Reflection on My First IVF Cycle

I can breathe again. My first IVF cycle has officially been completed. I do feel pretty fortunate that it went relatively smoothly and I can’t believe it’s over already. It certainly is not an endeavor for the faint-hearted. You are on edge constantly and the whole process is incredibly unpredictable. I feel physically (from all the early mornings, sleepless nights, and vials of blood drawn) and emotionally drained at this point and literally slept half the day away today.

Luckily I only had a few bumps during the month. Not like the couple in “Friends From College” on Netflix – I watched episode 4 on the day I did my trigger shot and I definitely recommend it for a good laugh and some stress relief! I had the delays in getting the whole cycle started, the sudden appearance of a cyst that raised my E2 level resulting in another delay, and the egg retrieval procedure wasn’t a walk in the park. Apparently my ovaries are high up so the retrieval was difficult and painful despite the twilight sedation I was under. Two nurses had to push HARD on my torso to help the doctor retrieve the eggs from my ovaries. Of course, I am still a bit sore and it has been a week already. And I found out I do not react well to Fentanyl. I was completely out of it afterwards and both of my eyelids swelled up. Thankfully S came to pick me up after the procedure and was an angel in preparing a couple of meals for me that lasted through the week.

This past week has been the most nerve-wracking week of them all (I’m sure fellow IVFers can certainly attest to this!). My anxiety was at its peak levels when waiting for the phone call from the clinic every morning (sometime between 8:00-10:00) to see what the latest lab update was.

Day 1 – 7 mature eggs had been retrieved, 4 eggs fertilized

Day 2 – 4 embryos divided

Day 3 – 3 embryos divided again, there was hope that the 4th one would catch up

Day 4 – 4 good quality embryos developing normally

Day 5 – only 2 embryos were good enough to make it to freeze (the clinic only freezes good quality day 5 blastocysts)

Day 6 – other 2 embryos did become blastocysts but were of poor quality and I was told that they would have implanted but would not have any further fetal development

I am very disappointed that I wasn’t able to produce more eggs so I had low numbers (hard to take when you read online about all these other women older than me who had such high numbers!) but I also know that I should be very grateful that I have two strong little snow babies right now waiting for me. I just have to continue with trying to maintain this positive energy and hopefully I will have one of them nestled securely in me soon.

Now that my embryos are ready and waiting, it is time to put the finishing touches on a healthy home for them. I will be having my 5th and final surgery in less than two weeks. I am really hoping that this hysteroscopy will be successfull in removing many fibroids and boost my chances of pregnancy up from the current 50%. I wish I knew when I will be able to do my FET after this procedure. Maybe after a month or two?

I can’t believe I have made it up to this point! After all of these miserable years, I am so close to possibly having a baby! I am trying to stifle my excitement as you never know. But hard to keep it from bubbling up inside because I never thought I would be here! And on my own too! Other than S and my therapist, I haven’t told another soul about my two embryos yet. It is so hard to keep it a secret. I might….might…tell one of my good friends. And I know I will have a hard time not telling my mom. I guess we’ll see how long I can keep this good news to myself…

Green Light to Stim!

When I had my baseline appointment last week, the Dr. found an estrogen-producing cyst on my right ovary that was causing my Estradiol to be 392, which was way too high. So they kept me on Lupron (10 units) for an extra week. After spending way too much time on Google looking up estrogen-producing cysts, high levels of E2, and delayed/cancelled IVF cycles, I had hope when I read that getting your period may help the cyst disappear and E2 levels would drop. It was possibly the first time I was thanking the heavens when I got my period on Saturday. Not sure how much validity is in this, but I also tried cutting out meat/dairy products over the next few days in hopes that that would help reduce my estrogen level.

I went back for an ultrasound and bloodwork on Thursday and the Dr. could no longer see the cyst anymore! A few hours later, I got confirmation that I was good to start stimming the next day as my E2 had decreased to 91.8…woohoo!!! I am cutting it extremely close with this IVF cycle as I am booked for a hysteroscopy on Nov. 6. Hopefully all will go smoothly with this round of FSH meds and that egg retrieval will be able to happen before that date.

Since my memory is at the level of a 78 year-old, I had pretty much forgotten all of the injection training I had received at the clinic 3 weeks ago. Maybe I should have taken up the nurse’s offer to borrow the teaching tools to practice at home (yes, I was that bad…!!)…Thankfully the clinic’s website has training videos on it. I don’t know if it’s just me or if others doing IVF feel the same way but I was incredibly stressed about doing these injections. I can’t believe I was worried about the Lupron injection before! Now that is the easiest one. I was to reduce Lupron to 5 units, use Puregon (350 units), and Menopur (150 units).

S and I have been on decent terms lately. Kind of being like friends. We text each day wishing each other good morning and good night and occasionally get together for a meal or movie. But other than hugs, a kiss on the forehead (from him) and the use of the kissing emoji, we awkwardly avoid any other form of romantic contact. Anyway, he knew I was feeling really anxious about these injections so he offered to come by after work to help me. My anxiety overtook any pride/independence I was feeling and I quickly took him up on his offer. As I carefully laid out each item (oh my god, so many!!) with the corresponding instructional pamphlet, he watched the training videos.

#1 – Lupron: Easy peasy!

#2 – Puregon pen: Was the second easiest. Thank god, my dose was simple so I needed one vial exactly. Hurt a little more than the Lupron syringe and bled a little bit.

#3 – Menopur: The one I was dreading as there was mixing involved. We did get confused about how much saline to use as I needed two vials of the powder. We decided to use 1 mL since the pamphlet said that is typically the dose. As I injected, it definitely felt like a lot more liquid going in and it was the most painful. With this one, I bled the most and was a bit sore afterwards. This is the only time that I was glad that I have a good amount of fat on my mid-section.

#4 – Tuxedo truffle cake that S brought: It did feel like it was a cause for celebration to get the first day of stimming injections over with. I was very relieved and also very thankful that S could be there with me to assist (mostly keeping me calm, reminding me of little things I forgot, and not letting me second-guess myself).

The whole process took about an hour, which is probably really long, but I’m sure if it was by myself that time would double. I will be attempting this again on my own in a few hours so hopefully I will get through it okay!




Realizing I Was Meant To Be a SMBC All Along

This was the last sunset we watched together. It was a good year. We had both tried our best to enjoy the moment and be in the present. In my opinion, it was one of the best and most stable years of our nearly 5 year relationship. Despite the elephant bolted steadfastly in the room (his mom), we seemed to be in some form of semi-domestic bliss. We both still had our separate residences but he spent the majority of the time at mine. Life became routine – running errands, cooking healthy meals, cleaning, working, spoiling kitty, attending family gatherings…mine anyway. I have not seen his family for about a year and a half now. He pretty much lived two separate lives. And so it could only last for so long before coming to an abrupt end.

Over the past year, I changed to a new doctor at a fertility clinic. I patiently awaited surgery to be performed by him, as well as another doctor, whom I had met in the spring. I had a really good feel from him as well. He was extremely experienced in working with patients with fibroids and infertility. He was soft-spoken, kind, and patient. I was so confident going into surgery with two of the top professionals in the field operating on me. The healthcare system in their city was also more advanced than the one here. The hospital had contacted me weeks prior to the abdominal myomectomy and had prepared me to be in the best physical shape I have ever been in before surgery. To prevent needing a blood transfusion afterwards due to my anemia, they upped my iron and also had a couple of injections that were supposed to help build red blood cells. My doctor had me on two courses of Fibristal before that as well.

Even though this surgery was a much bigger one than the hysteroscopies I’ve had in the past, I recovered amazingly well. It was the first time I was not sick to my stomach after waking up (ok, the hospital was very generous with their drugs) and I was pretty much healed by the time 6 weeks rolled around. Of course it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine at first. Hurt like hell when I laughed or sneezed (pillow trick was a must) and I was extremely exhausted and slept many extra hours over those weeks. But the four biggest fibroids were finally out! Since then, my periods have still been heavy with clots but significantly shorter. I also don’t feel the pain and pressure like I did before.

Unfortunately, my battle with fibroids has not reached its conclusion quite yet. During my follow-up appointment (which I went to alone since S could not leave work), the doctor said that if I were to try to conceive in my current state, my chances would be cut by 50%. So we decided we will give surgery one final go. In a couple of months, I will have one last hysteroscopy to remove as many of the remaining smaller fibroids as he can. He also told me that there is now new research claiming more success with frozen, rather than fresh, embryos. We discussed when to start IVF. I knew that with my uterus freshly cleaned up and my age creeping up to 37, I was eager to get started right away. And also with how smoothly my relationship with S has been going, he shouldn’t have a problem with this, right? I left the office with my thick package of IVF consent forms to read and sign, a prescription for birth control pills to help regulate my cycle, and an appointment date for a sonohysterogram. Now I just needed S to read and sign the papers and have them witnessed. Oh yeah, and there’s also the matter of getting $15,000.

