I started telling the kids about our gestational carrier when they were 13 months. When they were 18 months, I bought a children’s book about donor conception and started reading it to them. I don’t know if they understood what I was saying but I continued reading it to them and telling them that mommy’s eggs were not working well and a nice lady gave us eggs that made them. Then a few months ago, I purchased another book called “What Makes a Baby”. This is when we really started talking about the different parts of conception: egg, sperm, and uterus. It gave me a way to explain things to them without being graphic. Recently when I read the book to them, I start to feel that they can really grasp the concept. When asked why we couldn’t use mommy’s eyes, they’d say because mommy’s eggs were broken. When asked why we needed Auntie Annie to carry them, they’d say because mommy’s uterus was sick. They know about the egg donor as a nice lady. I think that it is a good time to introduce her to them more solidly by showing them a picture of our donor. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the our donor’s profile and photos either on my computer, on my iCloud account, or as a hard copy. I remember that I showed the first page of the profile to my friend Maddie who used to have a blog. I searched through our chat conversation and found the picture. The first page of our donor’s profile actually contains four pictures of her. One of them was a childhood picture. I would say it was when our donor was about 8 or 9? She was dressed in soccer gear with a half pony tail on the top of her head. Once I saw that photo, I exclaimed and had to go show my husband. He also exclaimed and said, “Wow she looks so much like Bunny!” That is what I have been saying all along, that our daughter Bunny looks exactly like our donor. Her facial structure, her eyes, her nose, her chin, the shape of her face, and her dimples. You put the two pictures side by side, you’d think that they were of the same person, or they were related like sisters. DNA is an amazing thing. Bunny looks a lot like my husband but also very much so like our donor. How is that possible? On the other hand, my son Okra does not look like anybody to me. I can’t see my husband or our donor in him at all. If you put him and me together, people may say that he is definitely my son because he looks more Asian than Bunny. Honestly, looking at the photos of Bunny and our donor side by side gave me a tinge of sadness because it was a reminder that my daughter will never look like me. That is what comes with using donor eggs: the reminder of the long and hard journey of having these kids and losing the genetic connections and the ability to brag about the likeness of our kids’ facial feature to me or my parents or my brother. That sadness was short lived though. I can’t help but feel tremendously blessed that this generous person gave us the chance to have our own children. These children are precious and gorgeous and bright and every good thing in between. So what if Bunny looks exactly like the donor and nothing like me? I chose this donor so of course the chances of the kids looking like her were high. I am so glad that our donor’s physical beauty is manifested in Bunny. How Bunny looks doesn’t diminish my love for her. I sometimes look at her and her brother and can’t fathom how lucky we are to be called their parents. Now I just have to find an opportunity to show the kids our donor’s photo and explain further that this was the person who generously donated a part of her to make them possible. I hope their understanding of this complicated matter continues to deepen and their identity of who they are is secured because they know our undeniable love for them.
I used to have difficulty finding time in the kids’ waking moments to do some of the chores, such as laundry or changing bedsheets. I had to wait until the kids’ nap time or bed time to do them, but often times I would feel tired myself and did not have enough energy to tackle these chores. And for cooking I’d always have to have my mom watch the kids when I cooked. On the days when she was sick, I would have to turn on the TV for them in order to make dinner. I have been on Zoom session with a Christian parenting coach for the last almost two months. One thing I learned was to involve the kids in chores including meal preparation and setting the table and cleaning up for meals. It has been eye opening to see how much a two year old can do and is interested in doing. Bunny in particular loves cooking. She calls herself “Chef Bunny” and proudly tells everyone that she has made muffins or dinner. Okra also likes it when I really like him do stuff. They do basic things such as putting cut-up vegetables in a bowl, putting seasoning in the vegetables before baking, or pouring ingredients in bowls for making muffin dough. I would hold the can openers for them to open cans with me. Nowadays I don’t quite need my mom to watch them as they stand in their learning tower to watch or help out in the kitchen. The kids now set their own table with their utensils and set the utensils for the adults as well. When they are done with dinner, they put their utensils and plastic bowls in the sink. It does take longer to make dinner with them “helping” but I really cherish that time I have with them. Same thing with other chores. A couple of weeks ago I had been dying to change bed sheets but I hadn’t because I didn’t have time when the kids were awake. One day it dawned on me that I could use them to help me change the sheets. We did just that! I had them help me remove pillow cases, undo the bedsheets, and pull the pillow cases back on the pillows. They helped me unzip the duvet cover and stuff everything in the laundry basket. They looked so so proud of themselves! On laundry day, they help put stuff in the washing machine and close the door. We would pull the knob together. Having them do these things doesn’t take up too much extra time, but the sense of accomplishment that shows on their face is priceless. I am hopeful one day the kids will start to learn how to do these chores independently and doing chores will become second nature to them. Start them early and they will become useful adults.
