MicroblogMondays: Movements

I am currently in Annie’s town.  Bob and I came to spend time with her and her family, and we took professional photos yesterday.  It has been such a lovely visit.  Annie has been doing very well, and we had a great time at the photo shoot.  I can’t wait to see how the photos turn out.  Today I will meet with the nurse practice manager at the hospital where Annie will give birth, and I will also attend Annie’s first non stress test today.  It has been a very eventful and enjoyable weekend.

One of the reasons we really wanted to make a trip here so close to delivery date was for the babies’ movements.  Ever since Annie started to feel them, I had wanted to come and see/feel them move as well.  I was a bit sad that I couldn’t do that because we weren’t planning on coming.  Well, everything fell into place and here I am now.  It has been so magical these past few days.  I sat next to Annie multiple times a day and had my hands on her baby bump.  She would tell me where to put my hands and all of a sudden I would feel a shake or a wave.  Sometimes it would take many many minutes before the babies moved again.  Now I can tell which movement is from which baby.  Baby A is currently in the anterior portion and lower on the right bottom of the belly.  Baby B is across behind Baby A.  So all the movements that are more obvious are from Baby A, and all the more subtle movements from the top portion of the belly are from Baby B.  In the afternoon Baby A was moving quite a lot.  After dinner and a walk, Baby A was super quiet, and Baby B started turning and moving like crazy.  The next morning Annie told us that Baby A woke up at 5am and just moved around and woke Annie up.  It looks like we have one early bird and one nigh owl.  It has been quite amazing to see the movements.  At church on Sunday, Annie tapped me on my shoulder and pointed at her belly.  We could see parts of her bump moving and bulging out quite a few times.  Baby B must have been really excited about the pastor’s sermon.  ūüôā

I feel very grateful that things have been going so well, and we finally got to see and feel the babies’ movements.  This great sense of gratitude is also mixed in with a bit of sadness, a bit of jealousy, and a bit of surreality.  The babies are doing so well, and being able to feel their movements just highlights to me how alive and well they are.  A year ago we wouldn’t have imagined being here today, feeling their movements, and taking maternity photos.  At the same time, I look at my own body and my not-so-flat tummy that isn’t growing any life inside of it, for a moment, I was overcome with a sense of loss.  This journey has been so complicated and there are so many complex emotions to sort through.  I am glad that I feel positive, joyful, excited, and full of anticipation most of the time.  But boy, when these sad feelings hit, there is no hiding.  Although I have felt some sadness, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything else, because this is God’s path for us, and these are the babies that He has entrusted with us.  Without our struggles and my inability to carry, these particular babies wouldn’t be the ones that we will meet in the very near future. 

God works in amazing ways, and these babies are a testament to that.

Not Happily Ever After

You may wonder how an intended mother may feel once she is expecting via gestational surrogacy. ¬†The answer is, it changes all the time, and you don’t know when and how frequently your feelings may change.

The other night Bob and I were chatting in bed about how we’d turn 15 weeks the next day. ¬†Suddenly, this sadness overcame me. ¬†It just hit me like a ton of bricks without warning. ¬†I lay there and started tearing up. ¬†What went through my mind was how Annie will start feeling the babies’ movements in a few weeks and I will feel nothing inside of me. ¬†That loss on that particular day at that particular moment was so unbearable. ¬†My babies are growing¬†in another person’s body, and I am 100% grateful for that. ¬†However, this same fact also reminded of my missing out on this experience and it was very difficult to bear. ¬†I knew all of this going in, and I knew that these feelings are going to surface once in a while. ¬†I do think that it is important to acknowledge them and cry when I need to cry.

These complicated feelings made the next day even more difficult. ¬†A close friend of mine who had been banking day 5 and then day 3 embryos for the last two years (because of diminished ovarian reserve) just received her positive beta after failing her first transfer a month ago. ¬†She started banking after she turned 40 and she had been quite adamant about not using donor eggs. ¬†I totally respect what she’s been doing and support her in her endeavor. ¬†It has not been easy for her and I want her to be successful. ¬†At the same time, I didn’t know how I’d feel if/when she eventually gets her BFP. ¬†I found out on Wednesday that her BFP has¬†hit me hard. ¬†I was super jealous of two things: 1) she does not have to consider the need of donor eggs, and 2) she gets to experience a pregnancy. ¬†I know that this jealousy and these thoughts are not rational. ¬†As a close friend, I *should* be very excited for her. ¬†But I was just super super jealous. ¬†There is no rhyme or reason. ¬†Like I said, I would not have known how I’d feel about a particular person’s pregnancy until it happens. ¬†There have been many times I am immediately very happy for someone and do not feel an ounce of jealously. ¬†Unfortunately this time my primary feeling has been jealousy rather than anything else. ¬†I felt a little bad for not being able to fully celebrate with my friend, but I was told by another co-sister on this journey (and she’s a therapist herself) that I don’t have to feel bad. ¬†I am not going to analyze myself too much, but I believe this stems from both my need to use donor eggs and my necessity to use a gestational carrier. ¬†I knew that I was still sorting through my feelings about not being able to carry, but I was surprised by my feelings regarding donor eggs. ¬†I thought I have completely worked through those emotions, but I guess the grief for foregoing my own eggs¬†lingers for longer than I thought. ¬†I knew and still know that I was completely done with my own eggs at the time we moved forward to donor eggs and am very grateful for having the twins using this method, but it’s still tough when someone else achieves what I can’t.

