This Mother’s Day was about celebrating with friends/family who finally became mothers after a long journey of infertility and standing by those who are still struggling. In particular, I celebrated with my friend who finally got to have her premie twins at home with her after they spent 3 months in the NICU. I wrote about her here and here. (Recap: Twins were born via gestational surrogacy at 28 weeks and my friend and her husband were many hours away from the hospital. They had to fly in right away but had to miss their kids’ birth). The NICU time was a crazy roller coaster with difficulty feeding and a host of health concerns for baby girl. My friend and her husband stayed at Ronald McDonald House and the kitchen was closed there because of COVID-19, so she bought a microwave to heat up canned soup for meals. Imagine living away from home caring for premie twins with health concerns. Now the NICU days are all behind them as they are safely home as of three weeks ago. New life with twins is definitely difficult. They didn’t have time to prepare for the twins’ birth. They had no baby shower and hadn’t had the time to clean out the tiny one bedroom apartment in the city to accommodate two new lives. But they are resilient people and make do with what they have. One year ago was when I first met her via my own reproductive endocrinologist. This friend had just lost her first baby when her GC’s betas started dropping. She lost so much of her hope and couldn’t fathom her situation turning around. When we first met and had a phone conversation for two hours, I told her what my dear friend A. always told me, “Things don’t change until they change”. She would not have imagined in her wildest dream one year ago that she’d be a mother of two babies who repeatedly puke all over her. It has been hard taking care of twins without any help amid a pandemic. But she is taking it in stride. I am just so joyful for her that she gets to celebrate her first Mother’s day snuggling her own babies. A friend of mine I met on a food tour in Hawaii has also been struggling with making a baby. Despite her being in the trenches, she always writes me a Happy Mother’s Day message. She had made some embryos prior to the pandemic shut down and I really wish that she can start transfer again as soon as possible. I also reached out to my friend who has been trying for years, and to my cousin who had three miscarriages last year and will start a Clomid cycle soon. I know how hard this day could be for people who want to be a mom, and I hope that my reaching out to them has brought some love and warmth to them on this difficult day.
I like how my church handles Mother’s day in the last couple of years. A few years back, mothers used to be asked to stand up in the congregation. I remember one year the pastor asked those mothers with more than a certain number of kids to remain standing. The one who had the most kids received a special gift at the end. I was still in the throes of fertility treatment at the time and it was for sure difficult for me to sit through these moments. I noticed that in the last couple of years, my church stopped passing out flowers at the entrance of the church to mothers. Our pastor would acknowledge the day, but also those who struggle on Mother’s day for whatever reasons, may it be struggling to have children, or miscarriages or infant loss, or strained relationship with their mothers, or the loss of their mother. He’d pray for all the people who find this day difficult. The church itself still passes out flowers to mothers, but the format has been much more subtle. When I picked up my kids from Sunday School yesterday, I found a box of a single orchid sitting on the counter with my name on it. It was for me to pick up. I like that. Not shoving-it-in-your-face-in-front-of-church kind of way. But still acknowledging this day. As for me, yesterday was just another day of me being my kids’ mom. Just like any other day, except for texts and well wishes from many of my friends and family. I actually was more thinking about my friend who failed her last transfer of her embryos as well as losing her beloved mother-in-law last month, about how difficult it must be for her on this day. I sent her a text early today to tell her that I was thinking about her. My friend doesn’t go to church, but if she did come to my church, I don’t think she’d be uncomfortable, and she’d appreciate the prayer from my pastor.
