MicroblogMondays: Babymoon Number One?

We are in the middle of our babymoon, or what I call “an excuse to go play”.  Or should I say “Babymoon Number One”?  I will explain later.

We wanted to go away before the babies come.   When we planned it a little while ago, May seemed like a good month to go because we would be well into our second trimester and things should be going pretty well.  (That was before the whole anxiety attack saga went down.)  The destination of choice is an area a bit over an hour from home.  Our niece is a freshman at a local college there so I really strived to visit before her quarter ends.  I feel so lucky that we found this quaint bed and breakfast in a very quaint town.  Restaurants and shops are within walking distance to the inn.  The room rates are reasonable.  The town is a short drive to everywhere we would want to go.  And how blessed we are that the world an hour away is totally different from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The trip started with a massage that both Bob and I desperately needed.  My left shoulder had been hurting and Bob had been complaining about his upper back (and also been asking for a massage from me daily).  That turned out to be the best way to set the right tone for the rest of the weekend.  I was hoping and praying that my period would stay away until after the massage.  I knew that my last period started on May 1st, so it was highly likely that Aunt Flow would visit around the first day of our trip.  To my very pleasant surprise, AF was nowhere to be found and I got to have the most amazing massage ever.  I know massages.  I am picky.  So for me to say that it was amazing I really am not joking.   After I informed the massage therapist my preference of firm pressure, she got to work.  I knew to breathe through whatever she was doing so we were in unison.  Have you ever had a massage where you don’t have to tell the therapist what to do and he/she does exactly what you would like?  My massage was exactly that.  She was so intuitive that I felt like we were in sync with each other.  Every stroke felt so good and intentional.  To say that I was in paradise was an understatement.  I am already plotting to return someday hopefully even after the babies arrive.  And guess what?  My body knew exactly what I wanted.  My flow started about 15 minutes after my massage concluded.  It was weird and wonderful at the same time that my body knew to hold off on the flow.

We checked in to the lovely bed and breakfast.  It is a tiny four-room inn and I have no complaints about it.  The innkeepers are warm and welcoming.  The wife of the team kept on calling my husband Cutie Patootie which was hilarious and fun.  We picked up our niece and saw her dorm for the first time before she leaves for the year and returns to another dorm next year.  She had picked out a Mongolian/Russian restaurant in town and we enjoyed a very delicious meal with lamb riblets, dumplings, and this amazing carrot salad.  I am not usually a carrot fan but it was so good that I requested an extra order of this dish.  We caught up with our niece about her school life, about her summer plans, and our babies.  It just amazes me that my niece has grown into this mature young adult and we are just starting our own family with the babies that are still baking.  It just boggles my mind sometimes how the life paths of siblings (me and my brother in this case) could be so different.

We slept 9 1/2 hours.  Many people joke about how much sleep we won’t get and tell us to sleep as much as we can. We know that you cannot store sleep but we still cherish the chance to sleep as many hours as we want right now.  Breakfast was home cooked and delicious:

After breakfast, we headed to a local state park for the highlight of our trip: meeting up with Rain, McRuger, Cadet, and Pumpkin.

I had been following Rain at Weathering Storms ever since before I became Isabelle on Binky Moongee.  I started reading even before they were matched with Cadet and his birth mother.  I feel like I know her and her family because I do.  I remember the details of that adoption and subsequently with Pumpkin’s adoption.  Seeing the boys grow up with such a wonderful couple  just warms my heart.  Knowing that we live in the same geographical area always made me want to get together with her.  I knew that she recently moved to the area where my niece goes to school.  Once I knew that we were going to spend a couple of days there, I immediately contacted her to see if she’d be available.  And I had been so looking forward to this weekend ever since we made plans with her.

