Our much anticipated 5th wedding anniversary trip to Maui is just around the corner. Five days from now to be exact. Back in January when we planned the trip, we were wondering where we would be in our quest of our binky moongee during our Maui trip. Would we be in our second trimester? If our February transfer had failed, would we have found a new donor already? Would we be in the middle of our new cycle? Despite the unknowns, we decided to forge ahead with our plans for our 5th wedding anniversary trip because living life is as important as waiting for a baby. I would not have imagined ourselves to be in this uncharted territory: deciding if carrying a baby would be a dangerous choice for my body and my baby. My therapist was right: it seems like this is a season of uncertainty and we’d better get used to this space. Bob and I have discussed about the various case scenarios. We are trying to figure out the right direction for us. It is no easy task. How does one go about doing that? Therefore, we are not forcing ourselves to make a quick decision. Maybe those eight days in Maui will give us some down time to continue to let the news sink in. Maybe one path will emerge as the right path for us. I am grateful that we made a decision to love ourselves and plan a trip. A very good friend of mine who has been banking embryos finally prioritized an overseas trip over a banking cycle. She has missed many opportunities for travels in the last year because of her fear of missing a cycle. I am so proud of her that she has chosen to live life this time. In this cruel journey, we have to make a choice to be kind to ourselves. Although this is not the babymoon that we had hoped for, I am still looking forward to sleeping with the sounds of the ocean, sunrise at Haleakala, savoring every bite of fresh fish, enjoying all the fresh fruit Maui has to offer, bathing in the sun on the beach, sporting my brand new swimsuit, and spending some quality time with my dear husband. Hopefully during the time of our trip God will give us the clarity and maybe a new perspective that we need to move forward in our journey.
Bob and I had our surgery consultation with Dr. Gentle. We got many of our questions answered, but in no way is our path clear from this point on.
Bob usually does not go to medical appointments with me because my doctor is an hour away from his work. But this time, I felt that this particular appointment was important for us to attend together. The information we get would potentially be the foundation of our path moving forward.
Dr. Gentle was as caring and gentle as always. She really has the best bedside manner. She was pleasant, matter-of-fact, patient, and clear with everything that she told us. She is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. She backed things up with study findings.
Right off the bat, Dr. Gentle told us that my uterus is not the best environment to grow a baby. She showed us the images from the MRI scan. The left side was my belly and the right side was my back. I could see the uterus and the big mass that was hanging behind it. It was bigger than the uterus itself. And its pattern showed that it was not quite a fibroid. Dr. Gentle said that it could be adenomyosis. It could be growth from scar tissues due to the abdominal myomectomy back in 2011. Her guess was that it might not be adenomyosis if the biopsy back then showed that it was all fibroids. To her, ademonoysis does not grow that rapidly to that size in four years if it was absent before. To her, it didn’t really matter what it was. Having that hanging in the uterus is not going to be the best for one to carry a baby. She said that with my age and the condition of my uterus, it would be best for us to use a gestational carrier. She called the uterus “diseased”.
This was not news to me. Having heard the same news two weeks ago, my heart had been prepared for the possibility that Dr. Gentle would give the same diagnosis as Dr. E. I had enough time to let the news sink in. If I had come alone not knowing about the potential of needing a surrogate and expecting to talk about surgery but instead getting this shocking news, I would have sobbed non-stop right then and there. However, it was still a difficult moment as it is hard to wrap my mind around my previously “perfect” uterus not being the best environment for growing my own baby. The beliefs that I had before are now all altered.
As I listened to her, my mind went far far away thinking about the reality of never carrying a baby. Never feeling the pregnancy-related sickness, the kicks, the heartbeat, the amazing moments of feeling something alive growing inside of you. The natural desire of being a mother includes all of this. A few weeks ago, I still believed that having a good embryo would be all it’d take for me to achieve that dream. How quickly things changed.
If we decide to carry a baby, there is a much higher chance of complications even if I get pregnant. Higher chance of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, placenta accreta, late-term loss, so on and so forth. The growth could interfere with the blood flow of the uterus for the baby. The placenta could grow into any scar tissues that I may have. And if that happens, the placenta cannot be separated from the scar tissues, and the risk is severe hemorrhaging during birth and the potential of a hysterectomy at birth. The picture that she painted is not pretty.
