MicroblogMondays: Ups and Downs of an Early Pregnancy

Remember my friend of whom I was jealous because she got pregnant with her own eggs?  Well, she has been going on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Her second beta doubled nicely.  Her 5-week ultrasound showed a beautiful early pregnancy in her uterus with a gestational sac and a yolk sac.  So this is the kicker.  A famous doctor who treats her autoimmune issues ordered beta for her every other day until the heartbeat ultrasound.  Any normal people would just wait for the 6-week ultrasound after the two early doubling beta and the great 5-week ultrasound.  (And most times they just go straight to the 6-week one and skip the 5-week one.)  But no.  My friend’s autoimmune doctor wanted one every other day.  The beta on the day of her 5-week ultrasound (on a Friday) was around 4200.  Beta three days later (on a Monday) was only around 5000.  The doubling time was 300 hours.  It should be 72 to 96 hours at that level.  My friend panicked.  I mean, I would too.  But did it really mean anything at that point?  Her doctor ordered another beta the next day which turned out to be around 5800.  Doctor was happy with the results but my friend was still panicking.  Her doctor told her to repeat her beta again the next day, two days before the 6 week 2 day ultrasound.  I was adamantly against it.  What is the point of going again and again?  At this point, the best indicator would have been the scan, and not some elusive beta level that doesn’t tell you much.  Why go to the lab and spend 30 to 45 minutes and then torture herself waiting for the results?  It just didn’t make sense to me.

My friend absolutely drove me nuts though.  She and her partner decided together that the beta on Wednesday would not help her situation.  But that whole day she messaged me and wondered if she should have gotten the beta done.  She went back and forth with her decision, regretting not going one minute, and then agreeing that it was wise to wait for the scan.  Her thought was, if it was going to be bad news, she’d want to know.  And if it was good news, then she could feel better going to the scan.  But what if the news was inconclusive?  Where would that leave her?  But I know that she needed the support, so I reassured her repeatedly that it was the right decision for her not to do the beta.  But I have been so mad at her autoimmune doctor.  Does she even care about her patients’ emotional well being?  Does it really help to know the beta level so frequently after confirming an in utero pregnancy?  Because there is really nothing one could do but to wait.

My poor friend was at her scan with her partner last Friday.  She was so nervous that she was crying lying on the table while waiting for the nurse practitioner (who was the one who did all of my scans at my former clinic).  Her heightened nervousness even prevented her from seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound.  At 6 weeks 2 days, she was measuring 5 weeks 5 days with a heartbeat of 81.  The nurse practitioner wasn’t concerned about it at all and said that at this early point a few days of lag should be okay.  And since she was measuring at 5 weeks 5 days, the heart might have just started beating.  When my friend sent me a text, she didn’t sound very optimistic about it.  And when I saw the heart rate, I didn’t feel very optimistic for her.  But who are we to say that this is not going to turn out to be fine?

That was Friday morning.  We happened to have a citywide power outage in our area that morning.  I was allowed to go home early and have a long weekend by 11:15am.  So instead of going home, I decided to join my friend who was sitting at the clinic waiting room to wait for her work phone call after noon because she had no power at home.  I thought that I could join her for lunch afterwards and she could use some support.

My friend’s emotions were all over the place.  She of course did some google search and it was not looking good.  She consulted with an RE who has supported her in the past couple of years who said that the three-day lag of the pregnancy plus the low heart rate made him a little bit concerned.  Her clinic didn’t say much and just told her to get another ultrasound in a week, and her autoimmune doctor was happy with the results.  But my poor friend was a mess.

(Side note: I visited with my former nurse while I was at my former clinic. It was a bit emotional for me to go back there while expecting twins via surrogacy.  It was so sweet to see my nurse being so happy for us.  I didn’t try to visit with Dr. No Nonsense, my former RE, because he did after all abandon me about a year ago after promising to call me to discuss the next steps but never did.  My nurse admired all the photos I showed her and was just so thrilled.)

