A few months ago, I was invited to participate in a project which requires me to create curriculum to teach Chinese parents ways to boost young children’s communication at home. I have been developing the content of the workshop since then. A couple of weeks ago, I gave a twenty-minute presentation to about 25 Chinese parents and other caregivers. I am not much of a public speaker. If I can, I prefer not to speak in front of a large group of people. My throat would get dried and my hands would be shaky. A few years ago, I probably would have said “no” to this opportunity out of the fear that I would make a fool of myself. It is just not my thing. This time it feels different. I have been doing the same things in my career for the last ten years. It was about time I challenged myself to do something that I had never done before. I have to say I actually did quite well on presentation day. I projected my voice and spoke confidently of something about which I am passionate. The feedback from parents was good as well. The project co-director is an interesting lady. A powerful person who has many connections. You can tell that she gets things done and gets them done her way. She has a very strong personality and not easy to work with. She was the one who casually asked me if I had children and jokingly told me not to get pregnant until after the workshops are done. We chatted on the phone to debrief about the presentation as well as to discuss the direction of the project. She disclosed a new recent development of the project, which is to develop a monthly prenatal class for first-time pregnant patients at the clinic to teach them early communication skills with babies and childcare option. I am the guest speaker that she has in mind. This is a brand new idea to me as initially I was asked to present to only actual parents, not expectant parents. My emotional side was screaming, “Oh No… that means that I will have to see many women with big bumps on a monthly basis and there is nowhere to escape from them” and “Oh No! More public speaking…” My rational side supports the idea of working with these expectant mothers before their babies are born so they are armed with the knowledge to get a head start. God has a sense of humor. You are not always comfortable with seeing big baby bumps? Here is an opportunity to get used to them by seeing lots of them on a regularly basis. I could choose to hide and escape. Or I could choose to take up the challenge head on and see how God would lead me. I am happy to report that I said Yes to the co-director, but I think I will need a lot of God-given courage and strength before the kickoff presentation. I admire Meghan and Jane who work with pregnant women on a daily basis. I hope I can channel their professionalism and passion for these ladies.
Although I hadn’t been feeling too sad, I was looking forward to seeing my therapist. My three sessions with her last year were so beneficial to me for sorting out my thoughts and feelings. I was hoping that I could get a few sessions in before her maternity leave.
I arrived early as usual. Knowing that she is eight months pregnant, I wasn’t worried about my reaction to seeing her bump. I have to say that she did not look like she was about to give birth. She seemed to be very mindful of her choice of clothes as her sweater was big and did not hug her body. My pregnant coworker who wears tight fitting clothes probably shows her bump more than my therapist does. I commented on how great my therapist looked at this late stage of her pregnancy and asked how she was doing. She said she was getting a little bit tired but overall had no complaints.
Once we sat down, she said that it was great to see me but she was sorry that it was under these circumstances. The first 30 minutes were devoted to telling her about all that had happened in the past eight months since I last saw her. The last time we saw her, we had not even started with U.CSF yet. And I bet she wasn’t even pregnant with IVF yet. It really had been a long time. I updated her on the following:
- First cycle in August was canceled because of a cyst
- First cycle take two in September went well with four eggs, three fertilized eggs, and three embryos to freeze on day two
- Second cycle in October with our surprise eggs from two little follicles so three eggs turned into two fertilized eggs, and then turned into two four-cell grade one embryos
- Third cycle in November was long drawn out due to lack of response to Clo.mid and a subsequent natural IVF cycle yielded two follicles, one egg, and none fertilized
- Intended fourth cycle could not take off due to lab closure for the holidays
- Intended fourth cycle still could not take off in January due to a cyst, decided to move on with the cycle anyways, ovulated before cycle day eight, tried to grow follicles in the luteal phase, eventually follicles shrank, bled three times and ovulated twice in 23 days. My body was screaming “GIVE ME A BREAK”
- Finally fourth cycle started in February, unfortunately with a cyst again. Still decided to move forward with natural IVF without medications. Grew two follicles on my own. Despite Gani.relix to hold off ovulation, ovulated prior to egg retrieval. Still tried to retrieve but there was no eggs. Converted to IUI with 20 million sperm post wash. Transferred all five embryos due to lab error of thawing more than we wanted. Negative beta.
- Met with Dr. No Nonsense to discuss egg donation
As I recounted all the details to her, I was a little choked up. I didn’t cry as I didn’t feel like it. However, I was a little emotional. We went through a lot as a couple. Since the very first cycle with Dr. E until the last cycle with Dr. No Nonsense, we have always had to make many last minute decisions that could alter the outcome of each cycle, hence the pregnancy outcome. Through all the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride, my heart is set on not spending more time and energy on my own eggs. I feel very strongly about that. I really cannot bring myself to go to a monitoring ultrasound to check my antral follicles, to take any oral meds or do injections to boost follicle growth, and to wait and hope that I haven’t ovulated prematurely/we get eggs/the eggs fertilize/the eggs continue dividing/we have embryos to transfer. I really cannot go through with this process again. However at the same time, I still feel sad that other people achieve what we can’t. I see other ladies with diminished ovarian reserve who have better cycles than we do and they miraculously get pregnant. I fall into that trap of wondering “why them and why not me?” Despite these feelings of inadequacy, my quest to have a baby with my own eggs has ended. This is a very personal decision. I am sure that many women in my situation would choose to try a few more cycles. However, to me, doing fertility treatment with my own eggs for eight cycles is enough to tell me that it is time to move on to the next chapter.
And I am very grateful that my therapist is there to help me sort through these thoughts and feelings.
