My Time Off

Today is the fifth day of my Christmas break.  I am glad that I am not in the office.

Things were interesting in the office the last couple of weeks.  After the most recent loss, some days felt worse off than others.  When that happened, I often stayed in my office and avoided social interactions.  Even one of my male coworkers noticed.  One day he saw me in the kitchen heating up my lunch and asked me how I was doing.  I told him, “I am not doing too well, but it’s okay.”  He had a concerned look on his face, not at all awkward that I gave him an answer that went outside of the usual pleasantries.  I told him that it was just life.  Then I walked back to my office with my hot lunch.

And then there was my supervisor’s baby shower.  The day before the baby shower, my no-longer-pregnant coworker (the one who always talked about her pregnancy) came by my office and asked if I was going to the baby shower.  I told her I wasn’t, just like what I did for her shower.  I told her that I’d give my supervisor a separate gift afterward, but I wasn’t planning on being there.  No-longer-pregnant coworker then said, “I have a favor to ask you.”  She handed me a piece of paper titled “Wishes for Baby”, one of those baby shower games for people to fill out their wishes for the baby.  She said no pressure.  I could fill it out or I could just toss it in the recycling bin.  I was honest with her.  I told her that I most likely wouldn’t fill it out.  I took it and left it on my desk.  I just wonder if no-longer-pregnant coworker really thought about my feelings.  If I wasn’t going to attend the baby shower, would I actually want to participate in a game?  The piece of paper ended in the recycling bin.

The day of the baby shower, my friend Q, who was supposed to be my lunch date, totally forgot that she was supposed to have lunch with me.  So at noon, I walked over to Pane.ra Bread and had lunch by myself.  I did make it back at 1pm just in case we had a department meeting.  Well the shower was still going on.  Being so close to the conference room, I could hear all the laughing inside.  The baby shower continued on until 2pm, a total of two hours.  I had prepared a gift for my supervisor.  I gave it to her right after my last client of the day.  I didn’t want to do it in her office since it’s very close to other people’s offices.  When she came out of the bathroom, I waved her my way.  She was babbling about some work stuff while she entered in my room.  All I wanted to do was to get this part over with.  While she was still talking shop, I handed her my gift.  She was surprised and happy.  I didn’t do much of an explanation like the last time with my other pregnant coworker.  I simply just said, “I don’t go to baby showers but I wanted to give you this.”  It was a gift that she had on her registry.  She gave me a big hug so that was nice.

My last day of work was last Friday.  It was also my supervisor’s last day of work before her maternity leave.  Our work holiday party was that night.  A few weeks prior, before my beta, my Dear Colleague and I joked about me going to the party being the designated driver for Bob because I would be pregnant and would be forbidden to drink.  Well, for somebody who had gone to every single work holiday party in the last 12 years, I just did not feel like going to our work party, socializing, and talking about things that don’t matter to me when deep down my heart just died a little after the last cycle.  But I knew I wanted to say my good-byes to my supervisor.  Right before I left work, I looked for her and found her in the copy room.  I went in and said my good-byes.  She was surprised that I wasn’t going to attend the party.  I told her that I didn’t feel like socializing.  We chatted a little about how she was doing and what she’d do before the baby comes.  We hugged each other and that was it.  Yesterday when I chatted with my Dear Colleague, she told me that my supervisor wondered aloud to a small group of people at the holiday party about me.  She said something like, “I am worried about Isabelle… I wonder how she’s doing.”  My Dear Colleague just pretended that she didn’t hear it.  But I think that maybe my looks and my demeanor recently did show that I wasn’t doing too well in the last few weeks.

