MicroblogMondays: Babies And Pregnancy Announcements

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It has been challenging to deal with babies and pregnant women in the last couple of months.

Ever since the news of possibly needing a gestational carrier, my previous calmness and acceptance of babies and pregnant women in my life have turned into occasional intolerance.  It has become increasingly difficult for me to deal with pregnancy news or cute baby photos on Fac.ebook.  I guess these things come in waves.  Prior to our first donor egg cycle, we were so hopeful for a positive outcome that the sight of anything pregnancy- or baby-related did not bother me much.  In fact, I saw pregnancy news from donor egg cycles as an encouragement that the same happy ending would most likely happen to us as well.  Suddenly, my world was turned upside down.  Knowing that surrogacy may be the only way for us to have a baby that shares his/her genes with my husband, even pregnancy news of ladies in my Fac.ebook donor egg secret group becomes intolerable.  In the last two weeks, about 4 or 5 of these ladies got their positive beta or two pink lines on their pee sticks.  I haven’t been able to bear the sight of that and often have to hide these posts.  This is not a sustainable way to live, but I just can’t force myself to be okay when I am really not okay.

But, I am a human being.  Human being likes to torture themselves. I am no different.  Even when I hide these posts, I also seek them out sometimes.  There are these “friends” on Fac.ebook that I don’t personally talk to much anymore.  They all got married in the past year or two.  I often unfollow them so I won’t see their posts on my newsfeed should they become pregnant and post their announcements.  I guess, it’s just a sort of preemptive self-preservation.  Last week, I decided to torture myself.  I looked at the Fac.ebook page of three of them.  Guess what?  Lucky me.  All three had made a pregnancy announcement in the last month.  The good news is, I didn’t get ambushed by their pregnancy announcements unprepared because of the unfollowing.  However, I didn’t expect all three of them to be expecting.  I don’t wish any of this infertility nonsense to happen to any of them, but at the same time, I selfishly didn’t want them to be trying so quickly after their wedding.

And then, somehow, I also looked up my first boyfriend on Fac.ebook.  I don’t know how he came to my mind.  I just was thinking about him and his wife, who happened to be one of my best friends in my 20s.  She and I hung out almost every single weekend for quite a few years.  Then one day, she and her long-time boyfriend broke up.  My ex-boyfriend and she got together.  Although he and I were no longer together, it was still tough to see my best friend and my ex-boyfriend be an item.  It was extremely awkward for any of us to all hang out together.  Since they got married, we had grown apart.  Life changed and we are no longer close friends.  All I knew was that they didn’t have any kids.  I never asked her about their plans and I just assumed they didn’t want to have kids after being married for over ten years.  It has been quite a few years since I last bumped into them at a local grocery store.  I searched for my ex-boyfriend who is not even my Fac.ebook friend.  And there he was in his profile photo with a little girl.  Another photo showed a group of people and my former best friend who was grinning from ear to ear holding her baby.  Judging from the dates of the photos, it seems like she had given birth early last year.  So she was probably 41 or 42 when she gave birth.  Twelve years after their wedding.  I am sure that there is a story of an infertility journey about which I’d never find out the details.  I am happy that they finally have a child if they did struggle.  However, the sense of being alone in this world of infertility sometimes is too much to bear.

Although seeing pregnant ladies and babies on Fac.ebook has been difficult for me, I just can’t be mad at babies, especially those very cute ones that I get to hold and play with in real life.  I am talking about babies who show up at my work.  My supervisor returned to work after her 4.5 month maternity leave.  Her husband is currently on paternity leave, so the baby comes to our office to visit at least three to four times a week.  I was initially annoyed by the sounds and sights of the baby.  I deliberately stayed in my office without reacting or responding to the oohing and ahhing out in the hall.  But you just can’t be mad at a super chubby and smiley baby.  I just happened to be at the front desk one day when my supervisor’s husband was pushing the baby stroller in.  Since the front door was already looked, I went and unlocked it for him.  I peeked inside the stroller.  All I could see was a baby beaming with a smile.  When I talked to him, he opened his mouth and started cooing back.  It was super cute.  I remember going home telling Bob about the baby and how he responded to my voice with such happy face.  Last week, another baby came with her mom to work.  When I walked by her mom’s office, the baby was crying.  So I couldn’t help myself but volunteer to hold the baby so her mom could fix her milk for her.  And I fed the baby so her mom could go do something very important.  You know, you just can’t be mad at the babies. She drank her milk and fell asleep in my arm.  When my coworker came back, I even chatted with her about her difficulty breastfeeding the baby and other struggles she had as a new mother.  After I handed the baby back to her, I went to the lunch room and my supervisor’s baby was there visiting.  Holding him while waiting for my lunch to heat up was a highlight of my day.

