Last year my annual check up was the day after my in-laws left. My blood pressure was exceedingly high on that day. I chalked it up to eating extra salty Indian homemade food and being nervous in front of my doctor. I went back to see my doctor for a check up exactly one year after last year’s. The initial reading of my blood pressure was a little high but not too high. When my doctor remeasured my blood pressure, the number shot up. It didn’t help for him to tell me to relax. I was thinking, whenever someone tells me to relax, I get even more nervous. The interesting thing was, a couple of days prior to that, my mom asked me to take my blood pressure on her home machine and it came out totally normal. So I still don’t know if my extra high reading was truly due to white coat syndrome. But one thing that I did confess to the doctor was that I hadn’t gone back to consistently exercising since my kids were born. I am always tired and would rather take a nap when the kids take a nap. My weight has been steadily climbing up. Now with the potential high blood pressure, I am determined to take care of my health better. After considering my day and my fatigue level during the day, the best time that I could come up with for exercising is early in the morning. I am NOT a morning person by any definition, but I did attend fitness bootcamp for 5 years straight in the past for a 6:15am class, so it is doable. Getting up early for fitness bootcamp took a lot of willpower, so I know that it will be a challenge to get myself up. But again, I am determined to get myself in better health. I know that mental and physical preparation would be important for my success. The day after my doctor’s visit, I lay out my workout clothes on my dresser. I also downloaded a walking app to track my progress. My biggest strategy for maintaining my progress is to listen to a fascinating podcast that is a series. I chose Serial because each episode is a continuation of the last. Plus, who doesn’t love a murder mystery? I went to bed a bit earlier that night to ensure enough sleep for the night. The alarm went off at 6am the next morning. I got up, washed my face, changed into my workout clothes, and headed out the door. My goal was half an hour and to return by 7am to make breakfast for the kids. I put on my headphones, turned on Serial, started my walking app, and started my first workout in many many months. I walked uphill, downhill, and turned the corner briskly. The show was gripping and kept me going. The app reminds you of your pace every mile, which is motivating to me. I chose routes that go uphill for a long stretch. When I got home, surprisingly and amazingly, the route that I took was 2.01 miles. I would call that exactly two miles. My average pace was 16:10 min/mi, which took 32 minutes 38 seconds. I felt so good after the walk! I did that again the next day in the drizzle and was a bit faster. Average pace was 15:40 min/ml, and the total time was 31:29 min. Yesterday was my 3rd walk. This time, I was wearing the Airpods that Bob bought me, so it was a bit more convenient for me not to have cords attached to my phone. But I was tired. I lingered in bed for an extra 8 minutes and decided to get myself out there. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I could feel that my body and my steps were heavy. The murder mystery really kept me going. The longer I was out there, the smoother my walk was. By the time I was done, my pace was 16:11 min/mi, which was similar to day one. I am so glad that my initial effort to take good care of my health was off to a good start. I just hope that as the days get shorter and sunrise gets later, I am still going to be motivated to get myself out there for a good workout. I really need to maintain my health for my own sake and for the sake of my family. If anyone has any recommendation on an excellent podcast that will have me hooked for my future walks, please send them my way! I would love to keep my workout interesting for a long time to come.
This past weekend I attended my nephew’s high school graduation. Coincidentally, the day before the graduation, I was re-reading my old blog posts and came across the one that I wrote about his 8th grade graduation in June 2015. I was going through a very difficult period of time with having to have a surgery inside my uterine cavity and having to find a donor in addition to some family drama. Watching the mother of a graduate reading a card from her son and tearing up from his words was such a trigger for me. I was tearing up a bit wondering about my future: if I would ever get to attend my kid’s graduation. This past Saturday, sitting in the theater witnessing another milestone of my nephew’s life, life surely felt very different from four years ago at his previous graduation. I no longer have to wonder if I’d ever have a chance to attend my kids’ graduation. I mean, we don’t know about the future, but since my children are here on this earth, the chances of me being able to be at their graduation are exponentially higher than when I was still hoping to make a baby. Instead of a sense of loss, unfairness, envy, jealousy, fear that I experienced four years ago, I was a happy mother checking on my phone’s baby monitor app periodically to see if my daughter was still napping in her crib and messaging my husband to see if our boy was still sleeping in his pack n play. I am forever grateful that at this graduation my pursuit of a child was no longer an uncertainty. Being able to celebrate my kids at their middle school, high school, and even college graduation is not a far-fetched dream anymore.
