Bob was off for the whole week last week. We were supposed to enjoy a trip to Sacramento for three nights with the babies to visit the train museum there prior to Thanksgiving. The especially bad air quality in Sacramento prompted us to cancel the trip. Instead of going, we mostly stayed home so that the babies wouldn’t have to breathe in the unhealthy air unnecessarily as they can’t wear a mask to protect themselves. Since we had two adults (Bob and my mom) at home, I didn’t have to look for extra childcare so I decided to finish the one final thing that would complete the legal process for me as a parent for the twins: adding my name to their social security accounts. Braving the smoky air outside with my mask on, I arrived 15 minutes before the local Social Security office open. The line wasn’t bad. I’d say there were about 15 people in front of me. I finally made it in and got my number at the machine. With a book in my hand, I expected to sit there for quite some time. My number got called after about 20 minutes to go to a window for check in. That means that they’d ask what your business was for on that day at the office and would call you back later to process that particular business. I was fortunate enough to get called to the window of the lady who helped us last time with the babies’ social security number applications. I briefly explained what I was there for and she remembered me. So I was asked to sit and wait. I calmly went back to the seats and opened my book. To my surprise, I got called by my name within the next 15 minutes. It had appeared that this lady decided to help me finish my business instead of letting me wait for my turn like every other person in the room. How nice of her! I had prepared in my folder the babies’ original birth certificates (without my name), babies’ updated birth certificates (with my name), petition for termination of our gestational carrier’s parental rights, and the certified copies of the step parent adoptions. The lady was typing and mumbling to herself stuff. I patiently waited. All of a sudden, she asked me if I had brought any identification to verify the babies’ identity in addition to the birth certificates, such as hospital records, immunization records, or passports. I didn’t. I actually thought about bringing the passports but decided against it. I really thought that the updated birth certificates would suffice. At that moment, I really thought that I had to return yet again to finish this process. Then I told her that I had the certificates of the adoptions. She looked in her system to check if that would do. Luckily, it was on the list of acceptable documents. Phew. And fortunately I read the documents thoroughly the night before so I knew what was what. I showed her where it said I was granted the step parent adoption and where it showed the case number that matched the paperwork. After almost 40 minutes of this, I was able to step out of the office knowing that I am legally the babies’ mother in every single sense. I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to be legal in every way. I knew that no one could take that away from me before, but to know that I am officially on their social security record brings it to another level. It is final. And it feels good.
Almost a year ago, I wrote about being sad that my maid of honor seemed to have pulled herself away from my life ever since the twins were born. I felt that the distance was due to her having a difficult time dealing with being single and childless when my family had finally started and completed. Although I was sad, I decided to give her space. When she moved from her shared apartment into her own apartment, I went to support her on moving day. We hung out one time in March and another time end of June. Both times we had a good time. But as one of my best friends who used to celebrate my birthday on a yearly basis prior to the twins’ arrival, she did not even contact me on my birthday this year. It wasn’t so much that I was missing out on a good meal with her, but I felt a even bigger sense of loss that things did change between us. I bumped into her at church several times and each time was a little bit more than awkward somehow. I have sent her texts periodically to ask her how she is doing and to tell her that I am thinking about her. Finally back in early October when I saw her at church, I suggested hanging out for dinner one day in the coming few weeks. She agreed to it and texted a few suggestion for restaurants. I picked one and we met up one night a couple of weeks ago at a decent/early enough time because Bob was putting the twins to bed. I am so glad that I don’t take things personally and continue to reach out to her. As we sat down for dinner, it just felt like the old times. It reminded me why we were best friends in the first place. We shared a common interest for good food. Our conversation flowed with genuineness. My friend just has had a very difficult year and has been very lost in terms of her career, relationship status, ministry direction, and even her place of residence. She has been treated unfairly at her work that has left no extra time for her to even have room to breathe. She hasn’t had time to exercise or cook regularly. She hasn’t gone on a date for quite some time, and as she is approaching 40 next year, she has felt extra lost in terms of going into a relationship and starting a family. She has looked into moving to another city or even state but nothing seems like a obvious choice for her to take a plunge. She has even lost her desires to communicate with God. As I sat there listening to my friend, I could totally see why there has been a distance. In this difficult season, she just doesn’t have room spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally to care for other people. I know that she’ll rise above it eventually and things will look up in the future for her. She has always been strong. Although circumstances have changed between us, I feel that the core friendship hasn’t. We even made plans to go to New Orleans for a girls trip in October 2019. I am now confident that our friendship will remain strong in the years to come. The key is not to take things personally and be compassionate for the other person’s circumstances. I will continue to reach out to her and to care for her. I hope that she’ll have some clear directions in her life soon.
