Restless Journey: Finding a Place to Fit In But Not to Settle

A story of a Harvard student going through IVF

The Pins & The Needles

The Pins & The Needles

I don’t have allergy like most of the people do. Luckily, I have been pretty healthy all along. The only pill I took daily was just multi-vitamins or prenatal vitamins. Never used drugs before…not even a cigarette.

So this IVF journey has taken me to a whole wild word – I have been on hormonal therapy for 2 months, despite physically, I have no problem producing reproductive hormones and my organs are healthy.

Doctor put me on birth control pill since Feb, followed by hormone injections twice a day a week ago. As of 2 days ago, my injections at night went from 2 to 3. No joke, they burn like hell. I have become numb poking my belly with an 1.5 inch needles. But the aftermath of the injection feels like a little firework under the tissue. Then the injection site becomes red, swollen and itchy. This happen twice a day, 8 days straight by far.

I have never drugged myself this much in my whole life. Let alone the hormonal effects are insane. I don’t remember well. I am moody. I can sleep all day if I could. I almost googled “ivf medication side effects dementia?” the other day. My body is empty. My brain isn’t working. All I have is a bloated belly with close to 2 dozen eggs in it.

IF today is Halloween, I can easily dress up as Winnie the Pooh. No joke!

In the past, I had blamed that the whole IVF treatments are sexist. The physical pain and emotional torture that women have to suffer is far from what the men have to deal with, despite the infertility issues might not be on the female side. So I have to remind myself about the wedding vow, in which it said “in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” A true testament to marriage and parent-want-to-be.

This is my current state of mind

My wishes for my eggs

My Full Time Job

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“So what do you do these days?” I got this Qs asked almost every time I left my house. That’s almost 1-2x / week, approx 10x per month. At first, I was terrified. Now I just felt numb. I change my answer depending on my mood.

It is completely understandable. You graduated with a business degree. You did all the course work. You sat in the commencement ceremony and heard the inspiration speech from whoever was the speaker that year. You’re loaded with aspiration and expectation (mostly from others). I understand. I do.

So here is what I do ‘full-time’ after graduation – Trying to get myself pregnant.

I researched fertility treatments, acupuncturist (specialized in fertility). I studied all ranking/evaluation of the fertility Drs in the Bay Area. I spoke to insurance companies for coverage details. I am in at least 3 IVF support groups. I read people experience, protocols. I ask Qs regarding their choices. I looked up my list of Rx, compare prices and look for legit pharmacy. I communicate between my fertility center and insurance companies to understand payment. I go to my acupuncturist once a week and we discuss my treatment plans and strategies.

On top of all that, I walk my dog at least 1 hour every day.

If I have spare time, I write my book. I meet up with people who are recruiting me to serve on their Board of Directors and/or being their pro bono  business consultant.

This is completely not what I expected when I was growing up.

 

A scary and lonely path

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This is it! My IVF process has officially begun. Today, I have been handed a long list of Rx, in addition to 7 files of consent forms to sign…

I looked at those unfamiliar terms and meds. I got instant chill.

I asked myself “why do I need to go through this?” “Why the neighbor/co-worker/colleague/friend of my age doesn’t need to take all these injections to make a baby?”

WHAT THE FXXK IS WRONG WITH ME? What did I do in my life to deserve this? Should I have freeze my eggs before my 30s? Or should I have listened to my peers to make babies 10 years ago, while I was switching jobs?

This is insane. Feeling like a punishment for all those times I refused to enter motherhood. Now, I have to artificially load my body (my uterus to be exact) with hormones and meds in order to welcome life (with 30% failure rate).

All I want to tell myself is….”you suck!”

The New Era – IVF

ivfIt has been 2 months since I wrote something here. Like many months before, I was hopeful at the beginning of my cycle, followed by daily anticipation then ended the month with heartbreak and disappointment. I am too familiar with the 5 stages of grief. And I found myself repeatedly blaming my body for not doing what it supposes to do.

Then I realize, I need to stop. I need to surrender. Just when I felt hopeless, we were notified that my husband’s company has introduced new benefit – IVF package. I didn’t think twice but immediately contacted the representative to schedule our first appointment.

So we officially entered into the new era called – IVF.