I told her all the things that I have been feeling and all the things that I have been doing to help myself feel better. I cry when I am sad. I talk to people. I take time off when I need to. I told her the whole thing with my pregnant coworker as well as my out-of-town friend who said mean things to me. My therapist gasped and agreed that my friend’s statements were hurtful and insensitive. She told me that it’s important to set healthy boundaries with people, including pregnant coworker and this friend. I told her that I am feeling okay. This time it feels so different from last year. We have a plan. I have been mentally preparing myself for egg donation since last July. So it feels like I have had a lot of time to digest the possibility. I also firmly believe that my emotional stability has to do with all the prayers that we have received since the beginning of our journey with U.CSF. God really has watched over us and been with us every step of the way these many months.
I told her that I am still not ready to write to the U.CSF donor coordinator or to contact any donor agencies yet. I haven’t even written the billing lady at the clinic regarding our refund for all the procedures that we didn’t do (no eggs, no culture, no ICSI). I am simply not ready. She told me that it’s totally okay to take time for myself to be ready for the next step.
We discussed a little bit about choosing a donor. My husband and I finally looked at the in-house donors again. We used to joke about having donor 1 or donor 2 as our donor. And now that we really have to pay big money to find someone, Bob all of a sudden becomes picky. My criteria come down to proven fertility and decent person with decent height. Bob seems to have a longer list of his wants. There is a full Asian donor (half Chinese) who is really young (21) and had four donations that resulted in four pregnancies. I think she could be a good choice, but Bob has reservation because she did not go to college. She is so young though. You just don’t know what she’ll do in the future. Anyways, Bob vetoed almost everyone on the list and wanted me to consult with donor agencies. My therapist told me that my choices and Bob’s choices will be very different because women usually value proven fertility more, and men just want to find someone who is like their wife. So we will eventually have to come to a mid point. Nobody is perfect, but we will really have to be comfortable with our choice. The therapist thinks that I am very in tune with my feelings. So she is confident that I will come to a choice with whom I am comfortable. She also told me to consider my feelings around my future child(ren) having half siblings running around due to the donor’s successful history. I haven’t really thought about that, so I’ll have to give it some thoughts.
At the end of the session, my therapist asked me about the timeline, i.e. when we’re looking into doing a DEIVF cycle. I said three to five months. She was relieved to hear that. She said she was worried that I would say next month, because she thinks that I will still need some time to grieve and have closure for the loss of my genetic links to my future child(ren). And then she told me this:
“Just keep doing what you have been doing. I am here to help you.”
I come out of the session feeling empowered. Life is full of possibilities again. And I get to talk to her again next Wednesday.
I am grateful for that.
Friendships with super fertile people are a bit tricky.
I have been friends with these two super fertile ladies for a long time. They were like sisters to me until these past couple of years. Life circumstances have drifted us apart. Chloe, who moved away out of state a few years ago, conceived both of her kids the first couple of months trying. Leanne, currently six months pregnant with her second child, was the one over whom I cried once learning her pregnancy news in December. I saw both of them three months ago when Chloe was in town. I struggled with the pregnancy news but I still went to dinner.
Chloe comes to town maybe every three to six months. Whenever she’s here, she arranges for us (the four core friends) and some of her other friends to get together for dinner. Dinner usually happens in the vicinity of her in-laws’ house where she is staying. So I will usually have to go the distance and drive 40 minutes for that dinner. Looking at the last couple of years, I have been to every single one of these meals when she was visiting. Sometimes with our core group of friends. Sometimes with only a couple of us. Sometimes with a bigger group of her friends for whom I don’t care much. I go because I want to see her.
Chloe was once again in town this past weekend. Like usual, she wanted us to come to have dinner with her. And this time, in addition to our core group of friends, she also invited one extra friend. Since I knew that my beta test would be this past Monday, I let her know that I might or might not be up to getting together. I might or might not be pregnant by this weekend so I might or might not want to hang out with Leanne, our pregnant friend. Chloe was disappointed that I might not go. I told her that I have to protect myself and I chose to be honest with her rather than making up some lame excuse. One week ago when we learned the beta results, I let Chloe know that the blood test was negative, and I would see about my emotions before I made a decision about dinner.
Fast forward to Saturday night. I was trying to be true to myself and my feelings. I did not feel up to meeting with Leanne, seeing her big belly, and not being able to chat about things freely because of the friend who is not in our core group. I was not ready to hang out with them for Sunday night dinner. I told my pregnant friend who responded with, “I am so sorry, Isabelle. I’ve had you in my thoughts, wondering how things were going. Please let me know if I can help in any way, Ok? Will miss you tomorrow but understand of course. Love and hugs, L”
That night, Chloe and I had an exchange on chat. This is how it went:
C: Hello! Hope you are hanging in there. I also hope you decide to meet us all for dinner tomorrow.
I: I’m feeling better, but not ready to hang out. Hopefully next time you come or next time we go there.
C: I’m really sorry to hear this. I’m sorry you are in so much pain. I have to say I’m hurt and disappointed. I can only imagine how hard this is for you. I’m upset because I’m here and you won’t see me. You can’t avoid seeing pregnant women in public unless you aren’t leaving your house. Leanne isn’t pregnant to be malicious towards you. I’m disappointed that you will be the only one missing. I don’t know when I will be down again. When I do come down, I care more about seeing you and the girls more than seeing blood family. You are my sisters and more of family to me than my blood family is.
