I used to be a group leader for an evening class for an international bible study program. Now I attend a day class with my twins because of their children’s program for kids age 5 and under. A couple of weeks prior to our trip to Asia, in one of the class meetings, I noticed this lady and thought that she looked familiar to a point I felt that I might have spoken to her before. Last week when we returned to bible study after our trip, I dropped the kids off in their classroom and was warmly welcomed by the children’s teachers who called out my name. On my way out to my own classroom, someone else called my name. I looked up and it was the lady that looked familiar to me. She asked me if I remembered her. I told her that I noticed her a little while back and thought she looked very familiar. She reminded me that we sat next to each other on a plane ride to a retreat for this international bible study program a few years back. She remembered that I told her that if I had kids, I would name my son this particular name that now Okra has. She remembers because her son has the same name. All the memory came rushing back. It was 5.5 years ago. We had just had our very first transfer with our first blastocyst we named Clay and a morula we named Eli. I had my first pregnancy that turned out to be a chemical pregnancy. I was so heartbroken to a point that I felt kind of paralyzed, but felt that God was leading me to still attend this retreat. This lady and I sat next to each other and realized we were going to the same retreat. We hit it off and somehow I shared with her about my situation. And that was when I told her what I would name my son and her son happened to have the same name. That was so early on in our journey to parenthood I didn’t know (of course not) the crazy twists and turns in the next few years that would get us to the current time. I didn’t know it back then but it took a lot of time, energy, money, and serious/thoughtful consideration before we decided on using an egg donor and a gestational carrier. Looking back, God seriously watched over us every step of the way. I might have had doubts back then if I really would have a son who I could name [Okra’s name]. Meeting this lady again and remembering the details of our initial struggles reminds me of how faithful God is/has been even when I have little faith at times. Being able to share with this lady that God has indeed given us these precious kids and completed our family is nothing sort of a miracle. She witnessed the beginning of a story and now gets to read the ending. It is like coming a full circle. God is good.
We had our first scare in this pregnancy, thinking that the babies might be coming. I thought we had another nonstress test last Thursday. I didn’t think much of it, and just continued with my day. Annie wrote me a text not too long after the appointment started with the babies’ heart rates. I was a little puzzled about this information because she usually would write me about 1.5 hours after the nonstress test time to tell me the results. So then I realized that it was a scan and not a NST. Annie reported that the babies seemed to be doing well, with biophysical profile of 8 out of 8 for both of them. She then told me that she was in for a blood draw. The doctor ordered bloodwork. I was immediately alarmed because blood work is not the usual part of the routine. Annie said that “all should be good” and that “the doctor just wanted to check some things because he stated he was just paranoid” as she said she hadn’t been feeling well the previous few days. Her urine also showed traces of protein, so our OB was just double checking. My immediate thought was preeclampsia. Annie said that Dr. OB was not worried about preeclampsia because her blood pressure has been really good. He said it could be because she is off Zoloft or it might have something to do with the liver. I asked her how she wasn’t feeling well. She said that she had been feeling out of sorts, nauseous, with tummy sensitive to touch and feeling dizzy at times. She and Dr. OB both thought that it wasn’t anything serious and it might be related to the pregnancy being close to the end. So I asked THE question: if it is truly liver problems, what next? She said, if it is liver problems, then they would go right to delivery. If not, then she just carries on. Annie said that the blood test results should come back in a couple of hours. We didn’t actually hear about the results for another few hours. To be honest, those few hours were quite difficult to wait because it could mean instead of going home and preparing for dinner, we could be packing up and going right away. Bob was the calm one. He thought that at 34 weeks 1 day we were in good shape even if it meant delivery four weeks early, especially that they were doing well at our scan that day. To him, we are ahead of the game already. But I just really really wanted the babies to stay put for a bit longer so they would be as healthy as possible when they are born. And I really didn’t want Annie to have any serious health issues. I would like her to have the best possible experience with this pregnancy. My mind also went crazy with all the things that we had NOT packed and what flight we should take so we could reach the hospital quickly if a C-section was going to be moved up to the next day. And what if we miss the birth? And what about all the newborn clothes that are not washed or purchased yet? All these things were going through my head while I tried my best to carry on my day with the responsibilities that I had. Once again, my very wise friend A. came to the rescue. She told me to try my best to have faith in this process and not to worried because the babies have come this far for twins. The average NICU can handle them now. With her help of talking some sense in me and my husband’s calmness, I could stay focused on my tasks at work for a while. Later on, about 2 hours later than promised, Annie heard that two out of three blood tests were normal. I could breathe a bit more easily. The final blood test result came two hours later, and it was clear as well. So Annie didn’t have what the OB was testing for, and she was just very uncomfortable because of twin pregnancy. I was relieved, but at the same time I knew that we needed to know exactly what to do when THE time comes. Over the weekend we have gotten more newborn clothes from friends. We finally purchased a dresser that comes fully assembled and will be delivered on Wednesday. We also assembled the bassinets on the play yard in our room so that we don’t have to scramble when we come home in the future. All I can do is to praise the Lord for calm people around me and for keeping the babies and Annie safe and healthy. And I feel comforted that they are being closely monitored by Dr. OB. Bob is now paranoid about his Batman shirt and his red underwear. He did NOT wear them on Thursday because they weren’t clean. He jokes this was all because of him not wearing these. He thinks that he really needs to diligently put on these two items twice a week until the twins are born.