My mother usually helps with the babies’ morning routines. The morning after Bob left for Europe, she couldn’t come upstairs because of a huge headache she had overnight. My dad and I took care of the kids. Right before the babies’ first nap at 9am, she came upstairs to ask for some Ty.lenol. Because she complained to me before that Ty.lenol didn’t help with her headaches, I gave her two tablets of Exce.drin. After that my dad and I brought the kids upstairs to get ready for their nap. Suddenly I heard my mother yelling out loud in the dining room. It was this really loud yelling that was so uncharacteristic of her. I quickly put one baby in the crib and rushed downstairs. She was sitting at the dining table looking scared and yelling loudly “Get away from me! I have kids and grandkids! Don’t come take me away!” I was stunned by this scene. I hugged her and she refocused her eyesight on me, called my name, and started crying hysterically. I was telling her that it was okay, that nobody was going to take her away. She continued to mumble while crying, “Don’t take me away. You go away….” At that point I realized that she was hallucinating. My dad, with Okra in his arms, came next to us and said, “It might be her headache.” At that point, I just wanted to put the babies down for their nap so I could tend to my mom. I took Okra from my dad, went to the nursery, and did a quick nap routine with the babies. After that, I found my mom in bed and my dad by her side. She was still saying things that did not make any sense. When I told her that nobody was coming to get her, she scolded me harshly for not believing in what she said. Then she complained of her heart beating really fast. I was very worried about the state of her mind at that point. I didn’t know what could cause this hallucination all of a sudden and wondered if she was having a panic attack. I was also afraid of a stroke and didn’t know enough to know if it looked anything like a stroke. I called my brother up. (It is great to have a sibling for things like these.) He was at work and told me to call her primary care doctor to ask for her advice. I hung up and called the clinic. The receptionist was so nice. She tried to find the doctor who was at that time busy. She jotted down my number and promised me that the doctor would return my call shortly. Not even two minutes later, my mom’s doctor called back. After understanding the situation, she said that it didn’t sound like a stroke but sounded more like the effect of Exce.drin on my mom. I was like, she started acting strangely only about ten minutes after she took the pills. The doctor said that this medication could have an effect on older adults like that sometimes. We went over what to watch for and when it would be a good time to go to the emergency room. While I was speaking to the doctor, my mom walked upstairs to see who I was talking to. When I told her it was her doctor, she again scolded me for calling the doctor. I pushed her out the door and continued the phone call. I was telling the doctor that this was so uncharacteristic of my mom to be speaking so harshly to me. My doctor said, “Since she could speak so well and walk so well, it definitely doesn’t sound like a stroke.” She said the effect of the meds should pass soon, but if we wanted to have her checked out, make an appointment at the clinic on that day. I updated my brother who was actually already on the train to come back to see my mom.
My mom at that point looked super alert and hyper. She was talking excessively. She was washing dishes and doing chores at a high speed. She continued to claim that there were a lot of people coming to get her. She was highly irritable. I didn’t realize that she had already taken two pills of Ty.lenol at 5am. So within 4 hours, she took four pills of two different medications. My brother arrived and examined the pills. The Ex.cedrin has a lot of caffeine in it. My mom loves the smell of coffee and tea but can’t drink any because of the caffeine. So it was most likely the caffeine that made her act so strangely. Nevertheless we made an appointment for her to see her doctor that same afternoon. Slowly she started to act more normally and started to feel tired and sleepy. Her doctor’s visit allowed us to know that it was most likely the headache medication that caused that extreme side effect of hallucination and she was prescribed Ibu.profen instead. Other than that, her vitals were good and everything was back to normal. The interesting thing was, after all of that, she didn’t remember the episode of her hallucination. I asked her if she was scared of what happened, she said no because she didn’t remember a thing.
Honestly, my mind was racing when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my mom. I know that looking back it didn’t seem like a big deal but during that time, I was so scared. My mind went really far. I was scared of losing my mom and started thinking about all the what ifs. I was wondering what the ramification would be for us if mom was suddenly mentally unstable. I was afraid that her life was in danger and didn’t know how to react to it. I was so tense. I know that we eventually have to face our parents’ morbidity but I was just not ready for that. I know I am blessed to have parents who are healthy. My kids are still so young and I am not prepared to think about my parents being old and sick. My mom’s episode prompts me to think about sitting down with my parents to talk about their wishes in regards to their health should anything happens to them in the future. It also makes me realize that I or anyone else should not pop over-the-counter medications like it’s nothing. Everything carries a risk, and we have to be vigilant about even OTC meds’ effects. This episode also makes me realize how much I love and need my mom. She is the best mom, mom-in-law, and grandmother for us. I just can’t imagine my life without her, and hopefully I will continue to cherish her and never take her for granted.
