MicroblogMondays: One Pound

Almost two months ago, I wrote about my son Okra’s gastrointestinal issues.  This is the latest.  He and I had an in-person follow up visit with his GI specialist almost three weeks ago.  His weight gain was stagnant.  Upon palpation, he still had a lot of gas, which meant that his constipation issues were still there.  She didn’t think that he had any wheat or lactose sensitivities.  His lab work showed that he is a healthy toddler on the skinnier side who is maintaining a good gain on height.  Since there is a weight gain issue with constipation issues, she reintroduced Mirala.x to help with his bowel movement and a medication to increase his appetite.  She said to start the appetite meds first for two weeks, initially with it 30 minutes prior to dinner for one week, and then adding a dose 30 minutes prior to breakfast.  Then after two weeks of that, start Miralax.  The kids’ three year check up was the week after the GI visit.  Our pediatrician read Okra’s x-report and recommended us to start Mirala.x right away instead of waiting for another week.  He said that the moderate severity of his constipation could really cause Okra to feel unwell and be moody, which was what we had been experiencing.  At that visit, Bunny’s weight exceeded Okra’s weight by 11oz.  Historically, she was often two pounds lighter.  He hadn’t had a weight gain in six months, and she gained over 4 pounds in the past year.  Okra is not exactly diagnosed with “failure to thrive” but he is closer to the low end of normal for his age.  So this has been the situation with Okra medication-wise, water-intake wise, and food-wise.  In the morning, he takes a dose of the appetite medication upon wake up time.  I try to delay his breakfast so he has about 20 to 30 minutes before he eats.  After food, I give him Miralax.  Thirty minutes prior to dinner, he has another dose of the appetite medication.  Good news is, he somehow likes the appetite meds because of its taste?  But he fights drinking water with it as water intake has become a power struggle.  Mirala.x is a powder that has to be mixed with 4 to 8 oz of water.  He fought that with all his might in the beginning.  I have tried my best to tempt him to drink water.  I tried different cups and different straws.  I even bought another Funtainer bottle that has Thomas on it.  Eventually I discovered that the best method to encourage water intake is to put frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mangos, or pineapple, or a combination of any of them) in the water.  This has been a saving grace.  He (and actually Bunny too) somehow loves frozen fruit and is willing to drink the water so that he can eat the frozen fruit at the end.  Because of the frozen fruit lure, Okra has been drinking the required amount of water each day to help with hydration hence his constipation issues.  In terms of food, I have been adding high calorie food and healthy fats whenever I can.  I add butter to his toast, muffin, and rice.  I make smoothies with coconut milk, flax seed, avocado, and full fat yogurt.  I use the same for making popsicles which he loves.  I add half and half to his milk.  He does not eat eggs, avocado (by itself), yogurt, or cheese.  Recently I made cream cheese with peanut butter and a little bit of honey into frozen balls.  I call them ice cream balls.  Okra totally bought into it and ate a ton.  I add a lot of stuff in these “cookies” and he likes them.  I have introduced adding cocoa powder, crushed peanuts, and a little bit of honey to oat meal and now he eats it.  I have even gotten chocolate sprinkles for whole milk yogurt with apple sauce but Okra refuses to touch it.   His appetite seems to wax and wane but I can see that he has been eating and drinking more than before.  I decided to weigh the both of them a couple of days ago.  I weighed myself first and then weighed myself while carrying the kids.  I subtract my weight from the total weight.  To my huge surprise, Okra seems to have gained one pound.  ONE WHOLE POUND.  He and Bunny actually weighed the same, which means he gained more than Bunny in the past week. I can’t begin to tell you how huge it is.  He had been stuck at this one weight for months.  Sometimes his weight even went down.  So for him to gain a pound in a bit over a week of adding higher calorie foods and fat, I am so encouraged that the diligence will be paid off.   Maybe my scale is off.  Maybe he didn’t gain one whole pound, but he definitely has gained some weight as I can feel it when I lift him.  I really hope that we are off to a good start with his weight gain and he will gain more consistently from now on.  Who would have known that my own child’s weight gain would be a source of stress and concern?

MicroblogMondays: Crossing Things off the List

I have a huge task list staring at my face whenever I look at my Gmail.

There seems to be ten thousand things to do before our babies arrive.  Although I am not the one carrying so my fatigue has nothing to do with pregnancy, looking at the list is still overwhelming to me and makes me want to hide under the cover and take a nap.

But then, I realize I have to put on my big girl panties and get to the tasks.  I am proud to say that I am slowly tackling the list.

First up was booking a photographer.  My original idea was a maternity photo shoot around 28 weeks with Annie, her family, me, and Bob.  My first choice would have been my pastor’s wife who is a professional photographer.  However, she will not be available around our preferred time plus the cost would skyrocket with flying her there.  She helped me look at the work of photographers local to Annie and we did a lot of back and forth on FB Messenger.  We finally settled on one who was super excited about capturing these moments for us…. until the whole hemorrhoid incident and anxiety attack took place.  If Annie continues to be so uncomfortable, taking pictures of her might not be the best idea.  I really didn’t want to spend so much money on plane tickets, accommodations, session fees for the photography, and other expenses to risk her not feeling well enough for it.  Right after her anxiety attack, we decided to hold off on booking a photographer.  Honestly, I was a little bummed about it because maternity photo shoot had been something that I really wanted to do.  But it’s okay.  I’ll live.  I also had an idea of doing one here just me and Bob and two pairs of baby booties.  Since there is no time limit on it, we can do it anytime, so there is no pressure in booking a session any time soon.  We are going to book that particular photographer for a photo shoot for our C-section though.  So at least I can document it.