Almost 35 weeks.
There is something called one step forward, two steps back and we are very familiar with it.
In the last few months we have been going through a lot of soul searching about me carrying our baby vs. a surrogate carrying our baby vs. doing both. The more I pray about it, the more the surrogacy route sounds like the right path. The thought of potential complications with my own pregnancy is just too much for this moment. When I think about what is more important to me, I’d definitely vote for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I know there is no guarantee. But the likelihood of a surrogate carrying a healthy baby to term is a lot higher than a pregnancy in my womb. My therapist asked me to consider this: if we decide to do a simultaneous transfer with a surrogate transfer and if we both get pregnant, how I am going to handle the surrogate’s pregnancy (namely having the emotional and physical health/energy to tend to her pregnancy and birth) if anything bad happens to my own pregnancy. That is really worth exploring.
While we haven’t ruled out a Lupr.on Depot trial and a transfer to me, we have been actively figuring out the financial aspects and logistics of using a surrogate. So here is what has happened in the last couple of months:
- An online friend of mine offered to carry for us as a gift. We were emailing back and forth for a couple of weeks about the logistics. She has young active children of her own and has two more embryos she’d like to transfer. Since she is not quite done with her family building, the conclusion is that it is best for her to not be a gestational carrier so that her future pregnancy is not compromised. We were obviously bummed out about it, but Bob and I totally understand her situation and are very thankful for her thoughtful and selfless offer.
- In the mean time, I have done a lot of research regarding surrogacy agencies in my state as well as in other states. I have contacted several agencies in California and the complicated fee schedules and the sheer high cost make me very hesitant to even consider interviewing any surrogates with them. I had phone interviews with two surrogacy agencies in another surrogacy-friendly state. I like both agencies. We reviewed profiles from both agencies and liked some of the potential surrogates. One particular agency’s fee schedule is more reasonable and the owner sounds very knowledgeable. Communication has been great. I asked for a reference for a parent who had worked with this agency before. We connected and this parent has very high praises for this agency. Because of the research, I have a good idea of the compensation a surrogate would receive in each state. A first time surrogate gets a particular base pay. An experienced surrogate often gets about $10,000 more. And first time surrogates in California gets about $10,000 more than a first time surrogate in this other surrogacy friendly state.
- Originally Dr. E told us that our donor was going to be ready for a retrieval for us in September. She then notified us that the original intended parents next in line can’t work with this donor due to their own medical reasons. So the donor will be available for us for a July retrieval if we want. We were very happy about it and wanted to start the process so we could make some embryos in July. I’d feel better that way so that when we find a surrogate, we can move forward with a transfer.
- A good friend of mine moved out of state five years ago. I spoke with her about the possibility of needing a gestational carrier. She informed me that a friend of hers in her town has been interested in becoming one. She gave me her friend’s contact information. When a surrogacy arrangement with my online friend didn’t quite work out, I reached out to this friend’s friend. I wrote her about our situation and asked her about her idea of a gestational surrogacy, her idea of the couple for whom she wants to carry, and the compensation. She asked to speak with both of us via video conferencing. The chat happened last week. About 45 minutes into the conversation, I asked about the compensation that she was looking for. We were a bit shocked by the number that she gave us. What she was asking for is equivalent to the compensation for an experienced surrogate in California, and is double of what a first time surrogate will get paid in the surrogacy-friendly state that I mentioned about. She herself had never been a surrogate, is in her late 30s, and her last pregnancy was 7 years ago. I told her very honestly that the amount was beyond our budget. We ended our phone call respectfully. We still appreciated her time but we just don’t have the funds to work with her.