We saw our in-laws off at the airport last Friday. The 7-week visit finally came to an end. All in all, it was a successful visit. First of all, My mother-in-law and Bob did not get into a fight at all thanks to my husband’s amazing ability to be on his best behavior this time round. Secondly, it was heartwarming to see the change in my father-in-law’s attitude towards the babies. At first he was a bit overindulgent with Okra, our baby boy, but later on he spent about equal time with both babies. You can tell that he loves them both equally. Finally, I feel that they have also changed their attitudes towards me. Although we had the previous incident that left a bad taste in my mouth, my mother-in-law did come around a couple of days later and told me to call her “pathi” whenever I would like. I appreciated her change of heart but I hadn’t called her anything since the incident. Right in front of the security check point at the airport when we all said our goodbyes, my mother-in-law hugged me and kissed me on my cheek. My father-in-law also hugged me and touched the side of his head on the side of my head. It was a tender moment. I was touched by their gestures. I remember the last couple of times when we did the whole airport scene, I got a side hug from my MIL and a handshake from my FIL. Time has changed and I feel that despite the cultural differences in things like how to address my in-laws, their gestures meant and “you are a part of our family and we appreciate you”.
The house felt empty after they left, but it also meant I got my kitchen back. Most importantly, I have my clean kitchen floor back! Cleaners came as we left for the airport. My mother-in-law is the best cook but is not the cleanest or the tidiest person when it comes to washing and cleaning. Let’s just say that the kitchen counter and the floor were constantly sticky despite my best effort to clean up after her. The area around the sink was always wet. The sponge for washing dishes lied in the sink soaking wet. The different cloths for wiping hands, counter, and dishes were all mixed together and smelled the same. My MIL worked hard to clean the kitchen on a daily basis after all the cooking at night, but a cleaning service was necessary to get all the grime off. Bob can now walk barefoot on the kitchen floor without feeling like he has to rub and clean his feet all the time.
My mom came home the day after my in-laws left. It is so nice to have her back. The babies actually remembered her. Bunny is usually the suspicious one when it comes to people, but she observed my mom for a few minutes and immediately smiled at her. Surprisingly it took Okra a little more time to stop looking skeptical at my mom. She commented on how both babies have changed: Okra is taller, his face is skinnier, and he has become so social and fun. Bunny is mobile and crawling all over the place. She is so smart and tries to figure things out on her own. My mom had missed them so much and is now in paradise as she gets to spend time with the babies again.
Routines are back. Meat is back in the fridge. Life is back to normal.
I have had some reflections (in my head) since motherhood began, but time is lacking in terms of blogging. I at least want to write about this one particular one: My mom and I had never been so close in the 43 years of my life, and I hadn’t fully realized the magnitude of her love to me until these past couple of months.
I know my mom loves me. She has always had a servant’s heart and had taken very good care of me as she had been living with me every six months prior to my marriage (and continues to do so with Bob and me). But the way she takes care of me and my babies shows me a whole new dimension of her love.
Since Bob returned to work after two weeks of parental leave, my mom has been by my side to care for the babies (and for me). Her routine used to be like this: going to bed at midnight and sleeping in until 9am. Ever since her grandchildren came, she has adjusted her sleep/wake time. She would go to bed at 9pm and get up at 6am. She would come upstairs to check on the babies at that time and urge me to go take a nap with my ear plugs on. She then takes care of the babies until time to feed them again. She has been feeding the babies with me side-by-side so I don’t have to always tandem-feed them. She washes all the bottles. She does the laundry for them. You should see the way she plays with the babies, sings to the babies, talks to the babies, and rocks the babies to sleep. She won’t let the babies cry more than a few seconds, and she patiently waits for them to finish their bottles even if it takes an hour and the babies fuss in between. She praises the babies all the time. She is the gentlest grandma ever. You can see the love in her eyes and her voice for my children/her grandchildren and for me.
In the past seven weeks, she has experienced many episodes of vertigo. The first time she was feeling dizzy was in my bedroom while holding onto Okra, my son. I urged her to go lie down. The second time it happened, she burst into tears because she felt useless for not being able to help me and take care of the babies. But I told her not to feel guilty and that she needs to take care of herself so she can take good care of us. Even when she doesn’t feel dizzy, she constantly feels tired with an aching back. Well, we have to kind of blame it on baby boy because he’s probably 10 lbs by now. It is not a small feat to lift him especially when he likes to be held a certain way. She always jokes that she now has definition in her arms because of them.
