MicroblogMondays: Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving was so different from past year’s.  Instead of enjoying prime rib at my brother’s house and hanging out with his family, we were all home this year.  What was also weird was that I started experiencing some discomfort during breakfast time: lightheadedness at first, then fast heart rate as well as a tight squeeze of my right ribcage.  The more I wondered about whether or not I was experiencing a heart problem, the more uneasy I felt.  I could well be having another panic attack, but it was really hard to tell.  We had ordered food from this catering company this year, and I was supposed to go pick it up myself.  Bob ended up driving me there, and on the way there I was feeling my heart rate go up that I almost wanted him to take me to the emergency room.  We didn’t end up going and we did pick up the food, but I felt off for the rest of the afternoon.  Dinner was lovely: turkey, green bean casserole, mushroom and asparagus risotto, corn chowder, corn bread stuffing, a lovely salad and pecan pie.

I felt relieved that I didn’t have to cook.  We had a wonderful time together despite not spending it with extended family like usual.  The kids ate dinner rolls and of all things, salad greens!  Nobody touched the turkey, and they were a fan of the pecan pie as this was the first time they had it.  Hopefully next year we will be able to spend quality time with our extended family again.

(I am late in writing this post because yesterday I experienced more tightness on my chest which led to the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply.  My heart rate went up and I was not feeling the best.  I thought it was another panic attack but was also concerned that it was a heart problem. Out of an abundance of caution, Bob took me to the emergency room.  We got lucky that nobody was there and I was the next person to be seen.  After the doctor saw me and the EKG, things checked out fine.  He went onto do a test called D-dimer to check for the chances of blood clot in my body.  The test was also negative. He said that it could well be another panic attack and asked that I speak with my primary care physician to discuss the next steps for treatment.  I had already made an appointment with my doctor for today after my Thanksgiving day episode.  At that visit, my doctor also didn’t think that it was really a heart problem, and said it could be the withdrawal effect of stopping estrogen a couple of months ago when the menopausal symptoms return.  But as a reassurance, he referred me to cardiology for a full workup, and said that speaking with a therapist about these symptoms is also a wise next step.  Bob’s company offers free counseling for emotional and mental health so I will most likely utilize the services there.  Tomorrow I will schedule an appointment with cardiology and go from there.  It seems like aging/being in one’s 40 comes with a bunch of health concerns.  I would really love to live for a long time so I can watch my kids grow.  As a first step, I am motivated to go back to consistently exercising.  It is not an option not to do it anymore.)

MicroblogMondays: Okra

Okra is a quirky little boy.  He is smart and determined and focused.  He sometimes makes some funny remarks that make me chuckle.  Two examples:

Bob: Are you Chinese or Indian, Bunny?
Bunny: I’m Chinese.
Me: What about you, Okra? Are you Chinese or Indian?
Okra: (Thought for a couple of seconds with a matter-of-fact look on his face) I’m an elephant.
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Conversation with Okra last evening before bedtime:
Me: Okra, don’t pretend to be a dog after you wash your hands (because I don’t want him to be crawling on the floor anymore)
Okra (pretending to be a dog): I change back to a person?
Me: Yup that’s right.
Okra (thinking for a moment): No, I now change back to a dog that stands up on two legs.
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He also has the best curly hair lol:

MicroblogMondays: Waiting

I had my MRI last Thursday, and I was told that the doctor at that facility would read the scans and communicate with my OB surgeon today.  So I have been waiting for my OB surgeon’s phone call.  And I am still waiting.  I have been doing relatively well, and been feeling relatively calm, although it didn’t help that my kids were at times rambunctious this morning, so dealing with that while waiting for a phone call wasn’t fun.  I had a good night sleep and didn’t feel overly anxious or worried, although I really don’t know what the MRI results would show.  I just know that the Lord is with me regardless of the outcome.  Of course I am hoping for my scan to show a good ol’ fibroid (or adenomyosis) instead of cancer.  So much is out of my control that worrying about it won’t help one bit.  While I am waiting, I can’t help but think that this feels so much like all the waiting during my fertility journey.  The whole five years up until the kids’ birth was a lot of waiting.  Sometimes for weeks.  Sometimes for months.  Sometimes for hours.  So this is all a familiar feeling.  The difference is, the waiting then determined if I would have a child or not.  The waiting now is about my own health.  Either way it is a bit nerve wracking.  So I am going to go take a nap while the kids are napping and see if the doctor will call.  Will update here when I know more.

