Sunday was a bit chaotic. Bob is leaving for a trip to Europe today for two work conferences. He was packing most of the day. The babies both have a cold, and were whiny most of the day as well. In the evening, I was making dinner while Bob was doing a load of laundry in preparation for his trip. He discovered that the drain in front of the washing machine in the basement was backing up wastewater. This happens occasionally, and often on a weekend, in the evening, or like this time, on a long weekend. The rest of the evening was a hectic. I continued to cook while trying to reach various plumbers for an emergency visit. The babies, because of their sicknesses, were crying hysterically. Bob was trying to finish packing and trying to avoid the wastewater while moving the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Many plumbers didn’t return my call. I finally found one that called back and agreed to come today at 9am. He and I tried to determine which bathroom could be used and if shower was okay. As instructed by him, I flushed the various toilets and figured out that two of them were okay to use. At the same time the babies were super tired and sleepy and were crying nonstop. We had to do a short routine and put them down for the night. This all happened within the same hour. Even though the plumber said that our shower was okay to use, I didn’t want to risk backing up more wastewater so I just skipped the shower. At the end of the day, although I was exhausted, I was looking at it this way. Nobody was hurt. Nobody’s life was in danger. We are all relatively healthy (except for the babies’ colds). When things were chaotic, my parents were there to help. The plumber will be coming soon so the problem we have will be solved again. These are just inconveniences and life will be back to normal soon. Well, maybe except that Bob won’t be with me and the babies until he returns from his trip on the day before the babies turn one. When he comes back, then life will really be back to normal and we’ll have two one-year-olds.
A reader emailed me last week asking me a question that I thought would be good to address in my blog. I am not at the liberty to share the details of her journey, but for various serious health reasons, she needs to use a gestational carrier after needing to use donor eggs. After grieving the loss of her genetic links, she is now experiencing the loss of not having a chance to carry her baby. Since I have walked this same path, she is curious as to how I feel now that I have had my babies for the last eleven months.
How do I feel now that I am a mother to my babies whom I didn’t carry or contribute to their genes? I love both of them with all my heart. I feel tremendously privileged and honored that God chose us to be their parents. Sometimes I look at them and still cannot believe that I am their mother. They are precious, beautiful, fun, and perfect. I cannot imagine life without them and I cannot imagine having children other than them. Does it still hurt that their genes came from a donor? Absolutely. Do I still grieve the loss of not carrying them? Yes. However, these thoughts don’t come to my mind too often. Life currently is full, hectic, chaotic, and fun-filled. On a day to day basis, the fact that I didn’t carry them doesn’t come into my mind too often. They know me and me only as their mom and it will remain that way. I think more about having had to use a gestational carrier when the moms in my moms of multiples group talk about breastfeeding or changes in their bodies after giving birth. However, these topics don’t make me feel overly sad or emotional. I just can’t and don’t participate in these topics because of the lack of first-hand experience or knowledge. Not being able to carry the babies doesn’t diminish my love for them. On the other hand, I do think about our donor from time to time especially when I look at my daughter’s face. She looks more like the donor than my son does. My baby boy looks exactly like his daddy and does not remind me of our donor. However, Bunny has the donor’s features, and looking at her sometimes is like looking at the donor. Her beauty sometimes makes me think about how she’d look so different if she shared my genes. This is highlighted when people comment on how she looks nothing like me and my husband’s genes are very strong. These comments sometimes make me uneasy but I have accepted that this comes with the package. My baby girl looking like the donor does not make me love her any less. I marvel at the unique looks and personality traits of her and her brother, and I just feel so blessed to be their mom. A friend of mine who may have to consider the donor egg route tells me repeatedly that she is fearful of not being able to love her future children made with donor eggs. I tell her that truthfully there is no time to think about these things. When I have a moment, all I want to do is to get enough rest so I have enough energy to chase after these babies. Like I said earlier, I do still feel a sense of loss from time to time. It probably will never go away, but my life is so full now these feelings are far and few between. Does that erase the previous five years’ pains and heartaches? No it doesn’t. The experience and journey stay with you forever. Once infertile, forever infertile. But this history doesn’t define me. It is a part of my life, but so is my life as a stay-at-home mom to my precious children. Fighting so hard to have these babies does make me appreciate them more even when dealing with their crying and screaming in the middle of the night or their tantrums.
These are just my feelings, but I hope this post is helpful for those who are considering donor eggs and/or using a gestational carrier to fulfill your dream to become a mother. Feel free to write me for any questions at binkymoongee at gmail dot com.
