MicroblogMondays: A Few Pregnancy Related Things

Microblog_Mondays

Without ever talking to my pregnant supervisor about her pregnancy, I get to know a lot about it.

How so?  My office is situated right next to the elevator.  I keep the door open when I am working.  My supervisor’s voice carries.  Whenever she exits the elevator or waits for the elevator with her patients, she is often talking about her pregnancy. I don’t think it’s intentional.  It’s just that many of her patients get to see her once every few months.  I am sure they are quite surprised to see her baby bump.  The time it takes to travel from the first floor to my floor is perfect for them to ask a question and for her to answer the question about her pregnancy.  And when their visit finishes, the walk from my supervisor’s office to the elevator is also a perfect time for them to ask questions such as when she is due and other things.  Just being in my office, I have learned that:

  • Yes she wanted to find out about the sex of the baby given her type A personality but her husband convinced her to wait, so now they do not know if it’s a boy or a girl
  • Her due date is the very last day of December
  • She will try to work until the end of the year
  • She’s been buying baby stuff in neutral colors, and good thing, according to her, that gray is in this season, but she has also purchased some yellow and green
  • She finds it amusing that there has been one pregnant woman after another in this office as she talks a bit it quite a few times with her patients

You know me.  If I can’t stand it, I will go shut the office door.  I cover my ears and go la la la.  Lately I have been good.  I don’t have to do these things to protect myself since protection has not been needed.  Lucky you.   You all get to read about the details of her pregnancy here.  🙂

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Last year, I shared about these ladies that I was able to help because I shared about my journey openly with them.  The one who was in my bible study group last year continued to share with me about her struggles and journey.  She is a very private person and only shares her infertility problems with me and her mom.  With my encouragement and her RE’s assurance that she was a great candidate for IVF, she mustered enough courage to look into it and actually followed through with it despite being extremely scared of the process.  I emailed her to ask her for an update.  The day we got the news that our donor disappeared was the day she wrote me back with her pregnancy news.  Honestly I was happy for her.  I knew that she’d get pregnant because it seemed that her problem was mainly male factor infertility.  However, due to how heartbroken and disappointed I was on that day, I could not bring myself to writing her back and congratulating her.  It took another two weeks to respond to her.  She then let me know that she had a scary experience in the emergency room for five hours fearing it was an ectopic pregnancy.  Praise the Lord that it wasn’t.  But that was scary enough.  I am so relieved for her and am grateful that I can be joyful for her.  I just hope that her pregnancy continues to go well.

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A very dear friend of mine has had quite a rocky road on her quest to become a mom.  She never got pregnant naturally.  Her IVF cycles resulted in an early miscarriage, BFNs, and subsequently the loss of twins at two different times, one early on and the other one at 16-week gestation.  I wrote about her in this post.   At that time, I finished my post with these sentiments:

“As for my other friend and myself, I am also hopeful that we will eventually have our take home babies.  She mentioned that we would have our playdates in heaven for our babies who went up there first.  I said, let’s have our playdates on this earth with our take home babies first.  I truly believe that this will happen in the future.  We just don’t know when.  But I truly believe that our babies will play together on this earth.”

Guess what?  Half of my wish has come true!  My very dear friend finally gave birth to a baby boy and a baby girl last Friday.  My heart is bursting with joy, love, and relief for my dear friend that her twins have finally arrived.  I am very confident that the playdates will happen.

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The last thing is not really pregnancy related, but I can twist it in a way to make it so.  🙂

One of my best friends, my maid of honor in fact, asked if I would be interested in a girlfriend weekend getaway mid-January.  Just two nights somewhere in Southern California.  We could go to the spa, hike, go to the pool, eat, and just relax.  The old me would be like, Well, I don’t know what I will be doing then because I won’t know if I will be doing a cycle.  But the new me jumps at any opportunity to go have fun and live life.  The best thing of all is that my husband is 100% supportive despite him having to shell out money for me to go play.  What’s better than having someone else plan the trip for you and you just have to show up?  So I said YES to her.  She immediately purchased the plane tickets and will go on to plan the rest of the trip with the choice of hotel and everything else.  I really just have to pack my bag and show up at the airport.  🙂

How is this pregnancy related?  Well, if things go accordingly to plan (which I hope they will), I will do a transfer in November.  In January I could be at least a few weeks pregnant.  My hope is that I will go on the trip and proudly refuse to drink because of the little life that will be growing inside of me.

How about that for something to look forward to?