Today was tough for me. ¬†My friend was of course still super excited and sent me two pee stick photos. ¬†It was hard for me to see pee sticks without prior warning. ¬†Pee sticks, bump photos, and ultrasound photos still serve as such a trigger for me. ¬†She also mentioned about other pregnancy related things that were too much for me at this point. ¬† After a few moments, she asked me if it was okay for her to show me these photos. ¬†I was silent for a little while then decided to tell her that I was okay with them because as a good friend, I don’t want to dampen her joy. ¬†However, my friend A. wanted to make sure that I don’t get ambushed by this friend in the future so it might be wise to establish some boundaries. ¬†I decided to be honest with my friend so I made this suggestion: “I¬†support you and love you and am very happy for you for getting to this point.¬† Just for me, you may need to be a bit less specific about your pregnancy symptoms and things in the future.¬† I’m not saying that you are overdoing anything right now because you are not, but this is to protect myself because I don’t get to experience what you will experience.¬† I¬†don’t know how I’d react.” ¬†My friend took it very well and thanked me for being open with her. ¬†I wish I could be there for her 100% but as of now, I am not quite there yet.

So it goes to tell you that even when we are 15 weeks into this pregnancy, we don’t live happily ever after. ¬†We still have all sorts of feelings to process. ¬†And sadness and¬†jealousy hit whenever they want to. ¬†We’ll have to be honest with ourselves and handle these feelings as they come. ¬†Hopefully, like what A. said, that by the time the twins come, I will be so busy mothering that¬†this stuff will have less opportunity to fill the space in my¬†head.

MicroblogMondays: Complex Emotions


Ever since we started this surrogacy journey, I have experienced a whole gamut of emotions.

Of course there are the positive emotions, such as hopefulness, excitement, and gratitude that a person such as my gestational carrier has such compassion for us that she is willing to go through pregnancy for another person.  This is sometimes too profound of a concept for me to fathom and to grasp.

Every single stage of the journey also invokes fear, worry, and anxiety, such as our donor’s egg retrieval, fertilization rate, number of embryos remaining, potential weather issues, thawing of the embryos, the transfer itself, waiting for beta, and waiting for ultrasound.

And then there is this deeper emotion of joy that is much greater than the temporary feeling of happiness.  This joy that comes from witnessing the miracle of life that is growing inside of our gestational carrier and from the hope and the promising future of our children being born into this world and meeting us face-to-face.

What surprised me was the sense of loss that I felt during our epic¬†first ultrasound while experiencing this tremendous joy of seeing the two heartbeats that were flickering on the screen. ¬†I didn’t know that those two complex emotions could exist in the same moment, but they did, because I experienced them.

Seeing those two heartbeats was one of the most exhilarating and monumental moments in my life. ¬†The tears that were shed were definitely tears of joy. ¬†However, seeing Annie’s name on the screen and the ultrasound photos brought me back to the reality of what my body will likely not ever be able to accomplish. ¬†It was supposed to be my name and my date of birth printed on the photos. ¬†If I could have my way, it was¬†also supposed to be my eggs, my uterus, and my pregnancy five years ago. ¬†While being super excited and joyful and amazed, I was at the same time tremendously sad.

But I believe that God’s plan for us is perfect in every way and His ways are higher than our¬†ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). ¬†I believe that this is what needs to happen for us to have our babies. ¬†And I fully embrace that. ¬†But it does not mean that I will not continue to have a sense of loss that I have to grieve. ¬†What I need to do is to continue to process my feelings with the help of my therapist. ¬†And I did exactly that.

My visit to my therapist was highly emotionally charged. ¬†It was just so exciting to be able to finally share good news with her after having to tell her¬†heartbreaking news over and over again in the past two and a half years. ¬†But at the same time, my biggest need was¬†to process¬†my grief and sadness with her. ¬†I even cried when I was telling her that. ¬†I knew that sadness and joy could exist simultaneously but it was reassuring for a professional to confirm it with me. ¬†She told me that it is very common for intended mother to feel a sense of loss while expecting via a surrogate, especially when the surrogate starts to feel the baby or babies. ¬†There is the loss of the sense of control because it is not my own body. ¬†There is nothing wrong with these feelings. ¬†It is just part of my reality. ¬†I told her sometimes I don’t know how to feel. ¬†And she said that it is okay to not know how to feel. ¬†She said that as the pregnancy progresses, I may find myself feeling jealous, annoyed, or frustrated with Annie. ¬†But at the same time, I would continue to feel grateful, joyful, and excited. ¬†The key is to feel all that I need to feel and to tell myself that it is okay to do so. ¬†She¬†has heard enough from intended mothers about these feelings, but she kind of experienced it first hand when one of her best friends was expecting via surrogacy. ¬†The second and third trimesters were kind of difficult for her friend. ¬†And I am sure that it will be similar for me. ¬†I don’t know¬†if this sense of loss and the grief¬†will ever completely go away but maybe it will diminish with the birth of the babies.

In terms of my fear that something bad may happen to the pregnancy, my therapist reminded me that I have lived in the unknown in the past few years.  Treat this the same way.  Embrace the unknown.  Whenever I find myself having these thoughts, ask myself if they are helpful.  If they are not, acknowledge them and then let go.  And if anything bad were to happen, I would be able to deal with it just like how I have been dealing with bad news in the past few years.