Of course she knows that they have no genetic connections to her. And of course this fact makes no difference in her love for them. My mother is truly an inspiration for me to learn how to be patient with my babies when sleep is lacking and crying and whining become frequent.
We were not without conflicts. In the early days when everyone was trying to adjust to this new life with crying babies and without the night nanny’s help, my mother said some very hurtful things to me that I won’t repeat here. In her overly fatigued state, she didn’t realize how hurtful her words were. We had our fight. We shed our tears. And we reached a new understanding as mother and daughter. Although the incident was unfortunate, the outcome was unexpectedly good for our relationship.
My father was here for six weeks to help take care of the babies. He was super helpful with food delivery, watching the babies while I took a breather, and feeding/playing with the babies. Now that he is gone, I miss him tremendously. I am quite sure that I would even miss my mother more when my in-laws come next April and my mom has to go back to Asia.
Really. I don’t think I can function so well these days without my mom’s help. She is truly the best mom and grandmother. I am so blessed to have her.
My in-laws say that they want to come next Summer. This is HUGE.
A little bit of background. Bob is the only child. His parents live in India. Their hope and dream were to marry him off to another South Indian girl in an arranged marriage. They came to visit Bob right when we first started dating. That was the one and only time they had ever come. They were really angry with him and refused to meet with me at that time. His father was so furious with him for going forward with the wedding that he called Bob the day before the wedding, yelled at him, and refused to talk to him for another ten months. Needless to say, none of his family came to our wedding. I did not meet my father- and mother-in-law until I went to visit them with Bob the year after we got married.
This means that it has been six years since they stepped foot in America. Despite Bob’s repeated invitation, there is always this or that reason for not coming. I won’t repeat the reasons here out of respect for Bob, but I would shake my head when I hear some of them. His parents mentioned about coming this year, but the plan was postponed because of Bob’s grandmother’s passing and the tradition for his parents not to travel for a year and stay put to perform rituals for the one who passed.
Recently, it seems like every time Bob talks to them on the phone, they mention about coming next summer.
It will take a lot of adjustment to have my in-laws around for two months. I know that other Indian in-laws come for four, five, six months. Two months may sound like nothing. It’s just that, I am not used to having them around. I cannot imagine just yet how it will all play out. I am thrilled for Bob that he gets to spend quality time with his parents, and it is a chance for me to get to know them better than those nine or ten days that we usually spend with them when we visit. But still, this is going to be very different than when my parents visit. My parents are independent here. My in-laws will not be.
The biggest concern of mine is that… I am really hoping that I will be at least 7 months pregnant by then. So that means that my in-laws, if following their plan, will be around the last two months of my pregnancy (I am sounding very hopeful here but I am actually scared to death that it won’t happen). I do not know about you, but I think I would want my own mother to be around as my comfort, support, and help more than having my in-laws around. I think Bob understands that. So we are telling his parents not to look into plane tickets yet because it is quite a way from now. We should be able to find out about our fate for next summer come November/December. Then we can have a more concrete plan as to how we want to arrange for our and their schedules.
It’s such a dilemma. I do want them to come so Bob can have his quality time with his parents. But I also want to be pregnant and have my mother around.
I told my mother last week on the phone that she may not get to come back from overseas in the summer because Bob’s parents may come. My mom has such a good heart. She was super excited for them to be willing to come, and told me not to worry about her coming home. She can postpone her trip until whenever. I would like to learn from her and her enthusiasm to realize that this is a great opportunity for me to develop a good relationship with my in-laws.
I also spoke with my dad on that day. My mom knew that we would pursue egg donation but does not know the timing of things. She will eventually know the details when we get pregnant. But I don’t feel that she should know any details yet. On the other hand, my dad knows everything about our development. I just hadn’t updated him on the disappearance of our donor since he had been traveling and it was hard to catch him when he was on a biking trip in China. So I finally caught him on the phone when he was home with my mom. So I began to tell him all about the donor and all the things that happened with the choice of frozen eggs. Bless his heart, he is so good at not divulging anything to my mom when she was around him. He just quietly listened and made neutral comments. At the end, he said, as long as we are handling our emotions well, then any decision is a good decision.
Then he said this, “The money that I helped you send to Bob’s parents, you don’t have to return it. Just use it for treatment.”