MicroblogMondays: Frozen Donor Eggs (a post not so micro)

Microblog_Mondays

This is going to be my third attempt in writing about what has been going on since our donor Iris bailed.  I have been so short on time lately that I just can’t seem to finish a post about it.  I hope you are ready for a not so micro post.

It’s been three weeks since we got the news that Iris had disappeared.  I don’t quite think much about her anymore.  Emotionally I am not affected much by her.  Did she ever return any emails or phone calls to the agency?  The answer is no.  She returned the $200 that the agency sent her for transportation to and from the clinic, without attaching a single note.  Just like that, she disappeared into thin air without a single word or explanation.  On some level, I feel disappointed at myself for choosing a person who would be so irresponsible.  But my therapist told me that I should not take any responsibility because her decision and disappearance had nothing to do with me and Bob personally.

So what has happened in the last three weeks since we found out that we had to start all over again?  It took a few days for my emotions to return to normal.  Then I began to think about the next steps.  Naturally, we started searching for a donor again.  Both the agency database and the in-house clinic database did not have any donors that we could work with immediately.  A proven, repeat donor who is part-Chinese would be our first pick.  Nobody matches that description.  I expanded my search to agencies outside of the Bay Area.  Still, the choices are very limited.  I was discouraged for a few days and was defeated that the chance to have a transfer before Christmas would be very slim.  Why do I want a transfer before Christmas?  I think it has to do with us approaching the end of the 4th year trying for a baby.  Christmas is a season that focuses so much on family and children.  I just want to share the joy with others who have children or who are pregnant.

We have discussed in the past about doing a fresh donor cycle vs. doing a frozen donor egg cycle.  I didn’t really go into details with you guys about the differences.  Basically, the chances of a pregnancy/live birth are higher with a fresh donor cycle because the recipient couple would receive all the eggs in that cycle, hence the chances of making multiple embryos would be quite high.  Many donors would retrieve from 15 to 35 eggs during one cycle (although some may make fewer than 10 eggs).  Many of these eggs would be fertilized and at least a few embryos would/should make it to the day five or day six blastocyst stage.  Often times, a recipient couple transfers one to two blastocysts and has a few other blastocysts to freeze for future use, may it be for a frozen embryo transfer if the first fresh transfer didn’t work, or for a chance at a second child in the future if the first transfer results in a live birth.  The cost of a fresh donor cycle is high.  Compared to that, a frozen donor egg cycle is a lot cheaper.  At my clinic, the difference could be over $10,000.   The eggs are already there, frozen for a recipient couple’s use at any time they are ready.  The advantage is that you don’t have to sync up the donor’s cycle with the recipient, and there is not a risk of the donor not stimming well or actually backing out from the cycle.  The disadvantage is that the clinic guarantees at least six mature eggs.  Compared to a fresh cycle with 15 to 35 eggs, six eggs seems to be a small number.  With fewer eggs, the chances of having multiple embryos are smaller.  Plus, there is a risk of the eggs not thawing well.  So realistically, there could be one or two embryos to work with.  Once the embryos have been transferred, if the cycle doesn’t result in a pregnancy, there may not be any frozen embryos to use for a frozen embryo transfer.  So there is always that risk of exhausting all the embryos quickly and having to do another cycle all over again.

My RE Dr. No Nonsense has always told us to do a fresh donor cycle if we want two of more children because a fresh cycle gives you a lot more eggs.  I do want more than one child.  However, Bob’s position in the last year has been that he only wants one child.  If we get a bonus one (such as having twins), he would be overjoyed.  But he just wants to have one child and be done with this process.  I know that he is very tired of this journey and just wants to move on.  This is coming from a man who had always wanted four children.  It breaks my heart to see him so disappointed and exhausted and just wanting to move on with life.  So in theory, since Bob only wants one child at this point, he shouldn’t care much about fresh donor cycle or frozen DE cycle.  But in reality, he cares a lot because he really wants me to have the best chance at having a live birth and it seems like a fresh cycle will allow us the best chance for that.

You may not remember, but back in May, I wrote about the various choices we had to face when it came to egg donation.  In that post, I mentioned about donor 1.  She is half Chinese half other Asian.  So she is fully Asian.  Back then, I learned that all four of the recipients of her cycles had gotten pregnant.  She had committed to donating for the 5th time for all of her eggs to be frozen.  We did not go with her because only frozen eggs were available.  You can see the above for the reason why we didn’t want to go with frozen eggs.

