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.
After our normal and uneventful anatomy scan on Thursday, Bob and I felt safe to announce our pregnancy the next day. I had thought out the wording quite a while ago. I wanted it to be simple but also to the point. The first decision was that ultrasound or bump photographs were never going to be part of the plan as I myself would not have wanted the trigger either. I am not going to lie. I was a little nervous Friday morning. Once the cat is out of the bag, there is no turning back. But with the normal development of the babies and healthy surrogate, we have more confidence that the twins are going to join us in September. So bright and early Friday morning, I posted the following:
“After years of waiting, prayers, and heartaches, Bob and I are so blessed to announce that we are expecting twins via the wonderful and selfless gift of surrogacy. Baby A [Last Name] and Baby B [Last Name] are due to be born in September. I do not get to carry them, but my heart is full. Bob and I are very excited and cannot wait to meet them face-to-face.”
With this picture:
Another less formal, even simpler announcement was sent to everyone at work (about 35 people): “I would like to share some wonderful news with you. My husband and I are excited to let you all know that a surrogate is carrying twins for us, and they are due to be born in September. I thought I would share the joy with you all, my work family. “
The response has been overwhelming.
My Fac.ebook post exploded. Everyone has been so happy for us. The love that everyone shows us has been overwhelming. Some of them commented and said that the announcement made them tear up, which was super heartwarming. After I posted, my oldest cousin in Asia made a screenshot of my announcement and posted on our family group on Whatsapp so every single one of my relatives in Asia knows as well. She saves me the trouble of telling everyone myself.
At work people came by to say congratulations and gave me hugs. People’s reaction was that Wow you’ll have your babies very soon, because September is right around the corner. We have known about it since January so we have had a lot of time to process it. To them, it’s such a brand new thing that they feel that I don’t have a lot of time. It’s all perspective, yeah?
There was one particular coworker with whom I considered sharing the news prior to the announcement but there wasn’t a good time to do it. So when she saw me in the morning, she asked me “What’s up?” From the look of her face, I knew that she hadn’t read the FB announcement or the work email. So I said, “Ahh, you haven’t read my announcement.” She looked very alarmed and was probably thinking that I was going to quit this job or something. When I told her, she burst into tears and gave me a bear hug. She just couldn’t stop crying. It was two minutes prior to my next client so I told her to stop, otherwise I’d cry too! I totally shocked her and caught her off guard as I know she didn’t expect something like this in a million years. An hour later, I went to apologize for shocking her. My boss happened to be in her office. I’d imagine my boss to be the person that was the happiest on that day because she didn’t have to keep a secret any longer! She had learned about the pregnancy at 12 weeks and had been so good at keeping it to herself for the next 8 weeks. She in fact also burst into tears herself and was so happy for us. Anyways, so my coworker whom I shocked kept on asking questions while crying a second time for us. She told me how much we deserved to be parents. I said I couldn’t wait until I see what the babies look like. Then this coworker started asking if it was my egg. I don’t think she meant any harm or anything. When people hear the word “surrogacy”, they are little bit confused of what it all means. I thought about writing gestational surrogacy on my FB announcement but decided against it because I wanted to make it even simpler. Plus, I don’t owe anyone any explanations. So somehow, with my boss and my coworker there, I decided to tell the truth. For other people, I’d usually say something like, our surrogate is just carrying for us, and it is our embryo. But with the way she asked the question, I had to answer that it wasn’t my eggs but our donor’s. It was a quick decision, but one that I don’t regret. My honesty didn’t faze them. But I told them two times to keep it to themselves and explained that I would tell the twins early on about it but I want me and Bob to the ones disclosing this to them, not anyone else. They swore that they wouldn’t tell and that it was a personal thing. Later on, I told Bob, and he supported my decision to tell them. He was happy that I was able to be honest about it.
That evening happened to be a huge event for my work’s anniversary. I didn’t plan the announcement so that I could tell many people, but the timing just worked out. So at the event, I saw many former coworkers and I was able to share with them one by one. It was just so touching to receive such warm and joyful responses from everybody. There is a certain vulnerability in sharing with the world as it points to our struggles in the last few years. But the reward is also big.
The most surprising revelation was my best friend from my 20s. We used to hang out all the time, meaning every single weekend, for years. Her then boyfriend was best friend with my then boyfriend. After we were no longer dating our boyfriends, she and my ex-boyfriend started dating, and that put a strain in our relationship. After they got married, we grew apart. I knew that she didn’t have children until I saw her pictures with a little girl this year. She wrote me some private messages after she saw my announcement, telling me that she was very happy for us, and that it was the greatest news in her 2017. We exchanged a few messages. She said that she understood how I felt as she went through infertility for 13 years, having miscarriages and having suffered from many treatments that didn’t work. I didn’t ask if she finally gave birth to her baby or if she adopted. I said that I was sorry for what she had gone through, because it is truly a lonely journey if not for the support of people around us. She told me that she wasn’t as lucky to have support from peers, but God is full of grace as He carried her through all those years. I just feel for many of the people that I know who are very private and not as open about their journey, and they often suffer silently. I am so happy for her that she is parenting a precious little girl, but I can’t imagine 13 years of going through this alone (and with her husband).
Mother’s day at church was good and interesting. I was a greeter at service as usual on Mother’s day, since we always greet on second Sunday of the month. Last year it was tough and we didn’t go to church as we just returned from Hawaii after we were told that I needed a surrogate. It was just too much and I couldn’t handle going to church witnessing baby dedication. This year I was feeling good. Not overly joyful that I’d soon have my children in my arms, but also not sad at all that I am not the one carrying them. Since many people learned about our twins on FB, many came up to me to hug me and say how happy they were for us and to congratulate us. Baby dedication was okay too. I didn’t feel jealous or negative about it. Some of my friends also privately messaged me or wrote me on FB wishing me Happy Mother’s Day. It was just a little strange to hear people tell me Happy Mother’s Day as it is a brand new experience.
