MicroblogMondays: Trigger

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Triggers come at any time, and not always when we expect it.

I hadn’t teared up about our situation in quite some time.  Not when I saw all the babies and kids at my work’s preschool class’ Christmas performance.  Not when my once-again-pregnant coworker loudly declared to everyone in the hall that she isn’t going to find out the sex of her second baby.  Not even when we were told last week that the company that tests the epigenetic information of Bob’s sper.m would need an extra two weeks on top of the three week that they had promised to give us the results of the sperm test, which meant that we might once again have to decide if we wanted to postpone the January yet again.  And also not when the scenes of pregnancy and birth showed up while we were watching the TV show Parentho.od.

I expected to shed a tear or two, but I didn’t.

This is why triggers are so crazy.  They just come unannounced and when you are not prepared.

Bob has had his green card for a few years and has been eligible to apply for citizenship for a couple of years already.   He had been putting off working on his application for a long time until yesterday afternoon.  One of the questions on the application was about how many children he has.  This was an extremely easy question to answer and required no effort on his part because he simply has zero living children.  He got to skip all the information that he could have had to fill out because there was nowhere on the form that allowed you to tell about those ones that didn’t make it alive to this world.

As I sat across from him and listened to him joke about how easy it was to fill out this part, I started to feel the weight of this question.  A marriage of 5.5 years.  Nothing to show for.  Not even one living child.  And it was not for the lack of trying.  We have practically done almost every single type of treatment maybe except for donated embryos.  At that point, sadness came over me.  My eyes were warm with the tears that were about to shed.  It came as a surprise.  It was just some application asking some common questions.  I wasn’t even the one who had to answer the question.  But it just amplified the helplessness of the situation.  Children come so easy for many who have had to answer this question, but not to us.  All those other situations I mentioned about didn’t make me cry, but this one did.  There is no rhyme or reason.

That’s the thing about this journey.  No rhyme or reason.  You just have to take the challenges as they come.  And it’s okay to shed a few tears.

MicroblogMondays: ‘Tis the Season to Open up

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After sharing with my sister-in-law’s brother at Thanksgiving dinner, we are on a streak to open up about our journey.

A week ago, Bob and I attended the holiday party of his men’s bible study group.  We didn’t go last year because at the time I couldn’t handle babies and pregnancy news.  This year we are still not expecting and don’t have a baby, but somehow I didn’t resist going to the party even knowing that in attendance there would be our friends who are expecting their second baby any day now.  The wife is a friend of mine who was in my bible study group a few years ago.  She was at the time expecting her first baby after being successful at her second frozen embryo transfer.  At the time, I prayed weekly for her first baby until he was born. Later on Bob became a member of her husband’s bible study group, and our two husbands became friends.  All four of us and the baby would hang out frequently.  The last time we all got together, Bob and I knew that they were going to do a transfer for number two.  Time has flown and the baby is due any time now.  Bob asked me ahead of time if I was going to be okay seeing them.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate.  But I examined my heart for two seconds and thought that we could handle it.  And we did.  Despite seeing her bump, hanging out with her and her toddler was a lot of fun.  I am glad we decided to go.

At the party, the men were asked to stand up and tell the changes they had in their life last year, and what they would like prayers for in the coming year.  Our friend, the expectant dad, was put on the spot first.  He thanked everyone for their prayers in the past and asked for prayers for his growing family and an easy birth.  After he spoke, he looked at Bob who was standing next to him and motioned for Bob to speak next.  Bob was across the room from me.  I knew that he was wondering if he should mention about our infertility.  He is interesting.  He talks about it freely at work but he has shied away from bringing it up in his bible study group.  He and I locked eyes, and I nodded in approval to let him know that it was okay to talk about it.  So with my silent encouragement, he opened up to a group of his bible study friends and their wives and children about our struggles in the past year and how we would like to be prayed for.  It was a great moment to open up.  I was very proud of him for speaking openly and clearly about it.

