MicroblogMondays: Full Circle

Merry Christmas to you all!  It has been an extra sweet and precious holiday season as our babies are safe and sound at home with us.  The four stockings on the mantel and all the presents with labels of the babies’ names under the Christmas tree make it all real that this year’s Christmas tree is very different from the previous five year’s.

A couple of days ago, we made a trip across the bay to visit our beloved Dr. E who helped made this little family of four possible.  This trip reminds me of a post that I wrote more than three years ago.  One day I came home early from work and saw Dr. E on TV.  At that time, we were working with our second RE Dr. No Nonsense after we parted our way from Dr. E.  That was the end of our 3rd year pursuing our dream of having a baby and we didn’t seem to be any closer to fulfilling it.  I wrote in that post: “I so wish that she would be the person who breaks the news to us with fantastic first and second beta results.  I wish so much that she would be the one who would have the joy of finding the heartbeat for our first baby.  It doesn’t seem like things will turn out this way.  I sat there staring at her.  Pondering about the what-ifs.”  God works in very mysterious ways.  I didn’t know it at that point, but it turned out that Dr. E WAS the one who broke the news to us about our fantastic first and second beta results.  She wasn’t quite the one who found the heartbeat of our baby as we had to do our first ultrasound at Annie, our surrogate’s local clinic, but that was close enough.  It didn’t seem like things would turn out the way I wished but God had that plan all along.

With two boxes of pastries in our hands, we pushed our “chariot” (the huge double stroller) into Dr. E’s clinic.  It was quite something to show up at our RE’s office and not leave crying with empty arms.  After all these years of holding onto the hope that one day our baby would meet the doctor that helped him/her come to this world, it had become a reality, not only with one baby but two.  According to her intern, Dr. E was still in her office speaking to a patient about something “depressing”.  I know how that is.  I had done it many times with her.  To be sensible, we retreated to the office space across the hall so her patients wouldn’t have to see cute babies in the office.

Dr. E eventually made her way across the hall to meet us.  Her face lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw the babies.  She knew what they looked like as I consistently send photos to her.  She had said this a few times in the past, that the most beautiful babies come to those who patiently wait the longest, and we prove her point again x2.  She scooped up the babies and held them both for the rest of the visit.  She kept on saying that we have the most beautiful twins.  I agree with her, but I am obviously biased.  Haha.  The babies were so good and stayed in her arms without fussing the entire time.  The twins eventually got hungry so we had to part ways to go to our beloved Pane.ra Bread to feed them.  That was Bob’s and my stomping ground every single time after a monitoring ultrasound, egg retrieval, or transfer.  How sweet it was to be able to go there with our babies who attracted a lot of attention from strangers.

We have come full circle.  I don’t have to ponder the what-ifs anymore.  And for that I am forever grateful.

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MicroblogMondays: Three Months

Our twins are three months old.

Let’s talk about Bunny first.  Her Chinese name means “calm” and “easygoing”, which interestingly matches her to a T.  She is usually very pleasant.  Early in the morning, she wakes up and doesn’t make a fuss.  When I go into the nursery to check on her, she often looks at me with her big eyes and smiles.  She is very chatty in the morning, smiling and laughing all the time.  Usually the only reasons for her fussiness would be hunger or sleepiness.  She also hates to get out of the bath and cries like a crazy person every single time she is put on the changing pad after bath time.  This little girl has a serious case of FOMO, or fear of missing out.  She hates nap time because she doesn’t get to hang out with people.  When we are out or at parties (as this is the holiday season), she often doesn’t eat or nap much because she wants to see the world.

Our little Okra is a bit moodier, which he probably takes after his dad.  It kind of matches the meaning of one of his middle names, which means “full of life’.  He is very sweet as he smiles and laughs often.  He is also very chatty, especially in the morning.  However, he whines and cries at the drop of a hat.  In the morning, rather than being like his sister who doesn’t make a peep when she wakes up, he yells loudly to let others know that he is awake and needs attention right now.  Reasons for his fussiness throughout the day are plenty.  It could be him wanting to be held, or hating the way we hold him.  He could be hungry or not wanting to eat.  He hilariously “complains” about things.  Instead of crying, he would make these “neh neh neh neh” sounds that sounds a lot like complaints.  His sister would be next to him all calm with a look of “what’s the big deal?” while he continues to whine and complain.  These moments shows the big contrast in their personality.

Both babies are very pretty.  Everybody who sees Bunny for the first time often comments on how dainty her features are.  She has these almond-shaped eyes, nice tall nose, and very refined lips.  Her chin is pointy.  Since she’s gained some weight, her cheeks are chubby.  She still has her baby hair.  Every single morning, we look at her face and marvel at her beauty.  She looks a lot like Bob but she also reminds me of the donor.  Okra, on the other hand, is all Bob with Chinese features.  He was a little skinny dude at birth without any meat on his cheeks.  These days he has a round face with the most kissable cheeks on earth.  His eyes are very round, especially when he looks curious or in the dark. We call him “Owl” as his eyes dilate in the dark.  He was bald for a period of time after he lost his newborn hair.  He quickly grew his hair back and his hair is the softest.  It’s velvety to the touch.  I love to stroke it when I try to put him to sleep.   When you put Bob, Okra, and Bunny together, you can see that they are all related as they all look alike.  Friends, relatives, and acquaintances would comment on how strong Bob’s genes are.  How does that make me feel?  I am very glad that Bob’s genes are strong, but sometimes it does sting that these babies look nothing like me.  Despite that, I can’t imagine having any other babies and don’t want any other babies.  So it really doesn’t matter that the babies won’t ever look like me.

