Tag Archives: joy

Oxytocin and Anna

Without a doubt, the smartest decision I ever made was to ask Anna Werderitsch (formerly Anna Loskutoff) if she would like to practice acupuncture in my office.

After two years of intensely building my practice, I had been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure at age 32. Luckily Anna joined me at that time and she refused to allow me to accept that diagnosis. We decided that during my “rest” days I wouldn’t see patients, but I would go into the office anyway… to see her for acupuncture treatments and nurturing conversation.

Danica & Anna '05

Danica and Anna   ~ 2003

Every time we met I left feeling more in control of my fertility. By talking things out, we came to understand what our teachers meant when they explained that “The uterus is the second heart.”

Those sessions with Anna, my trusted friend and acupuncturist, became centered on releasing my worries, fears and old hurts. Our intention was to repair my “second” heart and make it a safe place for a baby to grow someday.

Fairly soon, it became clear that my situation was improving and likely it was from our conversations, not just the acupuncture. It wasn’t until nearly 5 years later that I realized true healing had occurred — despite my diagnosis, my daughter was conceived on the first natural attempt!

Those vulnerable moments of sharing had worked!

Danica, Anna, & Emily '07

Danica, Anna, & Emily Bartlett   ~ 2006

Over the eight years that Anna worked in my office, we noticed regularly that something “magical” happens in the treatment rooms. In the midst of sharing personal stories and dreams, we were surprisingly able to feel optimistic about even the most challenging patient outcomes and life in general. At the time, we didn’t realize that our boundless optimism came from being under the influence of large doses of oxytocin.

While neither of us intended to create an office space that would store hormones in the walls such as estrogen, oxytocin, endorphins and serotonin, that’s exactly what happened. Over the years all this sharing, conversing, tear-wiping and laughing in the sessions has positively impacted thousands of women.  We were witnessing it most frequently in the form of “infertile” women carrying full-term babies, against the odds.

(from left to right) Virginia Prior, Danica, Anna and Carolin Bennett '07

(from left to right) Virginia Prior, Danica, Anna and Carolin Bennett  ~ 2008

Oxytocin, this understudied “bonding hormone,” has enormous healing potential. Women effortlessly release this magic when they laugh, cry, share… and when they do, from seemingly nowhere, miracles happen. Oxytocin can make even the most cynical person feel as if it is possible to turn things around.

Women with disappointment and despair from various ailments come to Well Women and begin working through life issues such as peri-menopause, infertility and relationship stress. In time they learn to reframe their situations, tap into their emotions and marvel as their situations change for the better.

It’s this phenomenon of the “bonding hormone” that I experienced firsthand several times with Anna, and is what has made the Well Women office such a success.

Well Women Acupuncture began with just Anna and me, talking and healing. It then grew to include several practitioners who have left the practice including Emily Bartlett, Virginia Prior, Carolin Bennett, and Janice Chen. Now there is Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss and Julie Grados. Together we have continued to nurture this oxytocin-rich environment where women tap into their own inner healing source, simply by connecting with each other.

– Danica

The current Well Women Team, ’13! (from top-left): Kaitlyn Connors, Julie Grados, Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss, Danica, Nyjah Westbrooks and Caitlin Phillips. See their full bios on the “About Us” section of the Well Women Website.

The current Well Women Team ~ 2013!
(from top-left): Kaitlyn Connors, Julie Grados, Jennifer Block, Audrey Guss, Danica, Nyjah Westbrooks and Caitlin Phillips.
See their full bios on the “About Us” section of the Well Women Website.

The Heart Wants What It Wants

This week I am helping my 44-year-old patient go through the process of trying to have a second child.

For the past two years, she and her husband have tried to conceive naturally, received acupuncture and herbs, used Clomid, and then graduated to IUI with ovarian stimulation. Last month was their first IVF; despite transferring two gorgeous embryos, her blood test was negative.

“I’m trying to stay focused on joy,” she said to me today.

Normally, I would think that is a fine idea. But as I considered the spectrum of thoughts and feelings known to flood women when they experience joy, I realized that she might spend too much energy thinking about what isn’t there to bring in joy.

“How about thinking about peace instead?” I asked. “Can you sit in a space that feels peaceful about what you already have? A healthy 5-year-old son, a husband who is sitting in this frustrating, powerless space with you…”

She exhaled. Her face relaxed. For the moment we were both able to appreciate that when things don’t feel right or we are dismayed or disappointed with where we are, it may be best to focus on feeling peaceful with what is.

~ Danica