- Bob sent in a sample for the sper.m DNA fragmentation test. We just received the results before the weekend. We didn’t expect anything to be wrong, but the results showed his numbers being borderline abnormal. Dr. E thinks that we could move forward if we wanted to, but if we want to optimize our chances, Bob can be on supplements for two months before we retest and proceed with the donor egg cycle. Needless to say, I felt discouraged that there could be potential problems with the sperm, and my fear is that the embryos we make would not be of good quality. The ultimate fear is that we won’t have any good embryos to transfer. Dr. E said that his DNA fragmentation level could be fixed with this technique called PICSI. You can google it to learn more about it. Nevertheless, it was a bit discouraging as I thought that we could cycle in July.
- One piece of good news is that with the out-of-state surrogacy agency I mentioned about earlier, we really like one of the potential surrogates’ profile. We actually had a phone interview with her yesterday. It was a trying day yesterday as Bob and I continued to sort through our feelings about all these roadblocks. I would say that the phone call was a saving grace and turned our day around. After learning about her reason to be a surrogate and her ideas about a bunch of important topics regarding surrogacy, both Bob and I like her a lot and feel that she is a good match. She is sincere, down to earth, ready emotionally for a surrogacy pregnancy, and has support from her family and friends. She is in a stable relationship and has been considering this for quite a few years. We like her a lot and would love to work with her. If we decide to work with her, we’d have to complete medical screening and other tests. I will write more about it in the future.
I have been putting off writing a blog post about all this because I have been very overwhelmed with the information. Some days I just feel like hiding myself in my blanket so I don’t have to face the world. Meeting with my therapist has helped, but I think what helps the most is prayers. I often start praying for peace and strength from God even before I open my eyes in the morning. Without prayers sustaining me, I think I’d be a much worse shape. I hope that you can all join me in praying for us that things will go smoothly for us from this point on in regards to the sperm, donor, and surrogate, if it is in God’s will. I want to trust and have faith, but some days are harder than others. I hope that after the two steps back, we can finally go forward without a hitch.
Back in October before our first donor egg transfer, I was looking for a piece of maternity clothing items to put in my closet as a token of my belief that I’d pregnant one day. I couldn’t find anything that I liked at a brick and mortar store. It was suggested to me that I could try this particular store online. Things are pricier but look great.
I subscribed to the mailing list and get an email occasionally for deals. It is a little silly to be getting emails for a maternity clothing store when I am not anywhere near pregnant. But as long as I can stand seeing pregnant women on an email, I figure I can keep on getting these updates.
Two days prior to my meeting with my former RE Dr. E who revealed to me that I might need a surrogate, I ordered this maternity dress not knowing that I might never wear it during a pregnancy. It was on sale and I used a $15 off coupon.
I had mixed emotions when I received the dress a few days later. It was meant to be a motivation for me to keep my faith that one day I would be pregnant. With this new development, I didn’t know if I would ever make use of the dress.
I tried it on and it fit me perfectly, even though I don’t have a pregnancy bump. After a lot of consideration, I decided to keep the dress.
I hope it serves as a reminder that, although I sometimes have little faith, God is bigger than any of my doubts and fears. His plans for us are unfathomable. Despite our current roadblocks, we don’t know what the future holds. One day I may put this dress into good use.
Life is good, although I am in the middle of an extra long, longer-than-two-week two week wait.
Ever since Lucy came home, I have been feeling happy, calm, at peace, and ridiculously optimistic. It’s not that I have any psychic ability to know that I am pregnant. It’s just that I have decided to live these two weeks with an expectation of being pregnant and staying pregnant. I am determined to keep this attitude all the way until beta day. I choose to believe in God’s power to make the impossible possible. Plus, there is a good chance that I could be pregnant, so why not stick with this attitude for now until we see the results? I am very thankful that God answers my prayers by keeping me so calm and at peace.
I chat with Lucy daily. I wake up in the morning praying. Then I put my hands on my tummy forming a heart shape with my fingers. I talk to Lucy about where it should be, hatching, finding a site to attach, start to implant, and now just basically to grow and grow and divide, and grow some more. We are a team of two, traveling together, doing everything together. Whenever there is a new experience, I share with Lucy about it. You would hear me mumble sentences like, “This is your first yoga class”, or “Oh this is your first time meeting Auntie Q”. When we went grocery shopping over the weekend, I was walking to another produce store by myself while Bob went to the car, mumbling this to Lucy, “We come here a lot although it’s 15 minutes away from home because you just park the car and walk to Tra.der Joe’s, produce market, drugstore, the bank… When you are born, we’ll wear you on us or we’ll put you in a stroller, but we will come back here all the time.” During the Sunday sermon, I wrote in my notebook, “Lucy’s first sermon”. I am loving this period of time of visualizing this little embryo having a chance at life. You know how they say that distractions are the best during the two-week wait. I am doing the exact opposite. I am constantly and deliberately including Lucy in my daily activities. I am glad that this approach has been working out for me so far.
