Since we’ve been so open about our journey, I have friends or friends of friends come to me just to talk about their own infertility or to seek solidarity/guidance/opinions. My former supervisor is one of them. And then my friend’s friend is the other. My former supervisor has been experiencing secondary infertility and had an early miscarriage. Her FSH and AMH indicate low egg reserve. My friend’s friend is young (in her early 30s) and has had a few miscarriages and a diagnosis of adenomyosis (just like me). Due to her extremely thin lining, her primary RE and second opinions all recommended her to use a gestational carrier. I referred both of them to Dr. E, my RE who helped bring Bunny and Okra into the world. Coincidentally, both of these ladies were scheduled for an appointment with my RE in the same week, my former supervisor for herself, and my friend’s friend for an initial appointment to use a gestational carrier. I sent my former supervisor a text the evening of the appointment to see how it went. Little did I know that she actually didn’t need to go to the appointment because the week prior to that she discovered that she was pregnant! I was so surprised and happy for her! If she doesn’t have to go through what I had to go through, I am all for it. She was early at that point, about 5 weeks. I wrote Dr. E and told her how excited I was for my former supervisor, and she said, well, “There is someone else with news too but I will let them tell you. You bring good luck to all around you. Lucky fertility charm.” I immediately thought of my friend’s friend and asked for an update from her. She sent me a great update: she found out four days after her appointment with Dr. E that she was pregnant! At the appointment, Dr. E looked at her uterus and said, “This doesn’t look like a uterus that couldn’t sustain a pregnancy to me.” Her lining was thicker than she had seen in three years. It had always been 3 to 4mm, and this time it was 6 to 7 mm. Dr. E had her on progesterone and blood thinner to help with the pregnancy. I was even more surprised at this news but I was so very excited and happy for both of these ladies. I told both of them to take it one day at a time when they felt terrified and tell themselves the mantra “I am pregnant today, and that’s all that matters”. Because, really, there is nothing you can do but to wait to see how things turn out, right? Well, my former supervisor chose to do a 9 week ultrasound with her regular OB and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. They couldn’t even find the pregnancy itself although she still had symptoms that morning. It was a missed miscarriage. I didn’t feel like a fertility lucky charm at all and was so heartbroken for her. She had since then gone to see Dr. E and is now facing the reality of choosing her next move among different options. As for my other friend? She has cruised past her first trimester (with a fibroid in her uterus that seems to have stopped growing with the pregnancy) and is now in her second trimester. She is still terrified but this pregnancy has moved past the point of her last two miscarriages. Even though one lady’s pregnancy didn’t sustain, I hope that the other lady will be able to have a healthy pregnancy and carry to term. I am hopeful that although my former supervisor had her recent heartache, Dr. E will be able to help her fulfill her dream of completing her family. And if she needs it, I am always here to lend an ear.
The twins turned one on Saturday. I had the ambition to 1) finally publish the second part of their birth story on their birthday and 2) to write a more complete blog post about their birthday party. Neither one of these will happen on this blog post today. The babies woke up on their birthday happy and healthy. They hadn’t seen Bob for 11 days because of his work trip and were super excited to hang out with us in bed that morning. After their first nap, we got them ready for their Elmo-themed birthday party at a kids gym with 17 other kids and a total of 28 adults. Bunny started to look dazed in the car without any smiles. She sat on the floor in the gym without crawling around. She was just not her usual self. By the time we had the cake, she came down with a fever for the first time ever. The party was super fun for many, but it was a bummer that Bunny didn’t feel well. At least Okra seemed to have a great time. Needless to say, we let her rest at home. Her temperature fluctuated throughout the day. She was super cranky and clingy. We had planned for cake smashing at home with family, which had to be canceled too. Again, what a bummer but life happens, right? Somehow she wasn’t the troublemaker when it came to bed time. Okra was the one who woke up crying and would not stop crying for a few hours in the middle of the night. We hardly got any sleep that night. What a birthday present he gave himself and us, hahaha. With a sick baby and her sibling who also requires attention, there was basically no time to do anything else but to hold a baby. So the birth story will have to wait, and the details of the birthday party may never get written. But can you believe we have one year olds??? The past 12 months flew by. I miss their baby stage but so look forward to watching them grow and learn the next year. It has just been so exciting to see new skills emerging every single day. Every time I look at them, I think about how they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God to join our family. My heart is so full of love and gratitude.