Last Friday I checked in with Annie.  She had been feeling a bit better as her symptoms of both hemorrhoids and anxiety were now mild.  She reported that our babies have been very active in the morning and the evening, kicking and moving around.  I told her that I wished I could feel the movements by touching her tummy, but I don’t know when I would make it there.  If I go early to help her out before birth, then I’d spend time with her prior to the babies’ arrival.  She was surprised that we weren’t going to the 28 weeks ultrasound anymore.  She said that if things continue to be better, she should be okay with the maternity photo shoot.  This conversation reignited my hope of getting the maternity photo shoot done.  However, after chatting with Bob, it seems wiser to just stay put and put the money towards other things as it is very expensive to fly the both of us over each time.  I am so glad that Annie is feeling better though.  I hope that her hemorrhoids don’t come back so she’ll continue to be more comfortable.  Poor girl, she can’t sit on her bottom and has to sit on her thighs.

The baby shower was next on the list.  My sister-in-law and my pastor’s wife are hosting.  They live across from each other so they’ll see who will host depending on the size of the party.  After a lot of thinking, we decided on a shower at around 31 weeks.  That will be right after our Hawaii “babymoon”.  I hope that our babies stay put until after that.  I owe my SIL a list of guest and a baby registry.  She can’t send out an invitation without these two things.  I don’t know why but I find the guest list difficult to put together.  Should it be girls only or co-ed?  How many people is too many people?  If we make it girls only, will Bob’s and my guy friends feel left out?  Should we include kids?  Babies?  I don’t plan on having games, so maybe co-ed is okay.  I was told that guys hate baby showers, but this is hardly a conventional baby shower.  So maybe it’s okay to have the guys around?

And then there is this whole thing about where to register.  Like I said before, we don’t have a Buy Buy Baby around us.  We have a Target and Babies R Us close by.  I am tempted to just do Amazon and one of the two brick and mortar stores, but I don’t know what is better.  My friend Jo said that Bed, Bath, and Beyond (and Buy Buy Baby) has the best return policy, which is 365 days.  She buys her big ticket items there and returns them at the store.  That, to me, beats returning things online.  So I have been very indecisive on which site to register at.  And then I also have to decide on what to register.  There are just too many choices out there and I feel overwhelmed every single time I look at the list.  Isn’t registering for baby items supposed to be the fun part of this process?  All I feel is stress, which is not good.  But yeah, I will have to get something started very soon so we can send out the invitation for the shower.

Next up on the list was window treatments.  After our house remodel 4.5 years ago, I lost steam and never did our window treatments.  Our babies’ arrival is a good motivator for me to get my act together.  A few weeks ago, a local company that has very good reviews never returned my call.  So I contacted another company whose owner promptly showed up at my door at the appointed time.  Within an hour, she showed me what might work for the windows in our various rooms and had me choose the styles, colors, pleat size, and light control options.  I was kind of forced into picking the colors and styles, which might be good for me, as I am so indecisive about these things.  Roller shades vs. roman shades vs. cellular shades.  Beige vs. brighter vs. grey.  Room-darkening vs. blackout vs. light filtering.  Bottom up only vs. top down as well.  Again.  So many choices.  My mom quickly made her decision, which helped me in choosing mine.  Without choosing the colors/style, I’d never be able to get an accurate estimate.  I just received the quote for the shades, which is within my expectation.  Window dressing the whole house is an expensive endeavor, so that kind of seals the deal for not traveling to Annie’s town for the 28 week ultrasound.

Clearing our the spare bedroom that will become our “nursery” is the next thing we need to do.  This room has become the dumping ground for miscellaneous, and it also houses our book cases, leftover fertility meds and full sharps containers, toilet papers and paper towels, and a twin mattress.  In order to fix this room, we had to first clear out the garage.  Since we remodeled 4.5 years ago and moved back in, we have put all the things that we didn’t need in the garage.  Over the years, the pile had gotten bigger and bigger, and it all felt like a big black hole.  Without cleaning this mess, I couldn’t possibly allow myself to add the content of the spare bedroom to the mix.  Last Saturday, we got to work and started moving things into piles: donate, sell, electronic waste, recycle, and trash.  We also moved all of the baby stuff that my friend gave me into the living room.  These boxes have been hiding in this garage for the last 4.5 years.  I am so glad that they get to see the light of day.  I also finally cleaned out my 200000 pairs of shoes and only kept those that I will really wear. It was a monumental task to part with my shoes but I was proud of myself for making the cut. I will not get into details, but let me just say that Bob and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on the method of cleaning things out.  This difference in opinion led to a huge fight, and the exhaustion from cleaning made it worse.  Despite this unnecessary fight, we made headway in the garage and cleaned out more than half of the stuff in there.  It is not totally done but we are both proud of the work that we have done so far.  Hopefully after we’re completely done with the garage, we can start packing up the things in the spare bedroom and make ways for baby stuff.

On the list, there is also choosing a pediatrician, registering/attending baby classes, buying a car, and on and on and on.  When I get overwhelmed, Bob always says that he is confident that we will get everything done.  So there is no need to panic.   I will have to remember to take it one day at a time.  Hopefully we’ll be ready by the time the babies make their way into this world.

MicroblogMondays: Half Way Point

Today, we are at 19 weeks 5 days of our pregnancy.  Since our OB won’t let Annie go past 38 weeks (C-section scheduled for 38 weeks 2 days), we are over our half way point.

A question I get asked a lot: “Have you bought anything yet?” meaning to prepare for the babies’ arrival.  The answer is, No.

I will be flying over to attend the anatomy scan on Thursday.  Bob has a new job which doesn’t allow him to be off any time during the month of May.  Fortunately he got to witness the mini-anatomy scan at the last ultrasound, so hopefully he isn’t going to miss a whole lot.

I don’t know why, but I have a difficult time letting myself buy anything before the 20-week scan.  In fact, planning anything related to the babies has been hard for me.  Maybe a part of me still doesn’t believe that the babies are coming.  Maybe that part of me thinks that if I prepare for anything, I’d be more devastated if things don’t work out in the end.  But whether or not I am in denial, the babies are growing and in less than 19 weeks, we’ll get to see them face-to-face.