Dr. Gentle asked us to think about our end goal. Do we want a healthy baby with the healthiest uterine environment for growth? She wants me to ask myself why I want to carry a baby and to ask myself what is more important: to experience pregnancy or to have a healthy baby in the end.
With all of that said, it is actually not impossible for me to carry a baby. We don’t have to worry as much about genetic anomalies of the embryos because of the use of donor eggs and the possibility of using pre-implantation genetic screening. The complications that she talked about are all potential risks. Does that mean that anything is going to happen to me if I get pregnant? She said nobody knows. As a medical professional giving us advice, it is the requirement for her to go over all the potential risks. But ultimately, the responsibility of choosing the path rests on us. She predicts that most likely I will carry to term. A C-section a couple of weeks prior to due date is definitely required to prevent uterine rupture. Each time a surgery or C-section has been done on the uterus, the uterine wall is weakened a bit more, and the risks are a higher and higher. With that said, plenty of people decide to do surgeries or C-sections. She herself has had 5 C-sections in the past. A nurse friend of her had 7 C-sections, and lost her uterus at the 7th one.
Basically, it is totally up to us to evaluate what is worth doing. Is it worth it to find a gestational carrier and not worry about the potential risks? Is it worth it to risk having a potentially complicated pregnancy? Is it worth it to forget all this and go the adoption route?
We find ourselves once again at this crossroad, needing to make a very important decision of what to do.
If we indeed want to try to carry a baby on our own, then we have to think about the uterine condition. We will definitely have to do something about the growth in my uterus. There are a few ways to go about it:
- Laparoscopic surgery to remove all the masses. Dr. Gentle showed us pictures of how it is done. She said that for big masses, she’d break it down first and then take them out of the incisions. She’d suture the uterus. If the big mass is also adenomyosis, then she most likely will have to leave some in there because it is coming very close to the cavity/lining. She’d put tapes on the sutures to protect them from scar tissue. It takes three whole months for the sutures to blend in with the uterine muscles. Therefore, it is recommended that one wait three months before cycling again. She said that the uterus is a flexible organ. After the removal, the uterus should pretty much return to its normal size immediately. And because the uterus heals well, she said that she wouldn’t be able to see the sutures from the previous surgery. However, it doesn’t mean that the uterine wall is strong. The areas of the suture are still weaker and have the potential of rupturing. The more the uterus is operated on, the weaker the walls become. She said that even with that big mass I have, surgery is still safe and the sutures are still going to be okay. I will have a choice of either doing a traditional laparoscopy or one with robot assistance. Robot assistance is apparently better for sutures. If we decide to do a surgery, a potential date could be June 3rd.
- Lupron Depot for three to six months to shrink the growth. If the masses can be shrunk, transfer after that. Disadvantage is the side effects of the drug, and the potential rebound effect that once the drug is stopped, the fibroids may grow bigger and stronger than before. The drug is only effective during the course of treatment. Once stopped, the growth will come back. We can do monthly injections for three months, a one-time injection that lasts three months, or monthly injections for six months. It is not advised to have Lupron Depot for more than six months because of the danger to bone density loss. The only problem with this approach is that there is an endometrial component of the mass meaning it has grown into the cavity. If the Lupron doesn’t shrink the endometrial component, I’d still need a surgery to remove the big mass. Lupron is covered by my insurance and the shots can be done at the injection clinic.
- Lupron Depot to shrink the masses and a laparoscopic surgery to remove the remaining masses. This will take the longest as it takes time to do the injections, get an MRI, schedule a surgery, and three months to recover. But this will possibly be the safest way since shrinking the masses will help the surgery be easier to remove smaller masses and to suture better with smaller masses.
Studies showed that pregnancy outcome is higher with the removal of fibroids and adenomyosis. However, if we decide to use a gestational carrier, no surgery is needed as I don’t show any symptoms from any of these growths. I don’t have pelvic pains, cramps, or excessive bleeding associated with my menstrual cycle. I am asymptomatic other than infertility. These growths are not going to affect my health. Dr. Gentle said that they will likely disappear during menopause because of the lack of estrogen produced in my body.
