MicroblogMondays: Disrespect

My in-laws’ visit to the States is nearing the end.  Eleven more days before they depart.  It has been relatively calm compared to their last visit two years ago, as Bob has listened to me and tried not to react to his mother’s constant pestering and endless complaints of various things that he has not done right in life.  Trust me that it has been very hard to do and he has been restraining his tongue the best he can.  I am very proud of him for being respectful to his parents even though they yell at him a lot.  His mom really knows how to push his button.  The two of them are still displeased that he went against their wishes to marry me, and think that even if he didn’t marry me, he’d still have these same babies with another woman.  I don’t know how that’d work in their minds, but whatever. He just doesn’t fight back as much anymore.  It isn’t worth it.  I don’t understand most of the things they talk about in Tamil anyways.

Today I want to talk about disrespect.  Bob has these relatives who live about 45 minute away.  We had already visited them a couple of weeks prior, but my mother-in-law wanted to invite them over for Saturday lunch because the relative mentioned how she would love to eat this one dish made by my mother-in-law. Since my in-laws only have two weekends left, Bob told her not to invite these relatives over because entertaining someone over the weekend takes a lot of work and energy.  We would still need to take them to Indian grocery store 40 minutes away, and my mother-in-law also wanted to go visit Cos.tco and a dollar store.  The timing just doesn’t always work if we pack so much in as my in-laws only eat at home and won’t visit a restaurant.  .  Having these relatives that we had already visited over for lunch just added to the pressure of timing.  But alas, she did invite them despite Bob’s opposition.  On Saturday, prior to the relatives’ visit, my mother-in-law told me that these relatives were bringing their own paper plates.  She explained that they had paper plates left from their son’s birthday party.  Since we have babies, they didn’t want to burden us more by making us wash more dishes.  Well, the true and unspoken reason was totally different.  These relatives, in particular the wife, are strict Hindu Brahmin who only trust vegetarian food prepared at home.  They wanted to avoid using our plates fearing that these plates have touched meat before.  But I felt disrespected by this behavior.  They were coming to eat the food that was prepared at our home but they didn’t have the decency to use our plates and utensils.  I had never seen such behavior and was quite appalled by it.  These relatives showed up with paper plates and disposable utensils.  Even the mother-in-law of the wife was scolding her for bringing her own plates rather than using the host’s plates.  The daughter-in-law was defending herself saying that she had learned it from her grandmother and couldn’t help it.  I remained courteous throughout the whole visit but I did feel a little insulted and disrespected watching them whip out and eat off of their own paper plates.

And then, the same night, my mother-in-law asked Bob why I would call her “pathi” and my father-in-law “thatha”.  Here is the back story.  My in-laws had never told me how to address them.  I asked Bob many times, and all he said was to not to address them.  To me, this is really weird.  American people call their in-laws by name, or simply mom and dad.  In my culture, there is a title for every person so I’d call my mother-in-law “lai-lai” and my father-in-law “lo-yeh” if they were Chinese.  But no, I don’t have a way of addressing my in-laws.  When they visited two years ago, I couldn’t call them anything because I didn’t know how, but it made me feel like a very impolite person.  My MIL would refer to my FIL to me as “uncle”.  She still does it this time.  She would say, “Let me talk to uncle”.  This makes me cringe every single time because he is NOT my uncle.  But I don’t say anything and just let her be.  This time during their visit, I follow the babies and call them “pathi” and “thatha” like what the babies will in the future.  This ability to address them makes life so much easier as I would call to their room and say “pathi or thatha, please come help.”  I don’t see anything wrong with it as it’s pretty natural to follow your children and call their grandparents grandpa or grandma.  I didn’t think anything of it until last night.  She said to Bob, “I am not everybody’s grandma”.  So she takes offense of me calling her “pathi”.

This upsets me so much.  I feel very disrespected as the mother of my children.  She is essentially saying that I am not part of her family.  My children call them grandpa and grandma in their language but I am not welcome to call them the same.  And I am not welcome to call them whatever daughters-in-law would call their father- and mother-in-law in their culture.  I am left with the titles for others: auntie and uncle.  They are not my auntie and uncle.  I find this whole notion ridiculous and degrading.  After seven years of marriage, they still seem to have a hard time accepting the fact that I am their daughter-in-law.  She finds me calling her grandma offensive but she doesn’t find her relatives bringing their own plates to eat her food an offense.

I have been very easygoing with my-laws.  I can overlook the mess that my mother-in-law makes in the kitchen throughout the day in the last 5 weeks, the incident when she left the stove on without realizing it, or the incident when she carelessly tried to hold both babies at the same time by pulling on Bunny’s one arm.  There have been many things that required getting used to while living with my in-laws but I choose to look on the bright side.  However, this time I feel so disrespected that I can’t get over it easily.  The whole day yesterday I was upset and did not want to talk to my mother-in-law.  I was courteous and answered questions but I didn’t make small talk.  I didn’t address her and my father-in-law all day as I was at a loss as to what to call them.  I find calling them uncle and auntie ridiculous, so I am better off not calling them anything if grandma and grandpa are off the table.  Bob will eventually speak with her about my displeasure and asking her what exactly she would like me to call her and her husband (other than auntie and uncle).  I am still having a hard time looking at her without feeling angry.

I hope that the conversation that Bob will have with my mother-in-law will resolve this issue. I hope she understands that in order to be my children’s grandparents she’ll have to make an effort to accept me as her daughter-in-law.  If they want to have a relationship with my children, they will have to treat me with respect.  Letting me call them with the right titles would be a good first step.

MicroblogMondays: Seventh Wedding Anniversary

Seven years ago today we got married.

