Saturday, February 15, 2014

Acu-What?! ...Becoming a Human Pincushion

My old thoughts on acupuncture:
... OUCH~ Why?!
... Something I will NEVER do. 
... Something I will always avoid.
... Needles stuck all over my body, voluntarily?! Heck no! 
... Nope, nah-uh, no way Jose. Not Gonna Happen. (See pic above!)

     No surprises here, acupuncture always creeped me out at the sound of it. Remember, I am the girl who cringes at the mere thought of a needle. If someone is talking about one, tell me to cover my ears or walk away. I get all wobbly, woozy, and weird. I can't think about, hear about, see, or handle needles. Grey's Anatomy is one of my favorite TV shows, and I still curse out the TV when they show scalpels, needles, and sharp hospital objects. I can't watch. I can't function. This is why I absolutely hate getting shots and blood tests, too. I can be brave when I have to (sometimes), but if at all costs a needle can be avoided, I avoid it like the plague. For this reason, I will also probably never have a tattoo!

     After hearing about acupuncture helping a lot of women get pregnant, and knowing a few fellow IG/TTC sisters go for it and later be successful with pregnancies, it started to become a little less scary. Lots of friends were posting how much they liked it, how relaxing it was, and how it was helping. Hmmmm??? Can't always knock it 'til you try it, right? In some cases, yes. Other cases, no. But since being a mommy is such a big dream, I'm willing to sacrifice my phobia of needles, to an extent. I started researching local acupuncturists, specifically those with fertility experience. A childhood friend does acupuncture in NYC, and while that's too far to go regularly, I asked her for local recommendations and she found me a clinic in our old hometown, right down the street from my job/school. How convenient!! I emailed the acupuncturist and heard back immediately (a few other clinics near where I now live still haven't responded to my inquiries, 4 months later). I think it was a sign. ;) 

     I made my first appointment in November, and was so nervous. Melissa, the acupuncturist, was very inviting and welcoming. She made me feel comfortable right away, but it was a strange first hour because she was trying to get an idea of why I was there, what I wanted for results, etc. I had to talk about every aspect of my life and get super personal about everything, from easy to awkward: my diet, my sleeping patterns, my physical wellness, exercise, childhood, family, relationship with Scott, our marriage, infertility, my job, stress, headaches, etc. I am not great at speaking to questions on the spot, and never really analyzed these areas of my life before. I've never seen a therapist or spoken out about my feelings and life events to anyone other than close family, friends, or who I choose. Speaking about every corner of your life to a total stranger, within minutes of meeting them, is a little intimidating and scary. But I was here for a reason and this was important, so I did it. 

     Melissa then explained acupuncture, it's history, it's benefits, and everything in between. To be honest, I never really got it. I thought it was just sticking needles into your body to make you feel better for certain reasons.. and while essentially that is close, there's so much more to it. There's such a deep history in the science of it, and it's really kind of magical to me. Basically, acupuncture is placing very fine needles at specific points in the body where vital energy runs. It kind of helps release and promote the flow of your chi, or vital force energy. Energy can get stuck in certain spots in your body, especially if you are tense and stressed, depressed, or sick. Energy is flowing and moving when you are relaxed, happy, and active. A lot of this parallels what I've learned in yoga, too, so it was kind of making sense to me and hitting home to a place I could connect with and understand. I don't know the science behind it and how it works (again, it seems so magical), but placing those little needles in certain spots can alleviate pain, release hormones, increase blood flow, and move around your chi/energy. It's all pretty amazing to me, as this is kind of the spiritual realm I find fascinating. Positivity & energy flow are right up my alley!

     When it came time to try a few needles, I was given the choice of laying face up or face down. I didn't want to see anything and I preferred the idea of them going into my back, which I feel is a little less sensitive. I felt Melissa pinpointing different spots on my back, based on my spine and different vertebrae, and then in went the first needle, somewhere in my upper back. I went "Wow, that's it?! That was nothing!" I was thrilled it didn't hurt, and was starting to relax and soak it all in. Melissa reassured me that the needles were so super fine, unlike hypodermic needles. When the 2nd needle was in, I started to feel a strange, but cool, tingly sensation in my back.... Kind of like having a few glasses of wine, is what I told her. She said that's the chi moving, and she wasn't surprised because she could tell from our meeting that I have a lot of positive energy flow. I relaxed as the rest of the needles were placed (I think 10 total, all in different points of my back), and then lay there to relax for about 20 minutes, listening to calm music. The bed was so comfortable, it's like a massage table, and I almost took a nap. It was surprisingly VERY relaxing and not at all what I had feared. I felt so strong and brave, and proud of myself for trying something new and scary, all by myself. 