Dr. Gentle said that the IUD Mirena has shown to reduce these growths. When she mentioned about this birth control method, I asked if we should prevent pregnancy. If it’s so high risk for me to carry a baby, shouldn’t we be careful not to get pregnant naturally? (Not that it is highly likely that I’d get pregnant, but it is a possibility as long as I have eggs and a uterus left.) She chuckled and said, “If you get pregnant naturally, we’ll say Congratulations to you and monitor you closely.” At that point, I know that it is a possibility for us to try to carry a baby. If my doctor is not insistent on us preventing a pregnancy, it means that my situation is not that dire. She said that over 50% of women (I think that’s what she said) who have babies over the age of 40 have fibroids and other growths. However, she did mention that carrying a pregnancy over 40 is not a walk in the park. Because of our aging body, we will have a higher chance of having aches and pains than younger ladies. So again, think about if it’s worth it to put ourselves and the baby in a potentially risky situation.
Bob and I are letting all this information sink in first. We haven’t really talked about what we want to do as we had to rush back to work after the appointment. Originally he had set his mind on using a gestational carrier as he didn’t want to put me in any risky position. Just watching his reaction throughout the whole one-hour consultation, I could see that he may be changing his mind. I think he saw that those are just potential risks and doesn’t mean that they will happen to me. I think he thinks that the Lupron Depot is not such a bad idea, although Dr. Gentle did warn of the side effects of mood swings. My take is if we don’t have to put anyone in the position of carrying baby for us, I don’t want to do that to anyone, be it a friend or a hired surrogate.
I just happened to have scheduled my visit with my therapist that same afternoon. She told me that this is a huge news to digest and consider and we don’t have to make a decision today. One thing she mentioned about is that none of the doctors have outright told us not to carry. She said it speaks volume. Risks are risks, but nobody knows what will happen in the future. She said that we should think about it separately, continue our dialogues, and listen to each other’s take on things. Having a gestational carrier is the ultimate relinquishment of one’s control as we can’t control what the other person does with her body. And a gestational carrier is not a guarantee to a baby. The timeline is also a factor. Do we wait for my body to get better to accept an embryo, or do we just want to go directly to a gestational carrier so things move faster? What about the potential costs? Is the genetic link with my husband a must or are we okay with embryo adoption or traditional adoption? Many questions we have to ask ourselves, but we don’t have to have answers today.
The last thing she said was that, some people may choose to stop trying for a baby at this point, but she thinks that we are still going strong with this path. She is right that although I have doubts at times, my heart still yearns for a child I can call my own. Bob is the same way too. I pray that as Bob and I continue to discuss and pray about this, God will eventually show us our path to parenthood. Whichever path He shows us, I hope that we surrender all of our will to His.
Back in October before our first donor egg transfer, I was looking for a piece of maternity clothing items to put in my closet as a token of my belief that I’d pregnant one day. I couldn’t find anything that I liked at a brick and mortar store. It was suggested to me that I could try this particular store online. Things are pricier but look great.
I subscribed to the mailing list and get an email occasionally for deals. It is a little silly to be getting emails for a maternity clothing store when I am not anywhere near pregnant. But as long as I can stand seeing pregnant women on an email, I figure I can keep on getting these updates.
Two days prior to my meeting with my former RE Dr. E who revealed to me that I might need a surrogate, I ordered this maternity dress not knowing that I might never wear it during a pregnancy. It was on sale and I used a $15 off coupon.
I had mixed emotions when I received the dress a few days later. It was meant to be a motivation for me to keep my faith that one day I would be pregnant. With this new development, I didn’t know if I would ever make use of the dress.
I tried it on and it fit me perfectly, even though I don’t have a pregnancy bump. After a lot of consideration, I decided to keep the dress.
I hope it serves as a reminder that, although I sometimes have little faith, God is bigger than any of my doubts and fears. His plans for us are unfathomable. Despite our current roadblocks, we don’t know what the future holds. One day I may put this dress into good use.
I had a grand plan of what to write for the Microblog Mondays post. But it went out the window after a fight with Bob.
What I realized is that fights are inevitable, especially when we are faced with one obstacle after another in the last long four years of our infertility journey.