One interesting thing is that, ever since the news of us expecting twins, my attitude towards pregnant women has changed for the better. ¬†It has been easier for me to chat with my pregnant coworker. ¬†It has even been easier for me to accept pregnancy announcements. ¬†It is quite eye-opening for myself to see the immediate change in my thoughts and feelings. ¬†I know that the sting of infertility doesn’t totally go away, but it’s surprising for me to be able to feel more positive or at ease with other people’s pregnancy in such a short amount of time.

What I am trying to say is, our pregnancy is not always going to make us feel positive and excited. ¬†There are also fear, worry, jealousy, sadness, and anxiety. ¬†But having these feelings doesn’t mean that we are ungrateful about where we are now. ¬†The reality is, we are human beings and have complicated emotions. ¬†The key to maintain emotional health is to address these feelings rather than brushing them aside so that we are ready to welcome the babies in every way possible when the time comes.

MicroblogMondays: Sinking In


We find ourselves in this uncharted territory: we are expecting, for the first time, with very strong beta numbers.  We had dreamed of being in this position but never reached it.  Until now.  It is just so surreal.

I remember my dear friend A.’s words: Things don’t change until they change. ¬†She said this to me in December when we ended the fifth year of our quest without a baby or pregnancy and this journey seemed to be never ending. ¬†A few weeks later, everything changed.

I woke up the day after second beta feeling tremendously grateful for this pregnancy, for the life or lives that the Lord is sustaining inside Annie’s womb, and for Annie herself who has been nothing but a blessing to us.

Annie is so good.  She did her first prenatal workout the other day.  I have 100% confidence in her that she will do her best to take care of herself and this pregnancy.

I am allowing myself to dream a little dream, that maybe this is really the time that we get to bring a baby home.  On Friday, my heart was full and my stride was a bit bouncier and lighter.

I had some email exchanges with Dr. E on Friday and Saturday.  I told her that I was still soaking in my joy and disbelief.  I asked her for the record of the beta results, and which scans other than the 6.5 week appointment we should attend.

Dr. E’s response: “I love it!! ¬†‘Soaking in your joy’. ¬†Life is good! ¬†The next big scan will be at around 20 weeks to look at the anatomy of the babies. ¬†That’s a great one to attend too.”

Babies?!? ¬†I know that our betas were high. ¬†But I ain’t too sure about “babies”. ¬†And what about the NT scan at 12 to 13 weeks?

Her response: “You already did PGS. ¬†You can skip the NT. ¬†You can go if you want. ¬†It’s just like the first scan. ¬†Not much different. ¬†Buuuut there are babies in there :)”

She seems to think that there are twins inside. ¬†I am emotionally not quite there yet. ¬†I am still at that stage where I am wavering between having confidence that we’ll see a heartbeat or two and the fear of a huge disappointment and devastation¬†at the appointment.

The next day, I emailed Dr. E again to ask if 6 weeks 5 days would be a good time for an ultrasound, and if there are any other supplements she might recommend for Annie if she is indeed carrying twins.

Dr. E said that Annie doesn’t need anything right now other than all the support she can get to have a stress-free pregnancy.

She also said, “She is such a relaxed person at baseline. ¬†We are really very lucky. ¬†Stress is ¬†one thing that is consistently linked to preterm birth. ¬†Six weeks and five days is perfect. ¬†No words to describe how excited I am for you.”

I just love Dr. E.

An ultrasound has been scheduled for 2/6 at 6 weeks 5 days. ¬†Plane tickets have been purchased for both Bob and me to attend the appointment. ¬†A week ago we wouldn’t have dreamed of doing all of this.

There are definitely many emotions to sort through.

We are in general super happy and feeling super fortunate to get to this point.  We celebrated with a deep-dish pizza dinner.

As requested, Annie bought a FRER and POAS’d just for my satisfaction of seeing a dark second line. ¬†It felt really surreal to receive a picture of that FRER. ¬†It was not my pee but it is SOOO my pee stick.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling of seeing a BFP that supposedly belongs to us but at the same time it is so far remote from our life here.

The long awaited BFP.  I thought I would be jumping up and down in joy, but instead I felt a little jealous that the life/lives are not growing inside of me.

And then, there is a question of how much to check in with Annie about feelings or symptoms without being overbearing. ¬†I don’t want to ask her every single day how she is feeling, if she is feeling symptoms or tiredness, etc. ¬†Bob asks me everyday how Annie is feeling. ¬†I think he is gauging how pregnant she is on how sick she feels. ¬†He is probably feeling even more far removed from it all because he does not usually contact her directly like I do. ¬†It is even harder for him to navigate this new stage of how to care for our gestational carrier without going overboard. ¬†It is a fine line to walk.

As this news is sinking in this weekend, I suddenly feel a sense of loss. ¬†As much as I look forward to finally closing this chapter of our TTC life and moving on to hopefully becoming parents, I also feel this intense loss of not being able to carry my own child(ren). ¬†I know that it is a process to grieve and mourn this loss, and I shouldn’t expect myself to get over it at this moment. ¬†As I think about what Annie will be going through in the next many months, I feel sad that I am not the one who will have these precious moments with my husband. ¬†Bob will not be the one who comes home and puts his hands on my tummy waiting for his baby to kick. ¬†I will not be the one who would notice my belly growing bigger and bigger. ¬†As much as surrogacy is such a gift and an amazing thing, we still mourn the loss of these moments.

