Last week my former fertility doctor Dr. E connected me with a current patient of hers who could use some support on her journey as an intended mother. After I shared my blog with this intended mother, I was curious to see what I had written in the last almost six years on my blog. I have been reading my earliest blog posts since June 2013. Wow I wrote so much and the posts were so detailed. I am now very grateful that I started a blog so I have a documentation of this journey. Things have changed so much since then. I used to think that my first IVF cycle was such a roller coaster. Compared to our subsequent journey of all the twists and turns before we got to our babies, that first cycle’s drama was nothing. But of course we didn’t know, and it was devastating for us at the time to think that we were losing our first ever embryo only for it to become a blastocyst on day six. Bob and I truly endured many trials in the last few years of our marriage. It is interesting to see that I used to think that we couldn’t afford a cycle of IVF with a certain clinic because of the price tag. Again, I wouldn’t in a million years think that we would spend even more on additional cycles with my own eggs, several DE cycles, and even a whole journey with a gestational carrier. If you told me back then that we would spend this amount of money on our fertility treatments, I’d have said you’ve gotta be kidding me. Another thing that I notice is that the blogging community back then was so vibrant. At every turn of my journey, there was a tribe of bloggers and commenters cheering me on, validating my feelings, rooting for my embryos, and crying/mourning my losses. It was heartwarming and amusing to see the first comments on my blog from many of my current blogger-turned-real-life-friends, such as A., Maddie, Jane Allen, Aramis, Jennifer T., Bri from Dreaming of Diapers, ramdomsqueaks, and Torthuil, to name a few. Seeing how our friendships started was so fun. I have met most of them in real life, and a couple of them even attended my baby shower. At the same time, I feel sad that some have turned their blogs into private blogs, and many bloggers no longer blog. I clicked on the comments from many bloggers and found that their last blog posts stay in the past in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. You don’t know what has happened to them, why they suddenly stopped blogging, and if you will ever hear from them again. I understand that ever since FB groups and IG have evolved, blogging is not the same anymore. I miss that community so much though. It helped me through thick and thin. Reading my blog posts has made me so nostalgic. I wonder if I’d ever share my blog with the kids. That’s something to ponder. Regardless of that, it is my hope that this blog continues to be helpful to those who stumble upon because they feel lonely or lost on their fertility journey. I hope that they feel encouraged and less alone when they read these blog posts.
I was listening to a podcast the other day about DNA testing and how people are excited about connecting to their relatives through a DNA database. I paid particular attention at one point when egg and sperm donors were mentioned. With this technology, egg and sperm donors who wish to keep themselves anonymous will not be able to keep their identity under wraps. That means people like my children who have been conceived with the help of donor eggs have the means to find the people to whom they are genetically linked. They will be able to see who contributed to 50% of their DNA and those that share their DNA. I have never wanted to keep my children’s conception story a secret. I want them to have a complete picture of who they are and not to have to find out about the donor conception part of their life through a test or anyone other than me. I recently purchased a book called “You Were Meant To Be” and started to read it to the kids. Bunny is a book worm and frequently requests to read this book. She calls this book “Be”. She fills in the blank for certain words of the story. Okra likes the book too but he is more into trucks and trains. I explain to them that a piece of me didn’t work so I needed help from our donor. The book itself is simple enough to explain a very complex situation to toddlers who are not even two years old. This is my first step to make this part of their life a normal part so it will not be a surprise in the future. I do not want them to be like those who are tremendously hurt because they find out about their biological origin well into their teenage years or adulthood. If my kids want to find out who the donor is through a DNA database, I will have no problem with that. They have the right and the freedom to explore who they are. When we first pursued egg donation, our donor did say she was open to meeting with us. So maybe this will come true and the kids can have a even more complete picture of who they are. Then we will connect with our donor so they don’t even have to find her through a database. We will see how this all will unfold.
