My first acupuncture appointment was in 2000, I was going through my second round of IVF and had been furiously searching the internet for anything that might help me reach a successful outcome this time around. I had no idea what to expect when I walked in to my first appointment but I left feeling calmer, supported, and more in control of what might lie ahead. I was also given lifestyle changes and dietary advice, herbs and supplements that might help get my body into the best possible shape and I felt empowered to make the changes.
I went every two weeks for treatment with additional sessions just before and after my embryo transfer. Using visualisation techniques, I visualised myself holding my baby in my arms and not long after I was visiting the acupuncturist daily for morning sickness!
Fast forward 8 years and my new husband and I decided we wanted to have a child together. After 12 months of trying unsuccessfully we went for fertility tests. Nothing appeared to be wrong with either of us and we were given the frustrating diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’. Looking back at our lifestyle at the time we were both in extremely stressful jobs, compounded further by the fact we were working together. We had both been through stressful divorces just years earlier and we were partying too hard, sleeping way too little and taking no time out to rest.
At this point I dug out the details of my previous acupuncturist and gave her a call. It was great just to hear her voice and I made an immediate appointment. My appointment instilled that sense of calm again and she talked to me about college lecturing that she was doing training acupuncturists at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Bristol.
"As I floated home, I realised that I needed to make changes to my lifestyle in order to achieve the baby we so desperately desired and with a love of acupuncture and its whole philosophy maybe this was the change I needed."
We hopped on to the IVF train and I responded extremely well despite my age being against us, I was 38 at the time. We excitedly headed to the clinic in Wimbledon for egg collection, however, a clinic issue with the final dose of medication led me to ovulate before I made it into the clinic and the cycle came to an end suddenly. I was devastated.
We decided to get straight back into another round before letting my body or emotions heal. This round was also unsuccessful. Stress at home and at work was suddenly too much to deal with and remembering my previous conversation with my acupuncturist I made the decision to leave work, leave the Marketing agency world and have a complete change in career.
I signed up to start training as a Naturopathic Acupuncturist and I have to say it was life changing. The first year of Bio medicine and Nutrition made me see the impact that the stress we had been under, coupled with poor diet, too much alcohol and too many takeaways had been having on our fertility.
We continued on our IVF journey with a change in clinic and a fresh outlook. Our 3rd attempt produced grade A embryos but sadly they did not implant. We were advised to have investigative surgery and additional medication on our next round. The following frozen embryo transfer ended in a chemical pregnancy. Another emotional battle to get through. I was having acupuncture every couple of weeks which was working on increasing blood flow to the uterus, enhancing the endometrium lining and calming the mind. I was slowly making changes to my diet and lifestyle, each week coming home from college with a way of improving our health and ultimately fertility. Juicing every day, eating only organic whole foods, reducing plastics, caffeine, processed food and alcohol.
Our dream came true and we finally got the result we had been waiting for when our 5th cycle of IVF led to a positive pregnancy test. Sadly at 17 weeks, an unexplained infection led to sepsis causing me to go into early labour. Our little girl was born too early and too small to survive. The desperation for a child is so strong, stronger than the pain of losing one so against everyone’s judgement we decided we still desperately wanted to achieve our dream. We couldn’t face anymore hospitals, medicated cycles and interventions.
"So, we decided to throw everything we had at aiming for a natural conception"
I researched everything there was to know about optimising your fertility through diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, meditation, supplements and herbs. We felt healthy. My body recovered slowly and emotionally I grew stronger. Just after Christmas that year, when my period still hadn’t arrived, I dared to take a pregnancy test. Our little rainbow baby boy was born in the summer.
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