It was such a glorious day.  The weather was the best; sunny and breezy, which was such a blessing because the stormy weather the weekend before made it a little nerve wracking for me.  We were surrounded by 98 of our closest friends and family.  People still talk about how fun the wedding was to this day.  It was so beautiful despite the fact that nobody from Bob’s family, including his parents, attended our wedding.  Not only were they not in attendance, my father-in-law yelled at Bob on the phone the day before the wedding for going forward with it.  The beautiful day was marred by his family’s disapproval of the marriage.  In fact, his dad didn’t talk to him again until 10 months later when we went to visit my in-laws overseas.  The family drama that came with the marriage paled in comparison to the struggles that we had when we decided to start a family.  The funny thing was, at 37 years old, I was afraid of getting pregnant right away before we could spend some time to get to know each other as husband and wife.  In fact, Bob spent his eve of our wedding at a drug store purchasing condoms and got locked out by his best man who locked the door and went to bed early.

How naive I was.  If I had known the struggles we would encounter trying for a baby, I would have agreed to start trying right away.  Little did I know that in the course of the next six years, we discovered problems such as over 50 tiny uterine fibroids that required surgical removal, high FSH, low AMH, the need for donor eggs, Bob’s DNA fragmentation and varicocele, and the need for a gestational carrier.

Fast forward to this day.  After all the struggles with Bob’s parents and building a family, it is nothing short of a miracle that we have both my in-laws and our babies sleeping under the same roof.  Even just a couple of years ago, I didn’t think that it was possible. We survived all the struggles in the last seven years and thrive as a couple.  When things get tough in the future (I am sure they will at some point), our past challenges can and will serve as a guide and an encouragement for us to push forward.  I love my husband and wish him a very happy anniversary, the first one we have with our babies safely in our arms.  What a blessing it is to get to say that.

MicroblogMondays: New Grandparents

Last Thursday, my mom left to make room for new grandparents to arrive from India the next day.

I am not going to lie.  I miss my mom tremendously.  And I was a bit anxious about having Bob’s parents around for 7 weeks.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am excited about the babies being loved on by all of their grandparents.  It would be the first time they met their paternal grandparents face-to-face.  Although technological advances are helpful, video chats are really not as good as physical interactions in person. So I am very happy that the babies get to meet their other grandparents.  I am just very used to having my mom around.  She and I are a team.  We have our rhythm down for taking care of the babies.  New caregivers in the house means new routines and a transitional period in terms of dynamics.  My father-in-law adores both kids, but he seems to have particular love for Okra.  Given how Okra likes to be held all the time, I could see that this baby boy would get his wishes fulfilled.  I just do not want to see favoritism in this house and for my baby girl to feel left out by grandpa.  Another thing is that the babies went through two weeks of nap training, and crying during nap was part of the training.  I do not want any criticism from my in-laws in regards to letting the babies cry or to interfere with the training effort.  Plus, my mom and I had a tight ship running, so deviation from that made me a little bit nervous.  Prior to my in-laws’ arrival, there was quite a bit of work to do.  Washing down the inside of the refrigerator was a must.  Any animal products were used up or discarded.  Brand new jars of Better Than Bouillon were hidden in my room.  Indian cookware and other utensils were dug from boxes in the garage.  My mom cleaned out her stuff and clean beddings were put on.  The house was ready for my in-laws’ visit.

One thing I know for sure is that my in-laws adore the twins.  They would see the babies on screen at least 4 to 5 times a week.  They had been so excited and been counting down the days to their visit.  Bob has taken a week off from his remaining parental leave.  He was super excited about his parents meeting the babies for the first time.  He checked the flight time repeatedly and was nervous about being late to pick his parents up at the airport (which is kind of funny for someone who needs to be urged to get out of the door most of the time).  After waiting for over 30 minutes, his parents finally came out.  His dad was so funny.  He was so happy to see the babies that he immediately abandoned the cart full of suitcases and just let it roll off.

The babies were initially curious about grandpa and grandma.  Bunny, with her anxiety of strangers, did cry for a little.  Okra kind of stared at grandparents for quite some time.  They were probably wondering why the other grandma was no where to be found and then there are these other grandparents.  After a couple of days, things have settled down a bit.  The good thing for me is, I did get used to my mom not being around.  Bob being at home has helped with the transition tremendously.  My mother-in-law really wants to help with washing and cleaning.  Bob showed her how we wash the bottles and I told her how we wash the babies’ dishes for solids.  She washed the bottles several times the second day.  After she cooked several meals, I told her to leave the kids’ dishes for me to wash so she could go rest, granted it was her second day here and jet lag was probably still very much in effect.  Later she asked Bob if she didn’t do a good job washing.  I forgot that my MIL could be very sensitive.  We reassured her that her washing was great.  We just wanted her to rest.

The grandparents have been so enamored of the kids.  You can just tell in their body language and their voices.  They come to pick them up right away when there is any fussiness.  Both of them sit on the floor and play with/talk with them all the time.  Okra gets held by grandpa frequently.  In grandpa’s eyes, Okra can do no wrong.  My father-in-law praises Okra all the time saying that he is a very good baby and doesn’t fuss much.  When he fusses, there is always a reason.  It could never be because he is just fussy.  It is good to see that he is also nice to Bunny and plays with her a lot.  I am hopeful that he will spend equal amount of time with both babies and not show favoritism towards baby boy.

