Tuesday, June 7, 2011

IVF, 好, and scored 100!

好 (hao) means good and is a compound Chinese character of girl (女) and boy (子). If you have a girl and then a boy, mainland Chinese would congratulate you with a saying "You wrote a 好 character!" Taiwanese would say, "You scored 100 (out of 100)!" If you have boy and then a girl, you score 90, two boys, 80, and two girls, 70, and so on. This just to introduce to you about what the most common wish is for typical Chinese family.  I am one of these who has always wished for an 好 in my family planning.  I even have wished for their age gap to be two years apart so they could grow together without fighting with each other.  I got it all planned out, you see.
hen I entered early fertile age, I believed that a girl could be knocked up if she would swim in the same pool with men and I was watchful for any usual suspects whenever I went swimming in a pool.  Like many girls of my age in China, I had my menarche at 14.  But after that, the period would only show up every two to three months and most of the times when it came, it was so unbearably painful that I had to curl up in the fetal position in the bed wishing to become a man.  Since all the books that I could find mentioned my symptoms were normal, it was just oligomenorrhea, which were expected for young girls, I had not been overly concerned about my menses.  But when I reached 20, I became a bit sensitive to my woman issues.  At that time, I just got out of college.  A Biology Bachelor's degree might have alerted me that I should attend my female parts.  So I made my first visit to an Ob/Gyn.  She pressed my belly a bit, probed my lower half with something called B ultrasound scanner, and then announced, "Your female organs are under developed and you'd better take some hormones from now on to help them to catch up."

Did I listen to her? Of course not, I didn't have to because I did not even have a particular someone with whom I wished to have kids.  As a biology newbie, I decided to challenge the doctor and let the nature take care of my fertility.  Deep in my mind, I must have wished the Ob/Gyn to be wrong.  Regardless what my subconscious mind was telling me at that time, I had find that out by the most economical and natural way.  Lo and behold, after only ONE unprotected sex I became pregnant, at age of 24 or may be 25.  I was as fertile as any most fertile woman can be!  I was happy even though I had to endure the shameful D&C to terminate the pregnancy (it was/is illegal to have a child without a marriage in China.)

(BTW, given this particular case, I do not believe "accidental pregnancy" anymore.  Do you believe that almost all the so-called knock ups are in fact the results of intentional (mis)conducts?  Admit it, don't we all know that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancies?  Don't we all want to find out whether we could be knocked up or impregnate others? Sure we all do!)


Fast forward to 14 years later, I was now in the U.S. graduating and facing a transition from poor foreign student to still poor but semi-independent researcher.  Keenly knowing that my fertility was slipping away, I started to toy with the idea of becoming a mother.  "Next handsome guy comes around, I would totally prostitute myself."  I announced determinedly to my best friend, Zee, who often encouraged me to take the advantage of the U.S. freedom.

However, many good-looking guys later, I was still not pregnant.

Few years later, my lovers were concentrated from few to one who soon moved in with me, which by the way miraculously cured the oligomenorrhea that I lived for more than 30 years.  Now it should not be long before I would became a mother, I'd predicted.  Yet after 2 years of random trying, that didn't happen.  Eventually I tricked my French Xishi to believe that marrying me was the best decision that he could have ever made in his entire 32 years of life.  Following an official marriage at 43, we began the timed mating journey.  Boy, wasn't that fun.  I was religiously monitoring my ovulation month after month, and in the mean time, carefully trying not to tell him in order not to spoil the mood.  I even arranged several romantic trips in order to keep the activities alive.  Never in my life time had I ever been so looking forward to a delayed or better yet no-show period!  Yet it had never failed to show, month after month and after month.

I did not just want one child, remember, I wanted to write a 好!  When the nature did support it, I took Fabrice to seek for the help of modern technology.  My first U.S. Ob/Gyn patiently finished listening my stories and then turned to my baby-looking husband who was obviously quite annoyed by being there.  He questioned, "Have you seen a urologist?" "No?" he possibly feeling stupid then after answering the obvious question since he is also a biologist who should have known he could be the part of all these ordeal too.  "We thought that I am the likely infertile one since my previous oligomenorrhea and advanced age." I tried to defend him.  I am in fact 10 years older, plus men usually do never lose their fertility, lucky bastards!

Then he had few visits to his urologist and one small surgery to remove his varicoceles, which boosted the viability of his little swimmers from 35% to 75%. "Lo and behold, he IS the one to blame and I was pregnant soon after that" - no, scretch that, that is just what I wished what I could tell you.  The reality was 9 months after that, my belly was still as flat as the earth surface.

Finally, my Ob/Gyn gave up and decided that I was infertile, although secondary.  So, she sent us to a local fertility center, where the reproductive endocrinologist put us on the most powerful ART - IVF. $30,000 dollars, 5 cycles (one full IVF cycle, 4 frozen cycles), and 19 embryos later, at 44.5 and 46.5, I became a proud mother of Mia/Zhuzhu and Remy/Niuniu.  The IVF worked to its perfection.

We wrote "好". Life is good with these buggers in it.

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