Chinese Parents’ Reactions

We are 27 weeks today.  Woohoo!

In order to best prepare for my maternity leave, I have started to tell the parents of the kiddos that I work with about the gestational surrogacy and the twins’ scheduled arrival in September.  Majority of the kids on my caseload are Chinese, so majority of the parents with whom I share the news are Chinese.   The dads are more practical.  Most of them didn’t say congratulations and just took whatever I said as facts.  They were more concerned about the schedules in my absence and whether their kiddos can be seen by me again when I return from maternity leave.  One of the dads has boy/girl twins.  With a nervous smile on his face (I don’t know why), he just said, “You will be super busy”.  I just have to take his word for it because he is the one with the experience of twins (and one with disability).  Most Chinese moms were more typical.  They were a little surprised at first, and they usually congratulated me, especially after I confirmed that we are indeed expecting a boy and a girl.  They all said, “You are so lucky!”  I get bugged at times by this reaction.  To me, a person who has been longing for a baby, I would feel blessed if God gives me a boy, a girl, two boys, or two girls.  I just want a baby.  It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s a boy or a girl.  But I can understand why many people feel that this is a lucky thing because I will have an “instant” family in one shot.

And then there were these two Chinese moms.  Chinese Mom Number One’s reaction was the most peculiar.  This is how it went down:

Me: [My blurb about having a surrogate carrying twins for us]

Mom: Have you given birth before?

Me: No.  These are going to be my first children.

Mom: Beware of breast cancer.

Me: ……

Who in the world would respond to another person sharing baby news by warning that person of the risks of breast cancer??!?

She went on and on about her sister who had never given birth and got breast cancer.  She truly believes that her sister’s sickness was due to never having given birth.  I mean, I had heard that before, and it could be true(??), but this is not a normal reaction to another person announcing baby news.  What about a simple congratulations?  And how can someone be “careful” about getting breast cancer?  Regardless of me telling her about my annual checkup and mammogram, this mom still insisted that my chances are higher as her sister also did annual check up and still got it.  And if I said that I don’t have family history, she responded by saying you don’t have to have family history to get breast cancer.  At that point, I gave up.

Chinese Mom Number Two was a bit more normal.  After I told her the news, she congratulated me.  However, as we discussed the schedule, she blurted out, “How nice for you that you don’t have to carry the babies!”  Wow.  Just wow.  I was speechless for a few seconds.  Who in the right mind would say such a thing?  How could she not think even for one second the reason why we needed to pursue surrogacy for a baby?  Who would go to this extreme measure to have a baby just so that she doesn’t have to carry the babies?  She didn’t consider for one second that I would feel that it’s my loss not to be able to carry my own children.  It just blows my mind.  I simply answered, “If I could carry, I would, but since I can’t, this is the path we have taken” and left it at that.

The parents’ reactions have been my entertainment/drama for the past few days.  I haven’t told all the parents yet, so we will see what else I will be told.  But I guess I won’t be surprised by what anyone says anymore.  Who can top these two Chinese moms, right?

MicroblogMondays: Tinnitus

It seems like my body is reacting to the stress that I may or may not feel.  I found myself with sore gums on a daily basis when I woke up in the morning a few months ago. That was around the time we initially got pregnant and I had to juggle going to the ultrasound appointment as well as to attend my grandma’s funeral in Asia.  It dawned on me that I was probably clenching or grinding my teeth during my sleep.  The logical next step is to get a mouth guard to wear in my sleep.  But since I will be getting Invisalign for a couple of misaligned teeth, I will be wearing that instead of a mouth guard at night.  That doesn’t solve my teeth grinding or clenching problems though.