Yesterday, Dr. Gentle, the OB/GYN surgeon who did my last hysteroscopy, squeezed me in for a saline sonogram.  Dr No Nonsense had told me to get a hysteroscopy again to check the cavity.  I emailed my own OB/GYN who said that she doesn’t do it in her practice.  She referred me to the surgical team.  I knew that it would take forever before I could get an appointment if I went through the scheduling people.  So I emailed Dr. Gentle directly.  She is really the nicest doctor ever.  She wrote me back saying that she didn’t have availability for a hysteroscopy this week, but she could see me for a saline sonogram, which to her is a better way to look at the whole system right before a transfer.  I got the Okay from Dr. NN’s nurse.  Dr. Gentle wanted to see me this week because it is best to look at the uterus right after menses for the lining is usually thin.  This time I had to wait 30 minutes as Dr. Gentle was running behind.  She came in with another doctor probably in training.  They were funny.  They talked shop while getting me ready.  Apparently my cervix was wide and they couldn’t distend my cavity without clipping my cervix and placing a balloon inside.  It was uncomfortable but nothing intolerable.  Originally they thought that they saw scar tissue that turned out to be the balloon.  Dr. Gentle showed me how the whole cavity and the lining looked nice and smooth.  I got the ultrasound picture as a souvenir.

Staring at the ultrasound photo, I couldn’t help but think that yesterday or the day before would have been our first ultrasound to check the heartbeat.  I would have been 6 weeks 4 days, right when people check their heartbeats in an IVF cycle.  Instead of a little blob inside my uterus with a heartbeat flickering away, my uterus looked sadly empty.  Yes I know it is good news to have a smooth lining.  But it’s still sad to know what could have been.

Emotionally, I had been doing well until yesterday.  All of a sudden, I panicked.  My clinic’s fees will go up in 2016.  I wanted to pay for the frozen embryo transfer before the end of the year for tax return purposes.  The fee schedule I received from my billing person shocked me.  It went up at least $600.  I checked with her.  She said that all the fees are going up beginning January 1st.  I don’t know.  I just panicked.  It’s not very rational.  But, I started searching for a new donor to prepare for the possibility that our FET doesn’t work.  There aren’t too many choices out there.  My mind went really far: the FET not working, another fresh DE transfer not working, we are out of money to try, we will be childless.  Then I came across California Con.ceptions, a clinic that specializes in offering embryos that are made with donor eggs and donor sperms.  The cost is a fraction of what it is with a DE cycle, and the success rate is super high because of double donors.  But is this really what we want to do if all else fails?  I literally sat there for three hours googl.ing, thinking about things, and panicking all by myself.  It was just not healthy, but I couldn’t help myself.

When Bob got home, I was trying to see how I could break the news to him that the fees are going up at our clinic.  I somehow brought that up along with California Con.ceptions.  The talk about double donors made him really upset.  I don’t have to go into details but the sheer panic of not knowing if we would ever have a child we could call our own is really tough on a marriage.  We didn’t have a good evening.  But you know, I think it is necessary to talk about these things, our fears, our concerns, our frustrations.  I am glad we had a chance to do that.

This morning, Bob’s car died when he exited the freeway to get to work.  He just couldn’t accelerate but he was able to pull over the shoulder off the exit.  He said that he lost all power including the steering wheel and the brakes.  My heart about jumped when I got his call because it is never good news when he calls me on his way to work.  He had it towed to our mechanic’s shop.  I am just glad that it happened in the morning and he was safely away from the freeway.  We have been talking about buying a new car but because of the cost of all of our cycles, we have been pushing off purchasing a new car.  Both of our cars are old, so driving the car on our road trip could be a bit dicey.  *sigh*  When we worry about money, there are always more expenses.  However, I am just so thankful that the Lord protected him from any danger on the freeway.  The more I think about it, the more thankful I am.  Also thankfully, Bob is in good spirit.  He is not too down about the car.  He is now working from home and it is good to have him around.

This is my vacation so far.  I will be meeting with one of my best friends for lunch tomorrow, Christmas eve.  Christmas day I will be making steak for dinner.  We leave for our little get away on Saturday.  It’s nice to be able to wake up in the morning not worrying about going to work.  It’s also nice to be able to clean up whenever I want to, do nothing if I want, and basically do whatever I feel like.  I really love this kind of vacation.  I hope that the rest of my time off will be as peaceful and uneventful as possible.

