After a long time in the making, the kids started preschool today.
They were a little reluctant to go. Last week they went to school for a half an hour play date. My usually chatty and social kids at the playground were reserved and resistant. It took them a little while to even touch the toys. I was a little bit concerned about them refusing to walk into school, especially Okra. To my surprise, Bunny walked in right away. Okra at first was reluctant, but entered the school after he saw that sister already took out a box of train toys. This was the first time I met their teacher as she was out sick on the day of the play date. She has a great energy with a voice that is kind but has authority. I like her and am glad that she is their teacher. When I was driving away from the school, I started missing them a lot. This is the first time they are away from the both of us or family members for more than a couple of hours. It felt so weird driving away without them in their car seats in the back. Bob had taken the day off so the two of us dropped them off at school. We went on a date day and had brunch leisurely. We enjoyed the adult time that we got to spend together, eating a meal without stopping to serve or attend to anyone. We got a phone call at 1:45pm, which was half way through nap time. I was told that Okra was crying to a point that his crying was disturbing other kids’ sleep, so I was asked to go pick him up. The teachers and I discussed strategies at the door. Okra usually chews a cloth at home during sleep. I deliberately didn’t give him one because of how disgusting it gets after his use (all wet with his saliva) and didn’t want the teacher to have to handle it if she didn’t have to. But I think without the cloth, something that he has been using since 6 months, it would be hard for him to fall asleep. So the solution for now is to bring three fresh ones on Monday. I will pack a couple of ziploc bags labeled “Clean” and “Used”. After Okra uses one, the teacher can help him place it in the “Used” bag. These will come home to us with the beddings on Friday so we can wash them all. The teacher did say that they did really well for all the activities. They listened and participated during circle time. They played well outdoors except for when Okra was playing in the sand box and kept complaining about sand getting in his shoes. So the teacher told him to play elsewhere. They each ate a big bowl of vegetable fried rice provided by school, which was surprising to me because the kids do not eat fried rice at home. They also ate some of the lunch that I prepared for them. Despite having to come home early, I think it was a great start. I was a little hesitant sending them to preschool at this time given how bad the Delta Variant is out there right now. The preschool is very good at enforcing masks for everyone, and they are very careful with who could enter the building. With the teachers following the Department of Public Health’s guidelines, I am hopeful that the kids will remain healthy. This is why we are still sending them to preschool. I hope that as time goes on, the kids will get used to going, and they will be running to the door in the future without any convincing from us.
I turned 47 a couple of days ago.
After staying home for my birthday last year, this year all I wanted was to have my birthday meals at a restaurant. Since the kids are not vaccinated yet, I only take them to restaurants that offer outdoor dining. I chatted with my best friend (who lives overseas) in the morning. My husband went to greet the kids first. When I opened the door to the kids’ room after my phone call, I was greeted with a happy birthday song by both of them. It was so heartwarming to hear especially when they sang it spontaneously. We went to my favorite breakfast spot. The kids had chocolate pancakes. I had chicken fried steak, Swedish pancakes, and a nice hot chocolate with a lot of whipped cream on top. Dining out with hot food on a plate definitely beats the plastic or paper to-go containers we get at home. It hit a spot.
Unfortunately right after our meal, the kids started to lose it and had a couple of meltdowns. One of them was on the way back to the car. Both kids sat on the sidewalk crying at one point. The other meltdown was at home during nap time. The extra sugar really didn’t help.
This year the only thing I really wanted for my birthday dinner was uni (sea urchin) and amaebi (sweet shrimp). We found a sushi restaurant that has outdoor dining and decent reviews. It didn’t disappoint! I had something called “Treasure Box” with nine different little dishes. Bob had a deluxe chirashi bowl and he generously gave me his amaebi. The food was yummy, service was attentive, weather was nice, and the kids had a lot of fun. Most importantly, we got to eat sushi at a restaurant instead of out of a to-go container. It was a very satisfying birthday meal.
After dinner, my brother’s family came over for cake. Last year they had to stand outside with a cake to sing me a birthday song. The fact that we could all be under one roof to sing a happy birthday song and enjoy a birthday cake is such a blessing. That was all I wanted. And I feel so blessed that I got to do it this year.
