It has been exactly 6 months since I last posted.
Life has been busy. I think about this blog from time to time, and think about writing a post. So here are some random things about my life in no particular order.
Age four seems to be the hardest age for us. My daughter Bunny turned from the most easygoing and chill child to a highly emotional and whiny child. There was an incident at school with her teacher that the word “expulsion” was even mentioned. We consulted with a parent coach and a child therapist and both reassured us that she just had a lot of big emotions that she didn’t know how to express. We learned some tips from them and things seemed to have calmed down. Some days are harder than others when both kids take turns throwing a tantrum or have a meltdown one after the other. They are going to turn five in 2.5 months. I wonder if age five will be a better and calmer age for us. One can only hope.
The kids’ preschool will close its door after 38 years in service. I can’t believe our kids are in the last class of the school. The program used to have 30 kids. Now with kids graduating and leaving early for the summer and the younger kids being transferred to the sister school, only 8 kids are left in the program. I had plans to keep them there until end of July. Now that school is closing on July 15th, I will have the kids at home with me for two weeks. Haha that will take some time to get used to. They are going to attend a forest summer camp the first week of August. The second week of August is our trip to Disneyland! I know it is going to be hot and crowded there but we are also very excited to travel somewhere outside of the Bay Area. The kids will go to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) the 3rd week of August.
I continue to work out consistently. It is part of my life now. In fact, I have been working out on a daily basis since last September. When the kids go to school, I work out in the morning. When the kids are at home, I do my exercise when they get up from their nap and watch a video. Sometimes errands or appointments get in the way but I still find time to work in my exercise. It is a habit now and I am happy about that.
We haven’t gotten Covid that we know of. The kids have gotten sick a few times but have always tested negative for Covid. Bob recently became sick with what the kids had. His multiple tests were all negative. I think it is just a matter of time. It is so easy to be exposed these days. The kids got the first dose of their vaccine last week, finally. My in-laws are going to come visit from India in October. Instead of going to Hong Kong, my mom will stay at a rental during the time of my in-laws’ visit. My dad still hasn’t come to the States since the beginning of Covid. We miss him tremendously but he is still hesitant about coming and wants to avoid catching Covid if possible since he had pneumonia the year prior to Covid. Since it is a mess to make a trip to Hong Kong these days (the Covid restrictions there are strict), I hope that we can somehow see my dad next year if the Covid restrictions relax a bit.
That’s it for now. Here is a picture of the kids when we went to the zoo a little while ago.
They are no longer babies……
It has been a while since I last posted. Seven weeks to be exact. This is the longest I hadn’t written a blog post. It seems like the more I don’t write one, the less motivation I have to write one. I am determined to be more consistent with my writing this coming year. It starts today.
My stamina for exercises seems to be much stronger than that for my blog writing. I wrote about starting to work out consistently a few months ago. I am proud to say that I have been keeping it up. Back in November I bought a new Apple watch to keep track of my heart rate and to have access to EKG if needed. The new toy is an additional motivation for me to be active. It took me a little while to figure out how to make sure my watch counts my exercise minutes and register my movements. It was frustrating to do a workout for the watch to not recognize any of the minutes. Finally I changed a couple of privacy settings on my phone and voila! I have been closing all my rings on my Fitness app.
It is so much fun to see the analysis of my workouts: active calories burned, total calories, average heart rate, peak heart rate, and recovery. Bob and I purchased a yearly membership from Team Body Project back in late September and have been loving the access to over 500 workouts on its website. Even with my injured ankle, all the low impact options help me not give an excuse to not exercise. And it is not like I don’t want to exercise. I look forward to the workouts daily and can’t wait to be moving my body to feel good. I am confident to say that it is part of my daily routine now. In the year 2022, my goal is to color in every single little grid on my fitness calendar. If I put my mind to it, I believe I can do it. One workout at a time. One grid at a time.
(The top one is mine. The bottom one is Bob’s.)
Just like me, two of my friends got to be parents thanks to egg donation and gestational surrogacy. There is a special place in my heart for the both of them. One of them actually had a similar timeline as my journey. Her daughter was born 3.5 months after my twins were born. I remember meeting up with her a few weeks before her daughter was born to pass on a bunch of newborn clothes to her. She got to meet my twin babies. When the babies were little, we were too busy taking care of them and didn’t try to meet up. She writes me once in a while especially when it comes to talking about feelings of having used donor eggs and a gestational carrier. When she told me that her young daughter told her that she wished that her mom was the one who had carried her, I teared up as the sentiment hit close to home. We share a bond because of our special fertility journeys. My twins and her girl were supposed to meet up for a play date in March 2020. We all know what happened then. Fast forward 1.5 years. The kids finally met up in October for the first time. My kids and my friend’s daughter became instant friends. We visited the zoo together, looked at animals, rode the train, had lunch, and played at the playground. The kids all got along really well and played with one another like they have known one another for a long time. We met up again this past weekend going on a miniature train ride at a park. The kids were running around with each other having a great time. They had group hugs several times too. After the visit, the twins constantly talked about their little friend and told me how much fun they had. When I look at the pictures of them hugging one another, my heart melts. Somehow they share a special bond. It is so beautiful to see that the friendship between me and my friend has now extended to our next generation. I think about all the heartaches that the both of us had and how long and how twisted our roads were. The two people who didn’t know whether we’d become mothers have the privilege to see our children play together. This is something that I will never take for granted.
