MicroblogMondays: A Low-Key Break

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Bob and I decided to have a low-key Christmas this year.   However, my emotions have been going up and down.

Our first week of vacation was spent doing a lot of nothing, which was glorious.  We binge-watched many episodes of Parentho.od, had a movie date at Moa.na, and admired artwork at the newly renovated SFMOMA.  We even had a sleepover at our friends’ house and hung out with our favorite kids.   This was the good, peaceful, and fun part.

We deliberately did not decorate for Christmas.  There is no Christmas tree, wreath, stockings, or ornaments.  If you walk into our house, you will not see a hint of the Christmas season except for the Christmas cards of kids and babies on our fridge.

I just feel that if I do not want to hang any Christmas ornaments, I am entitled to do that.  I got Bob his Christmas gift, but I haven’t picked out the purse that he is going to give me.  There is no pressure to decide on one and have it mailed to us before Christmas day because, let’s admit it, it is an arbitrary day to receive a gift.  It makes no difference to me if I get the gift before or after December 25th.  It does not mean that I don’t celebrate Jesus, my Lord and my savior who was born on this earth being fully human and fully God.  But I don’t have to do anything to show that I have the so-called Christmas spirit in the cultural sense.

A couple of things has made this season difficult.  The first is all of the baby announcements and pregnancy announcements I saw in the last week or so.  Quite a few babies have been born this past week.  Many of their mothers were on the journey with me when they struggled to conceive their first babies.  They were successful at their IUI or IVF and I was not.  Fast forward to the current time.  They gave birth to their second babies while I am still waiting for my first.  Same with the pregnancy announcements that I have seen this past week.  Many struggled with their first and now they are onto their second.  It’s hard not to look at myself and feel the hurt of having empty arms that long for the warmth of holding our own baby.  My husband was so protective.  On Christmas eve, I opened the mailbox and found two envelopes that looked like Christmas cards inside.  When I was wondering aloud who one of the cards was from as I didn’t immediately recognize the address, Bob snatched it away from my hand.  He said, “You don’t want to open this one”.  I immediately understood that it probably contained a pregnancy announcement of some sort.  He admitted, “It’s the worst kind of pregnancy announcement on a Christmas card.”  He had seen the announcement on Fac.ebook earlier that day and had hidden it from me.  I said, “You mean an ultrasound photo.”  Yup that was it.  The worst kind of Christmas card for an infertile person to receive.  He took away the card and hid it.  I am grateful that he saved me from that moment of the surprise, hurt, and pain seeing the grainy black and white image.

And then one of my best friends wrote me a text Christmas Eve morning asking me to pray for her dad.  She was originally going to fly home for Christmas that morning anyways, but earlier that morning her dad was sent to the hospital in a critical condition.  She was waiting for her flight when she wrote.  Her dad suffered from cancer a couple of years ago and was doing better, but took a turn for the worse recently.  My friend spent Thanksgiving with her parents and was planning on spending Christmas at home as well.   I asked her how her dad was in the afternoon.  She wrote back sharing the news of her dad’s passing earlier that afternoon.  My beautiful friend longs for a life partner and children in her future.  It’s so hard for me to imagine losing her dad in her 30s and for her to miss out having her dad walk her down the aisle when she finally gets married or for her to not ever have a chance to introduce her future children to him.   My heart is so heavy for her.  The loss of her father and the future with him just feels so unbearable in this moment.

Tomorrow we will be driving up north to stay at a bed and breakfast for four nights.  I look forward to a simple few days of being away, reading, eating, hanging out, and enjoying nature.  I hope that it is enough for us to recuperate from the roller coaster of a year in 2016 for us to prepare for the life that is ahead of us in 2017.

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MicroblogMondays: Trigger

Microblog_Mondays

Triggers come at any time, and not always when we expect it.

I hadn’t teared up about our situation in quite some time.  Not when I saw all the babies and kids at my work’s preschool class’ Christmas performance.  Not when my once-again-pregnant coworker loudly declared to everyone in the hall that she isn’t going to find out the sex of her second baby.  Not even when we were told last week that the company that tests the epigenetic information of Bob’s sper.m would need an extra two weeks on top of the three week that they had promised to give us the results of the sperm test, which meant that we might once again have to decide if we wanted to postpone the January yet again.  And also not when the scenes of pregnancy and birth showed up while we were watching the TV show Parentho.od.

I expected to shed a tear or two, but I didn’t.

This is why triggers are so crazy.  They just come unannounced and when you are not prepared.

