Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Oh, you'll get pregnant if you just..." or, Why we decided to try IVF in Taiwan.

Anyone reading this who has ever said the following to a friend or is even close to uttering these phrases to a friend - think twice bee-yotch.

Darwin award nominee: "I had a friend in Poughkeepsie who had a friend in Ottawa who served coffee at Starbucks to a customer's wife's second cousin who was TTC with an IVF cycle and before they even got a chance to use her husband's contribution, her eggs were miraculously fertilized already. She was pregnant without her husband's contribution. No, they didn't use a contribution donor. *in hushed voice* It's the coming of the savior, Jesus Christ.

Barista: No kidding - Jesus Christ. I mean Jesus H. Christ, that's fucking insane. Not religious here, sir. Actually, I'm a pagan Athiest and "believe" in this little thing you may have heard of called science. You know, ev-ol-u-tion. *long pause as customer's face screws into an indignant, furrowed mass of redness as he burns his tongue on an insanely hot brew* By the way, sir, what is that couple doing with their frozen embryos b/c I'm sure you could make a fortune selling them on eBay.

Alright here's the actual phrase:

"Maybe if you just relax."

Really? Et tu Brutus? Could you be more dismissive and ignorant and cruelly perpetuate an urban myth about infertility? Yes. Sometimes these sentiments apply. And sometimes people beat ovarian cancer for good.

And let's not forget this beauty: "You could always just adopt."

Oh, just adopt. Because that's not heart wrenching either. Because that's not a crap shoot either. Because that doesn't also carry with it the inherent genetic Russian roulette we all play with, but additionally, when in utero, your future baby may have succumbed to whatever crack the birth mother was smoking. I mean, you know, only if she was a teenager in high school.

So if you've used either of these phrases in the past to your friends, get on the phone and call their ass to apologize about being an ass yourself. Be a good supportive friend and don't condemn your struggling couple friends with the additional burden of flippantly acting like they're doing something else wrong.

Yeah, in the olden days we'd just get a big "B" for BARREN carved into our foreheads. But in the olden days my husband would have been long dead before I even met him (type 1, insulin dependent diabetes). And how about finding out the gender before it pops out so the consumed baby crap will be the right color and theme? That, my friends, is called an advancement in technology. Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, as the name suggests falls in that category.

So, my friend was very curious about how this service is offered in China with its overpopulation problems and I related to this her:

Hey - well, keep in mind we're not in China, but the Republic of China - Taiwan. Taiwan sees itself as its own separate country and China sees it as an offshoot of China. There has always been quite the political struggle between the two countries. So Taiwan is all for assisted reproduction.

Taiwan is so all for ART that they have been vying to get medical tourism over here for it. I discovered this upon researching the viability of pursuing IVF treatment while we're living here.

Here's our change of heart timeline. AKA, our laboriously long TTC story. (Seriously. It. Is. Fah-riggin. Long. Unless you're totally compulsive, you might want to employ your Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics techniques. Or, grab your own fresh brew and find a comfortable seat):

Here goes...

We really just wanted to create a baby here so we could always say that our baby was, literally, "Made in Taiwan."

That's it.



Come January 18th, as I approach my 41st (oy) b-day, I'm also approaching our 7-year TTC anniversary (in hindsight, maybe not such a good idea to have lumped the two days together). I took my last BCP January 17, 2002. I was 34. We'd been married for almost a year and a half. It was time. I didn't feel "ready," but as I was turning a whopping 34, it was "now or never."

So we went at it. No luck. I was popping my prenatals and faithfully stopped drinking and smoking hash (kidding. Sheesh - simmer down) during the 2ww. For nearly 9 months straight, I was incredibly exhausted due to going off the pill which I had been on since my mom died of ovarian cancer in 1989 b/c the doctor said to my wide-eyed 21-year old self (with a straight face), "Well, I recommend you have your children now and get a hysterectomy ASAP. But if you're not going to have a baby now, then you should stay on BCP to keep cysts off the ovaries. In addition to getting regular ultrasounds, it's the best way to try to prevent ovarian cancer."

