Like I mentioned before, I have been working with a christian parenting coach via weekly Zoom meeting with a group of parents since May. In light of our current challenges with Okra, I have talked with this parenting coach separately couple of times on the phone to brainstorm strategies to work with him. A suggestion from the parenting coach for Bob and me was to intentionally pray for ourselves as parents and for the kids. We had been lacking a time to chat and pray. We tried it before at bed time but we were/are often too tired to even talk and sometimes we are short or impatient with each other. Once I told Bob about the parenting coach’s suggestion, he said, why not get up early together, read the bible, and pray together? I have never been a morning person. I love to sleep until the last moment possible before I get up. But, since Bob suggested, I accepted the challenge. That was exactly what we did. We started on June 8th, which was 6 weeks ago. We have been consistently getting up one hour earlier to talk, read the bible, and pray. There were a couple of times we got into an argument, but we made a choice to make up and pray before the kids got up. There was one time when Bob really wanted to go for a run so he did, but he got back in time to pray with me before getting the kids. I love this morning time. My mind is clear. The house is quiet. I make a cup of coffee and have five minutes of quiet time/meditation time when I pray to the Lord. I then write down the things I want to work on with the kids in a little note book. I also have a bigger note book that I labeled “Intentional Parenting and Marriage”. I write down thoughts on parenting, on my kids, and on the bible passage that I am reading that day. After Bob is done with his reading, we chat a bit about how each other is doing and pray specifically for the kids, such as peaceful obedience, joy and peace, or self control. After prayers, we get the kids up to give them breakfast. I have really enjoyed this time with Bob. We are so much more refreshed first thing in the morning. We are in a much better mood and have much more patience with each other. I am confident that since we have been doing it for 6 weeks, it is a habit to continue on. We start the day right, and feel the most connected to each other in a long time. It highlights the importance of married couples to connect with and pray with/for one another. I feel so blessed that Bob and I are willing to devote this time to each other.
This was the number I had been waiting for all day!
Today was our big retrieval day. We got up super early for the 8am semen collection time. I slept quite well last night, but this thought kept coming back to my mind: what if our donor decided not to show up for retrieval? I guess once the trust is gone for something, it is harder for me to trust her to hold up her part of the bargain, although she had been showing up for every single monitoring appointment. But you know, my mind was doing tricks and it wasn’t a lot of fun to have that anxious feeling. This is exactly what my dear friend Elisha was talking about, the enemy trying to distract us from Jesus and steal the joy from us. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I prayed on and off for God to give us peace and take away that doubt and fear.
We were happy and excited on our ride to the clinic. I was the chauffeur so Bob could relax in the car as he had a very important job to do. Upon arrival, the lady who checked Bob in had a quizzical look on her face when she was trying to locate his appointment in the system. I should clarify that Dr. E is an independent reproductive endocrinologist who has privilege at different local clinics for procedures and the lab. This clinic is the main one that Dr. E uses. So it is quite possible that Bob’s name wasn’t in the system because we weren’t seeing one of the doctors there. The lady turned to me and asked for my name, which she also couldn’t find because I wasn’t the “patient’ per se for the procedure today. She finally checked him in and asked him to go to the andrology lab.
The lady at the andrology lab window also seemed to look very confused as she shuffled the lists of names to locate Bob’s. I had this sinking feeling as I watched her. Did they not know that he was coming and that his sperm was to be used with our donor’s eggs? I took at peek a the lab order and saw that the collection time was supposed to be 9:30am. Why in the world were we asked to arrive at 8? After some confusion, it was finally declared that everything was fine and Bob headed down to his little room to do his business.
Feeling uneasy about the little drama, I called up Dr. E’s office to speak with the nurse. She reassured me that the clinic knew what they were doing but told me that she’d get on it to clarify everything with the clinic on the phone if need be. A few minutes later, Dr. E’s nurse called me back and said that everything was fine. Apparently we were supposed to arrive at 9:30am so the lab was a little confused about our arrival time. But Dr. E’s email clearly said 8am. I guess it didn’t matter as long as the semen was collected and it wasn’t too early for that.
But this little drama kind of threw me off. What if they couldn’t match the sperm with the eggs. Then I was reminded to trust God’s plan. If this is going to happen, it is going to happen. So I took a deep breath and settled in with my book. Bob came out in a little while. He often had a look on his face after his semen collection. I asked him what was up. He said he often wonders if he had produced enough sp.erm since the quantity of the semen didn’t look like a lot. I told him I wouldn’t worry about it because he has been performing every single time. I don’t see how this time would be any different.
I waited in waiting room when Bob was in the bathroom. Dr. E came into the clinic and saw me. She gave me a hug and said that everything was going to be great. Then she pulled me to the side and said, “Your donor is due for her check in right now, so you may want to hide somewhere.” Oh okay. I grabbed Bob who just came out of the bathroom and we quickly exited to the parking lot. I wouldn’t want to accidentally bump into our donor like this.
I don’t know why. Maybe because of the little drama, I was still feeling a little anxious about the possibility of the donor not showing up, which does not make sense at all. If she wanted to be compensated, she’d show up. She had already gone this far. And it wouldn’t be fun to have all these enlarged follicles inside one’s ovaries. So I vacillated between feeling calm and a little anxious. I was thinking, if our donor didn’t show up for retrieval, Dr. E would have notified us in the morning. The fact that there was no phone call or update was a good thing.
My friends were asking if I wanted to write Dr. E for an update. I guess I wanted to just hide in the sand. I was still treating no update as a good sign. Dr. E’s email came at 3:17pm. She had “28!!!” in her subject line, and said that “Retrieval went beautifully. Just wanted to let you know. Next update is tomorrow!” I immediately praised the Lord for answering our prayers! Bob sounded happy but also cautious as we don’t know how many of these 28 eggs are mature and fertilized. I think he is still wondering if his boys performed. But I am grinning from ear to ear! This is such fantastic news and today couldn’t have gone any better.
You know what got me through today? My happy thought of the day, which is “today is the first day of my future child(ren)’s existence”. I truly believe that one or two of these eggs will help make our child(ren). Although our donor had made a mistake and breached our trust and contract, I am still feeling super thankful for her, her willingness to donate, and her super high-performing ovaries.
May this news be the first of many happy moments before we finally meet our baby face to face.
Praise the Lord!
I had a grand plan of what to write for the Microblog Mondays post. But it went out the window after a fight with Bob.
What I realized is that fights are inevitable, especially when we are faced with one obstacle after another in the last long four years of our infertility journey.
After the news we received last Thursday of the possibility of needing surrogacy, Bob and I have been discussing on and off about the future. It has not been an easy topic to discuss. How does one wrap their mind around possibly needing a 4th party for their reproductive needs after already needing a 3rd party? How many people do we need in order to have a child?
There are so many questions. No clear path.
Do we still go with a donor? What about the agency fee that we already paid? Do we go with donated embryos? Do we transfer in my uterus if we know that there is a chance for serious pregnancy complications? Do we do the surgery? Do we skip the surgery and do the Lup.ron Depot? Do we skip transferring into me all together and just go straight to surrogacy? Do we skip the whole thing and pursue adoption?
We find ourselves at a crossroad constantly. We doubt our choices in the past because they didn’t bring us to where we want to be. We wonder about our future decisions and if we’d choose the right path.
This is painful.
All in all, my husband has been extremely supportive. But he also needs an outlet to release his emotions. Often times the stress of infertility manifests itself in his annoyances in other things in life.
It doesn’t help when I am in general more fragile because of this new development. It is so hard to wrap my mind around losing the ability to carry my own child.
Happy to report that we got over whatever we were fighting about. But I know that it doesn’t matter what we fight about, the stress often comes from the current situation with the unknowns of our fertility journey.
Hopefully after the surgery consultation, we’ll have a clearer picture of what we should do next.
Extra grace, extra understanding, and extra patience are needed for us to get through this rough patch.
We continue to need peace and strength from God. Please keep us in your prayers.
I was going to write about something light, like how I chopped off six inches of my hair, or Bob’s birthday week fun activities. But yeah, the agony that I had last week over choosing the next step occupied my mind so much that I have to write about it.
So much went through my head last week. It was debilitating to not be able to have peace with decision making. It simply stressed me out so much that my shoulders took the brunt of it. I constantly felt my shoulders rising up to my ears. I hadn’t felt so stressed out since we last had to choose a donor. I think the information that I received from Dr. E and gathering data on cost was just too overwhelming for me. I was basically on an overthinking overdrive.
What was going on in my mind? Well, I was weighing the different options of working with my own clinic, working with Dr. E., going to a clinic in San Diego, or going to a clinic in Oregon. In regards to the cost, it is still the most reasonable to go with my own clinic. Although the sperm test is extra expensive, the cost of the ERA testing with biopsies on both day four and day five is going to be less expensive than doing one biopsy with Dr. E. Being a boutique clinic, her fees (except for the sperm test) are higher across the board in comparison to my current clinic. Cycling with her for a DE cycle is more expensive than at my current clinic. Since she is an independent doctor not affiliated with any clinics, there is no SART data to support her success rate. The success rate of my own clinic is similar to those two clinics in Oregon and San Diego. Then why do I have to spend extra time and money to become a patient at these other clinics?
Why do I have to decide which clinic to go to rather than doing all the testing first? Well, for the ERA test to assess the receptivity of my lining, the test results will only be relevant when the test transfer protocol for the biopsy is the same as that of the real embryo transfer. I already know what protocol Dr. NN will put me on and I know that this particular medicated transfer protocol can grow my lining well. If I go to Dr. E, she may use a different protocol. And if I have her do the ERA testing but don’t go to her for my DE cycle, my real transfer protocol may be different and the ERA testing results would be rendered useless.
My nurse’s calendar for me showed that the biopsies will be done in end of March, which is great timing. If I wait to make a decision about going to Dr. E, other clinics, or back to my own clinic, then we may have to wait another month to do the ERA test. That cuts very close to our Maui trip end of April. If we don’t do it in April, then we do it in end of May. I would like to get something going with the new DE cycle some time in June, right before my in-laws come in mid-June.