The fun that comes with having 11-month-old twins: the fighting, hitting, and biting have begun. The twins can now exist peacefully in the same space for a little while playing next to each other. Sometimes they fight over the same toys. I usually don’t interfere. However, lately they have resorted to head-butting and pushing each other. When that happens, I tell them to be gentle with each other and demonstrate what that means by taking their hands to gently touch the other person’s head, arms, or hands. The other day my mom was watching the twins when I was making dinner. She turned her back to them for a few seconds and suddenly heard Bunny scream loudly. She turned around and saw Okra biting on Bunny’s cheek. Fortunately my mom stopped him mid action so he did not bite Bunny deeply. Needless to say, Okra was told not to bite others. I don’t think they were fighting over a toy nor was he upset or frustrated. He just suddenly attempted to bite her. Fast forward the next day. It was about late afternoon and it was almost time for me to make dinner. The babies were playing peacefully in the living room. I went to the kitchen to grab something and suddenly heard Bunny scream again. I turned around to look and saw that Okra was again biting Bunny’s cheek. Because of the distance between the kitchen and the living room, Okra had bitten Bunny’s cheek quite deeply by the time I rushed over to stop him. This time Bunny was screaming and crying loudly. I immediately picked her up to console her and at the same time told Okra sternly that we do not bite, and that teeth are not for biting people. I don’t think Okra really understood it. And he wasn’t frustrated or upset. Poor Bunny’s cheek was swollen from the biting.
And the next day the bite mark was even more visible:
This was so surprising to me because Okra is usually not the aggressive one. I consulted with the parents of multiples group. It is very likely that he doesn’t know it isn’t right to bite others. Maybe he is teething. Maybe he is exploring his mouth and teeth and what he can do with them. Maybe he is testing his boundary. Whatever it is, I hope that it’s a phase that will pass quickly. In the mean time, I will have to learn to keep my cool while being consistent and firm with them regarding personal space and what they can do with their arms and legs and mouth. This is when I start to feel the pressure of parenting twins when they become older and more mobile. I don’t want to yell at them so I need to think through how to react to incidents like this in the future. And I am quite sure it will happen over and over again. Probably until they are teenagers and beyond??? Hopefully by then they don’t bite each other anymore. Hahaha.
I was a bit misty eyed when the idea of this blog post first popped into my head.
We started trying for a baby prior to the birth of this blog. Bob was the one who suggested “binky moongee” as part of the blog’s name. As I wrote in “What is a binky moongee?“, Bob’s dream had always been for his baby to press his/her face (“moongee” in Tamil, Bob’s mother tongue) on the glass of the window waiting for him to come home from work. This dream was not fulfilled for quite many years. Until now.
Every single day when Bob’s car pulls into the driveway or the spot in front of our house, I put Bunny and Okra right in front of the window. They would press their noses on the glass while excitedly pounding their hands on the window. They would spot Bob and start smiling and then laughing. Bob would then come stand in front of them outside of the window calling their names and putting his big hands on the window where the babies’ small hands are. It is such a joyful moment that concludes a very long work day for him.
The only thing is we can’t call these babies “binky moongee” because they had stopped using their binkies months ago. Despite that, it is still so heartwarming to witness my dear husband’s dream being fulfilled on a daily basis after our long struggles. We know that this blessing is not a given. This realization makes it even more precious to see the kids’ reunion with their dad every single day. We don’t have to hope and dream for a binky moongee anymore. We are blessed with two.
No, I am not getting a hysterectomy. This post is about our gestational carrier.
Annie and I don’t talk much. I send her pictures of the kiddos every now and then especially for something funny or memorable, such as Bunny looking serious on a swing or the babies playing together peacefully in the play pen. The other day, I sent her a series of pictures of Bunny climbing on our window like a Spiderman. (This crazy baby girl held onto the window frame with her hands, propelled her feet up the glass, and pulled her whole body up on the window. I was right behind her holding onto her body to make sure she didn’t fall down. The whole action of climbing up was all hers.) We were joking a bit on FB messenger about the babies and I said with an active child like Bunny, I’d need a lot of prayers.
Annie said that she’d definitely pray for us. And then she said, she would ask prayers from us.
This is what she told me. She said that she is going to have a partial hysterectomy end of August or beginning of September. Remember she had tremendous pain in her pelvic area after the birth of the twins. The pains subsided a bit after a surgery and physical therapy. However, she continued to have pains especially during PMS and her cycle which is only 1 to 2 days with intense bleeding. Her doctor believes that she may have endometriosis (!?!?) and something else that she couldn’t recall. She said when he touched that area she almost fell off the table. The doctor suggested a hysterectomy a long time ago, but Annie refused at that time thinking that it would get better with time. It’s only getting worse. She told her husband that she’d wait if we (meaning me and Bob) wanted a sibling. She said she feels scared and nervous, and is mourning not being able to carry again. However, given her pain, she feels that it is the right choice for her. Hopefully not having a cycle would mean that her pain will be gone forever.