After seeing what she wrote, I was really upset. In fact, I was boiling inside. She was making it about her. Her comment about my reaction towards other pregnant women and Leanne’s pregnancy was ridiculous, insensitive, and hurtful. She made a rash judgment about me without knowing how I have been handling myself in the past three years. I go out. I see pregnant ladies every single day. And I am fine. I don’t avoid going out. I don’t avoid going to work and seeing my Pregnant Coworker. I am doing as much as I can to be a normal human being. I have never said one single thing about our friend Leanne being malicious towards me. I was hurt that such an assumption was made without truly trying to know my life as an infertile person in the last few years. This time, all I was asking for was for her to give me some understanding and empathy as to what I am going through for this one freaking time so I can skip dinner.
And my friend Jo was right. If she really wanted to, knowing my circumstances, she could have offered to see me one-on-one. But no… her time is very limited every time she comes, so there is no way she could do one-on-one with me.
Bob was upset that I was upset. He told me not to respond to her when I was so mad. But when do I listen to my husband? 😉 This is what I said:
“I am disappointed that you are not even going to try to understand my point of view. I try to see you every single time you come down. And the one time that I am hurt and in pain, you are telling me these things. I don’t know what to say. I have to do things to protect myself. Again, I am being honest with you rather than giving you a lame reason. This is what friends do. Being honest. So just please let me heal and get over this hurt before you make a judgment about me and what I am going through. I hold nothing against Leanne. I told her that I won’t be there tomorrow and she understands. I just need a bit of time to heal as everything is still so raw.”
Then I said, “I am done with this conversation tonight. We can talk again in the future.”
I was hurt. I really don’t think I was being unreasonable. I know I can’t expect super fertile friends to know how I feel. She must have thought that I could just brush my feelings aside for the sake of friendship and getting together with them. But I just couldn’t this time. And my expectation was for her to give me a little bit more room and understanding rather than judging me for skipping one dinner. I was utterly disappointed that the understanding was not given to me.
Chloe at this point knew that I was mad. She kept trying to patch things up. These were the things that she typed:
“I’m being honest with you because I love you. I’m not trying to be mean or hurt you. I love you and wish you would join us. I know I can’t understand what you are going through. I can’t be in your shoes. I wish I could make all of this better for you. I’m sorry if I upset you. I’m truly sorry. I love you and just wish you could be with us tomorrow.”
Yeah but please do not try to guilt trip me into coming to dinner.
So to that, I responded, “I just can’t tomorrow. I have learned to take care of myself. I don’t expect you to understand what I’m going through. but I need some empathy here. So just please let me be. I love you all too, but I need some distance.”
She said, “Ok. I respect your need for time. I miss you and love you. I hope I can see you sometime sooner than later this year.” She then apologized a few more times. At that point, I just wanted to be done with the conversation, so I said, “Okay Chloe. Thanks. I hope you guys have a great time tomorrow. Night.”
She just wouldn’t quit. She wrote, “Isabelle, I wish I knew the right things to say and not say. I wish I could make all this better for you. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry my words were upsetting and selfish. I want to see you, but you aren’t up for it. I need to respect that.”
I knew she was still worried that I was upset with her. So I reassured her that it was fine and now that we knew what we were both thinking, we could move on. She still went on for a little while until I stopped responding.
Is it too much to ask for when I just want to skip dinner with my pregnant friend and my out-of-town friend for this one time just barely a week after my negative beta results following my last failed cycle with my own eggs? Is it unreasonable for me to expect that I could just stay home and mourn when I need to rather than putting up a brave face in front of my friends? I know that she apologized and did acknowledge that her words were upsetting and selfish. But I think it will take me a little while to get over this one.
I am a little tired of dealing with fertile people and explaining myself. But I am not worried about our friendship. We are still good friends. We’ll be fine.
I have been staring at this blank “Add New Post” browser for a few days now. What does one write about after the crushing news of negative beta results following the second and the last embryo transfer with one’s own eggs?
I know I need to write. There were things that happened on the day of the beta test. There were thoughts that passed through my mind, emotions that I felt and processed, and love that I received. I need to document as much as I can, so I will have a chance to look back in the future and know what had happened.
Last Thursday before all the symptoms went away, my friend Jo asked me what my gut feeling was regarding this transfer. I told her my gut feeling was that I was pregnant. After the loss of symptoms on Friday, Bob asked me the same question. I told him that my gut feeling was that, we probably had a chemical pregnancy and now it was all gone. Of course there is no way of confirming any of this. It could well be my mind and progesterone doing tricks on my body. But I would like to think that our embryos really fought hard and tried.
On Monday, I was feeling calm while sitting in the waiting room of the UCSF lab at 8:25am. Instead of staring at my phone, majority of the time I observed the people around me. Didn’t seem like anyone was there for their beta. At 8:49, my number flashed on the board. I went inside the phlebotomist’s room. It was a nice older Asian lady. We talked about the weather and how I was doing. I pointed at my lab order and said, “I’m doing as well as I can be.” She took a look, and asked, “You’re trying to get pregnant?” I said that it’d been over three years. She was busy getting set up, but took one look at me and said, “You know what the key to getting pregnant is?” I was actually quite sure what would come out of her mouth next, which was confirmed by her next statement: “You have to relax.” She went on to tell me that her 30-year-old niece had been trying for five years but still had no babies so she often tells her niece the same thing. After we chatted for a little, and after she finished poking me with a needle, I said, “You know, for people who have been trying for a baby for a while, the one thing that they don’t want to hear is someone telling them to relax. It is a stressful process and they are trying their best to make a baby. So try to support them without telling them to relax.” I felt compelled to say it. I don’t know how receptive she was, but it seemed like she didn’t get upset. I am glad that I opened my mouth and did my part as an infertile.
