MicroblogMondays: “Freedom”

After eight days of being home, my trip quickly came to an end.  Unexpectedly, my emotions were all over the place the last day I was in my home town.  I woke up thinking that this would be the last time I would roam around my birth place “freely” all by myself.  It would be the last time I could quickly get ready to go out the door, meet up with my dad for breakfast without a lot of effort, ride on public transportation without much thought, and go in and out of stores at a shopping mall independently without a lot of care or consideration.  And that was what happened.  I savored the “freedom” that I had on that particular day because my life is going to change drastically the next time I step foot in my place of origin.  I will no longer be only responsible for myself.  I will have two lives that are dependent on my provision and care.  I have been waiting for a very very long time for this responsibility and it made my last day there with my family different and memorable.  For this reason alone, my trip home was the correct choice for me in terms of my emotional state and timing.  Without my grandmother’s funeral, I would not have had a chance to experience this final “freedom” before I become a mother of live children.  It made me nostalgic of what I have been given so far in my life but at the same time my gratitude for this opportunity to become a mother grows exponentially.  It is hard to explain my feelings on that last day.  It is complicated.  It signified a sort of finale and a beginning.  I am just grateful that I have this day to remember and I am quite sure that when we return to my home town with the twins in the future, I will be even more appreciative of the reality of a new life and this lack of “freedom” that I have been craving for so long.

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MicroblogMondays: Difficult to Tell

I have been home in Asia for a few days now.  My mom’s sister is also here from the States  to take care of things for my grandma’s funeral and has been staying with my parents as well.  I have spent a lot of time with her.  There has been several times I wanted to share with her about the twins but have found it really difficult to open my mouth.  I just don’t know how to tell her while sitting there watching TV.  Do I go, “By the way we have a surrogate carrying twins for us” right after commenting on a drama series?  Plus, telling my aunt means her telling her friends and my cousins.  I somehow hesitate opening this can of worms fearing that misinformation would be passed along.  I will tell her before I leave on Wednesday.  I also have many chances to see my other relatives such as my dad’s siblings and some of my cousins.  I still haven’t told anyone of them.  How do I begin to tell relatives about my babies when I am not the one being pregnant?  In theory it seems to be easy to tell because it is happy news, but in reality it has been very difficult.

I’m proud of my 97-year-old grandma. I told her the news. It took a little bit of explanation but she understood what I was telling her rather quickly. She looked very happy that we are finally going to have children although taking care of two will be a lot of work.  I showed her the photos of our embryos, the ultrasound photos at various stages, and Annie’s bump photos. She was amazed at the technology that is available nowadays. She’s also very on top of things.  She asked if others know. I told her not yet so she said she’d keep it to herself until later.  I feel such joy to have a chance to spend time with her and share with her about the twins in person. This is my silver lining of losing my other grandmother who never had a chance to learn about the babies.  Her passing gave me the opportunity to see my last remaining grandparent face to face. I suspect that after the twins are born, it’d be a while before we can travel overseas.

Last night, I tagged along my parents when they had dinner with their friends.  One of the friends asked me if I had kids.  I didn’t mind the question so I just said, “No yet.”  He then asked if I planned on having kids.  I was caught off guard by that question because most people don’t ask super private questions like that.  So I just smiled and said, “Yes I do”.  My parents both smiled politely without saying anything.  When I came home, I thought about the future: how my dad and my mom are going to tell their friends and our relatives about the twins. If I were the one pregnant, it’d have been easier for them to just say that I was pregnant.  If I were the one carrying the babies, it would have been a lot easier for me to answer those questions that my dad’s friend asked me.  I would not hesitate telling my aunt.  I would be joyfully telling my dad’s siblings and my cousins and showing my bump.  It is because our way of building a family is so unconventional and the people with whom we’d share the news are so traditional that telling others has been such a chore.  I am not at all ashamed of our need of using a surrogate to make a baby.  This is why it’s surprising that sharing such happy news has been so tough.

I hope that it’ll be easier to share the news as we get closer to the due date.

