Meh.

On the way to my niece’s one month celebration (aka baby shower), where relatives and friends will gather.

I’ve just realised that my apprehension to such gatherings is no longer just about whether people will probe us with unsavoury questions. Just the fact that we are flanked by my siblings and their children speaks the obvious, that we must be having problems conceiving. Unless, we were one of those millenials who wish to live our lives free from the burden of parenthood…

People don’t even need to ask or say anything anymore. They just need to see.

This means that instead of avoiding people or conversation topics at gatherings, I really just want to avoid gatherings, period.

Let me just hang out with the babies, no adults. I’ll be content with their cuteness and inability to talk. Hah.

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It’s a sign.

I have never come across a clearer sign than what we’re going through now. The sign that says, “Now is not the right time. Just, stop.”

Let’s recap. We went to the doc. We got some Clomid. It’s been three cycles following the appointment.

1st cycle: Clomid-assisted attempt #1

  • Negative opks from CD11-15
  • Didn’t test from CD16 onwards because I wasn’t able to, and didn’t think I ovulated anyway.
  • Felt like mayyyybe ovulated CD16-17 – was very crampy.
  • Dtd CD12. Failed dtd CD14. No dtd CD15-17 because hubs was tired/mysteriously injured his back. Dtd CD18.
  • Spotting CD23-32 until period started. Sign of low progesterone?

2nd cycle: No clomid. Didn’t matter because hubs was going away from CD14-28.

  • Dtd CD14 (the surprise homecoming)
  • Assuming ovulation could happen naturally around CD17, wondered if this would be one of those stories where the little boys survived for days…
  • …Of course not. It was a 34-day cycle.

3rd cycle (which is now): Clomid-assisted attempt #2

  • No dtd yet.
  • Anticipating possible ovulation around CD17.
  • Marked CD14-23 as “IMPORTANT” on our shared calendar, AND verbally informed the hubs of what it meant. (Don’t plan anything major or potentially tiring.)
  • So far, so good. Let’s do this again.
  • Hubs’ workplace just confirmed a job assignment. He will be out of the house CD17-19.
  • Are. You. Freakin’. Kidding. Me.

I am so ready to just stop. Give up. End this. Maybe that’s what we are meant to do.

Vulnerable, together

As part of my work, I scan for relevant news in my field, and hence do a lot of reading. Today I came across this article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and it really moved me.

An OB/GYN’s Personal Story of Pregnancy Loss

I guess it was both heartbreaking and comforting to know that such loss is so profound and so human that nothing (not professional knowledge, experience, or any form of wisdom) can save a woman from experiencing deep and irreversible sorrow. We will all be vulnerable… but at least we are all in this together?

Self-preservation

When the hubs was away for two weeks recently, I went into a hyper-self-preservation mode. Other than making it to work, I pretty much minimised social contact with family and friends, apart from what was already in the regular schedule (i.e. family dinners and church). Not so much because I wanted to avoid people, but more like I wanted to reduce the likelihood of being around babies, and mothers with babies.

Well, I love my nephews – they are the absolute cutest. And I do genuinely enjoy my time with them. But not so much with the adults. Not that they have done anything to me, but there is a certain uneasiness (in me) whenever we are all under one roof…

When we are all together, with my nephews – the sons of my brothers, I’m always thinking – YES, everyone has kids except US. I AM A BARREN WOMAN. THE barren woman of the family. I am the only non-parent here.

Of course, my rational voice is like, don’t be silly, NO ONE is thinking about you. But my irrational voice, obviously the louder one, is like – they are TOTALLY thinking about you that way. I bet they want to know just WHY we are still not there yet.

I love my family and being with them, but during this unending period, there is just a lot of energy that goes into suppressing and ignoring my irrational voice, and making sure I am outwardly happy happy happy.

It’s just energy that I want to preserve for myself when my pillar of support is not at home.


 

And the hubs is really really someone I do not deserve. He’s just a big ball of goodness (other than the times I find him irritating, haha).

He was leaving for a two-week overseas engagement, but the first day would have been spent in-camp at a local site. They were only flying overseas on the second day.

On the early dawn of the first day, I was in a fragile mood. Because he was busy packing the night before, we didn’t get to spend much time together before I went to bed. I was also just generally in a bad place re: TTC issues. And since we knew that the day he left was CD14, I didn’t even bother with Clomid this cycle (“taking a break”). Also, I’m generally a worst-case-scenario kind of person, so I was like, what if something happened and he was gone forever!? What would I do?!

That morning, as we embraced and he prayed, I was tearful. He was taken back by my tears, but had to go.

That same day, I went to work and stayed late to finish stuff. No one at home waiting for me anyway, right? I went home, grabbed some chow on the way, and as I opened the door, I noticed a light near the door switched on. I thought, okay maybe I had accidentally flipped the switch when I left this morning, even though I was pretty sure I didn’t. As I stepped in further, I felt a presence, saw an outline of someone sitting at our couch, and panicked… until I realised it was the hubs!