The rest of the morning I was busy doing work. I was actually able to be productive most of the time. My “village” (namely, my friends in real life and my online community) was getting impatient. Still no word at noon. No word at 1pm. No word at 2pm. One friend asked, “What part of STAT does the nurse not understand?” I was still able to keep my composure at 1:30pm. However, by 2pm, it was getting a little difficult to wait. I had clients from 3pm to 5pm. Getting a phone call with beta results is just not cool during a speech therapy session. I finally emailed my nurse at 2pm. The phone call didn’t come until 2:45pm. What was going through my head? In a split second, I was thinking, this is it. This will determine our fate for the next 9 months. I kind of knew the results, but was still holding out hope. From the way my nurse said Hello, I could guess the results. We exchanged pleasantries. Then she said, “Unfortunately, the results are negative.” She told me to stop all meds and tried to schedule an appointment for me to talk to Dr. No Nonsense end of the week. All I wanted to do was to hang up and be…. because I needed to get myself together before my 3pm client. We settled on a time and I tried to hang up. I could hear her say, “I am so sorry sweetie.”
I was kind of stunned but at the same time not surprised. I was hopeful prior to the phone call but was also realistic. I knew my odds. It would have been a long shot to be pregnant and to stay pregnant with my own eggs. In the next 15 minutes, I notified Bob, my Face.book group friends, a couple of other friends, and wrote the last blog post because I knew that my friends there were waiting. It was almost like I had no time to process this news because I knew I had to put on a brave face so that I could get through the next two hours without being upset or crying. I said a quick prayer for God to sustain me and went ahead with the rest of the work day. Surprisingly, I was quite focused during those two hours. After my 3pm client, I went to make some copies. Pregnant Coworker was standing there in the copy room. She asked me how I was doing. Instead of saying “Good”, I said, “I am alright.” “Just alright?” she asked. Yes. I am not going to tell you that my long journey of trying to conceive with my own eggs just came to an end. After a few awkward seconds of no talking, I commented on her nicely painted nails, to which she responded that her prenatal vitamins have been making her nails strong and fast growing, which enabled her to paint her nails. I regretted saying anything. I just fled the room after I was done.
Maybe things had not sunk in yet, and I knew I wanted to be strong for the rest of the night for my Bible Study group ladies. I went ahead with the rest of the night as planned. I led Bible study and attended the lecture. I felt loved though, as my friends at Bible Study all remembered the big beta day. I received many warm hugs. A couple of my friends were teary. I am thankful that God orchestrated the timing of the beta so that I could focus on Him and others on that Monday instead of any other day. Tears didn’t come until that night when my husband was hugging me in the bedroom before he went to get ready for bed. I looked at him and asked, “Can I cry?” That was a silly question. But I felt so much better and safer crying in front of him and with him while he held me in his arms. Life was so much better after the release of my emotions. I went to bed in peace and had a great night sleep.
I think the reality still had not sunk in yet on Tuesday, as I was feeling fine throughout the day. One of my best coworkers walked in my office in the morning with this:
Such a thoughtful friend and such a wonderful gift. It totally cheered me up. Then in the afternoon, my mom sent me a text saying that someone sent me flowers at home. I knew it wasn’t from Bob because he only sends flowers to work. I had my guess which was confirmed when I got home:
It was from my sweet friend Jane Allen. Thank you so much friend for being so thoughtful and being there. The flowers have been bringing a smile on my face every single day. They also became the topic starter with my mom about what happened. She of course asked me why my friend gave me flowers. I shared with her about the failed transfer. So thank you Jane for helping me with that.
Wednesday, I woke up feeling sad. My original plan was to resume going to fitness bootcamp. I couldn’t get myself up. All I wanted to do was to lie in bed until the very last moment before I had to get up for work. Bob was sweet and told me not to worry about going to bootcamp. He went and did my share for me. 🙂 There were appointments that I couldn’t cancel or reschedule that morning. But I could cancel my afternoon appointments. I made a decision to take care of myself. The first thing I did that morning upon walking into work was to ask my front desk staff to cancel all my afternoon appointments. I left at around 12:45pm, had a nice slow lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, bought a cup of my favorite fully caffeinated coffee, and headed to Tar.get for some much needed essentials for home.
When I got home, my mom asked me about the cost of the cycles. Instead of telling her the cost of each cycle, I told her how much we spent last year for all the cycles. I also shared with her that one donor egg cycle will cost as much as the total we spent last year. After my nap and when Bob got home from work, mom came up from her room and handed us an envelope. I opened it up. Inside was a wad of cash enough to buy the IVF meds for the donor. I looked at her with disbelief. She told me that both she and dad wanted to support us knowing that we worked so hard to save up the money. I looked at Bob and handed him the money to give back to mom. He tried to pass it back to her but she refused to take it. I started tearing up. She teared up and came to give me a hug. My parents are about some of the most generous people I have ever known. I was speechless at their kindness and generosity.
I again felt better on Thursday except for one moment. Lying in bed at night, I was thinking about a two-year-old with whom I work on Thursdays. I think about his smile and how much his smiles resemble his mother’s. Thinking about that, I started feeling sad as I know that I will never be able to see my own smile in my future child. I just let myself cry. Bob was next to me letting me cry it all out. All these tears are doing my heart something good. I need to mourn. I need to grieve the loss of genetic links with my own future child(ren). I am just taking care of my feelings and letting things be. I knew I had to talk to my therapist again in order to move on. Fortunately, she is a few weeks away from her maternity leave (she’s pregnant with her first child at her early 40s via IVF) so she can still see me next week. I happily scheduled an appointment. I don’t mind her big pregnant bump at all.
