Three years ago, I wrote this very complicated story of how my brother’s ex-girlfriend got back into my life. With our history, I was worried that my professional time with her would be very unpleasant. Everything turned out to be fine and she is a delightful human being professionally. I am talking about her now because today’s blog post has something to do with her ex-husband. He was my brother’s best friend when she cheated on my brother by being with him. (My brother is still friends with the both of them. Bless his heart.) . Their 10-year-marriage did not result in any children. She remarried and gave birth to her daughter at 42. He was single for quite a few years. Last month, he got married again at the age of 48. His new wife can’t be more than 30 years old. This is why I wasn’t too surprised when I saw a pregnancy announcement on FB from his wife yesterday. She included pictures of the two of them, the Valentine’s gifts that he lavished on her (such as flowers and an expensive purse), and an ultrasound photo with words on it that said “It’s a girl!”. My first thought was, good for them that his older sperm didn’t stop her from getting pregnant. Then my second thought was, most 30 year olds would be quite fertile so getting pregnant easily wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Next I was thinking, maybe they struggled to get pregnant for quite some time and decided to get married once they finally got pregnant? You can’t make assumptions about people’s story by just looking at one FB post. Subsequently, I laughed at myself for my internal dialogue with myself and then realized that I did not have a single ounce of jealousy in me about this pregnancy announcement. The ultrasound photo did not bother me. Thinking back in the last year and a half, I remember how I have been feeling less and less jealous or envious of expectant moms, pregnancy bumps, ultrasound photos, or pregnancy announcements. Random pregnant ladies and little newborns don’t have an effect on me anymore. I feel genuinely happy for expectant parents regardless of how easy or hard it was for them to get pregnant. I really love this change in me, and it shows me that my life with my twins has made it possible for me to focus on them rather than focusing on others. They are more than enough for me and I don’t need to feel envious of those who can make babies easily or can carry their own babies in their bellies. I do know that not everyone feels this way even after their infertility has been resolved. This is just a little interesting observation about myself. I welcome this change as it has come about naturally and was not forced. I didn’t have to work at feeing a certain way. It doesn’t mean that I have forgotten my past. It is just that my emotions don’t have to stay there while my life is moving forward. I know some people who struggled to have babies still have these intense feelings about others’ pregnancies even after they have had their babies. Different people can feel so differently. It is good to know that it is possible to eventually lose the feeling of envy and jealousy. And it seems like I have somehow reached this point.
A coworker caught me in the hallway and asked if I wanted to come to my former coworker’s “baby shower”. I wrote about this former coworker here. Her pregnancy announcement caught me by surprise as I knew that she was in the process of adoption after trying for a baby for a while. I am not close to her, I was happy for her, but I did block her on Fac.ebook as she showed more and more of her baby bump photos. Anyhow, the “baby shower” was actually going to consist of a dim sum lunch and then a Sk.ype session with the pregnant lady because she lives in another part of California.
This coworker does not know the exact details of our struggles, and I have never shared with her about our effort of making a baby. But people in my office are nosy. The year after we got married, I was repeatedly teased at work about having babies. Since we have nothing to show for, nobody mentions about it anymore. I am sure that it is a silent knowledge that we probably are struggling. My response to my coworker was “I don’t go to baby showers anymore”, to which she said, “I figured, but still wanted to extend the invitation so you would be included.” She suggested that I could go to dim sum only and skip out on the Sk.ype session. I declined by thanked her for thinking of me.
It is nice to have a say in declining a baby shower invitation because I was actually invited. I think that many people think that since infertile people don’t often go to baby showers, they don’t want to be invited. I don’t know about you, but I think it makes infertile people feel even more isolated. It is nice to have the choice to decide if one wants to go.
I don’t think the baby shower will take place any time soon. The following week after the baby shower invitation, another coworker shared with me that this former coworker, who was at the time 31-week pregnant, was having some problems and might give birth soon. This coworker was feeling very bad for the pregnant lady.