I was shocked by this news. I didn’t know that her pain would require such drastic measure. I know how much she wants to help others by carrying for them. It pains me to learn that she can no longer do that. My heart has been heavy ever since I learned of this news. After all, she grew our babies for us and her uterus was the safe home for the twins for 9 months. It made it possible for us to become parents. In some strange way, I am also mourning its loss. I know it is not my uterus that is going to be removed, but I feel that some part of me is also going to disappear. It is difficult to describe this feeling I have knowing that our gestational carrier who carried our babies for us would lose the organ that held our babies. Regardless of how I feel, I love her and want the best for her. I hope and pray that this surgery will be worth it for her in the end.
Bunny and Okra are 10 months old. They hear Cantonese majority of the day with me and my mom being their primary caregivers. I read and sing to them in English but tag on descriptions of the pictures in Cantonese. Cantonese nursery rhymes are also occasionally part of the repertoire. Recently they have shown signs of understanding our words. The first word that Bunny clearly showed understanding of was “giraffe” in Cantonese, which is a term consisting of three characters. One day I asked her in Cantonese “Where is the giraffe?” She turned around and looked at the location of the correct animal. I thought it was a fluke and asked again. Her correct rate came out to be about 75%. She DOES know. From then on it has been an exciting new world of discovering the babies’ new receptive language skills. Bunny understands when I asked where Baba (daddy in Cantonese) is or where the car is. She looks out the window for both (since the babies often stand by the window with their faces pressing on the glass watching Bob’s car pull in the driveway). She also recognizes the word “PoPo” for grandma. At first when I asked Okra the same things he had no reaction. About a week later he suddenly turned his head to look at the elephant and the giraffe on the wall when the question was asked. Looks like he’s catching up with his sister.
Both babies have been babbling a lot. The babbles are all the generic dada, mama, baba, wawa, and a bunch of vowels all mixed together. I do think that Bunny has her “words”, or strings of sounds to which she has assigned meanings. Whenever she is hungry, she says “Mehhhhh” in desperation. She says the same consonant and vowel combination when she sees us eat and wants some of our food. The other day she looked at Bob’s water cup and said “Waaaaa”. Both kids actually call out “Mamama” or just “Maaaaaaa” in desperation especially in the middle of the night when they wake up and only want me. I don’t know if I’d count those as a real “mama” as I don’t know if they were just yelling in desperation or truly did know the sounds meant me, their mom.
Until one day. I was swiffering while speaking on the phone. Bunny was standing in her baby jail holding onto the bars and staring at my actions intently. I continued talking while cleaning the floor. Suddenly, she looked me in my eyes, said “Mama”, and then gave me the biggest beaming smile ever. She called me “Mama”! Intentionally! For the first time! I was in shock and immediately told the person on the other line, my close friend and former coworker who is also a speech language pathologist, how amazing it was that Bunny all of a sudden called me while not being desperate for something.
This exciting new development makes my heart sing. The babies clearly know who their mother is and are attached to me. But to hear my own child call me “mama” for the first time for real is out of this world amazing. It doesn’t erase all the pains from the long infertility struggles but it does help me to focus on my blessings especially during those recent crazy, tiring, sleepless, teething nights when both babies cry for their mama.
I can’t wait for them to talk!
My birthday this year was about two weeks ago. It officially marked the first birthday in my life that was spent with my babies. The last few years my birthday wish was all for us to have a take home baby. Every single time a birthday candle was placed in front of me, my wish was the same. It is so amazing to me that this wish has come true. Bob was in the middle of the last two weeks of his bonding leave. When he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, the first thing that came to my mind was to show the babies my favorite animal: giraffe. After the babies’ first nap, we drove 10 minutes to the zoo. We bought membership since I foresee myself taking the very mobile babies to the zoo often so we have some place fun to go. We fed the babies right in front of the safari animals. Looking at the giraffes up close while feeding the babies was amazing:
We strolled around looking at monkeys, hippos, rhinos, penguins, tigers, lions, etc. until the babies fell asleep in the stroller. We walked all over so that they could nap well. Unfortunately, at the end of the trip, I discovered that the necklace given by my in-laws this year as my wedding present fell off from my neck. I backtracked our steps for 30 minutes but couldn’t locate the necklace. I left my contact info with the office but still haven’t heard back. I am so tremendously sad about losing that one thing that my in-laws gave me. This necklace had a S-hook clasp. It kind of fell off one time prior but fortunately I caught it. So the clasp itself wasn’t too secure. But still, I was the one who lost it and I feel so bad.
After the babies went to bed, we headed out for a late dinner. I am so appreciative of my mom for being there to watch the kids. A nice simple Japanese dinner was enough to make my heart sing:
This was the simple joy of having a quiet dinner with my husband on my birthday knowing that our babies were sleeping safely and soundly at home. It was a truly satisfying birthday.