MicroblogMondays: Approaching Our First Ultrasound

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We are currently in Annie’s town waiting for our first prenatal ultrasound.  As you know, we opted out of doing a third beta.  Waiting for another beta was simply something that I didn’t want to do.  So we took a leap of faith, purchased plane tickets, and hope to be able to see some flickering heartbeats on the screen for the first time.

How have I been feeling?  I feel hopeful that we will finally see a heartbeat (or two heartbeats) for the first time in our journey to make a baby.  Annie has been feeling mostly okay. She hasn’t felt nauseated but was feeling yucky last week.  She said that food didn’t sound good at all, and she could not cook raw meat.  Having food aversion is similar with her last two pregnancies.  The difference is that her symptoms only lasted a few days the last pregnancy but it has been persistent during this pregnancy.  Although I felt sorry for her feeling yucky, I was happy that she was feeling pregnancy symptoms.  It is reassuring to know that maybe things are on track and her body has been changing rapidly.  She continues to feel very tired, which is also a good symptom to have.

Despite having a lot of hope, sometimes I still feel anxious as I have the fear that we might not see anything on the ultrasound.  My daily prayer is for Annie’s health and safety, the baby/babies’ healthy growth, safety and protection for Annie’s family, and also for Bob’s and my complete trust in the Lord for what He has planned for us.  I believe that God has been protecting me from having negative thoughts.  Although I still at times have this fear and image in my head of not seeing a heartbeat, I more often have joy in my heart that we may well be on our way to becoming parents.  Not being the one carrying my own baby/babies only occupies a fraction of my mind.  The rest of my mind is very much appreciative of Annie’s selfless choice of helping us build our family.

I am letting myself to have a little more faith that the pregnancy is progressing as it should be.  These are the things I’ve done:

  • lying in bed discussing baby names with Bob at bed time
  • searching online, reading, and watching videos about pregnancy at 6 weeks and beyond
  • telling my dad about the good news
  • upping my 401K contribution per paycheck so it will reach the annual limit by end of July in preparation of maternity leave sometime in August or September
  • sharing our news with my HR person at work so that I could get educated on maternity leave by our HR person
  • marking on my work calendar 12 weeks and 20 weeks so I know when we may have to fly out
  • finding myself thinking about the second bedroom in the house, how we will move the bookcases out of the room, and finally doing window treatment in the whole house after our remodel four years ago
  • thinking about the possibility of doing a maternity photo shoot with Annie and how to go about doing one
  • thinking about the need to purchase a new car to go pick up the baby/babies later this year
  • thinking about the reality of actually having a baby shower

As you can see, I’m making progress in believing that this may well be happening.

Our trip to Annie’s town was as smooth as one could hope. The flight departed on time and arrived early. The whole place was covered in snow.


But it wasn’t that cold. Kenneth came to pick us up as Annie wasn’t feeling too well. It was so wonderful seeing them again. And it is so amazing that we are staying with Annie and her husband so we could save on hotel. Annie’s two younger kids were waiting out front for us in the snow. We went to pick up eggs from the chicken coop in their backyard.

Annie and Kenneth are truly lovely people.  They made Bob a turkey/Thanksgiving dinner because Bob usually gets a prime rib Thanksgiving meal with my family and would miss having turkey. Annie couldn’t contain her excitement last week when she said she had a surprise for us. Bob was so touched and had a wonderful time having his turkey dinner for the first time  in the past year.

The highlight of the night was the homemade piñata that Annie made for us. After the boys busted it open in the garage, we found what Annie had hid inside. She knit two pairs of booties and a headband for our babies. 


We have the most thoughtful gestational carrier. I feel so blessed. 

So friends, this is it. We will find out the state of our pregnancy later this afternoon. I hope to have good news to share.

MicroblogMondays: An End and a Beginning

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Our trip up north was much needed for a change of pace and  to get away from the mundaneness of our typical life.  During those five days, we enjoyed hiking, massages, driving along the coast, wine tasting, and eating.  We also did a whole lot of nothing.  Although we were only 90 minutes away from home, it was a whole other world out there.  The breathtaking sceneries, the yummy wines, the slowness of life, the hospitality of the innkeepers, and the scrumptious homemade breakfasts made those few days nothing short of magical.