MicroblogMondays: Baby Shower for Pregnant Coworker

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You know, ever since my original pregnant coworker announced her pregnancy, I have been bracing for the possibility of a baby shower at work.  I was lucky that somehow there wasn’t a baby shower for my previous pregnant coworker (although I felt that there should have been one).  I was wondering if my luck would continue with this pregnancy.  I still can’t bring myself to be like my selfless blog friends who celebrate with others by sitting through baby showers smiling and genuinely happy for the future mom.  I still can’t do it despite my heart wondering if I could brave through it at times.  When I returned from Chicago, the dreaded email came: a baby shower at lunch in a couple of weeks (which is going to be tomorrow).  Often times I let my actions be guided by my reaction.  My heart skipped a bit and my mind went all sorts of directions.  This reaction tells you that I am really not ready to smile through a baby shower.  Initially, I was thinking maybe I could force myself to attend.  But then the email said that there would be games and gift opening.  My heart raced even faster…. then I decided that it is going to be too much for me to take.  I had a few choices.  I could simply shut myself in my office and not attend, which is unwise and isolating (my office is only steps away from the lunch room).  Or I could lie about my whereabouts or even make a medical appointment for that day.  But I decided to be honest about it because I am not ashamed of my feelings and experiences.  I want to be as true to myself and others as possible.  Although my pregnant coworker had no clue about my struggles so talking to her would mean exposing myself, I prayed about it and had a plan.  Initially, I was going to chip in for the big gift for her and speak with her privately about why I would not attend her shower.  I thought more about it.  I felt that it would be more genuine and meaningful if I gave her my own gift from her registry and tell her the reason for my absence.  I held my tongue for a few days.  I looked up various possible websites and found her registry.  The day after my procedure, I had that morning off and purchased a gift at Tar.get for her.

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I wrapped it, wrote the card, and brought the gift to work.

On Friday, I knew that she was there already since I saw her pull into the parking lot.  I was careful about it; I made sure with one of my coworkers that the baby shower wasn’t going to be a surprise.  My coworker reassured me that it wasn’t, since people had been talking about it and the potluck sign-up sheet was still posted on the door of the copy room that morning.  I got my morning routine ready.  With the gift in my hands, I took a deep breath and approached pregnant coworker’s office.  I wanted to do it bright and early in the morning so her office neighbors would not be there to eavesdrop (especially my pregnant supervisor whose office is right next door to hers).

I walked into her office and put the gift in front of her.  She had a confused look on her face and asked, “What is this for?”  I said, “For your baby shower.”  She looked even more confused and said, “My baby shower was a month ago and I am now nine months pregnant.”  In that particular moment, I realized that she had no idea about the work baby shower next week!  I went, “Uh oh!” and closed her office door because I didn’t want anybody to know that I broke the news to her.  (Haha)  Then I told her that, Well, there is one for you next week and I thought you knew because the potluck sign-up sheet is there in the copy room. I also confirmed with one coworker before I came in.  She said she knew nothing about it but nicely reassured me that it was okay because she probably wouldn’t remember about it next week given her pregnancy brain these days.  I sat down and gave her my spiel.  This is what I said:

“I just wanted to let you know that I will not be there at your baby shower next week.  I have been struggling to try to have a baby in the past few years.  It is very difficult for me to sit through a baby shower.  So I just want to let you know that I celebrate with you but I won’t be there.”

I was a little choked up when I said the first part (the struggles part) but I pulled myself together.  And I made sure that I did not say “I am sorry” because really, there is nothing to apologize for.

She was so gracious.  She told me that she understands because her sister-in-law who had trouble conceiving was also the same way.  She and I got up and hugged each other, and she kept saying, “You are so sweet.”  I told her that I do want to celebrate with her but just not there at the baby shower.  We went on to talk about her pregnancy and her last couple of weeks at work.  Before I left, we hugged again and she promised to act surprised next week.  🙂

As it turned out, the organizers forgot to remove the potluck sign-up sheet and was forced to disclose to her the plan.  So after all, I am not the bad guy. 🙂

I am so glad that nobody is mad or hurt and the talk went so well. It feels so good to be true to myself and my feelings and at the same time being honest and respectful to others.

I think I will have a nice lunch by myself tomorrow.  Hopefully the sun will cooperate so I can get some Vitamin D.