Because of the wildfires, the air quality has been horrible. The air inside the house made me feel sick. We decided to take the kids to the mall on the weekend so at least I could breathe better in a bigger indoor space. While sitting in in their double stroller in the food court having lunch, the babies attracted attention from a couple of groups of older ladies. This one particular group of older Chinese ladies stopped right next to us and were oohing and aahing over the kids. They said the usual things that we would usually hear from strangers when they find out that we have boy girl twins, especially Chinese old ladies. Things like:
- One boy one girl? You are so blessed!
- It’s so perfect. You don’t have to try for another one. You are done.
- You have such a good life to have such gorgeous twins.
They gave me a thumb up as if I had a choice of what kind of kids I would get. I usually just smile and nod. My husband like usual was soaking it all in. He’s super proud of his twins and often strikes up a conversation with Chinese old ladies. Chinese old ladies continued talking and asking questions, and commenting on the kids’ looks. One of them pointed at Bunny and said, “This is daddy’s girl. She looks exactly like you” to Bob. She went onto examine my looks and Bob’s looks and said, “The kids have daddy’s eyes and mommy’s nose.” I was laughing inside of me because her statement could not be farther from the reality. The kids definitely do not have my nose. But you know, people want to believe in what they see. So I still continued to nod and smile. Then she said, “Daddy is good looking, mommy is good looking, and the babies are good looking!” That made me laugh. But the next thing she did made me cringe. She thought that Okra was a girl because of his curly hair. She told me that they were two pretty girls. When she learned that he was actually a boy, she put her hand on his head and rubbed his hair back and forth a few times. I am extremely uncomfortable with strangers touching my babies, and I thought that I’d be a brave mom to speak up about it. But because these were little old Chinese ladies, I kept my opinion to myself hoping that they’d just walk away within the next few seconds. Afterwards, I beat myself up for not saying anything, but you know, it felt much harder for me to do so in Chinese than in English. You’d think that it’d be easy to speak up but no, it wasn’t. I will need to practice more so I’d feel more comfortable speaking up next time.
We are blessed that we haven’t had to spend much money on clothes for the kids as we get good quality hand-me-downs from other generous parents. For Halloween costumes that only get worn once, I wasn’t about to dump a bunch of cash on them. Ideally grandmother (my mother) would be sewing the babies’ costumes just like what she did for my niece and nephew for years and years when they were growing up. No such luck for us as grandmother is overly tired from taking care of the twins day to day. There is no extra energy for her to be creative and make something. She doesn’t even have enough energy to knit or crochet. I really don’t blame her so I turned to some other sources. The parents of multiples group that I am in has a halloween closet. It is basically four big tubs that are housed in a parent’s basement. Unfortunately I didn’t find costumes of the right size for my kids or those that I would consider cute enough to put on them. Before I went onto purchase some online, I turned to the same group to ask if anyone had matching costumes that they could pass on. The group once again came through. Somebody got these green and pink dinosaur costumes that were passed down from someone else, but she decided that she wanted to put her twins in something else. I am so glad that these were available as they were practically brand new looking and fit my babies perfectly. They were warm and the hoods were difficult for my babies to take them off (they hate hats). Bob took a day off on Halloween so that we could go join the halloween festivities at the mall as a family. One sad thing is that I can’t get a decent photo of the two of them sitting together looking cute. They still look very cute but are always on the go. I love these costumes and find them hilarious with a tail that is sticking up. What do you think?