There are a lot of cultural differences for them.  For example, the babies nap three times a day at a certain time.  My in-laws are so not used to that.  I guess in India babies fall asleep for naps in caregivers’ arms after they start crying?  And babies go to bed at 9 or 10pm?  So I guess they feel like they don’t get to see the babies as much as they thought because the babies are constantly napping.  I was called “military” by my mother-in-law for putting the babies down for naps at certain times and down for the night so very early, before 8pm.   I explained to her that the babies are happier to play with them if they nap well and are not tired.  She agrees, as her neighbor’s 8-month-old cries all day long.  She said, our babies are so much happier.  Yup, good sleep can definitely help with moods.

Oh and they bought gold chains and bangles for the babies.  I appreciate the thought but I think the babies would probably never wear the gold.  Bob joked that the babies looked like thugs with their gold chains on. And, because I give them grandchildren, even though I didn’t carry them, I earned myself a marriage present from my in-laws.  So almost seven years into our marriage, I now own a gold chain and pendant from my in-laws, although I was told by my husband that the gold I got was not nearly as expensive as the babies’.  I still appreciate the thought albeit late.

I am sure I will have more to report on the next seven weeks.  I am going to enjoy this time with an extra pair of hands in the house, homemade South Indian food, and watching my kids being loved on by their grandparents.  Seven years ago when we got married, I wouldn’t have imagined things to turn out so well with my in-laws.  It is definitely a God-given gift to enjoy having my in-laws and babies under one roof.

MicroblogMondays: Disclosure


We have told a handful of people in real life about our pregnancy.  I told my dad right after the second beta, but didn’t tell my mom right away.  My mom’s mom is currently very sick in the hospital in Asia so my mom’s sisters flew back there from the states.  Because my aunts were around, I didn’t want my mom to share this news with them prematurely.  That was the reason why I didn’t want to tell her yet.  My dad is very good with keeping secrets so I never worried that he would tell my mom.  After our first ultrasound with the confirmation of two babies growing, my mom contacted me regarding adjusting the date of her return to the states.  She was originally going to come back in February, but due to my grandma’s situation, she had postponed her return to May.  I felt the need to tell her about the babies because I would need my own mother to be around when the babies arrive.  I don’t think I need her to take care of the babies, but I would need her to take care of me and my husband so that our house would be at least in a decent state in the first few months of the babies’ lives.  So I decided to tell her at about 8 weeks.  She was very happy about it and promised me that she’d never tell her sisters until I give her permission.  I will have to trust her about that this time.

What about Bob’s parents?  After our ultrasound at 8 weeks 5 days, Bob and I felt comfortable sharing with his parents.  It wouldn’t be hard to share about us expecting two babies but the fact that the pregnancy is via the gift of surrogacy was going to be a bit of a challenge for him.  He was brave and took on the task without hesitation.  He did it on the day we reached 9 weeks. I was a coward and just stayed in the kitchen area while he and his parents chatted on Sky.pe in our bedroom.  My father-in-law was cute.  When he found out, he raised both of his arms in victory and celebrated with a big smile on his face.  My mother-in-law?  I think it probably took her some time to get used to the idea.

When Bob made the announcement, she was pleased that we were finally expecting.  But she became perplexed and confused about the surrogacy part.  She originally thought that the babies would be half caucasian but Bob explained to her several times that these were our embryos, and the carrier is just carrying for us.  She then was sad that she couldn’t announce to the whole world that her daughter-in-law was expecting.  She was sad that she couldn’t send me Indian sweets that she would’ve sent me if I was pregnant.  She mentioned to Bob that Isabelle must have been at least a little bit sad that she couldn’t carry a baby herself.  So it was nice that she thought at least a bit about my feelings.  She said that she probably wouldn’t say anything to anyone until after the babies are born because I wasn’t carrying.  She then said that she still wants the money we send her every year.  She was probably afraid that the cost of taking care of newborns was going to eat away part of the money that we give her.  She then said that she’d name our babies and to make sure that they marry Hindu Brahmin Iyengar, their caste and subcaste in the Indian caste system.  I laughed when Bob told me this comment.  Even her son didn’t marry an Indian, let alone the same caste and subcaste.  The chances of her grandchildren doing that are slim to none. But it tells you how much our marriage has thrown her world upside down and now she has renewed hope in these children.  Anyways, she was a little apprehensive about this news when she heard it.

When I first heard about her reaction, I was a little bit disappointed that she wasn’t more excited about our pregnancy because it seemed as though my mother-in-law cared more about the “world’s” opinion of it.  It was almost like there was a certain level of shame or stigma attached to us needing to use a surrogate, like I am less than what I am because I couldn’t even carry my own child.  But I thought more about it, and realized that this was so out of the left field for her that she probably really needed time to digest the news.

Bob chatted with his parents again yesterday.  This time it was so much better.  I was still a coward and didn’t show my face.  But Bob reported that both of his parents are now overjoyed that they will finally have grandchildren to join the family.  It seems like my mother-in-law has processed the news.  She is now very happy that we have two babies coming.   As predicted, she took the credit for our twins as she had prayed to her gods last week at a temple for us to have boy/girl twins.  They have been dying to tell people about us expecting but they’ll wait until a month or two from now when we sail into the second trimester.  My mother-in-law praised Annie for being so generous, loving, and kind to carry our babies for us, and she also praised me for making a sacrifice for the sake of the health of the babies.

It makes me happy that despite the initial reaction, my mother-in-law came around very quickly and is able to fully embrace this news.  It’s such a joy to be able to share good news with our families after all these years and for all of our parents to be so happy for us.  I just can’t wait until the day they can all meet their grand babies.  I hope my in-laws won’t insist on naming our babies.  As much as I want them to be part of the babies’ lives, I would want Bob and me to be the ones giving them names since I don’t get the biological connection or the chance to carry them.  I hope my in-laws will understand that.

