MicroblogMondays: Grandma’s Love

About a year ago, I wrote this post about my mom showing me sweaters that she knitted for other people’s babies.  I described the sense of loss that I had, and how I just endured her showcasing her work of art for other people.   I ended that post with this:

“I don’t now how and when my baby will come, but I believe that when he/she comes, my mother will go crazy with her baby clothes sewing and knitting.  I am very sure of that.  For now, I’ll hold onto that vision of me and my mom choosing yarn and fabric for my baby until it becomes a reality.”

Here we are one year later.  Instead of one baby, now this second-time grandmother-to-be has the task of knitting for her grandson and granddaughter.  What a joy to see her show me the yarn that she has picked out, the patterns that she is considering, and the finished products that are ready to be worn by her grand-babies when the time comes.

I cannot begin to describe the feeling of seeing my mom make these beautiful sweaters for our precious babies.  Finally.

Knowing my mom, I am sure there are many more to come. 😆


MicroblogMondays: 16 Weeks Ultrasound and Headaches

Just a warning that this is definitely NOT a micro post (and it’s actually super long)…

Annie does not experience any pregnancy symptoms except for these headaches.  They started about a month ago and sometimes get really bad.  Tylenol does not work for her so once she was in the 2nd trimester, our OB allowed her to use Ibu.profen when the headaches get bad.  Annie doesn’t want to take that all the time so she just endures the headaches.  She looked into the side effects of Love.nox and Syn.throid.  Both of them said headaches.  She was scheduled to stop Love.nox by 14 weeks anyways but I told her to continue until the meds runs out.  Once I learned about the headaches and the side effects, I told her to stop the injections.  But since Syn.throid is helpful with controlling the thyroid thus preventing preterm labor, she would need to be on.  Her dosage is so small that our OB doubts that the headaches have anything to do with that.  Annie did not have headaches during her first three pregnancies, but she does get headaches during her monthly cycle.  So I would imagine the increased blood flow during the second trimester in her body and the pregnancy hormones carrying twins both trigger these headaches.  She said they are constantly on the background and a few times they got really bad.  She uses essential oils.  Last week she had a massage and a chiropractic adjustment of her neck two times.  She does feel better after the adjustments.  This week she’ll have more adjustments and an acupuncture session.  Many asked if she is hydrated and she guarantees me that she is.

Here comes the part that scared me.  Because she was originally prescribed Syn.throid by Dr. E, my reproductive endocrinologist, we kept Dr. E in the loop regarding the headaches to see if Annie could stop the thyroid meds.  Dr. E is an alarmist by nature.  After learning that Annie has had these headaches for a long time, she really wanted Annie to be seen by a neurologist because to her, untreated headaches could be dangerous and headaches could be due to other neurological conditions and not just pregnancy hormones.  Annie wasn’t worried and still isn’t worried about these headaches being neurological based.  But Dr. E wrote me and asked me to convince Annie to go see a neurologist.  That was two days before we flew in for the scan.  I was sitting there at work with  my mind going really far away, having irrational fears about pre-term labor, Annie’s life being in danger, and the babies’ health on the line.  Simply because my doctor was suggesting my gestational carrier to see a neurologist.  Annie did try to call the neurologist office in town and was told that she would never be seen for just headaches unless she gets a referral.

Dr. E also forwarded a meta-analysis study about the effect of vaginal progesterone suppositories to prevent pre-term labor in women with a history of one.  She felt that it would be beneficial to Annie since she is carrying twins and might have the risk of per-term labor.  I said I would run it by our OB.

I was not super worried per se, but I really didn’t/still don’t like this feeling of doom and gloom.  Annie again is not worried because she has no other symptoms.  Her blood pressure is good.  She does not have any localized weakness or pain on any other part of her body.  She only has these freaking headaches that are super annoying.  I am just so thankful that she is my gestational carrier because her calmness is contagious.  She has learned to give it all up to God and I really have to learn to do that as well.  She is not ignoring these headaches.  She actively tries to find a solution to resolve them.  But she is just not worried that any of this was caused by problems in her brain.  She will go see a neurologist if he/she would see her, but she isn’t stressed about it.  I figured we’d see the OB anyways on Friday, so waiting a day or two to talk to him wasn’t going to make the situation worse.  So I prayed repeatedly for my peace and trust in the Lord and just waited.  But there is always something that can cause worries, isn’t there?