This sense of loss was so strong last night that I lay in bed in the dark with tears soaking my ears wet. ¬†In darkness, Bob held my hand and said, “It may be a good time for you to go talk to S.” ¬†S is my therapist. ¬†I am very thankful for my husband who is perceptive of my needs. ¬†Today, I emailed S and scheduled an appointment for the Wednesday after our ultrasound. ¬†I hope to have good news for her and at the same time have her help me navigate the complicated emotions involved in this process.

But then, sadness only appeared for a little.  At church yesterday, I let myself daydream a little about it finally being my time to leave my baby or babies at the nursery.

This is my reality: constantly moving from being ecstatic to sad to grieving to happiness to hoping for the future.

This news is so fresh and it still feels very surreal.  I just feel so blessed to be writing this post.  I hope that I will be able to keep on delivering good news for the next many months.  And hopefully as the news continues to sink in and the time goes by, I will feel more and more joyful and less of a need to mourn my loss.

MicroblogMondays: Self Care


Last Friday marked the day after we confirmed that our 5th transfer has failed.  The feeling is so familiar yet different.  We are used to failure.  It is a sad thing to say, but we are.  We know how to handle ourselves when it comes to failed transfers.  We know that we will be sad and devastated for a bit and we will be over it.  And we will move forward again.  But then, this time is also so different.  We have given this transfer the best embryo with the best grade and score and the best uterus that we could provide ever.  It was supposed to be a foolproof formula.

But it wasn’t.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude for having Jesus in my heart. ¬†Without Jesus, I don’t know where my hope would lie. ¬†But like one of my readers said, it is okay to be sad. ¬†And I was sad. ¬†At one point, I had fear and doubt in my head and my heart. ¬†December is the end of the 5th year of our journey. ¬†It was highly possible and probable that by the end of the year, we would be expecting a miracle in 2017. ¬†Except that it didn’t happen. ¬†And I was wondering if this is God’s message to me that a child is not in our future. ¬†But I decided to once again not jump to conclusion as God is the only one who knows His plan. ¬†This is the time for me and Bob to exercise our trust and faith in Him, knowing that regardless of the outcome of our quest, He is going to provide for us.

With that understanding, I tried what I could to take care of myself.

Fortunately, Friday was Veteran’s day. ¬†It was a day off for me. ¬†I opened my eyes with peace in my heart. ¬†I am always thankful for the peace and strength that God gives me, as it is not a given and is not something that I take for granted. ¬†In my pajamas, I made south Indian filtered coffee, sat there, and wrote my last blog post without even brushing my teeth or washing my face. ¬†I just needed that quiet, alone space to feel and to let everything sink in. ¬†Order in my life always makes me feel better. ¬†After a couple of hours of chores cleaning the floor, changing the bedsheets, and tidying up any mess, I felt more control about the situation again. ¬†That evening, Bob and I spent time with some of our best friends. ¬†Their kids are our favorite kids. ¬†Just enjoying the time with them brought about tremendous healing.

This is what self care is all about.  Being aware of what makes you happy and doing it.

I just started watching the show “Parenthood” on Netf.lix. ¬†In one of the episodes, the younger brother, a playboy, just discovered that he had a son with an old fling. ¬†He went to seek the advice from his older brother who happened to be a family man with two children. ¬†He asked his older brother about having children,

“What makes all of it worth it?”

His brother said, “What makes it worth it is the connection. ¬†It’s a¬†bond you feel. ¬†They are yours, you know. ¬†You are part of them.”

I so long for this connection, this bond that I will have with my future child.  Regardless of the genetic links or who is going to carry the baby, my child is going to be mine.  He/she is going to be part of me and I am going to be a part of him/her.

It is all going to be worth it.

MicroblogMondays: My Niece Has Turned 18


My one and only brother is three years old than me. ¬†He got married a couple of days shy of 25. ¬†Two years later, my niece was born. ¬†When she was born, I was only 24. ¬†I totally adored this child. ¬†She had the chubbiest cheeks and the darkest full head of hair. ¬†I used to go to my brother’s house for dinner every week so that I could spend time with this little girl. ¬†At about two, she really disliked me¬†for some reason. ¬†When I walked through the door, she would push me away and say “No!!!”. ¬†I was so heartbroken but couldn’t do anything to change that. ¬†This phase lasted at least a few months. ¬†The funny thing is whenever I mention about it now she would apologize to me for her unfriendliness. ¬†I have watched my niece grow up in front of my eyes. ¬†Through our day-to-day contact and being there for every graduation, dance recital, and birthday party, I am in awe of the young woman she has become. ¬†She is the first born grandchild in our family. ¬†I have always wanted a child like her. ¬†She is a great student at school. ¬†She is gifted in arts and music. ¬†You should all see the jewelry, drawings, and paintings that she has made. ¬†She built a lamp and nightstand from scratch for her class projects. ¬†She is also an amazing friend. ¬†She loves life, loves Jesus, gets along well with her one and only sibling, is compassionate towards others, and desires to serve and help many. ¬†Her smiles are contagious. ¬†She was there with me at the altar as my junior bridesmaid on one of the most important days of my life. ¬†My beautiful niece’s 18th birthday is a bittersweet event for me. ¬†I am proud of the person she has become, but I am also sad about something that may sound silly. ¬†My niece is an amazing (and responsible) babysitter.¬†¬†I have all along been wishing¬†to “exploit” her to babysit for us for free, at least in time before she starts college. ¬†As the years go by and I still haven’t successfully conceived a child, I know that the chances of her babysitting for us¬†are getting slimmer and slimmer. ¬†And I have grown progressively sadder because of this fact. ¬†My niece has in fact started her classes for college this summer. ¬†She is only a couple of hours away for college but it seems almost impossible for her to get to know my future child(ren) like the way she knows her little cousins because of all the time they have spent together. ¬†My child(ren) will not know their oldest cousin the way I would want them to if they had been born a few years earlier and growing up in the same town together. ¬†If we are blessed with a baby next year, my niece will be a almost 19 years older than my child. ¬†I know that there is still a chance for my niece and my child(ren)¬†to know one another, but her 18th birthday somehow is a huge reminder of¬†what we are missing out. ¬†I just can’t believe my niece is already 18… As we celebrate a new chapter in her life, I hope that somehow in the future my children will get to know their fun-loving, cool, and joyful oldest cousin in a way that I have never imagined before. ¬†Knowing my niece’s character, she’ll love our children regardless of how big the age difference is between them. ¬†I know I can take comfort in that.

