MicroblogMonday: Back to Just the Two of Us

Microblog_Mondays

My in-laws have come and left.  These 7 1/2 weeks have gone by quickly.

Bob took a day off the day before my in-law left so that we could all spend time together out of the house.  His parents were originally reluctant to go out as my father-in-law just wanted to finish packing and my mother-in-law just wanted to finish cooking all the food in the fridge.  Somehow my in-laws refused to go anywhere touristy this time.  They did all of that seven years ago.  This time they just wanted to visit places like Tar.get, Ik.ea, and dollar stores.  I literally had to force them out of the house with us.  And I am glad I did.  My MIL is very into flowers, trees, and plants.  So we took them to the Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park.  It was delightful to see her eyes light up as we walked by all these fragrant flowers.  Just happened that there was also a walking tour at the time we arrived, so we followed a docent, learned a few things about plants, and smelled/tasted some flowers and plants during that one-hour tour.  Afterwards, my in-laws enjoyed a cup of mocha t Starb.ucks.  It was an extremely pleasant way to conclude their trip.

Bob originally joked that he would need a vacation from his parents’ visit.  We even looked into staying at a bed and breakfast and going to the train museum in the Sacramento area.  However, we decided that getting the house back in order was more important and would make my life easier when I have to pick up cooking again this week.  We saw our in-laws off at the airport, went grocery shopping, and purchased three huge utility plastic boxes at Tar.get.  I was already very tired when we got home, but house cleaning was calling my name.  After not having full control of my own kitchen for almost two months, the urge to put everything back in order was very strong.  When my in-laws first arrived with their four suitcases, we had to move stuff around and out of the cabinets in order to accommodate their spices, containers, and utensils.  For the whole afternoon on Saturday, I washed all the stainless steel utensils and containers and placed them all in the huge utility boxes we got.  I wiped every single inch of the kitchen counter including places that I usually don’t touch.  Thankfully, my MIL cleaned the stove right before she left, so I didn’t have to attend to that.  I cleaned the drawers in the fridge before the groceries went in.  I planned all the meals and already marinated a pork tenderloin for dinner for tonight.  I rearranged the pantry and put away the flour, the dal, and the rice that my MIL used frequently for cooking.  The kitchen floor was wiped clean.  Finally, Bob wiped down the whole range hood as grease from Indian cooking was covering it for the last two months.

The kitchen has not been so spotless in a very long time.

And it does feel good to have my kitchen back.  Yes, the house is feeling a bit too quiet and I miss having meals, tea, and coffee magically provided daily.  But I also cherish just being by ourselves and really truly having down time when I come home.  This past week I sat here at the kitchen counter and typed up notes while my mother-in-law showed me how to make a few dishes.  I am confident that I’d be able to replicate some of them successfully.  I learned how to make madras coffee and made it successfully yesterday.  It took quite some time to make the decoction of the coffee. It makes me appreciate my mother-in-law even more as I think about how she labored in the kitchen for two months for us providing coffee, tea, lunch, and dinner.  Right before she entered into the security area at the airport, she told me that next year she’d return for our baby.  I told her that I’d try my best to bring to this world a baby.  She placed her hand on my head, said a word of blessings, and told me that she’d pray to her gods.  I know that her gods are different from my God, but I am still touched the way she shows her love to me.

I truly hope that next year they will have to ponder about coming to visit because of a new addition to our family.

MicroblogMondays: My In-laws’ Visit, Week Seven

Microblog_Mondays

I realized that I haven’t really talked much about my in-laws ever since the first week of their arrival.  I think my mind is more preoccupied with our fertility things.  So how have things been going?

It has been almost seven weeks since my in-laws arrived.  Poor people.  Where we live is simply too cold for them.  Every morning I go downstairs to greet my MIL in the kitchen, she says to me, “It’s too cold here, no?”   They are used to 80 to 90 degree weather.  Our area is known for being foggy and cold in June, July, and August.  We had warned them ahead of time when they expressed interest in visiting us in June.  We told them that a more desirable time weather-wise would be September, October, November.  My mother-in-law confessed that she thought that we were trying to discourage them from coming to visit by fabricating the coldness of the summer here.  She said now that she has known me better and knows my character, she knows that I am telling the truth.  Of course we are telling the truth.  Why would we lie, right?  We sometimes turn the heat on for them during the day, which is something that we had never done even with summer weather in the 50s here.  But for the sake of our in-laws’ well-being, as ridiculous as it sounds to turn on the heat in July, they are much happier when the house is in the 70s.

