MicroblogMondays: Difficult to Tell

I have been home in Asia for a few days now.  My mom’s sister is also here from the States  to take care of things for my grandma’s funeral and has been staying with my parents as well.  I have spent a lot of time with her.  There has been several times I wanted to share with her about the twins but have found it really difficult to open my mouth.  I just don’t know how to tell her while sitting there watching TV.  Do I go, “By the way we have a surrogate carrying twins for us” right after commenting on a drama series?  Plus, telling my aunt means her telling her friends and my cousins.  I somehow hesitate opening this can of worms fearing that misinformation would be passed along.  I will tell her before I leave on Wednesday.  I also have many chances to see my other relatives such as my dad’s siblings and some of my cousins.  I still haven’t told anyone of them.  How do I begin to tell relatives about my babies when I am not the one being pregnant?  In theory it seems to be easy to tell because it is happy news, but in reality it has been very difficult.

I’m proud of my 97-year-old grandma. I told her the news. It took a little bit of explanation but she understood what I was telling her rather quickly. She looked very happy that we are finally going to have children although taking care of two will be a lot of work.  I showed her the photos of our embryos, the ultrasound photos at various stages, and Annie’s bump photos. She was amazed at the technology that is available nowadays. She’s also very on top of things.  She asked if others know. I told her not yet so she said she’d keep it to herself until later.  I feel such joy to have a chance to spend time with her and share with her about the twins in person. This is my silver lining of losing my other grandmother who never had a chance to learn about the babies.  Her passing gave me the opportunity to see my last remaining grandparent face to face. I suspect that after the twins are born, it’d be a while before we can travel overseas.

Last night, I tagged along my parents when they had dinner with their friends.  One of the friends asked me if I had kids.  I didn’t mind the question so I just said, “No yet.”  He then asked if I planned on having kids.  I was caught off guard by that question because most people don’t ask super private questions like that.  So I just smiled and said, “Yes I do”.  My parents both smiled politely without saying anything.  When I came home, I thought about the future: how my dad and my mom are going to tell their friends and our relatives about the twins. If I were the one pregnant, it’d have been easier for them to just say that I was pregnant.  If I were the one carrying the babies, it would have been a lot easier for me to answer those questions that my dad’s friend asked me.  I would not hesitate telling my aunt.  I would be joyfully telling my dad’s siblings and my cousins and showing my bump.  It is because our way of building a family is so unconventional and the people with whom we’d share the news are so traditional that telling others has been such a chore.  I am not at all ashamed of our need of using a surrogate to make a baby.  This is why it’s surprising that sharing such happy news has been so tough.

I hope that it’ll be easier to share the news as we get closer to the due date.

Advertisements

Ultrasound at 12 Weeks 5 Days

I didn’t get to fly to Annie’s hometown for our ultrasound today since I will fly out tonight to my grandma’s funeral.  Bob has been home burning with a fever all day, so he got to witness the ultrasound remotely for the first time.  The connection at the clinic was again spotty.  We could see Baby A on the screen, but the screen would freeze.  This happened several times then Kenneth, Annie’s husband, found a good spot for the connection.

Baby A looked a lot like a baby.  I couldn’t hear what the tech was saying because Annie’s youngest son was talking and counting numbers.  Eventually the tech started measuring the heart rate and it was such a sweet sound.  Bob later said that it sounded like a train going uphill (such a nerd!!!).  But he was so delighted to actually hear the heart beat for the first time!  This one’s heart rate was 162.  Baby B appeared on the screen and was moving his/her arms.  The heart rate was 171.  The tech suddenly switched the view to 3D.  All I could see was some fleshy things that I couldn’t recognize.  Kenneth helped by pointing out what was what on the screen.  Basically it was Baby A and Baby B’s heads kind of crammed together.  It didn’t seem like there was a lot of space in there.  Real estate was tight inside Annie’s womb!  It was such an amazing and weird thing to see.  Later, Annie told me that the tech usually doesn’t do ultrasound this early so she just wanted to see what they’d look like.  She said what she had imagined looked better than what they actually looked like, haha.

Baby A was measuring 12 weeks 2 days, and Baby B was measuring 12 weeks 5 days.  I instantly was worried about Baby A.  He/she was measuring 11 weeks 1 day at our last ultrasound.  I don’t know if it’s a good thing to be 3 days off.  Of course while I was waiting to talk to the OB, I consulted Dr. Goo.gle for margin of errors for these ultrasound measurements.  I had to remind myself not to go crazy and just wait for the doctor to tell me.

Finally the doctor came on.  He said that the pregnancy is progressing well and the babies are measuring well with great heart rates.  I asked about the measurement.  He said that they are measuring right on target and there is nothing to worry about.  There is always a discrepancy on the measurement because of the fetal position and stuff like that.  We are measuring well within where they are supposed to be.  So I felt very relieved after talking to him.