MicroblogMondays: Baby Clothes


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.

MicroblogMondays: Dealing With Worries And Sadness


I have been trying to digest and accept¬†the news we received last Thursday. ¬†Admittedly, I haven’t been doing a good job.

Since that day, I woke up every morning confused about where I was and when it was.  Once I realized that it was Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, and that our quest for a baby is once again going to be delayed, sadness overcame me.  This sadness has been intermittent.  Sometimes I feel fine.  Sometimes my heart hurts.

This four-year journey has been so tough for us. ¬†Even before we started to try for a baby, an abdominal myomectomy was necessary to remove over 50 tiny fibroids from my uterine wall. ¬†They were not in the cavity but the sheer number and volume of them pushed on the uterus and altered its shape. ¬†Recovery time for this open surgery was six weeks off work and three menstrual cycles before we were advised to¬†start trying for a baby right away. ¬†My FSH was elevated already. ¬†I knew that we should try quickly before the fibroids grow back. ¬†Well, we all know how that has been going. ¬†Despite how much we¬†want to get pregnant, it just hasn’t happened for us. ¬†We watch people who try with their own eggs and donor eggs get pregnant one by one. ¬†We miss the train every single time.

In the meantime, a new fibroid has been growing in the back of my uterus.  A couple of years back, it was much smaller.  In the last few transfers, nobody had ever said anything about it interfering with implantation or pregnancy.  I felt fortunate that no one had told us that we had to remove it.  Until last Thursday.

I have been trying to avoid another surgery at all cost. ¬†Being cut up and recovering from it is not easy. ¬†Plus I just don’t want to weaken my abdominal wall any further. ¬†I know plenty of people have two or three abdominal surgeries but I didn’t want to be one of them. ¬†I didn’t want another surgery to delay any fresh cycles or transfers. ¬†But, as we have learned time and time again, it is not in our control.

All of a sudden, I am worried about things that may or may not happen. ¬†Of course we want things to go smoothly and according to our timing. ¬†But our history shows that things don’t often go the way we want.¬† I am worried that the surgery would be scheduled at the time my in-laws are in town. ¬†My surgeon told me that after the surgical consultation (on 4/20) it takes about a month or two to schedule the surgery, and I’ll have to be off work for two weeks. ¬†Can you imagine being home with my in-laws while I am trying to recover? ¬†I so desperately want the surgery to be around the time my own mother is still in town. ¬†I am also worried that somehow my donor has traveled to an area infected by Zika virus and my clinic deems her ineligible to donate until a much later time. ¬†I feel that somehow with our “luck”, bad things that are unlikely to happen will happen. ¬†And, my biggest worry is that after doing the surgery and spending all the money, we still won’t have a child we can call our own.

Sometimes I just want to hide in a hole and quit it all.

Irrational. ¬†I know.¬† But these are real fears and worries. ¬†I usually try to deal with worries by taking it one day at a time. ¬†But this time¬†I just can’t seem to focus on the positive . ¬†My brain these few days is filled with these worries that I can’t seem to shake. ¬†We skipped Easter breakfast at church because I didn’t¬†want to deal with people. ¬†I avoided meet and greet time. ¬†I didn’t want to have anything to do with babies. ¬†Seeing all the matching outfits of kids and families of two, three, or four kids, I was once again reminded of the void in our life. ¬†Bob was amazing though. ¬†Being a helper at the nursery today, holding all the babies gave him the resolve to become a father of his own child in the future.

I continue to pray for peace. ¬†After having peace on Thursday, I don’t seem to have it these past few days. ¬†I know it’s up to God to answer my prayer. ¬†I desperately want God to take away these worries and give me the peace that surpasses all understanding. ¬†But again, I can ask but this too is out of my control.

Fortunately, although I am a mess this time, Bob is not fazed by any of these potential problems. ¬†He has been my voice of positivity, logic, and rational thoughts. ¬†He consoles me and tells me that it’s okay for me to feel sad, but he doesn’t want me to stay there for too long. ¬†He acknowledges my fears, but is also firm in his beliefs that although our timeline is delayed once again, we will eventually move forward with the next cycle with a uterus that is healed. ¬†He believes that the donor will be fine and will give us the embryos that we need. ¬†He believes that I will get pregnant and we will be parents in 2017.