What a surprise 🙂 He’d found a way to come back home for that night, before leaving again the next morning. I was truly happy, and we had a really good evening. He said he would have done the same even if he didn’t have to leave me while I was in tears. I am just so grateful. When he left the next morning, I didn’t cry, I felt more at peace.

Anyway, he came home safely yesterday, so life is back to ‘normal’. 🙂

Damage done.

Can anyone blame me (and the rest of us in the same boat) for wanting to avoid those who, though no doubt has no unkind intentions, make innocent but hurtful comments about our childbearing progress? Most often than not, these are folks of the older generation – uncles and aunties, as we call them in my culture. Nosy parkers…in church!

This happened on three separate occasions this year with three different uncles and aunties from my church.


#1:

Breakfast before church in a crowded coffeeshop. We spot a table with an uncle and aunty we know, and they wave us over to share the table as they are leaving soon.

The husband goes to order food, while I sit with the aunty.

Aunty: (cheerfully) So how’s work?

Me: Oh, yeah, well it’s-

Aunty: (Still with a smile on her face, cuts in) Why, too busy for family ah?

Me: (Knowing exactly what she meant by ‘family’, I’m completely turned off. Just fake-smile. Fake-check my phone..) …

#2:

Hanging out at the church porch after service. Someone’s baby is being ‘passed around’ among friends. Husband carries baby. An uncle comes by and participates in playing with said baby.

After a few moments, the uncle turns directly to me.

Uncle: I’ll just say one thing. Don’t wait too long. (Winks. Walks away.)

Me: (I want to *censored for gore and violence*.) —

#3:

Walking into church for the second service of the morning. An uncle is walking out after the first service.

Uncle: (Hand stretched out) Eh, hi! Long time no see, eh?

Husband: Yeah, good morning! (Shakes hand.)

I hang back a little and do not attempt to engage / shake his hand because I instinctively know he is one of those uncles. I want to keep the interaction short.

Uncle: So… Your baby coming, huh? (Winks at me)

I don’t even bother to fake-smile, and keep on walking.

Husband: (Stunned. Starts walking off too..) *with an attempted hint of sarcasm* Errrr, my baby huh? *Obvious fake laugh*

We walk off.


Church isn’t really full of these people, but yet, sometimes it just feels like it is. They don’t mean any harm. But they sure have done a lot of it.

Should have been.

My church’s Sunday service has a segment dedicated to ‘corporate prayer’, where one of the church leaders will lead the congregation in prayer for specific issues and/or people.

At this morning’s service, the pastor came up to the mic and said, “Today we want to pray for the expectant parents in our midst,” and read aloud the names of the would-be or not-new parents and their expected month of delivery.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I let out a soft sigh. I felt my heart beat faster with mounting anxiety. I felt a little (okay, a lot) of that familiar stab in the heart and guts. If only our names were up there. Our names should have been up there by now.

I wanted to stand up and exit the hall like I was making my way to the restroom. I didn’t, because it felt too much like a walk of shame.

Bless the husband for sensing my discomfort and giving my hand a gentle squeeze to let me know he knew.

It’s been a meh weekend. Two evenings ago, I started spotting. That’s CD22. This spotting-before-period at this point in the cycle is unusual for me. I really have no idea what’s going on.

Maybe this is grace shown to me, that I don’t have to go through the uncertainty of the TWW. Eh, whatever.

What’s the deal?

Remember how I was all hopeful and thinking that things can finally go smoothly now? Like, wow, I might actually be pregnant soon?

Yeah, I know. What was I thinking?

  1. Opks hate me. I never seem to get a positive test no matter how diligent I try to be at holding my pee and ignoring the thirst.
  2. Apparently about 75% of women taking clomid ovulate, the rest do not. Am I part of the 75% or 25%?
  3. Despite my due diligence to pre-empt the hubs of the optimal days, we ended up missing those days because of tiredness from work (him), sleepiness after beer (also him, after we helped with our friends’ engagement surprise) and a mysterious back ache (no surprise there, also him).
  4. If I somehow ovulated early or late (if I did at all), then we might stand a chance…
  5. We did try on a possibly optimal day – but he couldn’t finish the deed. He said maybe because he wasn’t feeling right that day.
  6. Points 3 to 5 don’t freaking matter if I was part of the 25% this first round (see point 2).

So, no. This was not a smooth ride at all. I was so discouraged that despite doing so many things, we seemed to be back at square one. Uncertain about whether ovulation occurred, and seeming to have missed the timing. What’s the deal? What was the point of me taking medication and effecting changes to my body? I wanted to blame the hubs but I couldn’t, because it’s not his fault that his work has been busy and that his back became sore out of nowhere, right? I also felt like I couldn’t tell him what I felt, because the pressure might affect his ability to ‘perform’. Men.

So perhaps this was God telling us to just stop? Just stop taking control? That this was not the right time to be having children? I spent at least an entire day moping around the house, succumbed to disappointment. Seriously, what’s the deal?