The first couple of weeks of South Indian diet did a number on my digestive system.  I mean, the food continues to be excellently delicious, but the abundance of Indian spices and carbs has been difficult to process.  I can usually handle Indian food when I eat it, but consuming it as a main diet is a totally different story.  The first week of it left me hungry at 3pm at work mainly because of the reduced amount of protein and the increased amount of carbs.  Eventually the solution was extra protein from the frozen meatball that my coworker helped me buy because I couldn’t “smuggle” meat product into our house without being noticed.  Protein shakes also turned out to be a life saver.  Now that I have been eating this diet for weeks, my body is accustomed to the diet so I am no longer hungry with shaky hands wanting to find all the food I can consume at 3 in the afternoon.  Friday is my meat-eating day.  My MIL knows not to prepare lunch for me to take to work.  On that day, I order whatever meat dish I fancy: Chinese takeout, Vietnamese lunch with friends, or sausage omelette.  However, I still have to frequent the bathroom for number two (sorry TMI) due to the spices.  My waistline and the number on the scale have both gone up thanks to the extra carbs in my MIL’s cooking.  I know that once our diet goes back to protein and veggies, we will not be as bloated and our digestion should go back to normal, but it is a bit disconcerting to feel your usual clothes getting tighter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I L.O.V.E. my mother-in-law’s cooking.  Not only me, but my coworkers also fell in love with her food.  Everyday I let a few coworkers take a bite of my lunch and enjoy them oohing and ahhing over how perfect the seasoning is and how tasty these dishes are.  My MIL also enjoys hearing me tell her my coworkers’ reactions.  She is such a talented cook and knows exactly how to prepare things to perfection.  My brother’s family came for dinner a couple of times and was so grateful for the wonderful feasts.  My MIL cooked my favorite dish of hers; something that my brother had never tasted before.  He loved it so much that he had four servings of it and also got to take all the leftovers home.  He almost had tears of joy in his eyes.  My MIL loves loves loves my brother because he appreciates her food.  It was a wonderful sight for me to see my in-laws getting along so well with my family considering how much they used to adamantly oppose our marriage.  It was something that I never thought would happen.  Got to have faith in what time and patience can do to mend relationships.

I am spoiled, and I am well aware of it.  This season with my MIL taking care of all the cooking means that I can devote my time in working through all the things that are related to our treatment and such.  Coming home from work, I get to do whatever I want to and dinner will be served.  I am truly grateful for that.

Weekly we have our routines down.  We drive my in-laws 40 minutes to a big Indian grocery store to purchase food for the week.  It is quite a long drive and a tiring ride.  After that we would go to a shopping place of their choice.  They have a particular love for Ik.ea, dollar stores, and Ta.rget.  So we frequent those places.  Sometimes it is just so tiring to go shopping with them that everyone comes home tired and needs a nap.  During that time, I wipe the kitchen floor.  Ever since my MIL took over my kitchen, I have been sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor whenever I have the time.  Her way of cooking leaves a lot of little crumbs and food scraps on the floor, as well as the condensation of the steam dripping from pot lids.  The highly traveled area of the kitchen floor has lost its luster and I will have to wait until my in-laws’ departure to figure out a way to gain it back.

How are Bob and his parents doing?  I would say, better.  Bob and his mother still fight some, but they also have good times together.  I can tell that they are very similar people and that makes them clash because they react to things similarly.  Every evening after dinner he goes to his parents’ room and chats with them about the day.  It’s heartwarming to hear them chat and laugh together.  One surprising thing is that Bob has been telling his parents, especially his mom, slowly about our fertility problems.  My in-laws don’t talk to me about this, but they have been expressing grief in our lack of children.  Bob’s mother often says to him that we should have a four year old and a two year old by now.  She expressed regrets that we didn’t meet in our 20s when making a baby would have been easier.  After our urologist visit, Bob actually opened up to his mother about his male factor issues.  She was unhappy that he didn’t go to the doctor a few years earlier, but he explained to her that all of our tests for him turned out to be good so no one knew this new problem.  He didn’t tell her exactly what we have done treatment-wise but did tell her that we have done a lot.  He explained to her that most of the children in the photos on our fridge were successfully conceived and born thanks to science (most of them are IVF babies).  This is paving a path for us in the future when we explain to them about having a baby via surrogacy.  So this is a breakthrough as I never thought it was possible for us to speak to them about our fertility struggles.

