Monday, June 16, 2008

Ancient Chinese Secret?

One thing about infertility is that it is completely non-discriminating. It affects men and women, regardless of race, religion, geography... across the board. What is interesting is the cultural aspect. Infertility is still often seen as a taboo subject; and the lack of understanding and pure ignorance can sometimes be exacerbated by cultural pressures and expectations.

Grandchildren are a huge deal in most cultures, and Chinese is no exception. And I suppose the lack of any at the time, even if it wasn't by choice, was a cause of great concern for my parents.




Frustrated with the lack of progress on the “Western” medicine front, I let my mother convince me to see a Chinese doctor, a specialist in Chinese herbs and medicine. A friend of a friend’s daughter was in her late 30s, not having any luck for years, but after she saw this doctor and got the special soup, presto, she got pregnant.


I was skeptical. I suppose it came from so many years of schooling in science, and then working in the drug industry. What ingredients were in all these concoctions? Hey, where were the double-blind, controlled clinical studies performed to show that that EXACT dose of dried frog testicle mixed with bat wing could actually increase our chances of having a baby? My mom only got me there because a) this doctor actually also had a medical degree from the US. So a doctor trained on both sides of the ocean. Bonus. And b) infertility can lead to desperate measures.

I brought both my parents with me, my Mom to translate in case needed, and my father, because he comes part and parcel with my mother, ever since their retirement. And Mom is the one with the special Chinese pot that she would use to cook up whatever soup needed to be prepared. What is it about Chinese Moms and their soups? Dark, murky, stenchy soups? I was just happy that it wouldn’t be stinking up my place.


Turns out that according to the doctor (at least at the time), Chinese medicines are actually more effective if the fertility issues lie with the male. He felt that I should continue on the standard protocol prescribed by my “Western” doctor, as from what I told him the tests showed that we were both “normal”. Nevertheless, he prescribed a mixture of various herbs in a paper bag, and gave written instructions to my mother as to how to boil it up. It was just a general health soup that both Ian and I could drink. Increase the general health, increase the chances of conceiving. While we were there, Mom also bought some stuff for her and my Dad. I swear I saw desiccated beetle legs sticking out from their purchase.

Leaving the herbal shop, we walked back into the Chinese mall toward the elevator. My mother was happy that I had finally gone to this doctor with her. She began chatting with me about her own struggles trying to have the elusive son for my Dad. There are almost 12 years between me and my younger brother, but my mom hadn’t to this point shared any of her experiences with me. Yet.

The elevator door opened and the three of us got in. A tiny elevator. And I was squished between the folks.

Mom: ” Your father wanted a son so badly, you would not believe …”

Dad: Silence

Mom: ” … the things that we did … the things that we tried and tried ...”

Dad cleared his throat. Shuffled his feet a bit, looking down.

Mom: “I did headstands, if you want a boy you ...blah blah positions …”

Me: “Uh, okay MOM STOP -- I get it!!”

Oh, the things we’ll do for a baby.


Someday...





*disclaimer: I know of people who have been successfully treated with Chinese medicine, acupuncture etc. This is not intended to be an endorsement nor a criticism of this option for infertility treatment. Just my own story, folks. And unfortunately, no, it wasn't a miracle soup for us.

(Images from martialartsgear.com and stock.xchng)

19 comments:

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I like this post. Love the tune!

Xbox4NappyRash said...

"luckily" we haven't had too much outside pressure. This is most probably a logistics issue, living on another land mass to our families.

desperate measures eh?... I know a few of those...

gmcountrymama said...

Ha ha ha, I am with you on the herbs and "double blind"etc! I try to be more open minded about them these days though, being that a few of my patients use herbs at home and alternative medicines at home.

Kami said...

Interesting story but I can understand trying anything, I mean what could some stinky soup hurt?

Well besides your appetite heh!

:-)

mah-meeee said...

i totally know what you mean by stenchy... and bitter at that! after my baby, my mil insisted i get these chinese medicine to take and we have to cook it at home. oh boy...

and to drink it i basically dumped tons of brown sugar in it and chugged it like a college kid on a dare. :P

Kat said...

I'm dying to hear the rest of this story, already. I don't know anything about stinky soup, but my hubby swears by acupuncture - but only the "real" Chinese acupuncturists, which he says you can only get in Vancouver or China, but he's never been to China so he can only be certain of Vancouver.

Kelley said...

We were close to trying that sort of thing. I was eating shit loads of ham, douching with baking soda and MPS was wearing boxers and letting the boys hang free as much as possible. For 3 YEARS. Finally one stuck. So no problem when we weren't ready to get pregnant, unbearable when we were!

I would have loved to see your dads face in that elevator.

THopgood said...

Oh yes...the things we'll do...

After 2 boys I wanted a girl so bad that I took out books from the library..."How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby"...that book was my bible for 4 months...I gave up on the 5th month and ended up with a girl anyway.

I hope you soon find your "majical soup!"

THopgood said...

I mean "magical"...

kailani said...

My MIL is Korean and has her own set of theories on conceiving. Some are pretty funny!

Maureen said...

Great story! Poor Dad... that is hilarious!

Karen said...

I can just envision your dad now, wishing he could strangle your mom but secretly wondering if there was a security camera in the elevator.

Caffeine Court said...

Too much information MOM! That is hilarious. I'm sure the image of your mom standing on her head trying for a boy is permanently etched in your brain.

I have 2 girls and I got lots of crazy advice on how to have a boy. As if my life wouldn't be complete until I gave birth to a baby with a penis.

Family Adventure said...

LOL...your mother explaining how to get a boy. Too, too funny!

Which top did you pick below, btw?

Karen, let's do lunch before I jet off to Spain next Thursday. Pick a day.

Heidi

Laski said...

Oh my . . . the things we will do. I once attended a "pre-mom" group (too complicated to even try to explain) and the stories they would tell. GRAPHIC. CRAZY. HILARIOUS. Why was I there??? The food was awesome, of course!

Sandy C. said...

Oh man! Just reading about the herbs and special soups bring back all sorts of memories of my mom's concoctions. They have a special "soup" for everything! And why must they always stink and taste terrible?

I've heard about the headstand thing before :) But not from my mom...eek!

Maggie, Dammit said...

HA!

I can just picture your poor dad....

April said...

Well, I'm sure the TMI could've come from someone worse than your mom. Not sure who, but hey, it could happen!

Shamelessly Sassy said...

I like this post. I laughed inappropriately at this part 'And Mom is the one with the special Chinese pot' and then I read the rest of the sentence to discover that it had nothing to do with some sort of exotic marijuana. hahaha. I'm tired.

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