My beloved niece graduated from college. Just like many other high school and college graduates this year, her graduation ceremony had turned virtual. Her parents set up a drive-by celebration for her. She was wearing her cap and gown and a mask in her driveway for an hour in the evening of her graduation day. Her friends and family drove by to congratulate her with social distancing. Bob and I, my kids, and my mom were there too. This was the kids’ first time seeing their cousins and auntie and uncle in person since the shelter-in-place started. They had only been seeing them on Zoom prior to that. I am quite sure the kids knew that something was up because it must have been strange for them to see everyone that they love wearing masks. But they were so good. I prepared them ahead of time that they were going to sit in the car seats for the visit. They sat peacefully and didn’t fuss to get out of the car. The rear windshield of my niece’s car was decorated with her college’s name, her name, and class of 2020. We were able to take a photo with her by having her on one side of the car and us on the other side without our masks on. The kids returned to the car seats after the photo without any issues. We are so proud of my niece! I remember this post that I wrote when she started college. That was when we hadn’t even made the embryos that became our children. I was feeling sad that she was going away for college and it seemed impossible for my future children to know her well. I was feeling like I was missing out on an opportunity for my children, if I were to have any, to know their cousin really well. This is what I said,
“I just can’t believe my niece is already 18… As we celebrate a new chapter in her life, I hope that somehow in the future my children will get to know their fun-loving, cool, and joyful oldest cousin in a way that I have never imagined before. Knowing my niece’s character, she’ll love our children regardless of how big the age difference is between them. I know I can take comfort in that.”
And now that my kids have been on this earth for 2 years 9 months, I can truly say that my niece loves my children to death, and my children can’t get enough of their oldest cousin. Prior to the shelter-in-place order, my niece would come see the kids every chance she had. She would drive home from school and text me to see if she could come hang out with them. The kids ask for her all the time. After graduation day, I told my brother that they should come visit the kids at the window. (He was afraid a visit without coming into the house would upset the kids.) I guaranteed him that the kids are used to people visiting at the window and won’t get upset if my brother and his family don’t come in. This is exactly what happened. My brother’s whole family came with cupcakes. My brother showed up with windex and a cloth and started cleaning my windows! I was wondering what that was all about, then I realized that my niece and my sister-in-law were armed with window glass markers to draw pictures on the windows for the kids! My niece drew Thomas, Percy, a bridge, trolley, swing, slide, airplane, hedgehog, and many more. The kids had the best time even though they did not get to touch or hug or kiss my family. Now that we know that the kids are okay with having my brother’s family visit just outside of the house, I am sure that my niece will come often to hang out with them. She does love my kids regardless of the big age difference. Infertility and the delay in having my kids didn’t rob me the joy of my kids being close to my niece. Even if she moves far away in the future, I am certain that my kids will continue to be close to her.
June 2, 2020 marked this blog’s seventh anniversary. To me that sounds quite long. I have published 572 posts inclusive of this one. There were two months that I wrote three posts, but most months I published at least one post a week. When I started blogging, I was just itching to talk about my fertility journey since it was such a lonely thing. I had been reading blogs for quite some time and knew that I wasn’t alone on my journey. But I wanted to participate in all the fun including talking about myself and commenting on others’ blogs. At the time, it seemed to be such a huge time commitment. It took me a while to decide to take the plunge. I am so glad I did. It has been a great emotional release. I was the most touched when we were finally expecting the twins and finally got to witness their birth and took them home. The outpouring of support was surreal. It made me realize how blessed I was to have so many people rooting for us. Recently a friend of mine asked me questions about my adenomyosis diagnosis and my MRI experience. I honestly do not remember much. BUT, I have a blog! And I am one of those bloggers that would write all the details about almost everything. So I reread my blog posts about those topics in question and discovered that there were things I had remembered wrong. A blog is the best thing to test how reliable your memory is. Mine wasn’t. Hahaha. In that sense, my blog is a blessing to me as I can always go back to read about my journey, and a convenience to those who want to know the details of certain procedure I did. Ever since I have become a parent, my blog naturally includes topics about my children. But I don’t always talk about them or feel like talking about them. I still have thoughts on the topic of fertility and want to talk about my observations about people around me. Mel’s MicroblogMondays instilled a habit in me to sit down on Sunday evenings after the kids have gone to bed and start writing about something. It is definitely a good habit. It forces me to write even though sometimes I don’t feel like writing. To everyone that has been reading since day one, or started in the middle of my fertility journey, or any new readers, I am grateful that you are here. I like having this space of my own and hope to continue to talk to you for many years to come.
I was going to write something about the kids, but in light of what has been going on in this country and in my beloved city, Hong Kong, my heart is heavy and whatever topic I wanted to talk about no longer feels significant. It weighs heavy on my heart to teach my kids about race, about the world in which they are growing up, and about justice and injustice. My kids are still little; I have yet to talk to them about these topics. I mean, we have talked about us being Indian and Chinese, but not about other people around us. And we haven’t quite talked to them about skin colors, although Bob and I sometimes comment to each other about our own skin colors. I feel that it is the right time to start talking about race with them. If their little minds can understand big topics like surrogacy and egg donation, then they can begin to understand race. When my kids are old enough to voice their own opinion about the world, I want to them to be fully prepared to have these dialogues, and to be able to stand up and fight for what they believe in. It is my hope that the world will be a better place for them in the future.