I have got to tell you that meeting up with a fellow blogger who knows you has got to be one of the most marvelous experiences in the world.  I have been blessed with meeting quite a few bloggers and this experience never ceases to amaze me.  There was basically no awkward period to get through because you know them and they know you.  I didn’t have to update Rain about the things that were happening now because hey guess what?  She read the latest blog post already.  It was simply hanging out, “catching up” (although we really just met in person for the first time), and marveling at our fortune of seeing and touching the real person behind the screen.  Pumpkin and Cadet are just so adorable.  They look exactly like their photos.  I just love Rain and her husband.  I wish that we lived closer to one another so we could have a walk in the park every single weekend.  I am so happy for Rain that she is living the life that is so good for her family and her health.  It looks like small town life really suits her.  I feel so blessed to have met this wonderful soul in person.

Sunday afternoon was as lazy and relaxing as could be.  Bob took a nice long nap in the room.  I sat in the back porch of the bed and breakfast and wrote this blog post while listening to the breeze gently blowing the leaves and the subtle sound of the nearby creek.

I even managed to read a few chapters of my novel uninterrupted as I had the open area of the inn all by myself.  This is my definition of a perfect vacation.  Some active time and some down time.

Things on the food front were great on this trip as well.  In additional to the dinner with my niece and the breakfasts, we had a leisurely lunch (over 1.5 hours) and a relaxing and slow dinner (over 2 hours).  Bob had a beer flight at an alehouse for lunch.

The German meal for dinner was within walking distance to our inn.  My pork shank was such a delight: flavorful and tender inside, crispy on the outside.  I did Chinese people proud by cleaning all the meat off the bone.  The mushroom sauce on Bob’s dish was delicious.  I thought we didn’t have room for dessert, but I was totally wrong.  We had crepes with chocolate and hazelnut sauce.

We are going home today.  As far as a long weekend goes, this has been one perfect one.  So why am I calling this Babymoon Number One?  A few weeks ago, Bob asked me if he could go to a work conference in Hawaii in July.  Initially I was a little hesitant about it because we would be about 30 to 31 weeks into our pregnancy.  But then I thought about it, and thought what the heck.  Let’s just enjoy life and plan for it.  Bob went ahead and bought his plane ticket.  And then this thought crept into our heads.  What if I tagged along and went with him?  Hotel will already be paid for.  I would just need to purchase a plane ticket.  After a lot of contemplation (such as using up vacation time, the babies’ possible early arrival, and the cost), we decided that we should just take this opportunity for me to play before the babies come.  So I did!  I bought a plane ticket along with travel insurance (just in case we need to cancel) for me to go for about 6 day to Honolulu!  Bob will be very busy with his work conference even on the weekend.  I will most likely be playing by myself one last time before our babies take up our lives.  So should I even be calling that Babymoon Number Two if we are going to have fun separately?  I’d say so!  It will be our one last chance before we enjoy having two extra little people enriching our lives.  I know I will thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the downtime before craziness starts.

MicroblogMondays: So Loved

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The pregnancy has been going well as Annie has had symptoms on and off, although it has not been without scares.  I had been kind of holding my breath in case of any spotting, and had been feeling fortunate that Annie had not experienced any.  So I panicked a little bit when she messaged me about a spotting episode a few days ago.  She felt her abdominal area tightening with constant tension, and she spotted with pinkish/brownish discharge.  She contacted Dr. E, my RE, who said that it was probably no worries as it might have been stretching of the uterus.  As a precaution, she asked Annie to be on an extra dose of progesterone.  I emailed Dr. E just to make sure that it was really okay, to which she said that it was from twins, and is very common.  Later today Annie will attend our 8 weeks 5 days ultrasound and I will be video conferencing with her at the appointment.  We hope to see some growing and thriving babies.  It is at times scary to think about anything bad happening to these babies but I have been telling Bob that we have to put our complete trust in the Lord that He is protecting the babies and Annie.