The night before my trip to the 20 week ultrasound about 1.5 months ago, I took a shower and washed my hair.  When I was wiping my hair dry, my right ear felt plugged and full.  No amount of yawning and popping my ears would get rid of that feeling.  An air whooshing sound also returned.  I said “returned” because I had the same experience nine years ago right after I was at a concert and sat too close to the stage and the speakers.  I had vertigo back then and I heard air whooshing sound on my right ear constantly.  This is called tinnitus which is defined as hearing noises or ringing in the ears when no such external physical noise is present.  Luckily I work at a place with audiologists and one of my coworkers is a tinnitus expert.  She made sure that my hearing was fine, and told me that the sound in my ears should disappear in about nine months because my brain would get used to the sound.  And she was right.  The sound went away after 9 months.  That was so many years ago that I forgot how it felt.  Until now.

The increase in volume has been gradual.  In the beginning it was just a narrow band white noise like a hissing sound.  I didn’t really notice it that much unless the surrounding environment was really quiet.  As time progresses, it has become increasingly louder and much more noticeable.  The fullness in the ear started to disappear but the air sound has become stronger.  Two weeks ago at church during sermon I couldn’t hear Bob who whispered in my right ear because the air whooshing sound was so loud.  I had to turn my head towards him in order to understand what he was saying.  And then Last week one day I woke up in the morning by Bob’s alarm clock at 5:30am.  The quietness of the bedroom intensified the air whooshing sound.  The sound was so loud that I got scared for the first time ever since tinnitus came back.  What if this sound never goes away and only gets worse and louder.  It could be so debilitating.

My tinnitus expert coworker and I both agreed that this could all stem from my temporomandibular joint problem that is caused by my teeth clenching/grinding which in turn is possibly caused by the stress in my life.  The funny thing is, I do not feel that I am overly stressed, but my body may disagree.  I guess my body is reacting to my growing to-do list and the weekend tasks of getting the house ready for the babies.  Sometimes I can hear the sound so loudly when I work with kids that I have to work really hard to concentrate on what they are saying.  I feel the most comfortable when I stand in the hallway in front of the closet that houses telecom equipments because of the machine noises that resemble the white noise in my ear.  A friend of ours gave us a sound machine for the babies.  I put it by the bedside and turn it on when we go to bed and wake up to it.  Since it is on the left side of my bed, it helps to balance out the noise.  Who knew that something intended for our babies would be so useful in my situation?

I don’t think the stress level will go down any time soon as the time approaches for us to take our babies home.  We have been warned by many about the fatigue that we will likely experience the many months after the babies are born.  I just hope that my body pulls through again for me once more by getting used to the tinnitus so I won’t hear the noise again in a matter of nine months, just like last time.

MicroblogMondays: Grandma’s Love

About a year ago, I wrote this post about my mom showing me sweaters that she knitted for other people’s babies.  I described the sense of loss that I had, and how I just endured her showcasing her work of art for other people.   I ended that post with this:

“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.”

Here we are one year later.  Instead of one baby, now this second-time grandmother-to-be has the task of knitting for her grandson and granddaughter.  What a joy to see her show me the yarn that she has picked out, the patterns that she is considering, and the finished products that are ready to be worn by her grand-babies when the time comes.


I cannot begin to describe the feeling of seeing my mom make these beautiful sweaters for our precious babies.  Finally.

Knowing my mom, I am sure there are many more to come. 😆

MicroblogMondays: Making More Progress

Some of you will be proud of me, that I did a whole lot this past week preparing for the babies.

My friend A. was so right.  (Man, she is ALWAYS the wise one.)  When I talked to her about my fear of starting the baby registry last week, she said that I seemed like a college kid looking at a blank screen who couldn’t get through the first sentence.  That was such a great description.  I felt exactly that way.  She made a great suggestion.  She told me to go with a girlfriend to a store and do the point and shoot scanner thing and just have fun.  And she added, grab lunch beforehand and have some rose too. 😀

I took her advice.  Lunch and rose didn’t happen, but my Dear Colleague met up with me one afternoon at Babies R Us (because Buy Buy Baby’s opening in our area won’t be until September).  The staff member who helped me was super helpful and nice (unlike what I read on some reviews of that particular store location).  With the scanner in hand, Dear Colleague and I walked around the shop feeling overwhelmed.  Well, I don’t know about her, but I was overwhelmed.  We walked around looking at many things.  The bottles section was particularly dizzying.  After about 15 minutes, we decided that we needed to just scan something symbolically as the beginning of this process.  So we stood in front of the health section, picked up a thermometer, and pointed the scanner at the barcode.  Done.  First item registered.  This process officially started.