MicroblogMonday: Back to Just the Two of Us


My in-laws have come and left.  These 7 1/2 weeks have gone by quickly.

Bob took a day off the day before my in-law left so that we could all spend time together out of the house.  His parents were originally reluctant to go out as my father-in-law just wanted to finish packing and my mother-in-law just wanted to finish cooking all the food in the fridge.  Somehow my in-laws refused to go anywhere touristy this time.  They did all of that seven years ago.  This time they just wanted to visit places like Tar.get, Ik.ea, and dollar stores.  I literally had to force them out of the house with us.  And I am glad I did.  My MIL is very into flowers, trees, and plants.  So we took them to the Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park.  It was delightful to see her eyes light up as we walked by all these fragrant flowers.  Just happened that there was also a walking tour at the time we arrived, so we followed a docent, learned a few things about plants, and smelled/tasted some flowers and plants during that one-hour tour.  Afterwards, my in-laws enjoyed a cup of mocha t Starb.ucks.  It was an extremely pleasant way to conclude their trip.

Bob originally joked that he would need a vacation from his parents’ visit.  We even looked into staying at a bed and breakfast and going to the train museum in the Sacramento area.  However, we decided that getting the house back in order was more important and would make my life easier when I have to pick up cooking again this week.  We saw our in-laws off at the airport, went grocery shopping, and purchased three huge utility plastic boxes at Tar.get.  I was already very tired when we got home, but house cleaning was calling my name.  After not having full control of my own kitchen for almost two months, the urge to put everything back in order was very strong.  When my in-laws first arrived with their four suitcases, we had to move stuff around and out of the cabinets in order to accommodate their spices, containers, and utensils.  For the whole afternoon on Saturday, I washed all the stainless steel utensils and containers and placed them all in the huge utility boxes we got.  I wiped every single inch of the kitchen counter including places that I usually don’t touch.  Thankfully, my MIL cleaned the stove right before she left, so I didn’t have to attend to that.  I cleaned the drawers in the fridge before the groceries went in.  I planned all the meals and already marinated a pork tenderloin for dinner for tonight.  I rearranged the pantry and put away the flour, the dal, and the rice that my MIL used frequently for cooking.  The kitchen floor was wiped clean.  Finally, Bob wiped down the whole range hood as grease from Indian cooking was covering it for the last two months.

The kitchen has not been so spotless in a very long time.

And it does feel good to have my kitchen back.  Yes, the house is feeling a bit too quiet and I miss having meals, tea, and coffee magically provided daily.  But I also cherish just being by ourselves and really truly having down time when I come home.  This past week I sat here at the kitchen counter and typed up notes while my mother-in-law showed me how to make a few dishes.  I am confident that I’d be able to replicate some of them successfully.  I learned how to make madras coffee and made it successfully yesterday.  It took quite some time to make the decoction of the coffee. It makes me appreciate my mother-in-law even more as I think about how she labored in the kitchen for two months for us providing coffee, tea, lunch, and dinner.  Right before she entered into the security area at the airport, she told me that next year she’d return for our baby.  I told her that I’d try my best to bring to this world a baby.  She placed her hand on my head, said a word of blessings, and told me that she’d pray to her gods.  I know that her gods are different from my God, but I am still touched the way she shows her love to me.

I truly hope that next year they will have to ponder about coming to visit because of a new addition to our family.

MicroblogMondays: My In-laws’ Visit, Week Seven


I realized that I haven’t really talked much about my in-laws ever since the first week of their arrival.  I think my mind is more preoccupied with our fertility things.  So how have things been going?

It has been almost seven weeks since my in-laws arrived.  Poor people.  Where we live is simply too cold for them.  Every morning I go downstairs to greet my MIL in the kitchen, she says to me, “It’s too cold here, no?”   They are used to 80 to 90 degree weather.  Our area is known for being foggy and cold in June, July, and August.  We had warned them ahead of time when they expressed interest in visiting us in June.  We told them that a more desirable time weather-wise would be September, October, November.  My mother-in-law confessed that she thought that we were trying to discourage them from coming to visit by fabricating the coldness of the summer here.  She said now that she has known me better and knows my character, she knows that I am telling the truth.  Of course we are telling the truth.  Why would we lie, right?  We sometimes turn the heat on for them during the day, which is something that we had never done even with summer weather in the 50s here.  But for the sake of our in-laws’ well-being, as ridiculous as it sounds to turn on the heat in July, they are much happier when the house is in the 70s.

The first couple of weeks of South Indian diet did a number on my digestive system.  I mean, the food continues to be excellently delicious, but the abundance of Indian spices and carbs has been difficult to process.  I can usually handle Indian food when I eat it, but consuming it as a main diet is a totally different story.  The first week of it left me hungry at 3pm at work mainly because of the reduced amount of protein and the increased amount of carbs.  Eventually the solution was extra protein from the frozen meatball that my coworker helped me buy because I couldn’t “smuggle” meat product into our house without being noticed.  Protein shakes also turned out to be a life saver.  Now that I have been eating this diet for weeks, my body is accustomed to the diet so I am no longer hungry with shaky hands wanting to find all the food I can consume at 3 in the afternoon.  Friday is my meat-eating day.  My MIL knows not to prepare lunch for me to take to work.  On that day, I order whatever meat dish I fancy: Chinese takeout, Vietnamese lunch with friends, or sausage omelette.  However, I still have to frequent the bathroom for number two (sorry TMI) due to the spices.  My waistline and the number on the scale have both gone up thanks to the extra carbs in my MIL’s cooking.  I know that once our diet goes back to protein and veggies, we will not be as bloated and our digestion should go back to normal, but it is a bit disconcerting to feel your usual clothes getting tighter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I L.O.V.E. my mother-in-law’s cooking.  Not only me, but my coworkers also fell in love with her food.  Everyday I let a few coworkers take a bite of my lunch and enjoy them oohing and ahhing over how perfect the seasoning is and how tasty these dishes are.  My MIL also enjoys hearing me tell her my coworkers’ reactions.  She is such a talented cook and knows exactly how to prepare things to perfection.  My brother’s family came for dinner a couple of times and was so grateful for the wonderful feasts.  My MIL cooked my favorite dish of hers; something that my brother had never tasted before.  He loved it so much that he had four servings of it and also got to take all the leftovers home.  He almost had tears of joy in his eyes.  My MIL loves loves loves my brother because he appreciates her food.  It was a wonderful sight for me to see my in-laws getting along so well with my family considering how much they used to adamantly oppose our marriage.  It was something that I never thought would happen.  Got to have faith in what time and patience can do to mend relationships.