Now that we have made an announcement, I can talk about our babies more freely at work and at church. I am just so grateful that we have reached this milestone.
It has been challenging to deal with babies and pregnant women in the last couple of months.
Ever since the news of possibly needing a gestational carrier, my previous calmness and acceptance of babies and pregnant women in my life have turned into occasional intolerance. It has become increasingly difficult for me to deal with pregnancy news or cute baby photos on Fac.ebook. I guess these things come in waves. Prior to our first donor egg cycle, we were so hopeful for a positive outcome that the sight of anything pregnancy- or baby-related did not bother me much. In fact, I saw pregnancy news from donor egg cycles as an encouragement that the same happy ending would most likely happen to us as well. Suddenly, my world was turned upside down. Knowing that surrogacy may be the only way for us to have a baby that shares his/her genes with my husband, even pregnancy news of ladies in my Fac.ebook donor egg secret group becomes intolerable. In the last two weeks, about 4 or 5 of these ladies got their positive beta or two pink lines on their pee sticks. I haven’t been able to bear the sight of that and often have to hide these posts. This is not a sustainable way to live, but I just can’t force myself to be okay when I am really not okay.
But, I am a human being. Human being likes to torture themselves. I am no different. Even when I hide these posts, I also seek them out sometimes. There are these “friends” on Fac.ebook that I don’t personally talk to much anymore. They all got married in the past year or two. I often unfollow them so I won’t see their posts on my newsfeed should they become pregnant and post their announcements. I guess, it’s just a sort of preemptive self-preservation. Last week, I decided to torture myself. I looked at the Fac.ebook page of three of them. Guess what? Lucky me. All three had made a pregnancy announcement in the last month. The good news is, I didn’t get ambushed by their pregnancy announcements unprepared because of the unfollowing. However, I didn’t expect all three of them to be expecting. I don’t wish any of this infertility nonsense to happen to any of them, but at the same time, I selfishly didn’t want them to be trying so quickly after their wedding.
And then, somehow, I also looked up my first boyfriend on Fac.ebook. I don’t know how he came to my mind. I just was thinking about him and his wife, who happened to be one of my best friends in my 20s. She and I hung out almost every single weekend for quite a few years. Then one day, she and her long-time boyfriend broke up. My ex-boyfriend and she got together. Although he and I were no longer together, it was still tough to see my best friend and my ex-boyfriend be an item. It was extremely awkward for any of us to all hang out together. Since they got married, we had grown apart. Life changed and we are no longer close friends. All I knew was that they didn’t have any kids. I never asked her about their plans and I just assumed they didn’t want to have kids after being married for over ten years. It has been quite a few years since I last bumped into them at a local grocery store. I searched for my ex-boyfriend who is not even my Fac.ebook friend. And there he was in his profile photo with a little girl. Another photo showed a group of people and my former best friend who was grinning from ear to ear holding her baby. Judging from the dates of the photos, it seems like she had given birth early last year. So she was probably 41 or 42 when she gave birth. Twelve years after their wedding. I am sure that there is a story of an infertility journey about which I’d never find out the details. I am happy that they finally have a child if they did struggle. However, the sense of being alone in this world of infertility sometimes is too much to bear.
Although seeing pregnant ladies and babies on Fac.ebook has been difficult for me, I just can’t be mad at babies, especially those very cute ones that I get to hold and play with in real life. I am talking about babies who show up at my work. My supervisor returned to work after her 4.5 month maternity leave. Her husband is currently on paternity leave, so the baby comes to our office to visit at least three to four times a week. I was initially annoyed by the sounds and sights of the baby. I deliberately stayed in my office without reacting or responding to the oohing and ahhing out in the hall. But you just can’t be mad at a super chubby and smiley baby. I just happened to be at the front desk one day when my supervisor’s husband was pushing the baby stroller in. Since the front door was already looked, I went and unlocked it for him. I peeked inside the stroller. All I could see was a baby beaming with a smile. When I talked to him, he opened his mouth and started cooing back. It was super cute. I remember going home telling Bob about the baby and how he responded to my voice with such happy face. Last week, another baby came with her mom to work. When I walked by her mom’s office, the baby was crying. So I couldn’t help myself but volunteer to hold the baby so her mom could fix her milk for her. And I fed the baby so her mom could go do something very important. You know, you just can’t be mad at the babies. She drank her milk and fell asleep in my arm. When my coworker came back, I even chatted with her about her difficulty breastfeeding the baby and other struggles she had as a new mother. After I handed the baby back to her, I went to the lunch room and my supervisor’s baby was there visiting. Holding him while waiting for my lunch to heat up was a highlight of my day.
I no longer dread the unannounced visits of these babies or the sight or sound of them. I think I am faring better than I expected myself to be. I don’t avoid them like a plague. There is a certain freedom in that I no longer feel negative about being surrounded by these babies. I just hope that one day I will have the same freedom seeing pregnancy and birth announcements that show up on my Fac.ebook newsfeed. I was once okay with them. I am hopeful that given time, I will get back in that head space once again.
About five months ago, I had a little conflict with my out-of-town friend Chloe because she had said some hurtful things to me when she learned that I wasn’t going to attend dinner with her and our other friends, including my pregnant friend Leanne. I love Leanne and usually wouldn’t mind seeing her, but I just couldn’t see her the week after I got my BFN for my last Own Egg cycle. Chloe and I have since mostly made up. I promised her that I would see her when she is in town in August. Here we are. The dinner has been planned for this coming Friday.
Originally when Chloe arranged for this dinner, she only asked me, Leanne, and another friend. We are the core group of people. Last week, she sent out a text to the three of us and then three more people regarding dinner. There were two phone numbers that I didn’t recognize. I really do hate it when she does this: inviting people that I don’t know. It makes it really hard to talk about anything. I can predict that there will not be much catching up, especially sitting next to people you don’t know. It defeats the purpose of getting together when you can’t even talk about your life.
