We Have Experienced Almost Everything Under the A.R.T. Sun

In the past, we have experienced IVF with one embryo left, IVF with no embryos left, IVF with no fertilization, and IVF turning into IUI.  We can add one more thing to the IVF sh*tlist resume: Ovulation before we could even get to the egg during retrieval.  Yup.  I ovulated already.  Bummer.

I checked my cervix last night.  It was still high.  I still had EWCM yesterday.  However, there was this nudging thought in the back of my head that I might have ovulated.  My basal body temperature was low yesterday.  So I know that I hadn’t ovulated overnight on Friday.  I dared not check my temperature this morning fearing that it would have jumped already.

Today was Team Superman day.  I put on my Superman socks and Bob had on his Superman T-shirt.  We got up really early and arrived at the clinic right on time.  When I was still in the car, I took a 10mg Val.ium and could totally feel the effect of the drug right away.  By the time we arrived at the clinic, I was feeling drunk, couldn’t talk coherently, and had a hard time walking straight.  It’s so crazy how powerful the drug is.  Since the clinic wasn’t even open yet, we were supposed to call the IVF room when we arrived.  We saw the nurse on our way in.  So we went into the clinic together.  Everything was the usual.  The post retrieval instruction, the IV, the gown, the locker.  The only difference is that our usual nurse who prepped us the last three times was actually not there.  Guess why?  Yup, she’s on maternity leave.  She did NOT look pregnant the last time we saw her, although it was November so quite a while ago.

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There are our Team Superman outfits.

Anyhow, Dr. Dry Humor was the one who did the retrieval.  When I was called into the room, Bob went outside to wait for his turn to give a sample.  I lay down on the table just like the last few times.  Dr. Dry Humor commented on how awesome my socks were and said that he should’ve worn his Superman bandana that his patient gave him.  We joked a little and then got down to business.  I asked if we could do an ultrasound to make sure that I hadn’t ovulated.  Dr. Dry Humor said that he always does one.  This was when things went down hill.  He could not see the big follicle on the right anymore.  There was a shadow of it.  On the left, there was the collapse structure of the smaller follicle.  I ovulated some time last night.  I always knew that there was a possibility of that happening but didn’t think that it would actually happen to me.  All the Ganirel.ix did not save the world.  Superman did not save the world either.

Stunned, I lay on the table not knowing what to say.  I wasn’t particularly upset.  I was disappointed.  But I didn’t feel that it was the end of the world.  Dr. Dry Humor asked if I wanted to still proceed with the retrieval to see if we could salvage something.  In my head, I was thinking, poking me with a needle means that we pay for the retrieval, but since there still could be a chance for an egg, I should try, right.   Many many things went through my head.  I wished that Bob were there to make the decision with me.  I felt so lonely having to make quick decisions by myself.  In a split second, I said Yes to trying.  So I lay there while Dr. Dry Humor poked his needle through me.  Because I was so preoccupied with this shocking news, nothing hurt too much.  He did his thing. There was no eggs.  I didn’t feel like crying, but I had this feeling of sadness and unfairness and questioned the reason for letting all this happen to us and all the delays in the last few cycles to end like this.  The nurses and Dr. Dry Humor were so nice and compassionate.  When I sat up, Dr. Dry Humor put both hands on my socked feet, looked me in my eyes, and talked about planning the next steps.  We are still going to do a transfer on day two, right?  Yes.  Are your tubes good?  Yes.  How do you feel about doing an IUI right now to cover all the basis?  Well, it depends on how much it costs?  He said, about $500 to $600.  We can spare that money.  So I made a decision to do an IUI.  Dr. Dry Humor said an IUI does not interfere with a transfer on Monday because the embryos are day two, so the timing should be just right.  I wouldn’t be doing and IUI if the embryos were day-5 blastocysts.

As I sat back in the recovery area with a heat pad on my tummy, I continued to be stunned.  I just felt kind of dazed.  It was a totally different feeling from the last few times when we had four eggs, three eggs, and one egg.  Having zero egg is not a very good feeling.  It sucks.  Diminished ovarian reserve sucks.  Ovulating early despite having Ganire.lix definitely sucks.  But life still goes on.  I didn’t cry.  I just sat there and waited for Bob to do his thing.  Poor guy was told by our nice nurse that his wife did not produce any eggs and he would still have to produce his part of the deal to do an IUI.  Later on he told me that he was upset and grumpy, so that affected his performance a little.  And it actually didn’t help that all the “new” material that he had in the sample room was from 1992. The other material was perused by him previously already.  Hahaha.  Poor guy.

We were scheduled for an IUI at 9:30.  When we were done with the IVF room, it was 8am.  We walked out in the bright sun and went to a nearby popular spot for brunch.

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I was mostly in good spirit, but Bob was visibly grumpy.  He expressed how done he is for this process.  I really don’t blame him.  I am glad that when one of us is down, the other one is not.  I rubbed his back and told him that I understand.  We still enjoyed a very nice brunch.  At least the food was very good.  We talked about the number of embryos to thaw.  He now has an idea of thawing three to transfer, and just leaving the two other frozen ones to be transfer during our donor egg cycle.  I know that he’s letting his emotions talk, so I just let him talk.  We also discussed about thawing all five and transferring them all. Then we vetoed that because that would mean a chance of one to two embryos from the IUI and five real embryos.  That’s just too much.