I actually didn’t like the selections at BRU.  I mean, it has more things than Tar.get probably, but there were still many things that it didn’t have.  After my Dear Colleague left for her dinner date, I walked around by myself still feeling a bit overwhelmed, wondering how many of each thing to buy and wishing that I had my laptop there to check reviews and tips/lists given by my friends who are moms of twins.  It was nice to touch and lift certain things that I had done research on, like car seats and playards.  The infant car seat was the first thing that I ever looked at because I knew we needed one (now two) to bring our baby(ies) home.  Seeing a variety in person helped me make a decision.  What surprised me was the size of all these playards.  They are so so big!  I just don’t see how one can fit nicely in our bedroom as bassinets for the initial few months with the babies.   I still need to find a sleep solution for the twins before we transfer them to cribs.  Another helpful thing was touching and lifting some of the diaper bags out there.  Some of them are so heavy!  This experience definitely helped me eliminate some of the choices out there.

I finally scanned about eight things before I walked out of the store exhausted.  This is definitely a work in progress.  I am proud of myself for finally getting it started.

Over the weekend, I was also agonizing over the guest list for the baby shower.  Space was a concern of mine, as I didn’t want to burden the hosts with so many people.  However, this is not going to be a traditional baby shower.  It is going to be more like a celebration of our journey to our babies.  Including Bob and our guy friends is very important to me.  My sister-in-law and I had a talk.  She said the most important thing was for me to give her and our pastor’s wife (who is the co-host) the list of people I would like to invite and they’d figure out the rest.  After working hard on it one evening, I submitted a list of people we would invite, people we would love to invite, and people who are out of town or know that they won’t be available.  Bless my pastor’s wife’s heart.  This is her email:

“I say we invite them all :).  We can totally be like sardines and it will be great. I think people may or may not bring kids.  If I were invited to a baby shower I would naturally not want to bring my kids, haha!  If all 80 people showed up it could get crazy, but that just means you get more presents.  Am I being a little too ambitious, ha?”

To clarify, I am not inviting 80 people.  But the list does look big.  I am sure that not everyone would come.  I am thankful for someone who is willing to accommodate all of our friends and family.  But yeah!  This was something that I struggled to get done, and I am so relieved that they have the list now!  One more thing to cross off the list.

Bob and I continued to clean out the garage to a point where we could move some of the stuff from the second bedroom to downstairs.  Now that these miscellaneous things are out of the second bedroom, we can better visualize it as our nursery and think about where the cribs and dresser will go.

Not only did we make progress, Annie did also.  She seemed to be doing better these past couple of days.  For the first time in a long time, she answered “I’m good” when I asked her how she was doing.  She had been saying “I’m okay” for the longest time.  And she asked me about me more so than the last couple of weeks.  I feel like she is slowly coming out of her shell of the agony over the last few weeks with the physical and emotional ailments.  I am so thankful that she is doing better.

As we are approaching mid-June, all of us seem to be making good progress.  Only three more months before babies arrive.  Or as Bob puts it, we have gone from triple-digit in days (over 100) to double-digit in days before our scheduled C-section.  Things are getting exciting over here. 🙂

Viability

Our 24 weeks scan was today.  My gut feeling told me that everything was going to be fine, but I was still nervous waiting for it to happen.

Last night I was chatting with Annie online about the logistics of today.  We talked about the babies’ movements.  Apparently they move around and kick a lot when she stops doing something.  They are very active in the morning and after dinner, and they start quieting down at bed time.   Her husband could even see the kicks a couple of days ago.  Somehow reading this moved me to tears.  It was mostly happy tears as I was imagining how they were moving inside of her.  Of course I also felt a sense of loss as our distance prevents me from being there and feeling the movements on her belly when I want to.  Maybe we’ll find a time to go there on a weekend and hang out with her, so we can sit next to her and experience the kicks and the movements as well.