It was such a blessing for Bob and me to attend the ultrasound on Friday with Annie when we reached 16 weeks 2 days.  I was a bit nervous before going in because you just don’t know what you’d see on an ultrasound.  I had confident that both babies were still there but a part of me was anxious.  I didn’t really have much time to think about things because once Annie arrived, the ultrasound technician was ready for us.  It was so wonderful to see Annie and her/our bump in person.  Hugging her felt so interesting because inside her bump was our babies.  Annie hopped on the table and off we went with the abdominal ultrasound.  Annie said that she did feel some movements the other day and was quite sure that it was the babies.  This time I didn’t feel sad but felt that it was such an amazing thing for her to feel the babies.

I reminded the tech that Dr. OB said that he would do all the preliminary anatomy stuff during this scan because Bob was able to be present for this one.  The tech was super friendly and said she’d get whatever she could get.  Immediately we saw Baby A waving his/her arm on the screen.  It was quite exciting to see that he/she was so much bigger at this point.    The tech first measured Annie’s cervix, which she said was adequate.  Baby A was moving around.  The tech changed into different views and measured a bunch of different things.  She looked at the heart, which was beating at 151 beats per minute.  We could see the four chambers, the baby’s kidneys, head, brain, arms, legs, stomach, diaphragm, etc. etc. etc.  Everything seemed to be going well.

When it came time to see the sex of the baby, I only wanted to know if we really had a boy and a girl inside, but I don’t want to find out which baby is which.  Bob really wanted to find out.  So when the tech looked, I hid in the bathroom adjacent to the ultrasound room.  Bob was going to stick himself right in front of the screen and find out.  I was adamant about him not finding out because it would mean one day he’d leak out the information and I wouldn’t have my surprise anymore.  He was really torn because he really wanted to know. Eventually he agreed not to and hid in the bathroom with me.  He was half mad because I was denying him the right to know, but he agreed with me later on that he would not be able to keep a secret from me.

Apparently the tech took a very good look and confirmed to herself what she saw.  Baby A was measuring 16 weeks 6 days and his/her leg was very long, measuring at 17 weeks 3 days.

The tech then switched over to Baby B, who also had a great heart rate of 156.  We could clearly see that he/she had a tall nose.  The profile was just very cute (probably only in my eyes as his/her mother).  This baby was measuring 16 weeks 4 days and the tech also confirmed his/her sex.  So we officially know that we are going to have one boy and one girl.  🙂

Both babies weigh about 6oz each and over 4 inches each.

The tech changed the view to 3D for Baby B.  He/she was holding his/her fists up on the cheeks.   We switched again and saw that the babies’ head were together.  Apparently one baby was head down and the other was breech.  So their heads were together but one was up and one was down.  You can click on the page “Ultrasound Photos” on the left to see the babies, the two heads of the babies looking like an infinity sign, and the 3D image of Baby B.

The technician measured the blood flow of the umbilical cords and the placentas and it seemed to be fine for both babies.

We finally got to meet Dr. OB.  I had only talked to him on the phone several times so it was nice to finally meet him in person.  He was a middle-aged man who sounded very passionate about his job. He talked a mile a minute and every single time we asked a question, he gave an example of one of his patients and what happened to her.  So this is basically what we discussed:

  • Dr. OB asked if Annie had any localized pains, slurred speech, or other things.  He felt her head, her forehead, and areas around her nose to check for sinus problems.  After that, he said that it is highly unlikely that her headaches are due to a brain tumor or a blood clot.  The neurologist received Dr. E’s referral and said that he’d need Dr. OB’s notes in order to see if a visit with him is warranted.  But Dr. OB said that the headaches are most likely due to the fluctuation in hormones and he has seen it many many times.  He will write the notes and forward to the neurologist clinic and see what the neurologist would say.
  • The babies are doing well.  They are measuring on time and there is nothing to worry about.  Baby B does have a little white dot on his/her heart shown on the scan, which is called “fetal echogenic intracardiac focus”.  The doctor said that it occurs in 5% of pregnancy and by itself it’s not harmful to the baby at all.  But when it happens with a load of other problems such as short femur, high risk for Down syndrome, or other things, then it may raise some concerns.  As for us, Dr. OB said that it will resolve itself and there is nothing to worry about.  I guess it is his job to inform us of this thing.
  • One baby is currently breech (feet down) and the other one head down.  Baby A is in the front of the uterus with an anterior placenta.  Baby B is in the back with a posterior placenta.  The placentas are in the right place and not covering the cervix in any way whatsoever.  This is a relief.
  • We’ll have the 20-week ultrasound and by then we’ll see more anatomical structures that will be bigger then.
  • Annie will be seen every four weeks until 32 weeks.  At 32 weeks, she’ll come in twice a week for monitoring and non-stress test.
  • She will do her blood sugar test for gestational diabetes in the next week or two.  It’s done early because she’s carrying twins.
  • Annie’s urine is good without protein.  Her blood pressure was 110/70 which was excellent.
  • We will aim at delivery at 38 weeks by Ceasarean section.  I forgot to ask when we determine if we would do a C-section early.
  • I asked how we would be able to tell if there’s preeclampsia. Dr. OB said that she’ll be monitored closely after 32 weeks so she’ll be in good hands.
  • Annie only gained three pounds in the last 4 weeks.  I forgot to ask if this is a good gain or if she needs to gain more weight.  I will write the doctor and ask.
  • Dr. OB said that the vaginal progesterone suppositories are not warranted in Annie’s case because studies show that for those who are at risk for preterm labor would still have a higher chance of having pre-term labor even with extra progesterone.  In our case, Annie never had that problem.  It is not warranted at this point.  Plus Annie joked that she pushed for over 50 hours for both of her last two births and her cervix was shut closed.  Dr. OB was joking that in this case since Annie had a steel of a cervix, we most likely won’t have to worry about this problem.
  • Finally, Dr. OB said that he’d order a vaginal ultrasound next time so we can measure the cervix more accurately.

I think that’s about all the issues that we discussed on that day.  I have to tell you that I was tremendously relieved and happy to see the babies alive and well on the screen.  It is not a given that we have a good scan and I don’t take things for granted.  I didn’t know this until that evening but Annie was very nervous going in this scan.  She is usually the calm and confident one, but something shook her a little.  In her surrogacy group there are these two surrogates who got pregnant with twins at around the same time with her.  One discovered that she lost both babies at 16 weeks and the other one lost one of the two babies at 15 weeks.  Because of this, Annie said she only cared about the heartbeats during our ultrasound.  She just wanted to know that they are both still alive.  It is tremendously sad to learn about these other losses.  This knowledge makes me even more grateful for what we have.

The rest of the visit was great.  We attended a Seder Meal with Annie and Kenneth’s friends.  People there knew who we were and came to tell us that they had been praying for us.  We went to the only breakfast place in town the next morning and the server there was Annie’s close friend so she told us that she had been praying for us.  You’ve gotta love small towns.  They are so warm and friendly and they are so happy for us.  We hung out with Annie and her kids for a little before we left.  I passed on many maternity clothes from my friend to her.  I also got to take her bump photo with her (which you could see on the left side here that says “Gestational Carrier’s Bump Photos”).  It was such a precious time to share with her.

Can’t believe we are almost 17 weeks.  Praise the Lord for the growing and healthy babies.  I pray that Annie’s headaches will go away forever.  Hopefully we will see our babies in 21+ weeks!

MicroblogMondays: Babies And Pregnancy Announcements


It has been challenging to deal with babies and pregnant women in the last couple of months.

Ever since the news of possibly needing a gestational carrier, my previous calmness and acceptance of babies and pregnant women in my life have turned into occasional intolerance.  It has become increasingly difficult for me to deal with pregnancy news or cute baby photos on Fac.ebook.  I guess these things come in waves.  Prior to our first donor egg cycle, we were so hopeful for a positive outcome that the sight of anything pregnancy- or baby-related did not bother me much.  In fact, I saw pregnancy news from donor egg cycles as an encouragement that the same happy ending would most likely happen to us as well.  Suddenly, my world was turned upside down.  Knowing that surrogacy may be the only way for us to have a baby that shares his/her genes with my husband, even pregnancy news of ladies in my Fac.ebook donor egg secret group becomes intolerable.  In the last two weeks, about 4 or 5 of these ladies got their positive beta or two pink lines on their pee sticks.  I haven’t been able to bear the sight of that and often have to hide these posts.  This is not a sustainable way to live, but I just can’t force myself to be okay when I am really not okay.