“This place” is full of new terminologies with many ‘protocols’ that I never heard of. I have been in healthcare for nearly 20 years and have never ever been introduced to world of ‘infertility treatment’. I thought I am pretty self-equipped with dietary and self-care. NO – this place has its own revelation of diet planning and supplements, which are believed (by the fertility doctors and the IVF community) to be effective. As the beneficiary of this IVF package, I literally do not need to worry / stress on anything except following every single instruction from the doctor, whom said his success rate is 70%.

I understand this is a privilege. As I am leaving the TTC (trying to conceive naturally community), I know that I am being provided the best, high end, state of the art technologies to pursue a healthy/full term pregnancy, something that I have never thought about few years ago. But here I am, acknowledging the fact that I have this privilege…

And I must give in and let myself to take the backseat.

Let’s Celebrate Infertility!

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You got to be kidding me? I know…At some points, I have to stop telling myself that I will be pregnant again.

This is a complicated post. If you think I am talking non-sense here, please feel free to close this browser and walk away. No judgement. What I am going through is what a lot of women going through, yet people rarely talk about it. I understand that a cute newborn baby picture (or ultrasound) is far more popular than a negative pregnancy test. At the end, people (boys and girls) tend to believe that getting pregnant is as easy as ordering takeout through door dish – press ‘order’ and boom! Congrats Mr & Mrs X, welcome to parenthood!!

When you were a kid, anyone would tell you that success is a matter of how hard you try. (No…even at every single college graduation commencement…they said the same old thing…) So shame on me! I became the firm believer that I fall short of getting an A or a better performance eval because I didn’t try hard enough. How come no one ever came to me and said “hey kid, guess what? Even if you try hard and risk everything for something you want it so badly, you might not get it. So suck it up!”

I wish someone was honest to me about this. So I know I wouldn’t blame myself.

It marked almost the 6th month of me trying. Medically speaking (and by the book), folks at my age are considered ‘infertile’ even with history of pregnancy.

2 days ago, I thought I was pregnant. Even my acupuncturist , , after taking my pulse, said my chance is high. I am few days late and got no signs of mother nature. My temp is as high as Palm Springs in Summer. From a scientific point of view (with every single data collected), my chance of ‘hitting a jackpot’ is higher than ever…I am very compliant, very disciplined; I didn’t do any preg test till I am as close as possible. For the past few days, I skipped coffee, avoided lifting heavy stuff. I stopped running with my dog and went to bed early. I even bought a baby blanket (how silly I am). I felt like there is a team cheering for me as I am reaching the finish line. I thought I am having it this time.

At 6am this morning, I took a deep breath and got tested – It is negative. I managed to hold my tears for a couple mins but ended up breaking down when I reached the dining room. I was watching the sunrise and sobbing (quietly) by myself. I asked “why?”

For the past 8 months, I gave away opportunities where it will take me to different places for career sake. I turned down many social events to give myself downtime. I chose to be home and not to think about my career and/or how to best use of my degree. I chose to seek for ‘motherhood’. I chose to ‘lean out’ because I know it’s all worth it. I am willing to give up all these shinny titles and status to seek for a pregnancy.

Today, I exhausted my resources. I am not sure if I have lost myself but…I have tried. I tried hard. But I want to live, too. You understand? I don’t want to plan my days/weeks/months around my cycle. I don’t want to pity myself every time when I see Aunt Flo coming. I don’t want to blame myself of having cold hands / feet (they believe it will make it hard to fertile). I so want to have a cold drink when it’s 80 degree outside. When I see people at my age keep popping babies, I really want to leave ‘this body’ and see how others live their lives. I have never smoke. I never did drugs. I don’t even drink. I am sure my organs are in pretty good sharp. Yet, I am infertile.

I have enough. I just want to live.

I told myself I need to ‘get up and move forward’. I chose to celebrate my infertility – I took my dog to jog along the lake. I soaked up the sun, despite the wind and chill. I drunk my 1st cup of coffee. I ordered another pumpkin soy latte with my lunch. I bend over to wash my dog.  I lift her up and blow dried her all by myself.

I felt so good doing these all. I taste freedom, although I am in sorrow.

Let’s celebrate infertility.

 

 

 

One Day…You Might Ask “Why?” – A Letter to My Future Children

This is a letter to my future children:

I might never meet you. You might not exist after all. But I have the urge to write this letter to you, even though I am NOT a parent yet at this point.