I bought a maternity dress back in 2016, a few days before I found out that I might never carry my own children. I wrote about it in this post. As it turned out, I really never had the chance to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term. This very pretty and brand new maternity dress has been sitting in one of my closets all these years. When my dear friend finally got pregnant after trying for eight years, this maternity dress came to my mind again. She and I are about the same size. I suddenly had this thought that I should find it and give it to her. Letting her have it and wear it with her baby bump is much better than hiding it in a dark closet. I mentioned it to her when she first got pregnant. She was so touched and gladly accepted my offer of the dress. The other day, after realizing that she was almost 16 weeks, I felt that I should really let the dress see the light of day again. Armed with a flashlight one night (since this particular closet doesn’t have light), I removed a bunch of other clothes and a bunch of Okra and Bunny’s toys to uncover this dress. This peacock blue dress still stands out as much as when I first found it and bought it. The tags are still on it. I showed a picture to my friend and she is thrilled to be able to wear it soon one day. She has another dress that looks similar but she still wants this dress because it is much more meaningful with its history. I am confidently that my friend will look great it in. It almost feels like she is not only going to wear this dress for herself, but for me and for her other friends who didn’t/don’t ever get to carry our own babies. I said in the post about the maternity dress that one day I might put this dress into good use. It is never too late. The timing is right as this day has definitely come. I can’t wait to see her sporting this dress.
Second picture is what the dress would look like on a person (but in black).
A dear friend of mine finally became a mother a week ago. She had made her embryos with egg donation a few years back and had a really difficult time finding a gestational carrier to carry for her. After a very long journey, she finally got to hold her daughter in her arms. My other friend is now in her second trimester also with DE after struggling to conceive with her own eggs for the last eight years. I have met a ton of people in the last nine years because of my own fertility journey. Many of them became good friends. But now that I look around, I don’t have any friends that are struggling with having a baby. An era of my life where many of my friends were met through my fertility journey is definitely coming to an end. Nowadays most of the new friends that I meet are from mom groups. I mean, I am still getting requests from friends to connect with their friends who are still on this journey, but these kinds of requests are becoming fewer and fewer. I am sure eventually I won’t know anyone who struggles with infertility as I continue aging. I know it is a natural progression of how life is. My stage of life is mostly about parenthood, and my life and friends reflect it. But it certainly feels a little weird that I don’t get to talk about treatments or feelings surrounding trying for a baby anymore especially after it had been a big part of my life for so long.
I know all parents say this. It is true though. I blink, and my kids have turned four.
This year I wanted to make it up to the kids for not having a party last year. The theme for first year was Elmo because the kids didn’t know better. Second year it was Thomas the Tank Engine. Last year it was Thomas again for Okra and Excavator for Bunny. This year guess what Okra wanted? Trains again. And interestingly, Bunny wanted trains too. Well that did make it easier for me as I didn’t have to incorporate two different themes like last year.
The kids had school on their actual birthday. We went in their room to sing them Happy Birthday song when they woke up. The kids were so excited! Bunny said, “I am so excited! I can’t wait to see the birthday decorations in the living room!” Oops… I didn’t decorate the living room this year because we were going to have a birthday party that weekend. I wasn’t going to do decorations two times in a week. When Bunny realized that was the case, her face dropped and she almost broke into tears. The disappointment was so real, and I can understand that. Last year we had a big photo backdrop on the living room wall with balloons of their names and huge gigantic number 3 and other balloons and tons of presents. This year there weren’t even presents yet because I didn’t want them to delay going to school. Poor kids…
That afternoon we brought sugar-free popsicles to school to celebrate with the kids’ friends at school. They got to wear a birthday hat (which Okra promptly refused) and get a birthday balloon and hear the kids and teachers sing them a birthday song. It was nice to chat with their teachers and get to see the faces of the kids that Okra and Bunny mention about all the time. That evening we invited my brother’s family over for the kids’ favorite dinner (ramen for Bunny and unagi donburi for Okra) and had a very yummy birthday cake. We stuck two number 4 candles on the cake. Bob joked that he is all set for his 44th birthday next year with candles.
On Saturday that same week, we had a birthday party at a nearby park. I had booked that picnic area two months prior hoping that the air quality would be good for their party. I was so relieved on Saturday morning to see that the weather and air were good. We wanted to keep the party small so we had invited two other sets of twins for a total of 6 kids. These are kids that we have regular playdates with. There were more adults because my brother’s family was there as well. Everyone was masked. The kids had such a blast! We rented a bounce house for the party and the kids had the interest and energy to jump almost the whole entire time! We catered from the kids’ favorite taqueria and had cupcakes. It was so much fun. The kids didn’t want to leave. Bunny was so sad when the jumper company came to pack up the bounce house. The rest of the day she repeatedly told me that she missed her jumper. She still says that even to this day, a whole week and some more after her party. Haha.
