Bonus Afternoon

So, I had this afternoon off.

It wasn’t intended to be an afternoon off.  You see, I had originally taken Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off for the Endometrial Receptivity Array biopsies.  They got canceled because of the possible fibroid surgery.  Since I already canceled all my clients for those two afternoons, I scheduled an MRI scan of my uterus in preparation for the surgical consultation on April 20.  Bob and I talked about getting a second opinion with Dr. E.  I emailed her.  She said that I could schedule an ultrasound and consultation with her any time as long as I am not bleeding.  I called her office yesterday and found out that I could schedule both with her Tuesday afternoon.  I then rescheduled the MRI for another day in order to go see Dr. E today.  Well guess what?  I started spotting yesterday.  I am not supposed to be bleeding at this point.  This is the middle of my cycle.  I was on Lup.ron and estrogen patches for a few weeks.  I guess stopping both last Thursday without any progesterone support makes the hormonal levels of my body fluctuate.  My body reacts by giving me breakthrough bleeding.  The spotting yesterday turned into full flow this morning at 10:30am.  I called Dr. E’s clinic to ask if I should come to the appointment at 1:30pm.  The nurse sent Dr. E a message and promised to get back to me.  By noon time, I hadn’t heard from anyone from the clinic so I called.  The answering service transferred me to the clinic.  The same nurse finally got on the phone and told me that she just connected with Dr. E who advised against me going in because of my full flow.  We had to reschedule it for another day.

I was not bummed per se.  I just find it interesting that when you don’t want your period to come, it comes.  It just can’t hold off for another day.  These are just tiny things.  I have decided not to be bugged by these inconveniences.  The only reason I wanted it to be done today was because I had already canceled my clients.  To see Dr. E on another day means I would have to move or cancel another client.  But this is life.  Life is full of inconveniences.

Instead of staying at work for the rest of the afternoon, the first thing that came to my mind was to have some mother-daughter bonding time.  I immediately called my mom who gladly said yes to my lunch invitation.  I didn’t have a particular place in mind but I often opt for trying out new restaurants or having cuisines that Bob doesn’t care for when I am not eating with him.  My mom is totally adventurous and loved the idea.  I looked up a filipino restaurant.  There are plenty of them around where we live.  I found the one that looks the most interesting and had the highest rating.  Off we went.  Ten minutes later, we sat at this restaurant and studied the menu.  Not knowing what to expect, we both ordered dishes that we loved:


In the afternoon, a nurse at my current clinic called me with this frantic tone of voice wondering where I was.  I am usually on time and it was really unlike me to be 30 minutes late and had still not shown. They basically didn’t know that the appointments were already canceled.  The nurse practitioner who did my lining check wrote the notes but did not cancel the appointments for me. And her notes didn’t get signed off somehow and they didn’t show up on the system that the nurses had access to.  I am surprised but not surprised that the clinic is too big, there are too many people working there, and they are not always as organized as the customers would like them to be.

I pondered what I should do for the rest of the afternoon.  I could have done many things but I decided to take a nap.  It was such a rare treat for a Tuesday afternoon that was supposed to be a work day.

I’m also glad to report that I am feeling much better.  My dear friend Maddie gave me a pep talk yesterday that alleviated many of my worries and fears.  And God did answer my prayers.  I woke up this morning feeling calm and at peace for the first time in four days.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have supportive friends on this very difficult journey.

I thoroughly enjoyed my bonus afternoon and loved every single minute of hanging out with my mom, even eating food that I don’t normally eat.  Although today didn’t turn out to be what I thought it would be, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

MicroblogMondays: Dealing With Worries And Sadness


I have been trying to digest and accept the news we received last Thursday.  Admittedly, I haven’t been doing a good job.

Since that day, I woke up every morning confused about where I was and when it was.  Once I realized that it was Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, and that our quest for a baby is once again going to be delayed, sadness overcame me.  This sadness has been intermittent.  Sometimes I feel fine.  Sometimes my heart hurts.

This four-year journey has been so tough for us.  Even before we started to try for a baby, an abdominal myomectomy was necessary to remove over 50 tiny fibroids from my uterine wall.  They were not in the cavity but the sheer number and volume of them pushed on the uterus and altered its shape.  Recovery time for this open surgery was six weeks off work and three menstrual cycles before we were advised to start trying for a baby right away.  My FSH was elevated already.  I knew that we should try quickly before the fibroids grow back.  Well, we all know how that has been going.  Despite how much we want to get pregnant, it just hasn’t happened for us.  We watch people who try with their own eggs and donor eggs get pregnant one by one.  We miss the train every single time.

In the meantime, a new fibroid has been growing in the back of my uterus.  A couple of years back, it was much smaller.  In the last few transfers, nobody had ever said anything about it interfering with implantation or pregnancy.  I felt fortunate that no one had told us that we had to remove it.  Until last Thursday.

I have been trying to avoid another surgery at all cost.  Being cut up and recovering from it is not easy.  Plus I just don’t want to weaken my abdominal wall any further.  I know plenty of people have two or three abdominal surgeries but I didn’t want to be one of them.  I didn’t want another surgery to delay any fresh cycles or transfers.  But, as we have learned time and time again, it is not in our control.