Four breakfast dishes are shown here for four mornings, with wonderful company of other B&B guests including this hilarious Filipino older lady who told story after story of her adventures coming from her country to the United States.

I had been craving oysters so my wonderful husband drove me to a place known for their seafood and we had a delicious lunch with a dozen oysters, crab sandwich, and clam chowder.

One of the highlights was a hike in the redwood forest a mere 10 minutes away from our bed and breakfast.  The increased heart rate while climbing uphill, the fresh air, and the tall redwood trees are a reminder of how much we should enjoy and appreciate nature and exercise in our lives.

Needless to say, the ocean is always breathtaking and a great reminder of God’s handiwork.

 I didn’t quite want to think about the upcoming cycle during this trip, as I just wanted to get away from it all.  However, we could not escape the reality of it as we are still pretty much in the middle of our cycle.  We still haven’t heard from Dr. E or the company that was supposed to share the epigenetic sper.m test results with us.  Bob actually doesn’t want to find out about the results since they would not change our desires to transfer two embryos.  So daily it crossed my mind to email Dr. E about it but I still haven’t.  Annie has been taking estrogen to prepare for her lining.  One evening during our trip, she sent me a frantic email about running out of the insulin syringes for the Lup.ron that she’s been injecting.  I guess the 14 syringes that came with the Lup.ron kit and the extra 10 syringes provided by the pharmacy were only enough for 24 days, and she needed to be on it for a total of 28 days.  I forwarded her email to Dr. E asking for help, but I didn’t sleep too well that night wanting to resolve the issue the next day.  I am glad to report that it got resolved quite easily but it was nevertheless an interruption of my otherwise tranquil mind that was relatively free of the thoughts of reality.

Since we returned on New Year’s eve, our trip marked a perfect end of 2016, a year that was full of ups and downs like the previous four years since we started trying for a baby.  I am glad we had a moment to take a breather and just be by ourselves without the hustle and bustle of life.

Just like Christmastime, I opted for doing nothing special for New Year’s eve.  We had a very early, no frill dinner, and had a glass or two of the yummy champagne that we bought on our trip.

We went to bed like usual and didn’t even wait for midnight to ring in the new year.  It was just another evening and another day.

Tomorrow is the day Annie will have her lining check to confirm the transfer.  If all goes well, in a week, she will be lying on the same table and I will be staring at the same screen in the transfer room just like the end of October.  Bob told me yesterday that despite all the setbacks, his desires for a child are as strong as ever.  I feel the same way too, and I feel blessed that we are on the same page.  May our resolve to bring home a baby align with God’s perfect plan for us in this upcoming cycle.  May this be the beginning of something super magical.

MicroblogMondays: Without My Husband

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This will be the longest Bob and I are apart from each other since we got married.  I wish he were here with me in Hong Kong.  The trip is not the same without him.

Why didn’t he come, you may ask?  This is kind of a last minute trip as an effort for me to spend some time with my aging grandmother and celebrate her 98th birthday before we embark on our journey of maybe/really/hopefully/finally making a baby.  I anticipate our life to be a little bit busy flying to Annie’s state periodically for appointments when we get pregnant.  Then I won’t have the freedom to just hop on a plane for a trip out of the country as easily as right now, when we are just waiting for Annie’s lining to be built and for the transfer to take place.  If Bob came with me, we would have had to also go to India to see his parents, and two weeks would not have been enough time to visit both places.  Since I just saw my in-laws for an extended period of time in the summer, my presence in India is not required.  However, if Bob had come, then his mom wouldn’t have let him just go to Hong Kong and not fly home to India.  Because of all these reasons, we decided that it was best for me to just do the trip alone.

The 14-hour-flight was actually pleasant.  I slept for 7.5 hours on the plane.  The two movies that I watched were both a trigger for me.  Finding Dory made me think about my unconventional way of creating my family, and Up always makes me cry.  I have watched that movie quite a few times so I started crying even before the flashback scenes got to where Ellie was told she couldn’t have a baby.  I didn’t care about what the guy next to me would think of me and cried an ugly cry.