Last Friday was my office’s holiday party.  Last year we didn’t go because again, I couldn’t handle those new moms and one expectant mom who would be there.  I just didn’t feel like celebrating.  But this year, we are all about having fun.  Bob was nice enough to come and be my designated driver so I could enjoy my drinks with my coworkers.  It was on the second floor of a brewhouse that was super loud.  Our other coworkers were all participating in the white elephant gift exchange.  I was just enjoying my cocktail with Bob by my side when my CEO walked over to me.  He said, “I know you guys are not trying but when or if you do, you will make some very gorgeous and tall kids.”  Maybe it was my alcohol that was talking or feeling.  Maybe I felt brave that night.  Instead of brushing off his comment, I said, “Yeah we are trying and we have been doing it for almost five years.”  I know I took him by surprise.  He apologized profusely and said that he didn’t know.  But you know what?  I think there was nothing to be ashamed of.  I think we are at a point where we would share with anyone who approaches us about the subject.  It’s just that work people have learned not to ask about it.  So no one really knows except for my two closest friends at work.  So back to my CEO.  I have known him for all these years I’ve worked at this place ever since before he became our CEO.  He is a friend.  And he himself went through infertility with his wife for a few years and had one miscarriage before they adopted their beautiful daughter.  I knew that he would at least understand part of what we are going through.  I even shared with him that we have tried “everything” and now are waiting to do another transfer with our gestational carrier after the last failed transfer.  Again, he had such a genuine look on his face telling us how much he would like for us to become parents.  The three of us had a great chat about his journey and how he would not trade his daughter for anything in the world.  It was great to be genuine face-to-face with someone who had walked a similar journey.

I think this is going to be our approach from now on.  We won’t take the initiative to share it with the world, but when the opportunity comes, we’ll open up to people who genuinely want to know.  It is quite freeing to not feel the need to hide or to be cryptic about our journey even though we haven’t found our success yet.  It takes courage, but being more and more open about our struggles will do our soul some good.

MicroblogMondays: A Breakthrough of Sorts

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Bob and I usually go to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Chinese people don’t like white meat, so each year we do prime rib rather than turkey.  This year was no different.  My brother has really perfected his skills of his prime rib making.  No complaints there.

I usually see my sister-in-law’s side of the family on my niece’s and nephew’s birthdays and Thanksgiving night.  She has two older siblings and one younger brother.  They all knew that I had a surgery five years ago on my uterus but no one has ever explicitly asked me about baby making.  I know that my SIL’s sister-in-law was curious about it but she never asked out right.

This year’s dinner was as lovely as usual.  Cozy atmosphere.  Delicious food.  Great company.

When dinner was over, some people remained at the dining room table.   Some were watching TV in the living room.  I was sitting at the kitchen counter just looking at my phone.  My sister-in-law’s oldest brother came by and asked me how I was doing.  I have known him since I was a teenager so I am familiar with him, but I wouldn’t say that I’d usually share about my life with him.  We chatted about my work, my parents, and my in-laws’ visit.  Nothing too crazy.

Out of the blue, he asked, “So when are you guys going to have babies?”

Like I said, no one in my sister-in-law’s family knew about our fertility journey.  I never shared.  No one ever asked.

I was taken by surprise.  But I was not feeling negative about it.  Maybe it was his way of asking.  I felt that he wasn’t being nosy.  I sensed a genuine concern or care, unlike the interrogation by my uncle in Hong Kong.  There is a difference there.

With only two seconds of hesitation, I told him that we had been trying for almost five years but had not been successful.  He asked if we had tried treatment.  I told him that we had done a whole lot of that.

I even shared that we are actually hiring a surrogate but failed our first transfer.  We would attempt our second transfer in December.  This time we will try two embryos.

I love his reaction.  Whatever I told him didn’t faze him.  He said sincerely, “I can’t wait to meet your babies.”

We weren’t talking super loudly, but the kitchen counter was within a few feet of the dining table so those relatives who were sitting there could have heard us if they tried.  But, I shared with him anyways.

I think a couple of years ago I would not have said anything.  Even last year I probably wouldn’t have shared.  I would have been super annoyed or offended that someone dared to ask that question, that it was none of their business.

Maybe it was the way he asked.  Maybe there is a change in me.  I am different.

And I like that change in me.

I still don’t have a baby, and I don’t know when/if I will have that baby.  I sure hope that Dr. E, my RE’s wishes would come true, as she wrote in an email, “Hoping and praying that next thanksgiving is totally different than this one!!!!”  