      My first appointment was at the end of November, and my second was on New Year's Eve. I wasn't going more often because a) it's expensive and not covered by insurance, and b) we hadn't received Scott's results at that point, so we weren't sure what would be happening, or when, so I didn't want to jump into anything more regular. Also, Melissa hadn't suggested anything more, so I was ok with slowly easing into it. The December visit was the same, all in my back. I have been dealing with on and off headaches for many years, so in addition to fertility issues, I did want to try to address this as well. I know I get migraines the week of my period (possibly a hormone rise or dip), and also when I don't work out for a while. So we were trying to help it. She put 1 needle on each side of my head, behind my ears... that was a very tender and sensitive spot that hurt for a bit, but then released almost immediately. Weird! I'm hoping if I keep up with workouts I'll help the headaches because even though it probably helped, I don't necessarily like that needle spot a lot. It's probably a good pressure point, but woa that was kind of a zinger.

     Once we got our results on Scott and learned we would need to move to IUI with donor sperm, I emailed Melissa and said I wanted to have more frequent sessions. I told her I want to beat the odds and increase our chance of conceiving as soon as possible. I've gone twice in the last two weeks, and we have 2 more sessions set up for the next 2 weeks, which will lead up to ovulation and the actual procedure. Now that we're focusing more on fertility assistance, the last 2 sessions I've laid on my back. I have to admit, I was a little scared the first time because now we are getting into more sensitive areas, and I can see it all, which makes my mind anxious.

      I think I counted 14 needles on my front, in various spots: 4 in each leg (one near each knee, two alongside each shin, and 1 in each foot, below the toes), 3 along my abdomen (1 above each ovary and 1 in between), 1 in each hand (the space of loose skin between my thumb and pointer), and 1 in the center of my forehead (third eye area). I have to say, MOST of them didn't hurt a bit. The one in my right foot hurt and made me jump, and sometimes others do twinge for a second. The ones in my hands had me mentally freaked out, and I felt myself getting shaky and anxious, but I breathed through it and was fine. Once they were all in, I relaxed and listened to the music and my thoughts. Before Melissa took them all out, I asked her to snap a few pics so I could show off to Scott. I was so proud of my accomplishment, it's like learning a new trick!

Hard to see, but there's a needle in my forehead... I couldn't help but laugh!

There's a needle in my hand... and keeping my thumb and pointer touching kept me grounded (like yoga!)
     One interesting observation from that first front-side session, is I think it helped move along ovulation, as weird as that sounds. The needle over my left ovary was causing more sensitivity than my right, and there were weird twinges. I told Melissa and she said it could be that ovary gearing up for ovulation. I took note of it and later confirmed that the session was on day 18 of my cycle (I'm typically late in ovulating, and my cycles tend to be a little on the long side at times). The very next day, I felt a lot of twinges in that same spot (like a fluttery feeling, very milk cramps in a sense), and honestly think that was ovulation. I emailed Melissa to tell her the connection I found, and she said it probably was indeed that. We will be using acupuncture over the next few weeks to prepare my body for what's to come, and it could have been stimulating it for ovulation. How cool is that?! This past week when I went, all needles were placed in the exact same spots, and I found that breathing deeply just before, or while each one is placed, helps to not get zapped by any in surprise. 

My new thoughts on acupuncture:

... Something I now do, and love. Go figure! Funny how life changes! 
... Ahhhh :) 
... I've overcome a fear (mostly... there are places I don't want that needle... like in my ear, or my wrists. Eek!)

   I'm so glad I've decided to go for acupuncture. I'm so proud of myself for facing a fear and I'm working to help myself relax and overcome it. The needles are not like those I'm more afraid of, but if I can teach myself to calm down and relax, it might carry over to when I need the scarier needles. I get nervous while all are being placed, and it's a little scary not knowing where they're all going (but I'd rather not know than ask and freak out more), but once they're all in and settle for a second, I'm fine. And I honestly do not get hurt by the majority of them. I am able to relax while I lay there, and this past time I was envisioning the whole IUI cycle, the process I'll be going through, and tried to envision getting a positive pregnancy test, growing a cute baby bump, and even possibly having twins! It's all about positive thinking, relaxing, and just being at peace with it all. I feel GREAT when I leave, and it even keeps me in a great mood for the next few days, plus I feel refreshed and energetic. I recommend it! You don't need to have an injury or illness to go. You can go for general relaxation even. It's pretty amazing and I'm thankful to have found Melissa and her super convenient location!! 

View from acupuncture building~ The Hudson River <3

1 comment:

  1. Yay!!! So glad you overcame the fear and are liking it now!!!!