There were some other things that made me uncomfortable about working with Dr. E, which is surprising to myself. I had never felt uncomfortable with or intimidated by Dr. E when I worked with her in the past. However, the way she answered my questions this time just made it overwhelming and intimidating to me. She insisted on seeing my uterus even though I sent her reports and images of my hysteroscopy and my most recent saline sonogram done only two months ago. The scan clearly showed that my uterine cavity is clear. She said she wanted to look at it with her own eyes with a simple pelvic scan. Remember she mentioned about adenomyosis? My dear friend in this field told me that adenomyosis is usually confirmed only through a pathological report, often after a hysterectomy. You really can’t see adenomyosis from a pelvic scan because it is in the myometrium, or the middle layer, of the uterus. She did say that from the pictures of my scans, it did look extremely reassuring, but she would still want to take a look. I just don’t know what else she could look at. Doing a scan with her is not cheap. I pay out of pocket. So yeah, I don’t know why but I felt very intimidated. I also felt that one test to check on my receptivity is enough, and two (both the ERA test and the beta-3 integrin test) might be an overkill.
Something else about her also made me feel uncomfortable. I am interested in a proven donor who worked with another Bay Area doctor and Dr. E for her first two DE cycles. The first cycle she had 26 eggs. The second cycle with Dr. E (which is such a coincidence that she had worked with this doctor) yielded 55 eggs. I don’t know about you but I feel extremely uncomfortable that Dr. E overstimulated this donor so much. The end results of both cycles were similar: 7 blastocysts and 8 blastocysts respectively, with a successful pregnancy for both. This piece of information about Dr. E just complicated my feelings.
I emailed my nurse to see if I could do one biopsy instead of two, as well as if Dr. No Nonsense recommends the beta-3 integrin test. The answer is yes, I can do just one biopsy, but they recommend doing both days 4 and 5 so we could save time. Dr. NN said that I could do the beta-3 integrin test but he thinks that the ERA test is superior over the other test and he does not recommend it to any of his patients anymore.
My husband got mad at me because of this whole thing. I had been trying to gather all the information about various tests from the different doctors, nurses, and financial people. I didn’t want to present this whole thing to him in bits and pieces. Since I was still trying to wrap my mind around this whole thing, I was waiting for a good chance to talk to him. Given our busy schedule last Monday and Tuesday, we didn’t get a chance to talk. When he came home on Tuesday, he saw that I was chatting with a friend online about it. Wednesday morning, instead of a usual happy man coming home from fitness bootcamp, he came home unhappy. He felt left out that I asked everyone else for their opinion but him. I was at first very upset that he didn’t understand why I waited to talk to him. However, I put myself in his shoes and thought about my behaviors and actions in the previous few days, I started to understand why he felt the way he felt. So instead of my original plan of going to work early, I took out my little chart that I had drawn for myself to make sense of this whole thing and used 15 minutes to explain to him what had been bugging me. I am glad that my life partner does not hold grudges in silence but instead voices his frustrations and concerns with me. I am grateful that we had a chance to smooth things out.
My trusted therapist helped too. That same evening I had a session with her. In that session, I learned that I was back to being cerebral with my decision making. I was over thinking, which drove me to a point where I couldn’t make decisions. I was afraid of regrets. She listened to all of my dilemma and asked me deep down what I believed in. I told her that deep down, I believe that I have a uterus that is good, I will get pregnant with a good embryo, and I will become a mother. She told me that whatever decision that we make will be the best decision for our path. She would like me to consider making a decision that stresses me out the least.
That same evening, Bob and I talked about this whole thing at home. He asked me if I had made a decision about which doctor/clinic to go with. I have learned to listen to his opinion. I asked him to tell me first which doctor he would like to work with. He thought for a few seconds, and told me that he would still like to work with Dr. NN. I am so glad I asked him because that was my answer too. I just feel that it is the simplest right now for me and Bob to not worry about starting all over with another clinic again. Going with Dr. NN again really gives me the peace that I didn’t have in the past week. What a relief that Bob and I are on the same page.
So yeah, after a lot of prayers for clarity and peace, I will start Lup.ron next week in preparation for two biopsies at the end of March. I am finally at peace with this decision. I cherish this sense of peace so much especially after feeling so paralyzed by the inability to decide. I based my decision on my emotional responses to these doctors. Sometimes that’s just what we have to go with.
Today is Christmas.
This year, we have no Christmas decorations. No tree, no ornaments, no stockings. We did exchange gifts that we bought for each other without wrapping them. A few presents for my side of the family are scattered in front of the fireplace waiting for the owners to claim them. We opted out of the Christmas Eve service. We are not trying to avoid people, festivity, or the usually holiday hustle and bustle. We are not doing these things deliberately. We just feel that this year we want to lay low and enjoy a low key holiday season. I want to recognize that it is okay not to be celebrating Christmas the traditional ways that are done by so many others. It is okay to just spend time doing whatever we feel like. It is okay to just chill and be by ourselves.
I am not sad. I am not uncomfortable. I am actually at peace with all the decisions that we have made about this holiday season.
Given what happened to us the last couple of days, I thought I would have reacted in a much more negative way, blaming God and being angry at Him for throwing us more chaos and inconvenience on top of all the struggles and hardship that we have had in the past year. But yeah, I just feel at peace. This is a huge blessing in itself.