There is another donor that we also liked.  I mentioned about her in the previous post about egg donation as well.  I described her as donor 3 who only has a bit of Chinese.  I checked with the donor coordinator.  She has just been matched with another couple and will do a cycle in November.  Technically, Bob and I are next in line if she chooses to donate again.  The thing is, I am not so sure if she’d donate again as this is her 3rd donation in a row.  She may or may not want to do it again.  Plus I would still like my future child to have at least a quarter Chinese.  So I am a bit hesitant about waiting for her to be available.

So, out of all the donors on both the agency and in-house clinic databases, the half Chinese/half other Asian donor is still the only donor that we are really interested in.  However, I knew my husband’s position.  I didn’t want to force the issue if he did not want to pursue having a cycle with frozen eggs.  We just had to wait a little bit for a donor to show up that we both like and want to work with.  So realistically, it could be some time in 2016 before we can do a transfer.

And then, Bob had a change of heart.  We were lying in bed one day having our pillow talk.  We were chatting about various things.  Out of the blue, Bob asked if I wanted to consider the frozen eggs from this Chinese/other Asian donor.  I was very surprised at his inquiry.  His reasoning was that 1) this is a young, proven donor with good records, 2) the eggs are all there for us to use, 3) so a donor will never back out from a cycle again (I think he’s a bit traumatized by the incident with Iris and has lost confidence in a future fresh donor), and 4) the cycle is cheaper so if it’s not successful, we still have the money to try another fresh or frozen egg cycle.  We agreed to inquire about the status of the Chinese/other Asian donor.

This is what I learned.  At the time when I wrote the donor coordinator, this donor was about to do a retrieval for her 6th donation.  So we didn’t know how many eggs would be given for each batch.  While we were dealing with our previous donor Iris in the past months, this Chinese/other Asian donor had already completed her 5th donation (and second frozen donation).  That cycle yielded 23 mature eggs which were divided into three batches of 8, 8, and 7 eggs.  All three batches have been matched with various couples but these couples have not done a cycle with these eggs yet.  We would be next in line for the new batch of eggs that results from her 6th donation (and 3rd frozen egg donation).  A transfer had been done with the eggs that came from her very first frozen egg donation but the clinic was still waiting for the pregnancy result.

When I was waiting for the retrieval to see how many eggs would go into each batch, I had asked myself what the most ideal number of eggs would be.  I knew that her first frozen egg donation resulted in 9 mature eggs and 8 mature eggs.  If she has 20 mature eggs, then the cycle would be split into two batches of ten eggs.  If she has 21 eggs, then they would be divided into three batches of 7 eggs.  I was praying that she’d get 20 eggs.

Guess what?  My prayer was answered.  The donor coordinator said that her cycle resulted in two batches of ten eggs each.  They were all deemed mature and were stripped for ICSI (whatever that means).  This would be the best case scenario for someone who is interested in using frozen eggs.  Again, the clinic guarantees at least six mature eggs.  A batch of ten eggs is amazing.

After knowing the answer, I was thrilled at first.  We have ten chances to make a couple of embryos, if not more.  This is a proven donor.  What else is there to think about right?  After praying over the weekend, both Bob and I were saying to each other that we should go for it.  I posted to an online group of DE moms who had experience in frozen egg cycles and many had shared their success stories with me.  Many of them had only 6 eggs and still had a pregnancy and live birth.  I was feeling better and better.  And then, I had a thought.  What if we purchased both batches of eggs?  That’d cost a lot more money but that’d mean that we’d have a chance to have a few more embryos.  Bob still thought that we would only need one batch because he would still want one child.  But he told me to go ahead and ask.

The donor coordinator said this, “We unfortunately do not allow the option to purchase multiple batches of cryo banked eggs because the cornerstone of the program is to offer more recipients an opportunity to match with our more sought after donors.”  

I was at peace with this.  I was actually relieved that a decision was made for us, that we didn’t have to fret about the decision to purchase two batches of eggs.

I was feeling good for a couple of days.  Then I got the latest news.  The donor coordinator told me that the result of the latest transfer with this donor’s frozen eggs was a negative pregnancy and the recipient had one more embryo to try.

Cue panic.  I went from having peace to having fears and doubts.  I was projecting the results of that failed cycle onto my future, wondering if that would happen to me as well.  I seemed to have overlooked the still stellar record of this donor, having a 80% pregnancy rate with her eggs.  I wondered if bad statistics would follow me.  I was fearful that I would be unfortunate enough to have a batch of the worse eggs from the 20 eggs.  I entered into this land of what-ifs.  I could not distinguish my fear from God’s will.  My mind was very noisy and chaotic.

