First Gen Asian-American

Secrets of an Infertile

The first time I ever took a home pregnancy test (HPT) was on the morning of first wedding anniversary. Hubby & I had only recently decided that we were ready to start the next phase in our lives together. Plus, Aunt Flo had been missing for over a week by then, so I figured it was time.

I won’t lie … I also thought that the prospect of presenting positive “pee stick” as an anniversary gift would have made our first wedding anniversary together all that more memorable.

But when the test came back negative, I threw the stick away and climbed back into bed to cuddle with Hubby who was still sound asleep. And yes, I was disappointed … but at that time in our lives, Infertility was just a distant diagnosis, which was … in no way, related to me.

I’ve never told anyone this story before because until today, it wasn’t something that I considered very relevant to my life as an “Infertile.”

Hubby had been privy to this story, because later that day he happened upon the open HPT package in the trash and wondered why I took one. But otherwise, no one else in our lives had a clue that we were even “actively trying” at the time.

It was something that Hubby & I, as a young married couple, wanted to keep to ourselves.

*****

It’s only natural that most couples wish to keep their decisions on family-planning a secret. Okay … maybe not so much a secret, but more of a discussion that happens strictly between the couple.

After all, it really should be no one’s business to know what’s going on in a couple’s sex life. Right?

But what happens when love and marriage don’t automatically lead to the proverbial baby carriage? And what if months — nay, years go by without having anything to show but a garbage full of negative pregnancy test?

What if you had spent thousands of dollars for an infertility diagnosis and work-up? And then turned around and spent even more money on trying to “fix” the medical problems so that you could produce a biological child of your own?

Should a couple still keep their family-building plans and the infertility diagnosis a secret?

What if you and your spouse had to continuously be poked by various needles and prodded by various health professionals, month after month, just to determine when the optimal time was to reproduce? To go home and have a romp in the bedroom (stress-free, of course)? To collect a man specimen in the comfort of a sterile clinic? To have to sit nice and pretty in those G*d-awful stirrups? Only to be disappointed month after month …

Would it still be inappropriate for a couple to talk about how infertility has affected their lives?

What if you or your spouse were done pursuing the medical route of infertility and decided to adopt? What if you spent an additional thousands of dollars in order to be scrutinized by adoption agencies, local and federal government officials? Just so these agencies can determine if you were “worthy” enough to be parents?

What if the Birth Mom/Family decided to change their minds at the last minute? Or what if the country you decided to pursue an international adoption decided to close their doors on all adoptions?

Would now be a good time to talk to loved ones about infertility?

And finally, what if you and your spouse thoughtfully and thoroughly considered all your other options to build your family … and after years of disappointment and heartache, decided that living child-free was your best path in life?

Would it be okay for the couple to comfortably discuss this decision with any random stranger who asks if the couple has any kids?

These are difficult questions to answer. I know; as I’ve had to dissect each individual question with a fine-tooth comb. I’ve had to determine how each answer would affect the rest of my life and my relationships with those I’ve felt close to at one time or another.

The truth is, each person … each couple and/or the family & friends that are affected by this couple’s infertility … will have different answers. That’s because each person’s journey through infertility can be different than the person standing next to him or her. Even if they were sitting next to each other at an Infertility Specialist’s office.

*****

I find it sad that society deems “family-building” discussions as a private issue amongst infertile couples.

Huh?! WTF ...

Okay, let me reword that last statement: I find it disappointing that society deems “family building” discussions as inappropriate when it comes to Infertility.

While I do think that there are certain discussions and decisions that should be left private amongst the infertile couple, I do think that other conversations should be okay to discuss with other people … other family members and friends and other infertile couples.

Because if anything, Infertiles can be the worse when it comes to openly talking about their experiences and emotions when it comes to building their family.

There’s an article in SELF Magazine’s August issue that outlines this exact issue.

This article (aptly titled “This Woman Has A Secret”) found that a recent survey indicates that 61% of infertility patients hide their struggle to get pregnant from friends and family.

And seeing that 1 in 8 American couples experience infertility … well, yeah. That’s a lot of people that aren’t talking about the heady emotions that can be associated with the inability to reproduce.

Along with those questions I previously posed, other common concerns that an infertile couple can experience include the fear that their life will be eternally empty. Or the sense that the couple is damaged or broken.