Knowing that they are moving around and are active, I felt pretty good going into today’s scan.  But right before the appointment time, my heart was still pounding.  Annie connected me on the video.  She had the boys with her so she had to hold the phone pointing at the big TV on the wall because no one else could hold it close to the screen.  Because of the distance, I couldn’t really make out what we were seeing and had to rely on her to report to me what the ultrasound technician was saying behind her.  The tech measured the spines of the babies first.  She said at the last scan they were still very little so she wanted to take a better look this time.  Plus both babies were on their tummy so it was easier to visualize the spines today.  Then she measured the heads, the tummies, and the hearts. Baby A has a heart rate of 153, is measuring at 24 weeks 1 day, and weighs 1 lb 7 oz.  Baby B has a heart rate of 151, is measuring at 24 weeks 3 days, and weighs 1 lbs 9 oz.  To me, they seemed to be measuring right on time, but I still needed to talk to the doctor before I could feel totally relieved.

Dr. OB made us wait forever.  Annie must have waited over 45 minutes after the scan to see the doc.  She put me on speaker phone so he could talk to me.  He went over everything with me.  Babies are doing well.  They are 48%ile and 55%ile, which is right on target.  He was joking that this is not like grades at school, where 100 is the best.  The percentile for both babies is great.  He mentioned that they also measured the babies’ breathing.  I forgot what the test was called, but he said something about how well they are breathing and muscle tone.  He said the measurement is from zero to eight, with zero being bad.  Our babies both measured at 8 out of 8.

Dr. OB went on to say that Annie is doing well. There was no protein in her urine and her blood pressure was good.  Cervix was normal and placentas looked great.  All in all, everyone is healthy.  He measured her belly.  She is measuring at 33 weeks if she were carrying one baby.  So with twins, her measurement is normal.  Annie is going to repeat the glucose test for gestational diabetes in a couple of weeks to replicate the normal results from 8 weeks ago.  Dr. OB said that in terms of monitoring, there is no set rules.  The guideline is more strict for expectant moms who show complications such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.   If Annie continues to do well, maybe we don’t need to follow the strict guidelines.  But he still likes to be cautious.  So from here on, we’d get a scan every four weeks until 32 weeks.  After 32 weeks, he may have Annie return once a week or twice a week for a non-stress test.  We can revisit this when the time gets closer.  I asked him about the signs of preeclampsia mainly for Annie to hear it so she would note anything that is out of the ordinary in the future.  He explained to me a few things.  I asked him about the aspirin that she’s been taking and how long she needs to continue on.  Since he usually talks a mile a minute, I didn’t catch everything he was saying.  He was basically saying that with such a low dose, we’ll just continue on until the week before the birth.

I have to say, I like Dr. OB much much better than our last substitute OB.  I am so glad that we have picked him as our OB.

Saying that I was relieved after the phone call was an understatement.  I was so excited and totally felt like celebrating.  It is a huge milestone and one that is worth jumping up and down for.  Praise the Lord for watching over Annie and the babies!

I was so glad to be able to share good news with my therapist today.  I happened to have scheduled an appointment with her today after work.  I contacted her a few weeks ago when things were very tough.  She didn’t have time for me until today.  I told her about the whole anxiety attack saga and other things, my feelings and Bob’s feelings, and how I’ve been handling all these things.  It was great to get help from her.  My take home today is, I should set aside time on a regular basis to process my feelings, think about my feelings, and name my feelings.  The surrogacy process is complicated and it requires care for me to take good care of myself emotionally and mentally.  The other take home is, go enjoy ourselves as much as we can before the babies come.

Bob and I celebrated by having our usual deep dish pizza.   During dinner, Annie sent me the 24 weeks bump photo.  She was wearing a long dress that my friend Jo gave her and she had a huge smile on her face.  It was so great to see her smile again.  She even posted this picture on FB and was saying how happy she was for us.