Bob has had his green card for a few years and has been eligible to apply for citizenship for a couple of years already.   He had been putting off working on his application for a long time until yesterday afternoon.  One of the questions on the application was about how many children he has.  This was an extremely easy question to answer and required no effort on his part because he simply has zero living children.  He got to skip all the information that he could have had to fill out because there was nowhere on the form that allowed you to tell about those ones that didn’t make it alive to this world.

As I sat across from him and listened to him joke about how easy it was to fill out this part, I started to feel the weight of this question.  A marriage of 5.5 years.  Nothing to show for.  Not even one living child.  And it was not for the lack of trying.  We have practically done almost every single type of treatment maybe except for donated embryos.  At that point, sadness came over me.  My eyes were warm with the tears that were about to shed.  It came as a surprise.  It was just some application asking some common questions.  I wasn’t even the one who had to answer the question.  But it just amplified the helplessness of the situation.  Children come so easy for many who have had to answer this question, but not to us.  All those other situations I mentioned about didn’t make me cry, but this one did.  There is no rhyme or reason.

That’s the thing about this journey.  No rhyme or reason.  You just have to take the challenges as they come.  And it’s okay to shed a few tears.

MicroblogMondays: ‘Tis the Season to Open up

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After sharing with my sister-in-law’s brother at Thanksgiving dinner, we are on a streak to open up about our journey.

A week ago, Bob and I attended the holiday party of his men’s bible study group.  We didn’t go last year because at the time I couldn’t handle babies and pregnancy news.  This year we are still not expecting and don’t have a baby, but somehow I didn’t resist going to the party even knowing that in attendance there would be our friends who are expecting their second baby any day now.  The wife is a friend of mine who was in my bible study group a few years ago.  She was at the time expecting her first baby after being successful at her second frozen embryo transfer.  At the time, I prayed weekly for her first baby until he was born. Later on Bob became a member of her husband’s bible study group, and our two husbands became friends.  All four of us and the baby would hang out frequently.  The last time we all got together, Bob and I knew that they were going to do a transfer for number two.  Time has flown and the baby is due any time now.  Bob asked me ahead of time if I was going to be okay seeing them.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate.  But I examined my heart for two seconds and thought that we could handle it.  And we did.  Despite seeing her bump, hanging out with her and her toddler was a lot of fun.  I am glad we decided to go.

At the party, the men were asked to stand up and tell the changes they had in their life last year, and what they would like prayers for in the coming year.  Our friend, the expectant dad, was put on the spot first.  He thanked everyone for their prayers in the past and asked for prayers for his growing family and an easy birth.  After he spoke, he looked at Bob who was standing next to him and motioned for Bob to speak next.  Bob was across the room from me.  I knew that he was wondering if he should mention about our infertility.  He is interesting.  He talks about it freely at work but he has shied away from bringing it up in his bible study group.  He and I locked eyes, and I nodded in approval to let him know that it was okay to talk about it.  So with my silent encouragement, he opened up to a group of his bible study friends and their wives and children about our struggles in the past year and how we would like to be prayed for.  It was a great moment to open up.  I was very proud of him for speaking openly and clearly about it.

Last Friday was my office’s holiday party.  Last year we didn’t go because again, I couldn’t handle those new moms and one expectant mom who would be there.  I just didn’t feel like celebrating.  But this year, we are all about having fun.  Bob was nice enough to come and be my designated driver so I could enjoy my drinks with my coworkers.  It was on the second floor of a brewhouse that was super loud.  Our other coworkers were all participating in the white elephant gift exchange.  I was just enjoying my cocktail with Bob by my side when my CEO walked over to me.  He said, “I know you guys are not trying but when or if you do, you will make some very gorgeous and tall kids.”  Maybe it was my alcohol that was talking or feeling.  Maybe I felt brave that night.  Instead of brushing off his comment, I said, “Yeah we are trying and we have been doing it for almost five years.”  I know I took him by surprise.  He apologized profusely and said that he didn’t know.  But you know what?  I think there was nothing to be ashamed of.  I think we are at a point where we would share with anyone who approaches us about the subject.  It’s just that work people have learned not to ask about it.  So no one really knows except for my two closest friends at work.  So back to my CEO.  I have known him for all these years I’ve worked at this place ever since before he became our CEO.  He is a friend.  And he himself went through infertility with his wife for a few years and had one miscarriage before they adopted their beautiful daughter.  I knew that he would at least understand part of what we are going through.  I even shared with him that we have tried “everything” and now are waiting to do another transfer with our gestational carrier after the last failed transfer.  Again, he had such a genuine look on his face telling us how much he would like for us to become parents.  The three of us had a great chat about his journey and how he would not trade his daughter for anything in the world.  It was great to be genuine face-to-face with someone who had walked a similar journey.

