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

A story of a Harvard student going through IVF

Tag: miscarriage

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Tears are dry but they are still running

Today is my supposed ‘due date’.

I woke up feeling fine, following my routine and doing my things. Yet, as the day progressed, my tears are out and becoming non-stop.

I never realized that my ‘due date’ was around Mid Autumn Festival, a special Chinese occasion in which families would spend time together and enjoy the full moon.

As I was walking my dog last night, I saw a big full moon above our heads. It was so bright that no flash night is needed. And then I realized – “oh…it’s the family gathering season…and OMG! S/he was supposed to born around this time….” Then I just burst into tears.

The idea of ‘togetherness’ (from the festival) and the absences of my child became a very brutal reminder to myself. As my dog and I were strolling around the neighborhood, I kept wondering – if my pregnancy was a full term and my child was born this week, this would be the most amazing Mid Autumn Festival…we would be eating mooncake, celebrating ‘togetherness’, and holding our ‘bundle of joy’ into our arms…our house would be full of laughter…

That sounds like a complete fairy tale to me.  But here I am,  bracing the cold by myself and picking up dog poops in the dark, under the bright full moon.

My mentor, who became a widow few years ago, reminded me about ‘togetherness’. She said “the most important thing is…at least you two are TOGETHER. Nothing more precious than that..”

I know I can choose to count my blessings, be grateful and just act like it is just ‘another day’. But no word can ever ease the pain when your child died inside your womb. No one would ever feel the weight of self-sabotaging thoughts unless you are ‘one of us’.

The pain is endless.

The Advocate

It is uneasy to be an immigrant. It is challenging for a woman to grow her career, esp here. The amount of hurtles one has to go through is unimaginable, if you are both the former and the latter.

Growing up as a single child with working parents, I was mostly raised by my aunt. I didn’t really ‘move in’ to my parents’ apartment till I started high school. May be I was on my own for the most of the time, I found myself never get used to be taken care of or being adored by someone. Not until I reached adulthood did I realize that I’ve developed a sense of ‘rejection’ or uneasiness when someone shows kindness to me.

I tended to think that people must be ‘crazy’ when they complimented me. I always thought that I don’t deserve all these attention  as I am not good enough. Years of ‘self-doubt’ (aka in medical term:  impostor syndrome) has buried my body and soul with tremendous amount of pressure. Like Tina Fey said about herself “Oh God, they‘re on to me! I’m a fraud!”

As I thrived in my career, I met many brilliants thought leaders and managers. They became my mentors, my good friends and inspirations. But deep down, I still have that ‘uneasiness’ when I face them. I question “why would they give up their schedule to meet me?” I still tend to call myself ‘fraud’ when I see someone stepping up to advocate for me. Emotionally, I am torn between the feelings of “am I really a fraud?” and “do I really deserve this?”

Crazy, huh? At times, I looked at my Linkedin profile and whispered “you fake this whole resume!”. But then I can come up with samples and facts to justify every accomplishment I wrote.

When I had my miscarriage, the darkest side of me would say “yes, you deserve it. Because you have been a fraud all your life!”

Since I broke the news of my miscarriage to my mentor from work, he messaged me with encouraging words and compliments. I didn’t really know how to respond or stay engaged with him other than sending him many thank you notes. Since I am no longer working in that company, technically speaking, there is no benefits for him to continue mentoring me. Yet, he’s never given up on me. He emailed me before vacation and had his secretary to schedule 1:1, despite his busy executive schedule. He told me he has been thinking about my work situation and wants to send my resume to his allies. He coached me how to make a pitch to recruiter; he is thinking all types of strategy for my next career destination.

“Olivia, some people would stand up again after they fall. They would keep on going and do their jobs. But you don’t just do your job. You set your bar high and exceed the expectation. You are in the category that I admire…” he said today.

My emotion went from “am I being a fraud?”, “why is he doing this to me?” to “let accept his kindness and be grateful”.

This immediately brought me to gratification and peace. I accept that he is my advocate ; I accept that he is always out there looking after me and showing me positivity.

I am not thinking about how my career will turn out from this point.  I just want to focus on myself, my well-being.

Me, growing up alone.

Me, growing up alone.

 

The Best Solution – Surrender

The process of waiting for your next pregnancy is an emotional and physical torture (whether you’ve experienced miscarriage or not). And regardless of how caring and thoughtful your significant other is, no one can truly understand the journey unless s/he is in your shoes. You can call me ridiculous but unless you ARE the one counting your cycle day by day, tempting/charting your basal body temperature 1st thing in the morning, setting reminder to take prenatal vitamins, making sure your OPKs are in stock (and being used in the perfect timing every month), documenting every symptom, and making weekly acupuncture appointment, you really have no idea this puts a woman in a 28-32+ days roller coaster train ride . No one likes stress. But ‘doing it right’ (according to the medical profs) requires more works than taking any finals and/or writing a thesis. And BY THE WAY, this is no one time deal – you have to be a Resilience Queen going through the 5 cycle of grief every month after BFN (big fat negative pregnancy test). There, you have to pull yourself up again and start the whole process all over.

Like I said, unless it happens on you, it is hard to imagine the pain .  Not even you, Caitlyn Jenner…

let me clarify this is NOT STRESS. IT IS PAIN. It is repeated humiliation, physical and emotional drain.

I am not giving up. Yet, I just want to live. While motherhood is on top of my bucket list, I want to give some decent respect to my body and soul.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

I think the best solution for now is to give it up to nature. Surrender is like music to my ears now.

 

 

 

Can I Not To Envy?

I used to envy about a lot of things: people’s background, connection, job titles, intelligence, accents…you name it!

I think that has a lot to do with how I was being raised. My mom (or maybe mostly Asians) always said something like “See? So and so are getting good grades on their finals!” or “they must be very rich…not like us!” Because of those kind of mindset, I have been in a journey called “never ending envy”. Or I called it “NEE” syndrome.

It was until recently that I saw a quote from Martha Beck saying “what people think about you is none of your fxxking business!” That was such a relief!

Yet, with the setback of my miscarriage, I envy again of people’s pregnancy. When I saw couples holding a cute baby or a pregnant woman walking on the street, I would immediately say to myself “why I couldn’t be one of them?”

It hurts. I cried.

A former mentee of mine announced her second pregnancy over a month ago. Her first born is about to turn 1 year old. Looking at her baby pictures and seeing the smile on her face made me wonder “why this can happen to her so easily?”

Just when my level of jealousy reached sky high…I received some shocking news last night – she has just been diagnosed with acute leukemia. Her pregnancy has to be terminated due to treatments.

My heart broke. My tears are becoming a sea. I simply cannot imagine how one can survive through this ordeal – a life and death decision of your child before the beginning of your own painful battle, which only has 50% chance of winning…How could someone have the strength to do it? I know I can’t.

Here I am. Looking around myself. I have health and time, the luxury that allows me to be TOGETHER with my love ones.

All these things are PRESENT…so why should I find things to envy about?! Why not embracing what we have now and be content?

Can I? Can we?