I am spoiled, and I am well aware of it.  This season with my MIL taking care of all the cooking means that I can devote my time in working through all the things that are related to our treatment and such.  Coming home from work, I get to do whatever I want to and dinner will be served.  I am truly grateful for that.

Weekly we have our routines down.  We drive my in-laws 40 minutes to a big Indian grocery store to purchase food for the week.  It is quite a long drive and a tiring ride.  After that we would go to a shopping place of their choice.  They have a particular love for Ik.ea, dollar stores, and Ta.rget.  So we frequent those places.  Sometimes it is just so tiring to go shopping with them that everyone comes home tired and needs a nap.  During that time, I wipe the kitchen floor.  Ever since my MIL took over my kitchen, I have been sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor whenever I have the time.  Her way of cooking leaves a lot of little crumbs and food scraps on the floor, as well as the condensation of the steam dripping from pot lids.  The highly traveled area of the kitchen floor has lost its luster and I will have to wait until my in-laws’ departure to figure out a way to gain it back.

How are Bob and his parents doing?  I would say, better.  Bob and his mother still fight some, but they also have good times together.  I can tell that they are very similar people and that makes them clash because they react to things similarly.  Every evening after dinner he goes to his parents’ room and chats with them about the day.  It’s heartwarming to hear them chat and laugh together.  One surprising thing is that Bob has been telling his parents, especially his mom, slowly about our fertility problems.  My in-laws don’t talk to me about this, but they have been expressing grief in our lack of children.  Bob’s mother often says to him that we should have a four year old and a two year old by now.  She expressed regrets that we didn’t meet in our 20s when making a baby would have been easier.  After our urologist visit, Bob actually opened up to his mother about his male factor issues.  She was unhappy that he didn’t go to the doctor a few years earlier, but he explained to her that all of our tests for him turned out to be good so no one knew this new problem.  He didn’t tell her exactly what we have done treatment-wise but did tell her that we have done a lot.  He explained to her that most of the children in the photos on our fridge were successfully conceived and born thanks to science (most of them are IVF babies).  This is paving a path for us in the future when we explain to them about having a baby via surrogacy.  So this is a breakthrough as I never thought it was possible for us to speak to them about our fertility struggles.

As much as I like my mother-in-law, she sometimes says the craziest things.  After Bob shared with her vaguely about us going through treatment, she said that regardless of how much money we have to spend on treatment, we still have to send them the money they ask for annually.  I know that she and Bob’s dad are very different from my parents because money is tighter for them.  But still….. We don’t plan on reducing the amount of money that we give them but for her to immediately protect her self-interest instead of showing concerns for us is a bit disheartening for me.   Another thing that my MIL said to Bob was that we should go adopt because that’s how people get pregnant afterwards.  I know that this is something a lot of people say but it still bugs me.  Finally, this last thing that she says really gets to me.  She said that she would come visit our child(ren) in the future, but only if the child is “ours”.  For “ours”, she meant that she would not make a special trip to come visit our children if they were adopted.  She and my father-in-law would only come if part of the child(ren)’s genetic makeup comes from Bob.  I know that they’d come around if we ever adopt a child, but this closed-mindedness really makes me sad and mad that any children not made the conventional way are going to be discriminated against even before they are made or born.  It’s hard to change a person and their opinion on things.  So, as much as Bob wants to be transparent with them, I still think that some things are better off not shared, such as our need for an egg donor. 

This coming week I have a whole week off due to an office renovation.  My MIL will teach me how to make a few of my favorite dishes.  I pray that we’ll create some good memories before my in-laws’ departure on Saturday.  It will be so weird to get the whole house back to ourselves after having my mom, dad, and my in-laws here for the past few months. But I’m also ready to just be whatever I want to be and do whatever I want to do in my own house. One surprising thing is that I think I’ll miss my in-laws. This is something that I never thought I’d say. This is an answer to ours prayers. Seeing how well I get along with my in-laws proves that nothing is impossible with God. 

MicroblogMondays: My In-Laws’ Visit, Week One


I’ve got to say that my in-laws’ visit has been going exceptionally well for me.  For Bob, not as much.

My in-laws arrived on Wednesday.  Bob and I went to the airport separately in two cars so we could transport all the suitcases back home.  Bob was excited but I was a bit apprehensive about my feelings because I really didn’t know what to expect.  After an hour of waiting, I finally spotted my in-laws on the TV monitor on their way out.  When my father-in-law smiled and said Hello to me, I felt that things would turn out fine.

And things are more than fine.

