Visualizing the possible

First, a fun fact*: An enzyme in pineapple could help an embryo implant into the uterus. I’ve been eating pineapple like it’s my job.

*I’m using “fact” quite liberally here. I mostly find this bit of information fascinating, and I happen to like pineapple (at least for now).

My acupuncturist recommended that I come in for a treatment 24 hours prior to my embryo transfer. As I lay down on the table, she explains the points she’ll hit to get my blood flowing well to my uterus in advance of tomorrow’s “big day.”

Before she leaves me with a dozen needles sticking out of various points on my legs, hands and tummy, she tells me to visualize what will happen tomorrow. Picture a perfect embryo entering a warm home and finding a nice, cozy spot to implant. If I’d thought about it too much, it might seem silly to picture this in my mind, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Then before she closes the door to the room, she says to picture what is to come in the months ahead. A healthy, growing bump; a happy mama to be. Visualize what I could look like in four, five months as the leaves turn. A Thanksgiving with a big, full belly (and lots of pie just for me… mmm… pie). Then picture laboring my child and holding him or her in my arms for the first time. The moment my husband sees his son or daughter. The hair color. The tiny but strong grip on my finger.

Imagining my child was very difficult for me to do. After three and a half years of waiting and two miscarriages, I don’t allow myself to picture a future with a baby with blonde hair (my husband’s) and green eyes (mine). It’s simply too painful to fathom that being real anymore.

As I lay there, I imagined my brain knocking down walls. I allowed myself to inch closer to visualizing this little person – half me, half my husband.

I left the room after my treatment very definitively wanting to take a picture tomorrow of me, my husband and our IVF nurse. If this is successful, I’ll hang that photo in the nursery in some months of the people that made my dreams come true.

If tomorrow doesn’t take, I’ll be glad to have a photo of us filled with hope for that little blondie with the green eyes, even if we have to wait longer.

Embracing TCM

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading The Infertility Cure. The book focuses on TCM and how it can be beneficial for those struggling with infertility. Within the first few pages, I felt a connection to the material and became excited to read more about how I could supplement the Western medicine (specifically my upcoming IVF) with Eastern.

The book includes a list of 100+ questions about your body, your habits, your menses, and the like. It’s broken down by the organs that govern its function (liver, spleen, lung, heart and kidney) and the vital substances of the body (Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood). Even if you know virtually nothing about TCM (I didn’t), you probably know that balance is important. After answering the yes/no questions, it became very obvious to see which areas of me likely had an imbalance. For example, I answered nearly all of the questions related to spleen function with yes (crave sweets, fatigue, sweat with little exertion, obsessive worry, easy bruising), indicating that I am deficient in spleen qi. All of these symptoms of this deficiency — things that I generally thought were just “me” and normal — quickly made so much sense. And after three and a half years of trying and failing to have a baby, something actually making sense is pretty rare.

Last week I met with my acupuncturist for the first time, and I immediately loved her. She’s warm and friendly, and perhaps most importantly, eager to help me get pregnant (and stay that way). I feel that way about my fertility doctor and nurses, but she brings a distinct energy to Team Baby. I like it, and I feel at ease with her.

I don’t have a phobia of needles (unlike my husband), so I wasn’t very nervous to try acupuncture. I already knew that it wouldn’t hurt and would (hopefully) relax me. I spend much of my time feeling like a ball of anxiety because of infertility, so spending 45 minutes lying down under the directive to let things go is comforting. Plus, acupuncture is a positive thing that I can do for my body that requires no significant effort on my part. I don’t hate that.

My homework following my first session was pretty simple — substantially cut back on my sugar intake, drink more water, and take an herbal supplement I was given. The latter two being easy-peasy. But cutting sugar would be my Everest. Sugar and I are BFFs. Because, ya know, it’s delicious. I’m one of those people whose mouths hang wide open when someone says they’re “not a dessert person.” I legitimately do not understand when I hear that.

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I’m more than a week down. I’ve turned down cupcakes and chocolate lava cake with a snickerdoodle topping, just in the last two days. And I hate to admit it, but I feel a bit better. I’m adjusting to one stevia in my morning coffee. The sugar I have eaten has almost exclusively come from fruit (which my acupuncturist encouraged, particularly berries which will help me “build up my blood” – another areas where I was lacking, apparently). And while fruit is no ice cream with hot fudge, I’m enjoying it.

I’m eager to see more positive changes as a result of TCM and acupuncture in the coming weeks, especially as I start my IVF meds in a little more than a week.

#TeamBaby

Panic.

It’s about to get REAL.

I started my period this morning – my first following my miscarriage last month – which means all systems go to begin IVF. All things considered, this is impeccable timing. Yesterday was Mother’s Day (which can suck). Tomorrow I’m attending my first infertility support group (thanks to Resolve for offering fantastic resources). Wednesday I’m meeting with an acupuncturist (reading The Infertility Cure has been eye-opening) and then have my own bi-weekly therapy session.

I’m scared and excited about what’s to come in the next month. I know it will be a physical and emotional challenge. Part of the reason I’m further exploring the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture in conjunction with IVF is to ease the physical and mental stress as much as I am able. I need to enlist every form of support that I have available to me. I mean, we’ve been trying to have a baby for three and a half years, and my nerves are just fried. If both Eastern and Western medicine can help me get to my goal relatively unscathed, I’m all in.