After the news we received last Thursday of the possibility of needing surrogacy, Bob and I have been discussing on and off about the future. It has not been an easy topic to discuss. How does one wrap their mind around possibly needing a 4th party for their reproductive needs after already needing a 3rd party? How many people do we need in order to have a child?
There are so many questions. No clear path.
Do we still go with a donor? What about the agency fee that we already paid? Do we go with donated embryos? Do we transfer in my uterus if we know that there is a chance for serious pregnancy complications? Do we do the surgery? Do we skip the surgery and do the Lup.ron Depot? Do we skip transferring into me all together and just go straight to surrogacy? Do we skip the whole thing and pursue adoption?
We find ourselves at a crossroad constantly. We doubt our choices in the past because they didn’t bring us to where we want to be. We wonder about our future decisions and if we’d choose the right path.
This is painful.
All in all, my husband has been extremely supportive. But he also needs an outlet to release his emotions. Often times the stress of infertility manifests itself in his annoyances in other things in life.
It doesn’t help when I am in general more fragile because of this new development. It is so hard to wrap my mind around losing the ability to carry my own child.
Happy to report that we got over whatever we were fighting about. But I know that it doesn’t matter what we fight about, the stress often comes from the current situation with the unknowns of our fertility journey.
Hopefully after the surgery consultation, we’ll have a clearer picture of what we should do next.
Extra grace, extra understanding, and extra patience are needed for us to get through this rough patch.
We continue to need peace and strength from God. Please keep us in your prayers.
Never had I questioned my ability or chances of carrying my own child. Until yesterday.
I arrived at Dr. E’s clinic early. Pulling into that parking lot and looking at the entrance to the building, I could not believe I was back there again after leaving her practice over two years ago. After failing one own egg transfers and two donor egg transfers at my current clinic, disappointing that I am back at her doorstep is an understatement.
Everything looked the same. The staff was the same. Arriving early, Dr. E was already waiting for me in her office early. She looked the same too. Although she was sitting behind the desk, I could see her scrubs wrapping snuggly around her belly area. I was quite sure she was expecting her fourth child. It was funny because Bob joked about her being pregnant when I go to see her, and he was right.
I told her what happened two weeks ago at my lining check, that the lining could not be visualized clearly and my U.CSF RE suggested removal of the big fibroid(s) that I had. I could see the familiar concerned look on her face. I know that look. I had seen it before whenever we had bad news. After listening to me, she said, “Let’s go do an ultrasound.”
Lying on the same table that I frequented two years ago, I somehow became a little emotional. Dr. E quickly checked my lining and measured the mass on my uterus. She was done in two minutes. Then she invited me back to her office to talk.
What we discussed about in the next hour made my head spin. From the ultrasound of my uterus, she thinks that I have a condition called adenomyosis. She had mentioned about it before. This is something that you can’t definitely diagnose until you do an MRI, a laparoscopic surgery or a hysterectomy. But there are signs that you can see. She showed me the ultrasound images. She compared them to photos of plain old fibroids. My images had these circular patterns that the other photos didn’t have. My uterus looked enlarged. Fibroids would have better defined round shapes but mine didn’t. All in all, from her experience, she thinks that I have severe adenomyosis. And with that, she is very very concerned about my ability to carry a baby to term. Severe adenomyosis is associated with higher rate of miscarriages, placenta detachment, placenta previa, or other complications. She thinks that cutting into the uterus with this condition could lead to a hysterectomy. She wanted to see the pelvic MRI report as well as the images to confirm her diagnosis. We can also check this protein called CA-125 as elevated level is associated with adenomyosis. If I have just fibroids and no adenomyosis, then she would definitely recommend surgery to remove them.
For any of the fibroids or this possible adenomyosis, I have had zero symptoms.
We discussed my options if I indeed have adenomyosis rather than fibroids. We could use lu.pron depot for two to three months to try to shrink the mass then transfer one embryo right away. If I don’t get pregnant, then maybe we will need to consider surrogacy.
All sorts of emotions came over me. In this extra long journey, I have given up my dreams of conceiving my baby naturally or conceiving with my own eggs via IVF. I have gotten over all of that to get to this point. Now there is a possibility that I can’t even try to carry a baby on my own?