It freaks me out at times that maybe I don’t have time to get ready for them.  Four months will pass very quickly and I will be responsible for these lives.  What if I am not ready by then?  My to-do list in my head was growing longer and longer so I eventually typed it up on my Google tasks.  I want to do window treatment for the whole house especially for the babies’ room.  We need to move all the junk out of our second bedroom so we can set up the nursery.  We need to start looking into a new car.  My sister-in-law asked me about the baby shower so I have to give her a date.  With the baby shower date comes the need to start a baby registry.  And how does one begin to have a baby registry for twins?  And what about classes to learn about how to take care of babies especially twins?  In person classes or online classes?  We also have to decide on how to bring the babies home.  Road trip that will take a few days assuming that we’ll have to stop every two hours?  Or a two-hour plane ride with newborns?  I need to book a photographer soon if I want to do a maternity photo shoot.  And what about birth photography?  Do we do both or just one?  When do we do the maternity shoot and how to do it?  Do we fly home and do newborn photos back home or do we do it there?  We’ll make an announcement on Fac.ebook and I will also announce at work.  Is it going to be scary to let everyone around us know?  Where do I find a person to cover for me for my maternity leave?  Someone who speaks my native language so he/she can see all of my clients?  And how do I tell the parents of my existing clients about surrogacy and maternity leave?  Do we have to find a pediatrician soon?

So many things.  My head spins.

I know not to get ahead of myself, but sometimes my mind just goes and it doesn’t stop.  So I need to focus on one to two things at a time.  So window treatment and photographer it is.  But even with just two things, I feel overwhelmed contacting people while working a full-time job.

The one positive spin of not carrying the babies is that I have all the energy in the world to get ready for them since I don’t have to fight back pain, pelvic pressure, or frequent bathroom visits.   It is still overwhelming but I know I can get all the things done.  I guess I need lots of deep breaths and yoga to get everything done the next few months.  If pregnant women can do it, I can too.

(By the way, my previous post was my 400th post.  It took almost four years to write this many posts but I’m very glad I continue to blog.  I wonder what will happen after the twins are born.  I hope I will still have the time and the drive to blog.)

MicroblogMondays: Here We Are Again


Tomorrow is the day we find out if any of the embryos have implanted.

I have examined my heart, and interestingly, I haven’t felt too anxious, yet.  Tomorrow it will be different.  But as of today, I am feeling as guarded and distant as I was on transfer day last week.  I would like to be full of excitement and anticipation but I am not.  We are hopeful; the embryos looked fantastic.  We have been talking about having twins and how that may change our lives, but I am still taking things one day at a time without getting so far ahead of myself.

Remember that sper.m test that assesses the epigenetic information of the sper.m?  We sent in the sample end of November and were promised the results in three weeks.  When we checked in three weeks, we were told that the company needed two extra weeks.  Two weeks rolled around and nobody had contacted us.  Bob and I decided to transfer our embryos regardless of what the test shows.  Finally last Thursday, three days after transfer, Dr. E received the results and consulted with the CEO of the company of them.

The test is called “Seed” which is run by this company called Episo.na.  (You can google the name without the period in the middle of the word.)  It tests the sper.m sample and yields two measures.  The first one measures the risk of male factor infertility by identifying the number of epigenetic abnormalities presented by the sper.m sample.  The second one measures the risk of poor embryo development by identifying the number of epigenetic abnormalities.  The first measure shows that our sper.m sample shows significantly elevated risk for male factor infertility.  It means that the chances of us conceiving naturally or through IUI are significantly reduced.  So IVF is indicated in our case.  Although this is not news to us, I am still very surprised that the underlying problems with Bob’s sper.m do not match his usually stellar semenalysis results.  Fortunately, we have been pursuing IVF for a few years now so we are not crushed by the results.  However, it means that the chances of us having an “oops” pregnancy are slim to none.  I am realistic and not hoping for one, but I sometimes still dream that I’d be surprised one day.

I care a lot more about the second part that indicates the embryo development.  Our results show that our epigenetic profile suggests no increased risk for developing poor quality embryos.  I was so very relieved when I learned this.  Our tested embryos are most likely going to be good quality.  It is so rare to receive good news so both of us rejoiced in learning about it.  It’s a huge weight off our shoulders.  It means that even if this round doesn’t work, it is most likely that our last frozen embryo is good quality.  Dr. E has another patient that also has significant risk of male factor infertility.  The difference is, his results also showed significant risk of poor quality embryo development.  That means that he may not be able to make any embryos, or his embryos may be very poor quality.  I don’t take our good results for granted as it is not a given.

There is one catch about the results.  There was one gene that was detected that indicates that perhaps Annie should be on a blood thinner like Loven.ox.  Dr. E said that this isn’t something that she can say is based on too much science but as the CEO of the company put it, a blood thinner may help with the situation.  I guess that particular gene may be associated with a higher risk of blood clotting problems presented by the embryo made with the sper.m?  Don’t know.  Annie was already on aspirin, but Loven.ox may be stronger for this case.  I made sure to ask Dr. E that the injection is not going to harm Annie in any way if she doesn’t really need it.  Dr. E reassured me that it is not going to do her any harm.  Based on all the information we got, we decided to do it just so that we have all of our bases covered.  Who knows what it all means, right?  We are willing to pay for the extra cost for anything that may help.

The last few days were not without drama.  Annie was told that she should have enough progesterone until the first beta.  She and I checked her vial before she left and it seemed like she should have enough.  Fast forward to Friday night, Annie sent me a frantic text asking if I had ordered the PIO already.  I was shocked because I thought she had enough.  It turned out she had sent me a text Wednesday but it somehow never showed up on my phone.  I did not know about the shortage of her PIO.  She only had enough for Saturday and Sunday.  She would need new ones today.  My first thought was, what if Fed.ex doesn’t deliver on MLK day?  Then do we have to contact the local specialty pharmacies so that Annie could pick up some?  I knew that the online pharmacy was going to be open on Saturday so I was going to call and place a refill.  Annie checked online and found out that Fed.ex does deliver on MLK day.  I also notified Dr. E.  She said that if somehow the meds don’t reach Annie on Monday, her office would figure out something.  I told Annie that next time if I don’t respond to her about something this important, ask me again.

I was still feeling very stressed out about the situation although I knew that it would be all sorted out.  Bob was telling me that everything would be sorted out and urged me to give it to God.  I couldn’t even pray so he prayed with me and for me so that I could sleep well and not be stressed about it.