The world around us is full of unknown. From the scientific point of view, we are having some serious climate change, in which we might encounter more natural disasters in coming years. We have a new president elect, who is known for his nazisum, zero political wisdom, lack of empathy and countless childish behaviors…We are still in wars. There are people suffering and dying every day. Our world is still very much unjust and people are talking about migrating to Mars.

So, in case one day you might ask “Ma’ma, why did you choose to bring me to here?” All I can tell you is that, you are the symbol of hope and love, despite our world is chaotic and in full mass.

Yes, I know this answer might seems irrational. And the decision to bring you here carries tremendous amount of risks (even to my own health)…Yet, your papa and I still believe that even in darkness and crisis, we still have our very own liberty to create joy in our lives. And there is nothing more joyful than your arrival.  Whether we are in times of crisis or good fortune, we still believe that each and every one of us can harness our destiny and power. You will inherit our wisdom and put them in good use.  You will have the fresh perspective of this universe as our faith and love are embedded in you, even before you are born.

I swear to God that what I am confessing isn’t from the Star War’s script (I hope you know what Star War means in your generation). It is straightly from my motherhood’s instinct, something that it grows on me since I lost your old brother/ sister earlier this year. We live in the world (Silicon Valley) where everyone is obsessed with the ideology of entrepreneurship. But let me tell you, the process of becoming a parent, in my opinion, is the most entrepreneurial spirit one can ever have. There is no mathematical formula to predict the risks of parenthood. It is because the risk is indefinite. Yet, millions and millions of folks chose to become parents every day. I guess their reasons are similar to mine.

I hope you will have the courage and spirit to create your own destiny; I also hope that, within your capacity, you can share your joy and wisdom to those in need.

Love,

Ma’ma

If I Ain’t Got You  By Alicia Keys

Some people live for the fortune
Some people live just for the fame
Some people live for the power, yeah
Some people live just to play the game

Some people think that the physical things define what’s within
And I’ve been there before, and that life’s a bore
So full of the superficial

Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah

Some people search for a fountain
That promises forever young
Some people need three dozen roses
And that’s the only way to prove you love them

Hand me the world on a silver platter
And what good would it be
With no one to share, with no one who truly cares for me

Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you

Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby
If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah

If I ain’t got you with me baby
So nothing in this whole wide world don’t mean a thing
If I ain’t got you with me baby

 

The New Presidency: What Shall We do?

A letter to us from President Obama

A letter to us from President Obama

This is not easy to swallow. We are scared. The nation is scared.

I, too asked the same questions “where is justice? what is faith?”
How could we still keep our heads up knowing that the path ahead of us will be a bit more difficult and challenging now?

Reading this letter that was given to us at our naturalization ceremony, I then realized…
Faith is indeed within us. I still believe in social justice. I believe in Black Lives Matter. I believe in equality in gender, health, education, same sex marriage, and economic opportunities.

If you, too are the believer like me, we now need to work even harder to protect our civic rights and to look out for each others, whether s/he is an immigrant,

a young girl with dream to become a president, a person of color, senior, or someone living in poverty, etc.

As the day has just began, think about how you can become a more engaged citizen in your neighborhood, community and to keep this faith as contiguous as possible.

And…if you have dream(s), go chase it and kick some serious axx!

What If?

Traveling is good for both physical and mental. I flew back to Hong Kong last month to attend a family member’s funeral service. Though losing a relative is tough, the bittersweet is that I have another opportunity to gather with my family and closed friends.

Like last time, I went by myself (mainly because my hubby is too busy to company).

My mentor always said “you have to advertise to the employers that you survive in US all by yourself with no family around!” Interestingly though…I didn’t realize the normality of lunching with your best friends and/or booking tables for dinner with family members till I was in Hong Kong. The feeling of being surrounded by familiar faces, especially those whom you are so closed to, struck me every day when I was home (HK). People meet up with their friends after work. Family members check in each other regularly. And when there is tragedy or celebration, family and friends come to you….

That’s how people live! I guess I miss out a lot, ever since my husband and I came here as an exchange student 20+ years ago. We built our career, we each find our way to expand our network, we gain our footing in this foreign land all by ourselves. It is uneasy but I think we did it well.

But, we only have each other….