We usually ask my dad to help send money to India for Bob’s parents and we pay him back here. It amounts to quite a few thousand dollars. So this is not a small sum of money. Out of his love for us and the desires to help us, he just wants us to have more money saved up for treatment. But I told him that we don’t need it, since we have saved up the money already. He said, “We have money here too. We don’t need the money. Just take it. End of discussion. Here is your mom.”
I was speechless. I have always been stunned by my father’s generosity, thoughtfulness, and love. This is somebody who didn’t want us to have a big celebration at our wedding out of respect for my in-laws. This is someone who has always wanted to go with us to visit my in-laws so that he can get to know them. My parents have already given us the same amount of money one previous time to go towards treatment. This is the second time.
I hope that I learn a few things from my father and my mother and be open, loving, generous, and caring towards my mother- and father-in-law if/when they come to visit, even if I would be 7 months pregnant.
(Gosh I really hope that I WILL be 7 months pregnant.)
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I wrote a post. Time just flies ever since the Fall began. I can’t believe that we are approaching Halloween already. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas……
My cousin’s wedding was lovely. It was a perfect courtyard ceremony at a winery followed by a cocktail hour and a reception at the Cellar Room. It was just the bride, the groom, and the officiant. No wedding party. Simple ceremony with a simple message. The bride looked stunning, very much in love, and was totally radiant. My poor cousin looked very tired. It must have been overwhelming to be entertaining over 30 out of town guests for a couple of weeks. It was so sweet that after the cake cutting, the bride surprised my cousin by singing him “From This Moment On”. It was priceless to see him all of a sudden realize that his bride was serenading him as he was chatting with others. He quickly turned around, walked straight to her, held her hand, looked in her eyes, and soaked in the sweetness of that moment. Priceless. It was just so nice to see him so in love. I did wear a dress that allowed me to eat as much filet mignon as possible. By the way, the filet mignon was one of the best that I have had at a wedding. Kudos to my cousin for choosing a decent caterer.
I am happy to report that none of my “elderly” relatives (meaning my aunts and uncles) asked about baby, fertility, or anything remotely related to that. Someone did bombard me with questions and suggestions though. I am Face.book friends with one of my cousin’s best friends. She has a four-year-old who is full of energy and did not stop running the entire night. She came by to say Hi and to inquire about my expertise in speech-language pathology. Then she proceeded to make all sorts of suggestions about baby making. She even looked at Bob and told him to “get busy” that night. HAHA. Uh… does she not know that you can only get pregnant during a certain time in a cycle?? I just smiled. What else can you do?
It was also lovely to see my two female cousins on my mom’s side of the family. They are sisters who live on the opposite sides of the continent. The last time I saw them was at my own wedding two and a half years ago. Their mom was my favorite aunt who passed away about nine years ago, at age 52. It was so fun to watch these two cousins talk. The younger one lives in L.A. and has a larger than life personality. You wouldn’t miss her if you were in a room with her. She is very loud and she talks a lot. Her older sister is relatively quiet. It was so funny to watch them talk and catch up with each other. You’d see the younger one yapping away while the older one just nodded the whole time. They were the same way when they were nine and twelve. Some things just don’t change. 🙂
Older female cousin is an acupuncturist on the east coast. Towards the end of the dinner, she looked across the table at me and mouthed “Are you pregnant yet?” Now, this question is totally different from the questions that nosy relatives might ask me. She is somebody with the credentials and the potentials to know what I am talking about. So when we were on our way out, I approached her and gave her a two-minute version of our struggles. It was an unexpected bonding time between me and her. She knew EXACTLY what I was talking about. There was no need for explanations for any terminology. I was really just giving her a two-minute version and she understood. She treats people with fertility problems as well. Now my very loud younger female cousin was the one who eavesdropped and asked loudly about “follicles” and what that all meant. Didn’t I just say that some things don’t change? 🙂
The rest of the weekend was exactly how I had envisioned it: bonding time with my hubby and my Bro’s family. The vacation rental that I found is nestled in a small town in the wine country. The owners are two men. I assume them to be gay and I think only gay men could be so thoughtful in preparing for every single detail of their house. It was equipped with everything that you would need to live in this place comfortably for an extended period of time. The welcome basket had a personalized note to us with our names. It was filled with wine, cheese, nuts, crackers, homemade jam, and fruits and vegetables from their own garden. The rest of the weekend was relaxing, with onsite massages for me, Bob, and SIL, a visit to the winery within walking distance, and hanging out with the whole family in the backyard over pizza, wine, and snacks.