I am friends with one of the extra girls that Chloe invited. Let’s call her Candace. She got married last year at age 38, so I was quite sure that she was going to try to have a baby. I haven’t seen her since her wedding. She texted back saying that she might or might not come to dinner because she lives and works two to three hours away from the restaurant, and would need to leave at 2pm to make it to dinner.
Well, Candace, who usually is not active on Fac.ebook, suddenly posted her baby shower photos. Baby shower photos! What? I was totally surprised and felt blindsided. Apparently she is due in October, and her coworkers threw her a surprise baby shower, so she had to post it. I don’t blame her for posting and announcing, but my first reaction was that I just wanted to hide from her and escape dinner. If our last transfer had succeeded, my due date would be October as well. If she comes to dinner, imagine this: I will have to hug her, say congratulations, and I am quite sure others will be oohing and ahhing over her bump, pregnancy, new life, etc etc. This is too much of a trigger for me. When I said yes to dinner, I didn’t sign up for a soiree with a pregnant woman. This is different from having dinner with Leanne. Candace and I aren’t close friends and we don’t necessarily have to get together. This is a situation I really didn’t have to subject myself to.
I went to bed feeling bugged. And I woke up feeling bugged. Bob told me that I should skip dinner and was a bit mad at me for torturing myself by still going. But I really can’t bail this time. If I want to maintain my friendship with Chloe, I better make it to dinner. So Bob’s question is, why do I want to maintain my friendship with Chloe? We really go way back. She and I went through a lot as friends. It is stupid for letting these things go between us. But it’s also very sad that I do not look forward to our dinner. Going to this dinner stresses me out. All this week I will have to work on getting myself mentally ready to spend two hours enduring the talk of pregnancy.
If Chloe had already known of Candace’s pregnancy and still invited her, I would be very mad at her. I guess I can’t expect her to understand how I would feel because I guess to her it has never been that big of a deal. Probably in her mind, I, as an infertile, just have to handle my emotions for the sake of friendship. To me, it’s almost asking for too much from her to give it a little thought about how I might feel sitting there staring at a seven-month baby bump and listening to pregnancy talk.
I don’t even think that it’s worth it to talk to Chloe about my feelings. After the conflict last time, I just feel that the divide between her and me is too wide when it comes to my point-of-view as an infertile person. So this is what I will do. I will just suck it up and go to the dinner, smile, say my congratulations, and pretend to be happy. I know that it doesn’t match my usual way of handling things: being honest and transparent. However, this time I just really feel that it is not worth it.
Or, maybe Candace will decide not to go. After all, it is probably no fun to sit through three hours of traffic while you are 7-month pregnant.
Either way, I think I will do fine. I just need to vent.
We made it! The train departed and carried us safely to our destination with only a 4-hour delay.
The journey was such a new and special experience. Sleeping in a rocking motion, taking a shower while trying to balance ourselves, dining and making fast friends with strangers, and learning to enjoy the slowness of time all proved to be such memorable experiences.
Bob and I got along well without any big fights. I also learned a thing or two about myself. Our luxurious bedroom (vs. riding coach or in the tiny rooms called roomette) allowed us to have a two seater plus an extra seat, a big window, a private toilet with shower, and a sink. Although the room was much more spacious than other rooms, the space was still limited. I found myself having a hyper sense of control of my surroundings and needed order of the environment at all time. Everything had a “regular” place (which is funny because the train ride was only 2.5 days) and things would have to be returned to their spots. In such a tiny space, anything out of order would make it too chaotic for me. This extreme control of environment doesn’t happen as much at home because the space we are allowed to move around is exponentially bigger.
Another thing I learned about myself is my love for drawing. Remember I said in my last post I brought a sketch book to document the journey and an adult coloring book? I did not touch the coloring book at all because I found drawing my own pictures and coloring them is so much more fun than beautifying other people’s work. I hadn’t drawn anything in the last many years, but I have always had a passion for drawing and painting. Thanks to this train journey, I was allowed a lot of time to just focus on this passion. I took my time and just drew whatever I wanted. A creative time that does not involve running my fingers on a keyboard.
Here is one that I did:
I saw an unexpected pregnancy announcement on Facebook during the train trip. I don’t know about you, but I have a few people that I can “count on” keeping me company or being infertile with me while I wait for my turn. It could be kind of like a mean thing to have, but I can’t help but keep track of these people. This person was one of them. I actually mentioned about this former coworker in a previous post that a currently pregnant coworker had a difficult time figuring out how to share her own pregnancy news with. I knew that this former coworker, who got married eight years ago, had been trying to adopt. I don’t know her fertility issues, but I knew that she wanted a baby. So when I saw the pictures of her baby bump online, I was super surprised, but I was actually happy for her. I clicked “like” and then closed the page. Later on I started seeing her taking pictures of her pets on her baby bump, I knew that I had to unfollow her for a while. Even though I am not jealous, I still have to protect myself from triggers. The sense of being left behind is also stronger than ever.
In Chicago, we stayed with one of my high school best friends, his wife, and his daughter. This is my third time being in Chicago. The first time was right after my friend had gotten married and moved there. I went to visit when they had barely been there for two months. The second time was when I went to help take care of his newborn daughter for his wife while he was on a business trip for week. Being my best friend, he knows what has been going on in our fertility journey. He knows all about the previous cycles and our pursuit of egg donation. However, being a guy, he had never told his wife about our struggles. His wife and I get along really well, but afterall, I am his friend. Whenever I see her in California, there never seems to be a good time to bring up these things. So I made a decision to find a time to tell her. It was difficult to find the right moment though because the little five-year-old was always around and always so curious about our topics of conversation. I just didn’t know how to explain to a little girl about the struggles that a couple could have for trying for a baby. One day a chance came. Kimberly from No Good Eggs was traveling to Chicago for a weekend and we were making plans to meet up. I told my friend’s wife about this online friend that I would finally meet in person. Naturally, she inquired about how we met online. I thought it was a great segue to introduce to her this main theme that has been dominant in my life in the last 3.5 years. Bless her heart, she wasn’t fazed by any of this. She just naturally didn’t know much about the assisted reproductive technology world. I brought her up to speed in the next three days about what we went through. We didn’t have a lot of time for any in-depth conversation because little missy was around most of the time. But in passing, she showed enough interest in asking me questions about the IVF process. And I disclosed to her about choosing a donor and our mentality and emotions behind moving towards egg donation. The conversation was fruitful and I was surprised by my openness and ease with talking about this topic with a real life friend. When we were parting at the airport, she gave me a long tight hug and told me to keep them updated. It was great to be able to talk about this freely.