Tears came down. All I want to do is to experience what every other woman in this world experiences effortlessly. I want to experience a little life growing inside of me. I want to feel the kicks, find the heart beat, and look at a little baby waving at us on an ultrasound screen. I couldn’t believe that we were talking about the potential of all of this being taken away from me.
I really thought that finally it was my time. This news was definitely a big blow. But amazingly, although I was crying, I was able to keep my composure and went onto talk about all the possibilities with her.
Like she said, we could try to shrink the mass with that nasty lu.pron depot and see if we would get pregnant.
She was pleased to know that we booked the donor that she recommended, as according to her, this is a fantastic donor. Again, our donor won’t be available to work with us until about August, so we have a few months to sort things out. She said that she probably wouldn’t even do a mock cycle to test my lining because she didn’t want the estrogen to feed the adenomyosis again to make it flare up. She would just use the protocol that had worked for me at U.CSF to grow my lining. Since our donor has a great record of making great embryos, she thinks that we can forego PGS testing if we are not selecting the gender of the baby.
If we don’t get pregnant, she would recommend surrogacy. She asked me to tell her my religion again. She knew that we were christians. So when I told her that, she said that there is a wonderful out-of-state gestational carrier agency that would only take intended parents who are born again christians. She said that she couldn’t refer many people there because her patients are mostly not born again christians. Surrogacy is expensive, but doing it in California is even more expensive. This particular out-of-state agency is strict about no termination of pregnancy due to chromosomal problems.
We discussed about donated embryos. I told her about the offer from a friend’s friend. Dr. E actually could hook us up with this couple who has 4 tested and 2 untested embryos. They are from the Filipino husband’s sperm and Caucasian donor eggs. Dr. E showed me images of the children born into that family from the same batch of embryos. They really could look like the children of Bob and me. They are darker with Asian features. Dr. E thought that this would be a good match if we would ever want to go that route. She also has Caucasian/Caucasian embryos but she doesn’t think it’s a good match for us. She doesn’t want people to constantly ask if I am my child’s nanny. Out of her three children, one of her sons is blonde with blue eyes. She has been asked many times if she, someone who has dark eyes and dark hair, was her son’s nanny. People even asked if she used donor eggs.
My thinking was that, if I really need surrogacy, maybe using donated embryos would free up the money to compensate for the gestational carrier, because the whole thing does cost an arm and a leg. She said that this couple does ask for a few thousand dollars for those embryos. Some people ask for a symbolic amount of $500. Some people give them away for free. She said that just the day before an Indian/Indian couple asked her to discard their female embryos because they have already finished making a boy. When Dr. E asked if she could take the embryos to donate them out instead, the couple asked, “What do we get from that?” Dr. E really looks down on those to try to make a profit out of their remaining embryos.
I told her that sometimes I wonder if this is God’s way of telling me not to have babies. She said, “NO, maybe this is His way of telling you that this is the timing for you to have the most beautiful babies that you are meant to have.” She said that a year ago she wouldn’t have met our donor and she wouldn’t have that donor to recommend to us. Timing works out that way. Maybe the last two failed transfers are God’s way of protecting me from any catastrophe happening because of my uterine condition.
The list of questions that I prepared ahead of time seemed so irrelevant to the new development. We have new things to worry about.
I was able to maintain my calmness throughout the consultation. She is a wonderful doctor as she spent a whole hour with me answering any of my questions. When she walked me out of the office, I asked if she was expecting. She is currently seven months but I don’t think she is taking any maternity leave. For her last pregnancy, she returned to work to do a retrieval one week after she gave birth.
Walking out in the very hot sun, I was feeling okay. I was not devastated or overly upset. It was a strange feeling but I was really doing okay. Bob and I chatted on the phone for ten minutes. I quickly updated him on all the main points. It was by God’s mercy that both of us could remain calm. Once I got home and saw my dad (who is currently in town, by the way), I couldn’t hold my tears. I told him and my mom what happened. My mom of course told me not to cry. But I told her that I had to, because this is the way I deal with my emotions. My dad listened to me and held my hand. It was heartbreaking to see him tear up for me. I told him about the possibility of needing a surrogate and the whole cost. He told me that he is willing to pay half of the surrogacy cost. I was speechless at his generosity. Only parents are willing to sacrifice so much for their children. I also desire for that chance to do everything I can for my own children. In fact, Bob and I are doing everything we can do have our children even before they are born.