As much as I like my mother-in-law, she sometimes says the craziest things.  After Bob shared with her vaguely about us going through treatment, she said that regardless of how much money we have to spend on treatment, we still have to send them the money they ask for annually.  I know that she and Bob’s dad are very different from my parents because money is tighter for them.  But still….. We don’t plan on reducing the amount of money that we give them but for her to immediately protect her self-interest instead of showing concerns for us is a bit disheartening for me.   Another thing that my MIL said to Bob was that we should go adopt because that’s how people get pregnant afterwards.  I know that this is something a lot of people say but it still bugs me.  Finally, this last thing that she says really gets to me.  She said that she would come visit our child(ren) in the future, but only if the child is “ours”.  For “ours”, she meant that she would not make a special trip to come visit our children if they were adopted.  She and my father-in-law would only come if part of the child(ren)’s genetic makeup comes from Bob.  I know that they’d come around if we ever adopt a child, but this closed-mindedness really makes me sad and mad that any children not made the conventional way are going to be discriminated against even before they are made or born.  It’s hard to change a person and their opinion on things.  So, as much as Bob wants to be transparent with them, I still think that some things are better off not shared, such as our need for an egg donor. 

This coming week I have a whole week off due to an office renovation.  My MIL will teach me how to make a few of my favorite dishes.  I pray that we’ll create some good memories before my in-laws’ departure on Saturday.  It will be so weird to get the whole house back to ourselves after having my mom, dad, and my in-laws here for the past few months. But I’m also ready to just be whatever I want to be and do whatever I want to do in my own house. One surprising thing is that I think I’ll miss my in-laws. This is something that I never thought I’d say. This is an answer to ours prayers. Seeing how well I get along with my in-laws proves that nothing is impossible with God. 

MicroblogMondays: Father’s Day

Microblog_Mondays

This is the fifth Father’s Day since my husband and I started trying for a baby.  And it is the fifth Father’s Day that he is still waiting for a baby that he can call his child.  We skipped Mother’s Day this year as it was too much for me to be there after the news of needing a surrogate.  The day before Father’s Day, Bob told me that he wanted to skip church so that he wouldn’t have to sit there and listen to the Father’s Day acknowledgement during service.  Instead, he went with his dad to Ocean Beach.  They enjoyed the sunshine and spent some quality time together.  It was a very special and precious bonding time as the last time they spent Father’s Day together was seven years ago when his parents came to visit.  That was when we first started dating. It took them five years after we got married to come to terms with our marriage and agree to a visit to the States.  Bob was super happy that he got to spend his Father’s Day with his own dad this year.  It made not having a child hurt a bit less.  We have been working on hiring a surrogate and hoping for a transfer in the next few months.  If everything goes smoothly, my husband may be able to celebrate his Father’s Day next year with his own baby in his arms.  Maybe then his father can visit again and make it a celebration for three generations.  That would be such a wonderful moment.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make it happen?