At lunch my friend cried twice.  She wanted this so much and just wanted to have good news all around.  But when do we ever get to have a smooth-sailing journey?  From Friday to today, my job has been to remind her NOT to goo.gle because it does her no good.  While there are going to be success stories online, there is bound to be stories that ended sadly.  Their stories are not her story.  Why scare herself?  So every few hours, I write her and make sure that she does not google.  She was feeling angry and asked me why she had to suffer.  These are questions that nobody can answer.  So I told her that it could turn around.  She declared to me, “I think it will go badly” referring to the next scan.  But I told her not to play God and not to give a verdict even before anything happens because it may not happen.  I told her what I read in a book, that we try to make ourselves feel better by declaring things that are negative, that are not true.  But in reality, we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and how things will turn out.  But we jump to conclusion because we want to prepare ourselves for the bad things that may happen.  The truth is, there is no preparing.  If her pregnancy ends in a loss, it would still hurt like hell.  But by declaring the untruth, she is denying herself in that moment the joy of being pregnant.  She is pregnant at this point.  And this is the fact.  The fact is no one knows what will happen but God. So we should not play God and should hold onto the facts.  It is okay to cry.  It is okay to feel sad.  But putting herself in the situation of researching online and declaring that things will end badly is not going to help her a bit.

I did ask Dr. E, my own RE, about my friend’s results.  This is what Dr. E said, “The hCG level stops doubling so you are totally right on monitoring especially when you see a pregnancy in the uterus.  It doesn’t provide any guidance.  I’m glad she had a heartbeat.  I’ve seen patients without heartbeat at that age and then the next day it’s there.  The heartbeat doesn’t help guide me because I like that it is present.  The one thing that bothers me is the CRL (note: crown to rump length).  With IVF you know exactly how far along a patient is…..the three day discrepancy is the only thing that has me worried.  But there is still a chance.”  Of course I am not sharing with my friend what Dr. E says.  It is not helpful to tell her any of this.  And no doctors can predict the outcome, so why share with my friend, right?  But I really hope and pray that my friend’s baby holds on tight so we will see a great scan next week.  But I think my friend will be nervous at every single scan for quite some time.  It is just the trauma that comes with trying for a long time and wanting something so badly.  Our innocence is lost forever.

MicroblogMondays: 16 Weeks Ultrasound and Headaches

Just a warning that this is definitely NOT a micro post (and it’s actually super long)…

Annie does not experience any pregnancy symptoms except for these headaches.  They started about a month ago and sometimes get really bad.  Tylenol does not work for her so once she was in the 2nd trimester, our OB allowed her to use Ibu.profen when the headaches get bad.  Annie doesn’t want to take that all the time so she just endures the headaches.  She looked into the side effects of Love.nox and Syn.throid.  Both of them said headaches.  She was scheduled to stop Love.nox by 14 weeks anyways but I told her to continue until the meds runs out.  Once I learned about the headaches and the side effects, I told her to stop the injections.  But since Syn.throid is helpful with controlling the thyroid thus preventing preterm labor, she would need to be on.  Her dosage is so small that our OB doubts that the headaches have anything to do with that.  Annie did not have headaches during her first three pregnancies, but she does get headaches during her monthly cycle.  So I would imagine the increased blood flow during the second trimester in her body and the pregnancy hormones carrying twins both trigger these headaches.  She said they are constantly on the background and a few times they got really bad.  She uses essential oils.  Last week she had a massage and a chiropractic adjustment of her neck two times.  She does feel better after the adjustments.  This week she’ll have more adjustments and an acupuncture session.  Many asked if she is hydrated and she guarantees me that she is.

Here comes the part that scared me.  Because she was originally prescribed Syn.throid by Dr. E, my reproductive endocrinologist, we kept Dr. E in the loop regarding the headaches to see if Annie could stop the thyroid meds.  Dr. E is an alarmist by nature.  After learning that Annie has had these headaches for a long time, she really wanted Annie to be seen by a neurologist because to her, untreated headaches could be dangerous and headaches could be due to other neurological conditions and not just pregnancy hormones.  Annie wasn’t worried and still isn’t worried about these headaches being neurological based.  But Dr. E wrote me and asked me to convince Annie to go see a neurologist.  That was two days before we flew in for the scan.  I was sitting there at work with  my mind going really far away, having irrational fears about pre-term labor, Annie’s life being in danger, and the babies’ health on the line.  Simply because my doctor was suggesting my gestational carrier to see a neurologist.  Annie did try to call the neurologist office in town and was told that she would never be seen for just headaches unless she gets a referral.