Today I feel super good. I am so grateful for getting to viability.  Praise God for growing these lives inside Annie and allowing her to feel better with her anxiety and her ailments.  I just can’t wait to meet our babies face-to-face on the day of the scheduled C-section. Hopefully they stay put until then.  ❤

MicroblogMondays: Crossing Things off the List

I have a huge task list staring at my face whenever I look at my Gmail.

There seems to be ten thousand things to do before our babies arrive.  Although I am not the one carrying so my fatigue has nothing to do with pregnancy, looking at the list is still overwhelming to me and makes me want to hide under the cover and take a nap.

But then, I realize I have to put on my big girl panties and get to the tasks.  I am proud to say that I am slowly tackling the list.

First up was booking a photographer.  My original idea was a maternity photo shoot around 28 weeks with Annie, her family, me, and Bob.  My first choice would have been my pastor’s wife who is a professional photographer.  However, she will not be available around our preferred time plus the cost would skyrocket with flying her there.  She helped me look at the work of photographers local to Annie and we did a lot of back and forth on FB Messenger.  We finally settled on one who was super excited about capturing these moments for us…. until the whole hemorrhoid incident and anxiety attack took place.  If Annie continues to be so uncomfortable, taking pictures of her might not be the best idea.  I really didn’t want to spend so much money on plane tickets, accommodations, session fees for the photography, and other expenses to risk her not feeling well enough for it.  Right after her anxiety attack, we decided to hold off on booking a photographer.  Honestly, I was a little bummed about it because maternity photo shoot had been something that I really wanted to do.  But it’s okay.  I’ll live.  I also had an idea of doing one here just me and Bob and two pairs of baby booties.  Since there is no time limit on it, we can do it anytime, so there is no pressure in booking a session any time soon.  We are going to book that particular photographer for a photo shoot for our C-section though.  So at least I can document it.

Last Friday I checked in with Annie.  She had been feeling a bit better as her symptoms of both hemorrhoids and anxiety were now mild.  She reported that our babies have been very active in the morning and the evening, kicking and moving around.  I told her that I wished I could feel the movements by touching her tummy, but I don’t know when I would make it there.  If I go early to help her out before birth, then I’d spend time with her prior to the babies’ arrival.  She was surprised that we weren’t going to the 28 weeks ultrasound anymore.  She said that if things continue to be better, she should be okay with the maternity photo shoot.  This conversation reignited my hope of getting the maternity photo shoot done.  However, after chatting with Bob, it seems wiser to just stay put and put the money towards other things as it is very expensive to fly the both of us over each time.  I am so glad that Annie is feeling better though.  I hope that her hemorrhoids don’t come back so she’ll continue to be more comfortable.  Poor girl, she can’t sit on her bottom and has to sit on her thighs.

The baby shower was next on the list.  My sister-in-law and my pastor’s wife are hosting.  They live across from each other so they’ll see who will host depending on the size of the party.  After a lot of thinking, we decided on a shower at around 31 weeks.  That will be right after our Hawaii “babymoon”.  I hope that our babies stay put until after that.  I owe my SIL a list of guest and a baby registry.  She can’t send out an invitation without these two things.  I don’t know why but I find the guest list difficult to put together.  Should it be girls only or co-ed?  How many people is too many people?  If we make it girls only, will Bob’s and my guy friends feel left out?  Should we include kids?  Babies?  I don’t plan on having games, so maybe co-ed is okay.  I was told that guys hate baby showers, but this is hardly a conventional baby shower.  So maybe it’s okay to have the guys around?

And then there is this whole thing about where to register.  Like I said before, we don’t have a Buy Buy Baby around us.  We have a Target and Babies R Us close by.  I am tempted to just do Amazon and one of the two brick and mortar stores, but I don’t know what is better.  My friend Jo said that Bed, Bath, and Beyond (and Buy Buy Baby) has the best return policy, which is 365 days.  She buys her big ticket items there and returns them at the store.  That, to me, beats returning things online.  So I have been very indecisive on which site to register at.  And then I also have to decide on what to register.  There are just too many choices out there and I feel overwhelmed every single time I look at the list.  Isn’t registering for baby items supposed to be the fun part of this process?  All I feel is stress, which is not good.  But yeah, I will have to get something started very soon so we can send out the invitation for the shower.