All of a sudden, I am worried about things that may or may not happen.  Of course we want things to go smoothly and according to our timing.  But our history shows that things don’t often go the way we want.  I am worried that the surgery would be scheduled at the time my in-laws are in town.  My surgeon told me that after the surgical consultation (on 4/20) it takes about a month or two to schedule the surgery, and I’ll have to be off work for two weeks.  Can you imagine being home with my in-laws while I am trying to recover?  I so desperately want the surgery to be around the time my own mother is still in town.  I am also worried that somehow my donor has traveled to an area infected by Zika virus and my clinic deems her ineligible to donate until a much later time.  I feel that somehow with our “luck”, bad things that are unlikely to happen will happen.  And, my biggest worry is that after doing the surgery and spending all the money, we still won’t have a child we can call our own.

Sometimes I just want to hide in a hole and quit it all.

Irrational.  I know.  But these are real fears and worries.  I usually try to deal with worries by taking it one day at a time.  But this time I just can’t seem to focus on the positive .  My brain these few days is filled with these worries that I can’t seem to shake.  We skipped Easter breakfast at church because I didn’t want to deal with people.  I avoided meet and greet time.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with babies.  Seeing all the matching outfits of kids and families of two, three, or four kids, I was once again reminded of the void in our life.  Bob was amazing though.  Being a helper at the nursery today, holding all the babies gave him the resolve to become a father of his own child in the future.

I continue to pray for peace.  After having peace on Thursday, I don’t seem to have it these past few days.  I know it’s up to God to answer my prayer.  I desperately want God to take away these worries and give me the peace that surpasses all understanding.  But again, I can ask but this too is out of my control.

Fortunately, although I am a mess this time, Bob is not fazed by any of these potential problems.  He has been my voice of positivity, logic, and rational thoughts.  He consoles me and tells me that it’s okay for me to feel sad, but he doesn’t want me to stay there for too long.  He acknowledges my fears, but is also firm in his beliefs that although our timeline is delayed once again, we will eventually move forward with the next cycle with a uterus that is healed.  He believes that the donor will be fine and will give us the embryos that we need.  He believes that I will get pregnant and we will be parents in 2017.

His unwavering belief is exactly what I need.  I am grateful that one of us is doing well.  Our patience is once again tested.  I hope that soon I will get over this sadness and this state of worries so I can be back to being calm, happy, at peace, and patient again.

And I hope that none of my worries comes true.

More Curveballs Thrown Our Way

My slight panic started on Wednesday when I read that the new guideline from FDA for donation of any human tissues is that the donor can’t have traveled to an infected area of Zika virus within the past six months of the donation or can’t have had a sexual partner that traveled to those areas.  I immediately wrote the donor agency owner about our donor to ask if she had traveled to these areas in the last few months.  She confirmed that the donor hadn’t.  I am still thinking that we should include a clause in the agreement in the future for the donor not to travel to those areas.  I am just thinking ahead and don’t want this to be the reason our cycle could be delayed.  This Zika virus epidemic is adding a new layer of worries to egg donation.

Thursday.  My lining check day for the Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA) biopsies that had been scheduled for next Tuesday and Thursday.  I had just gone to the bathroom and emptied out my bladder.  My trusted nurse practitioner came in and got right to business.  She knows me and she knows my uterus.  So it should have been like the usual scans that usually take about 5 minutes to finish.  This time was totally different.  The NP probably spent about 25 minutes, first vaginally, then abdominally, and finally vaginally again.  The fibroid that is in the back wall of my uterus (and not in the cavity) just really blocked the view this time for her to even visualize my lining clearly.  The fibroid measured over 7cm.  My immediate thought was that it had grown much bigger than I remembered.  The abdominal ultrasound is usually a better method to check my lining but I had emptied out my bladder so the contrast wasn’t great.  I think she did find the lining but it wasn’t very clear.  She just wanted to make sure that she measured it correctly so she used the vaginal method again.  It was just a bit disconcerting to see such an experienced sonographer having such a hard time finding a lining on a uterus that she has seen several dozen of times.  She looked at every angle and every depth.  Every time she measured, it was at least 7mm vaginally and 9mm abdominally.  But she just wanted to make sure.  I lay there quietly and patiently.  The scan took so long that she had to ask someone else to perform an IUI that she was scheduled for.

The NP reviewed my images on the computer and told me that she’d recommend checking my estrogen with a blood test to confirm that I did indeed absorb the estrogen.  I told her that this time it did feel differently as I hadn’t experienced a lot of cervical fluid so I was thinking that my lining might not have grown much.  Anyhow, I was told to meet with a nurse later to go over progesterone instruction in order to get ready for the biopsies next week.  She checked my previous measurement for the fibroid.  It was about 5mm back in 2014.