Turning 41 and doing it Chicago style was wonderful. It has always been Bob and me alone to celebrate my birthday. Having my friends and their daughter there with us was so precious. Friendship is wonderful. And although I still don’t have a baby, I decided to celebrate my age the best way I could. I really had a memorable day.
Oh and Kimberly and I did meet up! That was such a highlight of our trip. Fortunately we weren’t leaving town until late afternoon, so Kimberly and I made plans to meet for breakfast. It was worth the effort to get up super early for the twins. I had seen plenty of their pictures but it was something else to see them outside of a picture online and become alive in front of my eyes. Meeting up with a fellow blogger has always been a wonderful experience. She knows what is going on in your life. You don’t have to say much to catch up. You don’t have to explain anything. She knows what you are going through. It is just so refreshing. And those kids… my goodness, they are so so cute! What a treat for us to be able to spend time with them.
Bob got to hold little J.
I will write more about the whole train ride next week some time after I recuperate from all the walking on our trip. What I can say is that I really appreciate the trip because it helps me cherish even more my own home and the routine that I have established. Without a vacation away from home, I would not be as appreciative of my own boring routine and a sense of order that is needed in my life.
Stay tuned next week for some of the highlights on the train and in Chicago!
The last few days had been crazy and emotional for me. It all started on Sunday.
Bob and I have had fights about my family. This fight about this particular topic has been recurring. And I feel like there is no resolution unless something or someone changes. Anyways, we had one of those fights on Sunday. I know it was Mother’s Day. I am the greeter at church every single Mother’s Day. This time it was no different. And I dare to say that it was actually not bad at all. I went and greeted people. I didn’t experience the constant bombardment of “Happy Mother’s Day” ringing in my ears like last year. I was fine seeing all the babies that were being dedicated during Sunday service. It was interesting to observe that out of the 7 or 8 families on stage, only one family had a single child. Everyone else was dedicating their third child. I actually wasn’t bugged by that. Just an observation. Bob and I were originally going to have leftovers at home. He suggested taking me out on Mother’s Day. We walked into our favorite taqueria and saw my brother’s whole family with their friends there. It was actually very awkward. We just saw them at church but we weren’t invited by them to lunch. My sister-in-law saw me and mumbled something like oh I thought about calling you. Anyhow, there has been tension with my one and only brother. Mainly Bob has felt that they treat friends better than they treat family. I can see his point and I don’t blame him. Bob didn’t say much about this incident, and we still had a great time having lunch by ourselves. Later on that afternoon, he asked me a question about my parents, questioning why I was opting to do something for my dad. I couldn’t understand why he questioned me. And he kept on pushing me to give him a reasonable answer. It started escalating and became a full-blown fight. I believe that deep down the whole Mother’s Day thing at church and bumping into my brother’s family at lunch triggered a lot of negative emotions and he needed an outlet. Infertility and money is also a part of this tension between us: the constant need to shell out more money, the stalling of the process, the lack of progress, etc.
Needless to say, although we made up, Sunday didn’t go well. The residual feelings spilled over to Monday morning. My eyes were puffy and life felt a little more grim than usual. I went to my saline sonogram that morning at 8:30am. I arrived early, paid my big money, and waited. I was called back in no time. Dr. Director (who is the director of the clinic) did my sonogram. The mock transfer was extremely easy. The catheter went in and came out. Dr. Director went on to do the saline sonogram. The dye went in and I could see my uterus on the big screen. She showed me the big fibroid that has always been there. Then she showed me a smaller fibroid. Those didn’t seem to be the problems as she put it, “They are behaving quite well”. However, she became silent while checking on something for a quite a few seconds. Going in, I didn’t expect anything other than my uterus looking okay because none of my previous scans, saline sonogram, or hysteroscopy showed otherwise. Dr. Director moved the wand and showed me on the screen this area that became dark and then light again, which might indicate adhesions or scar tissues. She asked if I had a surgery before. I did, but it was on the uterine wall, not in the cavity. I don’t know how scar tissues could move into the cavity. She took a few more images, finished the scans, and asked me to sit up. I asked her what this all meant. But she wasn’t willing to say anything. She just told me that Dr. No Nonsense would look over the scans and contact me about the next steps. I pressed further, and she said that he might request a hysteroscopy for me. But she would defer to his opinion.
Let me tell you. I wasn’t feeling well. My mind was immediately going to very dark places. I know that it is not logical, but my first reaction was that this could be a problem that would prevent me from carrying a child to term. I had arranged for a meeting with the donor coordinator immediately following the saline sonogram. While I was waiting for her to come get me, my mind was going wild. However, I was determine not to consult with Dr. Googl.e though. I waited for a very long time, about 45 minutes, before the donor coordinator came to get me.
I requested the meeting because I wanted to learn about the next steps after the precycle checklist has been done. The meeting didn’t go well either. Apparently, we have to wait until Dr. No Nonsense clears my saline sonogram. However, even with all the checklist items being done, we will not be matched with our chosen donor immediately. The donor coordinator will call the donor in July, which is a month prior to when she said she’d be available, to ask if she is indeed going to do the donation. So we really won’t know for sure until July. One point I am not clear is whether or not we will lose this donor if another couple ahead of us on the priority list becomes interested in her. I will have to ask about this in the future.