I wrote about my friend back in May. She is my one friend who has been trying for a baby for eight years and is still trying. She finally decided to pursue egg donation. The eggs from the proven donor that she chose only yielded one blastocyst. That blastocyst turned out to be unusable. She was back to square one. After a lot of consideration, she found another proven donor and started a new cycle in late June. This is a totally different outcome from the last cycle. This donor is a super producer as her egg retrieval yielded over 30 eggs of which 20 of them became day 5 blastocysts. Twenty! They were all biopsied and sent for testing. One more day 6 blastocyst joined the group the next day. My friend will know how many of them are PGS normal very soon. She is now preparing for a transfer this month. Yesterday’s fireworks were so loud I was afraid that they would wake my kids up. I messaged my friend and joked with her saying, “Hopefully next year today you will be cursing these fireworks”. She laughed asking, “Because they will wake up the baby?” Exactly. At the time I message her, she and her husband were driving home from a 4th of July celebration. I said to her, “Next year you won’t be going anywhere.” I am hopeful that this will come true for her.
Want to document what I have been struggling with lately.
One word: sleep. The kids’ sleep affects my sleep.
Since they switched to toddler beds, their nap has been different. Okra still falls asleep but he doesn’t sleep for three hours anymore. Bunny is the one who creates a lot of trouble for me. She doesn’t need the nap most of the days. (Or maybe she needs it but she just fights it.) When she is asked to lie down for quiet time, she often hangs her legs out of the bed. She’d start singing loudly or dance around the room. I am constantly on the monitor watching her and going over there to tell her to lie down. It is tiring. If Okra is not asleep already, Bunny gets him all riled up and nobody naps. When Okra doesn’t nap, he gets very cranky in the afternoon. If Okra is asleep, he is deep asleep and usually Bunny’s singing doesn’t bother him or wake him up. Occasionally her noises wake him up and he starts crying and throwing a tantrum because of not getting enough rest. I want to avoid that as much as possible. A few days ago, I offered her something that may be the solution to our problem. I started letting Bunny listen to story podcasts, audio books, or songs on my iPad. The headphones we bought them for the trip to Hong Kong and India come in handy. When she uses them, she is more tied down to the bed so she won’t get up and dance around too often. This activity seems to keep her in bed and quiet for at least an hour. That is enough for Okra to quiet down and fall asleep. She occasionally calls out to me to help her adjust something. Other than that, it largely keeps her occupied quietly and allows me some time to lie down and rest, and allows Okra to nap for at least 1.5 hours. Because I am still watching her, I lie down and rest but don’t usually fall asleep. She calls me over to help her with choosing a different song or book so I don’t quite get the rest that I need. It’s better than not having some rest though.
If both kids nap, they don’t fall asleep until 9ish to 10pm. They would call me in their room over and over again asking for everything under the sun. These days Bunny doesn’t nap, it is easier to get them down at a reasonable hour (around 8:15pm) and Bunny would fall asleep right away. Okra, since he has napped for over an hour, doesn’t fall asleep as easily. Some days he lies there and blinks until he is tired. Some other days he keeps on calling me until I tell him that his sister would leave and go sleep with us if he continues making noise. He would comply and eventually fall asleep at around 8:45 to 9pm. A couple of weeks ago, both kids would wake up in the middle of the night calling for me. Some nights it was just one time. Other nights it was three to four times. They would call for me to cover them with their blankets, for a drink of water, or just for the heck of it. After 4 times, I would get very frustrated and just want to go back to sleep. They did it for about a week and needless to say, those few days I felt like a zombie. No personal time in the morning because I hadn’t slept well the night before so I couldn’t get up early. No personal time in the afternoon when one of them wouldn’t nap. In the evening after they went down I was so tired that I couldn’t do anything. It was like we had gone back to the newborn stage of waking up multiple times a night. After a week of that, I found myself being frustrated a lot more easily and yelling at them much more frequently. It was not a good situation. Things have improved after that one week of very little sleep. I leave a leakproof water bottle at each of their bedside so they can access it in the middle of the night. Some nights they sleep through, some other nights they call me in once or twice. At least it hasn’t been every single night so it’s been okay. But boy, without adequate sleep, life is so much harder. Hopefully now that they are used to the toddler beds, they will continue to adjust their sleep so I can hopefully go back to sleeping 8 hours a night.