As the BFN pee sticks so clearly indicated, the months quickly ticked off. I went for my tri-annual ultrasound with aforementioned top UCLA OB/GYN - who had made some passing reference to my ovaries looking possibly "Polycystic" and confirmed that the status of the fibroids (which have been staying put since at least my early-20s) were remaining the same size. I continued to suffer through the various and strange off-the-pill-symptoms which were a total mindfuck since my "symptoms" were very similar to PG symptoms. Turns out the pill was doing its job all those years (not the actual preventing PG part since there was no possibility of conception to prevent, but, you know, the cyst avoidance part was good). It was doing such a bang up job keeping those nasty cysts away that I had no idea the pill was suppressing a "condition" I didn't even realize I had. Yep. That "slightly polycystic" thing my doctor mentioned? It has a name: PCOS. I've been diagnosed as borderline, but after seeing how I so easily reached OHSS by CD8 (PCOSer are more prone to it), I seem to be over that line.

Meanwhile, most of my friends were successfully starting their families and I continued to fill my voids by shopping at painful places like Target and Ikea - where it's a veritable belly brigade of moms-to-be proudly displaying their growing girth. (Of course, some may very well have worked hard to achieve their PG thru ART means, but all I saw were big, beautiful bellies.)

So after too much wasted time, money, and tears (not to mention dealing with insensitive "helpful" comments like the ones I listed in the beginning of this novella post. [Oh yeah, I forgot this classic: "So...? When're ya gonna start a family, hmmm?"]) spent totaling about a year+ of undergoing the following:
  • Frequent recipient of Medical dildo (Ultrasounds),
  • Perpetually bruised arm crook (blood draws),
  • Glucophage/Metformin (usually given for insulin resistant type 2 diabetics, but also for PCOS),
  • 3 wasted Clomid rounds
  • Acupuncture set up to fail on my end b/c DH's sperm was NG (though I did enjoy it)
  • Stupid doctors (i.e., one UCLA internist - NOT intern, internIST - actually said to me, "I don't see what having cysts on your ovaries has to do with your hormones being out of whack. Eh, you'll be pregnant in no time." Idiot.)
  • Spending way too much money on digital ovulation sticks (and ruining our fun by TIMING doing it)
  • Spending way too much money on HPTs (home pregnancy tests)
With this as the constant result: BFN on said wasted HPTs, we stepped up to entering the full fledged world of the INFERTILE couple. Or, if you prefer, fertility challenged.

Onto an actual RE.
RE #1: Dr. Richard Paulson of USC:
Highly recommended and damn, hot too. It was like having Magnum PI down there. Felt kinda sordid actually. FINALLY had Dan do a SA. So when Dr. Paulson calls and gives me the lowdown while I'm at work on the 3 sperm attributes we're looking for:

1st: Count: Lots of 'em - √
2nd: Motility: Good motility - √
3rd: Volume: porn star gobs (ew, even I'm cringing at what I just wrote) - √

I was carefully listening, doing my mental checks going, Cool. Good. Cool. We're cool, yay.

Then he said there was a 4th one. What? What the fuck?! Damn.

4th one: Morphology (turns out, totally sucks. Really bad. What? How? But he has gobs. Gobs, I tell you.) - no fucking √ on this one.

Me: Morphology? What's that? I thought there were only 3 things we were looking for.

RE: Strict Morphology. It's the shape. Between 1-4% are decent. Meaning the rest are basically shaped like little Homer Simpsons chasing their own tails. (Fine, he didn't say that last part.)

Me: *feeling the empty pit in my stomach move up into my heart as the tears started to well* Um. Ok. Thanks, I guess.

Broke down crying at work and left an hour early.

Then more testing for me: HSG. Didn't kill like a mother b/c fortunately my tubes were A-Okay. However, the fibroids were there and there was this little, pedunculated (hanging like a quaint little Christmastime icicle) possible fibroid inside my uterus. Gosh this anatomy stuff is so delicious, isn't it?

Verdict: Good IVF w/ ICSI candidate.