I no longer dread the unannounced visits of these babies or the sight or sound of them.  I think I am faring better than I expected myself to be. I don’t avoid them like a plague.  There is a certain freedom in that I no longer feel negative about being surrounded by these babies.  I just hope that one day I will have the same freedom seeing pregnancy and birth announcements that show up on my Fac.ebook newsfeed.  I was once okay with them.  I am hopeful that given time, I will get back in that head space once again.

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MicroblogMondays: Baby Clothes

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My mom has been back to the States from overseas since March.  She is an expert in sewing, knitting, and crocheting.  I would usually hang out at the kitchen counter sitting with my laptop doing various things when I am home.  I often hear my mom’s footsteps coming up the stairs from her bedroom and her mumbling about showing something to me.  Every single time it is a new sweater that she has been knitting for someone else’s babies.  The wives of my younger male cousins overseas who are expecting.  Her friend’s niece.  Anyone, but me.  In the last two months, she has repeatedly shown me these adorable baby sweaters at various stages of production.  Some pink, some rainbow colors, some blue, some green.  All adorable.  Sometimes only the back side has been done.  Sometimes missing just the sleeves.  Sometimes the whole finished product.  How do I feel?  I don’t always feel good when she shows me baby sweaters.  But then, I remember there was one time in the past, probably a year ago, when I told her that I didn’t want to see what baby sweater she was knitting.  My mom is a wonderful and caring person, but she does not understand my feelings of not wanting to put myself in that situation, to be vulnerable and sad when I see her thoughtful, precious gifts to everyone else’s babies but mine.  I tried to explain to her that seeing these sweaters made me sad, but from her reaction, I don’t think she understood.  After that one time, I decided that she would probably never understand my feelings.  I decided to let it go.  If she wants to show me baby sweaters that she’s been knitting for other people’s babies, then I’d let her.  This is exactly what I have been doing.  So these past two months, I have been smiling at her and telling her that the sweaters are adorable.  It does hurt that my mom doesn’t get my feelings, but since she is my mom and it’s not a given that she’d understand my feelings, I decided to let that go too.  It is just hard for my mom, someone who never had any problems conceiving, to comprehend the pain and the sense of loss of not being able to see grandma’s handiwork on my own baby.

This sense of loss is not only felt whenever my mother shows me baby sweaters.  I actually feel it daily when I walk through my garage to go back to my house.  After I park my car, I would walk by boxes of stuff we have stored in the garage.  I would look up and see these diaper boxes.  Inside the boxes aren’t diapers.  There are actually pieces of children’s clothes that one of my best friends gave me even before we started trying for a baby.  About seven years ago, she gave birth to her second and last child.  She separated the clothes of her older son and her baby girl into genders and ages.  She washed them and packed them in boxes that were clearly labeled with “boy”, “girl”, and the age.  These boxes have been sitting in the garage gathering dust for the last six years.  A year after we started trying, another friend of ours was going to give birth to her second child.  She contacted me and asked if she could take the box of newborn clothes for now.  She promised to wash and return the baby clothes to us when it is our turn.  Three and a half years later, our turn still has not come.  I never heard back from that friend.  We have lost touched since she gave birth to her third child.  I never saw that box of newborn clothes anymore.  But the rest of the clothes, up to boy age 5, are still sitting in my garage waiting for someone to make good use of them.

I guess my point is, even though the sight of my mom’s baby sweaters that she makes for someone else, or the sight of the boxes of baby clothes that my friend gave me brings me sadness and pain at times, I am not going to avoid them just because I don’t have a child right now.  “Not yet” does not mean “never”.  I do believe that one day my mom will be knitting my baby the most adorable sweaters a grandma would make, and my friend’s baby clothes will see the light of day from those diaper boxes again.

I don’t now how and when my baby will come, but I believe that when he/she comes, my mother will go crazy with her baby clothes sewing and knitting.  I am very sure of that.  For now, I’ll hold onto that vision of me and my mom choosing yarn and fabric for my baby until it becomes a reality.