A couple of days ago the kids and I went to an event. Bob wasn’t with us because he had a work deadline. On the way back home when I was about to pull onto the freeway, I suddenly felt this indescribable sensation across my chest, some sort of discomfort, and an anticipation that I was going to pass out. In a split second, I decided to pull onto the street right next to the freeway entrance. I still had to go another half a block before I could pull over to the side safely. While I was doing that, I also called 911. All I was thinking was, what if I had a heart attack and the kids were in the car with me? What if I just passed out and crashed the car, and the kids would get seriously injured or die? I told the 911 operator that I had this chest discomfort, my heart was pounding rapidly, and was afraid that I was having a heart attack. With my small children in the car, I didn’t want to risk putting them in danger. At that point, I was shaken but was also feeling better, although my heart was still beating very fast. The 911 operator insisted on sending help my way instead of letting me hang up and drive home, especially with small children there. She just needed my exact location. I was a little disoriented with my position with all the “excitement”. I could see the cross street’s sign but didn’t know what street I was on. I saw two people standing on the sidewalk so I opened the window to ask them what street we were on. They just ignored me…… so I had to ask the operator to hold so I could go on my phone and look on Google Maps what street we were on. Since I parked right in front of a tire company and was blocking the driveway, I drove the car around the corner to the cross street. The operator kept me on the phone and asked me to feel my pulse on my neck and count each beat for her while waiting for the ambulance to come. My kids in the back kept asking me where their songs were (they were listening to Bob the Train songs on my phone) and when I told them that mommy was talking on the phone, they kept asking who I was talking to and what was going on. I could tell that they were both freaking out a little bit. I was trying to concentrate on counting the pulse while also trying to console the kids. The ambulance and the fire truck arrived at the same time. The paramedics invited me to go to the ambulance so they could check on me. The firefighters assured me that they would take good care of the kids. I turned my head to tell the kids that I’d just go for a few minutes. At first Bunny was sounding like she was going to freak out, but she was also distracted by the big firetruck parked behind our car. I walked over to the ambulance and lay on the gurney. The paramedics were very kind. They asked me a lot of questions, hooked me up with the EKG, and measured my vitals. They pricked my finger for blood glucose test. I told them my history of panic attacks, and believed that this was another one. It all felt so weird because I thought I was truly better. I mean, I am a lot better. The last panic attack I had was six months ago. And I hadn’t had any of the anxiety symptoms (e.g. lightheadedness, tinkly feelings) for about 4 months now. Anyways, everything checked out fine. The EKG was normal. Blood pressure and blood glucose levels were good. They of course often advise you to go to the hospital but in my case, they were also confident that I was fine to drive home if I felt fine. I was still a bit shaken in the ambulance and my body was shaking. The paramedics said that it was likely the rush of adrenaline. I was sitting there facing the back of the ambulance and could see that the kids were entertained by a group of firefighters. One of them went to get two toy firefighter helmets for the kid. I knew that the kids were well taken care of. I called my husband in the middle of getting examined since he was expecting me home. The paramedics assured me and reassured me that I did the right thing by calling 911. They said that if I again feel any discomfort driving home, pull over and not to hesitate to call 911 again. Finally I felt like I could confidently drive home, so I signed some paperwork and went back to my car. The kids were having a grand time (hahaha) with the firefighters. They were wearing their new helmets and chatting about transformers (they were playing with transformer toys in the car when this happened). I thanked all the emergency staff profusely and drove the kids home without any problem.