Here comes the part where you may find me cold-hearted. I did not feel bad for her. My first reaction was that they would all survive, even if she had to give birth 31 weeks. She will have her take-home baby. I sound cold. And I was surprised by my lack of feelings. For an acquaintance that had struggled with making a baby and finally got pregnant, I felt that I should have more feelings for her. But I searched my heart, and I don’t. I have been exposed to this world of infertility and have read over and over again other people who gave birth early and their struggles in the NICU. I feel like I have spent all my energy on my infertile friends that I don’t have enough compassion and empathy to go around for other people that are remotely related to me. Can one be desensitized about bad news in the baby world? I think so. I do not minimize the potential difficulties that my former coworker may face because from reading about my other friends, I know that her road to going home could be long. But, again, I don’t feel bad for her. Other coworkers do feel bad probably because they simply have not had as much exposure as I have for these kinds of things. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make me feel good that I feel so cold-hearted.
The next day, former coworker did give birth to her baby at 31 weeks. I was told that the baby is doing well as her weight is right where she should be and she breathed on her own for a little. I am not a prophet, but I have confidence that this baby is going to be fine.
As for me, I have to release myself from this guilt of not feeling bad for my former coworker. But I do know that being infertile for so long has changed my perspective on things in this world of making babies. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing. Maybe you just can’t classify it as such. This is my reality now. Maybe I just have to let myself be.
There are down to two pregnant coworkers now. They are both in their third trimester. Like what I said a couple of weeks ago, I am mostly okay with them around me as I have adapted to their presence. Some days I feel better than others. It helps to know that our transfer will happen soon and maybe this is our time finally.
But at times, things do get tough. Case in point, we had a potluck lunch last week for my pregnant supervisor’s birthday. My original pregnant coworker who gave birth two months ago was also there. She is still on maternity leave but she gets invited to parties. She brought her very cute baby. I could hear her exit the elevator and people go oohing and ahhing over that baby. I went and closed the door. I admit that I think he’s very cute, but I have no desires to hold him or have anything to do with him. It’s interesting. I seek out some babies and crave for my baby time with them, while I avoid others. He’s super cute but I don’t want to hold him or be near him.
We have quite a few new coworkers who have joined us recently. One of them has not met my original pregnant coworker with a baby. This conversation happened during the potluck, may I add very loudly so everyone could hear it:
Pregnant coworker who just got married: (Pointing at the baby and his mother) She was pregnant. She just gave birth in the summer.
New coworker: (Nods)
Pregnant coworker: (Laughs) Yup everybody is pregnant.
Me: (Rolls eyes)
Another older coworker: Not everybody is pregnant. I am not pregnant. [Another coworker] is not pregnant. Isabelle is not pregnant.
Me: (Shakes head and rolls eyes)
Why are pregnant women so smug? If three out of 30 people in an office are pregnant, they think that “everybody” is pregnant? And why did that older worker, who has a few grown kids of her own, feel the need to comment on my lack of children or pregnancy?
I do not know. Maybe I am super sensitive about these things. But this conversation made me super uncomfortable. Nobody has any business in talking about me. I don’t care if my rolling my eyes or shaking my head caught anyone’s attention. This was not acceptable.
The very next day, by the time I was done with lunch, both pregnant coworkers were there at the same table as me. One started talking about contractions and asked the other when she was going to take her prenatal classes. At that point, I got up, packed up my things, and left. I was very glad that I finished eating. If this happened in the middle of my meal, I don’t know if I had the courage to sit there and finish eating while enduring another discussion of their current state of pregnancy.
They are going to give birth soon, so I will have my peace and quiet for at least a few months until they come back from their maternity leaves and start talking about their babies.
I am looking forward to a time of respite without pregnancy talks.
Without ever talking to my pregnant supervisor about her pregnancy, I get to know a lot about it.
How so? My office is situated right next to the elevator. I keep the door open when I am working. My supervisor’s voice carries. Whenever she exits the elevator or waits for the elevator with her patients, she is often talking about her pregnancy. I don’t think it’s intentional. It’s just that many of her patients get to see her once every few months. I am sure they are quite surprised to see her baby bump. The time it takes to travel from the first floor to my floor is perfect for them to ask a question and for her to answer the question about her pregnancy. And when their visit finishes, the walk from my supervisor’s office to the elevator is also a perfect time for them to ask questions such as when she is due and other things. Just being in my office, I have learned that:
- Yes she wanted to find out about the sex of the baby given her type A personality but her husband convinced her to wait, so now they do not know if it’s a boy or a girl
- Her due date is the very last day of December
- She will try to work until the end of the year
- She’s been buying baby stuff in neutral colors, and good thing, according to her, that gray is in this season, but she has also purchased some yellow and green
- She finds it amusing that there has been one pregnant woman after another in this office as she talks a bit it quite a few times with her patients
You know me. If I can’t stand it, I will go shut the office door. I cover my ears and go la la la. Lately I have been good. I don’t have to do these things to protect myself since protection has not been needed. Lucky you. You all get to read about the details of her pregnancy here. 🙂
Last year, I shared about these ladies that I was able to help because I shared about my journey openly with them. The one who was in my bible study group last year continued to share with me about her struggles and journey. She is a very private person and only shares her infertility problems with me and her mom. With my encouragement and her RE’s assurance that she was a great candidate for IVF, she mustered enough courage to look into it and actually followed through with it despite being extremely scared of the process. I emailed her to ask her for an update. The day we got the news that our donor disappeared was the day she wrote me back with her pregnancy news. Honestly I was happy for her. I knew that she’d get pregnant because it seemed that her problem was mainly male factor infertility. However, due to how heartbroken and disappointed I was on that day, I could not bring myself to writing her back and congratulating her. It took another two weeks to respond to her. She then let me know that she had a scary experience in the emergency room for five hours fearing it was an ectopic pregnancy. Praise the Lord that it wasn’t. But that was scary enough. I am so relieved for her and am grateful that I can be joyful for her. I just hope that her pregnancy continues to go well.
A very dear friend of mine has had quite a rocky road on her quest to become a mom. She never got pregnant naturally. Her IVF cycles resulted in an early miscarriage, BFNs, and subsequently the loss of twins at two different times, one early on and the other one at 16-week gestation. I wrote about her in this post. At that time, I finished my post with these sentiments:
“As for my other friend and myself, I am also hopeful that we will eventually have our take home babies. She mentioned that we would have our playdates in heaven for our babies who went up there first. I said, let’s have our playdates on this earth with our take home babies first. I truly believe that this will happen in the future. We just don’t know when. But I truly believe that our babies will play together on this earth.”
Guess what? Half of my wish has come true! My very dear friend finally gave birth to a baby boy and a baby girl last Friday. My heart is bursting with joy, love, and relief for my dear friend that her twins have finally arrived. I am very confident that the playdates will happen.
The last thing is not really pregnancy related, but I can twist it in a way to make it so. 🙂
One of my best friends, my maid of honor in fact, asked if I would be interested in a girlfriend weekend getaway mid-January. Just two nights somewhere in Southern California. We could go to the spa, hike, go to the pool, eat, and just relax. The old me would be like, Well, I don’t know what I will be doing then because I won’t know if I will be doing a cycle. But the new me jumps at any opportunity to go have fun and live life. The best thing of all is that my husband is 100% supportive despite him having to shell out money for me to go play. What’s better than having someone else plan the trip for you and you just have to show up? So I said YES to her. She immediately purchased the plane tickets and will go on to plan the rest of the trip with the choice of hotel and everything else. I really just have to pack my bag and show up at the airport. 🙂
How is this pregnancy related? Well, if things go accordingly to plan (which I hope they will), I will do a transfer in November. In January I could be at least a few weeks pregnant. My hope is that I will go on the trip and proudly refuse to drink because of the little life that will be growing inside of me.
How about that for something to look forward to?
Life has been busy since a new year of Bible study has started. I hope that I will eventually find time to update you all on our egg donation situation. In the mean time, I want to share with you all about some sort of breakthrough I had.
It’s not a huge deal. It really isn’t. But, I can actually joke with my pregnant coworkers about their pregnancy.
The Bay Area was unseasonably warm the last couple of weeks. Our office is air-conditioned. My pregnant supervisor was in a meeting with my department. She mentioned several times that it was very warm in that room. I didn’t feel warm at all. I looked at her and said, “It must be your pregnancy hormones.”
Not too long after that, someone poked their head in the room. This is the coworker who got pregnant when she was engaged. She just walked down the aisle last month with a six-month baby bump. She said that she had reserved the room for another meeting. Then she went, “Wow, it’s so warm in here.”
I looked at my pregnant supervisor and said, “See, I told you. It’s the pregnancy hormones! I am not at all warm.”
We all laughed.
Afterwards, I thought about it and realized that, Wow, I actually joked with these pregnant coworkers about their pregnancy. In the past, I would have said nothing. In fact, I would have repeatedly sung “la la la” in my head to block off any auditory stream of pregnancy talk. I totally surprised myself this time.