Both babies are very healthy, except for congestion and reflux.  For congestion, we put saline drops in their noses and use Nose Frida to clear their noses.  Bunny is funny.  She is very pleasant when we clear her nose.  She smiles and sometimes even laughs.  Okra hates the Nose Frida.  He cries very loudly and waves his arms to avoid it.  Regardless, his nose has to be cleared a few times a day.  Their reflux is a bit more under control than before.  They still spit up quite a bit but they are a lot easier to burp than when the acid reflux was first diagnosed.   Okra gains weight at a great speed.  He was born at 6 pounds.  At 3 months, he is already 12.5 lbs, which is more than double his birth weight.  Bunny is 11.5 lbs, which is also pretty good as her birth weight was 6 lbs 9 oz.  The height is unknown as their next check up is 4 months and it’s hard to measure their length at home.  Okra is obviously a lot heavier than Bunny.  Often times my mom or my brother would pass him back to me after holding him for a while because of his chunkiness.  His arms, tummy, thighs, and feet are all chunky.  Both kids have outgrown their 0-3 month clothes.  Bunny usually wears 3-month outfits.  Okra, on the other hand, seems to be bigger.  He fits into his 3-month and 3-6 month.  Some of his outfits are even 6-month ones.  I couldn’t believe it when they actually fit them.

We joke that Okra is an Indian man trapped in a 3-month old body.  After we give him a bath, he of course smells very good.  But because he cries a lot and hence sweats a lot, his hair smells after just a day.  On the other hand, Bunny’s hair smells great from one bath to the next.

Okra’s neck is super strong.  He prefers to stand up than sitting down, and often stands for a long time on my thighs when I hold his hands.  He loves tummy time and can stay there for quite some time.  Bunny hates tummy time and cries after just a few minutes.  Her neck is also strong but she doesn’t stand up like her brother.  She has very good grasp with her fingers and holds on to toy rings for a long time.  She holds onto her binky and sometimes takes it away from her mouth with her hand.

We give them about 5 oz of formula at each meal.  They both used to eat slowly, with Okra taking about 45 minutes and Bunny taking about 30 minutes.  Lately we switched them to level 2 nipple, which has cut down on their meal time by half.  Bunny is very sure of herself.  When she’s full, you can’t squeeze even one more drop in her.  She turns her head, sticks out her tongue, spits out any formula in her mouth, and pushes the bottle away with her hand.  She sometimes finishes only 2 oz, 3 oz, or 4 oz.  In that case, she would often be super hungry very early for the next meal and would cry like crazy.  Okra is interesting.  He loves to eat but gets distracted very easily, especially when the TV is on.  He turns his head and won’t have another sip.  Because of this, we lose out on Ellen or Family Feud, and Bob misses his football games.  TV is off so Mr. Nosy can focus on his meal.  He sometimes stops eating after 3 oz and needs to be coaxed into eating more.  If he doesn’t finish, he would start complaining within half an hour and you’d have to feed him again.  He also has a preference for me.  When other people feed him, he often leaves the last oz unfinished, and would eat it all when I take over the feeding.  He also calms down easily when I hold him and beams with huge smiles when he sees my face.  He is clearly mommy’s boy.  Bunny likes everybody and doesn’t seem to have a preference for me.

After their 7pm feed, both babies go down for the night.  We dream-feed them at 10ish at night and don’t feed them until about 5am.  At 2 months, Bunny trained herself to sleep from 10 something to about 4:30 to 5am.  Okra needed more help.  He would wake up at 2:30 or 3am.  We would let him cry for a little bit then go in to give him the binky.  After a bit of training for a couple of days, he can now sleep until almost 5am almost every single day.  This gives me respite on the days without the night nanny so I can have a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I slowly venture out more often with them.  We have made it to the local library two times for story time for babies.  We go to the mall with my Dear Colleague when she visits once a week.  We go to church most Sundays. I read and sing to them whenever we have time.  They are both into books but Bunny seems to be the one who loves to read.  She looks at books with serious intent and often finishes the whole book with me.  Okra likes it too but he has a harder time focusing at times and turns his head back and forth to look at other things. My mom is very cute.  She reads the same books that I read, but she tells them in Chinese.  She also plays Chinese nursery rhymes to the babies on Youtube on her phone and sings along with them.  It warms my heart to see their interaction as the babies clearly love their grandma.  I am so happy that my mom gets to take care of these grandbabies as she never had a chance to do so with my brother’s kids.

Babies grow up too fast.  This is why I take a lot of pictures and videos of them.  To this day, I still sometimes can’t believe that they are here and they are all mine.  Life is full of interesting and heart-warming moments with these babies.