On Saturday, I tried to call the online pharmacy at the time it opened.  For the life of me I couldn’t get a hold of a live person on the phone.  After trying a few times, I emailed Dr. E who immediately got on it.  I guess there is a special physician’s line.  While I waited, I also called Free.dom and asked if they’d send meds for a Monday delivery.  They would, but it wasn’t needed.  Within 15 minutes, Dr. E told me that our online pharmacy was open, and her nurse actually already ordered a new script.  The pharmacy called me within the next ten minutes and we were good to go for a Monday delivery.  I originally wanted to just order one vial to last her for about ten days thinking, what if she is not pregnant then I’d be spending too much money on something that we don’t need.  But I eventually ordered all three vials by faith as I still believe that this will be our cycle for success.  I hope that she will be able to use it all for this cycle.

 Annie has not been feeling much.  She said that one of her fellow surrogates is feeling a lot of symptoms after her day 3 transfer.  I told her that anything she may feel right now could be due to the effect of progesterone, not anything pregnancy related.  Plus she is somebody who never felt any symptoms for any of her pregnancies.  I told her that it’s always hard to compare herself to others on the same journey.  It will happen if it is in God’s plan, pregnancy symptoms or not.

So here we are at this very familiar juncture of our journey.  Tomorrow could make all the difference in the world for our future.  We’ll see what God has in store for us.

MicroblogMondays: Trust During Delays


Last week was a tough week.  Actually, this season has been a very difficult season.  After our last failed transfer, Dr. E suggested adding Lup.ron to the mix for our next transfer.  It may or may not help, but the theory is that it may help change the uterine environment for implantation.  My jaw completely dropped when the pharmacy staff told me that this drug now costs $500, which is $300 more than I last paid for it less than a year ago.  On top of that, Annie would have to have an extra scan prior to starting the injection.  I was super stressed out about the extra cost.  My husband is wonderful.  He told me that this was not worth fretting over.  If there was even a slight chance that Lup.ron may help, then just do it without thinking too much about it.  Annie had a beautiful scan prior to Lup.ron.  Quiet ovaries and uterus.  I thought that we were on track for our next transfer scheduled for December 19th.  A few days after her last scan, Annie stopped her birth control pills and went in for a baseline ultrasound before she started Es.trace to build the lining.  At that ultrasound, it was discovered that she had a cyst.  I just couldn’t believe it.  My mind was all set for the December transfer.  In fact, Bob and I were both going to take the last two weeks of December off and hang out with Annie and Kenneth around transfer time during the first week of our vacation.  So now with the cyst comes delays.  This is the story of our fertility journey.  In the last five years, there has been more delays than we can count.  So instead of transferring our two embryos on December 19th and having our first beta before the end of the year, we’ll have to wait until January 9th.  Annie has gone back to birth control pills for about ten days before she checks on her estrogen level to see if the cyst is gone.  If so, we’ll be on track for the January transfer.  If not, then we will have even more delays.

Maybe this delay doesn’t seem like much to you.  It’s a matter of just weeks.  But somehow it made me super depressed last week.  We started our journey for our baby in January 2012.  December marks the end of the 5th year.  I was so hoping to wrap up the year with the good news that we will finally have our bab(ies) in 2017.  Instead of that, our future will still be unknown on December 31, 2016.

Last Wednesday I woke up feeling down.  You know, I usually pray for peace.  But that morning I didn’t have peace.  I didn’t understand why the sudden blues.  Later on, I realized the potential reason for my emotional state.  Last Wednesday was November 30.  It was supposed to be our heartbeat ultrasound for Mira, our lost embryo, if the implantation was strong and the pregnancy had continued until 7 weeks.  Instead of complaining about the cold weather in Annie’s home state on that day, I was very cozy in my San Francisco office staring at some ultrasound photos on Fac.ebook posted by another lady whose gestational carrier transferred two embryos a few days after our transfer.  This lady is now expecting twins.  Similar stories.  Different outcomes.  No wonder I was down as my subconscious mind remembered the ultrasound we didn’t get to attend.

This delay of our transfer til January has also made it difficult for me to deal with pregnant ladies and pregnancy announcements.  My original pregnant coworker is pregnant again.  Her son is now 16 months old.  Number two is going to arrive in three months.  She continues to be one of those expectant moms that loves to talk about her pregnancy all the time on top of talking about her kiddo.  Her bump has not bothered me much until last Wednesday.   Last week, several friends of mine announced their pregnancies with number two.  They all struggled with conceiving their first.  So of course it is good news that they didn’t struggle with number two.  However, I couldn’t help but feel down about their second pregnancies while we struggle to even have one.

God is good though.  Although I struggled, He spoke to me through my daily devotion.  Bible study for the last two weeks was on John chapters 7 and 8.  Both chapters talk repeatedly about God’s perfect timing.  The Jewish leaders wanted to seize Jesus but couldn’t because it was not yet the time ordained by God.  As I read and studied those chapters, God was telling me gently that my time has not yet come as His timing is perfect.  He is teaching me and Bob to trust Him completely.  We are to continue to wait expectantly and patiently.  It is a difficult lesson to learn and it takes time to digest.  But at the very least, I have processed my disappointment, am surrendering my control, and continue to try to live in God’s presence.

I am super grateful for Annie and Kenneth though.  They are true angels who are selfless and have our best interest at heart.  When I mentioned that we started our journey in January 2012, Annie encouraged me by saying, “Started in January and end in January 🙂 “.  My husband is very encouraging as well.  When I feel apprehensive about the next transfer, Bob told me to view our next transfer as a necessary next step for us to reach our bab(ies) regardless of the outcome.  So let’s not look at it as an end if it doesn’t turn out the way we want.  He said that in God’s timing, we will find a way to become parents.

May we find a way to completely trust in that.

MicroblogMondays: We Have a Gestational Carrier! (Part II)


(To read how we found our gestational carrier, read Part I.)

We have a gestational carrier.  And she is wonderful.