MicroblogMondays: Baby Clothes

Microblog_Mondays

My mom has been back to the States from overseas since March.  She is an expert in sewing, knitting, and crocheting.  I would usually hang out at the kitchen counter sitting with my laptop doing various things when I am home.  I often hear my mom’s footsteps coming up the stairs from her bedroom and her mumbling about showing something to me.  Every single time it is a new sweater that she has been knitting for someone else’s babies.  The wives of my younger male cousins overseas who are expecting.  Her friend’s niece.  Anyone, but me.  In the last two months, she has repeatedly shown me these adorable baby sweaters at various stages of production.  Some pink, some rainbow colors, some blue, some green.  All adorable.  Sometimes only the back side has been done.  Sometimes missing just the sleeves.  Sometimes the whole finished product.  How do I feel?  I don’t always feel good when she shows me baby sweaters.  But then, I remember there was one time in the past, probably a year ago, when I told her that I didn’t want to see what baby sweater she was knitting.  My mom is a wonderful and caring person, but she does not understand my feelings of not wanting to put myself in that situation, to be vulnerable and sad when I see her thoughtful, precious gifts to everyone else’s babies but mine.  I tried to explain to her that seeing these sweaters made me sad, but from her reaction, I don’t think she understood.  After that one time, I decided that she would probably never understand my feelings.  I decided to let it go.  If she wants to show me baby sweaters that she’s been knitting for other people’s babies, then I’d let her.  This is exactly what I have been doing.  So these past two months, I have been smiling at her and telling her that the sweaters are adorable.  It does hurt that my mom doesn’t get my feelings, but since she is my mom and it’s not a given that she’d understand my feelings, I decided to let that go too.  It is just hard for my mom, someone who never had any problems conceiving, to comprehend the pain and the sense of loss of not being able to see grandma’s handiwork on my own baby.

This sense of loss is not only felt whenever my mother shows me baby sweaters.  I actually feel it daily when I walk through my garage to go back to my house.  After I park my car, I would walk by boxes of stuff we have stored in the garage.  I would look up and see these diaper boxes.  Inside the boxes aren’t diapers.  There are actually pieces of children’s clothes that one of my best friends gave me even before we started trying for a baby.  About seven years ago, she gave birth to her second and last child.  She separated the clothes of her older son and her baby girl into genders and ages.  She washed them and packed them in boxes that were clearly labeled with “boy”, “girl”, and the age.  These boxes have been sitting in the garage gathering dust for the last six years.  A year after we started trying, another friend of ours was going to give birth to her second child.  She contacted me and asked if she could take the box of newborn clothes for now.  She promised to wash and return the baby clothes to us when it is our turn.  Three and a half years later, our turn still has not come.  I never heard back from that friend.  We have lost touched since she gave birth to her third child.  I never saw that box of newborn clothes anymore.  But the rest of the clothes, up to boy age 5, are still sitting in my garage waiting for someone to make good use of them.

I guess my point is, even though the sight of my mom’s baby sweaters that she makes for someone else, or the sight of the boxes of baby clothes that my friend gave me brings me sadness and pain at times, I am not going to avoid them just because I don’t have a child right now.  “Not yet” does not mean “never”.  I do believe that one day my mom will be knitting my baby the most adorable sweaters a grandma would make, and my friend’s baby clothes will see the light of day from those diaper boxes again.

I don’t now how and when my baby will come, but I believe that when he/she comes, my mother will go crazy with her baby clothes sewing and knitting.  I am very sure of that.  For now, I’ll hold onto that vision of me and my mom choosing yarn and fabric for my baby until it becomes a reality.

Bonus Afternoon

So, I had this afternoon off.

It wasn’t intended to be an afternoon off.  You see, I had originally taken Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off for the Endometrial Receptivity Array biopsies.  They got canceled because of the possible fibroid surgery.  Since I already canceled all my clients for those two afternoons, I scheduled an MRI scan of my uterus in preparation for the surgical consultation on April 20.  Bob and I talked about getting a second opinion with Dr. E.  I emailed her.  She said that I could schedule an ultrasound and consultation with her any time as long as I am not bleeding.  I called her office yesterday and found out that I could schedule both with her Tuesday afternoon.  I then rescheduled the MRI for another day in order to go see Dr. E today.  Well guess what?  I started spotting yesterday.  I am not supposed to be bleeding at this point.  This is the middle of my cycle.  I was on Lup.ron and estrogen patches for a few weeks.  I guess stopping both last Thursday without any progesterone support makes the hormonal levels of my body fluctuate.  My body reacts by giving me breakthrough bleeding.  The spotting yesterday turned into full flow this morning at 10:30am.  I called Dr. E’s clinic to ask if I should come to the appointment at 1:30pm.  The nurse sent Dr. E a message and promised to get back to me.  By noon time, I hadn’t heard from anyone from the clinic so I called.  The answering service transferred me to the clinic.  The same nurse finally got on the phone and told me that she just connected with Dr. E who advised against me going in because of my full flow.  We had to reschedule it for another day.