I am so thankful that we feel safe enough to give them a party. I hope that next year we can invite more people. That means that the pandemic will be more under control.
Every year is challenging, but it is also so rewarding to see the kids learn, grow, and develop into their own individual person. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.
That is how many minutes of exercise I did last week.
I used to exercise at least 3 times a week before the kids were born. When they were newborns, I just did not have the time or energy to work out. I started going on walks again about a year ago. The partial tear on a tendon on my left ankle has made it impossible for me to go on my walk without pain. I stopped going on walks since February, and it didn’t do my body any good. The more I didn’t exercise, the more aches and pains I felt. I am sure my high blood pressure had gotten worse because of the lack of movements. Kids started preschool early August. I started doing these low impact cardio and resistant workouts on Youtube. Initially I did them 3 times a week, on days that the kids are at school. Once I have gotten in the groove, I also do them on non-school days. When the kids get up from their naps, I usually let them watch an episode of cartoon on Netfl.ix. I used to sit around or do housework during this half an hour of video time. Now I put on a workout video and huff and puff behind them in the kitchen while they watch their show at the dining table. The more I do it, the more I want to do it. Half an hour of workout is so doable. Bob’s blood pressure has been high lately and he wants to take better care of his health. He also started to do these workouts. Yesterday we did one together while the kids watched their show. It was a lot of fun doing it side by side. I highly recommend these workouts if anyone is interested. The trainers and highly motivational and inspirational. I love them. Last week was the first time I did one 30-minute workout per day. I sweat a ton and feel so accomplished when I complete a workout. It makes me feel so good not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. And I am so proud of the both of us for working towards better health and a better life. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has responded to my consistent exercise.
My friend who had 21 blastocysts from her second round of donor egg cycle is finally pregnant. Eighteen out of the 21 blastocysts are PGS normal. Eighteen! What does one do with 18 blastocysts? Her mother wanted her to transfer a male embryo mainly because she herself didn’t have a son. Her husband also wants a boy. My friend does not have much of a preference so she transferred a male embryo. She is now 8 weeks pregnant. Her 6 week scan showed a beautiful heart beat. I am so thrilled for her! I know that she is still early in her pregnancy but I am so hopeful that everything will go well, and that she will finally hold her baby after being on this journey for 8 years. She still has a lot to work on in terms of grieving the loss of genetic connection with her child. We have had numerous conversations about it. I had been trying to convince her to see a professional to work through her feelings. At least she is working with one right now. It has been quite a trigger for me to walk alongside her on this journey, which is kind of unexpected. I thought I have done grieving not sharing genes with my kids. I guess these deep seated feelings don’t totally go away. When she shares with me how she feels, I often tell her that I sometimes still feel something similar. I will be curious to see how I fare emotionally as I watch my friend go through her pregnancy while processing her feelings.
About a year ago, my former reproductive endocrinologist Dr. E introduced me and Bob to the parents of one of Bunny and Okra’s genetic half siblings. We haven’t met them in person but did exchange emails several times and become FB friends with one of the parents. I was very curious to see what the little sibling looked like and it has been fun to see photos of her. She is a few months older than our twins. She and Okra share more of a resemblance than she and Bunny. Dr. E mentioned that little half sibling’s parents are connected to our mutual donor on FB. Although our donation was supposed to be anonymous, we do know our donor’s name. We just haven’t asked to meet up with her in person. It is partly because of the pandemic but also of our egg donation history with the donor. I am tremendously grateful for our donor and do not hold any grudges against her. But it seems to be hard to ignore this piece of history when considering when to meet her. I wonder if we would ever talk about what happened. Fast forward to last week. I messaged Dr. E to ask about something for a friend of mine. She wrote back and said that she actually wanted to reach out to me. She invited the parents of Bunny and Okra’s half sibling as well as our mutual donor to dinner at her house the previous week. They all had a blast and discussed about doing this annually. Dr. E was wondering if Bob and I would like to be a part of that annual dinner. We continued chatting, and Dr. E asked if we wanted to connect to our donor on FB, she could make it happen. I took some time to think about it. And I thought about how it would be good for Bunny and Okra to know who their donor is, what she looks like, and for us to get information on her family medical history if need be. After a few days of consideration, I told Dr. E that we would love to become FB friends with our donor. Dr. E made it happen. She messaged our donor, and that same night, our donor friended me on FB. I wrote her a message with pictures of the kids. I haven’t heard back from her but it is a great first step to get to know person who so graciously helped us complete our family. I showed the kids our donor’s photos. How did they react? They were more interested in our donor’s grandpa. Haha. I will let you know if our donor ever messages me back, and maybe one day we will see her face to face.
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.