After we notified Winnie, the agency owner, of our decision of working with Annie, our gestational carrier, we had to wait until Winnie received the retainer fees before we could communicate freely with Annie.  It took another five days before we were given Annie’s contact information.

Winnie sent an official introductory email to me, Bob, and Annie.  Her advise was for us as the intended parents to reach out and write the first email.  So I did.  Annie and I started texting each other that same day.  At that point we had only talked on the phone and saw each other’s photos.  We hadn’t done a video conferencing yet.  So that very night Bob and I chatted with her and her husband on Skype.

I was a tiny bit nervous before the chat as I was wondering if we would all get along well.  It turns out I had nothing to worry about!  Annie and her husband Kenneth were very nice and cool.  We were supposed to just chat for a few minutes since it was getting late at night.  However, the video call lasted 45 minutes.  We shared about our backgrounds, their backgrounds, how they met, his work, her life, and our lives here.  Being able to watch their faces while they talked was so much better than just listening to her voice on the phone.  I even told them about dreaming big and thinking far ahead.  If everything turns out to be the way we want, we would be doing a transfer some time in September or October.  The anatomy scan would be in January or February.  Of course Bob and I would want to fly over there for this big event.  I expressed how I was already nervous about driving in snow since where Annie and Kenneth live has four seasons unlike the Bay Area.  Annie and Kenneth put me at ease.  She told me not to worry about it since they’d come and pick us up from the airport so there would not be a need for us to drive in the snow.  What a relief!  Anyways, we enjoyed talking to them a lot and learned the next day that the feeling was mutual on their part.  Their two younger children even showed their faces on video that night while they were supposed to be asleep already.

One thing I love about this agency is that the owner is really on top of things.  One service she includes in her agency fees is a home assessment of the gestational carrier’s home to ensure that the baby will be grown in a safe, comfortable environment. Annie’s home passed the inspection with flying colors!  Winnie said that Annie has a lovely home that is well decorated and very tidy, with a fantastic homeschool room set up for her children.  Such a relief to know that.

The next thing to schedule was the medical screening.  Annie has to get a saline sonogram to check on her uterus and some blood work done.  Many clinics require an in-person visit for gestational carriers, but Dr. E somehow does not require it.  She reviews the GC’s medical history and has a Skype video call with her, but she does not require the saline sonogram or the lab work to be done here in California with her.  I chatted with Miranda, the mother with twins via surrogacy who used the same agency.  I mentioned about her in the last post.  She told me that her GC did everything locally using the GC’s own insurance.  In her honest opinion, if Dr. E said things could be done locally, then why not save some money?

I worked very hard on having Annie be seen at the same local clinic that Miranda’s GC went to.  After waiting for a few days for Dr. E’s physician’s assistant to finish Annie’s orders, I called that particular local clinic to ask about insurance and the cost for the saline sonogram.  Somehow the person who answered the phone didn’t know what I was talking about.  She said that they didn’t do saline sonogram there. She gave me the name of a local imaging center that might do the scan.  The phone number I got through internet search was disconnected for that place.  So I had to call back the clinic and asked if the imaging center had closed or changed its name.  Finally, she confirmed that she gave me the old name.   So I searched for it under the new name, tracked down the phone number and called, and got the answer that the imaging center too did not do saline sonogram.  At that point, I was very confused and frustrated.

Miranda confirmed with her GC that she did go to that same local clinic for saline sonogram during the screening phase.  So it was impossible for me to be told that the clinic didn’t do saline sonograms, unless it no longer offers the service.  Dr. E promised me that her PA would follow up the next day.  Annie and I communicated and she understood my high stress level trying to get her to be seen somewhere locally.  My stress level also came from watching the airfare go up each day as we navigated the need to fly her out here for medical screening.  I knew that I had to make a decision quickly as Bob and I are going to go on vacation from August 17 to 20.  Airfare at that point for the second week of August was too high.  And I didn’t want to wait until the 4th week of August because I would like to get the legal paperwork started ASAP.  Without passing the medical screening, we won’t be able to start the legal contract.  The best day to fly her in would be August 16th, the day before our vacation.

My mind was fixated on saving money on the plane tickets and on the scan. (We can use her insurance for a local scan but not with Dr. E as Dr. E’s clinic has stopped taking insurance a couple of years ago.)  Bob came home that night seeing how stressed out I was and told me that it wasn’t worth it to be so stressed for a little bit of money.  He was very sweet.  He has given me free rein of the money that we need to spend so he told me to just do what feels right.  And he will buy me massages for all the stress that I was experiencing.  Of course I wanted to do right by our savings, but maybe he was right, that it really wasn’t worth it for me to have to sort out that local scan when I could just schedule the time with Dr. E.

The next day was when I found out that Annie is indeed a great person and a great gestational carrier.  She took it upon herself to call the local clinic up.  She found out that not only does the clinic do saline sonograms but it also accepts her insurance.  She explained the situation and the clinic’s person had to find out if she has to become an established patient before she could be seen there.  Annie sent me a text letting me know what she found out and I truly appreciate her effort.  She saw how stressed I was and decided to help.  So after some investigation on Dr. E’s part, it turned out that Miranda’s GC was seen at that local clinic for a saline sonogram because she was already an established OB patient there.  Since Annie had home births with the help of her midwife, she isn’t an established OB patient at this clinic.  She can be seen in the future for a saline sonogram but just not prior to her becoming a patient there.  In order to become a patient there, she’ll need to see a doctor first.  That particular doctor won’t be able to seen her until August 22.  And who knows how long it’d take after that to schedule a saline sonogram.  I scheduled an OB appointment for Annie there on August 22 as I knew that she’d want to become a patient there when she gets pregnant with our baby.  Plus we can also send her there for lining check prior to transfer.