I was not bummed per se.  I just find it interesting that when you don’t want your period to come, it comes.  It just can’t hold off for another day.  These are just tiny things.  I have decided not to be bugged by these inconveniences.  The only reason I wanted it to be done today was because I had already canceled my clients.  To see Dr. E on another day means I would have to move or cancel another client.  But this is life.  Life is full of inconveniences.

Instead of staying at work for the rest of the afternoon, the first thing that came to my mind was to have some mother-daughter bonding time.  I immediately called my mom who gladly said yes to my lunch invitation.  I didn’t have a particular place in mind but I often opt for trying out new restaurants or having cuisines that Bob doesn’t care for when I am not eating with him.  My mom is totally adventurous and loved the idea.  I looked up a filipino restaurant.  There are plenty of them around where we live.  I found the one that looks the most interesting and had the highest rating.  Off we went.  Ten minutes later, we sat at this restaurant and studied the menu.  Not knowing what to expect, we both ordered dishes that we loved:

IMG_5703

In the afternoon, a nurse at my current clinic called me with this frantic tone of voice wondering where I was.  I am usually on time and it was really unlike me to be 30 minutes late and had still not shown. They basically didn’t know that the appointments were already canceled.  The nurse practitioner who did my lining check wrote the notes but did not cancel the appointments for me. And her notes didn’t get signed off somehow and they didn’t show up on the system that the nurses had access to.  I am surprised but not surprised that the clinic is too big, there are too many people working there, and they are not always as organized as the customers would like them to be.

I pondered what I should do for the rest of the afternoon.  I could have done many things but I decided to take a nap.  It was such a rare treat for a Tuesday afternoon that was supposed to be a work day.

I’m also glad to report that I am feeling much better.  My dear friend Maddie gave me a pep talk yesterday that alleviated many of my worries and fears.  And God did answer my prayers.  I woke up this morning feeling calm and at peace for the first time in four days.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have supportive friends on this very difficult journey.

I thoroughly enjoyed my bonus afternoon and loved every single minute of hanging out with my mom, even eating food that I don’t normally eat.  Although today didn’t turn out to be what I thought it would be, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Fortune Cookie

I had lunch with a friend at our favorite Chinese restaurant today.

I picked up one of the fortune cookies.  There were two different slips there.  The first one I saw was this:

Wow!  Again, I don’t believe in these things, but out of all the many many thousands of fortune cookies out there, it is for sure very timely to get this particular one!

The second one in the same fortune cookie says: “Long life with blessings of family and friends is yours.”

But I like the one in the picture much much better!

Tomorrow is the day!  May it be an exciting time for me and Bob!

MicroblogMondays: A Ghost From the Past

Microblog_Mondays

I have been involved in a project to which my work contracts me out.  My main responsibility is to develop curriculum and do presentations.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that I do prenatal classes and discuss about communication strategies with first-time moms-to-be.  The contract stipulates that I train two staff members and transfer my knowledge by mid-year for them to take over this presentation.  I have grown fond of this curriculum as it is almost like my work baby.  There had been one staff member with whom I work closely.  The project had been trying to hire another staff member.  Right before my presentation last week, I found out the name of the new hire.  This name made me physically sick to my stomach for a few minutes before I could calm myself down to do a professional job.  Who is it?

My brother’s first and only girlfriend before he dated and married my sister-in-law.

The world is so small.  Out of all the people in this area, she has to be the one hired.

Now, you may ask, why does that even matter in any significant way?  What I can tell you is that there are only a couple of people that I truly don’t get along with in my life.  She is one of them.  I guess it all depends on your world view.  Are you someone who tries to be all inclusive and accept everyone in your life?  Or do you try to maintain a healthy boundary and keep those that you know won’t bring positive changes out of your life?  In the last few years, I make an effort to keep toxic people out of my life.  I try to surround myself with people who truly care about me and I truly care about.  This is the reason why I was so appalled by this news.

