It was October 2016 and we’d decided to get back on the torture train.
Our previous failed standard round of IVF had proven fertilisation was an issue. We’d been told ICSI was the way forward. Rather than drop a bunch of sperm into the same sassy little dish as my eggs and then wait for them to get cosy they instead select one of the finest looking sperm and inject it into one of my desperate eyelash fluttering eggs. A forced union with much higher fertilisation success rates.
Round one had gone by like a big hail storm. We’d known NOTHING of the process and just stumbled along blindly ducking for cover and doing as we were told. I wanted round 2 to be different. I now knew what to expect and I was determined to be as prepared as I could. Hence my new obsession with dear Anni.
I’d fallen in love with Anni the moment we met. Something about her soothed my soul. My good friends know all too well how pro councillors I am. I’m always suggesting for others to go and speak to a professional. Speak to a stranger. Take action. But I am a massive hypocrite as I’ve never been to see one myself. Too scared to lift the lid off all the feelings I carry around. But my weekly trips to Anni’s Parramatta office became my counselling session. She was my safe place.
She likes to start working with couples at least 3 months prior to a round as although men produce millions of new sperm every day it takes around three months for them to mature and in that time, they are subject to whatever conditions the rest of the body is exposed to throughout their development cycle. Lots of things can impact the quality of jizz. Smoking, poor diet, drug use, heat, stress etc. A woman’s eggs also go through a 90-day maturation cycle preparing for ovulation. They are similarly effected by healthy or unhealthy influences such as; blood flow, oxygen, hormonal balance, nutritional intake, and stress.
Anni’s aim was to improve our chances by balancing our bodies using a complete mind and body approach. But she got me mind, body, and spirit. It’s like she had three eyes. I felt like she could see me for me without either of us having to say very much.
I visited Anni every Saturday for an hour. She would start by checking the strength of my pulse, looking at the colour of my tongue, and asking me a few simple questions. These weekly checks informed her of my emotional state, my blood flow, and progress. Although that part of the process was quite simple and repetitive it felt important. It was obvious she cared and that she gleaned a lot from those checks. She would then get me to strip off my pants, shoes, and socks and lay on one of her treatment beds. She would lay a towel over me and enquire about my comfort levels. It was important not to be too hot or too cold. She had a heater and a fan at the ready if needed.
Anni is a young Chinese woman. Small of stature. She was always simply dressed and completely bare faced. By memory she wore a simple wedding band and no other jewellery. We were Ying and Yang. For the first few sessions I walked into her room jingling like a fucking Christmas tree. It would take me forever to take off my multi layered outfit and lay on the bed. Annie eventually asked me to stop using fake tan and or bronzer. Explaining that our skin is our biggest organ and that I was literally covering mine in chemicals. She asked about my belly button piercing. She had noticed the scar and wanted to know how long ago I’d removed it. Explaining that piercings along your central line can cause energy disruption. The belly button point is forbidden. They can warm the area but are not to puncture it. That channel is known as the conception vessel. A free-flowing conception channel is essential to a healthy reproductive system.
The removal of my trashy belly button piercing had been very ceremonious. I took my bejewelled bar out the same day I married Tristan. When I put my wedding dress on I realised you could see it through my sheer hand beaded lace bodice and I knew it was time for it to go. I was going to be a wife and I wanted to be more in tune with the housewives of New York than Penrith.
I have shared the below fun fact in a previous post but in case you missed it.
Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways, called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi, or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked, thereby increasing a couple’s chances of conceiving.
Once I was on the bed, comfortable, and had had some of my chemical bronze wiped off with an alcohol swab. Anni would begin by choosing a point and then using her middle and forefinger to tap quite hard in three spots asking me to choose the most sensitive by stating one, two, or three. That exact spot is where she would then insert a needle and give it what I guess was a little twist to connect to the energy. I won’t lie. This part wasn’t very pleasant. She’s good at what she does. The connection was usually deep and the dreaded twist would send the weirdest sensation throughout that area. Almost like an electrical zap. The points on my hands and feet were my least favourite. I could barely feel the ones in my head. I don’t know what that says for my brain power! When she finished going around inserting the needles she would circle back round twisting slightly and then finally tell me to have a good rest. During my first session, she told me that if any of the points ached or throbbed that I was to imagine I could unblock the path with my mind by encouraging the energy to flow from one point to another. I tried this more than once and I swear it worked.
Once the needles were in place Anni would retreat to her desk and leave me to relax alone with my thoughts. I always tried to clear my mind, breath evenly, or even nap. Some days this was easier than others. Quite a few times tears would unknowingly stream down the sides of my face. I didn’t even have to be feeling sad. Anni explained that sometimes people cry during acupuncture not because they are in pain but because their emotions which can get stifled powering through everyday life become free flowing.
According to Bill Reddy, a licensed acupuncturist and director of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium, crying during acupuncture isn’t an uncommon experience. “There’s a belief that when you have an emotional or traumatic experience, that you hold those unresolved emotions in your fascia, connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs,” he explains. He uses the example of a car crash: “Let’s say you’re sitting at a red light at a busy intersection, and you see that a car is going to hit you. You can’t drive forward because cars are crossing the intersection, so you freeze physically. And your car gets struck.” The panic you felt at that moment gets “stored” in your fascia like muscle memory.
“So when you undergo something that taps into the fascia—deep tissue massage or acupuncture—you release that trauma that’s held in your tissue, and that’s why you might cry for seemingly no reason,” Reddy says.
If it happens to you, you can certainly talk to your acupuncturist or massage therapist about what’s going on and try to take note of what areas of the body seem most likely to trigger a response. But you can also just ride it out. Even if you don’t know exactly what memory is bringing up the emotions, Reddy says the experience is typically beneficial—it means you’re releasing negative feelings that have been trapped inside you, sometimes for years. As Reddy says, “Clearing something out means you’re on your way to healing.”
Whilst I lay there Anni would sit at her desk on the other side of a privacy screen and scratch away at her notebook making notes for my file. She handwrote everything using a lead pencil ignoring the laptop sat on her desk. This soft sound was meditative in itself.
I’m a pretty imaginative person. I usually had to spend the first few minutes convincing myself there wasn’t going to be an explosion that would cause everyone in the building to run leaving me there covered in needles unable to move. Oh yeah I had also convinced myself that whilst the needles were in I had to remain completely still. I wasn’t even able to scratch an itch or one of the needles might become stuck in a muscle and paralyse me!
Anni’s timer would eventually buzz. She would then come over ask how my rest had been and remove the needles. As I dressed she would enquire about the points scratching down more notes and then invite me to sit at her desk whilst she completed our session by checking the strength of my pulse.
To the IVF clinic it was obvious I was just a number. A number they sometimes stomped on. But to Anni I was a person. Throughout the journey of round 2 she would even text me outside of business hours just checking in. In a world full of busy people I want to be an Anni. I want to see you with all three of my eyes.