Here is a picture of the outfits that they wore:
My mother usually helps with the babies’ morning routines. The morning after Bob left for Europe, she couldn’t come upstairs because of a huge headache she had overnight. My dad and I took care of the kids. Right before the babies’ first nap at 9am, she came upstairs to ask for some Ty.lenol. Because she complained to me before that Ty.lenol didn’t help with her headaches, I gave her two tablets of Exce.drin. After that my dad and I brought the kids upstairs to get ready for their nap. Suddenly I heard my mother yelling out loud in the dining room. It was this really loud yelling that was so uncharacteristic of her. I quickly put one baby in the crib and rushed downstairs. She was sitting at the dining table looking scared and yelling loudly “Get away from me! I have kids and grandkids! Don’t come take me away!” I was stunned by this scene. I hugged her and she refocused her eyesight on me, called my name, and started crying hysterically. I was telling her that it was okay, that nobody was going to take her away. She continued to mumble while crying, “Don’t take me away. You go away….” At that point I realized that she was hallucinating. My dad, with Okra in his arms, came next to us and said, “It might be her headache.” At that point, I just wanted to put the babies down for their nap so I could tend to my mom. I took Okra from my dad, went to the nursery, and did a quick nap routine with the babies. After that, I found my mom in bed and my dad by her side. She was still saying things that did not make any sense. When I told her that nobody was coming to get her, she scolded me harshly for not believing in what she said. Then she complained of her heart beating really fast. I was very worried about the state of her mind at that point. I didn’t know what could cause this hallucination all of a sudden and wondered if she was having a panic attack. I was also afraid of a stroke and didn’t know enough to know if it looked anything like a stroke. I called my brother up. (It is great to have a sibling for things like these.) He was at work and told me to call her primary care doctor to ask for her advice. I hung up and called the clinic. The receptionist was so nice. She tried to find the doctor who was at that time busy. She jotted down my number and promised me that the doctor would return my call shortly. Not even two minutes later, my mom’s doctor called back. After understanding the situation, she said that it didn’t sound like a stroke but sounded more like the effect of Exce.drin on my mom. I was like, she started acting strangely only about ten minutes after she took the pills. The doctor said that this medication could have an effect on older adults like that sometimes. We went over what to watch for and when it would be a good time to go to the emergency room. While I was speaking to the doctor, my mom walked upstairs to see who I was talking to. When I told her it was her doctor, she again scolded me for calling the doctor. I pushed her out the door and continued the phone call. I was telling the doctor that this was so uncharacteristic of my mom to be speaking so harshly to me. My doctor said, “Since she could speak so well and walk so well, it definitely doesn’t sound like a stroke.” She said the effect of the meds should pass soon, but if we wanted to have her checked out, make an appointment at the clinic on that day. I updated my brother who was actually already on the train to come back to see my mom.
My mom at that point looked super alert and hyper. She was talking excessively. She was washing dishes and doing chores at a high speed. She continued to claim that there were a lot of people coming to get her. She was highly irritable. I didn’t realize that she had already taken two pills of Ty.lenol at 5am. So within 4 hours, she took four pills of two different medications. My brother arrived and examined the pills. The Ex.cedrin has a lot of caffeine in it. My mom loves the smell of coffee and tea but can’t drink any because of the caffeine. So it was most likely the caffeine that made her act so strangely. Nevertheless we made an appointment for her to see her doctor that same afternoon. Slowly she started to act more normally and started to feel tired and sleepy. Her doctor’s visit allowed us to know that it was most likely the headache medication that caused that extreme side effect of hallucination and she was prescribed Ibu.profen instead. Other than that, her vitals were good and everything was back to normal. The interesting thing was, after all of that, she didn’t remember the episode of her hallucination. I asked her if she was scared of what happened, she said no because she didn’t remember a thing.