However, prior to embarking on our first RE visit, Dan and I felt pretty strongly that we were NOT going to take it as far as IVF b/c we were worried about the following - in no particular order:

  1. Too many people in the world.
  2. There are kids out there that need good homes.
  3. Ridiculously expensive and it's such a crap shoot. Maybe we should just stash that kind of money away in case we DO decide we want to adopt some day.
  4. Fear and paranoia about what the IVF drugs will do to my health in the long run. Plus there was that little issue of my mother dying of ovarian cancer - giving me the genetic predisposition of getting it myself one day. (So going the opposite route of early OB/GYN's recommendation and STIMULATING the ovaries 'till they grow the size of a large fruit, might not be such a good idea.)
  5. We have known issues with our genes (hindsight - who the fuck doesn't?)
  6. The world is going to pot (look at the idiot we have as President who is driving yet another business into the ground. Except this time the business is, oh, America. You know, leader of the free world.)
  7. All the hoop jumping of countless doctor visits in congested Los Angeles. Working, fighting traffic, waiting in an overcrowded doctors office b/c we're seeing a top, published RE in a town where everyone seems to put family planning on hold b/c either a.) their careers are too important and hard-earned, or b.) they took too long finding a suitable partner in that, my beloved, depraved home town, or c.) all of the above. In my case it was door number 2.
  8. Believe (and unfortunately still do - research proves, rightly so) that natural conception is the best for the strength of the pregnancy and baby. Goes back to that ol' Darwin concept: may the best spermie win...
So, instead of going for the ICSI due to the list above, we went the varicocele repair route - microsurgery on Dan's precious junk. He went under the knife at the end of 2003.

And... Drumroll

Did nothing to improve his sperm quality. But at least while we were messing around with the gay urologist's penis puzzles on his desk, we got to see Dan's afroed, fanged sperm turn to the "camera" and hiss at us. (A sample was put on a slide and we saw it right after he generated it on a computer monitor.) Oh yeah - they were misshapen alright.

Then there was the potential obstacle of my phantom, and yet to be determined ghost of something in my uterus that would most likely obstruct implantation. We aborted our TTC plans, leaving that one dangling (so to speak), as we regrouped and soul searched about proceeding or not. As we were busy aging with our indecision, Dan's mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer which had already metastasized in the form of a malignant tumor on her upper spine.

Dan's mom was the first woman I had let into my heart as a mother figure since I lost my own mom. (In that, over-eating her great cooking, enjoying that she liked to sweetly, absent-mindedly stroke my hair, and getting drunk together kinda way [which would make my relationship w/ Dan that of a sibling - hence incestuous... ugh. ruining it here?]). I've had nearly 2 decades to grieve the loss of my own mother, but this loss remains still so fresh today, I'm welling up as I write this. Connie had a huge fan-base. She was the best MIL I could have ever hoped for. This was in June of 2004. We spent the rest of the year crying different tears than we'd become accustomed to while TTC as we were flying and driving back to his hometown of San Jose as much as we possibly could.

The ABC after school special part? Jenny, my SIL and Dan's younger sister, announced a week after we learned about Connie, that she and her DH were expecting their first child. I'd like be the big person and relate that the first thing that came to mind was that Jenny would have to deal with saying a long goodbye to her mom while doing her best to nurture her first pregnancy with a child that would most likely never meet her grandmother. But alas, nope. My first reaction was to hold my breath until we could leave my SIL and her DH's home. Got into the car and BURST into tears. That was the first of 2 very difficult pregnancies to learn of. During those 6 months while we all said our goodbyes in our own ways to Connie, I did my very best to be a gracious and enthusiastic expectant Aunt, trying my hardest preparing to say a big hello to my yet unborn niece.

There were a few stumbling blocks involving raging PG hormones, raging bouts of searing grief, and my relatives just having no clue how fucking raging difficult it was to watch her growing belly (with countless references calling more attention to said belly by my BIL) during that trying time. In my mind, Connie was supposed to meet her first grandchild long before they found the cancer. We were supposed to have overcome many a passive-aggressive battle about her feeding the kid too many sugary treats. Right before bedtime. We failed in providing her the opportunity to get to know at least one grandchild. At least that was the way I irrationally felt at the time.