MicroblogMondays: Side Effects

I am late this week for my Monday post. There is a reason.

I had a panic attack end of September in the middle of the night when I thought I had COVID with my sore throat and started experiencing shortness of breath.  911 was called.  Paramedics came.  Everything was fine in the end.

Fast forward to end of October.  I am not going to get into all the details now but I returned to an OB surgeon for the second time since end of July because the fibroid/adenomyoma in the back of my uterus felt much bigger to the touch with more pressure, discomfort, and frequent urination.  I had stopped my hormone creams so that the fibroid wouldn’t grow bigger.  The surgeon felt my uterus and confirmed that it felt bigger.  She wanted to rule out cancer on the endometrial lining so she asked me to return for an endometrial biopsy in a few days.  (Although the lack of cancer cells on the lining does not rule out cancer in the fibroid.) (For my age group, there is a 1 in 700 chance when a fibroid is not a fibroid, but is cancer.) In order to safely perform a robotic hysterectomy, she would like to keep the uterus smaller, so she put me on this medication called Ori.lissa to shrink the fibroid/adenomyoma.  Depot Lupron is the usual medication that would do the job but the surgeon felt that the side effects would be too much.  She told me to take one 150mg pill a day for 7 days and we would reevaluate.  If it’s not cancer, the mass should shrink in two weeks.  If it is cancer, the mass won’t shrink.

The end results of the biopsy was that the cells she got were not sufficient for diagnostic purposes because the fibroid is blocking the entry way to the endometrial lining.  The next step is for me to get a pelvic MRI.  One has been scheduled for this coming Thursday.  I am not a big fan of MRI because the noises really bothered me last time.  This time I will bring my own noise cancelling headphones.

What about the meds?  I took it the first day right before bed time.  I felt fine.  I took it the second night.  I woke up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom.  When I got up from the toilet, my whole world was spinning.  I lay down and my heart was racing really fast.  I was getting anxious and I eventually had to push my husband awake to keep me company.  We watched a show online and I finally went back to sleep with Psalms playing in the background.  It was the craziest thing.  Given my panic attack the previous month, the surgeon told me to take a half dose for a week and see how I react to it.  If I am fine, go back to a full dose of 150mg.

So I did that for a week.  Once I was on half dose, I was totally fine.  Slept fine and didn’t have any reactions.  I went back to the full dose this past Wednesday.  For three nights I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and had a really difficult time falling back asleep again. My heart was beating faster than usual.  I had such shallow sleep that I felt kind of like a zombie and had to take a solid nap every day.  The fourth night I took a pill at 11pm.  I woke up at 1am to go to the bathroom.  I found that my throat felt lumpy and I had a really difficult time swallowing.  My heart was racing again.  Then I felt the chills.  I didn’t want to wake Bob up so I lay there trying to make sure that I could swallow my saliva.  I turned on a show on my iPad and that woke Bob up.  I urged him to go back to sleep.  After I finished my show, I turned on Psalms again on my bible app and just listened.  That night I again didn’t sleep well at all.  I woke up and that lump in my throat was still there, which felt really odd because I had never had that sensation before.  Swallowing food and drinks was fine.  Overall, I felt anxious and jittery.  I checked the side effects of this meds. Apparently, it is not very common but some people (less than 10%) did experience anxiety or depression while on the meds.  I emailed the surgeon.  Thank God for independent doctors who check their emails on a Sunday and respond right away.  She told me to stop the medication all together and just wait for the MRI results, as these side effects are very unusual.

So that was yesterday.  Well, it didn’t help that we are also potty training the twins.  They have been doing great while being bottomless but there sometimes are some accidents and resistance from both kids.  Needless to say, it was a tiring day, and my residual anxiety and the lump in my throat didn’t help.  Towards bed time, spots on the left side of my body started hurting, such as my eye brows, my cheek bones, my head, and my back.  I knew that I needed to go to bed early.  So I just went to bed without writing a post.  And I am happy to report that since I didn’t take the medication, I had a full night of sleep and woke up feeling refreshed for the first time in a few days.  The lump in my throat was gone.  No more anxious feelings.  I just feel like a normal person all over again.  Rest is so important especially when I have been dealing with a few pee and poo accidents today.  I just never had an experience of such a strong reaction to a medication it makes me weary to think about whatever medications that I may have to take in the future.

As for my uterus, after feeling bloated and being anxious about cancer for a few days, the last couple of days it feels like my abdominal area is feeling smaller and the pressure is not as strong.  I hope that on Thursday the MRI will show a uterus that has shrunk so we can move forward with robotic hysterectomy.

MicroblogMondays: Voting

There are so many things I can write about, such as an update on my fibroid/adenomyosis situation on the back of my uterus, or the first real Halloween for the kids.  The time change makes me tired so I am just going to write about this one thing that I found beautiful.  Sunday night after the kids went to sleep, my husband and I sat at our dining room table and each filled out our ballots for the election on Tuesday.  This isn’t the first time that my husband voted.  He became a citizen the year the twins were born and had voted a few times since then.  We never really sat down to vote together before.  This year’s election is so important to me that I found it so unifying for the two of us to be able to sit down together and marked our own ballots, and for us to be voting for the same candidates for one of the most critical elections in my life.  We are doing this for our future and more importantly, our children’s future.  This morning, I will take the kids with me to drop off the ballots at our City Hall so that they can witness ballots being turned in for the first time.  Tuesday can’t come quickly enough.

MicroblogMondays: Growing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my son Okra’s weight gain.  At that time, he had gained a pound in a week.  I was ecstatic and hoped that he would continue to gain.  Last Wednesday was his follow up visit with his gastrointestinal specialist.  I was anxious to see if he had gained more weight.  Truth be told, I knew he must have been heavier because it had gotten harder to lift him and carry him in the last week or two.  He just felt like a load to me.  Fast forward to the visit, first thing he had to do was to check his weight and height.  I was so pleased to learn that his weight went from 28 lbs to 30.8 lbs.  He had gained almost 3 lbs in 6 weeks!  Considering that he hadn’t gained any weight for 6 whole months (he had been 28 lbs for 6 months), this is such a shocker.  What was more shocking was his height.  When the nurse announced that he was 38.5 inches, I thought that she measured wrong and didn’t believe her.  I told her that at the visit 6 weeks ago as well as the well check with his pediatrician 5 weeks ago, he was 37.125 inches.  I told her to check the previous records and remeasure his height.  She did both, and showed me that he is indeed 38.5 inches.  Wow!  I didn’t even think about the possibility of a height increase for him because I was so focused on putting weight on him.  I just marvel at the power of food on his body.  Not only did his body absorb all the nutrients to make weight gain possible, the food also made his body grow more than 1.25 inches in 6 weeks.  When his GI specialist came in, we were both grinning like crazy people about his progress.  She was so pleased that the appetite medication in combination with the Miralax have been so effective in helping him gain weight, and that she and I were on the same page in regards to the same approach and same goals.  His weight went from 13th percentile to 30 something percentile for his sex and age.  I told her that I was surprised at his height.  She said that you could often see kids’ pants getting shorter.  I told her that my quirky boy always pulls his pant legs up at home so there is no way for me to know how long his pants look on him.  Hahaha.  When she examined his stomach, she noted that his ribcage area was filling out unlike the last time when he was bonier.  His stomach was also not distended anymore, which indicated that his constipation issue has gotten better. I told her that I did notice his increase in appetite, although he is still picky.  But you know, Okra never really told me that he was hungry before, but he started telling me that he is hungry a few weeks ago sometime mid morning.  I take it as a good sign.  His water intake has become a power struggle.  The frozen fruit strategy that I talked about last time doesn’t work anymore.  In order to reach his daily fluid goal of 40 oz, I had to do a lot of different things to make him drink his water.  Dr. GI Specialist said that life is too short and lowered his daily fluid goal to 32 oz.  To me, that is much more manageable.  As for his stool formation being mushy (he rarely has good formation), she told me to take photos of his stool a few days prior to returning for a follow up visit in two months, and we will discuss about it then.  In the mean time, we will continue the treatment and see how he does.  I walked away from the appointment with Okra so happy that he is doing so well.  He told me that he was hungry and I gave him the muffins that he refused to eat at home.  He happily ate all of that and then some other snacks on the way home.  I know my son is still picky and changes his mind about foods that he once liked.  It has always been a challenge to come up with new foods to entice him in order for him to eat more.  For example, he had loved his “ice cream balls” (frozen balls of peanut butter, cream cheese, and honey), homemade chocolate pumpkin donuts, or raisin cookies.  Last couple of days, he rejected all of these items.  He recently stopped eating all carbs including his beloved bread and rice.  He only eats this paratha from TJs so I slather on some butter and give it to him at dinner.  Pickiness has made feeding him really difficult.  But seeing his tremendous progress has spurred me on to continue to cook and bake and look up new recipes so that he will continue gaining and growing.  That’s all I can do right?  To help him the best way I know how.

MicroblogMondays: Mama, What is Jealous?

My 3-year-old daughter asks me many questions.  The other day she was listening to When You Feel Jealous by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in the car and asked me what jealous means.  I tried my best to explain it to her, saying that it is when you feel sad or unhappy when someone has what you don’t have.  She asked me several more times the following week.  Fast forward to this past weekend.  After learning about this ranch about 30 minutes away that offered Halloween activities and a pumpkin patch, we decided to take the kids there trusting that we would be safe enough with the COVID measures that were implemented.  There were quite a few activities there.  When we were waiting in line for the petting zoo, the lady behind me was pregnant with a kid that looked about three years old.  She was probably 7 or 8 months pregnant.  I started noticing her and telling Bob that there was a pregnant lady behind us.  He said, “Yeah I saw a few of them, and was trying to tell you that there was one in front of us at the entrance but you didn’t pay attention to me.”  I was too busy with what I was doing and didn’t even pay attention.  Even when I do pay attention, I find that I don’t feel anything about the pregnant ladies.  In the past, I would have noticed how many kids they already have, how far along they might have been, and felt a little sorry for myself that they were working on their number two or three or four and I was still trying to have the first baby.  It is no longer the case. I make a mental note of pregnant ladies just like how I make mental note of everything else around me.  I don’t pay particular attention to them anymore.  Just like that, they have what I also have, and that feeing of jealous, or the negative feeling that you have when someone possesses something that you don’t have, is not there anymore even when I know that I didn’t get to carry my kids.  I know that some of my friends who have been trying for a baby for a long time definitely feel jealous of people around them who are pregnant or have kids.  It is hard to watch them go through a difficult time after trying for so long.  Sometimes I just hope for a resolution for them so they don’t have to feel jealous anymore.  I am sure that my 3-year-old will feel jealous about many things in her life in the future, but I sincerely hope that she (and her brother) will never experience the kind of jealousy one has when everyone else around him/her can make a baby easily except for her.

Here are my kids at the petting zoo:

MicroblogMondays: 10/10/10

It has been ten years since the day Bob and I got engaged.

Bob proposed on October 10, 2010.  It was a Sunday.  We had gone to Angel Island to watch the Blue Angels.  He didn’t propose there when the Blue Angels were making hearts with their smoke trails.  He proposed later that evening in his apartment which was surprising to me.  So much happened in the last ten years.  From our beautiful wedding to the disapproval of Bob’s parents for our marriage.  From preventing pregnancy to requiring a uterine surgery.  From high FSH to IVF.  From multiple IVF cycles with my own eggs (talking about eight of them) to a few different donors.  From frozen DE cycles to fresh DE cycles.  From my own uterus to our gestational carrier’s selfless sacrifice.  All that long history of ups and downs resulted in the birth of our beautiful twins three years ago.  If you asked me ten years ago on the day of our engagement how I would imagine my life would be ten years from then, I would probably say I would have a kid or two that are about 7 and 5 years old and I would be working part-time as a speech language pathologist.  My life is nothing like what I thought it would turn out to be.  I would laugh at you if you told me that I would have twins that I take care of full time at home.  Me?  Twins?  Stay at home mom?  Whether I expected it or not, this is my life, which is at times chaotic, but it is also full and beautiful despite being in the middle of a pandemic.  Even when this is nothing like I imagined, it is what God has given me and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  It is just funny (to me) that nowadays I know way more about calorie-rich food than I do speech and language therapy techniques.  Ultimately, it is about what is the most important at that particular stage of your life.  

Normally we don’t celebrate our engagement anniversary.  However, ten years seems like a good milestone for an excuse to eat good food and we hadn’t done much in the last six months. Every chance we get we would like to make our ordinary life a little bit special.  The previous time we had sashimi was on the day of Bob’s birthday in February sitting at the sushi bar at a crowded Japanese restaurant.  Sitting inside a restaurant with many many patrons in a close quarter seems like a lifetime away.  We found a new sushi restaurant in our neighborhood with great ratings.  We phoned in the order and Bob picked up.  I made the kids and my mom pizza for dinner.  After we fed the kids and put them down for the night, the two of us got to thoroughly enjoy our anniversary dinner together without one single interruption.  The sashimi did not disappoint.  The fish was the kind that melted in your mouth.  It hit all the spots that it was supposed to hit.  Tasty wine and lovely conversation.  It was the perfect way to celebrate a little milestone during this pandemic.

MicroblogMondays: Such Great News

I have these former coworkers that I have been friends with for 23 plus years.  From my 20s to my 30s, these ladies were an integral part of my life.  They were the ones that celebrated my birthday year after year after year when I was single.  We had so many great memories together.  There were also some fallouts between a few of us.  We drifted apart in our late 30s when life circumstances changed, but they continue to be near and dear to my heart.  One of them moved away to another state the year we got married.  Every time she is in town we’d get together.  Otherwise we would very occasionally talk to one another or get together.  When COVID hit, this group of friends started to video chat once a week.  The pandemic is a horrible thing but its existence has helped to bring this group of friends together closer than any other time in the past ten years.  We now know how everybody is doing. We commiserate about the state of our country and share about our lives.  When one of them lost her mother, we were able to be there for her for emotional support.  Four of us are married with kids, and one of them is single.  She is my age and has been dating on and off but has not found a life partner yet.  She happens to also be quiet and often sits back to listen to others and rarely volunteers information.  I wasn’t the closest to her throughout the years but I have grown very fond of her in the last few years.  Ever since COVID hits, I have made sure that I spend some time to talk to her since she lives alone.  A couple of weeks ago, everybody appeared to be quite busy so the video chat was short.  I made sure I stayed behind to chat with my single friend.  I asked her how she was doing and what was new.  To my surprise, instead of talking about her work or her dad, she paused a little and then told me that she was in love!  OH MY!  I was so surprised!  Of course I tried to get as many details as possible.  She met this guy online.  After dating for a couple of months, she decided to welcome him into her pod and they have been dating in person for a couple of months.  She really really really likes him, which makes me so happy for her!  I couldn’t believe that she had kept it a secret from all of us for so long, and chose not to disclose to others during our group chat.  I am so proud of her for putting herself out there during a pandemic and met someone and was brave enough to embark on a new dating relationship.  It takes so much courage to do that.  And she is happy and in love!  I can go on and on about it as I have been so excited for her.  I couldn’t wait for her to tell the others the following week.  Then the next week came, and I got on the call a little late.  At the end of the call, I asked if single friend had given others an update.  I gave her a smile and a knowing look.  She started laughing saying that Isabelle was trying to give me a hint to tell you all what has been going on.  So she again told our other friends that she was in love.  Everybody was so so so psyched for her!  In these dark times, the news of a dear friend falling in love just brings so much joy in my life.  You cannot underestimate the power of positive news.  There is hope that this relationship will come to fruition and my dear friend gets to spend the rest of her life with someone that she loves.  Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing that comes out of a horrible pandemic?