You see, two days ago, Bob’s car died. The more I think about it, the more relieved and thankful I am that he was the one who gave me a phone call about the news, not any emergency workers. I didn’t grasp the severity of the car’s problem until our mechanic gave us the diagnosis: the engine just totally died on our 9-year-old Suba.ru, a car that in my brother’s word was “indestructible”. That morning when Bob started the car, the engine sounded fine. All the way down the freeway for about 35 minutes, the car ran normally. It was right when he exited the freeway and had to accelerate going around the curve that he discovered that the car’s accelerator did not listen to his command. By the time he got off the freeway exit, nothing worked: his power steering lost power, his brakes failed to respond to him, and all sorts of lights were flashing on his dashboard. God protected him. It had been raining here, but it was nice and sunny on that day. The normal traffic was non-existent because of the quiet holiday week. The spot where he was waiting in the car for the tow truck to come was relatively safe compared to some spots right at the exit of the freeway or even on the freeway. Since this happened on December 23 earlier in the day, our mechanic hadn’t gone on his four-day break yet. We were able to tow the car to the shop and were also able to get the diagnosis and were given the options on December 24, the day before our mechanic’s vacation. Although the car’s engine totally died, the cost of repair is not worth our money, which means we will have to now shop for a new car, things could have gotten much worst. We could have had this problem while we are 3.5 hours away from home had this happened during our trip down the coast. Imagine being in the middle of vacation having to pay extra to tow the car back to the city while dealing with the logistics. Imagine having this problem today. The only thing we could have done would be to tow the car back home and to worry about towing the car to our mechanic’s shop after the holidays. Imagine the engine dying On. The. Freeway. I don’t even want to go there. I can’t imagine losing Bob and I hope and pray that this scenario would never happen. But that was a possibility and I am ultra relieved that the car died when the car died.
It is sad that this happened. It sucks that we are now down to one car and will have to try to purchase a car as soon as possible. It is a burden to think about what kind of car to get. We have been talking about buying a car in the past year. The decision has always been put off by us trying to get pregnant and having a baby. The cost of fertility treatment has caused us to be very cautious with our spending on big ticket items. We have earmarked our savings enough for another fresh donor egg cycle should this frozen embryo transfer fail. We have saved up enough money for a new car if/when we need one. However, I know Bob’s fear. He is afraid that we would have to hoard the money saved up for a car for another IVF cycle if both the frozen embryo transfer AND another fresh donor egg cycle fail. He is driven by this fear to save up every single extra penny that we have. When you don’t have control over the cycle, how the eggs fertilize and grow, how the embryos behave, how my uterus is receptive, you just want to control something that you think you have control over, such as money. I do get it. But, I also feel that we should have faith that the Lord is going to take care of these things if they are the right steps for us to take. If we need a new car, which we obviously do, then we will spend that money. If we need to save up more money for another cycle, then we will. I think we need to learn to turn things around and be happy that the Lord has helped us save up money so we have the means to do this. We have to learn to see things in another perspective that being blessed with good jobs, budgeting pays off. I hope we learn to be excited that a new family car is our way to prepare for our new child that will join us in the next year.
Oh you know, car trouble was not the only thing that happened on December 23. After a long day of dealing with the towing and the diagnosis and other things, all I wanted was a nice hot shower at night. My heart sank when pulling the temperature control of my shower to the right only resulted in lukewarm water at best. After finishing the quickest shower ever, I inspected the hot water heater. After reading the instructions on the relighting the pilot, I resorted to a you.tube video. Luckily I found one with the exact model of our hot water heater and learned to relight the pilot. I was desperately hoping for the pilot to stay lit so that I didn’t have to call anyone or spend any more money. But it didn’t matter how long I held that “pilot” button, the fire would not stay lit. Being tired, disappointed, and cold (because of the cold shower), patience was running thin in the household. Bob lost a half day of work because of the car problem, so he worked until after midnight to solve a problem that he had been trying to solve for a few days. I know it is easy to be down about getting hit by one bad thing after another. First the car, then the hot water heater that is only 3 years old. ON THE SAME DAY. It is so easy to be discouraged by all the expenses that we will have. But I only let myself be frustrated for a little, and comforted Bob as his day was a lot more emotionally drained than mine.
I woke up early and left a message at the two plumbing services 30 minutes before their supposed opening time. I was hoping that the plumbers would still work on December 24th. One of them called me back within 15 minutes. (I never heard back from the other one.) This guy quoted me a bunch of money, which was still within my reasonable budget, and gave me a window between 9:30 and 10:30 that same morning. Bob left for work without a shower. Two plumbers arrived on time, diagnosed the problem, fixed it, and entertained me with jokes and humor. Within 20 minutes, and a couple of hundred of dollars out of our pocket, we got hot water back.
What did I learn from this incident? Time and time again, I think that my father is the wisest man on earth. He often tells me that a problem that can be resolved with money that we have is not a real problem. We have always put aside money for house maintenance, so the cost is not a problem. I am just so thankful that this happened on December 23, so a nice plumber who decided to work on Christmas eve could fix the water heater for us. I happened to have found somebody who was very experienced in this type of water heater, so the problem got fixed beautifully. The plumber said that he had to turn away callers that day for services, so I felt tremendously fortunate that 1) the water heater broke on a day when a plumber was still willing to come, 2) it was an easily fixable problem by capable hands, 3) I got to the plumber early enough, 4) he got it done in no time. Things could have gone worse. It could have happened today and nobody would have been willing to come out. It could have been the other problem that would cost southward of one grand. The plumber said that this part that needed to be replaced usually breaks between three to five years. We moved back into the house after our new remodel on December 22, 2012. The part broke on December 23, 2015. Right on the dot. Crazy?