Bob came home smiling. He is an amazing partner who is extremely supportive. I knew that the news would sink in some and he would get angry at the situation. It is only natural to do that. He did finally get upset this morning but it was expected. I know he needs time to process and to release his emotions.
Last week my surgeon offered me two dates for surgery ahead of our surgery consultation but she would only hold a date for me only if I am absolutely sure that I want a surgery, as they want to minimize cancellations. One was in mid-May and the other one in early June. However, after yesterday’s consultation with Dr. E, I am not so sure if I wanted to schedule a surgery without knowing what my surgeon thinks. I wrote my surgeon about Dr. E’s findings. This is what she said:
“I have attached a copy of your MRI report below. You may also request the images from Medical Records to be given to you on a CD. The MRI gives a much clearer picture compared to ultrasound. I will be reviewing the images with you at your upcoming consultation visit. Your uterus most likely contains both fibroids and adenomyosis. Both fibroids and adenomyosis have been shown to reduce fertility and surgical removal has been shown to be beneficial for both. Once I remove the masses, I send them to Pathology for analysis, which is how the final diagnosis is determined. There are certainly other considerations in your case due to your age and your low chances for pregnancy, so we will need to discuss all of these factors at your surgery consultation. I hope this information helps! As always, please feel free to email me back if you have any other questions or concerns.”
I forwarded her response to Dr E, who said this:
“Thank you!!! This is very very helpful. Interesting that she agrees that you have adeno but the MRI report doesn’t say a single thing about adeno!! You probably do have fibroids but I think the larger masses described as fibroids pushing into your cavity is all adenomyosis. Let me know what she says. Talk to her about considering a CA-125 level. She may say no and that’s okay. Please keep in touch! She sounds like she has an excellent handle on the situation and is very wise and experienced. I just don’t want you to go through anything unnecessarily. I obviously want surgery to work and be beneficial for you.”
So this is where we are, trying to wrap our mind around this new development and trying to make sense of it. I feel fortunate that these two doctors seem to know what they are talking about. But Bob and I also feel cheated by our current clinic and Dr. NN as nobody ever mentioned anything to us about the risk of having this uterine condition on our last two transfers. Fortunately, we are in the financial position to save up money to pursue surrogacy if needed. Giving up my dreams of carrying my own baby is very tough, but if it means that is the only way to have a baby we can call our own, then we will find a way to do it. Because deep down, Bob and I still believe that we will be parents some day.
My husband asked me last week, “Why don’t you schedule an appointment with S?”
S is my therapist.
My husband is lovely that way. He knows what I need. My therapist is my sounding board. Whenever I encounter moments of struggles or difficult decision-making, a visit with her often clears my mind or untwines the knots in my overly analytical brain.
That was the day that I was feeling the most down and depressed. I inquired about a therapy session with her. Unfortunately she was all booked at the times that were convenient to me. Seeing her is important enough that I rearranged my work schedule so I could fit in a session in an early afternoon on a workday.
In the two years that she’s been my therapist, this was the first time I sat down feeling like I didn’t know where to begin. So much had happened since I last saw her. I thought that things would be straight forward once we choose a donor and wait for a cycle to begin. Nothing about this is straight forward.
It took the bulk of the session to fill her in about what had happened: finding the donor, questioning about the donor agency owner’s credibility, the misunderstanding of the donor’s availability, finally making a decision to book the donor, the change of FDA recommendation for travels for egg donors due to Zika virus, the growing fibroid, the cancellation of the biopsies for the endometrial receptivity array test, the possibility of needing an abdominal myomectomy to remove the fibroid, the timeline of the surgery (to avoid recovery while in-laws are in town), the possibility of delaying this cycle once again until September. On and on and on. I am tired just typing it out.
Bob and I do not create drama. But it seems like drama comes to us. This journey has not been straight forward for us. The twists and turns sometimes make me wonder if this is God’s way of telling me to quit trying.