Of course it's impossible for fertile couples to truly understand the pain (the range on the pain dial varies day to day, year to year) an infertile couple experiences in grieving for an unborn child they may never have. And I don't wish that kind of understanding on anyone.

Campbell Constance was born February 8, 2005. About 10 days after Connie passed away. Jenny at least got to tell Connie it was a girl and what she was going to be named. I immediately allayed their fears and was as in love with her as if I weren't infertile and bitter. In other words, I never "took it out" on Campbell as I believe they feared I would. She's an amazing little girl and I'm so happy and proud to call her my niece. And I was happy for grandpa that he at least got a grand kid. Though I must add, neither set of parents on either side EVER pressured us about having kids. (In fact, my parents have gone the opposite end of the spectrum and have repeatedly stressed to us how happy they are that we don't have kids, that we have a great life-style, etc. [They're not privvy to this website at the moment]).

So even though there was no pressure, grandpa and girlfriend, Trudy, are thrilled to not only have little miss Campbell Constance on whom to lavish with their love, but while we have been living here, SIL and BIL had their second daughter - Marlowe Rose was born on August 4, 2008. Cannot believe that we have not yet met her in person. Strange.

Back to early 2005. January 10th. Insanely rainy season in L.A. It was ceaseless and perpetually driving rain. We had a landslide on an empty lot we own adjacent to our first house and our neighbors' house. Yellow tagged - all. Needed to deal with shoring it up ASAP. Cut to December 2008. Still not wrapped up. It's rainy there right now. Fixing that slide has been uber loud white noise in our world - black noise. We're going on 4 years - talk about feeling impotent. So as far as stress goes right now, dealing with fixing that during this rainy season is a bigger stresser on us than undergoing this round of IVF - OHSS and all.

Due to the landslide, losing Connie, and Dan getting a job in San Diego, we stopped TTC involving professional assistance. Of course, every month when AF arrived, there was a part of me that was tearfully mystified that a miracle hadn't occurred. Connie did say on her deathbed that we'd have 3 children. HUH? Silly superstitious side ringing in my ears triggers this scary scenario: We get PG with twins doing IVF and I get PG with a singleton naturally afterwards. Mind you, this IS NOT the scenario for which I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Just comes to mind when thinking of Connie's prophecy now that we're actually undergoing IVF.

So while I'm nearing the end of working as a photo editor at a failing magazine in Los Angeles, Dan was living in a rented room in San Diego. He was IN LOVE with surfing the SD coastline. He loved spontaneously stopping for a surf before and/or after work. He said life down there would be perfect if I was there with him. I know. Crazy notion that we wanted to live together full time as husband and wife. I HATE being a renter (covering someone else's mortgage without the write off benefits, control issues, etc.) so I manically came up with a plan:
Buy a mobile home 1/2 a block to a surf spot (Fine. Yes, there is space rent. Which does totally suck),
move to San Diego and
live full time (for the most part) in our spacious 410 square feet of luxury with
our elderly 2 cats and 2 dogs.
Furry much?

While there and with me not working full-time, we decided to look into that mystery dangler in my uterus with:
RE #2: Dr. Arlene Morales:
Mystery solved. In July of 2006, underwent hysteroscopic surgery for the removal of the pedunculated icicle-like thingy which thankfully only turned out to be a small polyp. It was removed without incident and we stopped once again to access. In a continued effort to avoid undergoing what was looking to be our second confirmed verdict: IVF with ICSI, we both tried acupuncture. Dan needed some coercion, but became a believer of sorts (whole different entry on that one). It did improve his morphology numbers - up to 4-7% of possibly decently shaped and qualified swimmers. It was still quite low. If we were going to launch into IUI based on everything in our file to that point, our success rate wasn't looking too pretty.