In the phlebotomy room when a medical assistant was about to do the blood draw, the NP and Dr. No Nonsense showed up.  Dr. NN explained to me that the fibroid has grown to a point where it is now interfering the ultrasound scan.  He said that whenever a fibroid grows over to 7cm, it’s hard to know its effect on getting pregnant and implantation.  Since we already failed two DE transfers, it might be good for us to consider removing it.  Since our donor is not going to be ready to cycle until end of May, beginning of June, and retrieval probably won’t be until July or August, it might be good to take care of this right now.  In terms of the biopsies next week, he said that we could still do it.  I asked if the results would be valid if my uterus is going to be different because of the fibroid removal.  He said that if the surgery doesn’t penetrate to the lining, then it shouldn’t make a difference.  But if it does, then we may have to do the ERA again in the future.  I made a quick calculation in my head.  If I cancel the biopsies, I’d only lose the medication money (which was a few hundred dollars).  If I keep the biopsies and the results turned out to not be valid because of the surgery, then I’d have wasted a lot more money.  So I told him that I’d rather cancel the biopsies.  The discovery time for fibroid surgery is 3 months.  We discussed a freeze-all vs. fresh DE cycle.  He said that the results don’t make a huge difference, but we could sync up the donor for a fresh cycle, we would do it.

The first thing I did when I walked out of the clinic was to contact Bob.  I stood next to my car and chatted with him on the phone for 15 minutes.  I was surprised that both of us could keep our calm.  However, we were both very discouraged.  It just seems to be never ending.  When we move forward one step, we seem to be pushed back a couple of steps.  How many curveballs does it take for us to make a baby?  Is this God’s way of telling us that we should not even try to have a baby this way?

I know we shouldn’t jump to conclusion.  God has His plans.  But truthfully, as much as I try to keep my faith, these circumstances throw me down time and time again.

But we are doers.  We process our feelings and we move on.  I let Bob vent as much as he wanted to.  He needed it.  I know as a provider of the family, his mind already went to how much more money we’d have to save up to realize our dream.  On the phone, we discussed a few possibilities and the next steps.  Definitely contact the Kai.ser surgeon who did my hysteroscopy and saline sonogram.  She is the expert at Kai.ser who does all the abdominal myomectomy.  Bob suggested getting a second opinion from another RE to see if a surgery is absolutely necessary before we could try for a baby again.  So he possibly wanted me to contact Dr. E.  He even suggested transferring the donated embryos and see if we would get pregnant.  Basically we were just throwing ideas out there trying to gain some control of the situation.

That afternoon, I wrote my Kai.ser surgeon asking about the surgery.  I had my open surgery end of 2011 to remove many tiny fibroids and don’t want to go through with such a big surgery again.  I had to stay in the hospital for one night and took 6 weeks off from work.  My Kai.ser surgeon wrote me back.  She said that the myomectomy can be done laparoscopically.  It is an outpatient surgery with much faster recovery times and disability compared to open surgery.  She set up a surgical consultation with me for April 20th.  She said that I should consider this: it takes one to two months to book a surgery, and three months of recovery time to heal before a pregnancy.  She was so nice. She told me to email her again if I had any other questions or concerns I wanted to discuss prior to the consultation appointment.

This is her title:

Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Advanced Laparoscopy and Robotic Surgery

So I am not worried about her skills.  I have 100% confidence in this doctor.  I am more thinking about that this will be my second surgery and the implication it has on my ability to get pregnant.  I don’t want to weaken my uterine wall and I don’t want a uterine rupture when I eventually get pregnant.

Bob called me at work again.  After walking around and calming himself down, he was feeling good and hopeful again.  He called to cheer me up and to let me know that we would get this done.  We always do.  I really appreciated the phone call.  I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and had a hard time making myself emotionally available for the clients that I would see that afternoon.  He told me to go ahead and contact Dr. E’s staff to schedule a consultation for a second opinion.

I confirmed with Dr. E’s finance person that the consultation and ultrasound with her don’t cost too much.  I am still trying to schedule an appointment with her next week since I had already blocked my schedule for the biopsies that will no longer take place.

After work, I stopped by my Dear Colleague’s house and told her the whole thing in person.  I just needed to talk it all out.  I thought I was going to cry, but I didn’t.  After that, I updated my various friends online on what happened.  One silver lining of this whole ordeal is that my support system is phenomenal.  My friends are available any time I want.  I feel tremendously blessed in this department.

And my husband is phenomenal as well.  He came home smiling and wanting to cheer me up.  We had a decent evening despite having discouraging news.  As we both took today off, we have this weekend to talk about what makes sense as our next steps.  We have some important questions to ask ourselves.  What do all these roadblocks mean in our whole journey?  What is our timeline now?  Do we even look at our timeline?  Are we going to continue pursuing egg donation or will embryo donation be our path?  Do we have to save up more money?  If we decide to go with embryo donation, are we okay with losing the thousands of dollars in agency fee?  I am sure we’ll have a lot to discuss this weekend.

If we get a surgery booked in May or June, we would need three months to recover.  So I hope that the donor is okay with postponing the retrieval to September so we can have a fresh transfer.  I know I can plan all I want, but it’s really not up to us for the timing of things.  There are so many variables.   I probably won’t be a mom until I am close to 43, and I am not even 42 yet.  But you know what?  We’ll push on.  It is disappointing to be delayed but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  I just hope that the surgery will help us clarify what is the best for our next steps.

I don’t know how many curveballs are coming our way still.  But we’ll do what we need to do to achieve our dreams.  Other than pushing forward, I don’t think there is another way to handle the situation.

God is good.  I have been praying for peace and strength and I have been experiencing both.  I hope I don’t lose sight on my source of peace and strength during difficult times.

MicroblogMondays: We Booked Our Donor!


After last week’s confusion, we booked the donor that we like!