Once I got off the plane and freshened up at home, my dad and I went to see my grandmother.  She has aged quite a lot.  Compared to how she looked and sounded 2.5 years ago, she is now a lot slower with her movements and her response time.  She has become more suspicious about people and things and her memory has deteriorated.  She doesn’t go out anymore unless my dad gives her a ride.  She walks very slowly and insists on using her umbrella as her support rather than a wheelchair or a walker.  My dad only drops her off at places where she does not need to walk up and down the stairs or even an escalator.  When I speak to her, I need to speak slowly and often repeat myself several times.  It pains me to see her this way as she had been so mobile and lucid for so many years.  And it also pains me to know that it will be a little while before she can meet my future child.  I just hope that she is still going to be around for that.

My BFF and I met up the first day I arrived.  It was great to see her as the last time we hung out was 2.5  years ago.  We have known each other for 30 years. I had to catch her up on all that has happened to us including the whole history about our donor disappearing, frozen DE cycles failing, the need to use a gestational carrier, the whole fresh DE retrieval with the twist of positive cocaine urine test and to the most recent development of waiting for a transfer.  Just like many other people, she asked if we had thought about adoption since it’s not my eggs or my uterus in this endeavor, as if adoption is automatically the best plan for those who can’t get pregnant naturally.  I gently explained to her our choice and the rationale behind that without being offended or emotional.  Education is the best way to respond.  And yes, even though it is not my eggs or my uterus, I still want to start my family this way.

I realized that it would have been so much more fun to have Bob around.  Coming here by myself, many people asked me what I wanted to do.  To me, this is just me coming home and having a chance to hang out with my friends and family. If Bob had come, we would be taking many different modes of transportation and going to many different places. Without him being here, I don’t have a lot of motivation to do much. I’ll be seeing my old friends of 30 years as well as my college friends. I originally didn’t want to see my old friends since they don’t know much about my fertility journey.  I didn’t want to get together with them and their kids. It would just remind me of how far they have gone with growing their families while I’m still trying to get started. I thought more about it and decided to have a girls’ night without kids.  That way we can still catch up and I will not be constantly reminded of what I don’t yet have.  I’ll also be going to my grandma’s birthday banquet and will see all my younger cousins and their new babies.  I just hope that no one will ask me when I will have mine.  And I hope even more that if someone does ask me, I will handle their questions with grace.

Thanks to technology, Bob and I get to talk to each other and see each other’s faces on video chat. It makes life a little easier without him around. Ten more days before I go back to my husband and fourteen more days before our transfer!

Breast Scare and Grandma

One of my grandmothers is going to turn 97 or 98.  (Age and year of birth of that generation in the Chinese culture is often vague.)  I haven’t seen her since our trip to Asia in April 2014.  It is tough to live so far away from the majority of my family.  Grandma had been in very good health until this summer when she fainted and was hospitalized.  Physically she is fine.  However, her mind might have been a little chaotic.  As someone who used to have the best memory (remembering everyone’s birthday), she exhibited some symptoms of mental confusion and at one point didn’t even recognize my cousin who lives with her.  She no longer takes the shuttle from her home to the market for her breakfast, which was her routine for 20 years.  Her mind has improved since the summer, but it feels that a visit with her overseas is necessary at a time when she is still relatively lucid and healthy and we can still spend quality time together.  I do not want to go when it is too late.  Since we have been trying to sort out the whole donor egg cycle and surrogacy, there has not been a good time to go.  The timing seems good now that we are down to the wire in terms of preparation for our gestational carrier’s transfer.  The legal paperwork will hopefully be completed by the second week of October and we are hopeful to do the transfer the first week of November.   Grandma’s birthday this year is October 22 (it changes yearly according to the lunar calendar).  My brother is set to fly over for a visit around that time.  It would be good for me to go around the last two weeks of October just in time for a transfer in the first week of November.  I was doing my search of reasonable airfare and then…

I found a little lump on my right breast last weekend randomly while watching TV.

