Again, I’d rather just have sex with my husband
“It is such a secret place, the land of tears”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Remembering IVF the good years – Part 2
(Cue the flashback music and read part 1 here)
And keeping the same protocol for me meant coupling traditional IVF with Extreme Acupuncture. Famed Doctor to the infertile, Dr. Nie (originally from China) is a master of the needle and has helped many Swedish couples become parents. Desperate to increase our chances of a baby, we had done EA with her last IVF cycle and low and behold, we now have a 15-month-old munchkin running around. Three rounds of IUI + five fresh cycles of IVF hadn’t worked but when we added her into the mix, voila! A baby girl. I am a believer, even though medical science may not be.
Attending Dr Nie’s House of Extreme Acupuncture is not unlike learning to play the trumpet. It takes a big commitment, it costs you much time and a little money and at the end of the day, those close to you begin to wish you never took it up in the first place.
Timing is everything and she requests that you attend every day starting from the 7 days prior to your egg collection. Well at least I think that is what she requests, you see, she speaks Chinese Swedish and I speak Australian Swedish and never the two shall meet. Hand gestures are common as is handwritten stick figures and most of our conversations end up looking like the final round in a lively game of charades.
Day 1 with Dr Nie
There is much debate and discussion as you enter the waiting room of Dr Nie’s. Her booking system is much at odds with the Swedish national past time of punctuality and order. In most other waiting rooms in Sweden, or anywhere for that matter such as banks/post office/bakery, you would take a number and politely wait your turn. No one is getting ahead of you, no one is pushing in, everyone is treated equal. To me this makes sense because in a country this cold, if you don’t have law and order, you may die. At Dr Nie’s you are given a date and a time, but those should only be taken as a general indication of the approximate month in which you will be seeing her and not a rule of thumb. And don’t the Swede’s just hate this: this is ridiculous, what time did you get? should I just sit here and wait? does she know I am here? this is ridiculous! I think that person just went in before me! I’ve been here for 45 minutes! this is ridiculous.
To be fair, the ‘system’ is rather confusing at first. There is a queue for those who have already started their treatment and a queue for those who are there for the first time and will just have a chat with her. She treats 20-30 patients at the same time with a room for men and a few rooms for women and if you have been there before it’s more than acceptable to just walk through the waiting room, find an empty bed and jump right on it. Did you see THAT? that person just walked straight on through!
Personally, I love the non-system, system. I love that there is no order and nothing makes sense. I’ve had to wait one minute and I’ve had to wait 1.5 hours. I’ve never complained. Dr Nie works from what I can tell up to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and she is an expert physician. She’s also a kind and wonderful woman who is filled with wisdom and grace.
There is no order or sense with infertility so I think the non-system system fits in just fine with that.
Day 2 with Dr Nie
Each session takes anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5. Generally it is an hour lying on your back with needles stuck all over you, then an hour on your tummy with needles stuck all over you. It really is Extreme Acupuncture.
Yesterday, she went for gold and I counted 44 needles whilst I was on my back. I’m doing morning sessions which start at 8am so it’s harder to fall asleep and relax considering I’ve just woken up. I listen to podcasts of one of the best radio programs in the world, This American Life with Ira Glass – yes you are right, the brother of famed minimalist composer Philip Glass. The shows are brilliant and it certainly helps to pass the time. I also listen to another fab program ABC’s Morning Show with Margaret Throsby, which is invigoratingly good. Honestly, listening to a bit of Mahler is way better than listening to my own radio program that plays 24/7 in my head: is this going to work? why can’t I get pregnant? are the drugs working or am I a dried up old prune? what’s the time? what’s the time now? has Dr Nie forgotten about me? what’s her dog’s name again? am I crazy, what the fuck am I doing here? I think I’ll make lasagne tonight.
Yesterday she told me to bring fresh ginger with me so I did. At the end of our session she explains that I need to thinly slice it, place it on my stomach and burn Moxa on top of it. Every night for the next 5 nights, for approximately 20 minutes. She says this like it’s a normal thing to do, pats you on your hand and sends you on your way.
Moxa is a slow burning something or rather that looks like a cigar and smells like pot. I wish it was pot, at least that would be fun. What is not fun is lying in your bathtub late at night, with the window open in the freezing cold, rubbing fresh ginger on your tummy whilst trying to balance the sliced moxa and the cigarette lighter and all the time trying not to give yourself third degree burns. And if I remember from last IVF cycle, the whole apartment ends up smelling like Amsterdam and no amount of Head and Shoulders gets the smell out of your hair.
The next morning our neighbour winks at me as if to say, gee you guys had fun last night, and I’m like, gee wouldn’t you know…
[Photos courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu ]