Fear

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.

Take three

It proves to be a lot harder to blog when the summer is over and the fall schedule is in full swing.  I started two blog posts that never got to the finish line.  Hopefully this one will be the winner!  A lot has happened since we learned about the fate of Daisy more than a week ago.  

After a lot of thoughts and discussions, Bob and I have made the decision to accept the job offer at Tiny Startup Company!  It is such a big leap of faith to switch from Big Corporation to a tiny little company that has not even hired any employees.  I’m proud to say that Bob and I are on the same page and we came to the decision together without any fights or arguments.  At first the one thing that made me the most fearful was the insurance coverage.  Since it is such a new company, the founders cannot even start to buy health insurance for their employees until the employee count reaches two.  So there is no way to find out what the insurance coverage will be.  After a lot prayers and thoughts, we came up with the plan to negotiate with the new company to pay for our COBRA coverage.  In the US, COBRA allows a former employee of a corporation to continue the same level of insurance coverage by paying the full premium (rather than a discounted premium as the corporation subsidizes the rest of the premium for its employees).  The full premium for our current insurance has a whopping $1500 price tag.  If Bob’s new job pays for this COBRA coverage, then we can stick with our current levels of coverage.  We are currently insured with Insurance Company A and have $10,000 lifetime maximum fertility coverage.  We recently discovered that under Bob’s current job, we may be eligible to get another $10,000 lifetime maximum fertility coverage if we switch over to Insurance Company B next January.  If that’s the case, once our fertility coverage runs out by the end of this year with Insurance Company A, we could get new batch of fertility coverage  with Insurance Company B beginning in January.  Bob did a great job negotiating with Tiny Startup Company and got them to agree to pay for most of our COBRA for the next 18 months!  I don’t have to worry about our insurance coverage for the next 1.5 years.  That is truly a big blessing.  

We both know that this new job has its risks. It’s such a new company that it could fold at any time.  The payoff could be huge though.  Bob will get to do what he likes to do and use his talent.  His commute is shorter.  He gets to trade off Big Corporation politics with Tiny Startup politics.  If the company strikes gold and gets acquired by some huge huge corporation, he may even make good money with his shares of stock.  The downside is job instability and a slight pay cut.  He has been doing a very good job at his current position but the office politics is getting to him.  Plus the work he is doing right now is not interesting or challenging enough.  I firmly believe that this is the right decision.  We both have tremendous peace about it.  And if this job doesn’t work out in the future, I have no doubt that he will find another job soon.  We have discussed this with many friends and with our families.  The consensus is that this is a great time to try a startup company since Bob is still young and we don’t have kids yet.  The last point stings a little…. as if not having children is a blessing in this case.  But even if we had a little child right now, we could still afford to have Bob switch jobs.  I am excited for him!  How many people get the opportunity to be employee number one at a company and help build the product of a company from scratch?  I am proud of him.  He will officially accept the job offer on Monday.

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Last Sunday, I finally received a text from Kate,  one of my bridesmaids, asking if we would want to have dinner with her and her family after they finished their family photo session in the city.  I wrote about Kate about a month ago about how disappointed I had been with her for not checking in with me after my first IVF.  I was very tempted to say Yes to her dinner proposal but we had already prepared for dinner.  Through texts, we made plans to see each other in three weeks.  After thinking a lot about it, I decided that I couldn’t just see her without first letting her know about my feelings in the last two months.  I made a decision to write her a detailed email about it.  And I did it on Wednesday!  I just felt that it was the right time.  I let her know that I wasn’t mad at her but I was sad and disappointed that I hadn’t heard from her.  I hit Send and left it at that.  Again, I had tremendous peace about it as I knew that it was the right thing to do.  Kate wrote me back immediately, thanking me for letting her know, and saying that she was very sorry about it.  Apparently I wasn’t the first person who had said the same thing about her so she realized that she has to do better with her friends.  She said that I am very important to her, there is no excuse for her not to check in with me, and she wants to make things right.  I am very glad that we had a chance to clear the air.  I am very relieved.

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Life has been very busy.  I am a group leader of a discussion group for an international bible study organization.  There is daily homework, in-depth summary of the bible passage of the week, and weekly contact with the 15 or so ladies in my group.  I attend a two-hour training bright and early on Saturday mornings at 7am and facilitate my group discussion on Monday nights.  There was a nice long break during the summer since last year’s session ended in May.  I guess that was when I felt like I had time to write my own blog in June.  I already feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work that I have now.  And I am also thinking ahead.  What if we decide to head down to Southern California to cycle with L.ife?  How do I handle the unpredictable schedule?  I am someone who would really want to stick with the commitment that I have made.  I really don’t want to skip serving every Saturday and Monday if it’s not necessary.  I don’t want to burden other group leaders repeatedly to cover for me while I am gone.  So my prayer this year is that God will clear my schedule so that I can participate in the weekly training and weekly discussion group as much as possible.  I know that He has called me to this role and He will help clear my schedule for me.  

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A good friend of mine asked me if I felt depressed about my fertility most of the time.  I thought long and hard about it.  Nope.  I don’t.  I am in general a happy person.  I do have moments when I am sad and I need to cry it all out to release my emotions.  But God has protected my emotions.  I am still living life the way I want to.  I am still enjoying life with Bob.  I am still doing my job the way I would like.  I do not feel depressed.  I actually felt more depressed about a year ago when we were so unsure about the next step for us.  I wasn’t ready to let go of being able to get pregnant naturally and “declare defeat” and “succumb” to IVF.  Now my thought has changed.  I have decided that IVF is the way that will most likely result in our desired take home baby.  It is hardly a defeat.  It takes courage on our part to go this route.  So thankfully, I am not depressed.  

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Who has gained weight from IVF?  My favorite jeans aren’t comfortable anymore.  I detest this side effect of IVF.  

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I have been taking a nice break from taking my basal body temperature.  A week ago the back of my hands and my forearms were filled with tiny bumps and rashes that would flare up and itch when it was hot outside.  Dr. E said that it could be contact dermatitis or a sudden allergic reaction to the supplements.  She suggested that I stop taking the supplements for now.  Once the bumps subside and the itch stops, reintroduce them slowly to see it they were the cause of such a skin rash.  It is a weird sudden break from TTC: no temping and no supplements.  AF should arrive on Monday.  I will most likely go at the end of the week to get a saline sonogram.  

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Wow this is long.  But I did finish!  Thanks for sticking around until the end.  You get an award for being persistent and patient!

Woes

This is going to be a difficult topic to write about.  But it’s been on my mind a lot that I really want to get it all out.  

My husband switched jobs a little over a year ago.  His previous company provided excellent health insurance that covered for almost everything 100%, except for fertility.  Anything fertility related was not covered.  When he switched to his current job at a large corporation, we were very pleasantly surprised that there is a $10,000 lifetime maximum for fertility treatments.  I was secretly hoping that we wouldn’t need to utilize this benefit.  It was a good-to-know kind of thing and I tucked it in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to March this year.  We started seeing reproductive endocrinologists and discovered that all the visits with these specialists so far including ultrasounds and the lab work that is ordered have been paid for under our general insurance.  Our fertility lifetime maximum had not been deducted until we actually started our first IVF.  I started to realize how blessed we are with the amount of coverage that we have so that we haven’t had to dip too much into our designated funds for IVF.  

Most recently my husband has been miserable at his job.  There has been a lot of changes in his group.  His manager suddenly assigned him the task of overseeing the whole project and for him to put the whole system together.  This wasn’t his job before so he has a lot to learn.  Not only does he have to learn fast, he also has to battle getting results from his group mates who are less than cooperative.  On top of that, he has to commute about an hour each way to work.  He used to take the train but because of potential transit strikes the past two months, he opted for driving instead of purchasing a monthly train pass.  Since his work has been so frustrating, he has been thinking about switching jobs.  He began to speak with recruiters and has found leads for job openings that interest him.

Last weekend was a testing time between us.  We started talking about the possibility of a job change.  He wants to work for a startup company with fewer people that would provide more room for growth.  If he can find a company doing what he enjoys doing, then he won’t mind working extra time on his job.  There is a lead for a small company that is located a bit closer to home than his current job.  The founder is really interested in him.  They met up twice already.  

When Bob shared this with me, my fear crept in.  We are in the middle of an IVF cycle that has been paid for by his insurance.  I know that this fertility coverage won’t last forever as we are definitely going to use up the whole lifetime maximum if we indeed do a transfer.  But it’s not only the fertility coverage that I like.  I also like the fact that even after the fertility coverage is over, visits to an RE including blood work and ultrasounds will still be covered under our general health insurance.  We also have the fringe benefits of chiropractic care, acupuncture, and counseling.  They are all covered.  If/When I get pregnant, all the prenatal ultrasounds, visits with the OB/GYN, and the hospital visit are largely covered.  We only have to pay a small copayment.  And currently our complication is the potential laparoscopic surgery to remove the uterine fibroid.  I am 99% sure that this will be covered under the general insurance. My fear is that the new health insurance that is provided through a new job at a startup company will not even begin to compare to what we have right now.

Bob was angry and hurt that the first thing I thought of was the health insurance that we may lose.  He thought that I cared more about our insurance coverage than his happiness and wellbeing as an individual.  This led to “robust discussions” throughout the weekend about the best decision to make.  I admit that I allowed myself to be fearful of the unknown and the future, a future that may not provide us with the comfortable cushion that we currently have with his work health insurance.  This fear is so crippling.  At the same time, it pains me to see Bob suffer so much.  We prayed and prayed for a clear direction.  I have been praying for God to allow me to have faith in Him that He will provide.  I want to have peace with whatever decision that we will make.  I would love to be the one that supports my husband’s decision no matter what he does.  And it hurts me for him to think that I didn’t care about his feelings and his unhappiness.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night pondering about all of the above.  How does one strike a balance between being a supportive spouse and providing another perspective of the situation without making the other person feel judged?  How does one speak with love and openness without hurting the other person’s feelings?  Marriage is hard work.  It’s even harder when the relationship is complicated by the inadequate feelings of infertility, dissatisfaction at jobs, the need to provide for your loved ones, and finances.  All of these make the road tougher.  Sooner or later we will find a solution to all this.  The worst financially will be that we’ll have to pay out of pocket for many things that are covered right now.  The amount of money that we have saved is finite.  If we spend the money on something, then we’ll have less money to do more cycles.  Again, I am letting my fear speak.  I just hope and pray that I will not let this crippling fear take over me and that we will have the faith that God will guide us to the right path.