The strangest ways to get pregnant Will hot bricks, needles and blueberry jam really help me conceive? My friends and relatives seem to think so
Blueberry jam: to be eaten or, um, applied topically? Photograph: Rob Stark/Alamy
"You can't take fertility advice from a woman who says you need to take two hot bricks, spread honey on them, and fan your fanny with the vapour!"
"Why not?" I thought. Women have done worse to get knocked up.
Ed and I have been trying for a baby for a few years. Like many couples we met late in life. He was 44, and my eggs were past their sell-by date. So we thought we better get a move on with the baby-making. Being British-Pakistani we were offered twice the advice most couples with unexplained infertility are – medical and familial.
I've tried acupuncture with good and bad results. The good sessions had my sisters asking what voodoo had turned their uptight elder sibling into a "love for all, hatred for none" hippy. When the shop went into administration taking half my sessions with it, I tried somewhere else, and ended up alone in a room with a geriatric practitioner who made a clicking sound with her mouth and shook her head when I told her my age. She left me with a bump the size of a plum on the side of my head.
Everyone is now interested in my menstrual cycle, including my mother. Newly diagnosed with cancer, she called me from her hospital bed. Overwhelmed with emotion I asked how she was, only to hear her say: "Yes, yes, but have you started your period?"
She has sent me parcels through the post that I've excitedly opened, only to find them full of herbs and twigs, and bits of moss. They're from the Traditional Chinese Medicine woman who visits Bradford twice a week. The one time I met her she checked my pulse, glanced at my tongue and told me my insides were "rubbish". I'm supposed to boil the herbs in a cup and a half of water and drink the resultant mixture. You'd think that at £45 a pop it would taste a little better than mouldy feet.
The hot bricks have been the highlight, and were advised by a lovely woman whose heart is in the right place. I'm not sure the same can be said for her mind. She offered to come over and "help administer" the remedy, which she said, would clean my fallopian tubes. After picking up his dropped jaw my husband asked: "Can we not just have sex instead? They tell me that works." I politely declined. The fallopian cleanse, that is. Not the sex.
She's also had me eating some grey stuff from her village. I'm told this "pind powder" has helped many a barren woman conceive. It tastes like sawdust, I don't know what's in it, but I do know that she crossed a cornfield in the dead of night with only a lantern and a manservant for company to collect it. After that kind of investment how could I not take it?
Needless to say, it didn't work. Ed is clearly not up for the baby juju: "With those odds we should bottle the stuff, become millionaires, and buy a baby!" Then again, he was accosted by an ageing uncle at a family gathering, and told he needed to cover his willy in blueberry jam. Apparently, it was a mixup and the actual advice should have been to eat the stuff.
After two years of trying the radical we're finally turning to the medical and embarking on IVF. Appointment all set for next month, fingers crossed, legs uncrossed!