Although we weren’t going to do it, the doctor did ask the tech to measure the nuchal folds of the babies.  He said that anything over 3mm would cause some concerns for cardiac development, but our babies both measured at 1mm, which is normal.

In terms of my other questions, he said that they’d like to do an ultrasound every four weeks from now on.  Bob and I are going to go for the 16 weeks ultrasound.  Originally he wasn’t going to do much for that ultrasound in terms of scans.  But since Bob is coming, the OB will allow for a vaginal ultrasound with more measurements and we get extra time to talk to the doctor.  As for the anatomy scan, we originally scheduled for 19 weeks 5 days.  But Annie is going to be out of town.  So we may have to push it back to about 21 weeks, which the OB said it’s okay to do.

Annie has gained 7 pounds since the last weigh in.  The doctor said that the weight gain is good.  He does not recommend any other supplements in addition to the vitamins that she’s been taking.  He said that for a normal pregnancy with a person without any prior prenatal problems, nothing much is needed as long as the carrier is eating healthy.

I asked one final question, about what indicates the need to consult with a high risk OB/maternal-fetal medicine specialist.  He said usually with pregnancies that are associated with birth defects.  And then he went off on a tangent about an emergency delivery at 25 weeks and we would have to fly Annie over across state line to the next state that prohibits commercial surrogacy because that would be the closest trauma hospital and helicopter wouldn’t fly you to a location six-hour driving distance away within the same state.  I mean, the phone connection already wasn’t the best and he said something so scary in response to a question that really didn’t have much to do with his answer.  I was panicking a little with the thought of the legal ramification of delivery in a state that does not allow surrogacy.  Of course the OB was like, this scenario would very highly unlikely to happen to your situation.  I was thinking… why say it???!?  Later on Annie told me that this OB likes to give the worst case scenario and then tell you that it probably won’t happen to you and don’t worry about it.  But it’s hard not to worry about things when we are so far away, isn’t it?

So there it is.  Our babies are still there with good heart rates and measurements.  Although I didn’t get to attend the ultrasound, my heart is filled with joy that the twins continue to grow.  And now I have the newest ultrasound photos to show my paternal grandmother when I share the news with her face-to-face.

Off to the airport now.

MicroblogMondays: Three Years Later

Three years ago I went to a retreat for my bible study the day after we confirmed that we had lost our first pregnancy.  God was so good to me that the experience there helped me grieve and start healing for the loss.  This retreat occurs every three years.  Fast forward to right now.  Bob and I just attended the same retreat together in Southern California.  This time it felt so different. First of all I had my husband with me and it is such a blessing that we serve in the same bible study organization.  Second is that, we are in a vastly different position this time in terms of our fertility journey.  Three years ago we just failed our first ever transfer with a chemical pregnancy.  Our hearts were broken and we needed healing.  This time, we went with the news of expecting twins.  We don’t have the heaviness of waiting for something to happen.  Things are happening.  What a blessing it is to be here.  Bob was treated like a rock star when many of my friends from my bible study group came by one after another to meet him. It was so precious for them to congratulate him on the babies.  In my blog post about the last retreat three years ago I met a woman on the plane who experienced infertility and eventually adopted a little girl from China.  I shared with this random stranger (but not so random as it was a divine appointment) about our struggles and she promised to pray for us.  God has such a sense of humor (and it’s a small world).  My husband has been the bible teacher for this same little girl in the past year and has developed a close relationship with this family.  I bumped into this mother again at the retreat this time.  She told me that she had been consistently praying for us which was super sweet because she has kept her promise.  I thought that her husband would have shared with her our news of expecting twins (since my husband and her husband now serve in the same bible study) but he hadn’t.  So she was so surprised and happy to know that we are finally expecting not one baby but two!  Again, God is so compassionate and full of love. He allowed me to personally share this news with this lady. It feels like things have come in a full circle.  I just feel redeemed that we are in such a sweet position to be able to experience the joy of this monumental change in our lives and finally have good news to share on this twisted journey.  All I can say is that God is good and my heart is filled with gratitude for His provision.

MicroblogMondays: Closure

I didn’t think I was going to attend my grandma’s funeral.  My thought was, if I didn’t get to spend time with her before she died, what is the use of going right now as I don’t even get to spend time with her.  The day after grandma died, my dad sent me a text with the dates: the wake will be on 3/23 and the funeral is the next morning.  He called me that evening and wondered if I had thought of going for just a few days.  I was honest about it.  It hadn’t even crossed my mind to go all the way to Asia mainly because of my schedule for the next week or so.  But I promised him that I’d think about it.  He told me that there was no pressure, which I believed him.  My dad never pressures us into doing anything.

