Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sarah as Pincushion

Today was my first acupuncture appointment. To see if, you know, we can figure out why my uterus is an empty, useless husk of a thing, and to find out if perhaps we might be able to cajole her into carrying another baby for about 9 months, give or take a few weeks.

At the suggestion of my therapist (let's call her D1), I called the acupuncturist (she gets to be D2, mkay?). I made an appointment last week and was thrilled that unlike your garden variety western obstetrician, one doesn't have to wait 3-6 months to see an acupuncturist. Hurray for stepping outside the mainstream.

After dropping the one child my uterus has managed to gestate (and for whom I am eternally grateful, nice uterus, pretty uterus) at a friend's house, I languished in mid-day LA traffic for 45 minutes to go all of maybe 7-8 miles, to a small medical building in Brentwood. Turns out all that sitting in traffic would be useful in D2's explanation of the energy highways in my body and how if one of those pathways is jammed up, none of them can do their jobs correctly, "kind of like how the 101 gets backed up at the on-ramp to the 405". Hey! I was just sitting in that stalled out mess of frustrated energy!! Neat-o! Now I TOTALLY get why my body won't make a baby. Erm. Or not.

I entered the small office at the end of a hallway in a garden variety medical building (you know, the one with the marble-glazed lobby, complete with physician directory plastered on the wall and a "how are you still in business; haven't you heard of Target?" pharmacy across from the elevators). How to describe the reception area of this office? It was like stepping into a womb, shall we say (minus the mess of all that amniotic fluid). The space was small, almost cramped (two people couldnt' walk through the sitting area without an awkward exchange of bumping parts and "excuse me"'s), and very warm. Not uncomfortably hot, just toasty and cozy warm. The kind of warm you hope your baby is while it's sucking it's thumb in your belly at around 33 weeks. I could hear hushed voices in a couple of the treatment rooms and new age-y music was being pumped through the sound system at such a low volume I had to stop what I was doing to be sure there was actually music playing and I wasn't having some sort of weird "hearing music in my head" stroke (which, for the record, if I ever have a stroke, I hope it's that kind--at least it's entertaining).

Anticipating the very near future, during which I would be flat on a table with pins sticking out of various body parts, I asked the receptionist where the bathroom was and as I wandered my way there, I came to the wall o' babies. A collage of real pictures of babies I'm assuming these women have helped to create. Sweaty women in hospital gowns and their shell-shocked husbands holding tiny sleeping bundles of baby. It was a good thing I arrived a few minutes early for the appointment because after lingering a few too many moments at the giant wall o' baby, I needed to have a good old cry in the bathroom (which was, incidentally, perfectly set up for a good old cry--candles, tissues, framed articles on the walls about the value of friendship and positive mantras about self-worth).

Then I met D2. There are only two words one needs to use to describe her: Earth Mother. In a very un-cheesy way, she exudes love and positive energy and a "I will heal you" vibe that made my insides unclench for the first time in a long time when asked questions about babies and having babies and what was up with me that I wasn't having babies.

We talked for what seemed like a long time, about things I would never have in eleventy billion years imagined we'd discuss in relation to my fertility (what was happening in my life when I was 7 years old?! Apparently it matters. Go figure). We hit on a lot of things that are a smidge too private for me to share here (can you even imagine??!! You didnt' realize that was possible, did you anonymous interweb surfer?! I usually tell you everyfreakingthing). I began to see some emotional reasons why my mind might not be letting my body do it's "job". I began to see some things I need to work on to make myself more available to the process of creating and growing a new life.

And then it was time to become the pincushion. After a pregnancy during which I was poked and prodded with every type of needle imaginable, I wasn't too concerned about the pain of it. She asked me, as she was getting out the pins (which I never saw, by the way; she is that smooth), if I plucked my own eyebrows. Seriously??!!! I have heard from the Vietnamese ladies who have done my nails in the past that my eyebrows are a mess (not kidding--they are brutal), but I didn't expect to hear it from my acupuncturist while I was feeling quite so vulnerable. Turns out she was just trying to use the feeling of plucking your eyebrows as a frame of reference for what the pins might feel like to me. Silly me.