Dr. E also forwarded a meta-analysis study about the effect of vaginal progesterone suppositories to prevent pre-term labor in women with a history of one.  She felt that it would be beneficial to Annie since she is carrying twins and might have the risk of per-term labor.  I said I would run it by our OB.

I was not super worried per se, but I really didn’t/still don’t like this feeling of doom and gloom.  Annie again is not worried because she has no other symptoms.  Her blood pressure is good.  She does not have any localized weakness or pain on any other part of her body.  She only has these freaking headaches that are super annoying.  I am just so thankful that she is my gestational carrier because her calmness is contagious.  She has learned to give it all up to God and I really have to learn to do that as well.  She is not ignoring these headaches.  She actively tries to find a solution to resolve them.  But she is just not worried that any of this was caused by problems in her brain.  She will go see a neurologist if he/she would see her, but she isn’t stressed about it.  I figured we’d see the OB anyways on Friday, so waiting a day or two to talk to him wasn’t going to make the situation worse.  So I prayed repeatedly for my peace and trust in the Lord and just waited.  But there is always something that can cause worries, isn’t there?

It was such a blessing for Bob and me to attend the ultrasound on Friday with Annie when we reached 16 weeks 2 days.  I was a bit nervous before going in because you just don’t know what you’d see on an ultrasound.  I had confident that both babies were still there but a part of me was anxious.  I didn’t really have much time to think about things because once Annie arrived, the ultrasound technician was ready for us.  It was so wonderful to see Annie and her/our bump in person.  Hugging her felt so interesting because inside her bump was our babies.  Annie hopped on the table and off we went with the abdominal ultrasound.  Annie said that she did feel some movements the other day and was quite sure that it was the babies.  This time I didn’t feel sad but felt that it was such an amazing thing for her to feel the babies.

I reminded the tech that Dr. OB said that he would do all the preliminary anatomy stuff during this scan because Bob was able to be present for this one.  The tech was super friendly and said she’d get whatever she could get.  Immediately we saw Baby A waving his/her arm on the screen.  It was quite exciting to see that he/she was so much bigger at this point.    The tech first measured Annie’s cervix, which she said was adequate.  Baby A was moving around.  The tech changed into different views and measured a bunch of different things.  She looked at the heart, which was beating at 151 beats per minute.  We could see the four chambers, the baby’s kidneys, head, brain, arms, legs, stomach, diaphragm, etc. etc. etc.  Everything seemed to be going well.

When it came time to see the sex of the baby, I only wanted to know if we really had a boy and a girl inside, but I don’t want to find out which baby is which.  Bob really wanted to find out.  So when the tech looked, I hid in the bathroom adjacent to the ultrasound room.  Bob was going to stick himself right in front of the screen and find out.  I was adamant about him not finding out because it would mean one day he’d leak out the information and I wouldn’t have my surprise anymore.  He was really torn because he really wanted to know. Eventually he agreed not to and hid in the bathroom with me.  He was half mad because I was denying him the right to know, but he agreed with me later on that he would not be able to keep a secret from me.

Apparently the tech took a very good look and confirmed to herself what she saw.  Baby A was measuring 16 weeks 6 days and his/her leg was very long, measuring at 17 weeks 3 days.

The tech then switched over to Baby B, who also had a great heart rate of 156.  We could clearly see that he/she had a tall nose.  The profile was just very cute (probably only in my eyes as his/her mother).  This baby was measuring 16 weeks 4 days and the tech also confirmed his/her sex.  So we officially know that we are going to have one boy and one girl.  🙂

Both babies weigh about 6oz each and over 4 inches each.