His unwavering belief is exactly what I need.  I am grateful that one of us is doing well.  Our patience is once again tested.  I hope that soon I will get over this sadness and this state of worries so I can be back to being calm, happy, at peace, and patient again.

And I hope that none of my worries comes true.

MicroblogMondays: It’s Never Easy


This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions for me.

The week started with a surprising offer.  A generous one.  One that I didn’t see coming.  My Dear Colleague told me that one of her closest friends had offered me and Bob her embryos.  This friend had made four embryos in her early 30s prior to her cancer treatment.  After she finished her treatment, she got pregnant via IUI and had a baby.  Later she made a second baby the old-fashioned way and didn’t need to use her embryos.  Now that she is done building her family, she has generously offered to give these embryos to us.  I was touched by this offer because not everyone is willing and ready to give their embryos to another couple.  Many may choose to keep them frozen for a long time, and many would choose to discard them.  We don’t have to decide right away.  She has just paid for the annual storage fee for these embryos so she would like to donate them before the next storage fee is due.  We have approximately a year to make a decision.

Both Bob and I feel blessed that there is such an offer and hence a choice and another way to have a child.  We are still going to pursue egg donation first.  But emotionally, it makes it so much easier to know that there is a choice if other means don’t get us to where we want.  This couple is Caucasian and South American, so any babies resulting from these embryos would not share our ethnicities with us.  But I think both Bob and I don’t have a problem with that if it comes to that point.

A couple of days after that, I finally looked into the donors that Dr. E recommended.  I really like one of them.  She is half Chinese, my height, young, pretty, and a college graduated.  The donor profile didn’t say anything about her availability or her prior cycle history.  I emailed the donor agency owner who promptly responded to my questions.  This donor has done two cycles in the past, is finishing up a third cycle, and is booked for a new cycle soon.  At the time of that email, she was going to be available in May for a new cycle.

This is her cycle history:

Cycle 1: 26 eggs, 18 embryos, 12 frozen, 1 transferred, + pregnancy

Cycle 2: 25 eggs, 21 embryos, PGD tested, 21 normal, 1 transferred, + pregnancy

Those are some crazy stats.  She has done two cycles with Dr. E.  I was very surprised that she would be available in May as I thought someone like her would have a long wait list.  I corresponded with the agency owner back and forth.  In order to book her, we would sign the agency agreement and pay the agency fee in full in order to secure her for May.

The advantage of matching with this donor is that 1) she is half Chinese and my height, 2) she is local so we don’t have to pay for travels, 3) she seems to have proven fertility, 4) she is available in May, 5) her psychological screening, genetic screening, and all the DNA testings are all current, so we don’t have to repeat/pay for those, 6) she is willing to register with the donor sibling registry as well as to meet with the intended parents, and 7) she has worked with Dr. E a couple of times so she should be reliable.

I really like this donor.  I would say she is my favorite donor so far.

Bob and I discussed about it, prayed about it, and thought about it that night.  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this could be our donor.  It is a little disconcerting to have to pay the agency fee in full in order to secure a donor, rather than being put on a waitlist and pay right before the donor is available to cycle.  What if the donor changes her mind?  The agency owner said that the agency fee is 100% refundable should the donor change her mind.  I told her that I would read the agency agreement.  If we are okay with it, we’d sign and pay.

That was Friday.  Then Friday afternoon, I searched for reviews on the agency and the agency owner.  I didn’t expect to find anything fishy.  What I found shocked me.  The agency owner owns two agencies: one egg donation one and one surrogacy one.  I found out that her name was associated with a bankrupt surrogacy program in another country that left many intended parents out of money and no babies.  Although she wasn’t the founder or the owner of that surrogacy program, apparently her agency provided egg donors for the intended parents.  I also found some other reviews of her detailing some unethical practices that some intended parents experienced.  On the Parent Via Egg Donation (PVED) forum, a nonprofit organization that aims at helping people pursue third party reproduction, I found some comments from the PVED founder who seemed to have some reservation about this donor agency and the agency owner.  The PVED founder and I chatted on the phone.  She told me that a few years back this agency owner was involved in some unethical practices, such as withholding money from a donor or some messy cycle coordination.  But that was a few years back and this agency owner might have changed.  But the PVED founder warned me to be extra extra extra careful if I choose to work with this agency.

I was so bummed about this discovery.  I thought that we had found a donor and everything would be set.  However, I don’t think Bob would be comfortable working with someone with such a dodgy past.  My gut feeling tells me that everything would be fine if we pick this donor.  But I am also cautious about spending so much money not knowing if the agency owner is going to be honest or has integrity.  It is very important to work with a reputable agency as the agency is the one who does all the coordination with the clinic and the donor to ensure a smooth process.  I need an agency that has a sense of responsibility to make things right if anything ever goes wrong.

Finally, I emailed Dr. E yesterday just to see what she had to say about this agency.  Dr. E is so phenomenal with her responsiveness.  She wrote me back within three minutes.  Here is her response: “I have 3 donor retrievals this month with her donors.  I probably use 30 a year from her consistently for several years.  Never ever an issue.  I also use her for surrogacy.  2 currently pregnant.”

I let Bob read her response.  We both felt a little better about moving forward with this particular donor if Dr. E hasn’t had any problems working with this agency.

A few minutes later, Dr. E wrote me again.  This time, she told me that she had just matched this particular half Chinese donor that I am highly interested in with one of her patients the day before.  She said, “If you want to meet her or talk to her to see if she’s a good match, let me know.  She would be available  again over the summer.”