The IUI was a breeze.  We had one done before so we knew the drill.  In the room, the doctor showed us on paper Bob’s count and other things.  Post-wash was 20 million.  This was very different compared to his last IUI where 250 million was obtained.  Bob joked about it, saying that he was proud of himself that I asked for two sperm this morning and he gave me 20 million post wash.  Haha.  Gotta love that  man.  I was asked to lie down for an extra 10 minutes.  Then we went home.

I got home feeling light-headed, and took a nap for three hours.  Waking up, I was instantly feeling sad.  Why is this process such a roller coaster?  Why do we have to go through so much and still get this outcome?  How does this fit in the grand plan of things in heaven?  I have no answers.  I know that God’s timing is good and He has a plan, but sometimes it’s very hard to trust in His plan.  I am trying really really hard to do that.  Like my title says, we have really experienced almost everything under the A.R.T. sun.  And I don’t want to.  I don’t want to be the one who says “Oh that happened to us before”.  Sorry guys, feeling a little down today.  But I’m still grateful that we have a chance of transferring some embryos on Monday.  I just hope that life doesn’t throw us another curveball and hope that embryos will thaw well.

Thinking about all this, I got teary eyed for a little.  I’m going to sign off so we can enjoy the rest of our day together.  Thanks for being there for this journey with us.  I wish I could give you better news.  I am hoping for a better Monday.

Very Last Scan and a Little Freak-Out

Today was the cycle day thirteen scan.  I prayed this morning for God’s will to be done.  I was a little nervous about the lining and was even having dreams that I was having a period instead of a growing lining.  Last night, I consulted with Dr. Goog.le for a little and then stopped because I didn’t want to freak myself out.  Let’s just say that I was freaking out the whole morning not because of the lining.

I mentioned to my friend Jo about the HCG shot that expired in January 2015.  This is something that I could have used a mere 26 days ago and nobody would have said a thing about it because it hadn’t expired.  I had a discussion about it with my acupuncturist before who was told by her RE that it was fine to use expired fertility drugs within six months of expiration.  So I never thought anything about it until Jo was saying that I should be cautious about it and should consult with my own RE.  I emailed my nurse and got the answer that they can’t allow me to use expired medication.  If I were to get a new dose from a local pharmacy today, it would cost $270.  This is something that I could’ve ordered early and paid $110 for.  I remember that my other local friend has a Ovid.rel.  I didn’t know if that and the 10,000IU HCG are the same thing.  So if I could use my friend’s Ovid.rel, then I wouldn’t have to pay so much for the meds last minute.  I had to email my nurse to see if Ovid.rel was okay to use.  I didn’t hear from her until after lunch.  By then, I had already called several pharmacies to check on pricing and shipping to be ready if trigger would be tomorrow instead of today.  Finally, I had heard from my nurse saying that Ovid.rel was okay to use.  I could pick it up from my friend after work if we indeed trigger tonight.  You see, I did all of this in between seeing clients at work.  I was so stressed out that I didn’t even have the time to worry about the scan.  At one point, I stopped myself and told myself that it was okay to pay $270 for a medication if I really need it.  After that, I felt much better and was not stressed out anymore.

I got to my appointment 10 minutes early hoping that I would be seen early like last time.  The lady in front of me went to the bathroom.  The nurse came out three times to call her name and she was still in the bathroom.  They finally connected but it was cutting into my appointment time.  My time was at 1:15pm and I had to be back at work by 2pm to see my clients.  I got called back in quickly but had to wait for the Nurse Practitioner for about five minutes.  Since my mind was still preoccupied by the trigger shot, I was not really too focused on the scan.  NP took a little while to find the lining.  She said it measured 7.7mm.  Then she shifted the view of the scan to find a better view.  She measured that instead and said it was 7.8mm.  I was a little worried about the thickness but she said that anything over 7mm is good.  In fact, she showed me the section of the lining that showed these three very clear stripes.  She told me that two days ago I also had a trilaminar pattern but it wasn’t as defined and “beautiful” as today.  Today she called it “beautiful” a few times.  I don’t know how to judge the beauty of the endometrial lining but I will take her word for it.  She said that that pattern is more important than the thickness.  Plus the lining will continue to grow.  I guess I won’t worry about it until my RE says something otherwise.

At first the follicle on the right side was 17 or 17.5mm.  She measured it one more time pushing on my ovary to get a better view.  She said she really wanted to measure it well but even one mm would make a big difference.  She was very careful and measured it again.  Then she announced that it was 18mm.  This time I got to see the view and saw a nice big round dark circle.  She went on to measure the left side. The follicle was 15mm.  The cyst-like structure outside of the ovary was still the same size.  It seems like the left follicle has been growing slowly, so I don’t know if that affects the egg quality or not, or if there is even an egg.  With the size of the follicles, NP said she would imagine that Dr. No Nonsense would recommend triggering tonight.