Here are the pictures of the chalk board I posted on social media their updates:

MicroblogMondays: Surrogate Update

Bob brings up “the other boy” all the time.  He means the embryo that we have in the freezer.  During these early days of life with twins, it is really hard for me to imagine taking care of another newborn any time soon.  Plus, given how difficult a surrogacy journey is, I have a hard time imagining another round of it in the near future.  Don’t get me wrong.  As far as gestational carriers go, I believe our experience with Annie was/is the most uneventful and pleasant.  Regardless, it was/is still challenging to manage a third party carrying your bab(ies) for you.  So this topic will be put on the back burner until the twins grow older.

Speaking of Annie, she’s been struggling physically after the birth of the twins.  I usually contact her by text every few days asking her how she’s doing as well as to send her the babies’ photos.  She responds with Oohs and Ahhs as she loves them and thinks that they are perfect (which they are, I might say).  She said that people assume that it was difficult for her to hand the twins over to us after the birth.  She often tells people that this aspect of the surrogacy was actually the easiest to deal with, as she can’t think of anything better than carrying babies for their loving family and not having to take care of newborns.  To see them grow and be happy and healthy is the biggest joy for her.  The most difficult aspect is the physical healing after the birth.  Her uterus healed wonderfully.  However, hemorrhoids were still bothering her a great deal.  She had gone to the specialist to band the ones from the pregnancy.  After the procedure, she continued to feel the pain at her pelvic area which to her specialist it wasn’t typical.  She was referred to a pelvis specialist who eventually diagnosed her with pelvic floor myalgia.  The initial course of treatment is taking Val.ium vaginally and 12 weeks of physical therapy.  Emotionally she’s been struggling with how difficult the physical healing is after twin birth.  She has been feeling a bit depressed.  She also came down with a cold that hasn’t healed in two weeks.  She was in so much pain (despite the meds and the physical therapy) on Thanksgiving day that she could not enjoy her favorite holiday to the fullest.

A little while after we texted about her new diagnosis, she told me that she’d give me a call to catch up.  I waited for her phone call but never heard from her.  I didn’t want to bother her so I didn’t follow up, but I did wonder if she had anything specific she wanted to say.  About a week later, I received an email from our surrogacy attorney with an attachment of a letter from Annie’s pelvis specialist stating that her new diagnosis was due to her twin pregnancy.  In other words, we as the parents of the twins are responsible for the cost of treatment for this illness.

Here was my initial reaction: I was a little hurt and mad, but at the same time glad.  The hurt and the mad feelings most likely came from how Annie handled the situation.  Given our close relationship, I thought that she would have informed us first  before taking this matter to our attorney formally.  I also felt a little emotional that we had to be responsible for the cost of her treatment even 2.5 months after the birth.  On the contract, it stated that our financial responsibility for any postpartum complications would end 8 weeks after the birth.  Don’t get me wrong.  We know that this is our responsibility as she suffers from this problem for the sake of our family and we will pay for it.  But it WAS a trigger for me for the fact that it once again reminded me that I wasn’t the one who carried these babies, that we have to shell out more money even weeks beyond the birth.  The cost of not being able to carry is just never ending.  At the same time, I am very glad that 1) Annie finally found the reason for her pain and there is a solution, and 2) having our agency as well as the attorney to be our guide rather than working with a surrogate independently ensures that the appropriate action is taken for various issues.

Like I said, my emotions are complicated.  Surrogacy is just complicated despite how civilized and loving everyone has been with one another.

Annie loves these babies though.  She enjoys seeing their photos.  She has a little display at home that she had shown on social media that shows how much she loves our babies.  It is a wood branch with five baby birds on it and a mama bird below it.  Needless to say, she is the mama bird and her 3 kids plus our twins are her baby birds.  I was so touched when I saw this photo.  I am forever indebted to her for sacrificing herself for our family’s sake. I sincerely hope and pray that the course of treatment is the answer to her physical ailments so she can completely heal and move past this chapter of surrogacy to resume her normal day-to-day life.

As for our “other boy” via surrogacy again, it is a serious topic that warrants serious discussions with my husband.

MicroblogMondays: Never

I had a burst of energy the other day so I decided to clean the drawers of our bathroom.  It must have been a very long time since I emptied out the drawers.  Buried deep inside of one of them were these:

I remember my emotions when I purchased these tests.  Some were purchased during my first IVF cycle, and some other ones were for the joy of seeing two pink lines and the word “pregnant” after my first donor egg transfer.  I remember being so hopeful and so certain that my own pee would produce the magic word on the Clear Blue digital test or the beautiful pink lines on the First Response test.  The expiration dates came and went, and the me in my present day would never use any of these tests or any newly purchased ones on myself.  Although I have crying babies outside to prove that one doesn’t need to be pregnant in order to build a family, my thoughts and feelings at that moment were still a tremendous sense of loss of the ability to grow a baby inside of me.  I thought I had worked through my feelings about that.  I guess grief hits you whenever, especially at unexpected moments.  This is a reminder that I will never be pregnant or feel a life grow in my uterus.  That feeling sucks.

Needless to say, these tests or their new versions no longer belong to my bathroom drawers.