Over the summer???  So does that mean that the May timeframe is gone?  I wrote her back asking her to clarify.  Here is her response: “She’s in cycle now(patients of mine).  Next cycle in May (my patients too).  Next cycle she would be available for is August.  The agency owner has 2 other families (not my patients unless you emailed her ) interested as of Friday.  I would email her now if interested.”

You see the nature of looking for a Chinese or mixed Chinese donor?  You blink and they are gone.  You are not even allowed the time to let it sink it that you have to pay a big sum of money to secure a donor.  If you take your time to think and digest the news and make sure that this is the route you want to go, you miss the opportunity.

I was bummed again that the choice of cycling with this donor in May is gone.  May is such a nice timeframe.  It’s right before Bob’s parents’ arrival.  It’s only two months from now.  I don’t know if I would want to pay full agency fee to wait for this particular donor to be available in August.  August seems so far away (although I know it is not).

Sitting there right in front of the screen, I just felt defeated and numb.  Bob is very good at reading my facial expressions.  He asked me if something was wrong.  I told him that I just felt defeated, not necessarily about losing the donor for the May timeframe, but about the unfairness of this whole process.  Why some people have to go through so much to have a child, while other people just simply have sex and are able to accomplish that.  I know I will never have an answer, and I am working on accepting that.  But these moments are still tough for me as I struggle to compete with others who also want to book Chinese donors to achieve a pregnancy.

At that point, tears were rolling down my cheeks.  I hadn’t cried in a while.  I knew that one was due.  That was a perfectly good time to have a cry.  But it also broke my husband’s heart.  He just hates it so much to see me hurt.  He was good at comforting me.  He led me into our bedroom, tugged me in our comforter in bed, and hugged me tight while I cried it all out.  In this “nest”, I felt safe to just let all of my emotions out.

Bob told me not to blame myself for not making a quick decision about booking this donor.  It is a very expensive decision and it is wise to take time to think about it.

I don’t know what we will decide on.  We could decide to book this donor for August.  We could decide to go with another donor that could start in May or June.  We could go with a non-Chinese Asian donor that is available right now.  There are many things to think about.  One thing for sure is that we really need wisdom to choose a donor and an agency wisely and we need to be totally at peace with it.

This journey of egg donation is not easy.  There is always something, isn’t there?

MicroblogMondays: Picking Up the Pieces


I can’t believe I am writing one of these posts again.  I really thought that this was going to be our time.

Two posts ago was supposed to be the 300th post of this blog.  Instead of celebrating it with a fantastic beta number (which would have been the best timing for the 300th post), I had the worst day possible and had to update you all on the longest timeframe I had to wait for any beta in my life.

It was the most peculiar thing that my OB who had ordered my previous HCG labs STAT actually didn’t order STAT this time.  I called the 24-hour line every single hour starting at 11am.  It was the most disconcerting thing ever, speaking to a stranger who did not know how important this phone call could have been for me.  Every time the answer was “Still processing”.  My OB finally returned my email denying that she ever ordered STAT for my previous beta, although I have her previous emails as my proof.  She wrote, “We cannot order them stat unless there is a medical reason as this would delay labs that were a true emergency. They were not ordered stat last time but I think they sent then stat in the lab for you. I totally understand that you want the results as fast as possible and we do not want to cause you extra anxiety but I have to practice according to hospital policy.”  To me, this is all BS.  All the the previous labs were ordered STAT.  But there is no point of arguing with her.

Little did I know that maybe the delay was the best thing for that day.  With the devastating results, I honestly don’t know how I could have survived without Bob being around me.  I would have been in my office with others or alone at home had the results come back any earlier.  Bob didn’t come home until 9pm.  The results were still not back at 8:40pm, a whole 12 hours after my blood draw.  When I called at 9:40, I still didn’t anticipate to hear the results.  But the stranger on the phone delivered the news.  I was in shock, but politely asked for a repeat of the number, then hung up.  Immediately, I started wailing loudly and could not control my tears.  The immediate heartache was too much to bear.  I was angry, devastated, feeling like this was the end of the world.  My head knowledge told me that this was not the end, but the devastation was still the same.  Can you imagine not having my husband’s warm embrace while I got the heart wrenching news?  I can’t imagine it.  So maybe the whole purpose of this delay in beta was for me to be well taken care of by my husband on that day.  I don’t know.  I could not stop my tears from coming.  It was utter disappointment, heart break, and anger.  I was so angry at God this time.  The unfairness of it all was really hard to swallow.  But haven’t we already learned?  Life is unfair, and we can’t control it when we are dealt the bad cards.  I was supposed to get up at 6am to go to my bible study training.  I was supposed to see a speech therapy client right after that.  That night, I couldn’t even breathe.  The thought of seeing someone other than my husband and acting normally was too much.  Canceling all these prior arrangements, I curled myself up in bed and just cried and cried and cried some more.  It really felt like the end of the world to me as the thought of starting all over again, looking for a donor, stressing over egg retrieval results, fertilization report, transfer, timing, and beta was just so overwhelming.  I just could not believe our luck.

My sentiment that night was I was so sick and tired of being resilient, having perseverance, and always being the bearer of bad news.  What else do we have to do to bring home a baby?  Haven’t we done enough?  I just couldn’t think anymore.