I have been trying to figure out the trigger of this scary episode of a panic attack. I think it could be a combination of lack of sleep, lack of rest during nap time, and many tantrums. The kids recently switched to toddler beds in preparation for preschool (so that Okra could be potty trained during nap time). Every night he has been waking up multiple times a night calling for me to tuck him back in. Bunny hasn’t napped much lately so I don’t get to rest during their nap time. The day before the panic attack, Bunny threw four big tantrums and Okra had one big tantrum. On top of that, there were countless whiny moments. I thought I was handling it well, and therapy has really helped, but it has been stressful to be with the kids given all the tantrums. What makes that episode the most scary was with the kids in the car, I thought I was going to wreck the car and harm them. That scary thought probably made my heart pound even more and made the situation worse. I think I had become complacent in the last few months because I hadn’t experienced an episode. I will start working on all the preventive measures such as meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling so that I ease my anxiety level a bit before it builds up to a point that another panic attack happens again.
A tear, as in a split, not what the eye produces when one is sad/happy.
A tear is what I have in a tendon on my left ankle that has been the cause of my pain.
The MRI results showed up on my myhealth app within a couple of hours after the scan. I briefly read through the results and did not understand most of that the report was talking about. The words just made no sense to me. I decided not to google about it, because that would just not do me any good. Other people’s conditions and treatment plans have nothing to do with my reality. So I just waited for my follow up visit with the podiatrist.
In the mean time, I have been wearing my ankle brace on a daily basis. It does provide a lot of support for when I am active with the kids. The time that my ankle hurts the most is when I get up in the morning or after my nap. The moment I step my left foot on the floor, there is a shooting pain on my ankle and I can hardly walk. A few minutes later, maybe blood is flowing to that area again and I can walk without pain. The pain is only intermittent so I am not in constant pain. There was one night when the pain was persistent when I lay in bed at night. I am thankful that that doesn’t happen all the time.
The podiatrist went over the results with me at our follow up visit. He said that there is a tear on a tendon on my ankle due to the over use of the tendon. Since there is an extra bone that I was born with on my ankle, it is a structural problem that only surgery can correct. BUT, with my life right now (chasing after two young children), he does not recommend this surgery for me for now because I will have to be off my foot and on a scooter for six weeks. That is impossible for me. Instead, he would like a more conservative approach for me. He’d have me wear the ankle brace and also custom make orthotics for me. I actually had a pair made by his dad, my previous podiatrist, about 10 years ago. I just never got used to wearing them and don’t know where they are. I often wonder if I’d have the same problem if I had been wearing those orthotics. So anyways, this doctor said that he has seen patients who don’t ever need the surgery because the ankle brace and the orthotics are enough to alleviate the pain. He’d like for me to try both and maybe he won’t have to see me for another 5 to 10 years. I really hope that is the case. He made me promise him not to let anyone convince me to do surgery. He said he loves doing surgeries but he doesn’t think it is for me right now. I promised him.
The podiatrist did say that I can continue with my activities as long as my ankle doesn’t hurt. I really miss my walks. It has been almost four months since my last walk. I really need to find a way to exercise. Indoor bikes? Swimming? I don’t know yet. It is such a bummer that this injury is restricting my ability to do what I love to do. Aging sometimes sucks.