This is our fourth donor.  The first one was an in-house donor that never responded to the donor coordinator’s inquiry, so we couldn’t work with her.  The second one disappeared after we booked her and met with her.  The third one was an in-house donor who had frozen eggs that resulted in two so-so blastocysts and failed transfers.

I just hope and pray that this new donor will be our very last donor before we finally have a child we can call our own.

I really thought that this donor was booked by another couple already and wouldn’t be available to start legal paperwork until August.  That was from reading Dr. E’s email.  The donor agency lady clarified with this: “That was the cycle that is in front of yours.  She will be finishing a cycle in May and then would be available at the end of May to start working with you. This is what I meant about legal being done at that time.”

I wrote her again trying to get a clarification: “Oh I was a bit confused about what Dr. E said.  She told me that she just matched this donor with a patient of hers this weekend.  When I asked her to clarify, she said that this donor is in cycle now with a patient of hers.  Then the next cycle in May with a patient of hers too. So next cycle she would be available for is August.  I would love to work with this donor if I get to start a cycle with her in May.  But I will have to think about it some more if I have to wait until August.”

Donor agency lady: “Yes, she is finishing next week with her current cycle. Then she is cycling again and will be done in May. She can start working with you at that time and should retrieve around July most likely but the doctor will be the one to calendar it for us. It depends how quickly the donor gets her period again after that retrieval. “

From my understanding of her response, Dr. E was talking about two patients of hers, one is finishing up a cycle with her now.  The other one will start her paperwork and finish her retrieval in May.  So I will be in line after that to start paperwork late May. I just wanted to make sure that there is not another person in line to start paperwork in May which pushes me to start paperwork in August.  So all of this is correct.

The next five days, I asked a ton of questions about the whole process and to make sure that we are next in line to cycle with this donor and not having two more people before our turn.  This donor agency owner answered all of my questions promptly with a lot of patience.  The donor was not employed at the time she filled out the profile.  The agency owner helped me ask and responded promptly with the donor’s employment information.

What else did I do that help us make this decision?  I was trying to explain to Bob all the cost and different donors and different clinics.  He got so confused that he asked for a spreadsheet.  So Wednesday after work, I put food in my Instant Pot, pressed some buttons, and let the pot do its job.  Then I sat down and did a combination of different donors, different agencies, and different clinics (my current clinic and Dr. E).  Why do I have to do that?  Different agencies ask for different agency fees, escrow fees, travel fees for the donor, insurance for the donor, and other miscellaneous expenses.  Different donors are from different states and areas so travel fees will vary.  Plus they all ask for different compensations.  I compared proven donors with first-time donors, local donors with non-local donors.  I estimated the cost of travel.  I compared donors who have done the psychological and genetic screenings, and genetic testing in the past year with the ones that haven’t.  I compared the cost of each clinic with or without PGS testing.  There are so many variables.  I got it done in an hour.

When I presented the whole spreadsheet to Bob, he was so impressed with it.  I made some estimates on certain things but I think the figures weren’t too far off from the real figures.  After looking at all the figures, it appeared to the both of us that it would make the most sense to go with this local, proven donor and cycle at my current clinic.  The only disadvantage is that I probably won’t be able to do a transfer until some time in the summer.  If I go with a first-time donor I can probably cycle a little sooner.  But with a first-time donor, the risk is that she may not pass her medical screening.  Then we would have wasted money on flying her to the clinic and paying for the screening.  Like I said, there are all these variables. So it seemed to make the most sense to wait for the local proven donor.

Plus, both Bob and I really like her.  For the first time choosing a donor, I feel that I don’t have to compromise any of my criteria I have set for a donor.  With the previous three donors, I made a couple of compromises with the height, education, or personality type with every single one of them.  But this particular donor meets all of my requirements.  I like how she looks.  She is my height.  She is a college graduate.  And I like how she answered her personal questions.  She just seems really down to earth.  I feel that this is someone that I could be friends with in real life.  And she has proven fertility so we don’t have to guess how she’d respond to medications.  I know that every cycle is different, but her past cycles give us a good glimpse of what could happen.

After lots of talking and prayers, Bob and I felt that we had peace with moving forward.  We signed the agency agreement to book this donor last week and emailed it to the agency person.  We will pay the agency fee today.  We have been officially matched with this local donor!

As far as which clinic to go with, I was thinking that since this donor will have worked with Dr. E three times by the time we cycle with her, it’d make sense to work with Dr. E.  After all, she is familiar with this donor and knows how to stim her.  After emailing back and forth with her finance person, I was a bit shocked and actually changed my mind.  Without PGS testing, the difference between Dr. E and my current clinic is about $1500.  With PGS testing, Dr. E costs $4000 more than my current clinic.  How does one justify paying an extra $4000 for a cycle that may yield the same result?  Just for some extra hand holding along the way?  I am just not so sure.

Bob, who usually has a tight grip on money, surprised me once again.  I thought he would be adamant about not spending the extra money cycling with Dr. E. But I was wrong.  He lets me choose.  If I really want to cycle with Dr. E, he’s okay with paying that extra money.  I guess to him, we have already spent so much money.  That extra few thousand is not going to hurt.  But I think differently.  I just have a really hard time justifying it.  So we shall see who to work with.