As I lay on my back, feeling like I was there more for a massage than any kind of real treatment, D2 began to tap in the pins. The first one, on the top of my left foot, felt like a fly landing on me; no pain, just an awareness. Then a tingle. A couple more pins, and the same reaction. Then she got to the soft space between the inside of my ankle and achilles tendon. That pin? Felt like a cattle prod.

I jumped and said somthing like, "okay, that one is bad. that hurts". D2 shot a glance to her apprentice (yes, my session was observed by a healer-in-training--the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned). D2 said to Apprentice, "Did you see that? That's the kidney to the uterus", but didnt' really tell me anything about it. She just nodded a lot after that, like I made perfect sense to her.

After the pins were tapped in, she put a small eye pillow over my eyes (careful not to disturb the pin. in. my. forehead.), turned a heat lamp on over my abdomen and bid me adieu for about fifteen minutes. Just me, the pins, and the plinky-plunky new age music. As she was getting ready to leave the room, I was overcome with an urge to giggle--not out of embarrassment or self-consciousness, but because somewhere in me I felt an overwhelming, momentary swell of happy. It lasted for about a minute, and then I was back to just experiencing my own breathing. And the intermittent tingles eminating from the pin points, radiating out like a stone throw's ripples on a pond. The pin in my "kidney to uterus" point ached and tingled, but not in a truly painful way--perhaps only in a "I am perseverating on you and way more aware of you than I need to be because she said the word 'uterus'" kind of way.

I didn't get the "floaty" feeling that a lot of people have described to me. She explained that she only used abou 12 pins on me this time because sometimes releasing the energy too quickly and creating too much of that floaty endorphin rush can freak people out and make them shy away from the experience. She assured me that next time, I'd "float".

Leaving the treatment room and heading back to the reception area, I found the place far less "womb like", but not in a bad way. It's just that my contact lenses were dried onto my eyeballs (note to self: next week, wear glasses), and I had to fork over money. As far as I know, the only currency traded in the womb is the contents of the amniotic fluid. So, that took away from it a bit. But still, money well spent, even if only to understand myself just that little bit better.

On an entirely different note: Ethan starts his first day of pre-school tomorrow (excuse me while my head explodes and I run around gathering it up). I'll get into all of that tomorrow, I'm sure (after a bottle or two of "where did mah baby go??!!!" wine), but if you read this before 9am PST on Thursday, send some "Have a good first day, Ethan!!!" vibes out there for the little man. He's excited. I have heart burn.


Becca said...

That sounds so interesting! I've always wondered what that is like. Good luck!

And good luck Ethan!

Leap Year Dad said...

Wow, Sweetness ! Sounds like it might actually be good for relaxing. Hopefully, it will help you in your journey.

And Ethan, have a fun day, and pretend to be happy when Mom has to drag you away from all those toys, activities, and snacks.

And Sarah, after the first few days, don't linger too long when dropping him off. I had many a days of 30 minutes of crying by child when dropping off. Of course, the teachers reported he was fine within 5 minutes. (Me, I felt guilty as all get go)

Sue said...

I am extremely needle-phobic and I had a wonderful experience with acupuncture to get rid of residual pain/numbness in my right arm after a car accident.

Here's to a happy E-man at school.

cicadalady said...

it was so interesting to read about your experience. i've never done acupuncture before. glad it went well!

Sarah said...

Wow, Sarah! I smiled the whole time I read this-- you did an excellent job of conveying your sense of peace. I hope this experience turns into everything you want it to be.

And for real-- I meant what I said yesterday-- preschool freaking is amazing! Good luck little E!

Amy said...

Just reading this now, but I am sure he loved it! Can't wait to hear all about it.

I figured the acupuncture was for fertility reasons, but didn't want to ask that in case it wasn't! But I think it would be nice to lay on a table for 15 minutes of quiet and I am not even looking for fertility help.

Sounds like you might have hit on something with this.

gringa said...

I'm really impressed. I did some acupuncture earlier this fall and didn't have any of the feelings you had so maybe you have hit on something...

Yea Ethan, you are about to launch your own independent life that Mommy & Daddy will only learn about if you want to tell them. Its a big step for you and maybe a bigger step for mom, but exciting for all.

Alice said...

Good luck w/ Ethan's first day! And I've always been intrigued by Eastern medicine, thanks for sharing your experience.