Both amplify the shame already incurred by the couple; as they likely feel different from being different than other “normally reproducing” family and friends.

Both make the couple more embarrassed to talk about these struggles and associated emotions with their loved ones.

*****

It’s a difficult thing … wanting to talk about a person’s (or couple’s) individual journey through infertility. It’s ten-times more difficult, given the shame that’s associated with infertility.

As the SELF article points out, it gets even more exhausting when an infertile couple:

… become slaves of their monthly cycle; often unable to leave town even for a weekend getaway due to daily monitoring for hormone levels and egg counts. When month after month a couple fails to get pregnant, their lives stall and the question of whether or not their family will expand looms over decisions about the car they buy, the house they live in, the clothes they purchase.

And this, along with many other reasons, is why many infertile couples choose to keep their “family-building” struggles a secret. Why they continue with the facade that “family-building” discussions should remain personal, as society dictates.

*****

After years of keeping my struggle a secret … of burying the emotions I’ve felt for so long … I believe that it is extremely important to talk about these issues. And I think it’s important for an individual to find their own outlet or support systems.

Hubby & I became "shadows" of our former self ...

But first and foremost, I think it’s very important to keep an open communication with your Spouse/SO. Because if there is anyone else who should know what you’re going through, it should be the person who is traveling down the infertility journey with you.

For Hubby & I, it’s a path that we took together, hand-in-hand. We made it a point to talk about each of our concerns openly and honestly (yes, even the scary parts) so that we knew where we both were at emotionally. And if one person was even slightly ahead of the other person, we’d make an effort to “wait” until both of us were both “on board” before making any major decisions. There was no pushing or prodding; there was patience and understanding that both of us dealt with our issues in very unique manners.

If anything … that was my saving grace in our journey together. Hubby was my rock — my torch, so to speak, lighting my way through the darkness. And I hope that he can say the same thing for me as well.

*****

As for other support systems outside of the couple … It’s difficult to find support out there. I know; I’ve tried.

I’ve sought support amongst my loved ones; my friends. But it’s honestly hard for them to completely understand what it’s like, unless they’re walking in your shoes, your path.

But after years (and years) of dealing with Infertility, I’ve finally learned to turn this experience around by educating others about my journey. And I did this by debunking statements (like “just relax”) and myths (like “just adopt and you’ll get pregnant”) whenever they would surface in those inevitable conversations.

This is because I believe that the more an Infertile person openly discusses their experiences, the more that the general population will understand and learn to empathize with the Infertility community.

I hope that this is a lesson that other Infertile couples can learn from my own experience: Talk openly about it now, so that others can be more empathetic to the Infertility path.

*****

I’ve also tried to find support in an Infertility Support Group.

For me, that was not my cup of tea. My experience mimicked how another person in the SELF article so aptly stated, “Everyone gets up and tells their success stories. Infertility treatment isn’t always about success.”

But … that may not be the case for every support group. So please … you should still seek out an Infertility support group before passing any judgment. It just may just be the perfect outlet for you.

*****

Finally, (and only after a major catastrophic life event) I tried some individual counseling. And that planted the seed that allowed me to talk about my Infertility and the emotions that came with those struggles.

My advice for an Infertile person trying to find the right therapist? Talk to your Infertility Specialist and ask for a recommendation. If you’re not currently seeing a specialist; call one in your area and ask. Chances are, the Front Desk staff or the RN in the office will be more than willing to give you a recommendation. If not, check out RESOLVE’s website for a list of professionals in the area.

*****

Again, huh?!

There’s one more outlet for support that I want to point out. And this outlet, I must say, has been the most therapeutic for me.

After much encouragement from my therapist, I sought out support from online communities. I started out by reading message boards and eventually sought out personal blogs. From there, I stumbled onto Mel’s list and found an entire blogosphere of people that I suddenly felt I could relate to.

Suddenly I wanted to share my story. I wanted others to know what *I* had gone through in my journey. And, because there wasn’t enough representation from the Asian-American/Filipino-American community, I wanted to let those Infertile individuals/couples know that they weren’t alone.

And, as the Asian-American culture typically simultaneously praises Motherhood and yet frowns upon discussions leading up to Motherhood, *I* wanted to have an outlet for where I can point other family members and friends to read when the inevitable, “What? You don’t want kids?” questions came up.