Dr. E is great though.  I asked her a bunch of questions and she got back to me very promptly.  Here is her answer about cycling back to back and how that might affect a donor’s health, and the necessity to do PGS testing with a proven donor who performed really well:

“She (the donor) is getting breaks between cycles.  That’s why you’d cycle with her in August, not back to back.  I think as you know:  IVF doesn’t make you run out of eggs and IVF doesn’t cause poor quality eggs.  Therefore we can definitely use her if you would like.  Her embryos were 100% normal with her first donation for me.  Is it possible that could happen again? Totally. I’ll know very soon. Her second cycle with me will start very soon.  As far as genetic testing, it’s a personal choice. I ask all my patients to consider genetic testing regardless of whether they are using egg donor or not just so you have all the info you need to make the best transfer decisions possible.”

The last two days I was looking at other donors on some agencies’ databases.  I came across donors who ask for something higher than the ASRM’s suggested guideline of $5000 to $10000 for donor compensation.  Some ask for $14000, 15000.  I came across some that ask for $20000, 30000.  One even asks for $35000.  I don’t know how they justify asking for so much (Ivy league graduates, but so what???), but I am so glad that our donor adheres to the guideline.  If everyone does what these other donors do, then nobody will be able to use donated eggs to conceive.  For this, I feel fortunate that we found this local donor.  We have Dr. E to thank.

Now we shall see if we will be cycling while my in-laws are in town (early June to end of July).  *Gulp*

MicroblogMondays: It’s Never Easy


This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions for me.

The week started with a surprising offer.  A generous one.  One that I didn’t see coming.  My Dear Colleague told me that one of her closest friends had offered me and Bob her embryos.  This friend had made four embryos in her early 30s prior to her cancer treatment.  After she finished her treatment, she got pregnant via IUI and had a baby.  Later she made a second baby the old-fashioned way and didn’t need to use her embryos.  Now that she is done building her family, she has generously offered to give these embryos to us.  I was touched by this offer because not everyone is willing and ready to give their embryos to another couple.  Many may choose to keep them frozen for a long time, and many would choose to discard them.  We don’t have to decide right away.  She has just paid for the annual storage fee for these embryos so she would like to donate them before the next storage fee is due.  We have approximately a year to make a decision.

Both Bob and I feel blessed that there is such an offer and hence a choice and another way to have a child.  We are still going to pursue egg donation first.  But emotionally, it makes it so much easier to know that there is a choice if other means don’t get us to where we want.  This couple is Caucasian and South American, so any babies resulting from these embryos would not share our ethnicities with us.  But I think both Bob and I don’t have a problem with that if it comes to that point.

A couple of days after that, I finally looked into the donors that Dr. E recommended.  I really like one of them.  She is half Chinese, my height, young, pretty, and a college graduated.  The donor profile didn’t say anything about her availability or her prior cycle history.  I emailed the donor agency owner who promptly responded to my questions.  This donor has done two cycles in the past, is finishing up a third cycle, and is booked for a new cycle soon.  At the time of that email, she was going to be available in May for a new cycle.

This is her cycle history:

Cycle 1: 26 eggs, 18 embryos, 12 frozen, 1 transferred, + pregnancy

Cycle 2: 25 eggs, 21 embryos, PGD tested, 21 normal, 1 transferred, + pregnancy

Those are some crazy stats.  She has done two cycles with Dr. E.  I was very surprised that she would be available in May as I thought someone like her would have a long wait list.  I corresponded with the agency owner back and forth.  In order to book her, we would sign the agency agreement and pay the agency fee in full in order to secure her for May.

The advantage of matching with this donor is that 1) she is half Chinese and my height, 2) she is local so we don’t have to pay for travels, 3) she seems to have proven fertility, 4) she is available in May, 5) her psychological screening, genetic screening, and all the DNA testings are all current, so we don’t have to repeat/pay for those, 6) she is willing to register with the donor sibling registry as well as to meet with the intended parents, and 7) she has worked with Dr. E a couple of times so she should be reliable.

I really like this donor.  I would say she is my favorite donor so far.

Bob and I discussed about it, prayed about it, and thought about it that night.  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this could be our donor.  It is a little disconcerting to have to pay the agency fee in full in order to secure a donor, rather than being put on a waitlist and pay right before the donor is available to cycle.  What if the donor changes her mind?  The agency owner said that the agency fee is 100% refundable should the donor change her mind.  I told her that I would read the agency agreement.  If we are okay with it, we’d sign and pay.

That was Friday.  Then Friday afternoon, I searched for reviews on the agency and the agency owner.  I didn’t expect to find anything fishy.  What I found shocked me.  The agency owner owns two agencies: one egg donation one and one surrogacy one.  I found out that her name was associated with a bankrupt surrogacy program in another country that left many intended parents out of money and no babies.  Although she wasn’t the founder or the owner of that surrogacy program, apparently her agency provided egg donors for the intended parents.  I also found some other reviews of her detailing some unethical practices that some intended parents experienced.  On the Parent Via Egg Donation (PVED) forum, a nonprofit organization that aims at helping people pursue third party reproduction, I found some comments from the PVED founder who seemed to have some reservation about this donor agency and the agency owner.  The PVED founder and I chatted on the phone.  She told me that a few years back this agency owner was involved in some unethical practices, such as withholding money from a donor or some messy cycle coordination.  But that was a few years back and this agency owner might have changed.  But the PVED founder warned me to be extra extra extra careful if I choose to work with this agency.

