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    Not giving up hope
    The fourth pregnancy happened with the aid of acupuncture under Ed Concepcion, a respected practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).I had put so much faith in Western medicine, I thought I should try Eastern medicine despite very little scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

    To my surprise, this coincided my best pregnancy yet. The fetus had a heartbeat; unfortunately, I had miscarried. But combining Western and Easternmethods gave me hope.

    Ed spent a bit more time with me but decided to refer me to a TCM practitioner who specialized in infertility. Sister Regina Liu, a nun of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (a mission headquartered in New Jersey), is also a sixth-generation acupuncturist and herbalist from China.

    Sister Liu was to prepare me for my fifth IVF. This time, I would use my eggs and find a surrogate. I had already found an American lady who was willing to perform this role. The goal of Chinese medicine, whatever the ailment, is to achieve balance in the body. In Chinese medicine, there were three causes for infertility. The first is a kidney yin deficiency. Yin is defined as essence or the material needed by sperm and eggs. A kidney yin deficiency can be caused by stress or even by ingesting too much coffee, a diuretic. The second is a spleen yang deficiency. Spleen yang is needed for digestion and absorption of the nutrients necessary for the development of follicles and sperm. This can be caused by an excessive intake of raw, cold food or liquid. The third was blood stasis which is caused by emotional stress. Poor circulation of blood leads to thin lining in the uterus, making it difficult for an embryo to implant. I had a kidney yin deficiency, and it would take time for me to replenish this yin. The first thing I had to do was to stop taking coffee. The second thing was to undergo acupuncture thrice a week at about P700 per session. The third was to drink a mud-tasting beverage twice a day, which cost me about P2,000 per fortnight -- not cheap, but pocket change compared to IVF.

    Sister Liu said I was one of her most difficult cases. Most of the women she worked with had successful
    pregnancies within three to six months. But I continued on. It took a year before she told me my body was ready for another IVF.

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    Worth the wait
    I thought I would try to get pregnant naturally first. My ob-gyn, Anna Madamba, M.D., who specializes in difficult pregnancies, did an ultrasound on me to tell me the ideal days to engage in sex. I got pregnant in that cycle. Dr. Madamba put me under immunology treatments while I continued my acupuncture. I didn’t want to take chances. I gave birth to Noah, my firstborn, one month before I turned 40.The day he was born was the happiest day of our lives.

    Then, a year and a half later, I went to Sister Liu to help me relieve my stress. She did a work-up and to my surprise (how could I be so lucky for the second time?), I got pregnant again -- this time with Luke.
    When I meet couples who struggle with infertility, I like to tell them about this alternative. I tell this story because I tried practically everything, and in the end, I found the treatment that was right for me. I know many women who were successful with more aggressive methods, but I am sharing my story to present another route that is cheaper and less invasive: Traditional Chinese Medicine. When I first went to Sister Liu four years ago, I was one of her few patients. Today, her reputation has spread, so the wait can be long.

    In my case, my body had to be prepared to receive a child. And as I like to joke when people ask how
    I finally got pregnant, “I got pregnant with a nun’s prick.” Meanwhile, Sister Liu tells me, “Your children are not from me, they are from God.”

    You may contact Sister Regina Liu at (02)373-5503, Dr. Ed Concepcion at (02)434-8940, and Dr. Anna
    Madamba at (02)750- 7420.

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    Image from eharmony.com

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