I went on to tell the NP how stressed my morning was with the whole trigger shot question.  She told me that the shelf life of the powder form of medication usually lasts a lot longer than liquids.  So she thought that it would be okay to use the expired meds.  But to make sure, she went ahead and asked the attending RE.  It happened to be Dr. Keikoman and he gave his Okay for me to use the trigger shot tonight confirming the NP’s point that powder form should be fine.  Thank you!  I was so relieved after talking to her and getting a reproductive endocrinologist’s confirmation.  I  guess this is the price I pay for going to a big clinic when you can get many different opinions and answers to questions.  This would never happen at the little clinic that I cycled with because Dr. E would have told me yes or no a long time ago.

I was told to wait in the waiting room for the nurse to get my paperwork ready assuming that we would trigger tonight.  The NP would email Dr. NN to confirm trigger.  I waited and was a little worried about going back to work on time.  By the time I was called back in it was 1:45pm.  I signed the usual paperwork and was shown the order typed up by Dr. NN.  I nodded looking at the items such as ICSI and assisted hatching until I saw that the number of embryos transferred was 6.  SIX!?!  I am NOT going to transfer 6 embryos.  The remarks section said something like “one fresh embryo and thaw three frozen embryos and transfer whatever is viable”.  One plus three does not equal six.  Dr. NN did not do the math right.  So I had to explain to the nurse the following: if we make one embryo, we’re thawing three of the best ones to transfer four; if we make two embryos (which became a possibility now), we would thaw two embryos and transfer four; If we make no embryos, we will still thaw three and transfer three, and leave the two other frozen ones to be thaw at the next fresh cycle.  I made sure that she understood before we moved on.

The nurse went on to explain all the instructions for retrieval and transfer.  Beta is going to be on March 17th, which is 15dp2dt.  Wouldn’t I die of waiting??? My last transfer’s beta was on 8dp5dt.  I guess I will either have to request for an early day or I have to POAS.  I’m pretty sure that my period will not come yet if I am still on progesterone.  So either way, I will have to POAS to make sure that I don’t go insane.  Since this is something out of pocket, we’ll have to get my beta done at Kai.ser, my current insurance provider.  I will have to email my OB/GYN that I have never met in person.  Or I can pay out of pocket at a different lab.  So the nurse went on and on about everything.  I looked at the watch and it was already 2pm.  By the time we were done, we were inching towards 2:05pm.  I was already late to get back to work.  She then told me that they needed to do a physical and history.  I really didn’t have time for that so I would go back tomorrow for it.  I ran back to work and was 15 minutes late for my next client.  Oh well.

The nurse later called and confirmed trigger to be tonight at 9pm and retrieval will be on Saturday at 7am.  We will have to arrive at 6:15am and call the IVF room directly since no one will be at the clinic until 7am.  This is really really early but it’s okay.  Transfer will be on Monday.  I will have to book my acupuncture appointments.  It is preferably done before and after transfer.  However, I don’t think my acupuncturist can do it before my transfer so I have to settle for one session after unless I can find someone else to do it.

Friends, this is getting real!  Hopefully this is the very last trigger shot that I will ever need.  I hope that the follicles are doing well and I will continue to do Maya massage self care to help with the follicles and the lining.  I have a Maya massage appointment tomorrow and I had my mom make me bone broth to help with my body as recommended by my acupuncturist at yesterday’s session.  I am doing everything I can do make it happen. The rest is up to God.  Please pray and think very good thoughts for those follicles for them to have mature eggs inside.  Thank you so much!  I will update after our retrieval on Saturday.

Two Follicles

Today is cycle day 11.  Bob couldn’t come to my scan today since it was in the afternoon.   I was flying solo.  My favorite nurse practitioner (NP) was the one who did the scan.  We hadn’t seen each other since November so I was very excited to see that she was the one who did the measurements.  She is always very thorough, more so than most of the REs I have seen there.   Going in, I was feeling a teeny tiny bit nervous, but not overly so.  When I was walking to the clinic from work, I was preparing myself to receive any not-so-good news: lining not growing, one follicle shrinking and disappearing, or whatever crazy things could happen in a cycle.  When I lay down on the table, I couldn’t  see the ultrasound screen due to the angle.  I usually would request to see it.  Today I didn’t even care.  I just let NP do her thing instead of staring at the screen trying to decipher what was on it.  NP was very focused on the screen without talking for quite many seconds.  I didn’t think anything of it, although she reassured me that nothing was wrong.  She just needed to bypass my fibroid in the back in order to take the measurement of the lining.  The lining was still trilaminar, 7.1mm.  I was wondering in my mind if that was good enough, though I realize that this is still early and it has a few more days to do its thing.  She went on to measure the follicles.  Without looking at the screen, I felt very calm.  It is what it is, right?  She first announced that the follicle on the right was 14mm.  Good, I thought.  I didn’t have much expectation for the follicle on the left.  Then she said, 14mm on the left.  Really?  Wow.  I asked if it was the cyst rather than the follicle.  She examined it for a little longer, then she said, It’s definitely a follicle because of its structure.  She then found the third structure that seemed to be outside of the ovary or something like that.  It could be the cyst.  It was 12mm so it’s definitely shrinking.  So guys, we have two follicles measuring the same!  This is so unexpected since it’s a natural cycle with no Letro.zole or Clom.id.  I am very pleased with what my ovaries decided to do.  Since we usually trigger at around 18mm, NP thought that Dr. No Nonsense would want me to wait two more days.  She told me to make an appointment at the front desk for a Thursday appointment.  She would talk to Dr. NN and call me.  I went ahead and made an appointment.  When that was done, I waited for the elevator.  When the elevator door was closing behind me, I heard my name and quickly pressed the “open” button.  NP was yelling out my name for me to go back into the clinic.  She had just emailed Dr. NN who quickly returned her email. She thought that it was better for us to talk in person than for her to call me on the phone.  I was situated in one of the empty ultrasound room when she went back to read her email one more time for the instructions.  Then she returned to tell me that Dr. NN wanted me to inject two vials of Meno.pur and one dose of Ganir.elix.  For those who are not familiar with the meds, Meno.pur is used to help boost the growth of the follicles, and Genir.elix is for holding off ovulation.  I am pleased with what Dr. NN wants to do because I do want to give both follicles a chance to grow.  We are to do this tonight and tomorrow night.  When I return on Thursday, my follicles (or one of them) will most likely grow to about 18mm.  I anticipate the trigger shot to be done Thursday night, egg retrieval on Saturday, and embryo transfer on Monday.