I am so grateful that I have a four-day weekend as we both took Tuesday off for Bob’s birthday.  We just let ourselves be.  We slept in the next morning.  My heart still hurt but was getting better little by little.  The thought of starting all over again was still very overwhelming.  So I put that thought aside.  I cried on and off during the day.  Tears flowed down my cheeks whenever I thought about the loss of Lucy.  Bob has been great.  He reminded me that we should still try to celebrate Valentine’s day and his birthday on Tuesday the best we can.  Yes.  We continue to live life to the fullest despite this huge set back.  We were being nice to ourselves so we could grieve and mourn, and begin the healing process.  I know I am loved because so many of you commented on my blog, and many of my friends checked on me repeatedly to make sure that I was doing okay.  I was still angry at God.  With His might and power, why couldn’t He make it better for us and let us fulfill our dreams of conceiving and growing a child?  My head knowledge told me to trust God’s perfect timing, my heart was just calling all of this BS.  When I couldn’t pray for myself, I know my prayer warriors are lifting me up.

Since I couldn’t talk to my nurse coordinator Friday night, I called the nurses station at my clinic on Saturday.  I knew that I had to do a second beta to confirm the results (which is the most meaningless thing ever), so I had to inquire if I should continue with my progesterone shot.  After a discussion, the on-call nurse said it would be better for me to stay on the injection until the second beta.  I lay there teary while Bob was jabbing that 1.5 inch needle on my behind, not understanding why history had to repeat itself.

On Sunday, we were both feeling better.  Believe it or not, we had church greeting duty.  On Saturday, I kept on thinking that there was no possible way for us to stand there, hand out bulletins, with a genuine smile on our face telling people that we were fine.  But I guess in God, everything is possible.  We were fine.  I genuinely felt hospitable, chatted with guests and friends, and sat through the whole sermon whole-heartedly.  During the quiet time right after sermon, I prayed to God, crying out to Him to comfort us, and not to allow us to steer away from Him.  It was the first heart-felt prayer I had for myself since the news.  Prior to service, I saw our friend’s pregnant wife got off in front of church.  I tried to escape her entry by excusing myself to get a cup of coffee.  After service, there was no escaping as they walked directly towards me.  We chatted about the weather while I avoided glancing down at her six-month pregnant belly.  Thank goodness for her extra long and large coat.

Serving at church did make us feel better.  Bob and I were originally going to have lunch at home.  But I wanted to cheer him up so we had an impromptu lunch at a South Indian restaurant close by.  Parking was a beast but we didn’t mind it.  We thoroughly enjoyed our food.  Afterwards, I decided to get my second beta done instead of waiting until Monday like we had originally planned.  If the results were to come back 12 hours later, I’d rather do it earlier so we could get it over with.  Because it was Valentine’s day, the lab was practically empty.  I asked the phlebotomist if I should get the results within 12 hours, I was shocked to learn that this lab was ordered STAT.  Why this was STAT and the previous one wasn’t, I don’t have a clue.  I just found it so ironic that for this second beta, I would find out the results within two hours.  Of course the results were negative.  I was relieved that my body did not have to endure another unnecessary needle and dose of progesterone when there was no life to support inside of me.

It’s amazing how much Bob and I have bounced back.  I didn’t cry at all yesterday.  We managed to make each other laugh most day. We actually started talking about our next plans.  We will definitely test his sperm for DNA fragmentation.  Since we didn’t test our embryos, we didn’t know if we should blame my uterus or the embryos for these failed cycles.  So for our next cycle, we are going to test the embryos even though the recommendation is that embryos from DE don’t need testing.  We will find a donor to do a fresh cycle.  And the most shocking one for myself is, I may switch clinic and go somewhere else.  I need a doctor who is friendlier with immune protocols and I don’t think Dr. No Nonsense is that doctor.  If something is wrong with my uterus, I want someone that can support that.  I have already looked at various donor databases, contacted a Southern California clinic that is famous for egg donation (many of our fellow bloggers and DE moms have gone there), and saw a few donors that have potentials.  It surprised me that looking through donor profiles did not cause me negative emotions or stress.  The most freaky thing was that the original agency that I used for the first donor that disappeared had not contacted me for six months.  The first email she sent me was the day after this failed cycle telling me that there was a brand new Korean donor for us to check out.  Anyhow, I don’t think we’ll work with that donor.  We’ll most likely ask for our money back from this agency and move onto somewhere else.  I will still have my WTF appointment with Dr. NN since I don’t have to pay extra.  Plus I really want to hear what he’d have to say.

Bob and I had a great chat.  We are now on the same page with our next steps.  He agreed to all the testing, and told me not to worry about the money part.  We have money saved up for more than one other fresh cycle.  If the next two transfers don’t work, we are in the position to save up more money, and we’ll start thinking about gestation carrier.  Speaking of which, I was both touched and surprised that one of my friends offered to carry our baby for us if we still don’t have a baby in 2.5 years.  She is currently pregnant and would like to breast feed her child.  I believe that I should be able to get pregnant and carry a child, but it is such a relief to know that someone would so selflessly offer to do this huge thing for me.  I also appreciated my husband telling me that I don’t have to worry about my age so I can just focus on the process itself. 

So this is where we are at, still sad about our failed cycle, still mourning the loss of Lucy, and still angry at God.  But we are also bouncing back and looking forward to the next chance for us to become parents. I do not regret maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude with Lucy. I’d do the same next time. I truly believe that one day we will be parents.  We need to take a deep breath, hold onto each other, and move forward.  I believe we can do it.