The biggest joke that we made that weekend was about my Bro’s first Girlfriend. They dated back when they were teenagers. They broke up when Girlfriend started dating Bro’s best friend at the same time. Bro would not have anything to do with a cheater. I was never very fond of this Girlfriend. She has a strong personality and is very loud. She married my Bro’s best friend, who happens to be the older brother of one of my best friends. I always feel fortunate that my SIL became my SIL instead of Girlfriend. My SIL and I had been friends before she started dating my Bro. I wouldn’t be close to Bro’s family if Girlfriend had become my SIL. I usually learn about her news from my Bro who is still friends with her. She in fact requested to be one of the bridesmaids for my SIL and subsequently volunteered to be my niece and nephew’s godmother when they were born. My very easygoing SIL just said Yes to both requests. Anyhow, you can probably tell that I am not very fond of her. So this Girlfriend and Bro’s best friend got divorced and didn’t have any kids. She remarried in December 2012 at the age of
42 43. Needless to say that when Bro broke the news to me that she was pregnant on her first try the month after her wedding, I was totally shocked and jealous. That was when we were attending all the IVF seminars and deciding on the RE. I was not happy that she did not have to wait and got lucky right away. I was the most bugged when she posted on Face.book that “God has not forgotten” her after all. So does it mean that I am forgotten by God because I have not been able to get pregnant? Last weekend, Bro saw on FB that Girlfriend was about to have a C-section this week. We reminisced about the past and my SIL blurted out that we should all thank her for saving us from having Girlfriend in our lives. Imagine her being my SIL? I shuddered thinking about that. Girlfriend is going to give her girl a name that would sound very funny if you say it with a Cantonese accent. We teased my niece all weekend long and called her that name with a Chinese accent since she could have had that name had Bro married Girlfriend. I shuddered again. Thank goodness God has had a better plan, that my SIL is in my family instead of Girlfriend.
Did I ever mention about my mother? She is a lovely lady who cares deeply about everyone. My mother is also someone who cannot keep any secrets from her sisters. She had been living in my house with me six months of the time for about 15 years now. The other six months of the time she is out of the country visiting with my father who refuses to live in the States. That could be another post in itself. My mother knows about the fertility struggles that we have had. She has been very helpful with supporting us by making brew Chinese herbs. She encourages me to visit an acupuncturist. And she firmly believes that we’ll successfully make a baby one day. But… did I mention that she cannot keep a secret? She left the country for her annual overseas visit in April. Bob and I started our fertility treatment in May. I had been hoping and praying that we would successfully become pregnant before she came home in October. Unfortunately that’s not happening. I really don’t want her to go blabbering about our fertility issues with her sisters. I want to control who knows about our struggles. One time I told her to not to talk to her sisters about us. She at first agreed, then protested saying that my aunts are also my family. Can you see my hesitation in telling her things? My mother came home this past Wednesday and the first few moments that I saw her, she shared someone’s pregnancy news with me. I am sorry but I pouted. I had had a very difficult day on that day and did NOT need her to tell me anyone’s pregnancy news. She quickly questioned my attitude and told me not to feel that way. There are certain things that my mom would probably never understand, as she got pregnant very young very easily. I love her to death but I just do not know how to share our IVF journey with her without fearing that she would go announce it to the public. But you know what? I have to be brave and share with her. We’ll start our next cycle in November and mom is always around. Bob is the one who mixes the meds. He does not want to hide in our bedroom for that. He wants to be honest and do it in the dining room like we usually do. I need to pray for God’s courage to sit her down and come up with a good way to talk to her so that I get her guarantee that she won’t talk to her sisters about it. It’s tough enough to live with your mother. It’s even tougher when you have no intention to let her be in your business. But those are the cards I am dealt now. So I just have to do it. I don’t know when this conversation will take place. It may not be that big of a deal. Maybe she’ll be able to keep something to herself for once? I am hoping.
How about that for an update on my family?