So this is what I was originally scheduled to do: driving with Bob to a bible study conference in Southern California on 3/17 Friday and returning on 3/19 Sunday.  I bought plane tickets to go to Annie’s hometown 3/20 Monday morning so I could attend the 12 weeks 5 days ultrasound that afternoon.  The plan was for me to return home on 3/21 evening.  If I stuck with my plan and still go to my grandma’s funeral, I’d basically have to fly out to Asia on 3/21 evening in order to make it to the wake.  Imagine traveling from Friday to Sunday to one place, Monday to Tuesday to another place, and immediately flying all the way to Asia.  I know nothing is impossible, but with my age and stamina, I don’t think it will be the wisest thing for me to do.  I am not that young anymore.

So my choice came down to: seeing the babies?  Or honoring grandma?

I did struggle with the decision.  It’s not about the money.  Fortunately we have been flying Sout.hwest, and this airline allows for cancellation of reservations and the funds can be used towards another travel within a year.  I can cancel the flight to Annie’s hometown and won’t lose our money.  The airfare to Asia is surprisingly inexpensive.  I get five days of bereavement leave at work so it doesn’t make a huge dent in my vacation time that I am saving up for prenatal appointments.  I do miss seeing my babies, especially after the last ultrasound when I felt that I just wanted to be there to witness everything, to be part of my babies’ lives as much as possible during this time.  But I know that the babies aren’t going to go anywhere, and Bob and I are going to attend the 16 weeks ultrasound.  It is really not going to be a huge deal skipping the 12 weeks ultrasound.

Another thing is, I feel that I will not have a whole lot of time to go to Asia the next few months and especially after the babies arrive.  I know of people who travel with their newborns to see relatives in Asia, but I don’t know how feasible it will be with two babies.  My paternal grandmother is approaching 98.  It may be a good time for me to go see her again before my life gets crazy in the next few months.  Nobody knows how long she will be here on earth, right?  And when I go and see her in person, I can share our good news about the twins with her face-to-face.  This may help me cope with the loss of my other grandma who never learned about her great grandkids.

Bob was 100% supportive for whatever decision I was going to make.  So after praying and sleeping on it for a few days, I decided to forego the prenatal appointment and to make a trip to Asia for just eight days.  It is going to be a short trip but enough for me to spend some quality time with my family and supporting my mom who has been tremendously sad losing her mother.  Thank God for technology, I will still be able to see the babies like usual on my tiny phone screen when Annie goes to the 12 weeks 5 days ultrasound.  To me, this is the best plan so that my grandma’s life will be honored.  I feel at peace with this decision.  Although I didn’t get to see my grandma before she died, I believe this trip will help bring closure.

Yesterday’s 10 Weeks 5 Days Scan

It has been such an emotional roller coaster ride for me.

I didn’t sleep that well Sunday night.  My mind was a bit unsettled with grandma’s news as well as the scan on Monday.  There was no reason for me to be nervous.  I had been quite confident that the pregnancy was going well, but my irrational mind would sometimes take over.  Sometimes I suddenly had this fear that both babies somehow were no longer there.  Annie had been doing very well.  She felt a bit yucky for a couple of weeks whenever she ate sweets.  If she didn’t eat sweets, then she’d feel fine.  She joked that the babies took after me as I don’t eat candy.  It is kind of funny to think that way because it’s impossible for them to take after me, the one parent with whom they have no genetic connection.  Bob had been also irrationally nervous about the pregnancy especially 1) we were still early in our pregnancy and 2) Annie hadn’t felt a whole lot of symptoms so Bob didn’t get the reassurance that she was still pregnant.  We have to keep in mind though that this is somebody who never really felt much sickness during the first trimester for all of her pregnancies.  Anyhow, Annie had been very calm and confident that the pregnancy was going well.  She is already showing.  You could check her out on the page labeled “Gestational Carrier’s Bump Photos” on the left side.

Monday morning, I repeatedly prayed for God’s calmness and peace, as well as my complete trust in Him.  Nevertheless, I was still a bit nervous.  And I was also mourning the loss of my grandmother as I suddenly teared up in front of my coworker.  Gotta love Annie.  She is always so on time, or I should say early.  Her appointment was at 11am, but I received the payment receipt from the clinic at 10:50am already.  At 10:56, my phone rang and it was the video call.  Once connected, I could see a wiggly baby on the ultrasound screen!  The connection was horrible and the image was all grainy, but it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!  Baby A was moving around on the screen.  All I could do was to exclaim at the growth and Baby A’s resemblance to a real baby.  When I heard Baby A’s heartbeat for the first time, it was just music to my ears.  Although it was delivered on a tiny iPhone screen with exceptionally poor connection, I didn’t care.  It was just wonderful to hear how fast it was beating!  This baby was moving so much and was so lively that I couldn’t help but guess that this would be the girl!  Baby A’s heart rate was 168.