I have met many friends on my fertility journey. Almost all of them have had their baby or on their way to having a baby. Even my friend who has had her embryos for a few years but had a hard time finding a gestational carrier is expecting her first child via surrogacy in October. And then there is my one dear friend. I wrote about her when I first met her in December 2014. She had been banking embryos with her own eggs, one egg at a time. This process had been going on for years, since 2015. Her most recent transfer of her day 3 embryos made with her own eggs did not result in pregnancy. At age 46, after trying to have a baby with her own eggs for the last 7 to 8 years, she finally decided to pursue egg donation. Knowing that chances of blastocysts and pregnancy are higher with fresh donor cycles than with frozen egg cycles, she chose a three-time proven donor for a fresh donor cycle that would give her the best chance of having enough blastocysts for two children. I was so excited for her on the day her donor started the cycle. I thought for sure that she’d be able to have a transfer in a couple of months and she would have a chance to become a mother when she turns 47 early next year. However, as the cycle proceeded, the news had not been good. The number of follicles and the E2 number didn’t look too good for a proven donor. Prior to the start of the cycle, the donor was expected to have about 30 eggs. As the cycle continued, she was tracking about 20 follicles but her E2 indicated that she might only have 8 to 10 mature eggs. At one point, my friend was going to cancel the cycle because it didn’t make sense to pay so much money for a fresh donor cycle for 8 to 10 mature eggs. However, the clinic and the coordinator predicted that the donor would have 18 to 20 eggs and convinced her to continue with the cycle. She was convinced and the donor proceeded to egg retrieval. The outcome? Only 9 mature eggs. Out of the 9, only four fertilized. Out of the four, only one became a blastocyst. At the same time, her friend who also started a donor cycle at the same clinic was a few days ahead of her and got 15 normal blastocysts. My friend has been so depressed about this whole thing. It took her a long time to decide to pursue egg donation. Nobody knows why this cycle didn’t work for this young donor who had great responses multiple times in the past. It goes to show that even proven donors don’t yield guaranteed results. It all made it even harder for my friend that this past Mother’s Day she didn’t even know if that one blastocyst from this cycle is normal. And even if it is normal, if she should transfer it or if she should scrap this all together and find a new donor so that she can have a chance of full genetic siblings for her kids. I hate it for her that even a supposedly wise choice and easy route is not easy for her, that she has had to go on a roller coaster ride once again, just like how she had been with her own eggs. I sent her a “thinking of you” e-card on Mother’s day to let her know that I was thinking of her. I know it is hard for her to see that having a baby is in the cards for her, but like my other friend A told me a long time ago when I was struggling with believing that I would be a mom one day, that “Things don’t change until they change”, I hope that things will change very quickly for her, and that she’ll be holding her baby in her arm some time early next year.
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last Friday. We had always talked about going to Hawaii for the celebration, but that didn’t happen. Or I should say we didn’t make it happen because of Covid. That particular day, we took the kids to a farm where they visited with cows, sheep, rams, chickens, pigs, and goats. They had such a fantastic time. Then we ate at a restaurant for the first time in 13 months. We chose a place with outdoor dining option and were pleased with this choice. The tables were inside a tent and far apart from one another. The area was airy. The most surprising thing was that the twins did really well. The last time we went to a restaurant prior to this was probably February or March 2020. They were about 2.5 at the time. We still had to lug a diaper bag full of supplies and two booster chairs for them to sit in. This time, at 3 years 7 months, the kids just sat at the table. We didn’t even bring toys for them to play with. They sat in big chairs and drank their water. Nobody got off the table once without asking. I used to bring bibs, utensils, and scissors for cutting food in smaller pieces. This time I left all of that at home. We didn’t even bring the backpack with water or wipes. The kids just used the restaurant napkins. What a difference a year made in a kid’s life! They have grown up so much and it is so nice to travel light with twins. We picked up a few slices of cake down the street before we headed home. That evening, instead of making a reservation for a restaurant to dine outdoors in the cold, we opted for takeout at home. We fed the kids (and my mom) first before we sat down for our anniversary dinner all by ourselves at the kids’ bed time. It was super yummy omakase. To top it off, the restaurant even gave us some free desserts for our anniversary. All in all, it was a delightful day to celebrate this milestone. I bought Bob a sound wave art piece made with tin that has the sound waves of our wedding song “Just the Way You Are” printed on it. Bob’s gift for me was a ring that I had been eying for a few years. When I received it, it took my breath away as it looks even more exquisite in person than in picture. I will cherish it for years to come.
I feel so thankful that Bob and I have found each other and walked alongside each other all these years through thick and thin. Although we have had our ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade my life with him with anything else in the world. Oh, I am also hopeful that Hawaii will be in the cards for us next year for our 11th anniversary celebration. How about that for being optimistic?
