. As Abe and the girls started feeling better, I realized that I never had the flu: I was pregnant. I called my fertility specialist who confirmed the pregnancy and wanted me to come back a few weeks later to see if this one would last. She put me on blood thinners for my blood condition and I decided to keep seeing Brighton.

Throughout my many failed pregnancies, I had developed a sense of when things were about to fall apart. I'd start feeling weak and weepy and then my HCG levels would stop increasing. This time, every time I felt like my body couldn't hold together much longer, I'd see Brighton. This pregnancy was high risk and had every opportunity to fail (see here for more details) but I made it through and my beautiful little boy just celebrated his first birthday.



I'm not a doctor and I can't say that acupuncture will be your magic bullet, but I know that it helped me. I know that when I faced each hurdle, my acupuncture appointments helped me hold together. When we discovered that I was allergic to Zofran, I didn't know how I would be able to avoid another miscarriage. I was so sick and so dehydrated... but acupuncture helped. Every time my body started to fail me, I'd schedule an appointment, focus on staying hydrated with as much water as I could keep down, and I'd rest. I will forever be grateful for the friends and family that stepped up to help take care of my dogs, my house, my daughters... everything... so I could focus on this pregnancy. My daughters were amazing. I could not have done this without their support.


If you live in the Salt Lake City area, I highly recommend seeing Brighton at
Utah Family Acupuncture and Herbs in downtown SLC. Find it on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Utah-Family-Acupuncture-and-Herbs/176817678144

You won't see a bajillion Groupon or Living Social offers for this clinic, but the prices are fair and the service and attention given to each patient cannot be beat. Brighton legitimately cares about every single person she treats. I hope you'll visit her and see what I mean.






Disclaimer: Though I know Brighton personally, I have not been paid or given any incentive for this review. Brighton has not asked for this referral. This post is a response to the questions I have been asked by TTC couples. It is my attempt to be forthcoming with any information that may be helpful in their journey.

For anyone struggling with fertility: My heart goes with you. I cannot say that I understand your struggle because I believe that each person feels that grief in a personal way. What I can say is that I know that you are hurting and it is so hard to find peace. It is my sincerest wish that no matter what outcome you ultimately experience, that peace will find you and hold you close. I acknowledge that the positive outcome that my family has met will sting for some of you. I'm so sorry for that.

My heart is always with you. 

- Candace


7 comments:

  1. When I was pregnant with my first I came down with a severe case of pitoriosis rosea. The only thing that helped me handle the intense itching was acupuncture. I had never done acupuncture before, but after that experience I would definitely try it again for a wide variety of issues. We'll be TTC later this year, and I will consider acupuncture if we experience any difficulty. Thanks for the idea!

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    1. I'm so happy I could help! Best of luck with your upcoming endeavor!

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  2. i've always wanted to try acupuncture. i haven't struggled with infertility, however have had 3 micarriages. def something to consider if we decide to try for another child

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    1. I was amazed at how much it helped with my miscarriage related anxiety, too.

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  3. My husband is currently pursuing a Master's degree in TCM and acupuncture and one of the things he's so excited about is the possibilities in fertility treatment.

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  4. Congratulations on having your baby! Brighton looks so adorable. I’m glad you didn’t give up even after all the trouble you had to go through. Oh well, your baby boy is worth every struggle, right? With regard to acupuncture, I’m glad it helped you when medications didn’t. I wonder if we could dig into this topic deeper. Again, congratulations and all the best! :)

    Hugh Mounsey @ US HealthWorks

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  5. It's quite welcoming to see that you've found a solution to this rather delicate problem. Acupuncture has a variety of uses aside from coaxing fertility, so I say it's a good idea to try it out for other things that may be bothering you. I'm glad you shared this with us, so that more people would see its wonderful effects. Cheers!

    Hannah Holland @ Berkeley Community Acupuncture

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