The first thing that my mother-in-law did once she arrived at our house was to give me a gold bangle that she had brought from India as a gift for me.  I really like it and have been wearing it every single day.  This is a huge gesture coming from a woman who told me not to go visit her at her house in India a few years ago.  Here is the bangle:


You know what came out of all four big suitcases and two little ones? Lots and lots of new purchases.  They started pulling out these brand new stainless steel bowls, plates, cups, serving utensils, pots, and pans.  There were also eight or nine new Tupp.erware containers for storing spices.  You name it, they had it.  They brought so much because these things are a lot cheaper in India.  I stood there washing all these new things for about an hour.  Out came this really big machine for making dosa dough.  Another machine for making idly rice.  Then there were these South Indian pastes, spices, snacks, tea, coffee, and pickles.  They were all in large quantity.  Right then and there, we cleared out two cabinet shelves and three drawers to house all the new things.  We had to move our usual plates and bowls somewhere else.  Here are some photos of what we dealt with on that day:

Some of the pots and pans and utensils

Some of the pots and pans and utensils

Some of the boxes on our counter before we unpacked them

Some of the boxes on our counter before we unpacked them

These snacks should last us for a few months, I hope

These snacks should last us for a few months, I hope


Some of the boxes that we unpacked from the suitcases.

I jokingly called it our “Indian Invasion”.  But in reality, I really don’t mind at all.  I find that my tolerance for someone else taking over my kitchen is actually high.  My mother-in-law is a wonderful cook.  Her dishes are super delicious. But her way of cooking is very different from mine.  South Indian cooking requires many pots and pans, flour, and vegetables to be cut in tiny pieces.   I usually clean as I cook.  My MIL cleans at the end.  But again, I don’t mind.  I just let her do her things.  I showed her how to clean the stove, and she does a wonderful job cleaning it in the evening after all the cooking.  Bob is less patient than I am with the way she is using the kitchen.  That is too funny because I am the one who usually cooks, not him.  I told him to let her be and he is doing better in that department.

It has been five days since my in-laws arrived.  How have we all been getting along?  It’s amazing that my in-laws get along well with me.  Given our history, you would expect them to be difficult to get along with.  But in reality, they are very easy going.  They try to be quiet in the morning when they get up at six.  My MIL makes me Indian coffee every single morning.  She provides us with lunch to bring to work.  When I get home, she serves me chai tea.  She asks me daily what I would like for lunch and dinner.  On Saturday, she made us breakfast.  I am living a life of a queen who gets served three meals a day.  Here are some pictures of her dishes:

IMG_5922 IMG_5923 IMG_5924 IMG_5936 IMG_5937

Everything is  made from scratch.

Another unexpected thing is that, my in-laws actually like me.  Especially my mother-in-law.  After a few days of being in the same house with me, Bob told me that they keep saying that they love me and that I am patient with them.  My mother-in-law said to me that I am like her daughter.  She doesn’t have a daughter herself so now she’s treating me like her daughter.  It’s so nice to hear that she likes me like a family especially given how they rejected me in the beginning.  I actually get along better with my MIL than Bob with his own mom.  He is not as patient and sometimes is short with her.  I can understand that as I sometimes may be the same way with my own mother.  This is after all his own mom.  They have a history of the last 38 years and baggage they have to sort through.  My MIL seems to think that Bob behaves better when I am around.  When Bob is critical of her habits or how she handles certain things (all trivial things such as how she uses the dish cloth), she calls me for help.  Just yesterday when I was out grocery shopping, Bob told his mom to cut down on the clarified butter that she uses.  He was short with her and she wasn’t happy about the criticism.  She was calling for me to intervene.  When she discovered that I was out, she told Bob, “No wonder you came to argue with me.  Isabelle is not around.”  She told me, “You should be here always, otherwise he quarrels with me”.  Bob is thinking about taking a couple of days off taking his parents to sightsee.  His mother said she wouldn’t go without me being there.  It’s sad and hilarious at the same time.

My in-laws have been urging Bob to make a baby.  I am sure that they guess that we have been struggling.  His dad even told him to just make a baby no matter what it takes.  I know that they mean well.  It is a way for them to tell us to go ahead and use whatever treatment we need.  I wonder how they’d react if they ever find out the extent of treatment we have done and what we are about to do.  My MIL and Bob were discussing about us making a trip to India later this year.  She insists that I stay in the U.S. if I get pregnant.  She consulted with an astrologer earlier this year and seems to believe that we’ll have good news in the baby department come September or October.  Anyhow, when we have a baby, I am sure that my in-laws will shower him/her with love and affection.  That’s a sight I would really love to see.

You know how I was worried about my own down time being taken away?  That is not an issue at all.  I come home and do my own thing.  My in-laws don’t bother me.  And since I don’t have to cook, I have even more time to do whatever I want.  It is a win-win situation.

Five years ago when my in-laws refused to come to the wedding, I never dreamed of them visiting with us here in the U.S.  The fact that they are here getting along well with me, I am very grateful for how things have turned out.  I know that things can change since it has only been a few days.  But I am confident that this will be the visit that turns our relationship around for the better.  Now let’s hope and pray that Bob and his mother don’t get into too many big arguments.  Then we should be able to all live harmoniously under the same roof for the next two months.

MicroblogMondays: Final Countdown to In-Laws’ Arrival


The time has come.  My in-laws will be arriving on Wednesday.