Depression finally kicked in. Did freelance casting, propping, and photo production, driving up to stay in our digs in L.A. - a bedroom with attached bath and a separate entrance we had set up for our strange, divided life. Though we had shared use of the public places in our house, I wound up just hiding away from our Playboy-loving college grad student roomie while his 52" big screen TV was blaring a constant stream of subscription football games. Depression worsened. Felt isolated and withdrawn. Wasted money on a "life coach" I found on Craigslist who basically read passages to me out of dated early-'90s self-help books. Went on Zoloft. Felt much better. Went off Zoloft. Didn't like some of the side effects and felt fine again. Gradually made peace with being a child-free couple. Went to Sundance w/ our BFF child-free couple friends who also went through the heartache of failed attempts at starting a family. While away, we closed escrow on a filthy, run-down apartment building (3 units/house in back) just shy of Downtown Los Angeles. Our intention was - we'd have an apartment in L.A. for work purposes (SANS ROOMIE), and the mobile home in S.D. Fuck. Change of plans.

Dan: Sweetie? Please, please go back on the Zoloft while we go through this insane undertaking we pretty much had no business naively undertaking.

Me: Ok. *head spinning* (gladly.)

Spent every last cent we had, plus maxed out every one of our credit cards to renovate. Stupid fucking TLC shows like Flip that House and it's ilk. Dan was kindly hired by our friend with whom we traveled to Sundance who owns a small editing facility. I was kindly hired by our friend who got us all our loans to happily participate in overextending ourselves by acquiring properties, land, and the mobile home during the housing boom. I earned my real estate license while we moved not once, but twice. First time: fully extracting ourselves from our home in L.A. to "owner-occupy" (read: squatting in our newly-acquired dump) at Huron. Second time: moving into the back house as the front building wrapped completion.

As I mastered becoming a professional money juggler with what little funds we had left to move around, I was in the thick of learning the ropes of being a mortgage broker while the industry was crashing around us. In addition to finding good tenants for our vacant home we just moved out of, our tenant at our first house gave notice just before we were getting ready to find tenants for Huron. Annnd there was the added pressure of a.) the landslide black noise and b.) hoping no inspectors dropped by unannounced. It was a crazy time to say the least. We had REALLY put assisted TTC on hold/to rest.

I was at work stressedly calming unqualified borrowers escrow jitters when I got my other BURST-into-tears-pregnancy call. (Who does that, BURSTS, you ask? I do. I BURST into tears. Sometimes. I do.) My lovely step-mom (who did the major portion of actually raising me) called to let me know my brother's first daughter was getting married - she was 16 at the time - because she was... pregnant. (16. They live in Texas. Texas.) WHAT the... WHAT?! She was just my flower girl about 7 short years ago. As serendipitous timing would have it, I was unusually late for my period that day. I had just wasted money that morning purchasing yet another set of sticks to elegantly pee on only to see for yet one more time, a BFN.

I went home early in tears.

After learning about Lauren getting knocked up (in a religious, church-going household that stressed abstinence only, I might add), it led to me and Dan realizing we wouldn't even want to adopt their child even if it were offered to the infertile Aunt and Uncle to raise in California. Being the bible-bangers that they are, that was never even in the cards anyway. But for us, it was one step closer to making making real peace with never having children. (Or, at least avoiding adoption and pursuing IVF one day after all.)

As the lending industry's house of cards was dramatically crumbling, Michael (old friend, turned our mortage broker, turned my boss, turned my ex boss, turned my survived-the-trenches-together old friend) and I were "let go" on Jan. 4, '08. Dan's freelance gig in NY at the end of '07 had come to an end. I took a job as the marketing director of a green construction company in Northridge. Though I loved the bosses, co-workers, and industry, I couldn't stand the hypocrisy of a nearly 2 hour round trip commute for a green job. Theeeen Dan was on the short list for a gig editing in Taipei, Taiwan of all places! We agreed if he was offered the job and we didn't take advantage of not only the opportunity to rebuild our finances, but the life-changing opportunity it presented, we'd be idiots. We have a 6-month-max-apart rule. This job was going to keep him away for at least 9 months. I put in a one month notice and paved the way to join him.

He arrived here on March 18, 2008. We spent a ridiculous amount of $ on cell phone calls (before we discovered he could have called my cell via Skype for next to nothing - dur) and video chatted at least once a day. We were apart about 2.5 months by the time I joined him May 31st. After spending too much time shopping and wasting money on disposable clothes I didn't really need (well kinda needed b/c it's crazy hot and humid here in the summer and I hadn't brought enough of the right clothes for their special version of summer weather), and getting professional-tour-guide-good with finding my way around this town, and meeting up with my language exchange partner, Oliver, on a weekly basis, I enrolled in Mandarin Chinese classes at Shida:
to broaden my future employment horizons in our shrinking, globalized world.

