So, getting stuck with needles. Turns out I’m into it.
Acupuncture has diminished some of my formerly hideous PMS. It’s regulated my cycles to 28 days and makes for fewer colds and flus. This was the first winter I only fell sick once and that’s a miracle considering I take public transport in Brooklyn 7 days a week, which is sort of like licking a biohazardous petri dish on the daily. I’m also convinced it helped me get pregnant and (downer alert) helped my body to return to normal more quickly after that pregnancy ended in blighted ovum.
A fascinating thing happened in the days following my first TTC acupuncture session. I have no less bizarre way of putting this: it felt like there was popcorn going off in my ovaries and uterus. I don’t mean in a scary violent way, but more in a “waking up” sense. I wasn’t ovulating (it was CD3) but when I looked this phenomenon up, multiple women had posted similar accounts. Until that moment, I’d never really “felt” my insides to such an extent. It was a big deal for me.
Everytime I read posts by women asking if acupuncture is really worth it, I’m reminded of the days when I’d google-stalk “TTC + acupuncture“ in hopes of figuring out whether it was right for me, and while I’ve been doing it weekly for half a year, I’ve never weighed in on it.
I live in NYC where you *can* get super fancy high end acupuncture for hundreds of US dollars a pop, but because I work in education and have budgetary restrictions I got to Chinatown weekly, where they charge $45 for an hour long session.
The first time I showed up for an appointment, I burst into tears when the acupuncturust (a demure Chinese gentleman in his 60’s) asked if I had kids. That was last year, and at 36 I could look the guy in the eye and say I’d never been pregnant. He asked me to lie down and relax. It became clear that this was not going to be the sort of medical relationship where I could spill my emotional beans, and you know what? I’ve savored that quietude ever since.
Once a week I fork out $45 to lie down in a small, bare room and listen to a CD of calming piano on rote while the good doctor patiently needles me: three horizontally placed in a line just above my pubic bone, two on the first joint of each thumb, two on the pinky-side of my ring fingers, one in each inner ankle, one in each temple and one at the crown of my head.
Then as he leaves my module, he says “ok, try to sleep.”
I never sleep.
Instead, I listen to other patients through the thin walls explaining their ailments, or the odd groan from acupressure activities in the neighboring rooms- shoulders and spines being squished. My thoughts travel all over the map.
After 30 minutes the acupuncturist returns, removes the first set of needles and tells me to roll over. I stick my face through a hole in the table I’m lying on and he places around a dozen needles in my back. Some of these I barely feel going in but a couple of them definitely make me jerk a little. He says “hurt!” like it’s a good thing, and I grunt. The pain goes away in seconds and then, if he’s feeling extra proactive he’ll put a heat lamp over the exposed back and hook me up to a machine that sends low frequency electrical currents to those needles. This is thought to strengthen the result with a little extra stimulation. It sort of feels like your back is being aggressively flicked, at worst. Eventually he comes back, unhooks me and removes round two of the needles. Then he says “ok see you next week” and there you have it.
During these sessions I try to think about my body readying itself for a healthy pregnancy. when I fell pregnant earlier this year it lasted 7 weeks before they diagnosed me with blighted ovum. Yes, I was crushed by the news and a natural miscarriage turned out not to be all that “therapeutic” for me (ow).
I *actually got pregnant.* That was a first. And at 37, I’m counting all the blessings I can. If I got pregnant once, theoretically I can swing it again. Who’s to say next time, I won’t score a healthy ovum? Only time will tell, but I do believe that acupuncture kickstarted what little fertility my body can biologically muster at this point. So I’m gonna keep going back until a baby shows up or I grow old in reasonable immunological health... hopefully both, though.