The support I’ve received from the three years I’ve now been writing on this blog have been overwhelming. Not only have I met the most incredible people who get me (and understand my wacky sense of humor), but I’ve found support in old friends and family that I might never have found any other way.

So yes … if anything, I encourage writing a blog as an outlet for your Infertility issues. I encourage you to write about your struggles, your emotions … your biggest fears and worst nightmares and post it for the world to see. I encourage you to be honest, as well.

But most importantly, I encourage advertising it to your friends and family. Because we all know that keeping secrets from your loved ones (whether big or small) can ultimately be frustrating and tiring for all involved.

So why not let the secret out?

*****

I write this to let other Infertile couples know that they do not have to suffer through these struggles alone.

I write this to encourage other Infertiles to talk about their experiences to others.

And I write this to ensure that those now-parents – those who suffered through Infertility on their way to parenthood – continue to share their struggles of Infertility … regardless of how busy their lives may be, now that they have children.**

I write this to make sure that Infertility no longer remains a secret.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Posts:

A brief history of Emily’s Infertility Journey

When Emily decided enough was enough

Why Emily blogs for Infertile Asian/Filipino-Americans

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** This was the only beef I had about the SELF article. For all that it said about the importance of “letting the secret out,” the last sentence in the article is what soured me the most:

Working behind the scenes [of supporting the Infertility community] is one option, but [Lisa] says, ‘I’m sure my volunteer efforts will be for schools or parks. Once I have twins, I’ll have a lot less free time.”

Hindsight is always 20/20 ...

Everything Is Kung Fu

When Dr. Bro was about 12 years old, he took up Tae Kwon Do. Part of it was to learn self-defense; another reason was to gain confidence. I’d watch his classes from time to time; fascinated by the discipline needed to practice this martial art.

Of course, a year after he started practicing Tae Kwon Do, the original “Karate Kid” movie came out. It was definitely a movie that both of us had wanted to see. Dr. Bro, because of the reference to learning martial arts. And me, because I wanted to see Ralph Macchio again after seeing him in “The Outsiders“. Of course, both of us just loved the film; as did every 10-14 year old that saw the film with us. It was quite evident, especially during the scenes during the tournament, when every kid cheered for Daniel Larusso to win.

This past Friday, Hubby & I went to an early evening show at the movies; something we haven’t done in awhile since finding myself unemployed. And of course we went to see the new version the “Karate Kid” … not only because we wanted to see how Jackie Chan could fill the role of Pat Morita, but because we were wanted to see how the story would translate now that it was set in China. We were not disappointed.

I must warn you, if you’re looking for a completely different spin on the original movie, you won’t find it here. The story line, from the cute classmate to the bully, down to the some of the sayings “Strike first! Strike hard! No mercy!” are the same. Except with this version, there seems to be some sort of twist to each element we see in the original film.

The first (and obvious) twist to the story is that instead of being taught Karate, Jaden Smith’s character (Dre) is taught Kung Fu. So, as a good friend pointed out … why not call it “The Kung Fu Kid” instead? Well, after a little research I did manage to find out that the film is, indeed called “The Kung Fu Kid” internationally.**

Another twist is in how Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) teaches martial arts to Dre. In the original movie, Mr. Miyagi’s method of teaching Karate ranges from from waxing a car to painting a fence.  This version does not have Dre being Mr. Han’s chore boy. Nope … instead, Mr Han teaches Kung Fu by having Dre take his jacket on and off.

I admit that when initially seeing the whole “Jacket On/Jacket Off” technique (as opposed “Wax On/Wax Off”),  it appeared pretty lame, for lack of better words. But when put into context with the rest of the film, this method of teaching not only taught Dre Kung Fu, but it end up teaching him about respect.

Being a first generation Asian-American, that is the aspect of the film that spoke to me most. It was watching a kid from the new “Western World” try to integrate his life in the old “Eastern World.” There are many moments where we see Dre  act like a typical American teenager; brash and arrogant, unaware of his surroundings. This attitude obviously would not be acceptable in China where tradition and elders (as evident by the multiple scenes  of senior citizens exercising) are revered.

Mr. Han does an excellent job, albeit reluctantly, teaching Dre about the importance of respect in the Eastern World. He does it in the method in which he trains Dre in Kung Fu; because as Mr. Han says:

Kung Fu is in everything we do. It’s in the way we put on a jacket. It’s in how we treat people. Everything is Kung Fu.

