On Saturday, I had a consultation with a new acupuncturist-slash-Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine (MTOM); one who specializes in treating infertility, as well as complementary Eastern treatment with Western medicine.
Much of the two-hour appointment was what I expected, having seen a local acupuncturist and TCM practitioner back in February and March. There were some aspects, however, that I certainly did NOT expect.
First and foremost, for a practitioner with nearly twenty years of experience working with infertility patients, my expectation was that Dr. McStabby would be, like… old.
He wasn’t. Or at least he didn’t look old.
He’s young (or young-looking at least). And easier on the eyes than the old dude I was expecting, I might add!
So that happened.
Don’t fret, though; I can control my (tragically low) libido, and he’s married to his partner at the practice. His wife is the (perfectly beautiful [and perfectly fertile]) naturopathic doctor who he works alongside in an integrative medicine model.
After getting my bearings in the presence of the new doctor, I was escorted to the office to fill out a little paperwork while he attended to another patient. The fact that he even has Saturday hours makes my hour-and-twenty-minute drive a little easier to manage. The fact that he doesn’t work on a schedule for his own convenience, but a schedule that revolves around his reproductive patients, is so amazing to me.
That’s two points for Dr. McStabby!
Once the paperwork formalities were out of the way, we started to chat about my charts; he asked me to bring in every chart I had.
PS, I have FOUR YEARS WORTH, so that was fun.
Mainly he just looked over the charts for my non-medicated cycles, so that narrowed it down a bit. He noted that I naturally have a longer follicular phase, and a shorter luteal phase, and then we talked more about the big list of questions I’d filled out before I came in. Most of the questions on his list were the same as those that were in The Infertility Cure, so I was comfortable answering them and providing details when prompted.
We talked a bit about my period, my digestive habits, my diet, and my sad, low libido. He asked about the husband, and I provided him with a copy of his most recent semen analysis – to which he said, “Oh wow. He’s just FINE, isn’t he?”
Ha. Yes. Yes, he is.
After we had discussed pretty much every single function my body had performed for the past five years, he got down to business. Dr. McStabby started talking about how he wanted to get me back to a natural state since I’d been on meds for sooo many cycles in the past, and therefore, I’d be taking an herb every single day to start getting my hormones regulated. He also said that my periods shouldn’t be so difficult, and gave me another herb that I’ll take CD1-3 only each cycle to help be sure the blood was flowing clearly out of my system and not backing up or stagnating, like some theorize can cause endometriosis.
He talked more about his chosen treatment path and methods, and things were all sounding very familiar. Then he referenced his mentor…
He studied under Dr. Randine Lewis, the author of The Infertility Cure.
Hot Doctor also referenced Jill Blakeway and Sami David, authors of Making Babies (which I just finished!), as colleagues of his who he has deferred to when he’s had a particularly stubborn reproductive issue with a patient.
So, in the first half hour I was there, I learned that my new Acu-Doc has an extremely flexible schedule, knows his business when it comes to diet and nutrition, values continuing education and informed patients, and has worked with the three authors/doctors who spurred me down this path to begin with.
Game, set, match. You’re a winner, Doc!
I felt pretty good about the consultation at that point. Not only was this doc legit with his experience and studies, but he seemed to take a personal interest in my case. I’ve so often felt like “just another chart” to the scores of doctors and nurses I’ve seen in the past, but this guy was different in his approach, and that alone made an impact.
We also talked a little bit about the emotional aspects of infertility. Acu-Doc commonly refers patients to see a therapist to help out with some emotional blocks that they may have built up. He said he would be happy to refer me if I so chose, but for now I should just work on making myself aware of how much of the emotional baggage we carry as Infertiles can cause depression and pent up anger. He recommended the abdominal massage (that I already have scheduled, thankyouverymuch!), and said that many find the process to be an emotional release for them, as women tend to bury their emotions in their abdominal regions.
Then we talked about stress. “Infertility causes infertility,” he said. What he means is that the stress of infertility can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. Obviously it’s’ not a simple thing to just let go of stress, but working to lower the levels of stress in one’s life can make a big difference. My job is sometimes stressful, but that can be managed. My home life is not stressful at all, minus the infertility aspect and all that comes along with that.
Dr. McStabby said that he’d like me to continue charting my temps for this month and next month, and then in October, he will probably ask me to stop cold turkey.
*sound of me picking my jaw up off the floor*
There’s a method to the madness, he says. Don’t worry, he says.
Then he says this: “The other thing I want you to do is going to be a little scary, but you need to trust me.”
“I want you to just…”
OH MY GOD, DON’T SAY IT.
“…just stop trying to get pregnant.”
OH NO HE DID NOT.
“I know that sounds counterproductive, given what we’re trying to accomplish here, but I think intimacy with your husband needs to be a bigger priority.”
*sound of me running down the stairs to the basement of the building to retrieve my jaw*
I mean, he’s right about a lot of that.
Do I purposely plan SexyTime around ovulation? Yeah. Am I ever really in the mood after ovulation? Not really, no. Is that all hormonal? Probably not.
Do I perhaps have a bit of a mental hangup (read: control issue) related directly to peeing on sticks and checking my cervical mucus?
So, I get it. He’s trying to get me – the marriage, really – back to a more organic point. He conceded that because the husband does some crazy shift work, that timed intercourse really is probably the best way to make this happen, but that hormones and pheromones can help that process along just as well, if not better, than OPKs and ultrasounds.
He also said that he is confident that I will be pregnant. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when.
God, he was so confident.
I didn’t even know what to say to that. I’ve heard “there’s no reason you shouldn’t be pregnant within X amount of time!” soooo many times, and been disappointed many times over. Something about the way he said it though…
He believes it.
It’s hard not to buy into that kind of belief, you know? I might be a sucker, but I believe it, too.
At that point, we moved into an acupuncture treatment room, and I was given what he called “a very mild treatment” because I’m in my luteal phase. My future treatments will primarily involve the follicular phase, but for the first month, he’d like to see me probably once per week just to help my body get back on track.
The treatment was perfect. No pain, which I was anxious about because of past treatment experiences, and all in all very relaxing.
I left feeling relaxed, with my little tubs of herbs and a bottle of vitamins for the husband to take, and went on to have lunch with some good friends who live in the area.
Not a bad little Saturday, honestly!
So that was Acupuncture 2.0, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ll be seeing Dr. McStabby quite a lot over the next month, and I’m looking forward to seeing some results in how my cycle reacts within the next couple of months. I’m also looking forward to hearing more statements like “…if you’re not pregnant by then, we may add this to your treatment…”
I’m feeling good. Confident.
This is the path I’m supposed to be on, and for the first time, I’m sure of that.
This all feels right – like something that’s been falling apart for years is suddenly starting to come together.
And who knows?
If Acu-Doc’s “just stop trying” advice rings true, I may have to rename this blog after all…