MicroblogMondays: One Pound

Almost two months ago, I wrote about my son Okra’s gastrointestinal issues.  This is the latest.  He and I had an in-person follow up visit with his GI specialist almost three weeks ago.  His weight gain was stagnant.  Upon palpation, he still had a lot of gas, which meant that his constipation issues were still there.  She didn’t think that he had any wheat or lactose sensitivities.  His lab work showed that he is a healthy toddler on the skinnier side who is maintaining a good gain on height.  Since there is a weight gain issue with constipation issues, she reintroduced Mirala.x to help with his bowel movement and a medication to increase his appetite.  She said to start the appetite meds first for two weeks, initially with it 30 minutes prior to dinner for one week, and then adding a dose 30 minutes prior to breakfast.  Then after two weeks of that, start Miralax.  The kids’ three year check up was the week after the GI visit.  Our pediatrician read Okra’s x-report and recommended us to start Mirala.x right away instead of waiting for another week.  He said that the moderate severity of his constipation could really cause Okra to feel unwell and be moody, which was what we had been experiencing.  At that visit, Bunny’s weight exceeded Okra’s weight by 11oz.  Historically, she was often two pounds lighter.  He hadn’t had a weight gain in six months, and she gained over 4 pounds in the past year.  Okra is not exactly diagnosed with “failure to thrive” but he is closer to the low end of normal for his age.  So this has been the situation with Okra medication-wise, water-intake wise, and food-wise.  In the morning, he takes a dose of the appetite medication upon wake up time.  I try to delay his breakfast so he has about 20 to 30 minutes before he eats.  After food, I give him Miralax.  Thirty minutes prior to dinner, he has another dose of the appetite medication.  Good news is, he somehow likes the appetite meds because of its taste?  But he fights drinking water with it as water intake has become a power struggle.  Mirala.x is a powder that has to be mixed with 4 to 8 oz of water.  He fought that with all his might in the beginning.  I have tried my best to tempt him to drink water.  I tried different cups and different straws.  I even bought another Funtainer bottle that has Thomas on it.  Eventually I discovered that the best method to encourage water intake is to put frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mangos, or pineapple, or a combination of any of them) in the water.  This has been a saving grace.  He (and actually Bunny too) somehow loves frozen fruit and is willing to drink the water so that he can eat the frozen fruit at the end.  Because of the frozen fruit lure, Okra has been drinking the required amount of water each day to help with hydration hence his constipation issues.  In terms of food, I have been adding high calorie food and healthy fats whenever I can.  I add butter to his toast, muffin, and rice.  I make smoothies with coconut milk, flax seed, avocado, and full fat yogurt.  I use the same for making popsicles which he loves.  I add half and half to his milk.  He does not eat eggs, avocado (by itself), yogurt, or cheese.  Recently I made cream cheese with peanut butter and a little bit of honey into frozen balls.  I call them ice cream balls.  Okra totally bought into it and ate a ton.  I add a lot of stuff in these “cookies” and he likes them.  I have introduced adding cocoa powder, crushed peanuts, and a little bit of honey to oat meal and now he eats it.  I have even gotten chocolate sprinkles for whole milk yogurt with apple sauce but Okra refuses to touch it.   His appetite seems to wax and wane but I can see that he has been eating and drinking more than before.  I decided to weigh the both of them a couple of days ago.  I weighed myself first and then weighed myself while carrying the kids.  I subtract my weight from the total weight.  To my huge surprise, Okra seems to have gained one pound.  ONE WHOLE POUND.  He and Bunny actually weighed the same, which means he gained more than Bunny in the past week. I can’t begin to tell you how huge it is.  He had been stuck at this one weight for months.  Sometimes his weight even went down.  So for him to gain a pound in a bit over a week of adding higher calorie foods and fat, I am so encouraged that the diligence will be paid off.   Maybe my scale is off.  Maybe he didn’t gain one whole pound, but he definitely has gained some weight as I can feel it when I lift him.  I really hope that we are off to a good start with his weight gain and he will gain more consistently from now on.  Who would have known that my own child’s weight gain would be a source of stress and concern?