In other words (or at least what I get out of it), if you respect everybody … everything in your surroundings … you, too could be a master of Kung Fu. You, too would be able to find balance between mind and body.

What I hope that most kids (and let’s face it, adults as well) get out of this movie is that there needs to be respect for everything; that we must treat people with the same respect that we would want in return. Whether it has to do with other cultures or religions … or with Mother Nature and our own planet … we should find that balance within ourselves.

When reaching the last few minutes in the movie, I couldn’t help but cheer Dre on as he moved through the tournament. And that last scene … otherwise known as “the crane kick” in the original movie? Well, listening to those 10-14 year old kids around us clap and cheer … it reminded me of that day, some 26 years ago, when Dr. Bro and I watched the original.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** And while I was at it, I managed to find that there was actually a Philippine TV show called “Kung Fu Kids“. Hmm … talk about coming around full circle!

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here … )

While I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those particular grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

Why do I say that? (And Kelly … hopefully, this will help answer the question you posed to me at one time … ) Well first of all, I just know what I’m capable of handling emotionally, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to survive any further disappointment or heartache. Or as my new favorite quote from Pam says:

It got to the point where the potential for more heartbreak was more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.

The second reason I feel as if I have little strength is because I have little confidence that things will come relatively straightforward and simple to us.

Not that I expect adoption to be an easy path. If we did decide to adopt, I have this very strong suspicion that we’d have so many more walls to climb. Give me a chance to explain … and I’d absolutely love to hear what others have to say to contribute to this discussion.

Let’s start off with Domestic Adoption:

  • Hubby & I both Asian American; Filipino American, to be specific.
  • How often do you suppose any Potential Birth Moms (PBM) would look at our dossier and — just by looks alone — think that we’d make great parents when their child will (most likely) not look at all similar to the adoptive couple that they’d hope to raise their child?
  • Or that the PBM might worry that their child would face more barriers having Asian American parents?
  • How often are Asian American babies given up for adoption; especially if the PBM is also Asian or Asian American? Culture dictates that family is important. If the child is not wanted in the immediate family; chances are that there is another family member (aunt, cousin, third uncle twice removed) that is willing to raise the child. Unfortunately, that’s a situation that’s likely never going to happen to us.

Moving onto International Adoption:

  • There are stricter laws and regulations from various countries in effect.
  • Some specific countries, like Russia and Guatemala, have either suspended or have placed holds on any adoptions to the US.
  • Wait time. Even for Filipino adoptions there are certain stipulations on how and when a child can be adopted; when the child can come back to the US with the adopted parents. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can afford the three-year wait in order to adopt a child from my native country.

And finally other, all-encompassing barriers:

  • Age: Let’s face it. Hubby & I are currently pushing 40. And yes, I know that there are couples out there that are raising babies that are much older than us. But there was a reason why Hubby & I started trying to conceive within a year of marriage: I had always seen me as a younger mother; one that wanted to finish having babies before the age of 30. There was a specific reason behind that: my mother and I are exactly 3o years apart in age (sorry Mom!). Growing up (particularly in high school), not only did I deal with a cultural barrier, but I also dealt with a huge generational gap. Both my parents were pre-baby boomer, while I was most definitely a Gen-Xer. Even though after I turned 30, I knew that this was something beyond my control, adopting now — especially as the rules and regs of adoption have gotten more strict — well, it no longer seems prudent for both Hubby & my sake.
  • Energy: Along with age, this is the second biggest concern that I have. And, if I was honest with myself, the flimsiest barrier of all. Because, really this has to do with energy and stamina. It’s one thing to raise a child with the thought in mind that you’ll be young enough to (somewhat) keep up with their needs. It’s quite another thing knowing that I can no longer wake myself up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a dozen times. Would I be able to care for another life if I can barely care for my own? Like I said, flimsy … but I’m just being honest.

I don’t bring up these points to be negative in any way, shape or form. I’m simply stating facts that appear to be the most obvious barriers for our individual case when it comes to adopting a child. And that’s assuming that we would ever go down that route. And, as I said above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I perceive as barriers.