*****

Today, I actually want to write about how loved I have felt from my friends.  I have received quite a few gifts in the past two weeks and most of them were surprises.  The first one was from my dear friend Jane.  She sent us a package a couple of days after our first ultrasound.  In it was a card congratulating us as parents-to-be, and completed with one t-shirt for Annie, two onesies for the twins, and two t-shirts for both me and Bob.  The t-shirt for Annie says “Their Bun, My Oven” with a picture of an oven and a bun below it.  Below the picture it says “Proud Surrogate”.  The onesies say “Worth The Wait”.

 The two t-shirts for us both have the shape of Annie’s state the the words that say “Expecting…. In [Annie’s State]!” (I am not posting Annie’s state because I want to keep it private to protect her identity.)  In the package there were also blue and pink lollipops that say “Team Blue” and “Team Pink”.  This gift was so thoughtful and came so soon after the ultrasound scan that it brought me to tears.  More importantly, it shows the positivity that my friend has in this pregnancy and it touches my heart.

Fast forward a week. I was sick at home and the door bell rang.  It was our mail lady who delivered a tiny package to my door.  I was curious to see what I got since I wasn’t expecting a package.  Inside was a necklace with a pendant that is the shape of Annie’s state and a heart that was stamped on the position where Annie’s town is in that state.  It was from my other very thoughtful friend Maddie who wrote this: “I thought you might like this since your heart will be in [Annie’s state] for the next 8 months”.  This gift is so meaningful and sweet that it made me cry.  I don’t know what I have done to deserve such love but I am just so grateful to have these friends who shower me with their love and share my joy of having these babies growing inside Annie.

One day I was just wondering aloud to Bob if anyone would go with us to attend the birth and bring the babies home.  It would be far away for someone to ride with us or to fly over there.  Literally the next day, my friend Jo asked if she could come to photo-document the birth and to help out with the twins.  I was so touched by her offer!  Only a true friend would make this grand gesture without us even asking!  She also gave us a bunch of gifts such as new outfits and onesies and a few boxes of boy/girl baby clothes, items, books, toys, and maternity clothes for Annie.  These were quality items of her kids that she had set aside for us.  I am just so touched to have friends that are like family, and Jo (and her husband) is definitely one of them.

*****

The babies are only a few weeks in gestation but they are already so loved by their aunties.  I hope that they will show us some very strong heartbeats on the ultrasound today, and in eight months they will experience the love from these aunties face-to-face.

MicroblogMondays: A Daughter That We Lost

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When we received the PGS results, I deliberately asked Dr. E not to disclose the information on the sex of the embryos.  I would rather wait to be surprised at birth.

This is so unlike me.  Given my personality as somebody who would like to be in control of many things, my desires all my life had been to find out at our 20-week ultrasound if we were going to have a boy or a girl.  This long and difficult fertility journey has changed my mind.  I just want to keep one surprise in this process.  The sex of our baby will have to be it.

Bob really wanted to know.  I told him to ask Dr. E himself but made him promise not to share with me.  I think the task of keeping information from me is just too monumental for him.  He decided not to even go near that subject.

Now that the implanted embryo has failed to grow in our gestational carrier Annie, I suddenly had this strong urge to find out if it was meant to be a boy or a girl.

As the title suggests, Dr. E revealed that it was a female embryo.

A daughter.

That.

We.

Lost.

I honestly do not have a preference for either sex, but growing up, I did always envision having a baby girl.

But now that this daughter is no longer with us, it just feels like there is a huge hole in my heart that cannot be filled.

Out of the last four transfers and my own two chemical pregnancies, we never had a chance to confirm if we had lost a boy or a girl.  This is the first time that we could definitely say that we had a daughter.

Knowing the sex of this embryo may help bring closure.  It may not.  But I am very glad that we found out.

When I shared about this, one of my dearest friends gave me a song.  She translated this song from Hebrew to English for me.  The following are the lyrics:

On [the subject of] the honey, and on the thorns,

On the bitter and the sweet,

On our daughter, my baby, guard her, My Lord, for good.

On the fire that burns, on the water pure and clear,

On the man returning home after a long journey.

On all these things,

Guard me please, my Lord for my good.

For the honey and the thorns,

For the bitter with the sweet.