But, I am a human being.  Human being likes to torture themselves. I am no different.  Even when I hide these posts, I also seek them out sometimes.  There are these “friends” on Fac.ebook that I don’t personally talk to much anymore.  They all got married in the past year or two.  I often unfollow them so I won’t see their posts on my newsfeed should they become pregnant and post their announcements.  I guess, it’s just a sort of preemptive self-preservation.  Last week, I decided to torture myself.  I looked at the Fac.ebook page of three of them.  Guess what?  Lucky me.  All three had made a pregnancy announcement in the last month.  The good news is, I didn’t get ambushed by their pregnancy announcements unprepared because of the unfollowing.  However, I didn’t expect all three of them to be expecting.  I don’t wish any of this infertility nonsense to happen to any of them, but at the same time, I selfishly didn’t want them to be trying so quickly after their wedding.

And then, somehow, I also looked up my first boyfriend on Fac.ebook.  I don’t know how he came to my mind.  I just was thinking about him and his wife, who happened to be one of my best friends in my 20s.  She and I hung out almost every single weekend for quite a few years.  Then one day, she and her long-time boyfriend broke up.  My ex-boyfriend and she got together.  Although he and I were no longer together, it was still tough to see my best friend and my ex-boyfriend be an item.  It was extremely awkward for any of us to all hang out together.  Since they got married, we had grown apart.  Life changed and we are no longer close friends.  All I knew was that they didn’t have any kids.  I never asked her about their plans and I just assumed they didn’t want to have kids after being married for over ten years.  It has been quite a few years since I last bumped into them at a local grocery store.  I searched for my ex-boyfriend who is not even my Fac.ebook friend.  And there he was in his profile photo with a little girl.  Another photo showed a group of people and my former best friend who was grinning from ear to ear holding her baby.  Judging from the dates of the photos, it seems like she had given birth early last year.  So she was probably 41 or 42 when she gave birth.  Twelve years after their wedding.  I am sure that there is a story of an infertility journey about which I’d never find out the details.  I am happy that they finally have a child if they did struggle.  However, the sense of being alone in this world of infertility sometimes is too much to bear.

Although seeing pregnant ladies and babies on Fac.ebook has been difficult for me, I just can’t be mad at babies, especially those very cute ones that I get to hold and play with in real life.  I am talking about babies who show up at my work.  My supervisor returned to work after her 4.5 month maternity leave.  Her husband is currently on paternity leave, so the baby comes to our office to visit at least three to four times a week.  I was initially annoyed by the sounds and sights of the baby.  I deliberately stayed in my office without reacting or responding to the oohing and ahhing out in the hall.  But you just can’t be mad at a super chubby and smiley baby.  I just happened to be at the front desk one day when my supervisor’s husband was pushing the baby stroller in.  Since the front door was already looked, I went and unlocked it for him.  I peeked inside the stroller.  All I could see was a baby beaming with a smile.  When I talked to him, he opened his mouth and started cooing back.  It was super cute.  I remember going home telling Bob about the baby and how he responded to my voice with such happy face.  Last week, another baby came with her mom to work.  When I walked by her mom’s office, the baby was crying.  So I couldn’t help myself but volunteer to hold the baby so her mom could fix her milk for her.  And I fed the baby so her mom could go do something very important.  You know, you just can’t be mad at the babies. She drank her milk and fell asleep in my arm.  When my coworker came back, I even chatted with her about her difficulty breastfeeding the baby and other struggles she had as a new mother.  After I handed the baby back to her, I went to the lunch room and my supervisor’s baby was there visiting.  Holding him while waiting for my lunch to heat up was a highlight of my day.

I no longer dread the unannounced visits of these babies or the sight or sound of them.  I think I am faring better than I expected myself to be. I don’t avoid them like a plague.  There is a certain freedom in that I no longer feel negative about being surrounded by these babies.  I just hope that one day I will have the same freedom seeing pregnancy and birth announcements that show up on my Fac.ebook newsfeed.  I was once okay with them.  I am hopeful that given time, I will get back in that head space once again.