Then the alignment started to take place:

One week into my course, I was perusing the school's bookstore and stumbling my way through inquiring about a good book to improve my Pinyin (pronunciation) understanding. There was another customer there overhearing the communication gap - a Taiwanese woman who was bilingual and stepped in to give me her guidance. We instantly felt an easy rapport and in that first exchange she mentioned she had been TTC for 10 months and that she was worried about her fertility. I told her we'd been down that road and had made peace with saying goodbye to that path, having embraced being child-free. Candace and I exchanged numbers and a week later met before class for her to help me w/my hurdles in learning Chinese (to put the learning curve lightly). We launched right into TTC-chat. I'm fairly certain they're not as culturally open to talking about such things over here. She knew a TMI gal when she saw one. She did, after all, study in NY. She had already seen an RE and covered some of the preliminary diagnostics (have I mentioned she's incredibly Type A with a law degree from NY?) and the RE had found nothing wrong with them. I filled her in on whole our tawdry (showing the girlie bits to countless strangers, especially upon first meeting, could be construed as tawdry!) TTC details and wrapped up again with how we had finally decided to walk away. On top of having that in common, I really liked her teaching approach, took her on as my temporary tutor, and our friendship grew from there.
  • At about the same time, we were happily continuing to pay down our debt.
  • At about the same time, after 4 months since being issued my ARC (alien resident card), I became eligible for the Taiwanese national health insurance coverage.
  • At about the same time, my pap was coming due.
  • At about the same time, my Chinese class was ending.
  • At about the same time (fine - doesn't really work on this thought), I'm luxuriously unemployed and don't even need to worry about walking the dogs.
  • At about the same time, we decided to let the outcome of the election be our IVF deciding factor - should Barack Obama win, he'd give us something we let go of a long time ago - HOPE.
  • At about the same time, I found out a friend with whom I had recently reunited and with whom I share many common traits, was finally pregnant after 2 rounds of IVF. (She unfortunately got a karmic smackdown for being one of those people who so long ago told us to "just relax" way before she was to discover she herself would have such struggles.)
We are so similar - in our chemical make-up and disposition - in fact, that...

she might as well be my sister (yes, with the all-inclusive, cliched drama as depicted in early-'90s network television programs such as, say, Sisters).

So similar, in fact, that...

in the course of our long friendship we have perpetually rubbed each other the wrong way.

So similar, in fact, that...

when she said the one round of Clomid she did was so GOD AWFUL and the IVF injectibles were NOTHING in comparison, my wheels did thus begin to turn... again. (I had struggled through 3 rounds way back and Dan and I lived to tell about it. 3 rounds of PMSx100 torture. So due to how similar our make-up is, little did she know she had essentially served as my IVF guinea pig.)

So similar, in fact, (and most importantly) that...

we share the same signature fragrance b/c everything else on us ends up smelling like a powdery little old lady. (Which will come in handy when surely one day we'll be wise and mature and patient enough to withstand our annoying similarities - when we actually will have grown into obnoxious and powdery-smelling little old ladies wearing our shared perfume and misapplied lipstick [which will be the subject of painstakingly detailed discussion analyzing the merits of their respective gorgeous aubergine palate differences... Though it'll be the very same lipstick.])

Poor husbands.

So I asked Candace if she could recommend any good specialists. She went to National Taiwan University Hospital's ART department. I looked into it that as an option while also researching it further on my end. After a little Googling, I found the final confirmation from the universe that we should seriously consider giving it a shot here.

The cost is about 1/3rd the cost in the States.

