For all of you who are struggling with stress related to infertility issues, age, poor response, or previously failed IVF, I would like to share my inspirational and insightful experience with Dr. Brown and Acubalance. I was almost 42 yrs. old when I first met Dr. Brown and had struggled with two natural miscarriages and one failed IVF over a two-and-a-half year period.
Prior to my 1st IVF, I did quite a bit of research on infertility, aging, miscarriages, and acupuncture. I did weekly acupuncture with a naturopath near my home because she was affiliated with one of the local fertility clinics. The experience was very clinical in nature and our weekly sessions consisted of a brief 3-5 minute discussion on any physical changes since my last treatment and 30 minutes of rest following the needles being inserted. The naturopath would come in to check on me after 15 minutes (turn the lights on bright) and then rush me out after my 1/2 hour was over. While I received treatments, I definitely never felt that I received any support. After my failed first IVF, I spoke with a very empathetic and kind nurse at Genesis (my fertility clinic) and we discussed my switching to Acubalance to improve my chances if I was going to try IVF again. At my age, time was of the essence and statistics for 43-year-olds were even more dismal than for 42-year-olds.
On my first visit to Acubalance with Dr. Brown, I knew immediately that I had finally found the missing support network that I couldn't get from my husband, family, friends, or doctors/nurses. We spent a short part of the first visit discussing my personal medical/technical side, and then the balance of the discussion focused on well-being and education, including diet, stress, exercise, and sleep. We spent the first part of each subsequent visit talking about my well-being issues and fertility "game plan." I always felt reassured and relieved that I could email Dr. Brown with any questions that I had forgotten to ask during my appointments. Work stress was a huge factor since I had a very demanding job and a company that was undergoing extensive restructuring for most of 2009 and 2010.
Each weekly visit, I would find that I was less stressed about work and preparing for my next IVF. I ended up getting pregnant naturally after the first six weeks of Acubalance visits but miscarried at 6 1/2 weeks. Dr. Brown called me right away to offer support and encouragement. We both knew that I didn't have quite enough time yet to work on improving egg quality with weekly sessions, herbs, and supplements and that work continued to be a source of stress. I was initially suppose to undergo my second IVF the following month, and realized that I wasn't ready yet. Genesis was extremely supportive of my request to undergo recurring pregnancy loss tests to see what was going on. They found a minor blood clotting issue, which was remedied with a daily low-dose aspirin.
When I was gearing up for my second IVF, Dr. Brown was extremely supportive and we would talk regularly at the sessions and via email. After the first five days of injections, I was diagnosed as a poor responder and was told my cycle may be cancelled. I emailed Dr. Brown and he called me right away to come in the following day for another treatment (he wasn't treating that day but squeezed me in). When I went to Genesis on Saturday, they asked if I had been talking to the follicles because they ended up seeing seven that were growing nicely. With so much time, emotion, and financial already invested, I ended up going into Acubalance almost daily for the next week to encourage the follicles to mature evenly. Each visit, Genesis would be pleasantly surprised by my response and how much acupuncture made a difference. Dr. Brown and his team would vary the treatment depending on my daily results.
At egg retrieval, I had nine mature follicles, eight eggs retrieved, and seven mature. All seven mature eggs successfully fertilized with ICSI, and all seven were in great shape on Day 3. We transferred the best four, and the remaining three were kept in culture. Embryos were very high quality, especially for my age. I managed the two week wait with no issues or stress because I was so busy at work, Christmas was around the corner, and I would continue to regularly email or see Dr. Brown. Our greatest stress at that time was the possibility of multiples.
On my first beta, my HCG results were astonishing at over 900 and my second beta one week later was 10,000+. My husband, Dr. Brown, and Genesis were all thrilled with the results, and anxiously awaited our first ultrasound to see how many had implanted. At our ultrasound, we saw one sac and a little heartbeat flicker - there were no signs of a miscarriage or other embryo implanted. We just had a little superstar. At our second ultrasound a week later, we saw the baby moving and had a strong heartbeat at 160+ beats per minute. Our miracle!
After having gone through a couple of miscarriages, we continued to hold our breath waiting to see if everything was okay with each ultrasound and test. We are fully aware of the stats of a successful live birth at my age, the risks of Down Syndrome, miscarriage, early term, etc. However, we find that we celebrate the milestones each week, never taking for granted the struggles, pain, and commitment it took to get this far. I can honestly say that I would not have gotten this far without Dr. Brown and his Acubalance team's support. I ended up seeing all the Dr. TCMs there because of the number of months I have been there for pre/post conception.
Lately, we've been working on the very real pregnancy symptoms including insomnia, morning sickness, and back/neck/shoulder pains. I will continue to see Dr. Brown for the remainder of my pregnancy even though the visits become less frequent over time. Acubalance has a wonderful relationship with the doctors at Genesis, and I cannot say enough great things about that synergy. They worked very closely together and copied each other on emails so there was always professional support, insights and advice. I am happy to report that we are now halfway through our pregnancy and our recent NT scan, tests, and amnio have confirmed that that the baby is doing well. I can feel the baby moving around inside and look forward to having my husband and daughter feel the kicks as well in a few more weeks.
My work schedule continues to be busy, and I still make my one-hour drives to Acubalance from my home. While there are other practioners closer to my home who conduct fertility acupuncture treatments, I can assure you that none of them would have the medical expertise, network, professional accreditation, or client-centred bedside manners that Dr. Brown has. I started 2010 with doing whatever I could to maximize my chances of a healthy pregnancy and ended 2010 with that success.
I consider myself very fortunate to have found Dr. Brown and his Acubalance team mid-way through my struggle, and to have someone finally listen, educate, and support me through my very real, individualized, and specific situation, and be willing to stay the course.
Thank you Dr. Brown!