I think it was nearly 5 weeks into my recovery and after much nagging and pestering about the consent forms, S and I were on the way to my mom’s to have her be the witness. Everything happens for a reason. The mantra of my life. S had been acting cold and distant in the days coming up to that moment. Coincidentally, his mom had also just returned from a month-long vacation (*sigh*). We ended up having a big fight on the drive over. It was like the whole year of fragile peacefulness had built up to this explosion of resentment and despair. And it was directly aimed at me. Depression never completely disappears. As many of us who have it know, it is managed. Controlled. And when someone is in denial about it, it is only a matter of time before you are consumed by it.

The same speech escaped his lips. I wistfully yearned for the lost year when those words and feelings were masquerading as happiness. He could not do this anymore. How could we bring a child into this situation? He needed to wait until the circumstances improved. I told him his mom will never like me. It will never change. It will be like this forever. I was now the broken record. We cannot change others, only ourselves…blah…blah…blah. By this point, I had already screamed at him to turn the car around. He had the audacity to act surprised. At least we were on the same page now, we could not create a child together to be in this disaster of a situation.

Out of all the fights we have had over these years, the ammunition used in this particular one tore up my flesh and left me scarred. He blamed me for everything that was wrong in our relationship. It was my fault that his mother did not like me. It was my fault that I could not see his family and was never invited to their gatherings. It was my fault Christmases are now ruined for him and that he has anxiety about the upcoming one. She is an angel, Mother Teresa; no human shall speak an ill word about her. Never shall any utter words signifying anything less of perfection when it comes to her. I had never seen such devotion and loyalty. This is not healthy. This is not normal.

Oh, the irony that his literal blindness in one eye caused such devout blindness towards the woman who bore him and who sadly also blamed him for the childhood accident that caused him to lose his eye.

I, on the other hand, had not seen clearer than I did at that moment. He would always view me as a terrible woman. I would never win and he will never take my side. His mother will always be his number one and I would always have to fight for second place. I know, in the deepest of my heart, that I am not a terrible person. Sure, I have done terrible things just like every other person on earth. But as all my closest family and friends know, I have always lived my life by doing what I do best, by helping others, which is why I choose the jobs I do. If he does not see who I really am, how can he say he loves me?

Since that day a month ago, we have barely spoken. I do not want my child to be in a destructive and dysfunctional environment. I grew up in one and barely made it to today and like any decent mother, I am going to protect my child from anything or anyone who will do harm. Life is already challenging as it is and if I can provide a happy, healthy home surrounded with positive energy, things will be easier to bear.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to create this family and whether or not it’s in the stars, but I do know in my heart that I need to try on my own. This is where my path divides from his.

The Elusive Acceptance


It was over special fried rice and Shanghai noodles a couple of weeks ago when I finally discussed with my mom the reality of my decision of becoming a mother on my own; some particulars on the process with the fertility clinic. We were talking on the phone the night before and she was excitedly gushing over the latest photos of the first baby in our immediate family, my niece. She religiously checks the website where my brother and sister-in-law post the photos the moment she wakes up in the morning and before she goes to bed at night. I admit – I do check daily too…seeing her brings a smile to my face each and every time.

Anyway, she pointed out how happy my brother and sister-in-law look and how much they must be enjoying new parenthood. She then gave me her blessing on my choice to pursue single motherhood. My happiness was instant. She even mentioned that she had talked about this with my aunt. To me, this translated into the significance of her being okay enough with my decision that she was even comfortable sharing it with someone else.

As for the rest of my immediate family, other than one extremely lengthy email that initially turned me into a puddle of tears with its appearance as an authoritative scare tactic which I have now chosen to trust was written with good intention and love; my siblings are pretty much avoiding the topic altogether. This is probably for the best as I don’t wish to strain our relationships and cause tense disagreements right now. It will only cause me stress and anger, emotions I do not wish to invite into my life right now. I am not planning on telling my dad anything at this point.

As for friends…I have to admit that I am avoiding a number of them because I dread telling them about my decision. Even my best friend. Who is due with her first child very soon. I know that the conversation will not affect our relationship (or at least I don’t think so…), but even though we have a long and relatively close friendship despite not living in the same city, my worries exist because of her religious and cultural beliefs. I know that to this day, I still have not lived up to her fairy tale life that she has envisioned for me over the last 20 years. I have never dared to tarnish her impermeable innocence with the sordid details of my dating life but she should have an idea at the very least of who I am. I know I will have to tell her eventually but at this point, I do not want to risk spoiling the first moments of her own motherhood journey.

One friend I told never replied back to my text.

Another one diplomatically just listened to me, without ever stating her opinion, and only commented that she has never known anyone else to do this.