I have had hot flashes for quite a few months now. It all started with just getting warm a couple of times a day. Then it extended to waking up in the middle of the night with night sweats a couple of times a night. My cycles have also been quite sporadic in the past year. I don’t even remember the last time I had my period (maybe three to four months ago?). Finally this month my symptoms have reached a point where I feel like I should get some help. When I handle my wiggly kids I would all of a sudden get very sweaty all over my body while everyone else feels cold. This happens quite a few times a day. And in the middle of the night, I wake up about 4 to 5 times being totally wet from night sweats. My kids aren’t the ones who keep me up in the middle of the night. I am. I am still not bleeding (which is fine by me because it is so freeing and makes life so much easier). I consulted with Dr. E, my former RE, who confirmed with me that it is perimenopause. She suggested taking a low dose oral contraceptive to control the symptoms. I finally messaged my primary care physician this week about my symptoms and whether I should talk to a gynecologist. His first reaction was that I was too young to be in perimenopause, and wondered if these symptoms were due to something else. He discussed about hormonal replacement therapy. I wrote him back telling him that with my history of diminished ovarian reserve, I am quite sure that this is perimenopause. He suggested a anti-seizure medication that is prescribed to control hot flashes. I looked up the meds and saw that some of the side effects are dizziness and headaches. Those are things that I already suffer from so I feel that I should stay away from this meds. Dr. E thinks that a combi-patch or the pills would be more effective than the anti-seizure medication. I got my PCP to call in an oral contraceptive for me that will arrive in the mail next week. Dr. E said it’ll take two weeks to take effect. I can’t wait to not feel too warm or wake up drenching in my own sweat repeatedly again. I guess for someone who has DOR, 44 is not too young to go through perimenopause. It is surprising to me because my mom didn’t have these symptoms until her early 50s. People say look at your own mom to know how you will be. I don’t know why I am not like her in this regard or in terms of my fertility health. Oh well.
I am more into documentaries these days than feature films. So when my friend urged me to watch “Private Life” on Netf.lix, I was a little hesitant. One day last week I finally started watching it, but within the first six minutes I already complained to Bob multiple times about medical inaccuracies. My friend kept on telling me to ignore these and focus on the movie itself, I obliged and eventually finished the movie. I actually liked it. If you are going to watch the movie and don’t want a spoiler, come back to this post after you are done. This can wait.
What I like the most about the movie is its realistic portrayal of the emotions of this 40-something couple who started trying to have a baby later in life. Of course there were exaggerations for the sake of storytelling such as the accelerated timelines of TESE, donor eggs, etc. I ignored all of that, and found myself nodding constantly when the characters expressed their feelings as well as when seeing the disapproval and insensitivity of those around them. At a few points, I felt a little weepy as I saw parallels between my life (prior to my twins) and this couple’s lives. The couple was pursuing adoption simultaneously with fertility treatments. They were describing to an adoption social worker about a failed adoption which involved a birth mother who was matched with them but disappeared. It wasn’t clear if she was actually pregnant or was just pretending to be, but something that the social worker said stuck with me: “The emotional scams are really, really tough.” I found myself nodding nonstop. It reminded me of our experiences of our second donor disappearing after meeting with us, and about our current donor who was tested positive for cocaine during our cycle. It was already such an emotional roller coaster for us, and to have others kick us when we were down was almost unbearable. Watching this part made me relive that time of our journey. After the couple failed their first IVF, their RE pragmatically suggested egg donation as an option for financial reasons. The couple’s fight outside the clinic brought out a very common concern of female partner of losing their genetic material vs. the male partner’s ability to conserve his genetic link to their child. I wish the movie did go more in depth about the struggles and emotional turmoil a woman may experience before she says yes to pursuing egg donation, as the wife almost immediately dove into the world of donor profiles online after her initial struggles. But you know, some people get over that part quickly and some don’t, so it could still happen in real life. Regardless, I was almost teary-eyed when the wife scrolled through the donor profiles on