But as of today, I am happy that I am opening up to friends and family that don’t know but would ask.

It is a process, isn’t it?

MicroblogMondays: Mid-Visit Report

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A few more days before I go home.

One day I came down with a fever and had to stay in bed for two whole days.  I managed to throw up everything that I ate.

Once I felt better, Hong Kong was hit with two typhoons.  One of them was strong enough for the government to cancel work and school for everyone.  So I was again trapped at home.  The weather next day was better but I had heartburn and nausea.  Extreme discomfort made me feel for those with chronic illnesses and pain.  Feeling normal and healthy is so precious.

I visited with one of my closest college friends.  That wasn’t the original plan.  Originally lunch was with a few other friends, but the plans were changed due to my sickness.  When I finally felt better, I opted to just see this one friend and her 4-year-old girl.  It was nice to catch her up on my journey of DE and surrogacy.  I doubt that I would have shared anything about it to the bigger group of friends.  Her little girl is sort of a marker of the length of my fertility journey.  My friend and I started trying for a baby at the same time.  That was a month after she got married.  She got pregnant right away and I didn’t.  Her daughter is already four and mine has not even implanted yet.  Seeing her, I wasn’t upset or anything.  It was just a thought that crossed my mind.  I know that it will forever be a thought that crosses my mind.  A part of my fertility history.  That my friend’s dream came true right away while I continue waiting for another five years.  Hopefully the wait is going to be over soon.

I don’t know why but many of my friends feel the need to tell me about their own friends’ fertility journey.  I guess because these people also had to use IVF to get to their babies.  This friend told me about her friend who tried for a couple of years, first in Hong Kong, then in New York, and finally now is in her second trimester after trying one more time in Hong Kong.  This friend of hers is a year older than me but she used her own eggs.  Sometimes I don’t know how to react to this kind of news especially when she’s successful carrying using her own eggs but I have to use donor eggs and another person’s uterus.

My grandma’s birthday banquet was last Saturday night.  I responded well to all my younger cousins’ babies as I played with them and interacted with them.  Most of my family was good and didn’t ask me about babies.  Except for one person.  My least favorite relative.  This is my grandfather’s nephew who grew up without his dad so he was raised by my grandpa.  He somehow disliked me a lot when I was a little kid and yelled at me a lot.  After I grew up, I had made peace with his existence and do talk to him when I see him at gatherings.  The moment he saw me, he asked me, “Why don’t you have a baby? You should have a baby by now.”  What the heck?  I didn’t know how to respond to him so I just mumbled something. But it had been a long time since I reacted strongly to someone’s inquiry about my childless state. I guess it’s because I knew that he didn’t mean well, unlike other inquiries. My childless oldest cousin who has had miscarriages and recently divorced overheard our conversation defended me and said to him, “You think it is that easy, huh?” She turned to me and said, “Just ignore him. ” Thank you cousin for being my voice when I couldn’t find one myself at that particular moment.

My best friend told me a story about her elementary school classmate that had me scratching my head. Let’s call her Jean. Jean is our age and tried for a long time to have a baby with her estranged husband.  This is the first red flag of the story. Why would she want a baby with a man she doesn’t like or love anymore?  She eventually got pregnant via IVF and gave birth about a month ago. This is what my best friend discovered through their conversation. Once the baby was born, Jean hired a helper and sent the baby and her husband to her mother-in-law’s house since Jean’s own house is under renovation currently. But, since she doesn’t like her MIL, she won’t let her MIL take care of the baby. Only the helper does all the feedings and diaper changes. What does Jean do?  She watches the baby and the helper’s every move via a webcam on her phone all day long ever since the birth.  She yells out commands to the helper via the webcam.  She has not gone to see, visit, touch, hold, kiss, or feed the baby since he was born.  She sits at home daily by herself and monitors another person’s work of taking care of her own baby. In Chinese culture, traditionally women are recommended to stay at home postpartum, but it’s an extreme that she doesn’t even go visit her own baby who had taken a lot of her effort to make.  So her husband and helper take the baby to all the checkups and she stays home by herself.  She doesn’t have friends and she’s not close to her family. So she is home everyday without any human interaction and just stares at the screen on her cell phone.  You can imagine next month when she takes the baby home she would have missed a lot of her baby’s development and bonding time with her. It boggles my mind.  To each their own.