*****

As it is, I feel that we’ve already played our game of Infertility Roulette. We’ve already placed all the bets we wanted to at this time in our lives. And we lost that bet. With adoption (or h*ll, even if we ever decided to go through IVF again), I want something I can be sure of … something I can count on.

I hesitate using the word “guarantee” … since nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but after more than ten years of fighting the odds and now facing even greater odds against us (age, finances, etc), Hubby & I opted to get out of the betting pool.

And this is why, at least in my eyes, it’s never as simple to “just adopt.” It’s never easy to go through another round of IVF.

This is why Hubby & I have decided to “cut our loss” … or in this case, “cut the strings” … and live child-free after infertility.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Links:

Cutting The Strings

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

Thoughts on Adoption

Information on Filipino Adoptions

Wiki Info on the Pre-Baby Boom Generation

Wiki Info on Generation X

Identity Labels

Anybody remember the old-school Dymo label-makers? I’m not talking about the fancy electric ones where you can type in whatever you want before printing it up. I’m talking about the ones where you turn the dial to choose the letter and squeeze the handle (as hard as possible) to imprint it on the red or black vinyl tape. And G*d forbid if you misspelled a word and have to start from the beginning.

For some reason I was thinking about that label-maker this past weekend. And really, it started last week when I received a wonderful email from an old High School Friend (HSF) that I hadn’t heard from in years. She had responded via Facebook in regards to the post in which I admittedly found myself questioning my purpose in life.

HSF talked about how, as women, we are always questioning ourselves about what we truly want in life. That we’re always finding a way to label ourselves while simultaneously trying to achieve more than what we can physically and emotionally handle. And that, in the process, we tend to lose perspective of who we really are in the grand scheme of things.

For HSF, it’s a matter of juggling multiple identities. She’s a wife, a daughter, a mother of three (beautiful) children. She’s also a free-lancer, a founding president of one of her alma mater’s alumni groups. Yet as beautiful as her life appears (especially from perusing through Facebook), she admits that she’s still coming to terms with the “Successful Career Woman” label; especially as she’s currently staying at home to with her three young kids.

The point of HSF’s email was not to point out how much different her life was to mine; rather it was simply to point out that regardless of how we view our lives, we only limit ourselves by placing labels on who we are or what we do. And furthermore, why can’t we just enjoy the path that we’re currently on and embrace who we are while traveling down this path?

I must admit, I’m still struggling to deal with the valid points that HSF has brought up. I’m sure it has to do a lot with the many years of believing that “Motherhood” was the end-all be-all for a woman’s livelihood. (I contribute this, as always, to the strong Filipino cultural influence that I identify with.) And, even though I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t have biological children of my own, I still long for something to fill that void that Infertility has robbed me.

Furthermore, with my recent unemployment situation, I feel as though I’ve been stripped yet another label that I’ve identified myself with. That “successful career woman” identity flew out the window the day I found myself surreptitiously without a job.

And really … that’s what this post was trying to explain.

While I’d love to “give up” those labels that I’ve placed on myself, I also must admit that it’s these labels that I’ve come to rely on to “ground” myself, so to speak, when I’ve otherwise felt lost. It’s these labels that help remind me of who *I* am in the face of uncertainty:

  • I’m a Wife.
  • I’m an only Daughter.
  • I’m a Sister to my Brother.
  • I’m a friend.
  • I’m Filipino-American (1st generation).
  • I’m Catholic.
  • I’m a nurse.
  • I’m a writer.
  • I’m infertile.
  • I’m child-free after infertility.

When looking at who I am; what I believe is the center of my core … it’s pretty obvious that there are those identities that I have no control over. These are the identities that have been imprinted on my soul; the ones that I cannot change. The ones that I’ve grown to accept as part of who I am in this life.

Then there are the labels I’ve chosen for myself (Catholic, nurse, writer, friend). Those are the identities that, despite the years of time and investment I put into them, I can readily let go. But do I really want to do that?

The problem, as I see it, is when one of these identities has been lost; especially at a time where I wasn’t ready to a) let go of that identity, or b) accept that identity for what it is.

Take for instance, the part of myself that identifies with being infertile. This was one label I never expected to own. But the fact of the matter is that after one year of trying to conceive (waaaay back when, it seems), we were unable to get pregnant. By definition, infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. That’s a fact. There’s no way I can change that pat of me; there’s no way I have control over that situation.