This is the best outcome that I could hope for at today’s appointment.  I didn’t expect two follicles, let alone both of the same size.  Praise the Lord that we have good news today.  I hope to keep the same zen attitude and wait for things to unfold.  This is getting real, friends.  🙂

MicroblogMondays: Meeting Cousin’s Baby


It’s Chinese New Year.  The tradition is to go visit with relatives in their home during this time.  My mom was going to visit my aunt and spend time with my cousins, their wives, and my cousin’s baby.  I wrote about my cousin and his wife who got pregnant and gave birth not even a year into their marriage.  I was feeling bitter at times and did not want to see them or meet the baby after he was born.  I sometimes do see pictures of the baby and he is becoming cuter and cuter.  When my mom told me that she was going to get together with my aunt, I gave her a red envelope to give to the baby.  This is a tradition during Chinese New Year for married relatives to give single relatives, especially children, a monetary gift placed in a red envelope for good fortune.  When my mom came home from the visit, she said that my cousin who just dropped her off wanted to come in and say thank you for our red envelope for the baby.  Bob and I greeted him and he asked if we wanted to meet the baby.  Instead of feeling reluctant, I found myself wanting to meet that baby.  Bob and I went to my cousin’s car and saw a baby with chubby cheeks sleeping peacefully in his car seat.  My cousin’s wife and I chatted a little bit about this five month old baby who is already 18 pounds.  I touched his cheeks and his hand.  It dawned on me that I no longer feel jealous of my cousin and his wife, and I don’t feel bitter or the need to hide from them and the baby anymore.  This realization is so freeing.  My cousin said that he had arranged for his family to have dinner with my brother’s family in March.  He invited us along with my mom and his mom.  I told him that we’d be there.  I think having dinner and spending time with them all will be a true test of my true feelings about my cousin and his fertile wife.  Bob asked, “Will you want to hold the baby?”  Without much hesitation, I said, “Sure!”  I think this is a big step forward.


Today was my cycle day nine scan.  I had no expectation going in.  I didn’t feel nervous or anxious.  I was quite neutral.  We arrived ten minutes early and were pleasantly surprised that we got called back early.  Dr. Keikoman (Bob nicknames all Japanese women Keiko, so a Japanese man naturally becomes Keikoman) greeted us and said, “So, no meds and you’re going for a natural cycle, right?”  Yup.  That’s what we’re trying to do.  First the doctor measured the uterine lining.  He found it and studied it.  I held my breath for a little until he said, “Trilaminar.”  That was such a beautiful word in my ears.  I let out of sigh of relief and said, “Yay!”  Trilminar is what we want.  Praise the Lord!  This definitely gives us a chance of transfer if the lining continues to grow well.  At today’s appointment it was at 6.8mm.  And then Dr. Keikoman examined my left ovary.  I told him that there was a cyst at baseline.  He looked and found a structure that could be either a cyst or a follicle at 13mm.  After he looked some more, he found another dark structure that could be outside of the left ovary measuring 15mm.  The right ovary had a 10mm follicle.  Dr. Keikoman thought that we are looking at possibly two follicles growing.  There is really no way to know if those dark circles are cysts or follicles.  So we’ll wait for the scan on Tuesday to find out more.  But it looks like we’re on the right track with the lining and some follicles.  I will continue to do my castor oil pack to help reduce the cyst and do some Maya massage self care to help the circulation of my abdominal area.

This is the first step in the right direction.  Yay!

Strong and Resilient (Getting on the Egg Donation Wait List)

Yesterday was our meeting with the staff psychologist at our current clinic.  Back in December, I met up with the donor ovum coordinator to discuss about the cost and the process of fresh and frozen egg donation at UCSF.  Since I am fully Chinese, in order to be on a wait list for an Asian donor, and a Chinese donor in particular, we would need to meet with this psychologist to discuss about topics surrounding ovum donation before we could get on the egg donor wait list.  We originally made the appointment for early January.  After discussion of the timing of my potential transfer and beta in January (not knowing that we would actually have road bumps along the way that prevented us from moving forward with a transfer), we postponed the appointment to February 6th.  However, due to “scheduling conflict” of the clinic, we were again rescheduled for February 20, which was yesterday.  Since we haven’t done our transfer yet, and hence do not know if we’ll have to pursue donor egg cycles, everything that we discussed yesterday was hypothetical.