The plumber kept joking that bad things come in threes. He told me to go break a glass or stay in bed for the whole day. But hey, one’s gotta live life, right? Can’t avoid life by staying in bed all day. Because the heater got fixed so quickly, I got to have lunch with one of my best friends for three hours. We caught up and chatted about anything and everything. Just being very real with each other about our joy, happiness, frustrations, struggles, insights, perspectives. It was a wonderful afternoon. My friend is not without her struggles. She is a single person who wants to be married and have kids. She watches her friends reach their goals and check things off their life list, and she is still trying to find someone to spend the rest of her life with. But her resilience is such a great example for me to follow. We learned a lot from each other in those few hours.
I don’t anticipate the third bad thing to happen. But if it did, I know that I have the resilience and strength to face whatever that may come our way. These so-called “bad things” are helping me to reflect on my way of handling things and ways to change my response if needed. Who is to say that this is not a great Christmas present from God?
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.
This seems like the theme recently in our household.
Iris, our donor, may well have been scheduled with appointments. But I haven’t contacted my nurse to find out more. The only update that I was given was a voicemail from my nurse scheduling an appointment with me for a consultation for August 17th to go over the findings from Iris’ genetic consult. Other than that, nothing much is going on.
It’s a waiting game, right? So we wait.
In the mean time, I got some very good news from a reader of this blog. She reached out to me a little while ago, letting me know that she is cheering me on. She goes to the same clinic and was going to pursue egg donation. Since she and her husband wanted a fully Chinese donor, the wait was a little longer. She eventually picked a donor who did not pass the initial screening. How devastating it is to finally find a suitable person only to know that she did not qualify to donate. Fortunately, the agency director (the same one that we work with) helped her find a repeat donor who agreed to donate to her. I had been waiting for her news since I knew she transferred end of June. I was so worried that her silence meant an unsuccessful cycle. When I learned that she is now over 7 weeks pregnant, I was so thrilled for her! Somehow, anyone who gets pregnant with donor eggs just gives me hope that my cycle can work too.
Hope. And fear.
I was having a discussion with Aramis about it. I have been having fear daily about my future cycle that it won’t work for me. On some level, I feel that the odds are on our side. But on some other level, it is really hard for me to believe that I will finally get pregnant. I just feel that I can’t be that lucky because I always fall on the wrong side of statistics. But if I continue this line of thinking, I am discounting what God has planned for me. I don’t know what will happen, but having fear is not the way to go. It is irrational, which I know. No one knows what will happen in the future except for God, and I need to choose to trust Him daily for the future. I was telling Aramis that I can play devil’s advocate myself to counter my own irrational thoughts and fear. It is a weird position to be in: to have a lot of hope but at the same time not to dare to hope too much. It’s so crazy. Somehow, I can’t wait for the cycle to start so if the first round fails, I can start the second round sooner rather than later.
However, my dear friend Aramis reassured me that it is not crazy. These are “just the thoughts of someone who’s been through this more than enough and is ready for it to be over.”
Which is so true.
I am so thankful that I have friends around me who have done this and have had similar emotions resulting from the whole egg donation process. I do not hesitate to go talk to them when I need to. And they have constantly been providing unwavering support even when they are very busy mothers with their little ones. I can’t imagine going through this without them.
In a sense, because of my own fear, I can actually understand my husband’s recent fear.
Bob’s current company may run out of funding in the next couple of months, which means job insecurity for him. As a software engineer in this area, he is contacted by recruiters on a regular basis. He wasn’t really interested in talking to any of them prior to learning about the potential fate of his company. Once he found out that he might not have a job in the near future, he started doing some phone interviews, online interviews, and in-person ones. He recently received a job offer with a bigger and more established company, with a significant pay raise, a more senior position, and new career directions and challenges that he feels excited about. He even gets as many vacation days as I do, which I had worked hard for after being with my company for over ten years. The only drawback is the location, which is 45-minute drive away rather than in the city. All in all, it is a very good change for him. He spoke with the person that he’ll report to, and felt even better about the direction of the team and the company. However, his excitement is also complicated by last year’s experience with his previous job where he was let go. Because of that experience, when things just happened out of the blue and went downhill fast for no particular reason, it is somehow hard for him to trust, especially start-up companies. He came home and told me his irrational fear: that somehow this new company would withdraw its offer after he quits his current job. He knows that it is irrational. But somehow he can’t help himself.
I did not tease him or dismiss his fear. It is real. This is coming from someone who has been hurt before by trusting those who were not trustworthy. I can totally see the parallel between his experience and mine. He got burnt, and really needs time to recover from it even though now he gets good news. In order to protect himself, he questions his decisions and wonders whether this is the right thing to do. I have also been burnt so many times in the past few years (with Bob together no less), with so much hope in all the cycles which resulted in nothing but a significantly smaller bank account.
I told Bob that I understand his fear. It is irrational. But it is so real. I told him about my fear. To him, my fear is a lot more significant than his. If his job fails, he can find a new job. If our cycle fails, then what next? Can we live child-free the rest of our lives?
I think it is healthy to let ourselves process our feelings. But I will try not to dwell on it for too long. I encouraged Bob to pray about his fears and to give it all up to God. I promise him that I will do the same. Since things are so out of our control, there is really nothing much we can do about our situations, right?
Bob and I are in this together. We are so blessed that we can lift each other up in times of need and in times of fear. This is the silver lining of this journey called life.
I am so glad the weekend is here. Even better that it is a long one.