I was so bummed about this discovery.  I thought that we had found a donor and everything would be set.  However, I don’t think Bob would be comfortable working with someone with such a dodgy past.  My gut feeling tells me that everything would be fine if we pick this donor.  But I am also cautious about spending so much money not knowing if the agency owner is going to be honest or has integrity.  It is very important to work with a reputable agency as the agency is the one who does all the coordination with the clinic and the donor to ensure a smooth process.  I need an agency that has a sense of responsibility to make things right if anything ever goes wrong.

Finally, I emailed Dr. E yesterday just to see what she had to say about this agency.  Dr. E is so phenomenal with her responsiveness.  She wrote me back within three minutes.  Here is her response: “I have 3 donor retrievals this month with her donors.  I probably use 30 a year from her consistently for several years.  Never ever an issue.  I also use her for surrogacy.  2 currently pregnant.”

I let Bob read her response.  We both felt a little better about moving forward with this particular donor if Dr. E hasn’t had any problems working with this agency.

A few minutes later, Dr. E wrote me again.  This time, she told me that she had just matched this particular half Chinese donor that I am highly interested in with one of her patients the day before.  She said, “If you want to meet her or talk to her to see if she’s a good match, let me know.  She would be available  again over the summer.”

Over the summer???  So does that mean that the May timeframe is gone?  I wrote her back asking her to clarify.  Here is her response: “She’s in cycle now(patients of mine).  Next cycle in May (my patients too).  Next cycle she would be available for is August.  The agency owner has 2 other families (not my patients unless you emailed her ) interested as of Friday.  I would email her now if interested.”

You see the nature of looking for a Chinese or mixed Chinese donor?  You blink and they are gone.  You are not even allowed the time to let it sink it that you have to pay a big sum of money to secure a donor.  If you take your time to think and digest the news and make sure that this is the route you want to go, you miss the opportunity.

I was bummed again that the choice of cycling with this donor in May is gone.  May is such a nice timeframe.  It’s right before Bob’s parents’ arrival.  It’s only two months from now.  I don’t know if I would want to pay full agency fee to wait for this particular donor to be available in August.  August seems so far away (although I know it is not).

Sitting there right in front of the screen, I just felt defeated and numb.  Bob is very good at reading my facial expressions.  He asked me if something was wrong.  I told him that I just felt defeated, not necessarily about losing the donor for the May timeframe, but about the unfairness of this whole process.  Why some people have to go through so much to have a child, while other people just simply have sex and are able to accomplish that.  I know I will never have an answer, and I am working on accepting that.  But these moments are still tough for me as I struggle to compete with others who also want to book Chinese donors to achieve a pregnancy.

At that point, tears were rolling down my cheeks.  I hadn’t cried in a while.  I knew that one was due.  That was a perfectly good time to have a cry.  But it also broke my husband’s heart.  He just hates it so much to see me hurt.  He was good at comforting me.  He led me into our bedroom, tugged me in our comforter in bed, and hugged me tight while I cried it all out.  In this “nest”, I felt safe to just let all of my emotions out.

Bob told me not to blame myself for not making a quick decision about booking this donor.  It is a very expensive decision and it is wise to take time to think about it.

I don’t know what we will decide on.  We could decide to book this donor for August.  We could decide to go with another donor that could start in May or June.  We could go with a non-Chinese Asian donor that is available right now.  There are many things to think about.  One thing for sure is that we really need wisdom to choose a donor and an agency wisely and we need to be totally at peace with it.

This journey of egg donation is not easy.  There is always something, isn’t there?

MicroblogMondays: In-Laws and Best Friend


My father and mother-in-law decided to come visit from India for about seven weeks, seven years after they last came to see their one and only son.

Do you know how huge this is?  They were the ones who refused to meet me the last time they came.  They adamantly opposed our marriage.  They were extremely upset that Bob and I got engaged and later got married.  My father-in-law was so angry that he refused to speak to Bob for another ten months after that.  Needless to say, nobody from his family came to our wedding.  Bob was very sad, but at the same time very happy that we got married.  What a dichotomy.

So we went from that, to them refusing to let me go to their home the first time we visited India as a married couple, to my MIL asking why we didn’t stay with them the second time we visited, to not wanting to come visit, to now agreeing finally to come visit.

This is huge.

Bob has been very excited about this potential visit, but at the same time wearied about having them around for the first time as a married man in our own home.  After five years of marriage, he wants to show his parents how he and I have made a home for ourselves.  But his parents are such hardcore hindu and vegetarian that huge changes have to be made in order to accommodate them in our house.  We will have to clean out all the meat products, even chicken broth.  We will have to wipe down the whole refrigerator.  We will have to buy all new pots, pans, utensils, bowls, and plates because the ones we have now have all touched meat.  This is no laughing matter.

And then there is a problem of weather.  They want to come in mid-June and leave in early August.  That is when the weather is the most overcast and cold in our area.  They complained about being cold the last time they were in town when the temperature down in the south bay was in the 70s.  They had their down jackets on all the time.  They are used to the weather at least in the 80s if not 90s.  I don’t know how they will survive in the 50s and 60s weather.  Turn on the heater, perhaps?