Not saying we don’t have friends and long distance relatives (only his, not mine) in US, yet, I started to wonder if I have become too dependent on my husband, the only ‘family member’ I have here in US.

When I read about how other women recovered from miscarriages / child birth drama, they often mention about their parents, relatives, closed friends and how they came together to ease the pain…I begin to wonder what my life would be if I didn’t leave for US 20 years ago. What would I do if I chose to stay in Hong Kong back in 1998? What kind of clothes would I be wearing? How would I look? What would I be doing for living? Would I live with my parents? Would I even be close to my family at all?

I remember a year prior to becoming an exchange student in Alabama, I created a little ‘plan b’ for myself. I called it an alternative path in case I did not get accepted by any US college. The plan would be returning to Hong Kong and to attend The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, potentially majoring in Drama / Directing. I also planned to stay close with my boss and producers at RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) for job opportunities. Now I look back, I have to praise the 17-year-old me for her dedication. I know it wasn’t easy at all and yet, she knew best.

I know deep down, it would be a good plan. Drama has always been my passion since grade school. I spent more time screen writing and directing plays than studying. I was on the stage every day; I would argue with my best friends for every details about the story line. Even when I attended high school in Florida, I joined the forensics team to interpret poems and to perform on stage. It was liberating and fun. I knew my ‘plan b’ would still work if I had to come ‘home’.

As you already knew, I ended up continuing my education in US and the rest is history.

I was riding the subway in Hong Kong the other day and I was trying to imagine what kind of person would I become if the history was rewritten. This is what I know for sure:

I would be looking down on my phone the entire time and minding my own business while riding the subway.

I would be in some trendy clothes, although it might look odd to some people.

I would probably living by myself in a tiny apartment or renting it with a closed friend.

I would be producing, directing and acting days and nights and skipped most of the family events.

I might meet a lot of friends through work but never become close.

I would not rest.

I would travel a lot and not saving much money.

I would be drinking a lot, although I can’t tolerate alcohol well.

I would go protest (if I have time).

I would stay single because I didn’t meet Jackson, my husband.

Therefore, I would feel incomplete because of that =)

Hong Kong

A Test

In college, a test or an exam always takes place in a control environment. You already knew  what to prepare, the duration of the test and when your results will come back. Test after test, semester after semester…sometimes I wonder, my 4.0 GPA wasn’t a reflection of my intelligence. Rather, it just demonstrates how well I know the system and my devotion to ‘nail’ it.

Yeah I know….here comes my ‘impostor syndrome’ again.

BUT…you would agree with me that our world is a far more complicated place and we are being tested by your relationship, career, and literally everything every day!

What my miscarriage has taught me is that the road to recovery and the journey of ‘try again’ do put your marriage in an ultimate test. The physical and emotional drain do kill the ‘romance’…let alone the challenge of ‘timing’. One time, I almost ‘gone crazy’ when we were traveling and sharing an Airbnb unit with a group of friends during my ‘most fertile window’. Knowing I will lose the ‘chance’ to try this month due to lack of privacy immediately brought me from cloud nine to hell. I was upset, depressed and wondering why my husband did not treasure our time together. Instead, he chose to play board game with others till the break of dawn! I felt like I have become the old lady in the house as I was the first one crawling to bed not long after dinner.

And like many couples who married for many years, we are beyond the stage of “steamy teen romance”.  It is not easy to recreate the ‘passion’ in the middle of a busy week, if that happens to be the Peak day (according to the OPK…)

Week after week, tests after “tests”…even an iron man would start wondering ‘Why?’ – why am I doing this? Where will this lead me to?

I ask myself these Qs zillion times. I could have stopped what I am doing and go pursue a high paid position that would require me to travel around the world; I could leave this home and move across the country to start a brand new life. I could just let go everything – the life we built together.

But I know I can’t resist of not seeing the man I love to become a father, and I can’t see myself living a fulfilling life without my husband aside. If we can’t pass these tests, there is no possible way we could parent our future kid(s) together. Every demon I am fighting is a spiritual lesson prior to becoming a parent. I don’t need to prove myself to the world; I just need to keep myself grounded.

At the end of each day, I know my unborn child, the one I lost on Feb 26, 2016, has already served his greatest purpose even he didn’t make it to full term.

 

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