Last two weeks were some of the toughest weeks I have experienced. Somehow I don’t quite recall how trying for a baby month after month, starting IVF the first round, and banking embryos for the second round felt. Maybe because I got used to it and felt familiar with the process. Now that we’re moving on to egg donation, I was expecting my uterus to behave like usual so we could just move on with the process. The fact that a therapeutic hysteroscopy is required in order to move forward is making my psychological wellbeing suffer a little. My cycle going a little crazy again also depressed me a little. Let me explain.
Menses started on March 18th after our failed transfer. I bled for days and did not ovulate at all. Breakthrough bleeding started on April 30th (my wedding anniversary no less). I expected it to last for a few days like my usual cycles. No luck. I was bleeding for whole 19 days straight. Last Sunday it was getting heavier and I was even passing blood clots, which scared and worried me because blood clotting is not good for implantation and staying pregnant. Blood clots are also something new to me. I wrote my OB/GYN about the blood clots, and she still thinks that the IVF drugs threw off my hormonal balance. However, if I continue to be worried, she recommends a visit with her. I just had an uneasy feeling that bleeding for so many days with an increased flow and blood clots is not normal. I emailed my own nurse at my fertility clinic. She said that if Dr. No Nonsense detects a blood clotting problem, he would prescribe both baby aspirin and Love.nox.
Another thing is, the surgical coordinator told me to contact her on cycle day two so that I could start birth control pills in preparation for the hysteroscopy if we decide to go with my current clinic. Bob and I gave it some serious thoughts and do want to pay out of pocket to get my RE to perform the procedure. However, given my continuous heavy bleeding and my recent wonky cycles, who knows when cycle day two would be? Another thing is, Dr. No Nonsense is going to be overseas for a conference for two weeks in June. He wants to be the one performing the procedure. If we don’t catch him early enough, then we would have to wait until he comes back late June. My email to the surgical coordinator on Sunday inquired about the bleeding situation and the timing of the surgery. We connected on Monday morning. She informed me that Dr. No Nonsense wanted me to start birth control pills right away because I was still bleeding. I would be on the pill until the day of the surgery. However, if my bleeding stops before I can start the pill, then I really will have to wait until cycle day two to start it. That will further delay the procedure. I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind starting the pills on cycle day two. But I respect the process. I was surprised to see that after passing lots of blood clots on Sunday, my bleeding had reduced to spotting on Monday. If I didn’t start birth control pills on that day, then I would really have to wait until my body decides to ovulate or to have breakthrough bleeding. Then it might take us all the way to June or even July before we could begin to schedule for the hysteroscopy.
You see the urgency for me to take advantage of my bleeding situation so I could start the pill?
So that morning at work, I had to rush to have the surgical coordinator order birth control pills for me. Since my insurance does not cover for prescription ordered by my fertility clinic, I could wait for my OB/GYN to write me a prescription. However, if I waited for my GYN, I had a feeling that my bleeding would stop the next day, which means I could not start the pills right away. Instead of waiting for my GYN, I found an online discount coupon for the birth control pills and just paid out of pocket at the pharmacy down the street from work. I swallowed my first birth control pill in my life at 1pm last Monday. My first birth control pill at age 40. That must be some kind of record. I must have had a good hunch about things, because bleeding did stop later that day. Timing is everything, right? However, I was still worried that I started the birth control pills at the wrong time (because the bleeding had stopped shortly after I took the pill) and that would jeopardize the uterine lining and thus the surgery. I wrote the surgical coordinator for reassurance, which she gave me as she told me to just continue the pills until the day of the surgery.
As if this is not complicated enough (or that I have made it complicated enough), Bob and I got into a robust discussion that morning about funding the procedure. We do have the money for it. And since it is a medical expense, I can use my Health Savings Account money. However, my HSA does not currently have enough funds so I would have to fund it with my next paycheck. My next paycheck is on May 31st. I notice that depending on when our work payroll person deposits the HSA checks, sometimes the fund doesn’t show up until 5 or 6 days after pay day. So Bob would like me to schedule the procedure some time after June 6th so that the HSA money is enough to cover for the procedure. That kind of stressed me out because Dr. NN is going overseas on June 5th. If we don’t schedule something before then, then we’d have to wait until later. But Bob was also going a little crazy about having to pay for one other thing. I think psychologically he just felt that our fertility problems have gone out of control. Just one thing after another. Everything has been unexpected, of course. And even when we were so prepared for having to do a egg donation cycle, we still didn’t expect my uterus to have problems. So his frustration is not because of the cost of the procedure per se, but because of his sense of lack of control. He even went as crazy as to say that we should just cancel our Chicago trip and some other things. I found that when he feels the lack of control, he becomes illogical like that. So this whole conversation took place online while I was juggling work, correspondence with the surgical coordinator, and emailing my GYN. Finally, I stopped engaging in that online conversation with him and just stepped away.
And not to mention that I had a huge presentation scheduled on Wednesday so I was trying madly to finish up the final touches. My dad was going to come to town on Tuesday from Hong Kong after not coming back for 2.5 years. Given some sensitive family issues between my husband and my side of the family, it was stressful for me emotionally to deal with everything all at once.
I know that all of this may not sound like a lot to all of you. But it was a lot for me to take. I really didn’t need Bob to go crazy on me about finances. Fortunately, my husband always thinks about our robust discussions afterwards. One of the good things about him is that he comes around very quickly. He became sane again and apologized later on. When the surgical coordinator came back with June 3rd as my surgery date, I told Bob that we might have to use funds other than the ones in my HSA for part of the procedure. He returned my message thanking me for trying to use my HSA and told me that it would be fine to use other funds. I was so glad to get my logical husband back.