I had always been calm when I shared things with my therapist. But this time, after I finished telling the whole story, tears finally came down. I told her that I have been trying my best to cope, but still at times, I feel emotional and anxious. I told her that I don’t like feeling anxious at all and I just wanted it to go away.
My therapist is wonderful. She asked, “Why wouldn’t you cry? It is highly emotional.” She told me the following:
- I am a very methodical person. I analyze things in a very systematic way. Of course it makes me anxious that things are not going the way I want them to go. Overanalyzing things makes a person anxious because of a sense of lack of control.
- Since having unknowns is my reality, she told me to learn to live in this space of uncertainty and to get used to it. Accepting this will help me cope with my feelings and ease some anxiety because expecting it will make it less overwhelming for me.
- She said that being in the midst of it, I might not see it, but sitting across from me she sees a very resilient person. Looking at our past of handling twists and turns in life, we know that we can handle them. She told me to expect more twists and turns on this journey and to know that we can handle whatever that comes our way.
- She told me to not to worry about the donor right now. Instead, focus my energy on healing my body from anything that could interfere with a pregnancy, such as the fibroid and the surgery.
- She told me not to focus my mind on my timeline or to worry about milestones or my age.
- Deep down I believe I will be a mother. She told me to hold onto that, and not to forget to tell myself that I am doing everything I can to reach that goal.
- When I have anxiety or worrying thoughts, ask myself if they are useful. If not, acknowledge these thoughts and let them go.
- People often look at signs to make sense of things. Having twists and turns does not mean that I am not meant to be a mother.
At the end, she reminded me to take deep breaths, and that I am doing a great job with whatever that we are facing.
Emotional ups and downs are inevitable, but it brings me comfort to know my therapist is always there when I need help to sort through my feelings.
At least today, I feel that I can tackle anything that may come my way. I will call that a win.
Yesterday was the baby shower for our friends. They are the other Indian-Chinese couple in our circle whose pregnancy has been a lot harder to deal with emotionally than other friends’ simply because of their ethnicities. We mailed them a gift but declined the invitation. We are closer to the husband of the couple. Last week, Bob said that in the future, he would like to speak with our guy friend about our fertility struggles. In fact, he said he would share our struggles with anybody who inquires about us having a baby because “there is nothing to be ashamed of”.
We have been vocal with our close friends and family about our struggles. However, many church acquaintances are not the ones with whom we had been open with. People haven’t asked. We haven’t divulged. At work, I mostly keep mum about anything fertility related except for a few coworkers. Many of my Fac.ebook “friends” do not know our story either. We have not made it public. This blog is mostly anonymous with about a handful of friends in real life who are readers.
In 2014, a friend of mine tagged me in her Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day post on Fac.ebook. I was not ready to show the world my struggles and my loss, so I untagged myself. It was just difficult for me to be Fac.book public about something so private and painful. I applaud those bloggers who made a decision to make their struggles and their blogs public because tremendous courage is required to do so.
Last Tuesday after my unexpected bonus afternoon nap, I woke up to a notification on Fac.ebook. A dear blogger friend of mine tagged me in my other dear blogger friend Elisha’s post about fake pregnancy announcement on April Fool’s day. It was a wonderful post and I whole-heartedly agree with Elisha. The thing is, I knew that since I was tagged about an hour prior to my discovery, many of my Fac.ebook “friends” had probably already seen the tag in their newsfeed. My husband even clicked “like” on the post already. My heart started to pound and my first reaction was to untag myself. This reaction showed how much I was afraid of letting other acquaintances, namely the wider Fac.ebook world that I don’t get to see, talk to, or hang out with, to know that infertility is part of my life and my everyday vocabulary. I’d rather stay in that safe “bubble” than risk exposing myself to the outside world.
All of a sudden, I remembered what my husband said earlier last week. “There is nothing to be ashamed of, ” his voice came to my head. We have been married for almost five years. I am sure some people may have wondered if we would ever have children and/or why we have not had children. If they have any questions about that, they can ask us. I will answer them. Like what my husband said, there is really nothing to be ashamed of since we haven’t done anything wrong.
My thought process that afternoon led to me leaving Elisha’s post on my Fac.ebook page. I didn’t hide it from my timeline. I did not untag myself. It is there exposing me and the subtle/not so subtle hint of infertility. A tiny glimpse of what is a big part of our life.