But take the part of me that identifies with being child-free after infertility. We tried everything that we could possibly do (within our own capabilities both financially and emotionally) to give ourselves a biological child, but that just never happened. And because we thought long and hard about our other options, Hubby & I chose to accept that living child-free was what was best for me. And believe me … it was not an easy choice to make.

And because, she nails it right on the head … here’s how Pam from Silent Sorority recently described the reason why she and her husband chose the child-free path:

“It got to the point where the potential heartbreak was actually more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.”

In any case, my point is that with our decision to live child-free, I dealt with having to let go of one chosen identity and accept a new chosen identity. I had to let go of that identity of motherhood that I held on for so long. and I had to accept that living without children, despite the incredible longing to have a biological child of our own, was my new identity.

As I said before, the decision to live child-free wasn’t a choice that we wanted to make. It’s not that we didn’t discuss opening our hearts to adoption. Or opening our wallets to more infertility treatments. Simply put, identifying ourselves as living child-free was a choice that we had to make. Hubby & I needed to weigh our options to decide if that the small glimmer of hope was worth the insurmountable heartbreak we’d already been through. Hubby & I needed to make this decision so we (or rather *I*) could maintain my sanity.

Because if I didn’t put that label on me, I’d still be struggling to determine who I was … if I couldn’t be the mother I had always dreamed about.

And of course now … my new identity crisis is to determine what to do with my career. But I will take a page out of HSF’s book and learn to enjoy the journey while I discover what’s next.

How about you, Blog World? What parts of yourself keep you grounded? What labels do you place on yourself? How do you identify yourself?

The Infertile Down the Road

One of the great things about the Internet is that it makes the world seem a little smaller. It makes the oceans seem less vast. It makes a one-person island seem less lonely.

Please click on image to read about this important week

When I started on my infertility (IF) journey, like most infertiles I didn’t know that I was on the road to “The Land of IF.” I merely thought I was on the path to Mommy-hood. After months — nay, years — of “detours” and “pit stops” I suddenly found myself on the lonely road of infertility.

When I mean “lonely,” it’s meant figuratively. After all, it’s not like I wasn’t surrounded by the 1 in 8 couples affected by a diagnosis of infertility. But since IF is more akin to a “Silent Sorority,” there was little that I could feel comfortable talking face to face with others.

Oh, believe me … I tried attending the local RESOLVE support group … and it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Reflecting back at it now, I’m sure it’s because my self-esteem had been stripped down to nothing by then … and even in a room full of other IFers, I still didn’t feel I could relate to them, let alone contribute to the group. So I never went again.

Then, after reading some online Infertility message boards,  I discovered the blog-o-verse and an entire world of IFers who wrote quite open and honestly about the same sadness and disappointment that I felt. And I was especially drawn to those who expressed the same doubts about themselves, the same lack of self-esteem that I so deeply felt. And, even though I rarely commented on these blog posts, I started to feel less alone.

My Mom gave me the idea to write about my personal journey; although I doubt she thought that I’d write about it on such a public forum. She knew that I loved to write during the years of letter-writing with my cousin, and thought that this might be therapeutic for me.

It wasn’t until after realizing that there was an absence of information about Asian-Americans experiencing infertility that I decided I to blog. Because even though I identified with the other IF bloggers who wrote exactly what I felt, there was this other void that refused to be filled. Specifically, it was the part of me that identified with being a first generation Filipino American going through infertility. And with that in mind, I had hoped to fill that void left in me …  and to also let those other Asian-American IFers out there trying to “save face ” know that they are not alone.

I am forever grateful to the Internet for giving me the opportunity to put my words out there. Writing about being a first generation Catholic Asian-American infertile has been more therapeutic than any local support group or other face-to-face interactions could have been (the exception always being Hubby, of course). And those friends I’ve made over the past three years of blogging? Well, I consider myself lucky to have them — and all the support they’ve given me — in my life.

So thank you, Internet. Thank you for giving me the world.

What IF …

If. Two letters that could be used to express hope or promise. “If only …” Or better yet, “If I could, I would …”

And then there’s IF; both letters in caps. The medical “Alphabet soup”-version of the word “infertility.”