My mother usually comes from overseas and stays with us for about six months each time.  She is very self-sufficient and considerate so Bob and she get along very well.  This time she came in March so she was supposed to leave in September.  However, in order to make room for my in-laws, my mom graciously offered to leave super early.  She returned to our home country on Memorial Day.  When we remodeled the house, we added a new addition so that she would have her own space with a room and a bathroom.  We intend to let my in-laws stay in the new addition so they can have their own area and we can maintain a little bit of privacy.  Before my mom left, she cleaned out all of the drawers in her dresser and cleaned out half of her closet.  She has helped us a great deal.  My mom had a twin bed in her room.  In order to accommodate two people in the room, we needed to buy a new queen size bed frame and new sheets as well as  to move my queen mattress from another bedroom to my mom’s room.  It was all accomplished this past weekend:

In preparation for the visit, we have gone grocery shopping and bought things that are necessary for my in-laws’ survival.  My in-laws only eat homemade food.  They do not eat out let alone try other types of cuisine.  They only eat South Indian food that my mother-in-law cooks.  They don’t trust non-vegetarian restaurants and they don’t think South Indian restaurants are any better than their own cooking.  We went to an Indian grocery store twice.  We picked up things that I don’t usually use, like wheat flour, refined sunflower oil, sesame oil (not the kind for adding taste but the kind for cooking), and idly rice.  My MIL is going to make everything from scratch so different kinds of flour are necessary.

Another big task for us to do was to get rid of all the meat products in our fridge and wipe everything down.  You see, my in-laws are strict vegetarians.  They do not want anything to do with meat.  They know that I eat/cook meat and my mom does too.  So to reassure them, Bob wanted us to clean out the fridge and wipe it down.  When his parents came to visit him seven years ago, his mom got mad at him after she found chicken broth in his pantry.  He does not want a repeat of that moment.  So this was what I did on a nice overcast Sunday afternoon after 4 episodes of Gilmore Girls:

And this is the result:

 All the grime and dirt is now gone!  I do like a clean fridge.  My next job is to finish using the eggs as well as to clean out the beef broth and chicken broth plus the frozen meat in the freezer.  My Dear Colleague graciously lets me store my stuff in her extra freezer until my in-laws are gone.

So what will life be like with my in-laws here?  I actually do not know what to expect.  The last time we saw my in-laws was two years ago when we went to visit.  That visit didn’t end too well.  I have gone to India two times.  Each time we stayed for about 10 days.  We stayed at a hotel so we had a place to go to for some personal time.  I don’t know what will happen when they come to our space for almost two months.  My mother-in-law will definitely take over cooking, so my kitchen will become her kitchen.  They have packed four suitcases full of stuff to bring here so I am anticipating many new things that they will leave here instead of taking home with them.  The one thing that I am little worried about is my down time after work.  I usually get home at around 6pm.  From then until Bob’s arrival at 8pm is my usual me-time.  I am home doing whatever I want to until my husband gets home.  When my in-laws come, I will be greeted by them instead, and I don’t know if I get to do whatever I want or if my MIL is going to have me watch her cook everyday.  My father-in-law doesn’t usually interact with me (given our history of them not approving our marriage) so he probably won’t say much to me.  I would imagine things to be awkward in the beginning.  Needless to say, it is going to be big change for me in the next two months, having my in-laws stay with us, eating only vegetarian at home, and hoping that they won’t go through our personal things and ask any questions about fertility.

A good friend of mine asked me last week if we would ever share our fertility journey with my in-laws.  I would prefer not to, given how judgmental they have been ever since we started dating.  If we use a gestational carrier, then they will have to know that piece of information.  However, I think that sharing with them about egg donation is out of the question unless I want endless judgment and discrimination against me and possibly my future child(ren).  I will just say that my in-laws are not open-minded people like my parents who would welcome any babies in our family with open arms.  For this reason, my task before their arrival also includes putting away information about our treatment and all the books related to infertility.  It’s tiring to not to be able to open to one’s parents, but Bob knows his parents.  So it’s better to be prepared for that.

So here we are.  The final days of time to ourselves, hopefully not the calm before the storm.  Hopefully there will not be any storms.  Hopefully my in-laws’ visit will surprise everybody and will be better and nicer than anyone would have guessed.  I have been praying for their visit for a long time, for harmony, for unity, and for a very nice time together.  I also pray for a breakthrough in our relationship and for some new understanding of one another’s life and value.  I just chatted with my dad on the phone.  He is always the wise one.  He told me that we don’t ever know how much longer our parents (my parents and my in-laws) will have left in this world, so he told me to be as warm and welcoming as possible, and keep an open mind with this visit.  I think I’ll take his advice.  So, I hope that I will be writing some happy posts about their visit rather than the stress that the visit may cause.

MicroblogMondays: In-Laws and Best Friend


My father and mother-in-law decided to come visit from India for about seven weeks, seven years after they last came to see their one and only son.

Do you know how huge this is?  They were the ones who refused to meet me the last time they came.  They adamantly opposed our marriage.  They were extremely upset that Bob and I got engaged and later got married.  My father-in-law was so angry that he refused to speak to Bob for another ten months after that.  Needless to say, nobody from his family came to our wedding.  Bob was very sad, but at the same time very happy that we got married.  What a dichotomy.

So we went from that, to them refusing to let me go to their home the first time we visited India as a married couple, to my MIL asking why we didn’t stay with them the second time we visited, to not wanting to come visit, to now agreeing finally to come visit.

This is huge.

Bob has been very excited about this potential visit, but at the same time wearied about having them around for the first time as a married man in our own home.  After five years of marriage, he wants to show his parents how he and I have made a home for ourselves.  But his parents are such hardcore hindu and vegetarian that huge changes have to be made in order to accommodate them in our house.  We will have to clean out all the meat products, even chicken broth.  We will have to wipe down the whole refrigerator.  We will have to buy all new pots, pans, utensils, bowls, and plates because the ones we have now have all touched meat.  This is no laughing matter.