This is the video:

I was already touched when I read the lyrics.  I teared up when I read the words “Our daughter, my baby, guard her, My Lord, for good”.

But I didn’t know that more was to come.

The next morning, I woke up and found a video that this friend sent to me.  It was a video of her that she recorded that morning for me.  In the video, she told me that she had a gift for me, that it was bitter gift, but it was a gift for her during a very dark time in her life.  She sang this song for two weeks after her nephew passed away, as it brought her comfort.  She personally sang this Hebrew song to me and recorded it in this video.  Her beautiful singing and her love for me brought me to tears.  This is the most thoughtful gift I have ever received in my life.

The very same day, this same friend wrote about our loss in her blog post. The last sentence she wrote: “Goodnight my sweet little girl.  I’m sorry that we didn’t have a chance to meet.”

Cue waterworks.

My dear friend managed to move me to tears three times in two days.

Bob and I decided to no longer call this lost embryo Max.  We wanted to give her a proper name.  After much thinking and searching, we decided to name her Mira, which means “ocean” or “sea”.  Given our love for the ocean and how being in its presence brings us comfort and healing every time we lost a pregnancy or an embryo, it is fitting for us to commemorate our embryo with a name with a meaning near and dear to us.

One of the songs during worship on Sunday was “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United.  The lyrics really spoke to me:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

It reminds me that even when we are knee-deep in the ocean waves (our pain/suffering/impossible circumstances), the Lord will sustain us in our faith and His sovereign hand will be our guide.  It is not a coincidence that after we gave our daughter this name that means ocean, the  same theme came up in a song that touches me. 

Mira, our daughter.  We will miss you forever.  May our faith be sustained and we keep our eyes above the ocean waves.  May we persevere so that we will see your sibling(s) face-to-face one day.

MicroblogMondays: Clinging to the Positive

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Last week was such a rough week.

Because of our donor’s cocaine debacle, both of us were extremely distracted from work and from life.  All the phone calls and emails with all the professionals, family, and friends were taxing our attention, time, and energy.  One day everything was going smoothly.  The next day, our life was turned upside down.  So many doubts, fears, and worries surfaced.  One person’s selfish act, lack of concerns for others, and lack of integrity wreaked havoc in our lives.  We were exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Extra courage and strength were desperately needed on those few days for us to function.

Amid the chaos, we see the love, beauty, goodness, and positive that were poured over us.

God is teaching us to hang on to the positive despite walking through the valley.

We see how truly beautiful our gestational carrier Annie is.  That morning I called her to tell her about our decision to continue our donor egg cycle despite our donor’s breach of our trust and contract, Annie was so calm, gentle, and full of reassurance.  She not only took care of me and my emotions that morning, but she also thought of taking care of Bob’s.  That night, Bob came home and told me that Annie’s husband Kenneth called him on his way to work that evening just to chat.  Bob didn’t recognize the phone number but saw that it was from Annie’s area, so he picked it up.  For someone who usually doesn’t pick up unknown phone calls, that was definitely a divine intervention.  Bob said that they had such a good chat about life, their work, family life, and a little about the donor’s choice.  This 20-minute phone call with a brother in Christ reflects the thoughtfulness and caring nature of our gestational carrier and her life partner.

We are so blessed to have them in our lives.

And then, there was my friend Jo.  She has been there every single step of the way in the last few years of our journey.  She knows the ins and the outs of our struggles.  The day I returned to work after taking a day off to take care of the mess that was caused by our donor’s positive drug screen was extremely busy with clients and a presentation.  Jo was so sweet.  She took care of me by ordering dinner and having it delivered to our house so that I could take a break from cooking.  And bless my husband’s heart.  He knew exactly what I had been craving so he clued Jo in on the type of food to order.  The sushi that night was truly a treat after a few long days of emotional exhaustion.

And surprisingly, I don’t feel anger towards our donor anymore.  Instead, my heart has been prompted to pray for her and for her salvation. This definitely is not my own doing.  The Holy Spirit is once again doing something that is so unexpected but beautiful.