Please click on image to learn more about this week

Somehow, the meaning between these two simple “words” seem worlds apart. Yet they can also go hand in hand with one another. When I think of the word “if”, I think of possibilities; even though it can also mean “a supposition” or “an uncertain outcome.” When I think of IF (as in infertility), I certainly don’t consider infertility in terms of possibilities or futures. No … I immediately think of that “uncertain outcome.”

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

For NIAW, Mel over at Stirrup Queens has partnered with RESOLVE to increase the awareness of how Infertility affects everyone. The project, aptly called “Project IF” is something that has become more powerful than even I, an infertile for well over 10 years, could imagine. The first part of this project set out to unite all Infertility Bloggers under one common thread by simply writing a question addressing the biggest “What IF” in regards to an individual’s infertility. The emotion behind it is weighted in more than just gold or platinum. And if you haven’t already gone to visit … please go now.

The second part of Project IF expands on Part 1 by asking the blogger to choose from one of the recurring themes that came from the over 500 “What If’s” and explore that theme on our personal blog. And since I’m a firm believer in the power of words, I felt the need to participate.

********

“What if, after years of struggling with the roller coaster of infertility and FINALLY accepting the decision to live child-free, I get pregnant?”

This was the “What IF” I submitted for Part 1 of “Project IF.” I chose to write about how infertility impacted my future. And based on that statement, it would appear that infertility continues to weigh heavily on my future decisions.

In the Filipino culture (like most other cultures), family has always been held in the highest regard. And despite being a well-educated Filipina with a successful career, being a mother is considered the noblest profession for a woman.

As a first generation Filipino-American, there have been many things within my culture that clashed with the very “American” environment I grew up in. But being part of a family, let alone being the matriarch of my own family, was something that I constantly carried with me throughout my childhood and for many years after that. I had dreams of having a large family (larger than two, because *I* always wanted more than one sibling), and of having my parents there to help raise them with some knowledge of our Filipino culture. After all, that was another Filipino consideration; to have grandparents there to pass on the traditions of our culture.

Although I somehow found myself marrying within my culture, it’s no surprise that my Hubby would also share that same love of family; the same dream of wanting to have a brood of children of our own. And along with this dream, we had dreamt of moving out-of-state (Chicago, to be precise); but not before our first-born would be old enough to start school. After all, we wanted both of our parents to enjoy the early childhood stage of their grandchildren; and yet also didn’t want to uproot our children from a school that they were already attending. We had all these plans for our lives that revolved around raising our children.

So it came as a big surprise to us that we weren’t able to conceive. What was worse was the painstakingly long process it took determine why we couldn’t conceive; only to end up with a diagnosis of “Unexplained Infertility.” And because of this struggle, we ended up putting all of our dreams on hold. We put off advances in our careers; we put off moving out-of-state.

Instead, we spent years going to various OB-Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) offices in our hometown of Suburban Detroit; spent many lunch hours with various Ultrasound Technicians that I got to know on an “intimate” basis. We spent many hours in line waiting for various prescription drugs to be filled; used many needles poking myself in my belly or thigh, or — worse — rear end. We spent enough of our “retirement” money financing an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle that gave us three perfect embryos; two which were implanted in me, and one that we “let go” a year later after we knew our chances of defrosting one frozen embryo and financing another IVF cycle were slim to none.

We spent six years of our married lives leading up to our one failed IVF cycle. By that time, I was emotionally and financially spent; I was at my absolute breaking point. That was the first time Hubby & I decided to step away from actively trying to conceive (TTC). Not that I didn’t hope for a miracle every month (only to be let down every month), we just decided to take a break from the IF roller coaster.

Looking back now, that would probably have been the best time for Hubby & I to move on with our other dreams; perhaps look at moving out of Michigan and some place else. But hindsight is always 20/20; and truth be told, I just wasn’t ready to give up my biggest dream of being a mother; the one in which I felt I would finally have a reason to exist … at least that’s what I believed.

So instead Hubby & I continued with our daily lives; me secretly hoping for that “immaculate conception.” And in the fall of 2006 … in the midst of status quo … my emotional foundation was shaken to the core. I received the news that my husband’s sister, who just remarried four months prior, was expecting.

Never mind that before all this TTC-business started, my SIL and I were the best of friends. Never mind that my SIL already had a 10-year old child from her first marriage, who was born the same year that Hubby & I got married. Never mind that I always believed that my oldest child and her son, following in the Filipino tradition of extended family, would be the closest of friends. And certainly, never mind that I had always harbored resentment towards my SIL because I felt she was never there for me, as I felt a best friend should, after the failed IVF cycle. The fact of the matter was that my SIL was pregnant … and I wasn’t.