Finally, I bought a couple of things for my future baby. Here they are:

You know me. I’m not afraid of jinxing things.  I can’t wait to put these cute onesies on my baby.

One more week until transfer!!!

Three Years Later, Still Hopeful

Word Press notified me that today is the third anniversary of this blog.

Oh yes.  This blog began right when we were about to start our first IVF cycle.  Fellow bloggers who started at around the same time come and go, and some are moving on to their second child.  Just like any other bloggers who write about infertility, I was hopeful that IVF would work and I wouldn’t be here writing a blog post on my third anniversary waiting to make a huge decision about the next step to bring home our baby.

After 8 IVF cycles that resulted in 7 retrievals and two transfers with embryos that were made with my own eggs, we had one chemical pregnancy.  In July 2014, I began to grieve the loss of a genetic link with my future babies.  In March 2015, we officially closed the chapter of treatment with my own eggs and moved forward to donor eggs.  But, egg donation is no silver bullet.  The careful selection of frozen eggs from a proven donor did not help us with a baby in our arms.  Instead, we were devastated by yet another chemical pregnancy as well as negative results with our last DE transfer.

But I had always had hope and faith that all I needed was eggs and embryos from a fresh cycle with a proven donor, as I always believed that I had a “perfect” uterus.  I have had no problems growing my lining.  Although I had a history of uterine fibroids, no one had told me that my uterus could possibly be the reason why we don’t get pregnant.

I thought that relinquishing the genetic connection with my offspring was difficult.  However, to me, being told that your uterus is the problem is exponentially more crushing than the need of using donor eggs.  My dream of feeling a baby grow inside of me is replaced by the fear and worry of potential risks and complications one may have associated with my uterine condition.

So here we are, on this blog’s third anniversary, we find ourselves at this crossroad once again.  We have been in that place many times.  All the uncertainties we have experienced in the past few years would probably make an interesting book.  Although we don’t know how and when we will get our child(ren), we know that both of us have the strong desires to move forward and try our best to achieve that.  Surrogacy is being looked into.  We are in line for our donor’s next donation cycle.  My therapist has been helping me sort through my confused mind.  Infertility didn’t pull me and Bob apart.  In fact, we are stronger as a couple.  Does it mean that we don’t have our weak moments?  Not at all.  We struggle emotionally and sometimes spiritually as we navigate our next steps.  Does it mean that we are not tired of this process?  This season has probably been the most fatiguing emotionally and mentally.  But both of us are completely committed to bringing home a child.  My dear husband talks about our future child on a daily basis, just like three years ago.

Although this journey sucks, we are hopeful that somehow some time in the near future, our child will come into our life.

Thank you for following this journey in the last few years, and hopefully you will be there to witness it when our child finds his/her way to us.

MicroblogMondays: Maternity Dress

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Back in October before our first donor egg transfer, I was looking for a piece of maternity clothing items to put in my closet as a token of my belief that I’d pregnant one day.  I couldn’t find anything that I liked at a brick and mortar store.  It was suggested to me that I could try this particular store online.  Things are pricier but look great.

I subscribed to the mailing list and get an email occasionally for deals.  It is a little silly to be getting emails for a maternity clothing store when I am not anywhere near pregnant.  But as long as I can stand seeing pregnant women on an email, I figure I can keep on getting these updates.

Two days prior to my meeting with my former RE Dr. E who revealed to me that I might need a surrogate, I ordered this maternity dress not knowing that I might never wear it during a pregnancy.  It was on sale and I used a $15 off coupon.

I had mixed emotions when I received the dress a few days later.  It was meant to be a motivation for me to keep my faith that one day I would be pregnant.  With this new development, I didn’t know if I would ever make use of the dress.

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I tried it on and it fit me perfectly, even though I don’t have a pregnancy bump.  After a lot of consideration, I decided to keep the dress.

I hope it serves as a reminder that, although I sometimes have little faith, God is bigger than any of my doubts and fears.  His plans for us are unfathomable.  Despite our current roadblocks, we don’t know what the future holds.  One day I may put this dress into good use.

MicroblogMondays: Extra Grace, Understanding, and Patience

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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.