The tech changed the view to 3D for Baby B.  He/she was holding his/her fists up on the cheeks.   We switched again and saw that the babies’ head were together.  Apparently one baby was head down and the other was breech.  So their heads were together but one was up and one was down.  You can click on the page “Ultrasound Photos” on the left to see the babies, the two heads of the babies looking like an infinity sign, and the 3D image of Baby B.

The technician measured the blood flow of the umbilical cords and the placentas and it seemed to be fine for both babies.

We finally got to meet Dr. OB.  I had only talked to him on the phone several times so it was nice to finally meet him in person.  He was a middle-aged man who sounded very passionate about his job. He talked a mile a minute and every single time we asked a question, he gave an example of one of his patients and what happened to her.  So this is basically what we discussed:

  • Dr. OB asked if Annie had any localized pains, slurred speech, or other things.  He felt her head, her forehead, and areas around her nose to check for sinus problems.  After that, he said that it is highly unlikely that her headaches are due to a brain tumor or a blood clot.  The neurologist received Dr. E’s referral and said that he’d need Dr. OB’s notes in order to see if a visit with him is warranted.  But Dr. OB said that the headaches are most likely due to the fluctuation in hormones and he has seen it many many times.  He will write the notes and forward to the neurologist clinic and see what the neurologist would say.
  • The babies are doing well.  They are measuring on time and there is nothing to worry about.  Baby B does have a little white dot on his/her heart shown on the scan, which is called “fetal echogenic intracardiac focus”.  The doctor said that it occurs in 5% of pregnancy and by itself it’s not harmful to the baby at all.  But when it happens with a load of other problems such as short femur, high risk for Down syndrome, or other things, then it may raise some concerns.  As for us, Dr. OB said that it will resolve itself and there is nothing to worry about.  I guess it is his job to inform us of this thing.
  • One baby is currently breech (feet down) and the other one head down.  Baby A is in the front of the uterus with an anterior placenta.  Baby B is in the back with a posterior placenta.  The placentas are in the right place and not covering the cervix in any way whatsoever.  This is a relief.
  • We’ll have the 20-week ultrasound and by then we’ll see more anatomical structures that will be bigger then.
  • Annie will be seen every four weeks until 32 weeks.  At 32 weeks, she’ll come in twice a week for monitoring and non-stress test.
  • She will do her blood sugar test for gestational diabetes in the next week or two.  It’s done early because she’s carrying twins.
  • Annie’s urine is good without protein.  Her blood pressure was 110/70 which was excellent.
  • We will aim at delivery at 38 weeks by Ceasarean section.  I forgot to ask when we determine if we would do a C-section early.
  • I asked how we would be able to tell if there’s preeclampsia. Dr. OB said that she’ll be monitored closely after 32 weeks so she’ll be in good hands.
  • Annie only gained three pounds in the last 4 weeks.  I forgot to ask if this is a good gain or if she needs to gain more weight.  I will write the doctor and ask.
  • Dr. OB said that the vaginal progesterone suppositories are not warranted in Annie’s case because studies show that for those who are at risk for preterm labor would still have a higher chance of having pre-term labor even with extra progesterone.  In our case, Annie never had that problem.  It is not warranted at this point.  Plus Annie joked that she pushed for over 50 hours for both of her last two births and her cervix was shut closed.  Dr. OB was joking that in this case since Annie had a steel of a cervix, we most likely won’t have to worry about this problem.
  • Finally, Dr. OB said that he’d order a vaginal ultrasound next time so we can measure the cervix more accurately.

I think that’s about all the issues that we discussed on that day.  I have to tell you that I was tremendously relieved and happy to see the babies alive and well on the screen.  It is not a given that we have a good scan and I don’t take things for granted.  I didn’t know this until that evening but Annie was very nervous going in this scan.  She is usually the calm and confident one, but something shook her a little.  In her surrogacy group there are these two surrogates who got pregnant with twins at around the same time with her.  One discovered that she lost both babies at 16 weeks and the other one lost one of the two babies at 15 weeks.  Because of this, Annie said she only cared about the heartbeats during our ultrasound.  She just wanted to know that they are both still alive.  It is tremendously sad to learn about these other losses.  This knowledge makes me even more grateful for what we have.