Our clinic has partially moved to the newly built location.  I am not used to going there because our cycles are still handled at the original location, which is three blocks away from my work.  In order to go to the new location for the appointment, I had to drive to a mid-point to pick up Bob who traveled from his downtown office.  Then we drove another 15 minutes to the new location.  I remember when I was there last time I parked at one of the few non-metered parking spots.  We lucked out again as we found a street parking space.

We arrived on time (Thanks to Bob for being on time!).  I anticipated to be asked to pay the fees that I was told we’d have to pay.  I already asked Bob to get his HSA card ready.  However, nobody asked us to pay up.  I don’t know what the deal is but I am happy that we don’t have to pay.

The psychologist came out to lead us to her office in the back.  The hallway was filled with rooms and felt like a maze.  When we entered her office, I first noticed children’s books displayed on the window sill that are written for the purpose of sharing with children about egg donation.  The psychologist invited us to describe in our own words our journey so far, although she had already read our clinic file.

I went ahead and told her our history.  An abbreviated version.  From three years ago.  Trying naturally to IVF treatments to our loss exactly one year ago (to the date of the appointment; creepy).  And fast forward to our current state of waiting to transfer our embryos.  Interestingly, I thought I would get emotional, but I didn’t.  I just reported on our history matter-of-factly.

The psychologist asked me when I started thinking about egg donation.  That was easy.  It was back in July last year after one of the doctors with whom I consulted suggested it due to my poor responses.  I started doing research and considering the possibility of it.  We seriously discussed about it and also began our process to save up for that goal.  I told her that I am ready to go for egg donation if our own-egg cycles fail.  Some of my friends who also have diminished ovarian reserve feel that they don’t want to pursue egg donation because they may be jealous of their husbands or partners for their sole genetic connection with the child.  I told her that I am the opposite.  I actually crave that genetic links that the child will have with at least one of us.  This is why I would like to pursue egg donation before we consider embryo adoption.

She turned to Bob and asked how he feels about egg donation.  When he responded that he was “open to it”, I almost burst out laughing.  My husband has been more than ready.  He has even been more ready than I have.  He sometimes gets frustrated with the waiting (for the cysts to go away, for my cycle to regulate itself) and suggests that maybe we should just go directly to egg donation.  So it’s funny to hear him say that he was “open” to it.  My husband actually is also very open to embryo adoption or  traditional adoption.  I am confident that he will love any baby that God puts in our family.

She asked us to tell her our concerns, if any, for egg donation.  I talked about a few things.  I am actually not concerned if I will bond with the baby or if I would feel that the baby doesn’t belong to me.  I feel that once I get pregnant with the baby, I am going to know that I will be the baby’s mother.  I am more concerned about disclosing our choice of egg donation to others around us as well as to the child.  I have been quite open about our fertility struggles especially with friends and family who would pray for us.  I crave prayers from them and I am thankful that they are willing to intercede for us.  However, when it comes to making a baby with donor gamete, I suddenly feel the burden and the confusion of how much and with whom to share, since it does not only involve the two of us, but also a third person, namely the baby.

The psychologist spent quite a long time discussing this topic.  She actually recommends disclosing to the child as early as possible.  How she puts it is that it is never “too early”, but it could be “too late”.  Studies find that children who find out about the facts of their birth in their teenage years may feel hurt, betrayed, and confused.  If parents start talking to toddlers early on about how they came to the world, it will show them that it’s not something treated secretively and has always been part of the story of the family.  Parents can put it very simply that a nice lady helped create the family.  They can use children’s books to talk about it.  And they can continue the dialogue with the child as he/she grows up.  As for disclosing to other people, the psychologist said that it is good to share with a set of close friends and family so that the support is there.  They can also choose to share with a larger group of people if they are comfortable.  One point that stood out to me is that she said that having a child via donor ovum is only a part of the family’s story and does not define the family.  You can talk to friends and family about it, but it doesn’t have to be something that is brought up over and over again.

Bob then went ahead and talked about his family.  As you may know, his parents are traditional Hindu and were opposed to our marriage.  They were against us getting married because 1) they wanted to arrange a marriage for him with an Indian girl from the same caste who is a few years younger, 2) they dislike the fact that I am 3.5 years older and anticipate us to have a hard time making a baby, and 3) I am Chinese.  Because of the anticipated judgment that would come from them regarding my diminished fertility, Bob has not mentioned to them anything about our struggles or treatment in the past three years.  He mentioned to the psychologist that he will eventually tell his parents if we do succeed in making a baby with donor gamete.  He joked that maybe he would need to use the same kind of simple language that he would with a child: there is a nice lady who helped us expand our family.

We don’t have to worry about my side of the family as my parents and brother and sister-in-law are all supportive of our decisions.  As a matter of fact, my mother once said that she would love our baby all the same even if we had to go with a Caucasian donor in the Czech Republic.  I am lucky that my Chinese mother is so supportive.

My other concerns about egg donation are mainly about finding the right donor, the fear of interruptions with the cycle once a donor is chosen, the fear of a failed cycle as we only have limited funds, and the choice between fresh cycles vs. donor cycles as influenced by our desire to have more than one child.