MicroblogMondays: Peace with Baby Bumps

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Having emotional stability at home makes a huge difference in the outlook of life.  Plus getting encouraging news again and again also has an amazing effect on my emotions.  All these positive changes mean that I can deal with baby bumps a lot more easily.  Last Wednesday was my presentation to expectant moms.  I was so thankful to God as He put my life back in order again after having a few chaotic weeks.  Otherwise, it would have been a lot more difficult for me to put on a brave face and talk to these pregnant ladies.  I also think I could separate my emotions out because I am passionate about my work.   It really was not bad at all.  There were a total of 15 of these ladies.  I stood there in front of them talking about brain development of babies and the different ways they could interact with their babies from the first day of birth.  Because all the expectant moms were sitting down, I could focus on their faces instead of their big bumps.  I cared more about connecting with them and making sure they understood what I was saying rather than worrying about them being pregnant when I was not.  It was a success.  It has also been going well at work with my pregnant coworkers.  I made small talk with the pregnant ladies at work rather than avoiding them all together.  I sat in the lunch room one day, listening to my engaged pregnant coworker talk about her wedding and altering her dress.  I felt brave.  I didn’t chime in but I did not flee either.  I welcome this change as I do not want to feel even more isolated than I already feel.  I hope that this is an upward trend for my emotions in the next few months as we gear ourselves up for our donor egg cycle.  I like the Isabelle in this state much better than a few weeks ago, when life was grim and the bottom of the pit was dark.  I am slowly climbing out of the pit.  The view is getting better and better.

Another Pregnant Coworker

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.

MicroblogMondays: I Talked to My Pregnant Coworker

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After I discovered that one of my coworkers announced her pregnancy at 7 weeks, I avoided her like crazy when I returned to work from the holidays by not eating in the lunch room and not walking the hallway if I didn’t have to.  When I heard her voice down the hall, I waited until it was gone before I headed out.  The day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I saw her in the morning waiting for the elevator with her patient outside of my office.  I made eye contact with her, smiled, and patted on her shoulder.  I could see that her belly had already started to bulge out a little.  I checked my emotions and found that I was feeling okay seeing her.  So I decided to bring this one level higher: eating in the lunch room to see what would happen.  While I was heating up the lunch, my pregnant coworker walked in.  She was at that point about 10 weeks or so.  I said Hi.  She said Hi and asked how my long weekend was.  I decided to see where the conversation would lead, so I told her that I had a great weekend and also cleaned the whole house on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  She said, “Oh that was great!”  She went on to say, “My husband nowadays has to do that because you know, I am pregnant and get so tired so easily.  He’s nesting like crazy.”  I didn’t say “Oh wow congratulations!” or “I’m so happy for you.”  She hadn’t officially announced her pregnancy to me but I am sure she knew that I knew, since words travel fast.  All I could mutter was, “Oh yeah you’re pregnant.” Then I deliberately changed the subject by asking her how her husband was doing.  He was injured at work a while ago and I thought that he was back at work. Apparently he returned to work but psychologically wasn’t ready so he got sent back home.  At that point, my coworker said, “Oh I have to run… I have to pee all the time these days.”  That was our conversation.  Her official announcement to me.  My official acknowledgement of her pregnancy.  I was feeling fine talking to her, but couldn’t help but wondered, Who would nest so early on in their pregnancy?  Well I guess I was ignorant as the American Pregnancy Association points out that nesting can happen anytime during a pregnancy.  So I can now tell my skeptical self that it could happen to me when I get pregnant.

Ever since that encounter, I have eaten in the lunch room most of the days.  Sometimes I can stand the sight of her.  Sometimes I can’t.  But I am feeling good that I made that first step to acknowledge her pregnancy so she officially knows that I know.  If she ever comes to tell me any pregnancy symptoms and if I can’t stand it, I am still planning on telling her the CliffsNotes version of my struggles so she would back off.  I’ll cross that bridge when it happens.  I don’t even feel guilty (nor should I) that I didn’t say congratulations.