This totally sucks. There is no guarantee that we will get this donor until right before she can start a cycle. The donor coordinator’s explanation is that even if the donor says yes right now, she may still change her mind due to external factors like career change, trips, or other things. I can see that point, but it still sucks. Another thing is cost. If somehow the donor does not respond to the stims, the recipient will be out half of the donor compensation fee as well as the cost of the medication. Half of the donor fee is a lot of money. I guess it’s nice to have a proven donor so you know that she did respond well to drugs previously. But still. I can request a meeting with the donor, but my clinic does not assist the donor to take part in the Donor Sibling Registry. This is very surprising to me as this is a large clinic.
I walked out of the clinic feeling defeated. The fight the day before, the unknown about my uterine cavity, and the delay of being officially matched with a donor made life grim for me. I still had to go back to work and put on a happy face. Before that, I went to my jeweler to tighten the diamond on my engagement ring that apparently came loose over the weekend. My jeweler looked at it carefully and declared that he would have to keep the ring for a few days to fix it. I don’t like parting with my ring, but I had to. I said, Can you believe it that this ring is almost five years old? Jeweler said, Still no babies yet? And I said, I am not going to lie. We’ve been trying but it’s been very hard. My jeweler remained silent. I guess there is nothing to say when you give a brutally honest answer to these sensitive questions.
I hid in my office at work, with the door closed. I just couldn’t interact with anyone. Luckily I didn’t have any clients until the afternoon. I was worried about the saline sonogram results and had my phone close to me. Then, one of my FB secret group ladies, who had been trying for her second child for a few months, posted her BFP. I normally would not react strongly to this, but after all the not-so-good news, a pee stick picture was too much to bear. That was a perfect day for hiding under the blanket. But of course I had no way of doing that. I had to put on a happy face for the kids.
After my last client, my coworker, who knows nothing about our struggles, came in to show me the new Playmobil toys that she just purchase. My first thought was, You’ve gotta be kidding me. This is what she showed me:
I can’t even escape a pregnant lady when I am shown a toy. I am quite sure she is pregnant because the other Playmobil mommies all have flat tummies, although Aramis speculated that maybe she hadn’t lost her pregnancy weight yet. The only two things that I commented on this to my coworker were 1) She definitely didn’t have any problems conceiving, and 2) the kids are possibly from different dads.
The only silver lining the whole day was that I got street parking right away all three times I needed them. Small mercies, yeah?
I was exhausted when I got home. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Dr. No Nonsense still hadn’t contacted me after a whole day. I really needed a mental health day to recuperate from all the things that happened in the past couple of days. I arranged for a day off on Tuesday and was going to do something that I would enjoy. I finished my last blog post, pressed Publish, then went to bed.
Wow. I was so surprised when I woke up at 5:45am and read my first comment. A comment not from an unknown troll, but from someone who had commented more than a dozen times in the past year. Someone who had been supportive and repeatedly cheered me on and offered her prayers. I actually had never received any negative comments before. This was the first time that I felt like someone had yelled at me very loudly for the choice that I am so carefully making for myself, my husband, and my future children. I was stunned that I was criticized for such a personal choice. And I was even more flabbergasted that this person did not voice her opinion in a respectful way on my personal blog, but used strong language to attack me. I am thankful for all the friends who commented and called this person out. I was actually not mad. But this whole incident left a bad taste in my mouth on a day when I was supposed to rest mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don’t see the need to explain my choices and my finances, but I will write another post to clarify the difference between frozen eggs and fresh eggs, as Julia so eloquently explained in the comment section.
I woke up this morning at 5:10am having the similar feeling that I had when I was banking embryos. I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and helpless. I need of strength and peace that could only come from the Lord. I prayed for Him to sustain me, and give me strength to get through the day. I got through today okay. Still no phone call or email from the clinic. I eventually emailed my nurse to ask for an update on the scan results as well as to ask whether it is a big problem for me to be having breakthrough bleeding 14 days straight (yes, today is cycle day 14 and I am still having light bleeding). So disappointing that nobody has gotten back to me. So I continue to wait. Jane Allen maintains that it could be good news if the doctor hasn’t contacted me, which means that it’s not a serious problem to begin with.
There you have it. My crazy few days. Sometimes I just feel that I should go back to see a therapist to talk through all my feelings. Unfortunately, mine is on maternity leave. But it may be worthwhile to see someone new in the mean time. I thought I could do it all, but I can’t. I need God’s help. And possibly another therapist.
My Dear Colleague who only works part-time wrote me a message since she wouldn’t be in the office until the next day.
It was a heads-up. She learned in a meeting that another coworker of ours is pregnant. She debated whether or not to tell me because this was not her announcement to make, but she wanted to protect me and allow me time to process it first. New Pregnant Coworker is going to make an announcement this week.
First, my heart sank. I knew New Pregnant Coworker had been trying for a baby for quite a few months. She got engaged not too long ago but apparently had been on the TTC journey well before her engagement. She will definitely be showing for her August wedding. I swear that I saw her tummy sticking out last week and I just brushed it off. What I saw was real.
Cue panic. My first thought was, where should I be hiding when she makes her announcement? I hope she does not make it during a meeting. I also hope that she does not come to me personally and tell me the news. In this particular moment, I am in no shape or form to blurt out a congratulations. Maybe I will be okay if she does come to me? I don’t know.
Then the sense of unfairness came over me again. Given her age (she is a year or so younger than I am), it somehow hurts more for her to be pregnant than for my other younger coworker. Did I expect her to have more trouble due to her age? Yes. Do I wish infertility upon her? No. But still, the why her and why not me is ringing loudly in my ears.