My left inner ankle has been hurting for a while. About 2.5 months to be exact. I was going for a walk almost daily as my exercise and one day I had to stop because my ankle hurt too much. I had been putting off seeing a doctor thinking that the pain would heal on its own after I stopped going for a walk for a while. That didn’t happen. Instead, the pain comes and goes. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes the pain just comes out of the blue and I almost can’t walk for a couple of hours. But in general it hurts when I get up in the morning putting my foot on the floor or after my nap. The pain usually goes away in a few minutes. This is the same ankle/area that I sprained twice in my life, once in my 20s and once in my 30s. Both times the sprains gave me a lot of trouble and took a while to heal. But this particular time I hadn’t sprained it, so I don’t understand where the pain would come from. I finally contacted my primary care physician for a referral to a podiatrist. The nurse practitioner who read the message asked me to go in for a consultation with the primary care physician first to determine the nature of the problem before they refer me out. I was thinking, what odd recommendation that was, just to make money off of me? I can self refer to a podiatrist. Why would I have to go see a physician who is not specialized in foot pain first for him to tell me that I need to go see the specialist? That doesn’t make sense. I went ahead and looked up the podiatry group in my network and scheduled an appointment myself. Last Friday I had my appointment. I looked at the podiatrist’s name and it looked familiar. Then I remembered that I had seen a podiatrist with the same last name about 10 years ago. It turned out that this new podiatrist is the son of the podiatrist I previously visited. What a small world. The current podiatrist asked me a bunch of questions and told me to stand on my tiptoes. He touched my ankle and asked where the pain was. He suspects that the tendon on my ankle is the culprit. He doesn’t think that it is torn but it could be inflamed. He had ordered an MRI for me to see what is going on inside. In the mean time, he gave me an ankle stabilizer to walk in. I am to wear it whenever I do weight bearing activities which is basically all my waking hours. After the MRI, he will determine if I need this particular injection or not in order to alleviate the pain. So now I wear this very fashionable (not) brace daily.
It has been helping a bit. I am still waiting for the phone call from the imaging department to schedule the MRI with me. Being in the 40s is not fun it seems as so many parts of the body seem to take turns to be in pain. I hope and pray that the podiatrist has a way to fix this pain because I really want to go back to my exercise one day soon.
Therapy has been going well. The physical symptoms that I had a few months ago haven’t come back at all. All the goals that I had set with my therapist (e.g. No more panic attacks, no more worrying about having panic attacks, etc.) have all been met. I really have made a lot of progress in those short almost four months. I have chosen to continue seeing my therapist every other week to work on a few residual things. She has given me one assignment that is quite interesting. Since I love drawing, she wants me to draw a moment, a win, or a victory that happened in the previous week or two that is a result of a choice that I made myself. She wants me to document it with the activity that I like the most, which is drawing. I can choose anything and the frequency of this assignment. I decided to do a drawing every other week. So far I have done two.
The first one is a depiction of me at Costco. I went one morning leaving the kids in my mom’s care. My mom called me while I was shopping to tell me that Okra was mean and misbehaving. The usual me would be really worry about the situation at home and would want to rush through shopping and hurry home. I would feel guilty for leaving the mess to my mom, feeling like I should rush there to take over so nobody had to be subjected to my son’s behaviors. The new me was able to talk to my inner critic Ursula, telling her that there was nothing I could do at that point because things were out of my control since I wasn’t physically at home. I had already entrusted the kids to my mom so they were under her care, and fretting over it at Costco would not do anyone any good. I was able to be in the moment, focus on finishing up my shopping, and was not distracted by the things that might or might not be happening at home.
The second picture depicts the kids climbing up a very high structure at a park. The first two times we went to that particular park, I did not allow them to climb up this particular part. I was able to let go the third time and let them climb high. The picture does not show, but this structure was probably 8.5 ft high, way higher than the top of my husband’s head which measured 6’4″. It was quite scary for me but I was able to let go of my fear and let the kids climb. My therapist often asks me why I chose to draw this particular moment and what else I could tell her. This time she noted that I chose to draw the kids walk away from me. This signifies the more and more I am letting go of my control.
I thoroughly enjoy this exercise. In the one hour to one hour 15 minutes that it takes me to finish the whole drawing, I am able to focus on the progress that I have made and the choices that I have been making to help myself be more whole. I am truly grateful that I have found a great therapist who opens my mind to seeing things in a different way than before.