This attitude spills over to Bob who is also ultra positive this time. He has definitely been affected by my attitude. Bob goes to bed placing his hand on my tummy, saying good night to Lucy. In the morning, he does the same thing. When I leave for work, we have group hugs for our little family of three. He sends me G.chat messages and asks “How’s Lucy?” This has created a very nice and positive environment for Lucy to grow and grow. I am assuming that it’s growing and growing.
Physically I am not feeling much. And I know I am not supposed to feel much. I went to see my acupuncturist on Friday. She commented on my pulse, saying that it was nice and strong. She mentioned that the kidney energy and the earth energy were both strong. And those are the energies that are important to fertility. On Sunday, I felt this tugging sensation on my lower abdomen repeatedly all morning and on and off the rest of the day. I usually don’t attribute any physical sensation to a pregnancy, but I am taking a different approach this time. I am assuming that this pulsating and tugging sensation has to do with the hormones from a pregnancy. Whether or not it’s true, I don’t know. But I am going to keep a uniform line of thinking here for the rest of the wait.
A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law asked Bob about us having a baby for the first time since we got married. Honestly, I was surprised that it took her so long to ask. She told Bob that it’d be too late if we waited because we are getting old. I wasn’t actually offended by her. I am glad that she cares and actually wants a grand child. Yesterday during their Sky.pe session, she once again asked for a baby and said something that really blew my mind. She said that the stars are aligning for Bob and something good in terms of fertility would happen to us in September or October. My mother-in-law studies astrology. You know me, as a Christian, I don’t believe in fortune telling, psychic, or anything that predicts the future. It makes me extra uncomfortable. If she is right, then it is just going to be a beautiful coincidence that will change our lives forever. I sure hope that this coincidence will happen and we have one more good story to tell in our lives.
Sometimes I do get this anxious feeling. But I’d say it happens about 5% of the time. Majority of the time I am full of happiness and gratitude. A friend from bible study studied my face and said that I have a lightness that she hasn’t seen since my journey started. I am glad it shows, and it means that I am not forcing it. I know that there is a possibility that this doesn’t work. I know that I will be able to sort through the heartbreak, disappointment, and devastation. I am just determined not to live it twice if I don’t have to.
Seven more days to go. I can’t wait to see a fantastic beta number!
My husband is hurting. And it sometimes feels so helpless to see him in pain.
His recent emotional experience reminds me of myself a couple of years ago. At that time, I hated people. I didn’t feel good at all when I was bombarded with birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, and adoption news. I just wanted to hide from the world. All sorts of feelings consumed me: anger, despair, disappointment, jealously. You name it. I had it.
Even though we just lost another early pregnancy, I am in a much better place emotionally and spiritually than my old self back then. My relationship with the Lord is going strong despite all of this going on. It is not the case for Bob.
Bob was strong for me the week we found out about the chemical pregnancy. He comforted me. He was there for me, smiling and cheering me up. However, my poor husband has definitely been hurting. The weekend after we lost the pregnancy, I found him home early Saturday morning. He was supposed to be at his bible study training until 9am. He told me he left early. At first he wouldn’t tell me why he did. Later, he finally divulged. What happened was, during prayer time, one of the leaders gave thanks to the Lord for his wife’s new pregnancy. Everyone else was praising the Lord and praying for the baby. Bob told me that all he felt was anger. Angry that it was supposed to be our turn as well. Angry that this journey wasn’t any easier with donor eggs. Angry that others got to celebrate their blessings but not us. He lasted for another part of the training. When he returned to the main room for the last hour of the training, he looked inside and saw that people were still talking about that pregnancy. He did not feel that there was the place for him. Instead of going in and enduring the silent pain of listening to others’ joy, he decided to pack up and go. He went to a coffee shop, picked up a cup of his favorite coffee, and drove home. He told me that he sat in our car in the driveway for a long time, thinking about our life and our journey. Listening to him, my heart was filled with compassion for my dear partner in life who was hurting so badly. His desires to be a father are so strong that this recent loss just pushes him over the edge. It hurt me to see him hurt. All I did and all I could do was just to hold him in my arms and to tell him that I understand 100% of how he was feeling. Sometimes, just being there for him brings comfort.
The next day, we were at church for our greeting duty. Bob was outside the church greeting people while I was right at the entrance. A very good friend out ours, an American of Indian descent, came to me with a special smile on his face. I had been anticipating his announcement of his wife’s pregnancy for months now, simply because he and I had a long talk about babies before he proposed to his wife. After a year and a half of marriage, I knew that I would hear from him any time. Plus a few weeks ago, after learning that she wasn’t feeling well, I had an intuition that she might have been pregnant. This friend said, “We had some good news to share with you!” I forced a smile on my face and waited. He went on to tell me that his wife is expecting. I said congratulations with my forced smile and asked him how far along she was. She is now about four months. Then, there was this awkward silence before he walked away telling me that he would go and share the news with some other people.