MicroblogMondays: Getting Back To Normal

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Ever since I returned from the Maui trip, I had felt like I had a hard time getting back on my routines.  We did have a mini “staycation” on Sunday when we did nothing.  Not even going to church.  I knew that it was a wise decision because I was still recovering from my cold so I just wanted to sleep in.  Plus Mother’s Day and baby dedication at church were going to be too much for me to handle.  Bob and I are usually greeters on the second Sunday of the month, which Mother’s day always falls on.  For the last few years I put on a brave face and did my duty.  It was usually okay.  But this year was different.  Ever since we were told that I may not ever get to carry my own baby, the idea of greeting on Mother’s Day at church became too much for me to handle.  One way to show yourself some grace is to know our own limits.  This time, I knew not to force myself.  So my wonderful husband arranged for us to take a day off from church duties.  We just chilled and rested at home.  However, that was still not enough.  My mid-night coughing from the postnasal drip and stuffy nose made it hard to sleep through the night.  I had such a hard time waking up in the morning at my usual time for a few days.  This fatigue carried on throughout the day.  When my body was not feeling well, my mind was not in the right place.  Life feels more grim when one does not feel well physically.  I felt like I had a cloud hanging over my head because I knew that we had to eventually make a decision about our next steps.  However, I didn’t have the mental capacity to think about the future.

My cold and cough had cleared up a great deal by Wednesday.  That was when I started to think about our future.  I was and am still feeling quite confused about this whole situation.  There are many possibilities and it is hard to see how it will play out.  What I didn’t write about a couple of weeks ago was that Dr. No Nonsense, my RE, contacted me by phone one night.  It was quite late at night but he couldn’t get a hold of me during the day.  Since I didn’t expect his phone call, I didn’t prepare myself with questions.  It was unfortunately a short phone call.  He said that there are no data to support that surgery makes a difference in pregnancy outcome.  To him, Lupron does not hurt, so we could try Lupron for three months and attempt a transfer.  When I asked about adenomyosis and the risks of pregnancy, he seemed to be annoyed that I had gone to Dr. E to get a second opinion.  I forgot exactly what he said but that was the impression that I got.  Then he told me that he had to go, but he promised to call me back the next day.  That was more than two weeks ago.  He never called me again.  I started to get sick on that day and I didn’t have enough time and energy to track him down.  So we haven’t talked since we left the conversation.  After speaking to him, I felt more confused.  So finally, Bob and I decided to try Lupron for three months and transfer, and at the same time look into surrogacy.

I wrote Dr. Gentle, my surgeon, about doing Lupron for three months and scheduling scans to check if the mass has shrunk in order to get ready for a transfer.  Her email back to me made it sound like she does not approve of our plans of just using Lupron.  This is her email:

I would discuss this plan with your fertility specialist first to make sure they agree with it. Your MRI shows that you have a large fibroid or adenomyoma that has a large endometrial component. Most of your uterus appears abnormal. Even if it shrinks, it is very likely to continue to have a significant endometrial component. This would make your uterus ineligible for embryo transfer as it would increase your miscarriage rate. The Lupron would still be helpful in shrinking the fibroid and treating any adenomyosis, and it can help to facilitate surgery, but it is unlikely to render your uterine cavity normal. You may still try to conceive if your cavity is not normal, but most clinics will not do embryo transfers into an abnormal cavity.”

So does it mean that we shouldn’t even pursue a transfer into me?  I am left even more confused than ever.  I wrote Dr. E this really long email asking for her opinion since she should have received the CD that contained my MRI images.  She wrote back quickly and said that she’d share her thought with me soon.

In the mean time, our donor is in the process of the cycle that is prior to ours.  So hopefully it will be our turn soon. Dr. E did share with me that our donor’s most recent complete cycle had excellent results.  All eight out of the eight blastcysts that were tested are all genetically normal.  At least that’s a piece of good news for us.

I also feel good enough to start to learn about the surrogacy process from wonderful ladies in this community who are caring enough to share their knowledge with me.  Lovely Dreaming Of Diapers spent so much time with me telling me about her experiences working with her sister as her gestational carrier.  Another friend of a friend who had a ruptured uterus and loss her baby at 32 weeks is now expecting her baby via surrogate to be born in the next two weeks.  She also spent a significant amount of time going over the steps, the process, and the cost with me.  I am forever grateful for them because the more we know about the process, the more the mystery is lifted, and it does not seem like a huge beast anymore.  My dear friend behind Dreaming of Diapers shared her wisdom with me, that if we go down this path, we will get tested, but it is totally worth it.  She tells me to put one foot in front of the other then we’ll get there.