I think this is going to be our approach from now on.  We won’t take the initiative to share it with the world, but when the opportunity comes, we’ll open up to people who genuinely want to know.  It is quite freeing to not feel the need to hide or to be cryptic about our journey even though we haven’t found our success yet.  It takes courage, but being more and more open about our struggles will do our soul some good.

MicroblogMondays: Trust During Delays

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Last week was a tough week.  Actually, this season has been a very difficult season.  After our last failed transfer, Dr. E suggested adding Lup.ron to the mix for our next transfer.  It may or may not help, but the theory is that it may help change the uterine environment for implantation.  My jaw completely dropped when the pharmacy staff told me that this drug now costs $500, which is $300 more than I last paid for it less than a year ago.  On top of that, Annie would have to have an extra scan prior to starting the injection.  I was super stressed out about the extra cost.  My husband is wonderful.  He told me that this was not worth fretting over.  If there was even a slight chance that Lup.ron may help, then just do it without thinking too much about it.  Annie had a beautiful scan prior to Lup.ron.  Quiet ovaries and uterus.  I thought that we were on track for our next transfer scheduled for December 19th.  A few days after her last scan, Annie stopped her birth control pills and went in for a baseline ultrasound before she started Es.trace to build the lining.  At that ultrasound, it was discovered that she had a cyst.  I just couldn’t believe it.  My mind was all set for the December transfer.  In fact, Bob and I were both going to take the last two weeks of December off and hang out with Annie and Kenneth around transfer time during the first week of our vacation.  So now with the cyst comes delays.  This is the story of our fertility journey.  In the last five years, there has been more delays than we can count.  So instead of transferring our two embryos on December 19th and having our first beta before the end of the year, we’ll have to wait until January 9th.  Annie has gone back to birth control pills for about ten days before she checks on her estrogen level to see if the cyst is gone.  If so, we’ll be on track for the January transfer.  If not, then we will have even more delays.

Maybe this delay doesn’t seem like much to you.  It’s a matter of just weeks.  But somehow it made me super depressed last week.  We started our journey for our baby in January 2012.  December marks the end of the 5th year.  I was so hoping to wrap up the year with the good news that we will finally have our bab(ies) in 2017.  Instead of that, our future will still be unknown on December 31, 2016.

Last Wednesday I woke up feeling down.  You know, I usually pray for peace.  But that morning I didn’t have peace.  I didn’t understand why the sudden blues.  Later on, I realized the potential reason for my emotional state.  Last Wednesday was November 30.  It was supposed to be our heartbeat ultrasound for Mira, our lost embryo, if the implantation was strong and the pregnancy had continued until 7 weeks.  Instead of complaining about the cold weather in Annie’s home state on that day, I was very cozy in my San Francisco office staring at some ultrasound photos on Fac.ebook posted by another lady whose gestational carrier transferred two embryos a few days after our transfer.  This lady is now expecting twins.  Similar stories.  Different outcomes.  No wonder I was down as my subconscious mind remembered the ultrasound we didn’t get to attend.

This delay of our transfer til January has also made it difficult for me to deal with pregnant ladies and pregnancy announcements.  My original pregnant coworker is pregnant again.  Her son is now 16 months old.  Number two is going to arrive in three months.  She continues to be one of those expectant moms that loves to talk about her pregnancy all the time on top of talking about her kiddo.  Her bump has not bothered me much until last Wednesday.   Last week, several friends of mine announced their pregnancies with number two.  They all struggled with conceiving their first.  So of course it is good news that they didn’t struggle with number two.  However, I couldn’t help but feel down about their second pregnancies while we struggle to even have one.

God is good though.  Although I struggled, He spoke to me through my daily devotion.  Bible study for the last two weeks was on John chapters 7 and 8.  Both chapters talk repeatedly about God’s perfect timing.  The Jewish leaders wanted to seize Jesus but couldn’t because it was not yet the time ordained by God.  As I read and studied those chapters, God was telling me gently that my time has not yet come as His timing is perfect.  He is teaching me and Bob to trust Him completely.  We are to continue to wait expectantly and patiently.  It is a difficult lesson to learn and it takes time to digest.  But at the very least, I have processed my disappointment, am surrendering my control, and continue to try to live in God’s presence.

I am super grateful for Annie and Kenneth though.  They are true angels who are selfless and have our best interest at heart.  When I mentioned that we started our journey in January 2012, Annie encouraged me by saying, “Started in January and end in January 🙂 “.  My husband is very encouraging as well.  When I feel apprehensive about the next transfer, Bob told me to view our next transfer as a necessary next step for us to reach our bab(ies) regardless of the outcome.  So let’s not look at it as an end if it doesn’t turn out the way we want.  He said that in God’s timing, we will find a way to become parents.

May we find a way to completely trust in that.