And then there is a problem of weather.  They want to come in mid-June and leave in early August.  That is when the weather is the most overcast and cold in our area.  They complained about being cold the last time they were in town when the temperature down in the south bay was in the 70s.  They had their down jackets on all the time.  They are used to the weather at least in the 80s if not 90s.  I don’t know how they will survive in the 50s and 60s weather.  Turn on the heater, perhaps?

And then there is me and them.  I think that it’s a wonderful thing they are willing to come visit.  Bob lives with my mom for about six months of the year. Although my mom is the most considerate person, it is still a third party in this household of two.  So it takes a big person to be able to live peacefully with a mother-in-law for such a long stretch of time.  He has been doing that since we got married five years ago.  Now his parents are only here for 7 weeks.  I should be able to deal, right?  I truly hope so.  Bob usually does not come home until 8 something at night.  I am usually home by 6pm.  I will have to entertain my in-laws for two hours every night alone.  I mean, I should treat this as an opportunity to get to know them and learn how to make some South Indian food.  But it is still a little worrisome for me that I will be alone with them.

Another semi-worry is that my in-laws have only speculations about our infertility but do not actually know anything solid about our journey so far.  Given how unsupportive they have been of our marriage, it is difficult to share with them our need for fertility treatment.  I can’t imagine sharing with them about using donor eggs to get pregnant.  I know that it is highly likely that their visit will coincide with our next donor egg cycle.  It takes time to find a new donor and to start a cycle.  If we ever travel out of town for a cycle, then it’d be very hard to cover up why we have to go.  Bob was very nice.  He offered to tell his parents to postpone the trip until later this year or next year, but I told him not to because really, we cannot put off living life and other things just because we have to make a baby, right?  My mother-in-law had not really talked about us having a baby until a couple of months ago.  Since then, she started talking about it weekly and is obviously concerned about my age.  I don’t know what will happen when she is physically here and if this talk of baby and my age will come up.  I will deal with it when it comes.

But then, a few weeks ago, my best friend of 30 years who lives overseas told me that she wanted to come visit in the summer with her husband and my goddaughters.  The last time she came was before she gave birth to her oldest daughter.  That was years ago.  I got all excited about their visit and totally planned on taking two weeks off to go places with them.  They would stay with us, of course.  I knew that my in-laws would come in June and leave by early August.  I was really hoping that my best friend could come mid-August so I could have both my in-laws’ and her visits this summer.  Last week, she notified me that due to the girls’ school schedule, they could only come the first two weeks in July.  My heart sank as that coincides with my in-laws’ visit.  I told her that I would ask Bob to negotiate for his parents to come a bit later.  I know that his father has some religious rituals he has to do in September but I know that it is not until mid-September.  Maybe they could be flexible and move their dates.  My best friend hesitated and asked if it was a good idea to even ask.  I was thinking, asking doesn’t hurt, right?

Wrong.  Bob asked.  He asked really nicely.  Just a suggestion and if it didn’t work out, my best friend’s family could come in 2017.  His parents were actually very upset that he even dared to ask.  His dad was screaming at him saying that he would have ten thousand things to do when he goes back home in August.  How dare him that he even opened his mouth to ask.  Then his mother yelled at him for asking.  She thought that they were the elders that should not have been asked to accommodate just a friend.  In my opinion, a simple “No” should suffice.  It didn’t have to lead to drama.

My best friend was right.  It wasn’t a good idea to ask.  I guess I was using my own mentality and was thinking that my parents would have accommodated if someone made such a request.  Oh well, my best friend and I will plan a trip for her to come next summer so we can all go visit Alcatraz, Monterey, and other places that her daughters really wants to visit.  It boggles my mind that nobody comes to visit for all these years and all of a sudden they all want to come visit at the same time.

How did Bob turn out to be such a good soul?  After all, he was raised by his parents who have such narrow world views.  I don’t know.  But I am grateful that my husband doesn’t think the way his parents think.  I don’t hold it against my in-laws.  I know that it’s hard to change.  I just feel bad that my husband got yelled at because of me.

So yeah, I don’t get to see my best friend here in the States this year.  And I hope that my in-laws will have a good visit.  A lot of prayers are necessary for me and Bob to have tremendous love and patience for his parents.

MicroblogMondays: Mother-In-Law’s Dream


Today is my 11th day of applying the estrogen patches.  Now I am up to two patches every three days.  This coming Thursday is my lining check.  I have been doing pretty well emotionally as I have been feeling quite calm and at peace.  I have been really trying to take it one day at a time.  I will write more about how I am preparing for my lining.  Today I want to write about Bob’s mom.  My mother-in-law doesn’t know anything about our treatment.  She does once in a while try to guess and would ask Bob if we are doing treatment.  Bob has a way of answering her without divulging much information.  I am quite sure she wants to have a grandchild, and probably has been saying to herself that she was right about me being too old to have children.  A long time ago she consulted with an astrologer who predicted that we would have a very difficult time having children but eventually we’d have a baby girl.  Last week, she told Bob that she dreamt that she was with her grandchild, Bob’s baby.  It was a baby girl with very fair skin and a flat nose.  When she woke up, she was upset because she was hoping that Bob’s genes would be stronger so that the baby would have a taller nose like Bob, not a flat nose like me.  Somehow she associates people with taller noses to be more superior than the ones with flat nose like myself.  She told Bob the dream and went on to yell at him for having weak genes.  Bob of course did not even blink at her remark.  He said, “My genes came from you, so you have yourself to blame.”  Haha.  In a sense, it is nice that my mother-in-law does care about an offspring from her own child, my husband.  I do not believe in fortune telling, astrology, or any other form of predicting the future, but I appreciate the thought of having a baby.  The timing of my MIL’s dream is perfect!  I truly hope that it will come true next year.