The psychologist thinks that finding a Chinese donor is more difficult than finding a Caucasian but it is not insurmountable.  If we can’t find one that we like, we can always go with an agency donor.  She suggested two agencies that have successfully matched Chinese or Asian donors for patients.  We should discuss among ourselves about what traits we most want to see in a donor.  We may find that we may be fine with a donor that is mixed with some Chinese.  Then we’ll have more choices that way.  A donor that shares a little bit of my cultural heritage but has many of our desirable traits may be better than a fully Chinese donor whose strength is just that, fully Chinese.  It’s a very personal choice.  So we’ll have to go home and talk about what we both want.

As for the concerns of failed cycles, she reassured me that although there is never any guarantee of a successful cycle, the chances of getting pregnant are so much higher with donor eggs than not.  There are two reasons that I want to use a donor from the clinic’s in-house pool: the in-house donors have gone through a strict process of testing before they were put on the database and it costs less money to use an in-house donor as opposed to paying a fee to an agency.  One of the fears I have is that we’d be out agency fees if the donor doesn’t work out at any stage of the donation.  Many first-time agency donors have not gotten tested before they are chosen by intended parents and the risk of something going wrong is higher.  The psychologist agreed with me that she also feels more comfortable with in-house donors for the exact same reason, that only the ones who meet strict guidelines get into the program.  However, she said that this problem can easily be overcome by using a proven agency donor who has already gone through the process and knows the ins and outs of egg donation.  She feels that the agency fee is only a little bit more than using an in-house donor.  It’s worth considering.

I told her that we discussed about doing fresh cycles rather than frozen cycles because we desire to have more than one child.  However, Bob always said that since this process has been so long and difficult, we may just want to aim at having one child and be done.  How does one choose fresh vs. frozen as the difference in the cost of them is so huge?  The psychologist said that there are too many factors going into choosing a donor.  We should go with the first donor that we like.  If it’s a donor with frozen eggs, we should go with her.  If it’s a donor who only offers fresh cycles, then we should go for that.

The psychologist advised against looking at any more donor profiles online.  Since we’re still pursuing my own eggs, we run the risk of being attached to a particular donor who may or may not be available if/when we are ready for egg donation.  And there may be more available donors that would suit our criteria if/when we are ready.  She also suggested that if/when we fail at our own egg attempt, we should take some time to sit and let it sink in rather than moving onto egg donation the very next moment.  This process provides a closure to a chapter of our fertility journey.  It may take one day.  It may take a few days.  It may take a couple of months.  Whatever length it may be, it is always good to reflect on this process and agree that “we are done” before moving onto the next thing.

We are automatically put on the in-house wait list yesterday since we completed the appointment.  I wrote an email to the donor coordinator today to confirm that it is the case.  The coordinator with whom I met in December is no longer working there.  So I needed to confirm with this new coordinator that I could backdate my priority to August 2014 as I was told during the December meeting since we started cycling there in August.  I guess there is not much we need to do until we are ready for egg donation.  Then we’ll email the donor coordinator our interest in a particular donor and see how long the wait may be.

The whole meeting took about 45 minutes.  When the psychologist walked us out, she told us that it was very nice to meet us.  She thought that we were a very strong and resilient couple.  She was confident that we would make great parents.  Bob said that maybe she was just being nice to us, but I do think that this journey has really made us a stronger unit.  It was very nice to hear from a mental health professional that she thought that we would make good parents.  On our way out, she gave us a fact sheet labeled “Talking with Children about Ovum Donation” by the American Fertility Association.  It will be an interesting and useful read for the future.

So now we wait.  Wait for our cycle to take off.  Wait for the lining to be good.  Wait for the transfer to be done.  Wait for the beta to be positive.

May the advice and information we learned in this meeting  be something not at all needed in the future.

Hopefully we’ll find out in three weeks.


A year ago today was a sunny Thursday just like today.  It was the day we found out if my first positive beta had doubled.  I was quite calm all morning until around lunch time when I hadn’t heard from  my RE.  When she finally called at around 12:45 and said the word “unfortunately”, I couldn’t hold it together anymore.  The rest is history.  Our first BFP and positive beta came and went.  Just like that, a dream was shattered and lost.  It took another six months for us to pick up the pieces and start all over again.

The date “February 18” used to carry the meaning of joy and happiness, as it is usually around Chinese New year and it is my childhood best friend’s birthday.  This year is the first time this date represents something totally different.  It now also symbolizes the darker side of life.  The loss of a life that was way too short.  The heartaches and struggles of a couple who longs to have a baby to love and to hold.  On that day when we got our first positive beta, I didn’t experience joy.  The beta was so low (21) that I had a really difficult time wrapping my brain around it.  I just couldn’t even dare to think that all could be well.  For two whole days, I vacillated between hope and fear, unbelief and belief, allowing myself to dream and quickly crushing that dream as I could not believe that I was carrying a little life inside me.  Waiting for the second beta was the most difficult thing I had done.   Then the day of second beta was the worst day of my life.  February 20, 2014 would forever be etched in my mind as the day we lost our first pregnancy.