At the back of my mind, I still wonder if there was a chance that everything somehow fell in place and if I could possibly be p-… If that was true, it will be amazing, but I will not regret saying these words. Because these are real and raw feelings that I know many sisters out there are feeling the same.

It is what it is.

Sometimes, it is just what it is.

You want a baby. You watch your diet. You try not to stress out about stressing out. You avoid coffee and tea. You take pills to make things work better (hopefully). You go through mood swings, sadness, and other side effects. You track your cycle and (obsessively) track your symptoms. You restrict water intake and hold your pee for opks.

You desperately hold on to hope while feeling that dreadful ache everytime you see someone else’s announcement, swollen belly, babe in arms. You cry inside. You cry at night. You cry when you can. You feel angry, sad, envious, guilty, ashamed.

But it takes two to create new life. So you also try to keep the man in the loop. You try to keep him informed about the optimal days and stuff. But you also can’t stress him out lest it’s “too much pressure” and he can’t “perform”. So you can only drop hints and perhaps play a game of seduction and prompting so that he “gets into it” without the pressure of baby-making.

And if and when sexy time doesn’t happen during prime time because it’s been a long day or he’s sick or injured or god-knows-what, you have to be okay. You cannot blame him, cannot seem upset, because heaven forbid that he starts to feel guilty and let that affect his next “performance”. On top doing of all those things above and maybe even more, you also need to care for his fragile heart feelings and protect his manly pride.

You wonder why you’re the only one really trying. You’ve done so many things or let things be done to your body; all he needs to do is to be ready to shoot, is that so difficult?

You think, what’s the point of taking those pills if it’s just going to waste? But then you have to stop yourself because if you love your husband, you wouldn’t point fingers and shouldn’t feel resentful. His welfare is more important at this point.

And when the blood flows again, your heart will sink again. Then you pick yourself up again, and you try all over again.

You tell yourself, it is what it is.

Normal. Yay?

Well, well.

Apparently, I’m normal. Or rather, my parts are normal, according to the ob/gyn doc, after performing both kinds of ultrasound scans (I’m sure you know that I mean). Blood tests and first-time pap smear were clean too. Without going into much detail, it was a very pleasant visit. I guess I should expect no less of private healthcare (oh, the bill)! I was nervous going in, but I left reassured.

Doc said that, for now, the most probable cause of my irregular cycles is stress. She jokingly suggested changing jobs, and I laughed – because I’d left my previous job two years ago to get away from an unhappy career, but seemed to have run into more stress in my current one.

She prescribed Clomid to help us along, but said it was up to us to take it or continue to try unassisted. And IF there was “no good news” (which, interestingly, was a phrase universally used by all of the clinic’s staff), then we shall return for further (and more expensive) tests.

Right after the appointment, I felt lighter and more hopeful. No fibroid or cyst or abnormal ovaries. And also a little terrified. Like, I could possibly be pregnant in the next few months! Like, more possibly than before!

Now, more than three weeks after the appointment, I have settled down from the euphoria, and definitely more terrified. What if Clomid didn’t do anything for me? What if I soared to higher hopes only to fall into a wider, deeper, darker pit of disappointment? I know I exaggerate, because I have not even reached the pinnacle of TTC struggles as many others are going through. And I deeply empathise with these sisters – if I can’t bear a mere 1.5 years into the journey, I can’t imagine years and years more of disappointments. No one should have to endure so much for a good thing.

On this note, I recently attended a talk for Christian women, which included a session on singleness. The speaker pointed out various reminders of how single people have not missed out on anything. They are not missing parts of life, but are whole beings completely redeemed by Jesus.

Speaking on the feeling of contentment, what really hit me was the knowledge that, at the final day when we come to presence of the full glory of God, there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no sadness, no pain. We will be truly satisfied, fully contented, and will see that our lives on earth are merely a speck on the eternal timeline.

This is such a comforting reassurance for me, knowing that for all the hurts and disappointment in this lifetime, those feelings will not accompany my heart forever. More importantly, this is a reminder that life as God wills it is not about trying to be good or living a good life according to our way, but according to God’s way.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:3-4

 

… So through the trials I choose to say: “Your perfect will in your perfect way.”

– Perfect Wisdom of Our God, Keith & Kristyn Getty


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSnzYnOe6kI

“The perfect wisdom of our God,

Revealed in all the universe:

All things created by His hand,

And held together at His command.

He knows the mysteries of the seas,

The secrets of the stars are His;

He guides the planets on their way,

And turns the earth through another day.

 

The matchless wisdom of His ways,

That mark the path of righteousness;

His word a lamp unto my feet,

His Spirit teaching and guiding me.

And oh, the mystery of the cross,

That God should suffer for the lost

So that the fool might shame the wise,

And all the glory might go to Christ!

 

Oh grant me wisdom from above,

To pray for peace and cling to love,

And teach me humbly to receive

The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.

Each strand of sorrow has a place

Within this tapestry of grace;

So through the trials I choose to say:

“Your perfect will in your perfect way.”

 

http://www.gettymusic.com/the-perfect-wisdom-of-our-god/