The rest of the visit was great.  We attended a Seder Meal with Annie and Kenneth’s friends.  People there knew who we were and came to tell us that they had been praying for us.  We went to the only breakfast place in town the next morning and the server there was Annie’s close friend so she told us that she had been praying for us.  You’ve gotta love small towns.  They are so warm and friendly and they are so happy for us.  We hung out with Annie and her kids for a little before we left.  I passed on many maternity clothes from my friend to her.  I also got to take her bump photo with her (which you could see on the left side here that says “Gestational Carrier’s Bump Photos”).  It was such a precious time to share with her.

Can’t believe we are almost 17 weeks.  Praise the Lord for the growing and healthy babies.  I pray that Annie’s headaches will go away forever.  Hopefully we will see our babies in 21+ weeks!

Today’s Scan at 8 Weeks 5 Days

I went on an emotional roller coaster ride this whole morning.

Annie went in for an ultrasound today.  My RE Dr. E also ordered a cervical length check just to be sure.  Since I didn’t fly in, we had to rely on Fac.ebook video conferencing for me to be present at the ultrasound.  Right at 10am, Annie called me and I could immediately see one of the babies on an abdominal ultrasound.  He/She looked so much bigger than the last time I saw him/her.  However, the video was cutting in and out because of the poor reception at the office.  Later I found out that the heart rates are both at 176.  The vaginal ultrasound showed that Baby A was measuring at 8 weeks 4 days and Baby B was at 8 weeks 5 days.  I was overjoyed to see them on the screen and to learn about their measurement being on time.  Annie asked about the cervical length, which was measuring at 3.4cm.  That wasn’t the kind of number that I expected since I knew that anything over 4cm is good.  That threw me into panic mode as I couldn’t get an answer from a professional right away.

Annie had to wait for her OB to return from a delivery before she could see him.  In the mean time, I wrote Dr. E about the cervical length and asked if it would be a cause for concern.  She said that she would do a repeat cervical check as she wasn’t sure why her cervix would be 3.4 cm.  She asked to have Annie return in a week and it could just be the person measuring.  This comment made me so nervous so I asked if this would be a concern and it’s usually the same technician that measures these things.  Dr. E responded saying that she wasn’t concerned but if the technician is going to be same, have Annie go see a high-risk OB for the measurement and consider a cerclage if it is still the same.

Can you imagine my mind?  I couldn’t enjoy the good news of the babies anymore because all my mind was thinking about was short cervix and preterm labor and danger to our babies.  It was a very difficult for me to focus on the good news.

Luckily I got to talk to the OB.  First of all, he was very respectful and patient with my questions.  He said that the babies are measuring well with great heartbeats, so that’s great news.  In terms of cervical length, he said that 3.4 is really not a concern.  Plus it is so early in the pregnancy that it is sometimes hard to see where the uterus ends and where the cervix begins.  They usually don’t measure the cervix until much later, and if there is a concern, they don’t do cerclage until 14 weeks.  So he doesn’t think that a scan in a week is necessary since it’s so early on.  We can remeasure the length in two weeks at our next scan and see what happens.  He said that Annie has had three full-term births without any problems.  He is not concerned about it.  In terms of other things, he said that they won’t push a twin pregnancy beyond 38 weeks.  So Annie will get close monitoring once she hits 32 weeks.  As of right now, everything is measuring well and I should not be worried.

I wrote Dr. E back about Dr. OB’s opinion.  She agrees with him about checking in two weeks.  I am happy that she agrees with him.  And she thinks that it’s actually not hard to measure the cervical length at all but she really thinks that the ultrasound technician might have under-measured it.   The thing is, these technicians at an OB office usually don’t measure cervical length at such an early stage.  She might not have known how to properly measure it.

My trusted OB practice professional Jane told me that she wouldn’t worry about it because it is a hard skill in general and the check is not usually done until later.  She said that she wouldn’t even bat an eye if she saw the measurement of 3.4 in a report.