In the meanwhile, I am also bracing for my immediate supervisor to announce her pregnancy any time now (as I know that she was planning on trying after her wedding last October).  I am quite sure that another coworker who just announced on FB that she and her boyfriend had become Mr. and Mrs. would start trying right away, or maybe have already started trying.  It’ll just do me good if I can adjust my attitude right now so I can survive emotionally at work.

One day at a time.

MicroblogMondays: Pregnant Coworker

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One pregnant coworker is about to give birth.  It’s quite easy to avoid her as we don’t work on the same floor.  When she comes upstairs to the lunch room, I usually can just go back to my own office if I don’t feel like seeing her.  I thought that I’d be kind of safe after she goes on maternity leave mid-January.  Then my Dear Colleague dropped the bombshell that another coworker announced her 7-week pregnancy during a work lunch potluck.  Fortunately I was on vacation so I was safe from the details surrounding this pregnancy.  But it puzzled me to know that people actually announce their pregnancy once they find out about it.  It probably never crossed her mind that something could be wrong with it.  She probably never had a friend who had a chemical pregnancy or miscarriage.  Or she may have friends that have experienced that but never talked about it.  Ignorance is bliss?  On the flip side, extra knowledge about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t serve us good either because we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Anyhow, ever since I returned to work after the holidays, I have been avoiding my newly pregnant coworker.  She and I work on the same floor, so I get many chances of bumping into her.  And we have been friendly.  That was why she shared with me a little while ago that her doctor told her to lose some weight before she started trying for a baby.  I had that piece of information in my mind and hadn’t thought much about whether or not she would get pregnant because she looked like the same size to me as before.  When my Dear Colleague wondered out loud to me after our work holiday party why this particular coworker was hiding in the corner not drinking, I dismissed her observation and said that I didn’t think they were trying.  At least not until she loses some weight.  On the first day of work after the holidays, I saw her at the front desk chatting with another coworker about how sick she had gotten over the break.  I quickly walked by.  She looked up and said Hi cheerfully to me, as if she was waiting for me to ask her how she was doing and how her break was.  I said Hi back cheerfully and walked away.  When I got back to my office, I could hear her voice from the next hallway.  Someone had asked her to do something and she responded, “I am pregnant but I will do it for you.”  I was standing in my office having a difficult time believing my ears.  Why do some women have to add that qualifier to everything that they do?  What does pregnancy have to do with doing your own job?  That totally boggles my mind.  I mean, she is usually a sensible person and I like her a lot.  Somehow being pregnant can turn you into someone who does not make sense anymore?  Does it mean that I have to endure this kind of conversation in the hallway for another 30+ weeks?  She’s not even 10 weeks yet.

I finally found out how she announced her pregnancy at seven weeks.   She had an abnormal pap smear and was told to schedule for a surgery to scrape her cervix.  She had been putting it off for quite some time.  We don’t know how long, but she told that she got more than a few phone calls to urge her to schedule a time.  She finally did.  At the pre-op appointment, an ultrasound was performed and it was found that she was pregnant.  The surgery could not be done because of the pregnancy.  So this sounds like she did not really try to get pregnant. This is an accident  Why she had to share with everyone about it at the potluck at such an early stage is beyond me.  My Dear Colleague was expressing how she thought that it was so unfair: This person who clearly does not take care of her body and let this abnormal test slip for a long time without fixing the problem got pregnant, but a person like me who tries to take care of my own body has such a difficult time achieving something so easily attainable by some.  I appreciate her sentiment.  She has walked this road with me and my husband from day one.   I know that she’s ready for me to just get pregnant already, and I am too.  What can we do when this is not something that you can just work hard to get?  Nothing.  We can do nothing.  We just pray and wait.

I think eventually one day my newly pregnant coworker will come to me and share her news with me.  I hope that I’ll have the courage to tell her a bit about my circumstances and to kindly request that she not share extra details about her pregnancy with me.  I thought about it and I think that it’s doable.  We’ll see how it goes when/if she does it.  Otherwise, I’ll just treat it like a knowledge that I never had, and go about my work days as usual.  I hope that I won’t hear too many “I am pregnant but…” out in the hallway.  I think I”ll go a little crazy.