It felt small and it moved around a little, but it was definitely something new.  I freaked out a little but decided to make an appointment with my primary care doctor online.  I scored an appointment for Monday afternoon.  I am not going to lie, but my mind was going fast and I was worried.  You know how it is.  Our worries about the future cloud our judgment as our mind jumps to conclusion.  The worst case scenarios flashed in my head.  Fortunately, prayers for peace and the determination to stay away from Goog.le search had kept me sane.

My doctor reviewed my mammogram results prior to coming in the exam room.  My one and only mammogram two years ago was normal but did indicate that my breast tissues were dense and fibrous.  Upon palpation, my doctor couldn’t even find the little lump at first until I pointed it out to her.  She said it felt more fluid-filled, like a cyst.  Just to be sure, she also examined my left breast and found a bigger and denser lump on the top left part of it.  She said that since this one felt more solid, it’d be best for me to do a scan.  She put in an order for a mammogram and told me to go to radiology to make an appointment.

At radiology, I was told that I could be seen immediately.  However, the staff members asked me a question that was taped on the counter: Do you have new masses or lumps on your breast?  I answered yes.  Because of this yes, I was told I had to go to the “Breast Health Services” downstairs.  Over there, I was told that I had to be scheduled to see a doctor there first.  The first opening is this coming Monday late morning.  So that means that I have had to wait a whole week to see this doctor before I can get any scans.

During this week of waiting, I still freak out at times, thinking about the possibility of me being sick and us bringing a baby into this world and the baby not having a mom.  The mind can go to the worst place fast.  But I am mostly at peace with this and am just waiting for the appointment.  I pray that I surrender everything to God as He is the one who is in control.  It could be psychological, but ever since these two lumps were found, I could seriously feel my breasts throbbing with soreness at times.  Speaking with others helps.  Both of the coworkers that I spoke with have had the same happen to them.  Both were checked out and were fine.  It’s helpful to know that the results could be normal.  This has also freaked Bob out.  The first night was the hardest as he was worried and wondered why we had to deal with one thing after another.  He has since then calmed down and has also just been waiting patiently for the appointment next week.

Because of this new development, I have been hesitant with the trip to Asia.  What if these lumps are more serious than I would like?  What if treatment is needed?  What if what if what if.  I have delayed looking into plane tickets but then I am also mindful that I would like to be around for all the initial scans that Annie, our gestational carrier, would have if/when we get pregnant.  It will be even harder to schedule a time to go see my grandmother in the near future once a pregnancy is achieved if I want to be as present for the pregnancy as possible.  So I have decided to purchase my plane tickets this weekend regardless of the outcome of the exam on Monday.

It is sometimes difficult, but I am determined to focus on the good things: seeing my family, spending time with my grandma, and being full of anticipation for our upcoming transfer.  I pray that the exam on Monday yields good results so that my mind can rest and truly enjoy the good things that life has to offer.

MicroblogMondays: In-Laws and Best Friend

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My father and mother-in-law decided to come visit from India for about seven weeks, seven years after they last came to see their one and only son.

Do you know how huge this is?  They were the ones who refused to meet me the last time they came.  They adamantly opposed our marriage.  They were extremely upset that Bob and I got engaged and later got married.  My father-in-law was so angry that he refused to speak to Bob for another ten months after that.  Needless to say, nobody from his family came to our wedding.  Bob was very sad, but at the same time very happy that we got married.  What a dichotomy.

So we went from that, to them refusing to let me go to their home the first time we visited India as a married couple, to my MIL asking why we didn’t stay with them the second time we visited, to not wanting to come visit, to now agreeing finally to come visit.

This is huge.

Bob has been very excited about this potential visit, but at the same time wearied about having them around for the first time as a married man in our own home.  After five years of marriage, he wants to show his parents how he and I have made a home for ourselves.  But his parents are such hardcore hindu and vegetarian that huge changes have to be made in order to accommodate them in our house.  We will have to clean out all the meat products, even chicken broth.  We will have to wipe down the whole refrigerator.  We will have to buy all new pots, pans, utensils, bowls, and plates because the ones we have now have all touched meat.  This is no laughing matter.