Of course, I still have moments when I just want to hide from the world.
Just last Friday, I happened to walk by my newly married pregnant coworker talking to someone else. They were chatting about how not to drink our work place’s water if you didn’t want to get pregnant. They started laughing about it. I really had this urge to turn around and say that I am the proof that drinking the water there does not help one bit. But I bit my tongue and tried to walk away as quickly as I could. Just then, one of the coworkers said that she predicted so-and-so (another coworker in her early 30s) would be the next one getting pregnant. I knew that I wouldn’t be the one others would predict, but it still didn’t feel very good to know that the possibility of other younger coworkers getting pregnant before I do is quite high.
I just hate this kind of talk so much.
But I am doing better in general. You know I’ve been giving presentation in Cantonese to pregnant ladies on a monthly basis since the summer to teach them how to communicate with their babies once they are born. I actually enjoy engaging with them, although I am not a big fan of public speaking. I have been feeling more and more comfortable talking to a bigger group of people about something that I am passionate about. At the same time, I am also looking forward to the end of the year when our contract with this project ends.
After last Wednesday’s presentation, the project lead followed me outside and told me how much she loved my presentations these days and how natural and comfortable I looked up there talking to these first-time moms-to-be. She then said that the project has received additional funding and would like to extend our contract until the end of 2016 so that I could give one talk per month until then.
Wow. More big baby bumps.
But hey, I have a new thought and renewed optimism. Maybe sometime next year I will be pregnant with my first baby, sharing my professional expertise with these first-time moms-to-be as a first-time mom-to-be myself.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought? I truly think that it is an attainable dream.
We shall see what the future holds.
This could be a difficult post to write, but I decided to be honest about my feelings.
The Monday after we returned from Chicago, I saw my therapist for the first time since she went on maternity leave end of March. As you may know, from March until now, we had had a whole lot that happened. Updating her on all the ups and downs of choosing a donor, identification of potential scar tissue during a saline sonogram, failed hysteroscopy with my RE, and all the pregnant women at work took more than half of our time together. I was also sharing with her about my feelings at around that time. That was about two weeks ago. I was feeling very… isolated. Why? Well, here is the reason. I felt that every other person, infertile or fertile, was pregnant, was matched for an adoption, or had given birth. News was just piling up everyday. At around that time, a few of my secret FB group friends got their long awaited BFP after suffering secondary infertility for a long time. It was just difficult for me to even click “like” on a post or comment with a “Congratulations”. And then another group of online friends that I have was sharing good news about two BFPs with their third pregnancy. Another member of this group was matched for a baby that would be born in a few weeks. Since I have been friends with them for a few years, I witnessed their struggles with conceiving number two, finally getting pregnant, and giving birth. Now they got good news again. I normally would be okay with this kind of news one at a time. But when bombarded with one after another, I just could not take it anymore. That feeling of being lapped… and still waiting for a baby, is not the best feeling. And then, some of my best blogging-turned-real-life friends have given birth. I love these friends and I really can’t get enough of their babies. I keep asking for the babies’ pictures, seek out their news, and feel tremendous joy for them that they are finally mothers after a very long wait and all the heartaches of losses. However, at the same time, I just experienced sadness for myself. The joy I saw on their faces and from their words just amplified the emptiness inside of me that I sometimes feel and served as a huge reminder of what I didn’t have.
It is so complicated to be infertile. You want your friends to be successful because that’s the ultimate goal for everybody. If everyone was miserable and could not achieve pregnancy, then there would be no hope for anyone else. At the same time, you feel like the only one who is left behind (which is not true). At that time, we were still waiting for the hysteroscopy to be done. The in-house donor that we were interested in was no where to be found. It just felt like I could not get a break. I am so glad that the meeting with my therapist happened at that time. I told her all these feelings, and even had a little guilt that I was feeling these emotions about my friends. I told her that I felt sad but at the same time happy for them, and I knew that it is okay and possible to feel both. It’s one thing to know that it’s okay. It’s another thing to be confirmed by a professional who acted as my sounding board. She reminded me to do what I have been doing: taking things one day at a time. On that day, just focus on getting through with the hysteroscopy that would take place in two days, and not to worry about those feelings. I know how fleeting these feelings are. Because after a successful hysteroscopy, clearance from my RE to move forward with a donor, confirmation of the donor availability, and turning in our signed contracts and paying the fee for the agency, I am feeling so much better these past few days.