This morning Bob and I met with Dr. No Nonsense to talk about the next step. I opted for an in-person meeting because it’s often difficult to talk to him on the phone when he puts me on speaker phone. Dr. NN looked at us and asked what we had in mind about the next step. I looked at him and asked him to tell me his thoughts first. He wouldn’t budge! He said, I want to hear what your thoughts are. Ha. So I told him that we are done with our own eggs and would pursue egg donation. He commented how much effort we have put into these cycles. He said that we have done everything that we could. I agree with him. We have. It’s a logical next step to move onto egg donation. Dr. NN looked pleasantly surprised that I had already talked with the donor coordinator and we had met with the psychologist. We could start choosing a donor any time we want to. There were a few things we discussed about. If we want more than one child, fresh cycles are better than frozen cycles. Each cycle he will try to get 15 to 20 eggs. If it’s a donor that has a potential for only 8 eggs, he said, he’d call me and ask me if I would still want to proceed. A frozen cycle only guarantees six eggs. The chances of having extra embryos to freeze will be a lot lower. With the clinical pregnancy rate of 71 to 79% in the last few years, he thinks that our chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant are high. If we ever have questions about a first-time agency donor, he said he can always look at the testing and paperwork before we make a decision. One way to avoid that is to choose someone who has already done a cycle or two. The discussion of singleton vs. twins also came up. Bob always wants twins but I want to avoid any complications. Dr. NN did say that the pregnancy rate is about the same whether you put one embryo or two embryos back, but the twin rates are a lot higher when transferring two. Bob commented that he had always wanted four children but now he just wants to get a child and be happy. Dr. NN said that once we have one child, we will want to have a second one. So getting ready for that right now will be a wise choice. He said that endometrial scratch isn’t proven to make a difference according to studies. And a lining of over 7mm is good as long as it’s trilaminar. Studies show that a lining of 7, 8, 9 or 10mm does not make a big difference in terms of pregnancy rate. Dr. NN ended the conversation by telling us to find a suitable donor and we can have a meeting to go over the treatment plans. He wants us to be excited about our cycle and be 100% on board. He said he is very excited for us. I am very thankful for his enthusiasm.
My wonderful friends have been checking in on me daily. I am very grateful that every time they ask me how I am doing, they also ask me about Bob. So how’s Bob doing? He felt angry the first few days. I think he’s been feeling better. And after today’s meeting with Dr. No Nonsense, I think he is feeling hopeful again about the possibility of the future.
And I am too. I just still need a bit more time for my closure. I am grateful that egg donation is even an option, and that we started saving up for it since last July. This time I feel a lot better than last year. Last year we didn’t have a plan. I was paralyzed by the chemical pregnancy and couldn’t move on for many months. This time we’ll be able to move on much more quickly.
Finally, to everyone who read my posts in the last week, checked in on me, or commented, please accept my sincere gratitude for being there and showing your support. You all have warmed my heart and helped me get through this difficult time.
Thank you for your love.
Yeah sorry guys. I wish I had better news for you. But this is not it. God has other plans. I will grieve the loss of being able to see a blend of myself and my husband in my child. I know it’s going to be tough, but I truly believe that we’ll get to hold our child one day.
Thanks for all the love.
Now I have to go and focus on the rest of the work day.
Today is beta day. Fourteen days past 2 day transfer. Sixteen days past ovulation.
It also marks the day we find out if a child genetically linked to me will be a possibility in nine months, or if this is the end of one journey and the beginning of the next journey. There is a sense of finale.
It feels huge to me.
I have been very calm and at peace, except for that one Friday morning. And then Sunday night, I was a little more nervous, but nothing debilitating. Overall, my emotions are as good as can be for someone in her two week wait.
I will go in today at around 8:30am to get my blood drawn. I hope that my nurse will call me late morning or early afternoon. She wrote me last week answering my question and saying “Fingers crossed to share good news with you!”
I am sure I will be increasingly anxious today. But it’s okay. I will accept it one way or the other.
Thanks so much for everyone’s prayers. I feel very loved as we embark on our next journey, whether towards parenthood or donor egg cycles.
Will I be opening this tonight?
We will find out soon.
I almost caved. Almost.
I woke up Friday morning feeling little anxious. It was the first time I felt this way since the two week wait began. All the so-called “pregnancy symptoms” all had disappeared. Not that I felt pregnant before, but the extreme exhaustion, the abdominal tugging, and the whole waking up in the middle of the night got me thinking that I probably was pregnant. When these symptoms were no longer felt, I panicked a little and had an urge to pee on one of my four FRER. I had already gone to the bathroom once after waking at 4am. When we got up at 5:30am for bootcamp, the pee that I was holding was second morning urine. However, Bob was a little upset that I went crazy on him the night before. Yup. I was unreasonably emotional the night before, which made us go to bed late. He woke up groggy and tired. We would’ve had enough sleep had I not acted in a crazy way. Since he was a little upset, I really didn’t want to ruin everyone’s morning by testing and risking a BFN. I sat there in the bathroom with ten thousand thoughts moving fast in my head. To test, or not to test? To test, or not to test? It was a tough decision for me. Last year we had our beta on 13DPO. Friday was 13DPO. In my head, if we have a chemical pregnancy this time, 13DPO would be a good day to test. However, getting a potential BFN so early in the morning would not go very well with Bob’s mood that morning. You see my struggle here? So I just let it all go. The one thing that would make POAS happen that morning went down with the flush. Bob walked in and saw the look on my face. I told him what I did. He said, Oh if you decided to test, I am okay with it. Well, buddy, it was too late now.