Since Annie lives in a smaller town in an area that doesn’t have many IVF clinics, there aren’t too many other choices for her saline sonogram.  I called another clinic in the area but she too has to become an established patient there before she can be seen.  I really didn’t want to wait a few weeks for that to happen.  So I decided to just fly her in to see Dr. E.  I know that we’d have to pay more to get things done, but the advantage is that Dr. E has first hand information of the condition of her uterus so it beats reading a report from another clinic.  I asked Annie if she preferred to arrive in the Bay Area early in the morning on August 16th or to arrive the night before and spend a night with us.  She chose to spend a night with us!  She said that she had never spent a night away from the kids so it is going to be a nice break for her.  That very same day, I purchased plane tickets for her and scheduled an appointment for Dr. E to see her on August 16th.  So guys, she is going to arrive tonight!  It is very exciting that I get to see her face-to-face as well as to spend some time with her.  She also gets to meet Bob, which she wouldn’t be able to do had she chosen to fly in on the same day of the appointment.

Annie has to be done with her period when Dr. E performs the saline sonogram.  Annie told me that her period was going to come on August 10th and usually only lasts about 3 to 4 days.  I was a little bit worried when her period still hadn’t come on August 11th.  But, she reassured me that her cycles are usually 27 to 29 days and August 10th  was day 28.  So her period should have come and gone for the saline sonogram.  I was a little bit worried at first.  I had taken time off this week so I could take her to the appointment.  If somehow her period is in the way of the scan, then we’d have to change her plane tickets to next week and I’d have to take another day off.  But I prayed and decided to just let go of the worries.  If it is God’s will for this to be done, He will make it happen.  So I somehow had tremendous peace waiting for Annie’s period to come.  And it did on Friday.  She wrote me and said that for the first time in her life, she was happy to have started her cycle. 🙂  So we are all set for the appointment tomorrow!

Communication with Annie has been great so far.  We text each other at least once a day or once in two days.  I don’t hesitate to call her when I need to.  She does the same.  Although sometimes I do feel sad about not having the chance to carry my baby, I feel so thankful for ladies like Annie who make a conscious decision to carry a baby for someone else.  This is the ultimate letting go of one’s control as you have to trust another human being to do right by you and your baby.  I believe that God has a plan for us and He has led us down this path as His plan.  I pray that tomorrow will be the first successful step towards our goal of holding a healthy baby in our arms next year.

Recent Struggles and My Supervisor is Pregnant

It is a little surprising to me that life has been a little bit tough lately.  Every day seems to be a challenge.

One day last week when I woke up, all I wanted to do was to stay in bed and hide under my cover.  It could be an effect of the birth control pill, or because of the gloomy, overcast, and cold weather in the Bay Area, or due to a sense of being in a holding pattern, or it could also be an influence of the multiple pregnant ladies at work.  Plus my husband’s issues with my side of the family don’t seem to be going away.

Yeah there are multiple expectant moms at work:  Original Pregnant Coworker who is about six months pregnant and New Pregnant Coworker who is four months along and is already flaunting her baby bump.  And then, I received a confirmation that my supervisor is pregnant.

I was correct three weeks ago when I said that I eventually would have a third pregnant coworker.  My Dear Colleague had been commenting to me on how Supervisor has been wearing flowy clothes.  I made a mental note of that.  Well, it has been confirmed.  Last week, on the day I wanted to hide from the world, my Supervisor was out sick.  I was quite sure that it was pregnancy related.  The next morning, I was in my room sorting things out, and could hear a bunch of people talking in the conference room right next door.  What I could make out was, Supervisor was announcing to her team of people that 1) her due date is early February and 2) she was feeling awful the day before.  My first reaction: got up and closed the door.  I just wanted to mind my own business and not to be subject to any more information than the confirmation of her pregnancy.  The puzzling thing is, she cannot be more than five minutes pregnant.  Well, I exaggerated.  But you know what I mean.  To give her credit, she didn’t really announce it to the whole wide world.  She told her team and I happened to have overheard.  But it doesn’t make life easy for me.

Work does not feel like a safe place for me.  Triggers seem to be everywhere.  I have to make choices daily.  Do I choose to stay in my office for lunch rather than joining the crowd in the lunch room?  What about riding the elevator or walking up and down the stairs?  I know I have a choice.  I would love to see myself as someone who can make a good choice every day.  But sometimes I just can’t force myself.  I know that I *should* not allow myself to be affected by other people.  After all, making a new life is a joyous thing.  However, I really cannot force myself to be a hypocrite, sitting in the lunch room smiling to everybody.  I feel a strong need to self-preserve.  I struggle.  In my head knowledge, I desire to be a generous and godly person.  Emotionally, I choose to be selfish at times.  Often times, my fight-or-flight reaction wins.

I successfully ate in the lunch room two times last week.  All three pregnant ladies were there the first time.  I let myself be and it was fine.  A coworker oblivious to my struggles commented loudly (like, for real, loud enough that everyone could hear her) that it was rare to see me in the lunch room recently.  Well, thanks for noticing and making a case about it.  Not that she sits there for lunch everyday.  I was proud of myself and felt brave.  It wasn’t easy for me.

I have been closing my office door more often lately.  Just on Friday, I had to do that when a male coworker asked Supervisor how she was feeling, and her answering “so far so good”.  A second time, Original Pregnant Coworker and Pregnant Supervisor were chatting in the hallway about how different they were (in terms of their pregnancies).  Another office door closing moment.  At times, when I see my Supervisor in the hall, I can’t even look her in her eye.

Anyhow, I just have a difficult time dealing with all this, while at the same time seeing the gloomy dark sky every single day.  I need some sun.  Something to cheer me up.  And then I have this fear of the unknown of the future.  I ask what-if questions about my procedure next week, being afraid that the scar tissue is more serious than presented.  And the availability of the donor.  And the stress of putting together curriculum for the prenatal class that I mentioned about before, which is coming up very soon.  All of that plus the family issues.  Honestly the family conflicts stress me out the most.  I just feel like waking up daily is a challenge.  I plead with God on my way to work.  I ask for solutions.  I ask for peace and strength to get through everyday.  Sometimes it is tough.  Some days are a little better.  I am living day by day hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.  I also appreciate it when my friend asked me to give her three things for which I was thankful.  It helped.

Like I said, this is so surprising to me.  I thought I would be able to handle this better than I am.  This feels even more challenging than when we were banking embryos.  You know what I do?  I hang on to the good moments.  Like a walk with my husband and my father, chatting about anything and everything, making jokes and having a good time.