Normally I don’t get stressed out by any one of these things. Somehow I had a really difficult time handling all of them at the same time. I told Bob not to fight me on Tuesday and Wednesday because I needed to put my game face on for my presentation. My body could feel my stress though. My shoulder hurt. My wrist hurt. I was emotionally on survival mode.
Then this happened on Wednesday, the afternoon before my huge presentation:
My husband sent these flowers to work for me to wish me luck at my presentation and told me that I would do an awesome job. Aren’t they gorgeous? He saw how stressed out I was in the past few days and wanted to cheer me up.
This has made up for everything. The good news is, the presentation went really well, my dad arrived safely, and both Bob and I have been having a fantastic time with my parents.
Like I said, I am so glad the week is over. Next week will definitely be better.
I should’ve known better. I’ve been married for over three years. I should’ve known that if we decided to go out, we’d get into a fight.
It’s seasonably sunny and warm here in my area (Indian summer in October is typical). Yesterday, Bob asked if we could go out today because of the sunny weather. I gladly said yes. Fast forward today. We did chores in the morning and had lunch at home. All afternoon, I had been waiting for him to get himself off the couch from watching football so that we could go out. He didn’t really seem like he wanted to go. I told him that we could just stay home. But at one point, I also said, “Didn’t you say you wanted to go out today?” He took that as me sending him mixed messages. He still looked reluctant to go when he put his shoes on. I told him (and I meant it), that I’d rather stay home than upsetting him because he didn’t want to go. I prophetically said, “If we go out when you don’t want to, I think we’re going to get into a fight.”
Yes. That was prophetic. Because we did get into a fight. We hadn’t even pulled out from the driveway and he already said something to upset me. I remember a post by A Calm Persistence that struck a chord. Her husband asked her a question that annoyed her. She had two choices. She could flip out and get mad, or she could choose peace. And she chose peace. I applaud her for that because it’s very difficult to choose peace at times.
Today was very difficult for me to choose peace. At times, I get very angry because of what Bob says or the way he says it. I already told him I would rather stay home than having this person next to me who didn’t want to go out. However, he thought that I gave him mixed messages. He didn’t think that I meant it when I said okay to not going out. He felt guilty keeping me home and he wanted to please me. But instead of pleasing me, he started to get upset and said things that were basically not true in my ears.
This seems like such a small matter. Going out or not going out. I didn’t care. I just wanted a peaceful afternoon. My afternoon was anything but.
When I get angry, I say things that I shouldn’t say. But I don’t get to that point of anger unless Bob continues to say something to push my button. I don’t know about your spouse. My spouse really knows which button to push. He’s very lovely when he’s calm. When he’s mad or upset, he becomes a little irrational and brings up a lot of different issues that we were even fighting about in the first place. That gets me even more upset and angrier. And then I start saying the F-word because I am so upset. And that upsets him even more because of me yelling and screaming. It’s such a vicious cycle and I just really want to stop. I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like sometimes there is this demon in me that I can’t control. I knew that my foul mouth is so sinful and so provocative that Bob for sure would get upset. However, when I am at that point, I just feel that I can’t stop myself from it.
A marriage needs a lot of grace and patience. Grace and patience don’t come from ourselves. They are granted by the Lord. And we have to pray and to ask for it. I sometimes feel like a failure as I fail at communicating with God about the constant need of grace in my marriage. I fail to confess my sins of my foul mouth. I fail to change how I interact with my husband. And I also fail at communicating with my husband in a way that doesn’t further upset him.
We were fighting in the car. He calmly told me which of my words upset him. He told me not to talk if I couldn’t talk without screaming. So I shut my mouth the rest of the way. He parked the car and just sat there. I opened the door and walked out. It was a walkway by this crowded beach. I walked very fast to the other side of the beach. Tears started streaming down. It was such a self-fulfilling prophecy. I said we were going to fight if we went out. We went out and we fought. I was mad at myself for letting the fight escalate. I was mad at him for being stubborn and saying things that upset me. I walked faster and faster. And tears kept on streaming. This is not how I envisioned coming to the beach. I stood there watching the people around me. They were all playing, lying in the sun, throwing a football, having a picnic, riding the waves, running in the water, and having a lot of fun. I stood there alone, staring at the ocean, hoping that my husband would at least come and meet me where I was.
I felt so lonely. Standing there felt so meaningless without him next to me enjoying the sunshine, the warmth, the sea breeze, and the view. In this world, we have just each other to hold and to cherish. We should be on the same front fighting the same cause. We should be focusing our energy on enjoying each other and expanding our family. Instead, we waste our time and energy on fighting because we don’t think for the other person first. It all stems from selfishness.
Life is so messy sometimes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get rid of all the fights and just focus on making a baby and each other? I definitely need a lot of help in this department. I just feel so vulnerable today… As if we were the only people who would get into fights. That feels lonely too. I hope to learn in the future to stop, breathe, and think about the two choices that I have. I can choose peace or I can choose to win an argument. I hope that I will learn to choose peace.
I thought I didn’t have to go back to my therapist. Well I guess I didn’t HAVE to. But the first thing that came to my mind after my cyst incident was to tell my therapist about my thoughts and feelings around it. As much as I thought that I was done talking to her (because I can take care of myself, right??), my reaction told me otherwise. I emailed her and got an appointment this past Wednesday.