Last week my former fertility doctor Dr. E connected me with a current patient of hers who could use some support on her journey as an intended mother. After I shared my blog with this intended mother, I was curious to see what I had written in the last almost six years on my blog. I have been reading my earliest blog posts since June 2013. Wow I wrote so much and the posts were so detailed. I am now very grateful that I started a blog so I have a documentation of this journey. Things have changed so much since then. I used to think that my first IVF cycle was such a roller coaster. Compared to our subsequent journey of all the twists and turns before we got to our babies, that first cycle’s drama was nothing. But of course we didn’t know, and it was devastating for us at the time to think that we were losing our first ever embryo only for it to become a blastocyst on day six. Bob and I truly endured many trials in the last few years of our marriage. It is interesting to see that I used to think that we couldn’t afford a cycle of IVF with a certain clinic because of the price tag. Again, I wouldn’t in a million years think that we would spend even more on additional cycles with my own eggs, several DE cycles, and even a whole journey with a gestational carrier. If you told me back then that we would spend this amount of money on our fertility treatments, I’d have said you’ve gotta be kidding me. Another thing that I notice is that the blogging community back then was so vibrant. At every turn of my journey, there was a tribe of bloggers and commenters cheering me on, validating my feelings, rooting for my embryos, and crying/mourning my losses. It was heartwarming and amusing to see the first comments on my blog from many of my current blogger-turned-real-life-friends, such as A., Maddie, Jane Allen, Aramis, Jennifer T., Bri from Dreaming of Diapers, ramdomsqueaks, and Torthuil, to name a few. Seeing how our friendships started was so fun. I have met most of them in real life, and a couple of them even attended my baby shower. At the same time, I feel sad that some have turned their blogs into private blogs, and many bloggers no longer blog. I clicked on the comments from many bloggers and found that their last blog posts stay in the past in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. You don’t know what has happened to them, why they suddenly stopped blogging, and if you will ever hear from them again. I understand that ever since FB groups and IG have evolved, blogging is not the same anymore. I miss that community so much though. It helped me through thick and thin. Reading my blog posts has made me so nostalgic. I wonder if I’d ever share my blog with the kids. That’s something to ponder. Regardless of that, it is my hope that this blog continues to be helpful to those who stumble upon because they feel lonely or lost on their fertility journey. I hope that they feel encouraged and less alone when they read these blog posts.
I like how my church handles Mother’s day in the last couple of years. A few years back, mothers used to be asked to stand up in the congregation. I remember one year the pastor asked those mothers with more than a certain number of kids to remain standing. The one who had the most kids received a special gift at the end. I was still in the throes of fertility treatment at the time and it was for sure difficult for me to sit through these moments. I noticed that in the last couple of years, my church stopped passing out flowers at the entrance of the church to mothers. Our pastor would acknowledge the day, but also those who struggle on Mother’s day for whatever reasons, may it be struggling to have children, or miscarriages or infant loss, or strained relationship with their mothers, or the loss of their mother. He’d pray for all the people who find this day difficult. The church itself still passes out flowers to mothers, but the format has been much more subtle. When I picked up my kids from Sunday School yesterday, I found a box of a single orchid sitting on the counter with my name on it. It was for me to pick up. I like that. Not shoving-it-in-your-face-in-front-of-church kind of way. But still acknowledging this day. As for me, yesterday was just another day of me being my kids’ mom. Just like any other day, except for texts and well wishes from many of my friends and family. I actually was more thinking about my friend who failed her last transfer of her embryos as well as losing her beloved mother-in-law last month, about how difficult it must be for her on this day. I sent her a text early today to tell her that I was thinking about her. My friend doesn’t go to church, but if she did come to my church, I don’t think she’d be uncomfortable, and she’d appreciate the prayer from my pastor.
