August 13, 2012

Can Acupuncture Assist IVF Success?

After my first unsuccessful round of IVF, I decided to include acupuncture in my treatment plan. You can read about that here.

In doing so I also achieved a previously unrealised dream of becoming a human pincushion. Because it wasn't enough to stick a needle in myself every day with hormones and have a nurse stick another needle in every other day to extract blood. That's only about 10 needles a week! Patooie!! I needed at least 20 needles a week to fulfill the pincushion dream and that's where acupuncture came in.

Seriously though, I firmly believe that acupuncture helped me have a successful second round of IVF and now the medical world is on the way to backing that up with actual sciencey facts. This is a good thing.

I was interviewed by UWS journalism graduate Tina Ngo earlier this year as part of a video she was producing to examine the association between acupuncture and success in IVF. If you're undergoing IVF or thinking about it, or just want to see a particularly pronounced case of kinked ponytail hair and some awesome casting on of stitches for a knitted beanie, you'll find this video interesting.

Tina spoke to IVF doctors and scientists who confirmed there is certainly a benefit in including acupuncture as part of your overall IVF treatment plan. Her chat with me was the 'human story' angle of the piece. It's all very 60 Minutes. Except without any annoying journalists or mud raking or awkward celebrity walkouts. But I think you'll agree the light was more than flattering.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on acupuncture in the comments section below.

August 3, 2012

Advanced Fertility (Lessons from Baby Central)

Baby Sebastian is now 7 weeks old & likes napping, sucking his fist and being cute. He also has a thing for pom poms.
 It's raining babies here on Sydney's northern beaches! Seven of the girls in my mother's group are pregnant or have just given birth (seven!!) and I'm excited about that because:

(a) Nothing beats the scent of a newborn baby and I've got it on tap for at least the next year

(b) I can sniff away to my heart's content and give the babies back when they start crying or pooping or reciting the entire plotline of the latest Cars movie in a meandering, non-chronological monotone (oh wait, that's the four year olds)

(c) Because it means the message is getting through. You know 'the message' don't you? I'm talking about The Fertility Message. The one where women make the sensible decision not to delay child-bearing because of the mistaken belief that there is plenty of time and you can easily have babies in your forties. Because, you know, Madonna and Iman and the redheaded one from Desperate Housewives, and even sensible Susan Sarandon did it in their forties so it must be easy right?

That theory is so turn-of-the-millennium. All the modern girls now get it and they are jumping on the baby bus in their twenties and early thirties. Like the girls in my mother's group. I applaud them. I am in awe of their baby-smarts. I only wish I had been as smart. I might now have had two children in school and not still be getting up at 5.30am or changing nappies or tiptoeing around the house during the all-too-short nap time or finding mashed banana smeared on the plasma. At 43, I should be drinking Cosmopolitans at lunch time and reading my Kindle on the beach and working on my mummy porn manuscript!

Not that I'm complaining. I think you all know by now that Francesca is the icing and cherry on my cake. But there's no denying that it would have been nice to have all baby and toddler related tasks over and done with by now. Like a decade ago, when I was 34 and not nearly 44. Not to mention all that conception business!

One of the reasons I started this blog (apart from being a legitimate, uncensored outlet for my alarmingly addictive use of adjectives) was to get the message out to all you wannabe mamas about fertility, particularly about the rapid decline of said fertility at a time in your life when most of us now want to conceive - our 30s.

I discussed it here and here if you fancy a trip down bloggy lane.

The media has played a huge part in getting that message across, as has social media. Some might complain that social media is responsible for an epidemic of over-sharing, but in the case of spreading the word about declining fertility, over-sharing has been of enormous benefit. This is real 'news' - news that affects many of our lives - and blogs, facebook, twitter, etc have made this kind of news so much more accessible to so many more people. As a chronic over-sharer, I heartily approve.

A good example is the blog No Missed Conceptions. This isn't a blog written by a medically ignorant, fertility challenged, over-sharing, adjective lover (who????). No. This is the blog of Dr Mark Bowman, one of our country's leading fertility and IVF experts - a professor no less - and also my IVF doctor. Anyone with an internet connection now has access to a broad range of information about fertility and IVF, as well as a way of communicating with the good doctor. Some women may dream of getting a tweet reply from Keith Urban (something that is now possible) but a woman with a serious egg deficiency or a hostile vagina* can also tweet/follow/post Dr Bowman and gain access to an incredible wealth of knowledge.

This simply wouldn't have been possible a decade ago. It blows me away. As do my girls. I can't wait to hold your beautiful newborn babies. And hand them back with a smile.

* I have no idea if a 'hostile vagina' is even a proper medical condition but it was the reason Charlotte from Sex And The City couldn't get pregnant so it must be real, right?

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