Right before I went, I still thought that I would just talk about my disappointment surrounding the canceled cycle, then I would run out of things to say. What a naive thought. Well, I basically talked the rest of the session without a gap. I did have a lot to say.
I thought it was very productive. We talked about quite a few things. She was empathetic about the cancelation because I had been so ready for it since the momentum for the new cycles had been built for quite some time. Ever since I started seeing her, I began to give more thoughts to my feelings. I feel like giving them a name. (Not a real person’s name like Ursula for the cyst.) I used to feel some vague unpleasant feelings and I might not have pinpointed what they were. When the cyst was discovered, the word “disappointed” kept popping in my head. I wasn’t frustrated per se. Just disappointed. My therapist commented on how good it is for me to name my feeling, own it, and move on.
I went on to talk about my feelings for pregnant ladies and new moms. This all stemmed from my friend Anna who is about to give birth. While I waited to feel ready for a new cycle, Anna’s belly grew bigger and bigger. She is finally due and the baby is going to come at any moment. I shared with my therapist about how I found out about Anna’s pregnancy, how I sometimes feel guilty for being jealous of those pregnant friends who had tried as long as we have if not even longer, how I feel that I should not be jealous, and how I feel I should work towards feeling happy for them. I feel a sense of losing the camaraderie between myself and these friends, the sense of someone fighting a battle with you side by side, and the sense of being left behind.
My therapist’s point on this is that, I am only human. It’s natural to have envy or jealousy. It’s natural to feel being left behind. It’s very much okay to have these feelings. The more important thing is how we deal with our feelings. It’s much better to acknowledge our feelings, own them, and move on, than to avoid those feelings or get stuck on them. It’s normal to be jealous of those who have crossed to the other side, even if they have struggled like we do. However, if I say that I feel guilty for being jealous and I should be happy for them, then I am putting judgment on myself. There is no should’ves, would’ves, or could’ves. And don’t focus on the what-ifs. We cannot change the past or predict the future. These thoughts are not useful. Instead, we strive to live in the presence and experience our current situation, thoughts, and feelings. That’s a lot healthier than regretting the past or being fearful of the future. And it’s a lot healthier to name the feeling and move on.
My therapists said that people who experience fertility challenges are often hard on themselves. I myself included. If a friend came to me and told me her feelings, I’d most likely comfort her and let her know that it’s okay to feel a certain way because we’re just human beings. However, we don’t say that to ourselves because we’re often hard on ourselves. So she said, be kind to myself and sometimes talk to myself like I’d talk to my own friends.
What if I get stuck on a feeling and can’t move on? She said, if I get stuck with a feeling after acknowledging it, I should get up and move around. Our frontal cortex is great but it’s difficult for human beings to shut off our feelings. When we do something different, such as moving around, walking outside, or changing our posture, we help change our feelings and we won’t feel as stuck.
Finally, I told her about the flowers that were sent to work by my husband, how I was pleasantly surprised by them because of our prior fight and talk about saving up every single penny for IVF. Bob has an extreme focus on saving up money for IVF and more importantly, donor egg cycles. He sometimes views spending money on something else as deviating from our goal. However, I feel that we should sometimes stop and smell the roses. I feel that we should not focus every single moment on IVF but to live life. This has been a source of tension even when I am actually not a big spender. My therapist said that money is the number cause of fights for couples who struggle with infertility. She pointed out that as a partner who is not doing the physical part of IVF, such as the injections, the retrieval, or the transfer, he would want some control in this process. One thing that a partner feels like he has control over is the money aspect. It’s very common. She told me to put myself in his shoes and think about what he’s going through. Then I’ll have more empathy and will be able to step back from a fight if I take his perspective. The fact that Bob surprised me with flowers on his own shortly after our big fight shows that he is very open to this dialogue of coming to a mutual ground with our finances. He is trying and he did it out of his heart.
I had never thought about the control part and I found it very true. It sheds some new light on Bob’s thoughts and feelings and I am very appreciated of this new insight. However, my therapist said that she agrees with me that living life is very important too. So Bob and I should sit down and talk about how we want to spend a little bit of money on date nights or entertainment so that we don’t feel that we’re dragged down financially, emotionally, and mentally by this process. During a fight, she suggested that I (we) can get up and move around. That should help us be unstuck and feel less angry. She said I could tell him that the therapist said it’s okay to live life. She senses that we have a very strong bond and are really on the same page trying to work towards our goal. We could bring Bob into the therapy session as a guest to talk for a couple of sessions about our feelings surrounding finances, IVF, and infertility. We could also pursue couples counseling with another therapist that my current therapist highly recommends.
I walked out of the session more empowered. Talking to her really helps to straighten out my thoughts and feelings. Bob is still trying to decide if he wants to come to a session with me. It’d be interesting to see how the dynamics change.
As for our current cycle, today is cycle day twelve. I went for my acupuncture appointment on Tuesday and Maya abdominal massage appointment yesterday. I am also doing self care massages at home and taking herbs to try to clear up the cyst. We’ll see if Ursula is as agreeable as my first two cysts. Bob and I are trying naturally as usual. We continue to hope for the best that we’ll find ourselves pregnant in a couple of weeks and we’ll get the refund from UCSF for the mini cycle that we have paid for already. Let’s hope, pray, and believe together?