It goes to tell you (and me) that having those feelings in one moment does not mean that they will last forever. Just acknowledge having them, hang tight, and hopefully they will eventually pass. As they did for me.
It is a little surprising to me that life has been a little bit tough lately. Every day seems to be a challenge.
One day last week when I woke up, all I wanted to do was to stay in bed and hide under my cover. It could be an effect of the birth control pill, or because of the gloomy, overcast, and cold weather in the Bay Area, or due to a sense of being in a holding pattern, or it could also be an influence of the multiple pregnant ladies at work. Plus my husband’s issues with my side of the family don’t seem to be going away.
Yeah there are multiple expectant moms at work: Original Pregnant Coworker who is about six months pregnant and New Pregnant Coworker who is four months along and is already flaunting her baby bump. And then, I received a confirmation that my supervisor is pregnant.
I was correct three weeks ago when I said that I eventually would have a third pregnant coworker. My Dear Colleague had been commenting to me on how Supervisor has been wearing flowy clothes. I made a mental note of that. Well, it has been confirmed. Last week, on the day I wanted to hide from the world, my Supervisor was out sick. I was quite sure that it was pregnancy related. The next morning, I was in my room sorting things out, and could hear a bunch of people talking in the conference room right next door. What I could make out was, Supervisor was announcing to her team of people that 1) her due date is early February and 2) she was feeling awful the day before. My first reaction: got up and closed the door. I just wanted to mind my own business and not to be subject to any more information than the confirmation of her pregnancy. The puzzling thing is, she cannot be more than five minutes pregnant. Well, I exaggerated. But you know what I mean. To give her credit, she didn’t really announce it to the whole wide world. She told her team and I happened to have overheard. But it doesn’t make life easy for me.
Work does not feel like a safe place for me. Triggers seem to be everywhere. I have to make choices daily. Do I choose to stay in my office for lunch rather than joining the crowd in the lunch room? What about riding the elevator or walking up and down the stairs? I know I have a choice. I would love to see myself as someone who can make a good choice every day. But sometimes I just can’t force myself. I know that I *should* not allow myself to be affected by other people. After all, making a new life is a joyous thing. However, I really cannot force myself to be a hypocrite, sitting in the lunch room smiling to everybody. I feel a strong need to self-preserve. I struggle. In my head knowledge, I desire to be a generous and godly person. Emotionally, I choose to be selfish at times. Often times, my fight-or-flight reaction wins.
I successfully ate in the lunch room two times last week. All three pregnant ladies were there the first time. I let myself be and it was fine. A coworker oblivious to my struggles commented loudly (like, for real, loud enough that everyone could hear her) that it was rare to see me in the lunch room recently. Well, thanks for noticing and making a case about it. Not that she sits there for lunch everyday. I was proud of myself and felt brave. It wasn’t easy for me.
I have been closing my office door more often lately. Just on Friday, I had to do that when a male coworker asked Supervisor how she was feeling, and her answering “so far so good”. A second time, Original Pregnant Coworker and Pregnant Supervisor were chatting in the hallway about how different they were (in terms of their pregnancies). Another office door closing moment. At times, when I see my Supervisor in the hall, I can’t even look her in her eye.
Anyhow, I just have a difficult time dealing with all this, while at the same time seeing the gloomy dark sky every single day. I need some sun. Something to cheer me up. And then I have this fear of the unknown of the future. I ask what-if questions about my procedure next week, being afraid that the scar tissue is more serious than presented. And the availability of the donor. And the stress of putting together curriculum for the prenatal class that I mentioned about before, which is coming up very soon. All of that plus the family issues. Honestly the family conflicts stress me out the most. I just feel like waking up daily is a challenge. I plead with God on my way to work. I ask for solutions. I ask for peace and strength to get through everyday. Sometimes it is tough. Some days are a little better. I am living day by day hoping that tomorrow will be better than today. I also appreciate it when my friend asked me to give her three things for which I was thankful. It helped.
Like I said, this is so surprising to me. I thought I would be able to handle this better than I am. This feels even more challenging than when we were banking embryos. You know what I do? I hang on to the good moments. Like a walk with my husband and my father, chatting about anything and everything, making jokes and having a good time.
One day at a time. This is the motto by which I live.