And then there is me and them.  I think that it’s a wonderful thing they are willing to come visit.  Bob lives with my mom for about six months of the year. Although my mom is the most considerate person, it is still a third party in this household of two.  So it takes a big person to be able to live peacefully with a mother-in-law for such a long stretch of time.  He has been doing that since we got married five years ago.  Now his parents are only here for 7 weeks.  I should be able to deal, right?  I truly hope so.  Bob usually does not come home until 8 something at night.  I am usually home by 6pm.  I will have to entertain my in-laws for two hours every night alone.  I mean, I should treat this as an opportunity to get to know them and learn how to make some South Indian food.  But it is still a little worrisome for me that I will be alone with them.

Another semi-worry is that my in-laws have only speculations about our infertility but do not actually know anything solid about our journey so far.  Given how unsupportive they have been of our marriage, it is difficult to share with them our need for fertility treatment.  I can’t imagine sharing with them about using donor eggs to get pregnant.  I know that it is highly likely that their visit will coincide with our next donor egg cycle.  It takes time to find a new donor and to start a cycle.  If we ever travel out of town for a cycle, then it’d be very hard to cover up why we have to go.  Bob was very nice.  He offered to tell his parents to postpone the trip until later this year or next year, but I told him not to because really, we cannot put off living life and other things just because we have to make a baby, right?  My mother-in-law had not really talked about us having a baby until a couple of months ago.  Since then, she started talking about it weekly and is obviously concerned about my age.  I don’t know what will happen when she is physically here and if this talk of baby and my age will come up.  I will deal with it when it comes.

But then, a few weeks ago, my best friend of 30 years who lives overseas told me that she wanted to come visit in the summer with her husband and my goddaughters.  The last time she came was before she gave birth to her oldest daughter.  That was years ago.  I got all excited about their visit and totally planned on taking two weeks off to go places with them.  They would stay with us, of course.  I knew that my in-laws would come in June and leave by early August.  I was really hoping that my best friend could come mid-August so I could have both my in-laws’ and her visits this summer.  Last week, she notified me that due to the girls’ school schedule, they could only come the first two weeks in July.  My heart sank as that coincides with my in-laws’ visit.  I told her that I would ask Bob to negotiate for his parents to come a bit later.  I know that his father has some religious rituals he has to do in September but I know that it is not until mid-September.  Maybe they could be flexible and move their dates.  My best friend hesitated and asked if it was a good idea to even ask.  I was thinking, asking doesn’t hurt, right?

Wrong.  Bob asked.  He asked really nicely.  Just a suggestion and if it didn’t work out, my best friend’s family could come in 2017.  His parents were actually very upset that he even dared to ask.  His dad was screaming at him saying that he would have ten thousand things to do when he goes back home in August.  How dare him that he even opened his mouth to ask.  Then his mother yelled at him for asking.  She thought that they were the elders that should not have been asked to accommodate just a friend.  In my opinion, a simple “No” should suffice.  It didn’t have to lead to drama.

My best friend was right.  It wasn’t a good idea to ask.  I guess I was using my own mentality and was thinking that my parents would have accommodated if someone made such a request.  Oh well, my best friend and I will plan a trip for her to come next summer so we can all go visit Alcatraz, Monterey, and other places that her daughters really wants to visit.  It boggles my mind that nobody comes to visit for all these years and all of a sudden they all want to come visit at the same time.

How did Bob turn out to be such a good soul?  After all, he was raised by his parents who have such narrow world views.  I don’t know.  But I am grateful that my husband doesn’t think the way his parents think.  I don’t hold it against my in-laws.  I know that it’s hard to change.  I just feel bad that my husband got yelled at because of me.

So yeah, I don’t get to see my best friend here in the States this year.  And I hope that my in-laws will have a good visit.  A lot of prayers are necessary for me and Bob to have tremendous love and patience for his parents.

The Lu.pron Saga Continued

The Lu.pron saga continued.

Me being me, I called Fed.ex to make sure that the direct signature requirement was removed from the delivery.  The lady on the phone told me

  • Nope the request is not honored, so a direct signature is still required at the time of delivery
  • It says on the request that Isabelle was the one who requested for it, not the pharmacy, so therefore it was not honored
  • She could ask for the package to be sent and held at a nearby facility, but it sometimes takes 24 hours to process, so I may not be able to pick it up tonight
  • The window of delivery was set at 11:05 and 2:45pm
  • There is nothing she can do to change anything

At that point, I was super annoyed and frustrated.  Why tell me that the shipper could change the signature requirement if it wasn’t going to be honored?  I need the meds tonight.  I needed to make a quick decision to figure out what to do.  That involved canceling a couple of clients and bringing work home for the rest of the day.  Fortunately, everybody was very understanding of my situation.  All the parents were good as I rescheduled them for another time.  My supervisor was understanding although I didn’t really tell her what was going on.