I hate getting my hands and clothes dirty. Hence I am not quite a beach person, and never really wanted to have water play or other sensory kind of activities for the kids I worked with. Now that I have my own kids, I am still kind of averse to dirt. My mom and I constantly wipe the kids’ hands during meal time and wipe the floor whenever food drops. When I take the kids to a playground, I often steer them away from the sand area. I would hate to have to clean up their clothes, their hair, and their socks and shoes from sand. The thought of it just made me shudder. My effort is proven to be futile because the kids are naturally drawn to dirt and sand. They see other kids there and just walk over, sit down, and start playing. They take other kids’ shovels and pails and start digging. They pick up sand and put some in their mouth. They pick up twigs and barks and taste them. At first I was quite grossed out by sand going into my shoes and kids having dirt and sand in their mouths. I have to say now that I am quite proud of myself because I have evolved to a point where I sit in the sand area with the kids and let them do whatever they want with the sand including tasting some. I do tell them that it is not for eating and it probably doesn’t taste good, but I have let go a lot more than I thought I would when it comes to dirt and sand. I clean out all the sand from their clothes and shoes/socks before loading them back in the car. When I told my mom that the kids played in the sand and tasted some, the horrified look on her face was priceless. Haha. I know that playing in the sand is good for their play skills and their sensory development, so I am going to continue to let go. I even bought them a whole set of sand toys and vehicles for our beach vacation in a few weeks!
My maid-of-honor, about whom I have written a couple of times before (here and here), just moved into her newly purchased condo as a first-time homeowner. I carved out a couple of hours on her moving day to hang out at her new home. Another girlfriend of ours who has moved to a nearby city recently was also there to support her. We had a great time celebrating and rejoicing with her for the fulfillment of one of her dreams: owning a home. We enjoyed some desserts, champagne, strawberries, and discussed the most optimal placement of her furniture. It was fun. One thing that I did notice though, was that, my life and my kids didn’t come up as a topic of conversation. We talked about my friend’s move, the other girlfriend’s life, work, and church life in the new city, and some other topics. In those 1.5 hours, they did not ask me about me or my kids. Except for when my mom called me to let me know about the kids’ tantrums, it was time for me to go, and at that time, my girlfriends did say something about my kids being big and fun at this age. On my drive home, I pondered about this. Was the lack of interest due to my girlfriends being single? Was it because they truly did not care about how I was and how the kids were? Or was it because it reminds them of what they don’t have and they don’t want to bring it up? This reminds me of the previous week’s Sunday service. We went to church a little earlier so the kids could walk on the sidewalks to church instead of being carried in a rush to service like usual. I was holding Bunny’s hand walking towards church when my maid-of-honor walked behind us. She did not interact with the kids much. I asked her questions about her move, and we chatted a little about it. That was it. I guess… as someone who was so supportive of us emotionally and prayerfully during those five years of infertility trials, I did expect her to show a little bit more interest in my life as a mom and my kids’ life. To give her credit, when she and I get together once every few months, we do talk about my life and the kids. So it is not like we don’t ever talk about me. I guess I just expect a little bit more interest in interacting with the kids and getting to know them. She did mention on her moving day that she had been feeling lonely in the last couple of years living in San Francisco. She is approaching 40, not meeting anyone, and doesn’t want to start a family until she gets married. I know it has been hard for her, so a while ago I have decided to be understanding of her situation and her emotional wellbeing and not to take things personally. But still, I do want to be cared for, and when my single girlfriends don’t show much interest in my kids, I do notice and feel a little sad about it at the moment.
This is not fertility or kid-related, but I have made this observation that really bugs me, and I wanted to write about it.
Ever since the kids were born, I started to join groups on Fac.ebook for women/mothers on specific topics, such as feeding, local mom groups, parents of multiples group, or moms over 40 group. As I began to consider starting a business for when the twins go to preschool, I also joined a bunch of groups focusing on women in business and speech language pathology. I scroll up and down to read posts, and see one thing that is quite common, and it bothers me.
Many posts I have read start with one of these:
- This may be a stupid question but…
- This may be a silly question but…
- I am sorry if this has already been asked, but…
- I am sorry if this is not the right group to ask this questions, but…
- I apologize if this is a silly/stupid question, but…
- I apologize in advance if this is too long…
These drive me nuts!
I don’t know if men do this because I am not in groups with men. The limited posts by the men in the groups I am in do not seem to start with any of the above. Maybe some do? I don’t see enough to notice. But I see this so often in posts by women in the numerous groups I am in, and I get more and more annoyed by them.
Women, ask your questions or make your statement without calling it silly or stupid or apologizing! No questions are stupid, or silly, or need an apology. Why do some women feel a need to say sorry about something? Why feel so apologetic? There is no need.
Move past feeling like you are bothering someone. Simply ask the question or make your statement. This is sufficient.