I like how my church handles Mother’s day in the last couple of years. A few years back, mothers used to be asked to stand up in the congregation. I remember one year the pastor asked those mothers with more than a certain number of kids to remain standing. The one who had the most kids received a special gift at the end. I was still in the throes of fertility treatment at the time and it was for sure difficult for me to sit through these moments. I noticed that in the last couple of years, my church stopped passing out flowers at the entrance of the church to mothers. Our pastor would acknowledge the day, but also those who struggle on Mother’s day for whatever reasons, may it be struggling to have children, or miscarriages or infant loss, or strained relationship with their mothers, or the loss of their mother. He’d pray for all the people who find this day difficult. The church itself still passes out flowers to mothers, but the format has been much more subtle. When I picked up my kids from Sunday School yesterday, I found a box of a single orchid sitting on the counter with my name on it. It was for me to pick up. I like that. Not shoving-it-in-your-face-in-front-of-church kind of way. But still acknowledging this day. As for me, yesterday was just another day of me being my kids’ mom. Just like any other day, except for texts and well wishes from many of my friends and family. I actually was more thinking about my friend who failed her last transfer of her embryos as well as losing her beloved mother-in-law last month, about how difficult it must be for her on this day. I sent her a text early today to tell her that I was thinking about her. My friend doesn’t go to church, but if she did come to my church, I don’t think she’d be uncomfortable, and she’d appreciate the prayer from my pastor.
We successfully made it home after our road trip. Bob pointed out to me that we drove 323 miles south of home, not just 275 miles. It was a good trip in general. More fun than I expected, and the amount of work with the twins was as much as I anticipated. Both Bob and I have more confidence taking the kids out of town and can’t wait to go on another road trip soon.
I am not going to talk about all the details of the trip, but I do want to point out a few things I have learned about us as parents and about the kids in no particular order.
- I couldn’t pack or prepare the kids’ lunch/drinks/snacks for the day if the kids were in the hotel room with us even if Bob was watching them. Okra would want to stick to my legs so much that I had a hard time moving around the kitchen.
- Bob and I make a good team. We decided that he would take the kids out on a stroll so I could work the most efficiently in the hotel room by myself. Every time I needed to get something done or have a moment to myself, Bob pushed the kids to the ocean, the train station to see trains, or to the nearby playground.
- Okra truly loves trains. Every time he saw a train, his face was beaming with a big smile. Bob is so smitten that he and his son share the same passion.
- I am very grateful that the kids proved to be very adaptable. They were in an unfamiliar environment but they seemed to have gotten used to the changes quite quickly. Bunny napped and slept through the night without a problem. After crying for 15 minutes for the first night, Okra cried for 2 seconds on the second night, and just went to bed calmly the rest of the nights there. On the car ride back home, Okra only cried for less than 10 minutes versus losing it for more than 30 on the way there. Bunny did not cry on either car rides.
- Even though the kids were adaptable, we largely followed their routines so the interruptions of the schedules would be minimal. Their nap were pushed back for a little, but was still around similar timeframe. They always went down for the night at around 7:30pm. Being in the same timezone really helped.
- We chose a hotel suite with a living room, kitchen, and a bedroom with a bathroom inside of it rather than an Airbnb or vacation home rental. This is mostly because 1) we had a bad experience with Airbnb, 2) I love love love having daily cleaning service, 3) a hotel suite is smaller than an apartment or a house so the area that we had to childproof is smaller, but has enough space for the kids to roam around, 4) having a kitchen is a must for washing dishes and storing perishable food such as milk. It worked out really well for us, and we are going to choose something similar in the future, ideally with two bedrooms so that we don’t have to hide in our bedroom after 7:30pm like thieves while the kids sleep in the living room.
- When you are on a trip, some rules get thrown out the window. We never let our kids have screen time while eating out. Until this trip. No amount of entertaining was enough to keep them quiet. We desperately wanted them to not disturb other patrons. We caved and let them watch nursery rhymes or cartoons. And we didn’t feel guilty especially when we were both hungry and just wanted to finish and go. We didn’t care if others judged us. It was for survival and sanity while away from home.
- Bob and I both still hate touching sand but the kids loved it. We took them to the beach to play in the sand one morning and they had a blast! Kudos to Bob who got down on his hands and knees to play with the kids despite hating the feeling of touching sand. I guess we love the kids more than we love cleanliness. Haha. The kids had quite a few bite of the sand and also tasted some rocks. Yum…. (not…)
- I love my own bed. And I hate eating out many nights in a row. I chose to make dinner the day after we came back… My body just craved homemade food.
That was a glorious day! So glad we made it out there.