Then it was Baby B’s turn.  This baby was hiding for a little bit and took a little bit of time to locate.  I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, and I was told that the baby was on his/her tummy.  The technician shifted the view for a little and went back to Baby B.  All of a sudden we saw that the baby flipped!  Now he/she was facing up.  Both babies were doing acrobatic moves for me!  It was just so surreal to see how lively they were at such a young gestational age!  Baby B’s heart was beating super fast as well, measuring at 167.

While staring at the screen, all I was thinking to myself was I just really wanted to be there physically seeing my babies and witnessing all the scans I could go to so that I wouldn’t be missing anything.  It was tough to be so far away.  But I am also tremendously grateful for the opportunity to even be “present” this way with the help of technology.

I didn’t get to see how big the babies were measuring or what the cervical length was on the video chat.  I couldn’t quite hear what was told to me but I gathered someone was going to call me after the appointment.  I was feeling relieved and overjoyed that the babies are alive and well, but at the same time I was still a bit unsettled with the uncertainty of the cervical length.  I told Bob the good news and both of us were so happy and relieved that both babies are doing well.  Annie called me after her appointment and delivered more good news.  Baby A was measuring ahead at 11 weeks 1 day.  Baby B was right on time at 10 weeks 5 days.  Her cervix was 4.1cm long!  Praise the Lord!  At that point I was completely relieved because I don’t have to worry about the cervix being short and any potential complications that a short cervix may cause, for now.  I can at least breathe at this moment.

If you are interested, you could click over to the ultrasound photos on the left side.  The babies do look like babies now.  We will be 11 weeks tomorrow.  I still haven’t told my boss.  I will tell her after our next scan, which will be in two weeks at 12 weeks 5 days.  I am just so incredibly grateful to be at this point.  I know we are still early, but as we get to each scan with good news, it has become more and more real that we may just be able to meet our children in about 27 weeks.  I can’t even fathom how I will be able to stay calm for the next many months, but I know that I can at least be able to breathe more easily for the next two weeks.

MicroblogMondays: Too Late

Microblog_Mondays

My grandma passed away yesterday.

This was my mom’s mom.  My brother was the first grandchild in the family and this grandma took care of him the first few years of his life while my mom was at work.  The two of them had a close bond that none of us subsequent grandchildren had.  I grew up with my paternal grandmother instead.  My maternal grandmother had a stroke not too long ago and was becoming very sick.  I never developed the closeness with her like my brother did, but knowing that the end of her life was near, I desperately wanted to let her know that her great grand-babies would be coming later this year.

Because of how sick my grandma was, my brother flew to Asia to spend time with her.  That was the day after our 8 weeks 5 days scan.  I had given him the task of sharing our pregnancy news with grandma if her recovery from her stroke allowed her to understand his message.  My brother and I spoke on the phone after he arrived and visited with her.  She was simply not lucid enough to have a meaningful conversation at that point with him.  I told him to tell her if he found a good time.  After we hung up, I broke into tears.

Since then, my heart would skip a beat whenever the phone rang or a text message came.  I was afraid that it would be bad news about my grandma.  Saturday night while I was having a good time at a friend’s birthday party, I was totally unaware of my grandma being at the end of her life.  My mom’s text in the middle of the night revealed that grandma breathed her last breath on earth and had passed.  I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the message.  The initial calmness was followed by incredible sorrow in my heart.  Tears kept coming down while I lay in the dark.  It felt like a part of me had left with the death of my grandmother.  When she was pregnant with my mom, the egg that made me was already formed inside my mom as a fetus in my grandma’s womb.  How amazing life is that I originated from her.  And now she has left permanently from this earth, my heart is broken.  I cried uncontrollably at various times yesterday thinking about her and how her life ended.

Grandma and I don’t have anymore time on this earth together.  Last October when I visited was the last time I saw her.  My brother encouraged me saying that instead of being sad about not being able to see her again, I should feel comforted that we did spend time together not too long ago.  But to me, it’s too late now as our babies will never meet their great grandmother.  She had no knowledge of them while she was still on earth.  Infertility has robbed us of many things.  If we had been able to get pregnant earlier, then my grandma would have had a chance to meet our child(ren) or to have the joy of knowing their existence.  This lost opportunity highlights how unfair this journey could be.  Many things on this earth are beyond our control, especially life (creating a baby) and death (loved one’s passing).  I know I will eventually be okay, but today I mourn the loss of my grandmother and the impossibility of my children being in the embrace of their maternal great grandmother.