Emotionally, I have been doing quite well.  I carry on my everyday life and am functioning like a normal human being.  However, these few days whenever I write or hear the date, my heart twinges a little.  I was a little teary eyed yesterday thinking about the hellish day last year.  I haven’t cried and I am still feeling fine.  It’s just that the thought of our loss tugs at my heart more so than usual.  When I see that my friends who got pregnant around the same time talk about their almost four-month-old babies, I feel like our life is idle and we haven’t made much improvement.  This is not true though as we are going to transfer our embryos and we have plans to move onto donor egg cycles.  However, when your peers move forward, the sense of being stuck somewhere is even more amplified.  I want to scream to the world that today is the anniversary of our loss.  But I keep my silence and sit quietly by myself in my office at lunch so I don’t hear the word “pregnant” many many times in the lunch room.  I guess this is my way of mourning and commemorating this moment.  12:45pm.  February 20.  The news that forever changed our lives.  According to my dear friend M, this is my “suckaversary”.

My RE called me yesterday.  We discussed about moving forward this cycle despite not being able to use Letro.zole.  We will do a natural cycle, try to retrieve one egg, and try to make one embryo.  If my lining is good (trilaminar and thick), we will hopefully have one fresh embryo and thaw three of the best embryos to put back four embryos on day two.  If lining is not good, then we will cancel the transfer.  We’ll go in on Sunday for our cycle day nine scan to check on the cyst and any follicles.  My basal body temperature threw me off a little as it went up above my usual cover line for two days.  I almost thought that I had ovulated very early again.  Good thing my BBT went back down.  Hopefully my body holds out a little before ovulation so I can grow my lining well.  Looks like after all these ups and downs, false starts and cancellations, we will proceed with our cycle.

We shall see what the future holds.



MicroblogMondays: I Am Not The Only One

Microblog_Mondays So, my Dear Colleague who knows everything about my fertility treatment is also a source of information for me at work.  She has a way of finding out things about others that I will never be able to find out.   One day she went to a social function and hung out with a bunch of work people including my supervisor.  My Dear Colleague was commenting on my Pregnant Coworker, wondering why she would announce her pregnancy so early at 7 weeks.  Once she said that, people started rolling their eyes and grumbling about how Pregnant Coworker is over the top with her talk about her pregnancy.   They said that she mentions about her pregnancy every time she opens her mouth.  One time a manufacturer representative said that he would bring chocolate to a presentation.  Pregnant Coworker immediately said that she couldn’t eat any chocolate because the caffeine is not good for her pregnancy.  My supervisor said she audibly let out a sound of disgust once she heard that.  My supervisor also said this, “Oh and she has the guts to be talking about her pregnancy right in Isabelle’s face.”  Wow, I didn’t know that Pregnant Coworker has been that obvious and other people have been watching us.  I have never told my supervisor about our fertility journey.  However, about a year ago, she was riding with my Dear Colleague in a car.  She did mention to my Dear Colleague that she didn’t want to pry or ask for details, but she wanted to know if Bob and I were okay.  My Dear Colleague didn’t tell her details but just told her to think very good thoughts for us.  That was around the time we had our chemical pregnancy.  I know that work people have probably been wondering about us because we’ve been married for almost four years but still have no babies.  I kind of feel a bit vindicated that I am not the only person who thought that my Pregnant Coworker is a bit over the top with her pregnancy.  My supervisor apparently is going to start trying after her overseas honeymoon in a month.  I hope that she will be more sensitive and compassionate when/if she needs to announce her pregnancy.  And that she will also be able to enjoy a piece of chocolate, unlike my Pregnant Coworker who worries about the trace amount of caffeine in it.

A “Cyster” That I Hate

So… Another canceled cycle.  Another cyst.  Or maybe it’s an early recruited follicle.  Nobody knows.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Tomorrow is Bob’s birthday.  We usually plan an out-of-town trip for Bob’s birthday because it often falls on a holiday weekend.  But because of the possibility of AF’s arrival, we didn’t plan a trip.  My period came at 12:45pm yesterday so I left a message with the answering service for the clinic to contact me for cycle day two appointment.  Bob and I went ahead with our 3pm Thai massage appointment.  I anticipated the clinic to have called me by then.  Nope.  No phone call.  No voicemail.  I called again at 5:30pm.  This time to the nurses station line but I was transferred to the answering service and was told that everyone would’ve left the clinic already.  The answering service lady said she would make sure that my message would get sent to the clinic.  I wasn’t too worried knowing that the clinic is always open on the weekend.  If I can’t get a hold of anyone, I can always show up and ask for an appointment.

Although I wasn’t too worried, it was still an uneasy feeling not being able to plan ahead.  This morning, I called the clinic main number and got the answering service again.  The lady put me on hold to try to connect to the clinic but no one picked up the phone.  About 30 minutes later, I called the nurses station again.  This time someone picked up.  I was told that they were still trying to confirm a couple of things with the doctor and would get back to me.  It took another phone call from me before I was contacted.  I had never had this much trouble getting an appointment on the weekend.  We were supposed to go ride a train today as part of Bob’s birthday celebration festivities.  However, Bob has been under the weather and is still recovering so he opted to take it easy.  Good thing he wanted to relax instead of wanting to go out.  Our 12:45pm appointment made it impossible for us to go anywhere far away.  The nurse on the phone said that the clinic did not get my message and apologized profusely for that.  I like it when people accept responsibility for their faults.  It makes it feel like they care.

