Case Study - Navigating Your Path to Fertility
RM, age 44 had been running through the fertility journey ringer by the time she came to me at Acubalance for acupuncture. She already had three unsuccessful medicated (Clomid) IUI cycles before she and her husband then decided to move forward with IVF. They found themselves temporarily celebrating a positive pregnancy after their first IVF cycle. Unfortunately, they found out that the fetus had a chromosomal anomaly and had to be terminated at 11 weeks. Over the next 3 years they underwent 4 more IVF cycles including two different egg donors and no baby. She was an anomaly because both she and her husband had healthy lifestyles. Her IVF doctor suspected a uterine receptivity issue. She had been working with another acupuncturist to regulate her menstrual cycles and she had noticed improvements in her physical symptoms such as better skin and deeper, longer sleep and yet, still….no pregnancy.
By the time she came to see me at Acubalance, she was 44 years old and had already been trying to conceive for 4 years. During our first session together, she told me she was exhausted. I could sense that it was not just a physical exhaustion, it was a spirit-level exhaustion and rightfully so! She was gearing up for her 5th IVF transfer with a 3rd egg donor. She went through her checklist of things that she was doing “right”: diet full of whole foods, weekly acupuncture and herbs, regular exercise, meditation, visualization...But still, something was not connecting.
I asked her what her visualization practice was like. She explained that she was envisioning a baby between her and her husband when they would cuddle at night. She was standing in front of a mirror imagining what it would feel like to hold an infant in her arms. This all sounded great. After all, at Acubalance, we encourage mindfulness based meditation and visualization practices. But even still, something was not connecting. So I asked her, “What does this child mean to you?” As tears ran down her cheeks, she said “No one has ever asked me that before.” She explained that she knows in her bones that she would be a good mother. That she wants to guide a child through their life and teach them how to be a good person. She wants to raise someone who would contribute to their world and make a positive impact on their community. She then explained that she was actually quite frightened of the infant stage. That holding other people’s babies was not what got her excited. It was seeing older children as they started exploring their world that made her long for her own child. I told her that this is what she should be visualizing.
This is such a subtle shift, but in actuality, this all makes sense from a Chinese medicine perspective. As acupuncturists, we work with channels and meridians which all have points along them. Metal from the acupuncture needle acts as a conductor at these points to realign imbalances and create connections where there have been blockages. On a physical level, the insertion of acupuncture needles induces a cascade of positive effects on the body. It allows the body to access the parasympathetic nervous system, balances hormones, combats inflammation, the list goes on. However, acupuncture is not just medicine for your body. Because acupuncture is also an energetic form of medicine, a lot of the changes I observe with my patients is because acupuncture treatments become a conduit for the patient to access their own body’s innate ability to heal and rewrite their story.
There is an extraordinary meridian that is seldom talked about even in our Chinese medical textbooks called the “Bao Mai”. However, at Acubalance where we specialize in fertility support, I find myself working with this meridian on a daily basis with patients. Its translation in English is the “Uterus Meridian” and it represents a deep and sacred connection between the Heart and the Uterus. In classical texts, the Heart is described as being the governor of blood. In this way, the Heart has an affect on the menstrual cycle and circulation of blood to the reproductive organs. In Chinese, the character “bao” means “envelope” and it refers to the uterus in a woman and the testicles in a man.
Curiously though, the Bao Mai does not have any designated points along its path. One of the ways I have found access to it for my patients is to hold sacred space for them as they navigate and integrate aspects of their story. In RM’s case, she was allowing herself to long for something peripherally associated with her actual dream. An infant is not what she was excited for. It was her toddler whom she wanted to meet. She was afraid to open up fully and get in touch with the intentions that felt near and dear to her heart, thus closing off that vital connection between the Heart and the Uterus.
She went into her 5th IVF transfer with a new visualization and a renewed sense of connection with her body and spirit. We anxiously awaited the date of her pregnancy blood test and cautiously celebrated a strong HCG level. When she went in for her first ultrasound, she emailed me afterwards saying: “be careful what you wish for!” It turns out, she was not only pregnant, but she was pregnant with twins! What RM had not shared with me is that she had secretly been longing for twins.
In the field of fertility medicine, we focus so much on trying to “fix” or “correct” imbalances on physical level. Yes, often these physical interventions are necessary for many of our patients to fall pregnant. There are hormonal imbalances, dietary and nutritional needs that are not being met, blood circulation that needs to be encouraged. Many of the modalities that we offer at Acubalance including acupuncture, naturopathy, cold laser (LLLT) and herbs work to bring those imbalances into harmony. RM’s story is an inspiration and a reminder to us all that we must not forget our heart’s desire and staying true to ourselves to allow the for the power of manifestation along our life’s journey.
We are here to support you. Call Acubalance at (604) 678-8600 to book your initial consultation.