In the back of my mind, I still thought and felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to pursue with a proven donor.  Since we only have to prepare my lining for a transfer, we can possibly transfer before Thanksgiving.  And if this does not work, we still have the money to pursue other opportunities.

But I was scared to death.  I was scared that the first transfer wouldn’t work, and it would be a huge blow to the both of us.  It would mean tens of thousands of dollars down the drain.  It could possibly mean having no frozen embryos to try again and needing to find a new donor.  I have just been so traumatized by this experience that I was so afraid of failure.

My therapist came to the rescue.  A few days ago, a session with her cleared up some of my chaotic thoughts.  Every pregnancy is different.  We don’t know what the failed cycle was like.  We don’t know the sperm quality or the uterine environment.  We do know that the recipient has one more embryo to try.  We also know that other people who used this donor’s eggs have all gotten pregnant.  She told me that things are out of my control.  So I should let go of the what-ifs because no one except for God knows what will happen in the future.  I should focus on my perfect uterus and visualize how welcoming this place will be for my future child.  Instead of putting my energy in thinking that this will never happen to me, I should put some positive energy into believing that this will happen with a perfect uterine environment and a beautiful embryo.  My therapist told me not to rush into a cycle if the reason is that I want to have a transfer before the end of the year.  Go for it if it feels right.  Don’t go for it and wait if it doesn’t feel right.

I was able to get a hold of Dr. NN and asked him a few questions.  He said that this being the donor’s 6th donation does not affect the egg quality.  I also asked him about immune protocol.  He said that I will be on steroids.  He does not recommend any blood thinner like Hepa.rin for me, and he thinks that hCG infusion is not necessary for me.  He thinks that it’s wonderful that we get 10 eggs from this donor.

After talking with him and having Bob’s support, I wrote the donor coordinator and let her know that we’d like to take a batch of ten eggs.  Then came her email.  She told me that there is a change in the guarantee program.  What???

I immediately gave her a call and learned about the details.  Basically, the clinic was evaluating the frozen egg program and wanted to boost the success rate.  According to the coordinator, there was 16 transfers with frozen eggs and 9 resulted in a clinical pregnancy.  So instead of guaranteeing that there would be two viable embryos (could be anywhere from day three to day five) to transfer, the clinic will change its policy to one blastocyst.

I think it is a good change, but I was a bit uneasy with the rate of pregnancy because it is lower than the 70% of transfer with fresh eggs.  I prayed to God for peace and strength as this is such a difficult decision to make.  Bob and I talked and talked.  I let the news sit for a little longer.  I woke up the next morning with peace.

So this is where we are at right now.  We have chosen to proceed with ten frozen eggs from this Chinese/other Asian donor who has had a great record.  I went off birth control pills a few weeks ago because I was bleeding from them.  In order to get ready for the cycle, I will go back on birth control pills when my period comes.  My nurse said the transfer time will be six weeks from the time I go back on birth control pills.  I am expecting my period to come in two to three weeks (I have EWCM lately but I don’t know if I have ovulated yet) so I think transfer time should be somewhere in November.

I can’t help but think that, maybe this is meant to be?  If we had chosen this donor’s frozen eggs in the first place, the eggs that we would get would be very different from the eggs that we are going to get now.  The sperm used for that would be different.  The resulting embryos and child/ren would be different.  Maybe there was a reason why our original donor didn’t work out.  Maybe we are meant to get the ten eggs that we will get?  I don’ t know.  I think we’ll never find out the reason for all these twists and turns until we have a baby in our arms.

I am excited but at the same time scared.  I am grateful for this opportunity but at the same time fearful of the future.  I have been reminded again and again this past week during Bible Study that God has the perfect plan for me.  I believe that this is the right decision.  My hope is that I continue to trust in the Lord and in this process without being doubtful or living in fear.  If you are the praying kind, could you join me in praying that I live daily with trust and faith in the Lord?

Thank you for your support.

MicroblogMondays: Some Sort of Breakthrough

Microblog_Mondays

Life has been busy since a new year of Bible study has started.  I hope that I will eventually find time to update you all on our egg donation situation.  In the mean time, I want to share with you all about some sort of breakthrough I had.

It’s not a huge deal.  It really isn’t.  But, I can actually joke with my pregnant coworkers about their pregnancy.

The Bay Area was unseasonably warm the last couple of weeks.  Our office is air-conditioned.  My pregnant supervisor was in a meeting with my department.  She mentioned several times that it was very warm in that room.  I didn’t feel warm at all.  I looked at her and said, “It must be your pregnancy hormones.”

