I turn 40 next month (April 2011) and as I type this (with one hand), my 10 week old daughter is sleeping on my chest. What follows is my attempt to describe how our longed-for dream became this enchanting reality…
My partner and I have been together for 11 years next month. We have a 3 year old son conceived by my partner with donor sperm from a known donor. We began planning for children after we’d been together for about 4 years, but we were unsure how best to make it happen. Our son’s father is very much part of our lives and our wonderful son was conceived on our first attempt.
When our son was 1 year old I began monitoring my ovulation in the hope of conceiving our second child. My menstrual cycle has never been regular and I soon noticed that there was nothing regular about my ovulation either… It became apparent that I was not ovulating every month, and that even when I was, it varied from day 14 to day 20 of my long cycle. I went to see a gynaecologist who told me there was nothing so unusual about that and suggested I spend a few months trying to conceive and then return if I was not succeeding. I left his office feeling frustrated and unheard, and knowing that I needed assistance I wasn’t easily going to find via the usual channels.
In February 2010 my partner and I attended a fertility clinic for an initial assessment, with a view to undergoing donor insemination there. My first scan there, together with my history, indicated that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was warned that it may be difficult for me to conceive due to follicle immaturity and that I had an increased risk of miscarriage, which was concerning considering my age. I was told to stay off dairy products and sugar to regulate my blood sugar and oestrogen levels. I left there hopeful, but a little worried.
Isn’t it amazing how the universe sends us the people we need… A few weeks later I happened to meet a couple who were hoping to conceive, and who were planning to use acupuncture to improve their chances. They told me about Siobhan Kehoe (Midwife and Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM] practitioner) and gave me her number. At that stage we had already had one failed insemination with donor sperm at the fertility clinic, and we were due to return that month for our second insemination. I called Siobhan immediately. The first available appointment was not for 2 weeks after our next insemination, but Siobhan called me with a cancellation for 23 April 2010 (the day after the planned insemination). I had been hoping to use acupuncture to prepare for the insemination, but was glad of an appointment immediately after, especially as Siobhan suggested it could help with implantation and preventing miscarriage.
The Chinese medicine approach is to encourage your body to release just the right amounts of the hormones needed, as and when they are needed. Siobhan’s help came in the form of herbal brews, detailed dietary advice (once Siobhan had assessed my particular constitution) and acupuncture.
I found Siobhan’s approach very encouraging and reassuring. She clearly has a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding pregnancy, as well as being a highly skilled TCM practitioner. Siobhan’s assessment was fascinating in terms of how much she could tell about my health and general physiological functioning by just looking at me and staring at my tongue for a minute! I found the acupuncture very relaxing and Siobhan’s explanations of what she was doing made so much sense. I followed the dietary advice and besides conceiving, lost about 10kg. I also took the herbal tincture recommended by Siobhan. The treatment was really gentle and satisfyingly holistic.
Two weeks later I got a positive pregnancy test. The fertility specialist at the IVF clinic (who had performed the insemination) said later that she was really surprised that I had conceived so quickly. I continued attending Siobhan for treatment and herbal remedies for several weeks to support the pregnancy. I had a really healthy and happy pregnancy and we now have a beautiful baby girl. I am grateful to the staff at the IVF clinic for making this happen. I am also extremely grateful to Siobhan Kehoe for her knowledge and skill, as well as her generous inspiration and support. I understood from Siobhan that TCM can be used alone or as a powerful adjunct to Western medicine, which is how I experienced it.