The thought of this ex-girlfriend brings back many bad memories.  When my brother and I were teenagers, we lived in an apartment by ourselves most of our high school years.  My dad was making a living overseas and my mom would be with him about 3/4 of the time during the year.  It could feel so lonely and uncared for as teenagers to be left alone to fend for yourself.  My brother started dating and I was even more left alone.  I’d say that it was mostly my brother’s doing for not taking care of his little sister, but this girlfriend didn’t help either.  They were always hanging out at her house and I’d rarely see the two of them.  But it wasn’t just this.  It was her personality as this loud, uncaring person who was not nice or friendly to me.  Somehow there was this rivalry going on with her.  Belonging to the same church and the same youth group, we had plenty of opportunity to get to know each other.  The more I knew her, the more I didn’t want to know her.  After they had been dating for about two years, my brother discovered that this girlfriend was cheating on him with his best friend.  I clearly remember the day they broke up; how my brother calmly told her that it was over and how she was screaming and slamming the door of the apartment.  The funny thing was, my brother was really over her, and continued to maintain a friendship with his best friend and this ex-girlfriend.  It was partly because he himself found a great girl who later became his wife.  But it was still great to see my brother having such an open heart and mind.  Ex-girlfriend still very much wanted to be in my brother’s life.  She asked to be one of my sister-in-law’s bridesmaids and later on asked if she could be the godmother for my brother’s children.  She ended up being in my brother’s wedding and got named the godmother. There were many more things that I won’t go into details about.  All I can say is that for my young self, it was very difficult to love her or like her when I found her so unlikable.  My mom is the most easygoing person and even she was super relieved that my SIL married my brother and not ex-girlfriend.

Ex-girlfriend eventually married my brother’s best friend, who happened to be the brother of my guy best friend.  Our social circles were a bit intertwined.  She asked me to play the piano at her wedding because my SIL had just given birth at the time.  I saw her repeatedly at social gatherings in the 10 years of her marriage because I am close to my best friend’s family.  She was in my life and I felt like I didn’t have a choice.  The last time I saw her was at my best friend’s wedding.  I was surprised to see her because she had already separated from her husband.  She wore her huge engagement ring and walked around like she was part of that family.  That was right before the divorce was finalized and she stuck herself in front of the camera for every single family photo.  I remember how upset my friend’s father was because her presence would forever be in my friend’s family wedding photos.

I get news about her once in a while.  She remarried in her early 40s.  Her doctor told her that at her age, the only way to get pregnant would be through fertility treatment.  She went ahead, tried naturally, and got pregnant the first month she tried.  I had been trying for a baby for a couple of years already at that time and couldn’t believe it that she had achieved what I couldn’t without any effort.  I know it’s shallow of me and I admit it, but her pregnancy news was a really big blow to me.  But I was happy that she was out of my life and I didn’t have to endure any Face.book talk of her pregnancy.  I got a glimpse of it when my brother told me that she posted a lot of details about her pregnancy including yelling publicly at her husband for being out late with friends leaving his super pregnant wife at home.

So now, back to this news about her being back at my life.  I still can’t believe it that the world is so small and she is the one who got hired.  I texted both my brother and my SIL that brother’s girlfriend got hired to work with me.  We all just jokingly call her my brother’s girlfriend because she would show up once a year or in two years and cook my brother’s favorite food for his whole family, then disappears for another year or two.  Both my brother and SIL found this news so funny.  They were laughing aloud and wishing me good luck.  Bob joked that my brother should apologize to me as this was all his fault for bringing ex-girlfriend in my life.  My sister-in-law joked that I should thank her for marrying my brother instead.  She said “Better work with her than be related to her.  The scale of pain is all relative.”  I was laughing so hard at that comment.  It’s very true.  And it does put things in perspective.  I do have to have contact with her.  I do have to sit down with her and train her on my baby (presentation).  But I do believe in myself for being able to keep things very professional.  I am in the driver’s seat and I know my ability.  As much as the thought of working with her is unpleasant, my anticipation could be a lot worst than reality.  Maybe she has changed?  Maybe she is super nice now?  I won’t know until I see her.  But I am grateful that I find out right now and have time to prepare myself rather than being surprised and shocked when I get introduced to her for the first time.  A coworker of mine said that I should codename her Janice after the character on “Friends” who kept on creeping back in Chandler’s life.  That’s such a brilliant idea!

Maybe God has a lesson in this for me?  Something for me to learn?  This is definitely a good example for me to pray for love in my heart for unpleasant people and in unpleasant situations.  Hopefully with the right attitude, my interaction with this ex-girlfriend will be as painless as possible.

But I still can’t believe that she’s back in my life, and I have no choice to get out.  It will take me a while to get over this.