On my way to work, I still couldn’t shake that anxious feeling. And I really hated it. I was again a little panicky that I no longer felt the so-called “symptoms”. My mind was definitely doing tricks on me. I know it is not abnormal to feel this way. I totally think that it being 13DPO had something to do with my feelings. I had to share with someone, but I was busy all morning. Finally at noon, I chose to talk to the one person I knew would definitely talk me out of testing. My friend M is always against testing and all for waiting until beta day. She said, “I always ask, ‘What will annoy me more? Knowing I didn’t win the lottery now. Or enjoying my weekend with hope and then killing it on Monday.'” I told her that I would want to know if I had a chemical, to which she answered, “The blood draw on Monday will tell you that.” She also told me that I was not reacting to cues from my body but to the cues from my mind. And she is right. It is all in my head. And then she said, “At this point, your body can’t tell you if you are or are not pregnant. I know you want to think you can tell, because sometimes cats can tell. But you’re not a cat, and even cats wouldn’t know yet.” Hahaha. I love her. What she said next sealed the deal for me. She said,
“What you’re feeling about whether you are or aren’t pregnant at this point has more to do with your history of pregnancy and your thwarted hopes, the fear of daring to dream that this could be the time, than anything your body is actually doing.”
You know, I have been doing something crazy. Pregnancy is associated with something called “slippery pulse“. The previous week on 6DPO, my acupuncturist felt my pulse and told me that it was strong and slippery. From that day on, I had been feeling my own pulse. It had been feeling strong, fast, and rolling from one finger to another. I felt Bob’s pulse and my sister-in-law’s pulse. Both of theirs felt very different from mine. I don’t know Traditional Chinese Medicine. I don’t pretend to know. This slippery pulse can also be associated with AF coming soon, or other conditions in your body. My pulse did feel “slippery”. So like any other TTC ladies who do crazy things during their TWW, I am also crazy and obsessed with this slippery pulse. I kept on feeling my pulse every five minutes. Sometimes it felt strong and fast and rolling. Sometimes it didn’t feel so much so. I was going crazy thinking that I was pregnant and then I was not pregnant. It was agonizing. I basically do not know a thing and I keep depending my hope on this one thing and other “symptoms”. I seemed to have forgotten that the last two weeks I had been focusing on God, His will, and His power, which gave me so much peace. This pee stick business had taken away my peace. I really need to put a stop to it.
After talking to M, I made a decision. I wrote Bob a message asking him if he could hide the pee sticks for me on Friday night and we won’t POAS at all. We will just wait for the beta. If it’s BFN, I want the blow only once and not twice. Even if the pee stick is positive, I would be trying to analyze the darkness of the line. If the pee stick is negative, then I would be upset the whole weekend. So we might as well enjoy our weekend without knowing because BFN and BFP both won’t give us any quantitative information that would ease our mind. Bob’s response was an emphatic “YEAH!” He has always been against testing. He said, “Let’s celebrate not peeing on a stick!” Silly man. 🙂
Wow guys, the sense of relief and peace that I have been feeling ever since making that decision has been so amazing. I am no longer anxious. I am at peace. I could focus at work without obsessing over whether or not I should save my pee for a more concentrated version after work for the pee stick. It has been wonderful!
It’s already Saturday and I have been feeling so good. God really answered my prayer for being at peace and calm during the last 48 hours of our (more than) two week wait. I am also feeling very loved that so many people are praying and rooting for us. I don’t feel as tired as last week. I don’t feel the tugging anymore. But ignoring the symptoms or the lack thereof has been so liberating. It is what it is. By now, it’s a done deal. I am very grateful that after half of a day of panic and craziness I am back to my calm, happy self. I don’t even need Bob to really hide the pee sticks from me because I have enough trust and will power to refrain from testing. They are still in the bathroom drawer exactly where I had left them a few days ago.
Less than two days to go. 🙂
(And thanks M!)
So… I have been feeling things. I was exhausted yesterday. My right leg started to feel very tired at 11am. Then the fatigue expanded to my left leg at noon time. Whenever my legs are tired, it tells me that I am really tired. At our departmental meeting at 1pm, I was sitting in the chair with my head leaning back resting. I could really use a nap. I tried to power through the next few kids. I was yawning nonstop for my 4pm client. Good thing that kid is usually so oblivious to things around him that he did not pay attention to me doing anything. At 5pm, the thought of standing up in front of the stove making dinner made me feel sick. I was driving home and trying to figure out what I should get for take out. I made a short detour, pulled into the first parking spot I saw, and walked across the street into a Mediterranean fast food restaurant and bought a beef shawarma and a Mediterranean burger. Very thankful that they made it so quickly. When I walked into the house, I was so tired that my mom took a look at my face and asked if I was okay. I told her that I was just tired. I devoured my burger. She came and examined my face and asked, “Are you having your period?” I said no. Then she examined my face some more. Then she said, “Are you pregnant?” I shook my head. I still haven’t told my mom about the transfer and don’t plan on telling her anything until after beta. So I just shrugged and pretended that I didn’t hear her. My mother is smart. She is onto something. But I kept a straight face and fooled her. That was 7pm. I really wanted to do some work but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I lay in bed and took a nap. I would have continued sleeping had I not had to go pick up Bob at 8:30.
It’s so very out of the ordinary for me to take a nap in the evening. I asked my secret Face.book friends if extreme exhaustion is a good sign or it is progesterone messing with me. I got an overwhelming response of it being a good sign. I still don’t want to read too much into it. Last night I went to bed and woke up four times in the middle of the night. When I woke up at 2am, it was also with a headache. I don’t know what is up with that. But apparently that could be a symptom too. One of my friends who just got pregnant with twins told me that her early symptoms this pregnancy were exactly the same as my current “symptoms”: extreme exhaustion, waking up in the middle of the night, and feeling of tugging on the abdominal area. I told her that I don’t recall having the same symptoms last year although I was on the same progesterone suppositories. She was so crazy and funny. She went through thousands of lines of chat to find out what I said last year. She later confirmed that I said I didn’t have any symptoms last year. So this transfer feels different. I was still tired at work today, especially at 2:30pm when I was writing a report. I couldn’t think straight. But I felt more energy in the evening and could even make dinner for myself and Bob.