This was the weekend after we learned about our most recent loss. As hard as it sounded, I was doing okay with this news. It wasn’t a great feeling to learn that yet another couple successfully became pregnant seemingly without any effort. But surprisingly I was doing okay. I knew how Bob had been with pregnancy news and I thought about not telling him until after the service. However, I didn’t hold my tongue and shared with him when he came back inside the church. I could see the hurt on his face, which broke my heart. Pregnancy news from his guy friends two days in a row was just too much for him. He asked if he could just leave right after our duty. I told him to feel free to do whatever he felt like. It was going to be very tough for him to sit through the service not feeling loved by God. I didn’t want to force him to do anything as he had his way of handling and processing his emotions. I think this one hit him hard also because our friend’s wife is Chinese, so the baby will be an Indian-Chinese mix. We have always been the first Indian-Chinese couple who got married first and tried for a baby first. I can imagine how difficult it is for him to be waiting for so long and watching someone else have their Indian-Chinese baby first.
Bless his heart. Bob sat through service and even waited for me to finish my duty. He went for a walk right after service. We skipped the going away party for our close friends right after service. Although I wanted to be at the going away party, I knew how much Bob just wanted to be left alone and not to be forced to smile when he felt like he was dying inside. I really got it. So we just spent the rest of the day at home by ourselves.
How has he been doing since? I have never seen him so angry and sad in his life. This failure of the first DE cycle has really pushed him over the edge. He continues his ministry as a children’s leader at bible study, but he has just been going through the motions. He has been angry with God for allowing us to be on this journey for so long without any results. He does not feel loved by God. He refused to talk to God. He does not want to talk to anyone about his struggles. He has not shared with any of his friends about them. When he shares his prayer requests, he shares about mundane stuff. I asked him about it. He said that our loss and our struggle is just too huge for him to put into words to share with others who may or may not pray for us. He even has an idea of us not sharing with anyone about any details for our upcoming frozen embryo transfer so that nobody would pray for us. To him, clearly, prayers have not been working. I have never seen his faith in God so shaken up. But as a wife, I have learned to shut up about it because really, it is between him and God, and I have no place in talking with him other than prayers for him.
The Lord is merciful, full of grace, and full of comfort though. Fortunately, when Bob is weak, the Lord has kept me strong. My heart and my soul yearn for a baby, but I have not been pulled down by this failed cycle. I still have faith that things will work out in the end, and I have seen the Lord’s hand in sustaining us. I can be the strong one for my husband when he doesn’t have enough strength and faith to carry on, hopefully for this short time of grief. Although emotionally I am doing better than he is, I am very attuned to my feelings. Skipping my work holiday party for the first time in the 12 years that I have worked there tells you how meaningless I feel to be socializing with people who know nothing about our struggles. I don’t feel sorry for skipping. It’s our way of preserving our sanity.
The Lord is patient though. Even though Bob is going through some very trying times, He is still speaking to Bob through his struggles. The day after our weekend full of pregnancy news, Bob did his daily bible study and came across a passage that spoke to him. He shared with me that morning, telling me that God has not given up on him. This passage is from Ephesians chapter 4:
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I am so glad that Bob did not just tune God out. He is still receptive to whatever God has to show him. This whole last week, he has been talking on and off to God about his feelings, his anger, his disappointment, and his pain. I have never prayed for my husband so much in my life, but I know that I have to be the one praying if he is too hurt to pray. I am glad that he is slowly coming back to an open dialogue with God. I know that I cannot force Bob to feel better because he needs to sort through his feelings and reestablish his relationship with God himself. But I am confident that with my patience and with God’s patience, my husband will return to the previous state of trusting and having faith in the Lord for guiding our path.
But, this time, it may really take some time.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.
Waiting for phone calls from your fertility clinic is very hard. Unfortunately, so many of us know how that feels.
Before our phone call yesterday, I was mostly calm. In my mind, I was thinking for sure that we’d have one or two, or even three day six blastocysts to freeze given the number of early blastocysts the day before. Well, that was my human way of thinking. We waited all morning. We continued our Thanksgiving tradition of going to a South American breakfast place for Bob’s chilaquiles and for my beef soup. I kept my phone in sight throughout that time including during our wait at a very noisy coffee place for my hot chocolate and Bob’s coffee. With my hands full, I still tucked my phone in the purse where it was easily accessible. The phone call came when we just pulled into the driveway.