Standing at my desk in my office, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I was very surprised by my reaction. I thought I wouldn’t feel as sad because I kind of knew it would be coming. I guess anticipation and reality are two different things. I am so thankful for having an office and a door. Being behind closed door allowed me to cry all I wanted. I was due for a good cry anyways.
I am also grateful for Dear Colleague’s heads-up. I don’t know what I would do if I got ambushed without knowing the news ahead of time.
I am telling you now that I will eventually have a third pregnant coworker. My supervisor just returned from her honeymoon trip and I have a strong feeling that she is already pregnant. I could be wrong. But my instinct is pretty good.
Guess where I will be hiding at lunch for the rest of the year? My office will be a pretty good refuge.
At least it is the craziest in my books.
About five years ago, I became friends with the nanny of one of my therapy kids. She brought him in for therapy weekly and we became very friendly with each other. I knew that she was trying to get pregnant but seemed to have had problems. I remember one time she was about to do a heart surgery but couldn’t because they found out that she was pregnant. A couple of months later, I asked her how she was doing. She told me that she went ahead and had the heart surgery because the baby was no more. When my client graduated from therapy, I stopped seeing the nanny regularly. She and I are friends on Face.book so I would see her updates once in a while. I would pay attention to her belly and would see that she wasn’t pregnant.
So imagine how shocked I was when I saw an update on Face.book two days ago at lunch. I was mindlessly scrolling the screen of my phone up and down and almost exclaimed out loud. Good thing I didn’t because the lunch room was full of my coworkers who would have no idea why this would be a big deal. The nanny had posted an ultrasound photo and a photo of her with her expanded belly. I gasped and checked her page. I saw a post by her husband a couple of days prior with pictures of them presenting a bun in their oven. I quickly got back to my desk and wrote the nanny a message. I expressed how happy I was to see her photos and to find out the news, as I knew how many years and how hard she had tried to get pregnant. She quickly wrote back and wanted to share her story with me on the phone. It was inconvenient for me to chat with her at work, so I promised to call her soon.
I finally had a chance to chat with her last night. This is her story.
She started trying for a baby five years ago. She had her daughter at 17. Now her daughter is 22. So this nanny is 39 years old, my age. She was a single mom for a long time and finally met a wonderful guy who became her husband. In the past five years, she got pregnant and miscarried a total of six times. She lost two natural pregnancies. She got pregnant three more times through a fresh cycle and three subsequent frozen embryo transfers. She even did egg donation through a proven donor who helped every single recipient with a live birth. She did get pregnant but yet, she miscarried. All of these miscarriages happened between five to eight weeks. Early miscarriages. In the beginning she was told that the miscarriages could be due to her poor egg quality. However, the pregnancy loss from the donor egg cycle could not have been due to her own egg quality issue. She and her husband felt that they were running out of options here so they were planning on pursuing surrogacy in India. Then one night in November last year changed their lives.
She and her husband were watching a new program that discussed about the effects of triclosan on fertility. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is found in many household products, including anti-bacterial soap. It is associated with endocrine disruption. My friend paid close attention because she had been using anti-bacterial soap in the last twelve years. She had a yeast infection and her doctor told her to use anti-bacterial soap to wash herself. Since then she had been using products containing triclosan for her showers. She said that this chemical goes into your bloodstream the fastest when you use it to wash your behind. After watching the program, she and her husband threw out all of the household products containing triclosan and switched over to other products. From December to March this year, she lived a triclosan-free life and estimated that by March her body should be rid of any triclosan.
In March this year, this friend thought that she could try a fresh IVF cycle one more time with her own eggs. This is the result. She had 19 high grading blastocysts (19! And she’s my age…). Three were transferred. She got extremely high beta. At her early ultrasound scans, they could find two embryos and two heartbeats. So she was beyond thrilled that she was carrying twins. Then at her 11-week ultrasound, her doctor kept on looking at Baby A saying that something was wrong, as the baby’s head was on one side but the body was on the other side. She was almost having a heart attack thinking that something was wrong with the baby. The doctor tried to look around and found that Baby A had split into two! So instead of having Baby A and Baby B, now they also have baby C, who is the identical twin of Baby A! Triplets… I can’t imagine…
At 15 weeks, everything is looking good. The doctor of course discussed with them about selective reduction but the couple has decided that they are going to keep all the babies. So my friend, at 39 years old, after trying for so long for five years, is finally carrying not one, not two, but three babies inside her. The only thing that she has changed was getting rid of everything triclosan in her life. Isn’t that crazy?
So now she has a remainder of 16 embryos frozen, plus the six that remained from the donor egg cycle. (It seems like she herself yielded more blastocysts to keep than the 22-year-old donor did.)
I don’t know about you. I am still in awe of this story… that toxins in one’s body are so powerful to affect a person’s fertility health in such a profound way… and wasted five years of her life and many little lives. I know Bob is skeptical about it… but I truly believe that this change made a difference in my friend’s body, allowing her system to accept the babies. I know everyone’s body is different when it comes to the effect of environmental toxins. So whatever works for her may not work for me. I can’t help but think about how many women may benefit from this kind of information so they’d be saved from years of heartaches by just changing one thing in their lives.
I am beyond thrilled for her. And I still think that this is the craziest story I’ve heard.
Vacation in our mini-honeymoon town was wonderful. The highlight was having full hot breakfasts delivered to our own room. The breakfast table was placed right in front of the bay window that looked out to the Pacific Ocean. We always had a fire going in the fireplace in the evening and in the morning. The weather was glorious; in the 60s and sunny every single day. We mostly did nothing. We walked around town, had long and quiet lunch, took naps, read books, and hung out during tea time at the bed and breakfast. It was almost everything that we had wanted.