One day at a time.  This is the motto by which I live.

A Stressful Week has Ended, Yay!!!

I am so glad the weekend is here.  Even better that it is a long one.

Last two weeks were some of the toughest weeks I have experienced.  Somehow I don’t quite recall how trying for a baby month after month, starting IVF the first round, and banking embryos for the second round felt.  Maybe because I got used to it and felt familiar with the process.  Now that we’re moving on to egg donation, I was expecting my uterus to behave like usual so we could just move on with the process.  The fact that a therapeutic hysteroscopy is required in order to move forward is making my psychological wellbeing suffer a little.  My cycle going a little crazy again also depressed me a little.  Let me explain.

Menses started on March 18th after our failed transfer.  I bled for days and did not ovulate at all.  Breakthrough bleeding started on April 30th (my wedding anniversary no less).  I expected it to last for a few days like my usual cycles.  No luck.  I was bleeding for whole 19 days straight.  Last Sunday it was getting heavier and I was even passing blood clots, which scared and worried me because blood clotting is not good for implantation and staying pregnant.  Blood clots are also something new to me.  I wrote my OB/GYN about the blood clots, and she still thinks that the IVF drugs threw off my hormonal balance.  However, if I continue to be worried, she recommends a visit with her.  I just had an uneasy feeling that bleeding for so many days with an increased flow and blood clots is not normal.  I emailed my own nurse at my fertility clinic.  She said that if Dr. No Nonsense detects a blood clotting problem, he would prescribe both baby aspirin and Love.nox.

Another thing is, the surgical coordinator told me to contact her on cycle day two so that I could start birth control pills in preparation for the hysteroscopy if we decide to go with my current clinic.  Bob and I gave it some serious thoughts and do want to pay out of pocket to get my RE to perform the procedure.  However, given my continuous heavy bleeding and my recent wonky cycles, who knows when cycle day two would be?  Another thing is, Dr. No Nonsense is going to be overseas for a conference for two weeks in June.  He wants to be the one performing the procedure.  If we don’t catch him early enough, then we would have to wait until he comes back late June.  My email to the surgical coordinator on Sunday inquired about the bleeding situation and the timing of the surgery.  We connected on Monday morning.  She informed me that Dr. No Nonsense wanted me to start birth control pills right away because I was still bleeding.  I would be on the pill until the day of the surgery.  However, if my bleeding stops before I can start the pill, then I really will have to wait until cycle day two to start it.  That will further delay the procedure.  I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind starting the pills on cycle day two.  But I respect the process.  I was surprised to see that after passing lots of blood clots on Sunday, my bleeding had reduced to spotting on Monday.  If I didn’t start birth control pills on that day, then I would really have to wait until my body decides to ovulate or to have breakthrough bleeding.  Then it might take us all the way to June or even July before we could begin to schedule for the hysteroscopy.

You see the urgency for me to take advantage of my bleeding situation so I could start the pill?

So that morning at work, I had to rush to have the surgical coordinator order birth control pills for me.  Since my insurance does not cover for prescription ordered by my fertility clinic, I could wait for my OB/GYN to write me a prescription.  However, if I waited for my GYN, I had a feeling that my bleeding would stop the next day, which means I could not start the pills right away.  Instead of waiting for my GYN, I found an online discount coupon for the birth control pills and just paid out of pocket at the pharmacy down the street from work.  I swallowed my first birth control pill in my life at 1pm last Monday.  My first birth control pill at age 40.  That must be some kind of record.  I must have had a good hunch about things, because bleeding did stop later that day.  Timing is everything, right?  However, I was still worried that I started the birth control pills at the wrong time (because the bleeding had stopped shortly after I took the pill) and that would jeopardize the uterine lining and thus the surgery.  I wrote the surgical coordinator for reassurance, which she gave me as she told me to just continue the pills until the day of the surgery.

As if this is not complicated enough (or that I have made it complicated enough), Bob and I got into a robust discussion that morning about funding the procedure.  We do have the money for it.  And since it is a medical expense, I can use my Health Savings Account money.  However, my HSA does not currently have enough funds so I would have to fund it with my next paycheck.  My next paycheck is on May 31st.  I notice that depending on when our work payroll person deposits the HSA checks, sometimes the fund doesn’t show up until 5 or 6 days after pay day.  So Bob would like me to schedule the procedure some time after June 6th so that the HSA money is enough to cover for the procedure.  That kind of stressed me out because Dr. NN is going overseas on June 5th.  If we don’t schedule something before then, then we’d have to wait until later.  But Bob was also going a little crazy about having to pay for one other thing.  I think psychologically he just felt that our fertility problems have gone out of control.  Just one thing after another.  Everything has been unexpected, of course.  And even when we were so prepared for having to do a egg donation cycle, we still didn’t expect my uterus to have problems.  So his frustration is not because of the cost of the procedure per se, but because of his sense of lack of control.  He even went as crazy as to say that we should just cancel our Chicago trip and some other things.  I found that when he feels the lack of control, he becomes illogical like that.  So this whole conversation took place online while I was juggling work, correspondence with the surgical coordinator, and emailing my GYN.  Finally, I stopped engaging in that online conversation with him and just stepped away.

And not to mention that I had a huge presentation scheduled on Wednesday so I was trying madly to finish up the final touches.  My dad was going to come to town on Tuesday from Hong Kong after not coming back for 2.5 years.  Given some sensitive family issues between my husband and my side of the family, it was stressful for me emotionally to deal with everything all at once.

I know that all of this may not sound like a lot to all of you.  But it was a lot for me to take.  I really didn’t need Bob to go crazy on me about finances.  Fortunately, my husband always thinks about our robust discussions afterwards.  One of the good things about him is that he comes around very quickly.  He became sane again and apologized later on.  When the surgical coordinator came back with June 3rd as my surgery date, I told Bob that we might have to use funds other than the ones in my HSA for part of the procedure.  He returned my message thanking me for trying to use my HSA and told me that it would be fine to use other funds.  I was so glad to get my logical husband back.