A very nice nurse told us that we had one embryo that had grown to day six and had become a blastocyst with a grade of 4BB. Four means it was almost hatching. She said the other two Bs are good grades. So this is it. Our expectation/wishful thinking/hope that we would have two, or three, or even four more embryos was crushed. I didn’t ask more questions. I didn’t ask which embryo on day three this blastocyst came from. It didn’t matter anymore. I felt that the less I know the better. The nurse asked if I had made an appointment with my RE to go over the next steps. I told her that we had transferred an early blastocyst the day before. She said, “Oh that’s excellent! Early blastocysts are great!” I appreciated her enthusiasm.
You know me. I always try to be honest when I am here writing about my thoughts and feelings. I was disappointed. With ten eggs, the statistics from our donor’s past cycles told me that we would have about three to four, if not five embryos at the end of this process, especially with 100% fertilization. I really did not expect to have a total of two embryos in the end. But I did not fight my disappointment. My friend L told me that the more I fight it, the more the disappointment will grow. So I was acknowledging my disappointment and had to process my feelings for the rest of the afternoon.
About 30 minutes after we got the news, I became grateful. I was very grateful that little Lucy (our 4BB blastocyst) decided to join us. I know that I could end up with nothing to freeze. The fact that we have Lucy is a great reason to be thankful for. We did end up with two blastocysts. In my human being eyes, this might not have been the most ideal outcome. In God’s eyes, this is the right number. I have all along been praying for a perfect number of embryos. I didn’t know what that would be. I secretly had been hoping for a number four. But I know that God doesn’t work that way. In my human mind, the more blastocysts we have, the more insurance we have. But God has His own mysterious way of working. I was reading Psalm 139 and particularly verse 13. It says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God knitted us a long time ago. He had planned and knitted my baby a long time ago. Verse 16: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Who is to say that Kevin, the little embryo inside of me now, is not the one baby that God has planned for us a long time ago? And who is to say that Lucy, the little frozen blastocyst, is not going to be the sibling for Kevin? He saw my child’s unformed body and ordained all the days for him/her. Like I said, God works in mysterious way that we don’t always understand. Kevin could be that child. Lucy could be that child. I myself am trying really hard to wrap my mind around it. Maybe this is God’s way of telling us that those two embryos are enough for you. You don’t need more, and you don’t have to look further. And if this works out, we don’t have to worry about donating our unused embryos.
I really don’t know which way it will go. But I am trying really hard to trust.
I also have my weak moments. Later in the afternoon, Bob was showing me a funny video of one of my favorite kiddos taking a flu shot. She was so brave. I had watched that video quite a few times already. However, yesterday afternoon, something triggered in me. Watching her being brave and smiling after the flu shot, I suddenly started crying. All I was thinking that was I want one of those myself. I want to document my child’s happy, sad, triumphant, and naughty moments. I want to share in the joy of parenting, figuring things out ourselves, fail and be successful together as parents. I don’t know why, but the fact that 1) Kevin was an early blastocyst who was probably only a little bit more advanced than the other early blastocysts in the bunch, and 2) the other early blastocysts except for Lucy did not make it make me deduce that maybe Kevin is not strong enough in my uterus either. Maybe if Kevin was left there to be grown to day six, he wouldn’t grow either. Maybe Kevin was not chromosomally normal. Maybe maybe maybe. See how my human mind works? I try to embrace Kevin, but I sometimes feel that this may not work. And then I worry that if Lucy doesn’t work either, then we’ll have to go back to choosing a donor again. My mind is messed up.
Fortunately, my mind is not messed up all the time. I talk to Kevin all the time. I imagine the embryo finding a cozy spot in my uterus to land. I imagine Kevin attaching to my uterus. I imagine Kevin growing and growing and growing. I imagine it to be strong. I imagine it to become a little baby that would grow inside me. I am really trying my best to trust that this embryo is going to become my baby. I ask God to protect it, nourish it, and keep it nice and safe inside of me.
Bob is like me as well. He also vacillates between being hopeful and feeling doomed. Last night right before we went to my brother’s house for our thanksgiving dinner, Bob became utterly frustrated and angry with God that we didn’t have more embryos and that we had already spent so much money and ended up with less than stellar performance with frozen donor eggs. It hurt him to see me be sad and cry in the afternoon. And it took him four hours to process that and become angry. But then, we also should not dismiss what Kevin can do here. Kevin can still be alive and well and thriving. Bob went to bed last night telling Kevin to stay put and grow. This morning he woke up telling Kevin to be cozy and snuggle up inside mommy.
The two week wait is very tough. I don’t feel anything physically. I know that I am not supposed to feel anything physically. Today is two days past. We still have ten more days to go. I know regardless of how I feel, these days will pass. So I will continue to pray for God to sustain this life that is inside me, for it to attach, to grow, to be well nourished.