And then, we also see how God has sustained us through all this.  After the decision was made to continue with the cycle, the peace that I have felt is unparalleled and is such a confirmation that this has been the path that aligns with God’s will.  Although we don’t know how this cycle will turn out, I no longer have that gnawing pain in my heart.  I am amazed at how quickly we bounced back from being at the bottom of the pit, but it is no coincidence or accident, and it is not our own ability or doing.  Nothing that we did could take us to that place of peace.  It is solely the Holy Spirit that took us to that space.

Later today we will know how many embryos are still in the running.  Fear comes and goes in my heart, such as the possibility of the embryos growing poorly or not having any blastocysts to test.  Fear is normal, but I have to remind myself that fear does not come from God.  Seeing the positive that God places in our life helps us move away from the space of fear and worry.

Despite this path to our baby that has been lengthy and grueling, it is a blessing that we can cling to the God-given beauty and positive in life as we wait expectantly for our journey to unfold in front of our eyes.

MicroblogMondays: Getting Ready for Transfer Day

Today is transfer day.  It won’t happen until 3pm.  It’s considered quite late for a transfer, but I’ll go with the flow.  Thankfully my acupuncturist who anticipated the transfer to be earlier was able to rearrange her schedule so she could do my pre and post transfer sessions at the clinic.

I have been at peace with this process.  I have been thinking positive thoughts and letting positive energy flow through my body about this transfer.  Being anxious, negative, pessimistic, or worried has not served us well in the past.  Instead of worrying about the transfer not working, I want to be as welcoming as possible to this little life that will have a chance to live inside me.  I want my body to be as nurturing as possible.  The only way to do it is to be positive and expect it to work.  I will leave the grieving, worrying, or being disappointed to the future if this doesn’t work.  Right now, there is every possible reason to believe that this will work.  Negative thoughts will once in a while creep in, like what if my embryo doesn’t thaw well?  Well, again, worrying about something that may or may not happen is not going to make the situation better.  When I have negative thoughts, I pray and ask God to help me focus on Him and Him alone and to focus on His might and power, to turn the impossible into possible.

It has been harder for Bob to be optimistic.  His mind dwells on the past, the failures, the heartaches.  He is already talking about the next steps assuming that this doesn’t work.  I can understand why he feels this way, but again, focusing on the negative is not going to prepare us better for a bad outcome.  It just means for him to possibly live the negative emotions twice or even live the negative emotions for no reason if the cycle works.  I have asked him for a favor for me, for himself, and for Lucy our embryo.  I have asked him to also try to stay positive and to surround us all with positive energy and thoughts.  A welcoming environment for Lucy from the both of us will be the ideal for the embryo to grow.  He is listening to me and is getting excited about the transfer along with me.

The ladies in my Fac.ebook TTC group are so cute.  They would often wear super hero attires for me on retrieval day and transfer day.  This time someone suggested mixing things up and wearing something different.  We then all decided to wear Valentine-themed socks.  I loved that idea and bought a new pair of transfer socks for myself:

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It’s nice to have something fresh and special to wear.  Look at all the hearts and the pink!  I normally don’t buy anything pink but why not have fun with it and go all out???  So today at 3pm my feet will be sporting these news socks in the stirrups.

And then, I got a surprise in the mail.  One of the ladies in the same Fac.ebook group is a strong believer who has suffered quite a few miscarriages in her life.  We are friends on Fac.ebook but don’t usually chat or have contact outside of commenting in the group.  When I saw her name on the package, I was truly surprised.  This is what she sent me:

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A 2.5×2.5 little canvas on which she painted a picture and the word “Brave”.  On the edge of the canvas she wrote down a bible verse Joshua 1:9.  I went and looked it up.  It says:  

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 

These are her words in her card:

“One of my favorite songs right now is You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook.  You have been on my heart so much this past year.  You are such a brave soul.  I continue to lift you up to the Father when I think of you.”