Next up on the list was window treatments.  After our house remodel 4.5 years ago, I lost steam and never did our window treatments.  Our babies’ arrival is a good motivator for me to get my act together.  A few weeks ago, a local company that has very good reviews never returned my call.  So I contacted another company whose owner promptly showed up at my door at the appointed time.  Within an hour, she showed me what might work for the windows in our various rooms and had me choose the styles, colors, pleat size, and light control options.  I was kind of forced into picking the colors and styles, which might be good for me, as I am so indecisive about these things.  Roller shades vs. roman shades vs. cellular shades.  Beige vs. brighter vs. grey.  Room-darkening vs. blackout vs. light filtering.  Bottom up only vs. top down as well.  Again.  So many choices.  My mom quickly made her decision, which helped me in choosing mine.  Without choosing the colors/style, I’d never be able to get an accurate estimate.  I just received the quote for the shades, which is within my expectation.  Window dressing the whole house is an expensive endeavor, so that kind of seals the deal for not traveling to Annie’s town for the 28 week ultrasound.

Clearing our the spare bedroom that will become our “nursery” is the next thing we need to do.  This room has become the dumping ground for miscellaneous, and it also houses our book cases, leftover fertility meds and full sharps containers, toilet papers and paper towels, and a twin mattress.  In order to fix this room, we had to first clear out the garage.  Since we remodeled 4.5 years ago and moved back in, we have put all the things that we didn’t need in the garage.  Over the years, the pile had gotten bigger and bigger, and it all felt like a big black hole.  Without cleaning this mess, I couldn’t possibly allow myself to add the content of the spare bedroom to the mix.  Last Saturday, we got to work and started moving things into piles: donate, sell, electronic waste, recycle, and trash.  We also moved all of the baby stuff that my friend gave me into the living room.  These boxes have been hiding in this garage for the last 4.5 years.  I am so glad that they get to see the light of day.  I also finally cleaned out my 200000 pairs of shoes and only kept those that I will really wear. It was a monumental task to part with my shoes but I was proud of myself for making the cut. I will not get into details, but let me just say that Bob and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on the method of cleaning things out.  This difference in opinion led to a huge fight, and the exhaustion from cleaning made it worse.  Despite this unnecessary fight, we made headway in the garage and cleaned out more than half of the stuff in there.  It is not totally done but we are both proud of the work that we have done so far.  Hopefully after we’re completely done with the garage, we can start packing up the things in the spare bedroom and make ways for baby stuff.

On the list, there is also choosing a pediatrician, registering/attending baby classes, buying a car, and on and on and on.  When I get overwhelmed, Bob always says that he is confident that we will get everything done.  So there is no need to panic.   I will have to remember to take it one day at a time.  Hopefully we’ll be ready by the time the babies make their way into this world.

Blogoversary or Blogiversary??? Whatever It Is, It’s Here!

Regardless of how it is said, today is mine!

On my third anniversary of my blog last year, we were trying to figure out the whole surrogacy thing.  We were so lost.

Ever since then, we went through more roller coaster rides.  But all of that doesn’t matter anymore.  We cherish where we are at today.

Today, I am struggling with how to deal with our gestational carrier’s emotions and discomfort.  Today, I am waiting for our 24 weeks ultrasound A.K.A. viability.  Today, I am having a difficult time settling on where to do our baby registry.

Whatever I am going through right now is heck of a lot better than what could have been or where we were at my blogoversary/blogiversary last year, two years ago, three years ago, or when the blog started.

We have babies coming. They are baking.  They are thriving.  Although I don’t get to carry them.  Although I don’t have genetic connections with them.  They are mine.  I am their mom.  There is nothing better than being in this position (until they are safely in my arms).

For that, I am grateful.

And I am also thankful for all the support, whether quietly through reading or actively via commenting.

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart:  Thank you.