We arrived early at 12:35.  No one was there to check anyone in.  I stood there for another ten minutes before someone came back to the front desk.  I was wondering if they would ask me to pay for the ultrasound scans from the previous cancelled cycle.  Nobody asked me for any money.  Phew. We waited for another 30 minutes before being seen.  First the nurse took my vitals.  I hated it that I had to weigh myself and my weight has gone up and up… my current weight is a whole ten pounds heavier than my last conventional IVF cycle one year ago.

Sitting on the table waiting for the doctor to come in, I told Bob that I really just wanted a cycle that is clear cut without any doubt that we can just proceed.  I guess no luck this time, again.  The doctor came in and was trying to find my ovaries.  I had a full bladder because I went to the bathroom right when I checked in and had to wait for a long time before they called me to the back.  She pressed on my right ovary and finally found it.  It was fine with one follicle.  Then she went to look at the left ovary.  She pressed and pressed.  There it was.  A big dark cycle.  A familiar sight that I just hate.  It was measured 19x15mm.  So approximately 17mm.  There was also another follicle on the left.  We went over my history talking about the previous cyst and how Dr. No Nonsense still asked me to take Letro.zole just to see.  So her game plan was that I should check my estradiol to get more information about this cyst-like thing.  Maybe I could still take Letro.zole depending on the result.  So yet again, I got my blood drawn.  I was told to go home and wait for the blood work result and the phone call.

I wasn’t too upset or anything.  At least not like the last time on January 1st when we saw that big cyst and learned that the cycle could be canceled.  I was very upset, went home, and cried like crazy.  This time, I was just a little numb.  Bob and I walked to the elevator and he said,

“You have a ‘cyster’  that is sticking closer to you than a brother.”  This is a reference to Proverbs 18:24, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

HAHAHA that totally cracked me up.  My husband is HILARIOUS.  I was laughing so hard in the elevator.  This journey can  really use some humor.

Just now, the same doctor who did the scan called.  She said that the estradiol level is 75.  For any level over 50, they typically would recommend canceling the cycle thinking that I may not respond to the meds.  She said that at this point, it’s hard to know if it’s a cyst or a lead follicle that I recruited way early in the last luteal phase.  Only time can tell.  She recommends doing estrogen priming again after the next ovulation so I don’t start recruiting follicles early.  I asked if I could still start a cycle after my cyst is resolved, because I do grow follicles after a cyst is resolved.  She said that it’s possible.  Just talk to Dr. NN’s care team.  Too bad it’s a holiday weekend so Dr. NN and his nurses won’t be back at work until Tuesday.

So yet another canceled cycle.  We’re in pretty good spirits.  At least I am not too down or crying like a mad woman.  Bob always said that there is a reason why we are delayed and this is a way to exercise our discipline.  But I am just a bit numb.  I just want to get started and I am so ready to get the transfer done.  Why can’t we just have a normal cycle like every other person on the planet?

My dear friend Jane Allen suggested Millicent, Harper, or Hilda for a cyst name.  Whatever its name is, I just want it to go away!  Is that too much to ask for?  UGH.  Or… If it’s not a cyst, but an early follicle, I just want my body to listen to me and STOP growing follicles early.

We just can’t catch a break, can we?  SIGH.

I really need God’s strength and patience for this in order for me to appreciate the big picture and not to get too hung up on the little annoying things that are called “cyst” or “early follicle recruitment”.

IVF #8 never seems to be able to take off.  Next month?  I don’t know.  I really really hope so.

MicroblogMondays: Simple Sunday Pleasures


Truly grateful for the simple pleasures in life on a Sunday:

  • A rainstorm that is much needed for our severe drought in California
  • Being on the passenger side rather than behind the wheel in the rain, thanks to my wonderful husband (due to my rational/not-so-rational fear of driving in the rain because of my two rain-related car accidents in my life)
  • Finding a parking spot right outside of church, which almost never happens, especially on a stormy day
  • Greeting fellow church goers, who were mostly drenched from the rain, with a big smile on my face
  • Holding one of my favorite babies
  • A thought-provoking sermon that stimulates my mind about the meaning of life
  • Compliments from quite a few people for the dress I was wearing (which was chosen only because of the other preferred jeans and pants all being in the wash)
  • Dry feet thanks to the protection from my new long leather boots
  • A delicious mexican torta with beef cheeks paired with the yummiest salsa and unusually crunchy and tasty tortilla chips at our favorite taqueria
  • After lunch, running back to the car with Bob both with flipped umbrellas, laughing like two crazy kids
  • A restful afternoon at home with Bible reading and time to marinate the pork tenderloin for dinner
  • Finalizing details for Bob’s birthday next weekend and getting excited for booking our Valentine’s day 90-minute Thai massage appointment
  • Lying in bed with my husband enjoying an episode of Six Feet Under
  • Spontaneous, unplanned, impromptu (I can’t emphasize more on the “unscheduled” aspect), fun, and intimate lovemaking solely for the purpose of enjoyment and pleasure rather than procreation
  • Feeling safe inside our house while listening to the gusty wind blowing outside
  • And finally, what I’ve been looking forward to: clean sheets for a great night sleep and no more freaking out about dead skin cells!

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