I figured if I left then, I could arrive home between the window of delivery.  As I pulled onto the street before I would make a turn to go home, I saw a Fed.ex truck making a turn somewhere.  I literally got a glimpse of it.  That was 15 minutes before the beginning of the delivery window.  My instinct told me that the truck came to my house already.   I pulled into my driveway, ran over to my door, and saw the door tag.  I grabbed it quickly, jumped back into my car, and drove to the direction of the truck.  Of course I didn’t see it at the intersection where I had seen it earlier.  I drove down this long road and made a decision to turn right and right again.  Don’t ask me how I knew but I just tried.  And there it was, the Fed.ex truck.  The guy just walked out from a house so I drove up to him, told him that I missed his delivery, and handed him the door tag.  He gave me the package and let me sign his little hand device.

Phew.  The one thing that I was afraid of was that I did all of this for nothing, rushing home finding that I had already missed the guy.

At least I caught him and now that box of Lu.pron is sitting on my kitchen counter.

Drama drama drama.  I guess it makes a good story now there is a happy ending?

The Lu.pron Saga

My nurse’s calendar for my test transfer and biopsies for the Endometrial Receptivity Array test (ERA test) dictates that I start Lu.pron tomorrow.  I have been kind of in a funk lately, so I had put off ordering it until Tuesday.  I was sick at home with some sort of sinus infection and running nose, and really didn’t feel like doing anything.  However, I am not one who waits until the last moment (namely Thursday) to order my meds.  So I finally gathered enough motivation to search online for the pricing of this very expensive medication.

A few months ago when I did my first DE transfer, I bought Lu.pron from Ave.lla, which offered the cheapest price back then.  It was about $189, $10 cheaper than other places.  That cycle failed.  I needed to transfer our last frozen embryo in February.  At that time, the price over at this pharmacy went exponentially higher.  It was almost $100 more expensive than the original price.  I was appalled by the price gouging and went ahead and ordered from Fre.edom Pharmacy, which still offered the medication at right below $200.

An internet search showed that at the current time, Fre.edom offers Lu.pron at $239.99 if you don’t purchase Gonadotropin at the same time.  I called Ave.lla just for giggles and almost fell off my chair when I heard the price quote.  Are you ready for it?

It had the audacity to ask for $445 for the same meds that others are charging for almost half.

This pharmacy still offers the cheapest PIO and estrogen patches, so I will eventually order some from it.  But, can you imagine paying $445 for the Lu.pron?

A few phone calls around showed that Fre.edom still had the cheapest price.  So I went ahead and ordered from them.

That was more than what I wanted to do on that one sick day.

I was asked when I needed to do the injection.  It’s going to be Friday but I always try to play it safe.  I asked for the meds to be delivered on Thursday at work.  The guy put me on hold.  Later he returned and said that most meds require a direct signature, but this particular doesn’t because it’s not a controlled substance.  However, since I was sending it to work and there is always someone there to sign, we would just leave the direct signature requirement there.  I tripled checked with him that the meds would arrive at my office on Thursday.  Then I went my merry way to take a nap and nurse my illness.

Everything is fine, right?


Today, I clicked on the Fe.dex tracking number included in the automatic email from Fre.edom.  I looked at the destination and was shocked to see that the city it would be delivered to was my home, not my work.  In other words, someone over at Fre.edom messed up my shipping address.  Guess what?  Nobody was going to be home to receive that package.

Furious, I called Fe.dex to request for the delivery to come between 6 and 8 pm because it said there that the guarantee delivery is before 8pm.  At least I could rush home right after work to wait for the package. The customer service person entered my request and got my phone number.  That was about 11am.  I inquired about removing the signature requirement.  He told me that the shipper has to request it.

When I checked my phone in the afternoon, a Fe.dex person from my local facility called and left a message.  He basically said that the package was on the truck heading to my residence and they could not honor the request for a late delivery.  In the voice mail, he gave me an address of a Fe.dex facility that I could go to pick up the package tonight between 8 and 11:30pm.

It was so frustrating that I had to spend more time calling around getting answers.  I called the Fe.dex mainline again.  Then I was told a different address of a different facility that the package would be held tonight and was given a window of 8 pm and 8:30pm to pick it up.  Are you kidding me?  Half an hour?  Yes, the package wouldn’t be back at the facility until 8pm and the facility closes at 8:30pm.

I thanked the Fe.dex representative and hung up.  Then I discovered that my next (and last) client of the day canceled.  Good.  I had the time to call Fre.edom.

I was put on hold for 13 minutes.  THIRTEEN MINUTES!  Good thing I had the time.  But what a waste of time.  I could use it for something better.

I explained to the Fre.edom representative what happened.  Then I was put on hold for another I don’t know how many minutes.  Finally the guy said that he had contacted Fe.dex and now the signature requirement had been removed. So the package will be delivered to my home address tomorrow without a signature needed from a live person.  He gave me a case number and I was told that there was nothing else I needed to do at that point.

I told the representative that I hoped that this wouldn’t happen again in the future.  How could they make a mistake like that?  He explained that whoever took my order did write down the shipping address as my work address.  However, for the label, the order person did not double check it to make sure it was the same as requested.  Okay, thanks for the explanation, but I was thinking, where is the apology?  As a company, shouldn’t someone apologize for the inconvenience it has caused me even though this particular representative was not the one who made a mistake?

But nope, no apology.  He was courteous.  But there was nothing like, I am so sorry this happened.

It’s so infuriating that you pay money for services and people just don’t care.