And welcome Lucy! We love you and Kevin already.
The phone call came at 3:30 when I was seeing one of my clients. The nurse introduced herself and said that she was calling to give me a transfer time. It will be Wednesday at 1:45pm. She gave me the instructions to arrive 15 minutes early, drink water, and take a Val.ium at 12:45pm. It didn’t seem like she was going to talk about the embryos at all. So after I told her that I will have an acupuncture session before and after the transfer, I asked her about the embryos.
The nurse really didn’t prepare to give me a report, because she told me to wait for a second while she pulled it up. I don’t know if it is not the custom to give a day three report, or if a day three report is not necessary because we are growing to day five. She first explained to me that the embryos are graded from grade one to grade four, one being the best and four being the worst. All ten of our embryos are still there. There are no grade one embryos. We have three grade two embryos: 10-cell, 9-cell, and 4-cell. There are four grade three embryos: 7-cell, 9-cell, 10-cell, and 10-cell. There are also three grade four embryos: 9-cell, 9-cell, and 4-cell. When I heard all of this, my mind froze a little and all I was focusing on was that we didn’t have any grade one embryos. The nurse did give an assessment to each embryo, from above average, to average, to below average. However, I didn’t write fast enough to note them all. I asked her if the grade four embryos mean that they are not good to become blastocysts, she said that you’d never know. Some blastocysts come from grade four embryos. I thanked her and hung up. My client, who is on the autistic spectrum, was waiting for me to be done with the phone call. I really had to pull myself together so that I could focus and finish up the session with him. But my visceral reaction was so real. I had been so at peace and calm with this. All day I was not nervous. Up until the moment when I was told there was no grade one embryos, my shoulders tensed up and I felt full of anxiety. I don’t know why but my mind just focused on the negative. I even started to panic and wondered if we should transfer two blastocysts instead of one.
I wonder if it might have been better if I didn’t know the grading because the knowledge of it only added to my fear and didn’t give me information about whether or not we’ll have a blastocyst on Wednesday. It’s sometimes true that ignorance is bliss.
After the session, I updated Bob who was at that time busy with work. Fortunately, my last client canceled so I had the time and space to process this news. I guess my expectation was that these young eggs should give us some grade one embryos. And I was probably expecting a textbook case. With higher expectation comes disappointment when the expectation is not met. My mind automatically went to the worst: we don’t have any normal blastocysts to transfer. I had to stop myself and again focus on God, on His unchanging nature, and on His power and might. He already knows the outcome of this cycle. What I need to do is to focus on Him and Him alone. And who am I to pretend that I know about grading? I know nothing about grading or whether these embryos will become blastocysts or not based on their day three performance. God makes the impossible possible. Anything could happen between now and Wednesday. Instead of focusing on the numbers, I should focus on my gratitude that these ten embryos are still growing. My mind vacillated between my faith in God’s plan and my fear of having a very bad outcome this cycle.
One thing I am really sure is that I will not consult with Dr. Googl.e. I don’t want to read anyone’s stories about their success or failure with these gradings. Their stories do not translate into my future success or not. So I promised myself that I will steer clear from doing any online searches.
Lying there with dimmed lights at my acupuncture session, I closed my eyes and concentrated my energy on the word “gratitude”. God has taken us this far to this point. I believe that He will carry us through if this is His will. I am grateful that some embryos are good quality. I continue to pray for the perfect number of blastocysts to complete our family. My tensed shoulders started to relax and my breathing became deeper. Although now I feel that this is not a sure thing, I know that we will be well taken care of.
My heart is a lot calmer than it was this afternoon. This journey has not been easy. Even with donor eggs, it is still not easy. Worry is not going to help with my situation, so I try to replace my worrying thoughts with positive thoughts. I continue to pray that God sustains me with peace and calmness that only comes from Him. And we shall see what His plan is and what the future holds. Our prayer is that the chromosomally normal embryos will make it to day five.
Good news: we didn’t have to cut our vacation short.
Bad news: a pregnant doctor found a big cyst on my left ovary. The cycle is canceled, again.
My period came at 5:45pm on December 30th. My clinic counts full flow after 4pm as cycle day one the next day. I was totally relieved as we could stay on vacation as planned. No frantically driving back to the city for that short ultrasound. I was teasing myself for the little trust I had in God for His timing. I didn’t know that my trust would be tested again very soon.