Normally I don’t get stressed out by any one of these things.  Somehow I had a really difficult time handling all of them at the same time.  I told Bob not to fight me on Tuesday and Wednesday because I needed to put my game face on for my presentation.  My body could feel my stress though.  My shoulder hurt.  My wrist hurt.  I was emotionally on survival mode.

Then this happened on Wednesday, the afternoon before my huge presentation:



My husband sent these flowers to work for me to wish me luck at my presentation and told me that I would do an awesome job.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  He saw how stressed out I was in the past few days and wanted to cheer me up.

This has made up for everything.  The good news is, the presentation went really well, my dad arrived safely, and both Bob and I have been having a fantastic time with my parents.

Like I said, I am so glad the week is over.  Next week will definitely be better.

Ready for the next cycle? Ovulation, insurance money, and fights

Ovulation probably happened yesterday.  My temperature rose for such a pathetic amount that I am not too confident to say that I did ovulate, although other signs such as the cervix and the cervical fluids all point to the same conclusion.  Once we confirm ovulation, it will be much easier to predict when AF will come for a visit.  I emailed Dr. E today and she told me to come see her about 8 days to 10 days past ovulation.  We tried our best this cycle to BD at least every other day up until the positive OPK.  Then we advanced to BD everyday.  A miracle hasn’t happened in the last 20 months so I don’t expect one this time.  But wouldn’t that be nice?

Oh and I was good over the weekend.  I didn’t procrastinate and actually wrote an email asking Dr. E’s financial lady Jennifer about insurance money and other IVF cycle related money matter.  She emailed me and said that we had “very good news”.  That made me want to talk to her right away.  Apparently we have only used up about $3600 of our $10,000 lifetime maximum.  I knew that we would have some insurance money left since we didn’t proceed with the transfer.  I still have to call up insurance to verify the information, but I was pleasantly surprised that it seems like we have enough money to do another cycle without having to pay out of pocket yet.  It’s also interesting to see how much less insurance companies are paying the doctors than what patients without insurance coverage have to pay out of pocket. The disparity hardly seems fair, so I’m grateful for another chance of IVF with insurance money.

Bob and I had a very rough Sunday.  We fought a few times throughout the day.  The fight at the end of the day was the most damaging as we both said things that we were not proud of and were hurtful to each other.  We fought about things that are directly and indirectly related to infertility.  The good thing about the two of us is that we often reconcile within the hour.  However, both of us felt exhausted and defeated. The topic of counseling resurfaced again.  Both of us agree that may be it’s time to revisit the topic again and actually find a professional that we could work with.   As we move onto the next cycle, it’s going to be very important for us to continue to learn how to better communicate with each other.  So instead of just talking about it, it’s about time to put it into action.  

There you have it.  The next steps: getting two more high temperatures to confirm ovulation, calling insurance to verify coverage, finding a Christian counselor that is in network, getting price quotes on meds, and praying for an extra dose of patience I have for my husband as we move onto the next cycle.  I think I am ready.  

Stress-free? Who am I kidding?

As much as I want to keep myself stress-free, it seems like I am under a lot of stress and my body is reacting to it.  My left shoulder has been bothering me, especially after driving 30  minutes to work or sitting at my desk working on the computer for about 20 minutes.  The pain sometimes extends to the joint of my left thumb.  Needless to say, I am not a fun person to be around these two days because of the pain.  Called insurance at lunch and confirmed that we have coverage for chiropractic services.  Just pay a copayment for any in network providers and we’re good to go for 30 visits per calendar year.  Got an appointment scheduled with this guy who has wonderful Yelp reviews.  I am hoping to be pain-free by Thursday.

Remember I said that I am not a fun person to be around?  Well, Bob and I got into a huge fight last night.  I thought that we have had a good system down and we really hadn’t gotten into a fight in a long time.  Everything was fine when he got home.  One phone call with his mother changed everything.  I don’t think I have ever talked about my in-laws.  Well, let’s just say that I am far from being the ideal daughter-in-law that they had ever dreamed of.  In fact, they were so upset about our upcoming wedding that his father called Bob the day before the wedding and yelled at him for a long time.  Nobody from his family, including his parents or any other close cousins, attended our wedding.  And his father stopped talking to him for many months after that.  The main reason: I am not Indian and I am older.  Since I wasn’t handpicked and arranged by his parents, it is as if Bob didn’t have a wife.  They would tell people that Bob has decided not to be married when someone asks them about Bob’s life.  After we went to visit them in India last year, things did get a little better. But his mother has this way of torturing him when they talk on the phone or Skype.  He basically gets yelled at for ruining their lives almost EVERY SINGLE TIME they talk.  Last night was no exception.  Bob got off the phone and was in a totally annoyed and unhappy mood.  So instead of being the wise one and walking away from it, I fell into the trap of reacting to his reaction to his mother.  One thing led to another.  And we were yelling at each other.  I don’t know if it’s the stress of IVF, infertility, his family situation, or his job situation.  Must be a combination of all of them.  I just feel so helpless when we fight.  I am also very frustrated that we are allowing his mother’s destructive ways to get to our relationship.  Other than this one stressor, Bob has also been a bit anxious about looking for a new job.  However, we can’t move on from this job until we’re done using the fertility insurance.  The lifetime maximum coverage will be finished in July when our cycle starts.  He’ll then be free to move around and look for another job.  But to him, it feels like that EVERYTHING we do revolves around fertility and IVF.  It feels like it, but it is not true.  However, no matter what I tell him, it doesn’t matter.  It is how he feels.  And he’s sticking with it.  We do enjoy life.  IVF is a big part but it’s not everything that we do.  I do see a pattern of our communication that is recurring and I feel that we can use some help in that area.  So during my insurance coverage phone call, I also found out that we are covered for counseling for unlimited visits with just a copayment.  Bob and I will talk about it and see if that’s something we want to pursue.  I hope it will help.  I don’t think it’ll hurt.

How do you deal with stress, especially when it’s related to infertility and fertility treatment?  Have you ever done counseling and how did it work out for you?