Holy crap, 2/3rd less. So a round of ICSI will run us around 5K-ish USD vs. around 14K-ish USD. I theatrically (as you might have insightfully detected is sort of my M.O.) sat Dan down after work one night and presented him with the above research. He kinda reeled and dazedly said, "But we'd put this to bed. Um. Uh. I'm going to need to think about it." I told him we had to be on the same page and I'd give him zero pressure. And I truly meant it. If our marital rule of "the NO wins" ever needed to be implemented, now was the time. So I quietly waited for his decision. It took about 2 or 3 days. Then he received this email of adorable shots of the Jouet's daughter, Kiki. His BFF, Tim, looked so deeply contented and joyful to have his daughter, he came to me with a decisive and enthusiastic, YES. Actually, yes, and I'm excited to try.

Meanwhile, I had found this article on the Internet:
and wrote to the author, Oscar, to see if he could forward me the contact info for Kelly Manske - whom he'd interviewed on the subject of medical tourism involving assisted reproduction in Taiwan. He kindly responded immediately. I wrote her, and she also kindly responded immediately. As my cycle was coming to a close, I went to her RE where she successfully achieved pregnancy after one round of IVF.

Our final RE.
RE #3: Dr. Monty Huey-Po Li:
Candace had done a little recon for me and looked at their Chinese website and the demographics of their location - fairly affluent part of town where lots of attorney offices are located. Though treatment would be more expensive at this clinic vs. the hospital, she told me it'd probably be a better route b/c I would receive more specialized, personal attention. With the scanned business card Kelly emailed me, I took a taxi there after one of my last classes at Shida.

I was a walk-in on a Friday evening. It was all very fluid (oy. just caught the pun) and easy. I immediately felt like it was the right fit for our needs. He spoke English perfectly well, I knew an ex-patient with a confirmed successful PG through his IVF treatment, their office was near our apartment - not too expensive by cab - and instead of filling my prescription at an off-site pharmacy, they dispense the meds directly.

I arrived prepared, handing him my records file I'd had faxed over from my most recent RE in SD. Of course, "recent," being back in mid-'06. After we briskly bottom-lined our infertility treatment plan - I clearly knew the direction we needed to go from the previous 2 verdicts: IVF w/ ICSI - he did an US during that same first meeting. Which was kinda strange - having our first encounter of dialogue in one room, then migrate into a speedy stirrup encounter in the adjacent room, then continue the rest of the dialogue with the information he had recently gleaned by sticking a medical dildo up me - all within the span of about 20 minutes. Oh, and got that pap taken care of while we were at it. He even saw AF was due to arrive either that night or the next day. Which was great b/c from that info he came up with what is turning out to be a pretty accurate time frame for our game plan.

The universe (Connie steering?), serendipity, good luck, whatever little catch phrase umbrella I can throw our particular aligned set of circumstances under - these elements thrown our way independent of one another may not have amounted to this outcome. But they happened to coincide at about the same time - culminating in a changed direction. So here we are - pursuing IVF treatment after all. Hypocritical in light of our earlier IVF stance/hesitation? Not sure. Don't care.

Yes, we had laid TTC to rest. We'd "made peace." And we truly had and have. Which is why we can go through this process gracefully. It's why my postings might come off as "uninvested." Because we really are happy with our life together, as is. We were, and are, happy with how we see our future playing out - with, or without a child. Outside of actually conceiving, I think the big gift here is that we're taking advantage of an opportunity to dodge REGRET - always doing our best to avoid leading a fear-based life. In fact, after losing my mom, that became my life's motto: FOLLOW THE PATH OF LEAST REGRETS. Thanks The universe, serendipity, and/or good luck for keeping us on the right path - no matter the outcome. (I didn't say I was an Athiest. That was just the Barrista. And Dan. And my dad. I happen to be an Agnostic.)


  1. Boy, you weren't kidding when you said this was long! ;) I feel like we have a lot in common. PCOS, surgery for polyp removal, similar career fields and a lot of the same views. I love the no regret lifestyle, although I'm not always good at it. I wish you all the best.

  2. Amazing, I feel a lot of bitternes. Mostly due to something you can't control. If you obviously don't believe in anything but science, do you believe then in a thing called Karma? All things come in a time that we are capable of dealing with them. Just because something you really want is not within your grasp is it worth the anger you express to try and uderstand why it is not available? you can vent for a greater perspective, or just vent.

  3. sorry for the typo it is