Things were wonderful on Monday and Tuesday. On Christmas morning, things were also great before breakfast was served. I had been looking forward to it since the day before because the innkeeper promised that we would have our favorite breakfast at that B&B: stuffed French toast. I sat down at the breakfast table waiting for Bob to be done with his morning routine before we enjoyed the breakfast together. I opened Face.book on my phone. The first thing that popped on my newsfeed was a Christmas card that I had received from a church friend. When I paid closer attention to the words that she typed, my heart sank for a little. She wrote, “Merry Christmas from [her family’s last name]!” Then she listed her husband’s name, her name, her daughter’s name, her son’s name, and also “#3 coming in July”.
I overestimated myself. First, I never thought that I would see a pregnancy announcement from her for her number three, let alone on Christmas day. Second, I didn’t think that I would be emotionally affected by it so much. I thought I had become better with pregnancy announcements. Somehow, the combination of Christmas and her pregnancy announcement made it worse for me. It proved to be still tough for me, especially from someone who is carrying her third child. I tried to get better so that our Christmas would not be affected by someone else’s pregnancy news. I was trying to get over it before Bob came out from the bathroom so that my emotions would not affect his. Well, let me just say that things didn’t go the way I wanted. This was how it went down. Bob came out from the bathroom, upset that I got upset over the pregnancy announcement. I claimed that I was trying to get better. Then he told me not to go on Face.book for the rest of the trip. Being someone who does not like to be told what to do especially by my husband, I refused. That led to a little fight. Then he himself got upset that these friends kept on having babies while we struggle to have our first. I got more upset when he got upset. Vicious cycle.
When Bob and I fight, we usually get over it quickly and can enjoy the rest of the time within half an hour. This time it was no different. It was done not without a little tear on my part. I cry easily. We were able to salvage our Christmas day and went on to have a very good time going on a tour around town, learning about the history of the town. But, I hate for us to be in that state where we are so fragile and get so affected by people around us. Instead of holding onto God for healing and comfort, we fight each other. At first I thought that our vacation would have been perfect if we didn’t have this fight. I thought more about it. Instead of focusing on the ugliness of the fight, I want to focus on our weaknesses and God’s strength, our bond, and our commitment to each other as well as to our future children. Our vacation and the incident reflect where we are in our journey: we are weak but God makes us stronger and stronger. I hope that this incident helps us to see that relying on God is essential in our journey towards being parents. Avoiding pregnancy announcements may help us have our “perfect” vacation. But confronting our feelings will help us work towards emotional and spiritual healing that could bring total peace and joy for us in the end.
One interesting tidbit we learned on the tour is that the wife of one of the founding fathers of the town gave birth to her last child at age 44. It was this child that gave the family offspring and continuation of the family line as the other three children’s second generation all stopped having children. The docent of the tour was amazed at the “old age” of the lady when she gave birth. I couldn’t stop thinking about the friends that I have who gave birth at age 43 and 44 these past two years. I am only 4.5 years away from age 44, and I don’t even have any children at this point. It’s so hard for me to fathom that I am at the tail end of my fertility here. I am sure that no one else was paying attention to that one particular piece of information except for me who is waiting to become a mother for the first time.
The rest of the break has been great. I have been reading “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett and really happy that my friend has loaned me this book. I am still reading it but I love the story about the maids in the South and the white people that they served in the 1960s. My other source of entertainment is watching “Dow.nton Abb.ey” on my laptop. In the past few days my head has been mixing with the complex relationships in the South and those of the upper class and the servants in England at the turn of the last century. I really welcome this change of enjoying reading a book and watching some shows as well as sleeping in until 8:30 each morning.
On the TTC front, my body is not being cooperative. I started some mid-cycle spotting a few days ago. My RE thinks that it is ovulation bleeding. I wonder if the bleeding actually comes from the cyst. Needless to say, I am a little discouraged by it. I don’t know when I will ovulate so we’ll continue with our intimate sessions every other day until ovulation is confirmed.
Because of the UPS delivery problems, we didn’t get our Christmas gifts until after Christmas. Bob bought me one thing that I requested and another thing that he chose for me as a surprise. The surprise gift was a gray and yellow bag that he bought for me to use for hauling laptop and other things around, to replace the not-so-fashionable red tote that I have been using. Here is the gift that I requested:
“Hope” is what I have and what I want to continue to have on this journey. God continues to give me the hope that everything will work out in the end. This is just a little reminder for myself as I wear this pendant daily. As we enter into 2014 and the 25th month trying to conceive, I want to hold onto this hope that we will finally be able to experience the joy a child will bring to our lives.
Just want to document a few conversations, thoughts, and feelings I have had in the last few weeks.
Remember my infertile pregnant friend? She continues to be pregnant (which is a good thing) and send me messages. I have opened up a little more and have asked her more about how she’s doing. I want to be a better friend and am frankly getting better with responding to her.
A couple of weeks ago, she was telling me that she was feeling very tired. I commented how this pregnancy has not been nice to her. She said that everything has been fine and she is supposed to feel this way at this stage. Then she went on to tell me the details of how many days of pregnancy she has left and how she’d miss her baby’s kicks because they are really strange but amazing and entertaining.
I don’t know about you. I am okay with engaging in a conversation about facts of the pregnancy but… how amazing and entertaining her child’s kicks are? Not the visual I would want.
She went on to ask me to let her know if I wanted recommendations to any REs at the Big University Clinic that she works at. Yup. She works with REs. I should appreciate her thoughts. But I don’t. She wants to help but she doesn’t know that she’s not helping. I have already told her that I have gone to see one of the REs there and I have decided against going there. I know more about the lab of that clinic than she does, I’m sure. I told her, “I’ve done enough research in the last two years; More than i would like to.”