A few of my friends have been asking me to pee on a stick. They are suggesting creative ways for them to see the sticks if I don’t want to see them, such as peeing on the stick, not to look at it, and FaceTime with them so they could see the result. Uh. No. If I peed on something, I don’t think I could refrain from looking. My friend Jo is the most convincing one. She thinks that a negative stick doesn’t mean a thing (coz it could still be positive in the future), but a positive stick would be a reason for early celebration. And then I could see the progression of the darkness of the lines. She tries and tries, but I just won’t budge. One of the reasons why I may want to test before beta is that I would want to know if I had a chemical pregnancy. So Jo doesn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to start testing at 10dpo (yesterday). At 10dpo, it would still be very possible to have a negative test even if there is a pregnancy. I just don’t want to put myself in that emotional state if the test came back stark white. Plus the thought of testing really makes me nervous. So I would rather wait for a few more days and decide. I did order three FRER which arrived yesterday. I was also gifted an extra FRER by my Dear Colleague. I have four in possession but I am not testing.
Am I being crazy? I am sure I am not imagining things. I do feel those things. But whether or not those are pregnancy symptoms, it’s hard to say. I am still quite calm and happy. God is giving me peace and calm and I am very thankful for that. I am still hopeful for a positive outcome. I still want to bask in the joy of the possibility and not knowing. I know I am driving my friends crazy for not peeing on a stick. But I have to do what I need to do to make myself sane. If I am pregnant, a positive pregnancy test will be a lot more likely on 14 and 15dpo than 10dpo, right? So I will wait.
Five more days before beta! Scary…..
Hey not bad! It’s been already seven days since our transfer a week ago. We have exactly one more week to go. While we wait, these things are happening:
- The day after my transfer, I felt like I was carrying the biggest secret around at work. And ever since that day, since I can’t see inside my uterus, it feels very surreal that a transfer actually took place. It’s like life as usual. Did a transfer really happen? Do I really have five embryos inside me?
- That said, everyday I talk to my embryos. I tell them to grow and be strong. And I want one or two of them to be the winners and attach to the lining. I keep my feet warm every single day so that the rest of my body will be warm. At my acupuncture appointment, I was told that my pulse was strong and slippery. I take that as a good sign.
- Everyday I feel like I am having a white period. This is the fun thing about using Endo.metrin. Panty liners are not enough to contain the amount of fluids that leaks out. I have to wear a pad. Fun times.
- My husband is very sweet. He comes home everyday and asks, “Are you feeling anything?” I think it’s tough for guys because they are not the ones who receive the embryos and they rely on us to tell them how we’re feeling. He puts his hand on my tummy and tells the embryos to stay put.
- So am I feeling anything? Of course not. But there have been a few days when I was tired beyond belief. Saturday was six days past two day transfer (6dp2dt). I did wake up before 6am. I can usually last for quite some time before I get tired. But definitely not on that day. Bob and I traveled to downtown for my dental appointment. I was so tired that I had to rest my head on his shoulder on the train. That was 1:30pm. Right in the middle of the day. While waiting at my dentist’s, I leaned my head against the wall. I was that tired. I am quite sure that my body is reacting to the progesterone. But of course I secretly hope that it’s a pregnancy symptom.
- By the way, I asked for x-ray not to be done at my dental appointment because of those embryos inside me. I hope that this is going to be proven to be a legitimate thing to request rather than wishful thinking. Otherwise, I’ll feel like a fraud.
- I also feel some tugging in my abdominal area. When that happens, I can’t help but think that maybe something is happening there because it is around implantation time. Or maybe the progesterone is fooling me.
- I think my friends are more nervous than I am. Many of them are counting down the days for me. I am grateful that I am so loved. And many of them are praying for us daily.
- It’s been fun to show the pictures of our embryos to people. Some friends have not experienced (or will never experience) infertility. One of them pointed at my 8-cell embryo asking if a few babies will come out of that embryo. She thought that each cell is a possibility of a baby. This is a woman who herself has two children. It just boggles my mind that some people really have no clue how their children were made.
- Oh and the question of POAS or not to POAS. My first beta day is March 16th, which is 14 days after transfer. That will be 16 days past ovulation. It’s a very long time to wait for beta. And it happens to be Monday, a very busy day for me. I asked my nurse if it’s possible to move the beta sooner to March 13th, which is a Friday. I was just thinking that maybe it’s better to find out on a Friday so we could either celebrate overcoming the first hurdle or I’ll have a whole weekend to wallow in my own sorrow. My nurse said that they can’t possibly let me move it any earlier. So March 16th it is. Then I wonder if I should really POAS on Saturday or Sunday so we can be mentally prepared for the blood test result on Monday. I don’t have any pee sticks at home. I think I’ll only test on FRER. So I think I will order some from Ama.zon and be prepared if I really feel like testing before beta. Even though the thought of it makes me a little nervous……
- In general I am feeling hopeful. There is no reason to believe that it won’t work until we test, either at home or at the lab. I have been quite calm. And I want to remain this way. However, I know that in a few days I may feel more and more anxious. And that’s okay. I just have to look to God and let Him take care of things.
How good are you at waiting???
It would not be like Isabelle and Bob’s fertility journey without a bit of twists and turns. But, all is well.