And then there is a problem of weather.  They want to come in mid-June and leave in early August.  That is when the weather is the most overcast and cold in our area.  They complained about being cold the last time they were in town when the temperature down in the south bay was in the 70s.  They had their down jackets on all the time.  They are used to the weather at least in the 80s if not 90s.  I don’t know how they will survive in the 50s and 60s weather.  Turn on the heater, perhaps?

And then there is me and them.  I think that it’s a wonderful thing they are willing to come visit.  Bob lives with my mom for about six months of the year. Although my mom is the most considerate person, it is still a third party in this household of two.  So it takes a big person to be able to live peacefully with a mother-in-law for such a long stretch of time.  He has been doing that since we got married five years ago.  Now his parents are only here for 7 weeks.  I should be able to deal, right?  I truly hope so.  Bob usually does not come home until 8 something at night.  I am usually home by 6pm.  I will have to entertain my in-laws for two hours every night alone.  I mean, I should treat this as an opportunity to get to know them and learn how to make some South Indian food.  But it is still a little worrisome for me that I will be alone with them.

Another semi-worry is that my in-laws have only speculations about our infertility but do not actually know anything solid about our journey so far.  Given how unsupportive they have been of our marriage, it is difficult to share with them our need for fertility treatment.  I can’t imagine sharing with them about using donor eggs to get pregnant.  I know that it is highly likely that their visit will coincide with our next donor egg cycle.  It takes time to find a new donor and to start a cycle.  If we ever travel out of town for a cycle, then it’d be very hard to cover up why we have to go.  Bob was very nice.  He offered to tell his parents to postpone the trip until later this year or next year, but I told him not to because really, we cannot put off living life and other things just because we have to make a baby, right?  My mother-in-law had not really talked about us having a baby until a couple of months ago.  Since then, she started talking about it weekly and is obviously concerned about my age.  I don’t know what will happen when she is physically here and if this talk of baby and my age will come up.  I will deal with it when it comes.

But then, a few weeks ago, my best friend of 30 years who lives overseas told me that she wanted to come visit in the summer with her husband and my goddaughters.  The last time she came was before she gave birth to her oldest daughter.  That was years ago.  I got all excited about their visit and totally planned on taking two weeks off to go places with them.  They would stay with us, of course.  I knew that my in-laws would come in June and leave by early August.  I was really hoping that my best friend could come mid-August so I could have both my in-laws’ and her visits this summer.  Last week, she notified me that due to the girls’ school schedule, they could only come the first two weeks in July.  My heart sank as that coincides with my in-laws’ visit.  I told her that I would ask Bob to negotiate for his parents to come a bit later.  I know that his father has some religious rituals he has to do in September but I know that it is not until mid-September.  Maybe they could be flexible and move their dates.  My best friend hesitated and asked if it was a good idea to even ask.  I was thinking, asking doesn’t hurt, right?

Wrong.  Bob asked.  He asked really nicely.  Just a suggestion and if it didn’t work out, my best friend’s family could come in 2017.  His parents were actually very upset that he even dared to ask.  His dad was screaming at him saying that he would have ten thousand things to do when he goes back home in August.  How dare him that he even opened his mouth to ask.  Then his mother yelled at him for asking.  She thought that they were the elders that should not have been asked to accommodate just a friend.  In my opinion, a simple “No” should suffice.  It didn’t have to lead to drama.

My best friend was right.  It wasn’t a good idea to ask.  I guess I was using my own mentality and was thinking that my parents would have accommodated if someone made such a request.  Oh well, my best friend and I will plan a trip for her to come next summer so we can all go visit Alcatraz, Monterey, and other places that her daughters really wants to visit.  It boggles my mind that nobody comes to visit for all these years and all of a sudden they all want to come visit at the same time.

How did Bob turn out to be such a good soul?  After all, he was raised by his parents who have such narrow world views.  I don’t know.  But I am grateful that my husband doesn’t think the way his parents think.  I don’t hold it against my in-laws.  I know that it’s hard to change.  I just feel bad that my husband got yelled at because of me.

So yeah, I don’t get to see my best friend here in the States this year.  And I hope that my in-laws will have a good visit.  A lot of prayers are necessary for me and Bob to have tremendous love and patience for his parents.