The only other friend I have discussed this with was filled to the brim with sympathy for my situation and even said that hearing about all the things that I deal with always helps her feel less depressed about her life. Huh. And then wide-eyed, eager and curious, she soaked up every detail of the process thus far. The number one being how to choose a sperm donor, of course. Even my mom had asked me how I would be getting the…ummm…”stuff.”

Fortunately, I also have one wise older friend in her 60s who has always been like another mother to me. She has always been a champion (the only loyal one) of my relationship with S and she was the first one to tell me to pursue single motherhood. She was the one I sobbed to after I realized S was not going to father my child. In those early heated moments when I was considering natural insemination by strangers through co-parenting sites, she was the one who talked me down and pointed out that S is a traditional sort of man who would undoubtedly have his heart destroyed if I slept with another man. She was adamant that I find a sperm donor through official channels. Am I ever glad that she had talked some sense into me. If not, I am certain that any chance of my relationship with S continuing on would indeed be non-existent.

I am aware that I cannot go on continuing to avoid my friends so that I don’t need to talk about this. And if they are indeed my true friends, they will in the end want happiness for me and so would support my decision. I am going to be selective about which friends I will be telling, as well as which stage I will be doing it at. My current priority is to be as calm and positive as I can be for this journey as I want to be creating a healthy emotional, as well as physical, home in my body for a baby. In the meantime, I will surround myself with people who want to share in this unique and special journey with me and I hope that understanding will eventually reach those who don’t. I will focus on those I am so incredibly fortunate to have in my life right now.

I know it really shouldn’t matter what others think of personal decisions but it does really mean something when loved ones are on board with your choices. Especially moms. I was thinking I should share with her at some point that maybe a huge part of why I desire a baby so much, regardless of all of the struggles in the process, is maybe because I want to have a relationship like what we have had with my own child. I want to be able to unconditionally love a child and share the journey of entering and exploring each and every part of life with him/her. I want to pass on all of the good parts of me I have gotten from her onto her grandchild; the continuation of her beautiful love to future generations.



First Step

Sand FootstepIt was official. I have taken the leap and told my OB-GYN that I would like to attempt pregnancy on my own. A felt like a huge weight was lifted after I told him. I guess I had expected the usual disappointment and looks of pity I have been receiving from family members and some friends after I shared my recent plan with them but my doctor was extremely supportive and gave me reassurance that I was doing the right thing. Over several years of seeing him, this was one of the most positive appointments I have had.

Being the wonderful and efficient doctor he is, he went right into discussing the different alternatives and worked out a plan with me. It seems to be a bit of kismet that a new local fertility clinic will be opening up soon and a referral was to be made there to have IUI done. He assured me that he knew the people there well and how great they were. I should be hearing from them sometime over the next month to start off with a telephone consultation.

A tiny seed of excitement has now been planted.



Black Sheep…or Pioneer of Today?


Hello all,

I am 35 years old, Chinese/Canadian, and find myself to be in the unique, yet ever-growing, group of women attempting to become single mothers by choice.

To my family’s dismay, I have always been the black sheep out of the bunch. Rather than choosing a well-paid career path that is respected within our culture, I decided to pursue education and eventually followed my heart into social/humanitarian work.

At quite a young age, I also decided to move out into my own little place *gasp*…before getting married (to a nice and wealthy Chinese man of course).

I still have never been married. Nor have I ever had a desire to. After the demise of one long-term relationship, I decided that I just wanted to enjoy dating. I had the opportunity to meet a variety of interesting men…well some more than others. And while it seemed everyone around me was settling down with their fairy tale weddings and I was one of the last few standing, I still did not experience the yearning for marriage and the status quo. I was having a great time; my coupled friends living vicariously through me.

Several years ago, I met a wonderful man and I entered into my first adult, mature relationship. It was a passionate, tumultuous love affair; on par with the great love stories in film and literature. But of course, like in these stories, there were challenges that we were not always able to conquer. Add in depression. Sprinkle in a few separations. Mix in therapy. Throw in some cultural differences and crippling family dysfunction and blend.

Despite all that and the scars of the battles, we continued to love each other. We recently decided to take the leap into cohabitation. Unfortunately it was short-lived. Because of debilitating medical issues and my ticking biological clock, I was told by my OB-GYN that we could no longer keep waiting. It was time to try for pregnancy.

I was ready…he was not. It was a very difficult decision, choosing my desire for a baby over a relationship with the kindest, most loving and beautiful man I have ever met. But my longings of finally becoming a mother were undeniable.

Needless to say, my family is not exactly jumping for joy at my latest decision.

But here I am…the beginnings of my new adventure towards becoming a single mother by choice.