Today is our transfer day. We went to fitness bootcamp like usual, but I was good with modifying my movements. No jumping. No running. No lifting. No abdominal exercises. I maintained a very calm and happy mood for the whole morning. Bob and I left at 11am to go to my first acupuncture appointment. It was such a luxury to lie there for 45 minutes just relaxing. We had plenty of time before our transfer so I began to fill my bladder by drinking water. At lunch, Bob and I prayed before the meal. Our prayer was for God’s will to be done, and we will follow. Not even a minute after that prayer, I received Dr. No Nonsense’s phone call. I was a bit nervous that he was calling me right before the transfer. My worst nightmare was that he’d tell me that nothing survived the thaw. Well, he didn’t say that. Instead, he said that there was good news and a bit of not so good news. The good news was that all of the embryos thawed beautifully. The not so good news was that somehow the nurse with whom I called and double-checked yesterday about my order somehow had a miscommunication and passed on the wrong information to the embryologist. In the order, Dr. NN wrote down “4” for the number of embryos to transfer, with the condition of us making one fresh embryo and thawing three frozen ones. I called to make sure that the nurse and thus the embryologist understood that since we didn’t make any fresh embryos, I only wanted three embryos thawed. She told me that she understood and would pass the message along. Somehow, the message was not given. The embryologist must have just looked at the original order and thawed four embryos. So the dilemma now was, what to do with the last embryo? My heart skipped a beat and sank for a little. I just hate that every single time we are put on the spot to make a quick decision. I mean, what are we to do with one final embryo? I asked which embryo it was. It was the three-cell grade one that wasn’t thawed. It would really be silly to just leave one embryo hanging. I asked Dr. NN how he felt about us putting all five in. He said that it would be a wise decision. He said leaving two embryos hanging would still not do too good. He would recommend putting them all back in. He asked if I was afraid of multiples. I said I was. He asked for my age again. Then he said, given my age and my history of taking so long to make these embryos and all the failed cycles, the chances of having multiples are very slim. If somehow we end up with twins, then it is meant to be, then we’ll count it a blessing. I stopped my conversation and asked Bob. We contemplated for a minute, then both said that we would just also thaw the last one. Dr. NN seemed very pleased with our choice. He said that this was not bad news at all. We’re doing what we can to help you get pregnant, he said. Then we hung up.
After that phone call, and after I wrapped my mind around the idea of five embryos, I was again at peace and happy. God has made the choice for us. And we followed. I was also very relieved that the embryos thawed well. We finished lunch and I downed two more glasses of water. Then we walked back to the clinic and arrived very early. We usually check in on 7th floor at the clinic and are sent to the 8th floor for the procedure. When I waited for Bob to finish with the bathroom on the 7th floor, I saw Dr. Dry Humor coming into the clinic. I said Hi to him and was a little puzzled why he was down on the 7th floor since he should have been upstairs waiting to do my procedure since he is the attending RE of the week.
We were on the 8th floor getting ready for the transfer. My bladder was not overly full but was getting there. Bob also had to put on this yellow gown that covered up his Batman shirt. My choice of socks today was ones that my TTC friend gave me, Wonder Woman:
When I was waiting, I saw Dr. No Nonsense show up with his scrubs and gown. I was puzzled by his presence, and it dawned on me that he was going to do the transfer for us! Yesterday when we talked on the phone, I asked if we could talk about the embryos right before the transfer. He said he might or might not be able to, but he would try. I took it as that he could show up to talk. He took it as him doing the procedure. So it was a surprise and extra blessing that my own RE was doing the procedure. It was like our journey at this clinic coming to a full circle.
Bob and I walked into the transfer room. I sat on the table. The embryologist verified my name and date of birth. Dr. NN showed us our souvenir:
All five embryos all thawed beautifully. At freeze, they were supposed to be 4-cell, 4-cell, 4-cell, 3-cell, and 2-cell. It seemed like one of the 4-cell expanded into an 8-cell (that’s the one in the middle that looks like a flower and you have to zoom in to see the 8 cells). The other 4-cell on the right became about 6-cell. And the 2-cell had become a 3-cell. In other words, they were all doing well.
I lay on the table with my legs up. The nurse checked my bladder and found that it was full enough but not too full. Yay no singing Jeopardy to release any urine! I turned to Bob and asked if he wanted to take a video. Dr. NN was like, What? Video? Ha. He is so different from Dr. E. Dr. E was the one who insisted that we took a video of the transfer. So yeah, since we had done it once, I was okay with not videotyping the transfer. Bob was happy to be just sitting there and watch. Dr. NN took some time to clean the inside. And he did a trial run of putting a catheter in. Everything seemed good. The most uncomfortable thing was the nurse putting the abdominal ultrasound wand over my bladder. I felt like I was almost going to burst. Then Dr. NN announced to the embryologist: Let’s load! She handed him the catheter. He put it in. And that was it! The embryologist checked and announced that all the embryos had gone in. We were done! Six months of waiting, banking, and more waiting finally came to this point. I felt tremendous joy to have finished this task.
We have truly done our best. I am proud of us. I am proud of Felicity, Gabriel, Harriet, Ivan, and Jenny. They are all inside me now. I feel that we have a good chance. When I went to my post-transfer acupuncture appointment, my acupuncturist said that I looked happy. I am happy. I really feel that we have done it regardless of the outcome.
So this will be a very long two week wait. I asked my nurse and we moved my first beta to March 16th. It is still a whole two weeks from now. I opt to go to the lab associated with my clinic instead of Kais.er because apparently Kais.er does not do beta test STAT so the results would be next day. What the heck? I can’t wait for the next day. So I will pay out of pocket for that test. Our next question is to POAS or not to POAS. I am always against POAS. So maybe I really won’t and I will just wait. Time to think of something to occupy my mind.
We’ve done it! I am so happy. I already love the embryos so much. Praise the Lord that everything went well. May His will be done, whatever it may be.