Honestly, my mind was racing when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my mom. I know that looking back it didn’t seem like a big deal but during that time, I was so scared. My mind went really far. I was scared of losing my mom and started thinking about all the what ifs. I was wondering what the ramification would be for us if mom was suddenly mentally unstable. I was afraid that her life was in danger and didn’t know how to react to it. I was so tense. I know that we eventually have to face our parents’ morbidity but I was just not ready for that. I know I am blessed to have parents who are healthy. My kids are still so young and I am not prepared to think about my parents being old and sick. My mom’s episode prompts me to think about sitting down with my parents to talk about their wishes in regards to their health should anything happens to them in the future. It also makes me realize that I or anyone else should not pop over-the-counter medications like it’s nothing. Everything carries a risk, and we have to be vigilant about even OTC meds’ effects. This episode also makes me realize how much I love and need my mom. She is the best mom, mom-in-law, and grandmother for us. I just can’t imagine my life without her, and hopefully I will continue to cherish her and never take her for granted.
Sunday was a bit chaotic. Bob is leaving for a trip to Europe today for two work conferences. He was packing most of the day. The babies both have a cold, and were whiny most of the day as well. In the evening, I was making dinner while Bob was doing a load of laundry in preparation for his trip. He discovered that the drain in front of the washing machine in the basement was backing up wastewater. This happens occasionally, and often on a weekend, in the evening, or like this time, on a long weekend. The rest of the evening was a hectic. I continued to cook while trying to reach various plumbers for an emergency visit. The babies, because of their sicknesses, were crying hysterically. Bob was trying to finish packing and trying to avoid the wastewater while moving the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Many plumbers didn’t return my call. I finally found one that called back and agreed to come today at 9am. He and I tried to determine which bathroom could be used and if shower was okay. As instructed by him, I flushed the various toilets and figured out that two of them were okay to use. At the same time the babies were super tired and sleepy and were crying nonstop. We had to do a short routine and put them down for the night. This all happened within the same hour. Even though the plumber said that our shower was okay to use, I didn’t want to risk backing up more wastewater so I just skipped the shower. At the end of the day, although I was exhausted, I was looking at it this way. Nobody was hurt. Nobody’s life was in danger. We are all relatively healthy (except for the babies’ colds). When things were chaotic, my parents were there to help. The plumber will be coming soon so the problem we have will be solved again. These are just inconveniences and life will be back to normal soon. Well, maybe except that Bob won’t be with me and the babies until he returns from his trip on the day before the babies turn one. When he comes back, then life will really be back to normal and we’ll have two one-year-olds.
A reader emailed me last week asking me a question that I thought would be good to address in my blog. I am not at the liberty to share the details of her journey, but for various serious health reasons, she needs to use a gestational carrier after needing to use donor eggs. After grieving the loss of her genetic links, she is now experiencing the loss of not having a chance to carry her baby. Since I have walked this same path, she is curious as to how I feel now that I have had my babies for the last eleven months.
How do I feel now that I am a mother to my babies whom I didn’t carry or contribute to their genes? I love both of them with all my heart. I feel tremendously privileged and honored that God chose us to be their parents. Sometimes I look at them and still cannot believe that I am their mother. They are precious, beautiful, fun, and perfect. I cannot imagine life without them and I cannot imagine having children other than them. Does it still hurt that their genes came from a donor? Absolutely. Do I still grieve the loss of not carrying them? Yes. However, these thoughts don’t come to my mind too often. Life currently is full, hectic, chaotic, and fun-filled. On a day to day basis, the fact that I didn’t carry them doesn’t come into my mind too often. They know me and me only as their mom and it will remain that way. I think more about having had to use a gestational carrier when the moms in my moms of multiples group talk about breastfeeding or changes in their bodies after giving birth. However, these topics don’t make me feel overly sad or emotional. I just can’t and don’t participate in these topics because of the lack of first-hand experience or knowledge. Not being able to carry the babies doesn’t diminish my love for them. On the other hand, I do think about our donor from time to time especially when I look at my daughter’s face. She looks more like the donor than my son does. My baby boy looks exactly like his daddy and does not remind me of our donor. However, Bunny has the donor’s features, and looking at her sometimes is like looking at the donor. Her beauty sometimes makes me think about how she’d look so different if she shared my genes. This is highlighted when people comment on how she looks nothing like me and my husband’s genes are very strong. These comments sometimes make me uneasy but I have accepted that this comes with the package. My baby girl looking like the donor does not make me love her any less. I marvel at the unique looks and personality traits of her and her brother, and I just feel so blessed to be their mom. A friend of mine who may have to consider the donor egg route tells me repeatedly that she is fearful of not being able to love her future children made with donor eggs. I tell her that truthfully there is no time to think about these things. When I have a moment, all I want to do is to get enough rest so I have enough energy to chase after these babies. Like I said earlier, I do still feel a sense of loss from time to time. It probably will never go away, but my life is so full now these feelings are far and few between. Does that erase the previous five years’ pains and heartaches? No it doesn’t. The experience and journey stay with you forever. Once infertile, forever infertile. But this history doesn’t define me. It is a part of my life, but so is my life as a stay-at-home mom to my precious children. Fighting so hard to have these babies does make me appreciate them more even when dealing with their crying and screaming in the middle of the night or their tantrums.