her computer screen and read the details aloud to her husbands. That was us when we were trying to decide on a donor. We looked at countless profiles and tried to pinpoint what traits were important to us for passing on to our child. I remember how difficult it was to decide how to choose. I can’t say I totally understood the couple’s choice of donor, as I don’t know if I’d choose a family member myself if I had the choice, but nevertheless I was really rooting for them to finally have a baby. No such luck with that transfer as the fertilization rate was low and the niece was trying to be helpful and increased the drug dosage on her own. I could just see the numbness of the husband and the wife going through the motion of everyday life. That night, the couple had a conversation in bed. The husband expressed that he was actually relieved that it was over, that he didn’t have it in him to do this anymore, and that he didn’t even know if he wanted a kid anymore. He knew that he should console his wife, but he just didn’t have the energy to do that himself. I feel that it was heartfelt and realistically depicted how one would feel after trying so many things for so long without success. It also shows that IVF or DEIVF is not foolproof. Often times both of these fail and leave people with an empty bank account and no baby. As sad as I was for them, there was a glimmer of hope at the end of the movie when the couple got a phone call regarding an adoption and sat in a diner to meet with an expectant birth mother. It showed how the husband who originally sat across from the wife crossed to the other side to sit next to her and hold her hand. They were in this position and waiting expectantly facing the door of the restaurant. That was the end, and I love it that we don’t get to know what happened next. We don’t know if the expectant birth mom was going to show up, but it was so encouraging to see that 1) there is a chance that they will become parents and 2) regardless of the outcome, this pair who has gone on this incredibly difficult path together will be okay, as they are in this together. That was me and Bob, that regardless of the outcome, we were in it together. That has always been such a comforting thing for me, and I hope that those who watch this movie and are walking the same path of infertility also find comfort in that.
It’s been interesting to support my cousin alongside her on her fertility journey. Although she has been trying for more than a couple of years, she hardly ever reads any blogs or joins any online groups. In those 5.5 year of trying to become parents, I was on many online forums, joined many FB groups, and was a regular reader of many many blogs. Because of that, I feel that I have a lot more knowledge regarding things like the IVF process. Many of the questions that she has asked me are ones to which she’d know the answers if she had been following infertility blogs. I am happy to answer them. It is just interesting to see the differences in our approaches dealing with our fertility issues. And now that she is pregnant, it feels even more obvious that she doesn’t know much. Every time she gets her beta results, she’d ask me if they numbers are good. I have to reassure her that the numbers have been beyond good. Here is the lowdown:
Second beta on 10dp5dt: 577
Third beta on 16dp5dt: 5582
Those are crazy numbers, aren’t they? When I saw that her second beta was over 500, I couldn’t help but wonder if the embryo had split. This value was even higher than Annie’s second beta of 464 on 10dp5dt, and Annie was carrying twins for us. Dr. E, my RE, said that there is a 1% chance that the embryo would split, so it could still be one very strong embryo. One day my cousin was scaring me though. She messaged me to ask if she should do an injection of progesterone in oil that evening. It was already 11pm her time. She was supposed to insert one progesterone suppository in the morning and two in the evening. She only had one left in the evening. A shipment was supposed to arrive that day but didn’t get delivered on time, so she ran out of the suppositories. She still had PIO at home from previous cycles so she asked if she should inject some. I asked Dr. E who answered me right away (you got to love her for her fast response). Dr. E said that missing one dose of progesterone could cost her pregnancy, and urged her to inject the PIO right away. My cousin did. Then she told me that she wasn’t too worried about not receiving the shipment since she still had PIO at home. It was just that the suppositories were not covered by insurance and would cost $1100, so she asked around and someone was willing to order some for her and ship them to her. Of course the shipment was messed up. And now knowing that skipping a dose could cost her pregnancy, saving that $1100 doesn’t sound like it’s worth it at all. I just told her to always have progesterone around until her placenta takes over.
It does look like her pregnancy is going well. I can’t wait to see how many babies they see on her first ultrasound!