When I was waiting to talk with the OB and for Dr. E’s emails, I put my head down and prayed.  I prayed for my trust in the Lord since there is really nothing I can do but to trust.  I have to trust that if this is God’s will, then I’ll see these babies healthy and alive.  But it just shows you how weak our mind is.  Even one thing that could be wrong could throw the whole joy out of the window.  I need to focus on the great news of the babies.  And it also shows that knowing too much and too early may not be a good thing. So I hope that I could keep my peace and calm for the next two weeks.  Getting pregnant is so hard, and waiting for the birth is also very hard.   There is always something to worry about.  But today we celebrate these two lives that are growing well inside of Annie.

 

MicroblogMondays: Complex Emotions

Microblog_Mondays

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: Self Care

Microblog_Mondays

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.

Getting Used to This Space Of Uncertainty

My husband asked me last week, “Why don’t you schedule an appointment with S?”

S is my therapist.

My husband is lovely that way.  He knows what I need.  My therapist is my sounding board.  Whenever I encounter moments of struggles or difficult decision-making, a visit with her often clears my mind or untwines the knots in my overly analytical brain.

That was the day that I was feeling the most down and depressed. I inquired about a therapy session with her.  Unfortunately she was all booked at the times that were convenient to me.  Seeing her is important enough that I rearranged my work schedule so I could fit in a session in an early afternoon on a workday.

In the two years that she’s been my therapist,  this was the first time I sat down feeling like I didn’t know where to begin.  So much had happened since I last saw her.  I thought that things would be straight forward once we choose a donor and wait for a cycle to begin.  Nothing about this is straight forward.

It took the bulk of the session to fill her in about what had happened: finding the donor, questioning about the donor agency owner’s credibility, the misunderstanding of the donor’s availability, finally making a decision to book the donor, the change of FDA recommendation for travels for egg donors due to Zika virus, the growing fibroid, the cancellation of the biopsies for the endometrial receptivity array test, the possibility of needing an abdominal myomectomy to remove the fibroid, the timeline of the surgery (to avoid recovery while in-laws are in town), the possibility of delaying this cycle once again until September.  On and on and on.  I am tired just typing it out.

Bob and I do not create drama.  But it seems like drama comes to us.  This journey has not been straight forward for us.  The twists and turns sometimes make me wonder if this is God’s way of telling me to quit trying.

I had always been calm when I shared things with my therapist.  But this time, after I finished telling the whole story, tears finally came down.  I told her that I have been trying my best to cope, but still at times, I feel emotional and anxious.  I told her that I don’t like feeling anxious at all and I just wanted it to go away.

My therapist is wonderful.  She asked, “Why wouldn’t you cry?  It is highly emotional.”  She told me the following:

  • I am a very methodical person.  I analyze things in a very systematic way.  Of course it makes me anxious that things are not going the way I want them to go.  Overanalyzing things makes a person anxious because of a sense of lack of control.
  • Since having unknowns is my reality, she told me to learn to live in this space of uncertainty and to get used to it.  Accepting this will help me cope with my feelings and ease some anxiety because expecting it will make it less overwhelming for me.
  • She said that being in the midst of it, I might not see it, but sitting across from me she sees a very resilient person.  Looking at our past of handling twists and turns in life, we know that we can handle them.  She told me to expect more twists and turns on this journey and to know that we can handle whatever that comes our way.
  • She told me to not to worry about the donor right now.  Instead, focus my energy on healing my body from anything that could interfere with a pregnancy, such as the fibroid and the surgery.
  • She told me not to focus my mind on my timeline or to worry about milestones or my age.
  • Deep down I believe I will be a mother.  She told me to hold onto that, and not to forget to tell myself that I am doing everything I can to reach that goal.
  • When I have anxiety or worrying thoughts, ask myself if they are useful.  If not, acknowledge these thoughts and let them go.
  • People often look at signs to make sense of things.  Having twists and turns does not mean that I am not meant to be a mother.

At the end, she reminded me to take deep breaths, and that I am doing a great job with whatever that we are facing.

Emotional ups and downs are inevitable, but it brings me comfort to know my therapist is always there when I need help to sort through my feelings.

At least today, I feel that I can tackle anything that may come my way.  I will call that a win.

MicroblogMondays: Dealing With Worries And Sadness

Microblog_Mondays

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.