What a thoughtful gift and message.  They touched a special spot in my heart.  Right then and there in my garage, I teared up thinking about her and all the people that I have or have not met in person.  All those who pray for me openly or silently.  I appreciate their love and care and genuine concern so much.  It is such a warm and touching thought to be surrounded by love and prayers.

I listened to the song many times that night, soaking in the words.  Here is the video:

Last night we celebrated our upcoming transfer by eating my last raw fish meal for the next many months:

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It was so fresh, yummy, and fulfilling!  After this meal, I am ready to get pregnant and stay pregnant.

I believe it will happen.

Friends That Cheer Us Up

Every time we hit a bump on our fertility road, there would always be a friend or a group of friends that would do something to cheer us up.  Today Bob and I received this surprise gift in the mail:

It was from our dear friend Aramis and her husband M.  In the notes, they said, “Just a little something to pick you up.  Hope you enjoy!”

Oh yes.  Definitely!  We feel so loved and are grateful for friends.  Thanks friend for being so thoughtful.  We will thoroughly enjoy this gift.  More importantly, the gift of friendship and support makes this journey a little bit more tolerable.

MicroblogMondays: Dinner and Vegas!

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Dinner last Friday with old friends turned out to be great.  Leanne, my usually thoughtful friend, texted me Thursday night and asked if we could speak briefly on the phone.  Leanne is someone who is not into social media, so I knew that she hadn’t seen Candace’s baby shower photos on Face.book.  Thus, she didn’t know that I had already known about the pregnancy.  When we got on the phone, she said that she wanted to make sure that I didn’t get blindsided by some news that might come up during our Friday dinner.  To save her from further stammering to find the right word to break the news to me, I told her that I knew about Candace’s pregnancy.  I went on to tell her about the emotions that I had experienced the whole week to make sure that I would be fine during dinner.  My conclusion to her was that since I had already prepared myself, regardless of Candace’s presence, I should be fine during dinner.  Leanne then told me that Candace wouldn’t be there for dinner as her pregnancy has been very difficult and driving in traffic for several hours on a Friday is not exactly the best thing for her.  I truly appreciate Leanne’s thoughtfulness in trying to prepare me for the news.  She actually wanted to tell me about it the last time we met up, but because I was telling updating her on our egg donation, she didn’t feel that it was the most appropriate time to bring up someone else’s pregnancy.  She sat at home not feeling good about not letting me know ahead of the Friday dinner knowing that I would usually need time to process pregnancy news.  Her thoughtfulness is a big contrast to our friend Chloe’s oblivion to my need to process pregnancy news ahead of time.

Dinner was great.  It was just the four of us, the core group of friends, plus Leanne’s baby.  Pregnant lady couldn’t come.  Chloe didn’t bring the kids.  Her other friends couldn’t make it.  We caught up without having to be careful with what we talked about since there was no outsiders.  We could truly talk about anything we wanted to.  It was just like old times.  It reminds me of why I still want to maintain a friendship with these friends.  And Chloe asked me in private for an update for our egg donation, which I gladly told her.  She is genuine in wanting me and Bob to be successful and to become parents.  Candace’s name came up but nobody talked about her pregnancy.  Those were some very pleasant 2.5 hours with some very good friends over tapas.

*****

Bob accepted his job offer and will start his new job on August 31st.  He will have the next two weeks off.  And we are going to Las Vegas!  When we want to take a few days off, we usually consider driving up and down the coast.  We usually like quiet time and just hang out.  Las Vegas looks like a very unusual choice for us.  But since we have not done Vegas, why not?  Flight and hotel packages are inexpensive in comparison to other times during the year.  I guess Vegas is too hot?  The most exciting thing for me is to be able to watch O!  I have been wanting to watch this Cirq.ue du Sol.eil show forever.  We (or mainly I) have splurged for some good tickets so hopefully I will not be disappointed!  We will be there in 1.5 weeks.