And guess what she asked me next? She wants to do gender selection the next time when she tries for number two. Yup. She’s already thinking about doing gender selection while she is still pregnant with her first baby. She asked me how one would go about doing that. She said they would want a boy next time since she’s carrying a girl. What? Okay. I am not too okay with that question coming from someone who is still pregnant with her first girl to someone who is still struggling to have her first child. I know that doing IVF for gender selection is a very personal choice. I will not judge her for that. BUT, talking to ME and asking ME how she should do that? I guess she doesn’t know that it’s very tough for me to empathize with her at this moment because I myself would just die for A BABY. I am not thinking about if I could have a boy or girl. I just want a healthy take home baby. And yet, she asked ME how one goes about doing IVF for gender selection. She is assuming that all will go well and she will have enough embryos in the pool and they’ll be healthy and normal with both male and female. I know she has tried to get pregnant for four years so she did struggle. But still. I was shocked by that question and the assumption that she makes. At the same time, I am envious of the naivete that comes across. The happiness of being a pregnant lady. The innocence of thinking that IVF will give her what she wants without any problems.
At the end of the conversation, she said, “I just hope that you don’t need to go down to Southern California (for another clinic). As long as you are producing eggs, the process will remain hopeful for you.” Yes infertile pregnant friend. I remain hopeful too.
The next day, she asked me a question that I had dreaded the most. She asked if we wanted to get together with her and her hubby during the break. I have been hoping that she wouldn’t ask that question. I have not seen her since she got pregnant. There are people that I feel fine hanging out with. Somehow it’s been tough to bring myself to see her. I feel guilty for not being a good friend but she really has rubbed me the wrong way with her insensitive remarks that I just want to avoid her. I didn’t respond to her immediately. I just wanted to think through it. Eventually, I decided not to come clean and just said to play it by ear because Bob has to work and we were still trying to figure out a trip out of town. We left it at that. I know I am not being a very good friend that shows grace. I just don’t feel ready to see her and her belly.
The next day, she asked me a bunch of questions about the names of some famous Chinese women. She said she was trying to come up with the Chinese names for her baby girl. Oh boy. I think I had enough on that day. I DO NOT want to be a part of her baby naming process. So I chose to respond some and then kept my mouth shut.
I think I need a break from her.
I want to talk about a friend of mine. I’ll call her Anna. We’ve been friends for a few years and I know that she’s been trying for a baby for over four years. She is one of those few people in real life with whom I share my story. You know the sense of camaraderie when you’re struggling with the same thing. She is a couple of years younger than I am. Her hormones all checked out. Her husband’s SA was fine. She was diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Periodically we would get together for dinner to chat and update each other on our lives. Bob and I also see her and her husband at church on a regular basis. I know that she had tried one IUI which didn’t result in a baby. They are in the no IVF camp and IUI is the extent they would go as far as fertility treatments go. Right before getting together with her last Friday, I asked Bob how he would feel if Anna announced her pregnancy to me during dinner. He said he would congratulate them and feel happy for them. I don’t know how sincere we both were when we talked about it. I mean, it did cross my mind that she could be pregnant but I was also not really prepared for her pregnancy news since it hadn’t happened in the past four plus years.
Came Friday dinner. Anna asked us why we suddenly decided to go away for a few days. So I explained to her what had happened in the last month with the IUi cycle that was converted from the IVF and the Christmas cycle that is never meant to be due to the cyst. After my long explanation, I asked her, “How are you guys doing?” This question was actually loaded. She knew what I meant. She suddenly had this half smile on her face and answered with this drawn out “Gooooood”. In that moment, I knew. And then I scolded myself for being stupid and not really preparing my heart for it. I should’ve prayed for my heart to be open to whatever answer that would come out from her mouth. But I didn’t. I depended on myself. Then I experienced this sudden sharp heartache that lasted for more than a few moments. I found myself asking her, “Is this what I am thinking it is?” She nodded. She was six weeks along. Very early. I am the first person she’d told other than her parents. You know the mixed emotions of feeling very happy for someone that their long wait is finally over but at the same time feeling sorry for yourself that it wasn’t you who could make such an announcement? I know she had been dreading telling me and wanted to see if I had good news to share before she segued into her good news. My heart kept on tugging while I asked her the details about how she found out. Her second IUI worked. She did not expect it to work. There was only one follicle and her husband’s sperm count was 4.5 million, which was way lower than the 300 million that he had the first time (even more than the Angry Birds Bob had!). She went in with zero expectations and was already thinking about trying injections for her next IUI. Here she is. Pregnant at 6 weeks. It really only takes one.
I recovered quickly from her news and we went onto have a normal conversation for the rest of the dinner. I even managed to ask her about her symptoms and the other details. Bob, on the other hand, was not doing as well. He responded with “Good for them” and left it at that. I know he’s hurting that we don’t have the same good news to share. It doesn’t really matter if they have struggled like we did. It still stings to be the one left behind. I hope that one day we will be totally free of negative emotions and be able to rejoice with friends who share good news with us, regardless of how long they have been trying. But we’re not there yet.
Bob’s Second Cousin had a housewarming party on Saturday. I just didn’t feel like attending this time. It’s more about not wanting to mingle with people that I don’t know than not wanting to hang out with her and her baby. Bob went while I finished sending out our Christmas cards and decorating the tree. I was perfectly content to just have a peaceful night without trying to smile and listen to some strangers’ conversation. Bob came home late that night and told me that he had left his nice down jacket at Second Cousin’s house, some 45 minutes away. So we had to go back there on Sunday to pick up the jacket. Of course we couldn’t just go but to sit and have some coffee and biscuits before we parted ways. No escaping seeing Second Cousin and her baby. The baby continues to be very cute. He woke up from a nap. When I clapped my hands together to get his attention, he beamed with a big smile, extended his arms, and leaned forward to come to me. So I held him for quite some time while he placed his head on my shoulder. He was a good snuggler. Well, then his mom went on to talk about all the gruesome details of her birth and the few days after her birth. To my surprise, I was not that bothered by the details and wasn’t thinking that, well, at least you got a take home baby out of it. This is a huge improvement for me. I was genuinely feeling sorry that she had such a bad experience with the hospital and the doctor at a time when she was supposed to be joyful with her new baby.