What a way to start the New Year, right? Getting a baseline ultrasound for our new cycle on New Year’s Day, the cycle that we would finally transfer and have a chance at pregnancy. Sounds like a great new beginning right? Soon, that sense of a fresh start was crushed by the news. Delivered by a pregnant doctor nonetheless. She walked in with a glow on her face and her hands resting on her bump. Like Maddie said, Who glows??? Maybe it’s a California thing, because all the pregnant ladies around her just look tired. But yes, Pregnant Doctor was glowing. I didn’t much mind her. I just wanted to get the scan done to know that we were good to go with this cycle. I kept my fingers crossed and whispered “No cysts”.
Then there it was. Huge round dark circle on the screen, measuring about 25mm.
I know the drill. I knew the cycle would be canceled. This sense of unfairness overcame me and my heart again. I was sad, disappointed, and hurt. But on my face, I probably looked composed and calm. I was not calm at all. I was trying so very hard to hold myself together. We discussed calmly about the next steps. I asked if it was an estrogen producing cyst. She suggested blood work to check the estrogen level, although later on at home I realized that the level wouldn’t accurately reflect the estrogen level since I had been taking Estradiol for priming. I got poked anyways. And estrogen did come back at the 800 level. Very high. I was instructed to connect with my RE’s care team the next day.
On the car ride home, I was extremely quiet. All I wanted to do was to cry. But I didn’t cry in the car. Bob wasn’t feeling much better. At first he said that it was okay that we just wait for the next month. Then he said that he didn’t want to transfer in February because of the bad memories from our transfer and chemical pregnancy last year in February. He wanted to just do a freeze all cycle again in February and try to transfer in March. I almost lost it there but I kept my mouth shut. Both of us were in extremely bad mood, very hurt and angry.
I was so angry at God. I was so angry at the world, at the unfairness of it all, at the waiting, the pain and suffering that we have had to endure. Then I felt guilty for being angry at God. I vacillated between guilt and anger all day. Tears kept coming down when I was cutting vegetables. Bob told me to just rest instead of cooking. He didn’t understand that at that moment, I just wanted to be left alone and let my emotions and tears out while doing something productive. So he left me alone to read in bed upstairs. When I was done cooking, I went upstairs, squeezed next to him and rested with my eyes closed. With his body behind mine, and his hand moving up and down on my back, I curled up like a fetus and just let myself cry the best cry I could have.
Will all the tears be worth it in the end?
This delay had hit me harder than any other delays. I have been so ready for a transfer since November. Our wonky 42-day failed cycle in November pushed our December cycle into the time of the two week lab closure that made it impossible for retrieval and transfer. We celebrated the rest that we had during the holiday season and tried to make the most of it. We were so hopeful for finally moving forward and believed that this new year would bring the long-awaited transfer.
What a way to start our new year.
Needless to say, a severe headache consumed the second half of my day. It took a really long time to go away.
I kept my eyes tightly shut this morning and did not want to wake up. I was praying and talking to God about how disappointed I was in my body and in His timing. I didn’t like His timing a bit. My head knowledge tells me that God’s timing is the best. But my heart was rebellious. I was chatting with Maddie about it. And I was saying that Elisha is probably the best person to talk me out of this nonsense that I was feeling. How do we talk to God and pray to Him when we feel that He is so so far away? When we don’t feel His love and that He has my best interest in His mind? It’s such a struggle to stay faithful, positive, and trusting in God’s plan and timing. I don’t know how others do it.
My prayer is that my trust in God and His plan will be strengthened. I realize how fragile my faith and trust is. Asking for God’s peace and strength is an everyday occurrence. I’ll pick myself up again soon. I just need to allow myself some grace and some time to get over the hurtful feeling.
My dear friend Jane made me laugh for the first time yesterday. When I told her about the cyst, she said: “Cyst name suggestions: Agatha or Muriel”. I burst out laughing. The last thing that I had in my mind was to name my cyst, although this has been my tradition to name my cysts to make them go away. It helps to have friends who would take care of that for you. I love that she always gives me two choices.
Muriel it is.
Good bye Muriel. I don’t want to see you next month.
One day after work I got home and found a little package in the mailbox. It was a surprise gift from my dear friend Elisha. This wasn’t the first time she had sent me something. The last time was a bunch of candy bars, which made Bob very happy. I shook the envelope and was trying to guess what was inside. Once I got into the house, I opened the package and saw this:
She is believing that I will need this one day. So she followed her “strong and almost nagging feeling” to send me something “baby related”. This couldn’t be more perfect. Elephant is Bob’s favorite animal. Once I saw it, I started tearing up immediately and truly appreciated the boldness of it. This girl has faith like no others. I am very touched by her consistent prayers and her reminder to me that with God, all things are possible. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this gift that symbolizes so much. Elisha wrote: “I can’t wait to receive a picture one day with your child chewing and drooling all over it”. I can’t wait either. 🙂