Not too long after that, someone poked their head in the room.  This is the coworker who got pregnant when she was engaged.  She just walked down the aisle last month with a six-month baby bump.  She said that she had reserved the room for another meeting.  Then she went, “Wow, it’s so warm in here.”

I looked at my pregnant supervisor and said, “See, I told you.  It’s the pregnancy hormones!  I am not at all warm.”

We all laughed.

Afterwards, I thought about it and realized that, Wow, I actually joked with these pregnant coworkers about their pregnancy.  In the past, I would have said nothing.  In fact, I would have repeatedly sung “la la la” in my head to block off any auditory stream of pregnancy talk.  I totally surprised myself this time.

Of course, I still have moments when I just want to hide from the world.

Just last Friday, I happened to walk by my newly married pregnant coworker talking to someone else.  They were chatting about how not to drink our work place’s water if you didn’t want to get pregnant.  They started laughing about it.  I really had this urge to turn around and say that I am the proof that drinking the water there does not help one bit.  But I bit my tongue and tried to walk away as quickly as I could.  Just then, one of the coworkers said that she predicted so-and-so (another coworker in her early 30s) would be the next one getting pregnant.  I knew that I wouldn’t be the one others would predict, but it still didn’t feel very good to know that the possibility of other younger coworkers getting pregnant before I do is quite high.

I just hate this kind of talk so much.

But I am doing better in general.  You know I’ve been giving presentation in Cantonese to pregnant ladies on a monthly basis since the summer to teach them how to communicate with their babies once they are born.  I actually enjoy engaging with them, although I am not a big fan of public speaking.  I have been feeling more and more comfortable talking to a bigger group of people about something that I am passionate about.  At the same time, I am also looking forward to the end of the year when our contract with this project ends.

After last Wednesday’s presentation, the project lead followed me outside and told me how much she loved my presentations these days and how natural and comfortable I looked up there talking to these first-time moms-to-be.  She then said that the project has received additional funding and would like to extend our contract until the end of 2016 so that I could give one talk per month until then.

Wow.  More big baby bumps.

But hey, I have a new thought and renewed optimism.  Maybe sometime next year I will be pregnant with my first baby, sharing my professional expertise with these first-time moms-to-be as a first-time mom-to-be myself.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  I truly think that it is an attainable dream.

We shall see what the future holds.

MicroblogMondays: Little Jate Made My Day

Microblog_Mondays

Thank you for all of your love last week after the shocking news about our donor Iris.  The good news is, after crying on Monday, I woke up on Tuesday feeling okay.  I continued to feel emotionally stable throughout the week.  For that, I feel blessed and grateful that God has sustained me so I do not feel defeated and have been doing as well as I can.  From time to time, I think about Iris.  I do wonder why she backed out without an explanation.  I am actually not angry at her.  I think my feeling could be more properly described as disappointment.  We chose her because of a combination of reasons and had to put our faith and trust in the her and in the process that she would follow through with her responsibilities as a donor.  That includes timely and honest communication.  I feel disappointed not so much because she backed out, but because she backed out without owning up to it.  She did not have the courage or decency to say that she had changed her mind.  I will write an update on what has gone on last week in regards to our discussion about choosing our new donor, frozen eggs vs. fresh eggs, and what my RE says about all this.  In the mean time, I want to share with you my rendezvous with this little adorable baby girl:

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Little Jate made my day!  She made all the bitterness and unhappy thoughts of the week go away!  I was so stoked that I got to meet her and hold her.  Her Mama, my wonderful friend Jane, bathed her and dressed her in this adorable pink outfit so that she would smell nice and look nice when she met me and Bob.  Looking her in her eyes and watching her each and every sound and movement warmed my heart.  Having her sit on my lap was so fulfilling.  Her Mama and daddy waited for so long and went through so many ups and downs and heartaches to bring her into this world.  It is just so wonderful for me to witness my friend be a mother.  I am so proud of Jane and love seeing her glow.  Seeing her enjoy motherhood and being so good at it brings tears to my eyes.

Jate was fussing a little bit while Bob was holding her and trying to console her.  It was great to get a glimpse of the future when Bob becomes a father.  He will be a fantastic dad.  Jane finally placed Jate in her Rock and Play.  Wow I didn’t know that blowdryer sound could do wonders.  Jate fell fast asleep with that noise on.  After a little nap, she woke up looking happy:

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Super Girl!!!

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Thank you my dear friend Jane for letting us hang out with you and Jate!  My week started horribly but was salvaged because of this little beauty.  It was such a privilege to spend time with her on the day she turned two months old.