My dear friend Jane alerted me that I was tagged in an infertility-related post. I explained to her my thought process and decision. Her comment was that I was “out and proud”. My response was, “out and saying nothing else”. But I think, even when I am saying nothing, this is still a brave first step to show the “world” that we are one in eight.
We are one in eight, and there is nothing to be shamed of.
I went for my MRI appointment as ordered by my surgeon.
The first surprise was that the radiology department shared the reception area as the breastfeeding support and prenatal care unit. Luckily I was the only patient there when I checked in.
I arrived 20 minutes ahead of my appointment time to fill out paperwork that only took 5 minutes to complete. The rest of the time I sat there waiting to be called. It wasn’t until 20 minutes after my appointment time that I was called.
The radiology assistant walked me to the elevator down to the basement and meandered through the building. My second surprise was that the MRI scanner was actually in one of the two mobile units outside of the building. The weather turned cold all of a sudden so walking out in the blustery wind wasn’t fun.
In my experience, MRI machines are usually inside a building. It was quite weird to walk to this courtyard and ride the lift to get into the mobile unit. The assistant told me that the mobile unit has been there for many years already. In there, I was told to take off all my jewelry, glasses, and bra. They were all locked in a drawer and the key was hung in the room where the MRI scanner was.
I think I had done an MRI before. Prior to my last myomectomy (open fibroid surgery) in 2011, I remember getting an MRI and a CT scan. I remembered being in the tube but I don’t remember anything else. I remember it being okay and I didn’t feel claustrophobic.
A mad scientist looking technician was the one who did my scan. He invited me to go into the inner room. He explained to me that the protocol would take about 30 minutes. He gave me ear plugs to put on, and told me that this protocol required me to hold my breath at times. I lay on the table. He covered me with a sheet. The other assistant handed me a distress squeeze ball and told me to squeeze it if I needed a break from the scan. I kind of underestimated the possible effect of the machine on me because I am not claustrophobic. Well, I was wrong. Something else really bothered me.
As I lay there, the table moved in the tube. Since this MRI was for my pelvic area, my body was in the middle of the tube and my head was right outside of the tube. The machine made loud, repetitive sounds that sometimes might have lasted five minutes non-stop. My face was very close to the top of the tube, but it didn’t bother me because I just closed my eyes. But those repetitive sounds got louder and louder in my head. I tried to sing songs to distract myself. The first song that came to my mind was something that we sang at bible study last week that contained “Hallelujah”. After singing that song several times, I wanted to switch to another song, but the noise was so loud that I couldn’t think of any of my favorite songs. Christmas carols came to my mind. I went through Joy to the World, Silent Night, and Away in the Manger. However, the noise was getting louder and louder in my head to a point where I started to feel mildly distressed. I started to feel a little shortness of breath and I could feel my heart rate go up. I waited and waited for that repetitive sound to turn into another tune. It just kept on going and it was so stressful to not know when it was going to end. I was tempted to squeeze the distress ball but hesitated. I thought of it as a sign of weakness. I thought I could handle it. But then, they give you the distress squeeze ball for a reason, right? I would say about 15 minutes into the scan, I squeezed the distress ball. The technician’s voice came in asking if I was okay. I told him that the noise was getting a bit too loud for me. He came into the room and handed me these heavy duty head phones to put on. They might be noise-canceling headphones. Once I put them on, the sound had dampened a great deal and I could handle the monotonous repetition of sounds.
After what felt like an eternity, the scan was finally done. I was told that the radiologist would read the scans and write a report. My surgeon will see it either Friday or Monday. I wrote the surgeon last week to see if I could pencil in the surgery date even before my surgical consultation because I would prefer to have it done sooner rather than later. My surgeon was on vacation this past week. The doctor who filled in for her said that she’d let my surgeon answer my question about scheduling the surgery, but at least I would have to get the MRI done to see the size and location of my fibroid to know what kind of surgery to schedule. I hope that my surgeon would get back to me on Monday.
I would say that the experience was not so much fun. In the future, if I don’t have to, I would prefer not to do another MRI again.
Actually, I’d prefer not to have another abdominal surgery again.