I hope that this coming week my body can feel 100% well so that my mind can be cleared up even more for making these important decisions.  I have been praying for wisdom and a clear path to emerge.  My hope is that with Dr. E’s opinion and Dr. NN’s opinion (if I can ever get a hold of him), we can move forward with whatever that we need to do to bring our baby home.

MicroblogMondays: Maui In Photos

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We finally did our “real” honeymoon, five years late.  So glad that we chose Maui.  It was indeed a beautiful place for honeymooners and apparently babymooners as well.

Like I said in my last post, there were plenty of pregnant ladies on the plane.  These ladies with bumps were also spotted on beaches, restaurants, and hikes.  A favorite game between Bob and me was spotting a lady in bikinis on the beach and asking, “Is she pregnant?”  Out of all the ladies that we spotted, I’d say 9 out of 10 times those ladies were pregnant.

I have been sick for the last week and a half.  I am still sick right now.  Majority of the time on Maui I was coughing and having a stuffy nose.  I think that was why I was so tired the first two days we were there. Our original plan was to go watch the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala National Park in the first two days of our trip since we would still be on California time.  But due to my crazy fatigue, we didn’t make it on day one or day two.  Instead, we just hung out on the beach and chilled.  The condo that we rented had everything that was needed for a beach day.  You’d often find us in our swimsuits and coverups hauling two beach chairs, a beach umbrella, a bag with towels and sunscreen lotion, a novel, and a bodyboard.  We only had to walk across the street from our condo complex to a very nice and calm beach.  It was so serene to just sit on the white sand and watch the ocean.  The sun was hot and the umbrella helped to keep us cool.  However, at times, the wind was also blowing strong.  Don’t let this picture fool you.  The umbrella flew away a few times.  Imagine me or Bob running after it in the hot sand.

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That IS Bob in the water facing the ocean on the right side of the picture.

I went into the water quite a few times.  It was quite fun the first couple of times when the water was calm.  The final day we went to the beach it was significantly windier.  The water was so choppy that floating on the bodyboard was a little bit scary.  Quite a few times I thought I was floating too far away from the shore and panicked a little bit.  For someone who is not a good swimmer, it was quite a scary thing.  The waves flipped me over quite a few times.  All in all, I am very thankful that we rented a place so close to the beach so we could go as often as we would like with the convenience of going back to the condo and washing up without getting into our rental car.

I have always loved Hawaiian food, so I am very happy with the food choices there.  Many good restaurants were within walking distances to our condo in Kihei.  I particularly loved the macaroni salad that came with all my Hawaiian plate lunches.  To save money, we also ate in a few times.  We picked up fish from Costco: ono, opah, blue marlin.  Fish that we usually don’t find here in California.  We ate very well there, but I also loved that we had a balance and didn’t overspend on dining out.

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My own cooking: ono with asparagus

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loco moco, kalua pork, and fried spam musubi

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loco moco, again

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macadamia nut pancakes

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seared ahi tuna and coconut shrimp

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two kinds of poke and pineapple cole slaw

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mahi mahi and ono fish and chips

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french toast with mac nuts

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kalua pork moco

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korean chicken and short ribs

And then there was dinner at a fancier restaurant our last day.  The chef apparently made one too many crab dips so we got that dish on the house at the end of our dinner.  Who doesn’t love some free food?

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buffalo shrimp

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short rib pot pie

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mahi mahi with lemon caper sauce

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crab dip on the house

Okay enough food talk.  Here comes my favorite part of the trip, which involved getting up at 2:15 in the morning.  Yup.  You read it right.  TWO FIFTEEN A.M.  I guess if you want to watch the sunrise on the summit of Haleakala, you have to leave Kihei at no later than 3am so that you can get a parking spot on the summit. Otherwise, you’d have to park somewhere lower and that’d have defeated the purpose of getting up so early.  Sunrise was at 5:48 that morning.  The night before we were going back and forth about whether or not we should do it.  Out of the fear of missing out, we said screw it and let’s get up early in the morning.  I went to bed at 8:45 the night before since I was still feeling sick anyways.  Bob probably didn’t go to bed until closer to 9:45.  Waking up wasn’t as torturous as we had imagined.  Bob even measured out the coffee grounds and the water for fresh coffee the night before.  It took about one hour 45 minutes to drive up that winding road to the summit.  Being from California, I am very used to winding roads.  The road wasn’t as horrible as some people on message boards described it to be.  It was like a zoo by the time we got to the summit parking lot at 4:45am.  It was pitch dark.  Park rangers with flashlights directed us to a parking spot.  We were dressed in our light down jackets and jeans, but it was still cold.  The temperature was probably about 45 degrees.  Comparable to a colder night in San Francisco.  As warned by my friends, I brought blankets and towels from the condo.  They proved to be very useful.  Instead of standing inside the glass hut on the summit, we opted for standing out in the open and braving the wind and the cold for a better view.  Bob wrapped a towel over his head and a blanket around his body.  He looked like he just got off a camel in the desert.  My phone’s compass pointed us to the east, and we occupied a spot facing that direction with plenty of crazy people who stood around like us.  We looked up and could see so many stars in the sky.  It was a great idea to come so early because the changes in the lights in the sky were phenomenal:

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Standing there at 10,000 ft above sea level, you can totally see and hopefully appreciate the grandeur of God’s creation.

That same day, we got a massage in our condo.  I felt that I slept funny the day I was staying at home being sick.  My back had been hurting and the massage was heavenly.

After much debate, we decided to also do Road to Hana.  I got mixed reviews from various people who had done it. Some said you don’t want to miss it.  Others said that it was really nothing much to see.  We don’t know when we’d come back to Maui again, so we decided to do it.  After reading many times on message boards about it, I paid $5 and downloaded this app.  It approved to be the best $5 that I had ever spent.  This app uses the GPS on your phone to guide you where to go.  It tells you what sights were must-sees, what sights to skip, where to park, where to eat.  On the way back, it also tells you stories about the history of Hawaii.  I highly recommend it.  You can download it at the app store.  It’s called “Road to Hana GyPSy Driver Tour”.  It will be the best $5 you will ever spend.  With this app, I didn’t have to look at a map or flip a book.  Since the road was winding as well, I would have felt sick and thrown up looking at a map or a book.

I am very glad we went.  It was beautiful out there.  There is really nothing much to see in Hana.  The journey itself is the highlight.

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black sand beach

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This was about the best vacation one could have.  Eight days was the perfect length.  We got to spend quality time with each other.  Bob didn’t have his phone with him the whole time so we could have a conversation.  We had beach time, lazy time, crazy time to see the sunrise, driving on the road to Hana to see the lush side of Maui, massage time, reading time, and even a lot of Gilmore Girls time.  Yes we watched plenty of Gilmore Girls on Ne.tflix.  We talked a little about our next steps for our fertility treatment but majority of the time we just relaxed and went with the flow.  It was perfect.

On the beach and on the flight back, we were surrounded by babies and little children.  These babies were all so cute in their little swimsuits.  Bob repeatedly asked if I could imagine my own little baby in a swimsuit playing with sand.  It didn’t quite make me sad, but it is a reminder of what we have been longing for.  My dream is that next time we go to Maui we’ll be with our baby as well.  I am really hoping that this dream will one day come true.

MicroblogMondays: Anniversary on Maui

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Despite me being sick, we are having a blast on Maui.

Believe it or not, I have been sick since last Tuesday night.  I had to leave work early on Wednesday.  I lay in bed all day with a severe sore throat and feverish body on Thursday.  I was still not feeling well enough to see kids on Friday, but had to return to work to finish things up before our vacation.

Even with a hugely stuffed up nose, none of this matters.  Because, I am here on vacation for our 5th anniversary.  We arrived here without a hitch.  Rented a car, bought groceries at Costco (as recommended by numerous people including a popular guidebook), and drove to our condo.  The view from the balcony is to die for:

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The photo doesn’t do it justice.  All day long, the lighting and color of the ocean change.  This is a picture in the morning.  We sat in the balcony and ate our breakfast looking at the ocean.  Before I woke up, I could hear all the birds chirping and the sound of the waves.  This is so drastically different from our life in California.

We could have chosen a restaurant with a great view but so-so food for our anniversary dinner.  We eventually chose good food over a view. We were not disappointed.

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The spicy tuna tacos, the steak appetizer, and our fish of the day entrees were all so tasty that the dinner was very memorable.

The night ended with a wonderful shave ice:

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The next day, we sat on the beach in the morning.  The breeze, the warm sand, and the cool ocean water made it a perfect morning:

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When we were saving up money for this trip, we had always called it our “babymoon”.  I saw plenty of pregnant ladies on the plane on our way here.  I know that we are nowhere close to that, but we are not sad about not having a baby growing inside of me yet.  We are keeping our faith that one day we’ll be able to celebrate the growing of our baby in a way as memorable as our trip to Maui.

As for now, I’ll savor every bite of raw fish I can enjoy here on Maui for the next six days.