These are just my feelings, but I hope this post is helpful for those who are considering donor eggs and/or using a gestational carrier to fulfill your dream to become a mother. Feel free to write me for any questions at binkymoongee at gmail dot com.
The fun that comes with having 11-month-old twins: the fighting, hitting, and biting have begun. The twins can now exist peacefully in the same space for a little while playing next to each other. Sometimes they fight over the same toys. I usually don’t interfere. However, lately they have resorted to head-butting and pushing each other. When that happens, I tell them to be gentle with each other and demonstrate what that means by taking their hands to gently touch the other person’s head, arms, or hands. The other day my mom was watching the twins when I was making dinner. She turned her back to them for a few seconds and suddenly heard Bunny scream loudly. She turned around and saw Okra biting on Bunny’s cheek. Fortunately my mom stopped him mid action so he did not bite Bunny deeply. Needless to say, Okra was told not to bite others. I don’t think they were fighting over a toy nor was he upset or frustrated. He just suddenly attempted to bite her. Fast forward the next day. It was about late afternoon and it was almost time for me to make dinner. The babies were playing peacefully in the living room. I went to the kitchen to grab something and suddenly heard Bunny scream again. I turned around to look and saw that Okra was again biting Bunny’s cheek. Because of the distance between the kitchen and the living room, Okra had bitten Bunny’s cheek quite deeply by the time I rushed over to stop him. This time Bunny was screaming and crying loudly. I immediately picked her up to console her and at the same time told Okra sternly that we do not bite, and that teeth are not for biting people. I don’t think Okra really understood it. And he wasn’t frustrated or upset. Poor Bunny’s cheek was swollen from the biting.
And the next day the bite mark was even more visible:
This was so surprising to me because Okra is usually not the aggressive one. I consulted with the parents of multiples group. It is very likely that he doesn’t know it isn’t right to bite others. Maybe he is teething. Maybe he is exploring his mouth and teeth and what he can do with them. Maybe he is testing his boundary. Whatever it is, I hope that it’s a phase that will pass quickly. In the mean time, I will have to learn to keep my cool while being consistent and firm with them regarding personal space and what they can do with their arms and legs and mouth. This is when I start to feel the pressure of parenting twins when they become older and more mobile. I don’t want to yell at them so I need to think through how to react to incidents like this in the future. And I am quite sure it will happen over and over again. Probably until they are teenagers and beyond??? Hopefully by then they don’t bite each other anymore. Hahaha.
I was a bit misty eyed when the idea of this blog post first popped into my head.
We started trying for a baby prior to the birth of this blog. Bob was the one who suggested “binky moongee” as part of the blog’s name. As I wrote in “What is a binky moongee?“, Bob’s dream had always been for his baby to press his/her face (“moongee” in Tamil, Bob’s mother tongue) on the glass of the window waiting for him to come home from work. This dream was not fulfilled for quite many years. Until now.
Every single day when Bob’s car pulls into the driveway or the spot in front of our house, I put Bunny and Okra right in front of the window. They would press their noses on the glass while excitedly pounding their hands on the window. They would spot Bob and start smiling and then laughing. Bob would then come stand in front of them outside of the window calling their names and putting his big hands on the window where the babies’ small hands are. It is such a joyful moment that concludes a very long work day for him.
The only thing is we can’t call these babies “binky moongee” because they had stopped using their binkies months ago. Despite that, it is still so heartwarming to witness my dear husband’s dream being fulfilled on a daily basis after our long struggles. We know that this blessing is not a given. This realization makes it even more precious to see the kids’ reunion with their dad every single day. We don’t have to hope and dream for a binky moongee anymore. We are blessed with two.