I’ll be honest and say that I had a complete emotional breakdown with that pregnancy announcement … and it’s not just because my SIL was pregnant. It was because like any “good” Filipina, I had spent the entire “trying to start my own family”-time pushing all those emotions aside. I never gave myself the chance to cry; never gave myself the chance to fully grieve the loss of my babies … even if they were just embryos. Instead I spent the time shoving all these emotions under the rug just so I can, as Asian-Americans call it, “Save Face.”

It was at that time, I finally sought counseling; and it was with this therapist’s encouragement that I decided I would have a heart-to-heart conversation with my SIL. And we did talk rather openly about my feelings. I told her how hard it would be for me to be as excited about her pregnancy as she and the rest of the family was. I even told her that I may not always be up for a conversation about her pregnancy. In fact, I told her that unless I brought up the subject, it meant that I wasn’t ready for baby talk. I came away from that “powwow” with a renewed sense of hope towards our friendship. And I also came away with a sense that I could start healing those emotional wounds that stifled me from moving forward on my Infertility path.

But then less than a week later, the proverbial sh*t hit the fan.

At 20 weeks, my SIL found out that her baby would be born with some congenital anomalies. Despite our recent chat … there was no other recourse but to be available for my SIL during this difficult time. And even though I was pretty uncomfortable about discussing the issues surrounding her pregnancy, I just knew that my SIL needed someone to talk to about her fears and her emotions.

I tried to be there for her as much as I possibly could. And when Liam was born prematurely and passed away four months later, I tried even more. Perhaps it may have not been as much as she wanted me to be. But I can honestly say I tried to give her all my support … as much I emotionally could, anyway.

Two months after Liam’s passing, Hubby & I received a card in the mail. It was a beautiful card expressing how much Hubby & I meant to both my SIL and her husband; especially during the past year. It was also a card to tell us some news that no one else had yet known …  that she and Mr. SIL were expecting again. And while I truly appreciated the manner in which she told us, I can’t say that I was emotionally strong enough to be exuberant about another pregnancy.

If I was honest enough, I would have to admit that I felt as if I just barely survived a “Tour of Duty” in Babyland and was then suddenly and  unexpectedly deployed for another “Tour.” And while I was incredibly happy that SIL was able get a “second chance” (if one could call it that) at having another child with her new husband, I was still trying to survive the Post-Traumatic Stress caused from her first pregnancy and subsequent birth. In a word, during this pregnancy, I was apathetic.

My apathy came across as trying to go back to the “status quo” I was prior to my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam. I was desperately trying to get back to whatever sense of normalcy there was before my world got so turned around. Quite literally, I was frozen and at a dead stop on the road through the Land of Infertility. And because I was still in a state of post-trauma, I didn’t know how to move forward … I didn’t know what to feel.

A week before Kairi was born, I finally felt something stir inside me. And, okay … perhaps it wasn’t the best thing to feel, but at least it was something . What came out was was a volatile anger; one that had been brimming at the surface for months … probably since the events after that heart-to-heart with my SIL during her pregnancy with Liam.

I can now say, without hesitation, that my SIL’s reaction to my post was certainly justified. However, what resulted from that reaction was a powerful blog post that forced me to take stock of everything that had lead me to that point in my life.

And today, I can now say with 100% certainty that it was that post that pushed me just a smidge forward towards finding a resolution to that dream (the one that involved a large family with me as the center) that I was obviously meant to let go. It was that post which forced me to quit putting my life on hold … to look towards a different future.

Since September of 2008, I have started to dream my new future; I’ve began to live that new life. But first, I managed to fulfill one old dream … Hubby & I actually did make it to Chicago and have now been living here for the past 18 months. We moved here for the career opportunities we both put on hold for so long. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say we moved here to put our “past dreams” to rest.

Our new dream? Our new future? Well it’s a future that, after much soul-searching, involves living child-free. It’s a future that also involves refocusing our lives around our relationship as “just husband and wife” … and not as “Mr. & Mrs. Genetic Dead End.”

It also involves the freedom of being able to plan future decisions without the constant need to determine whether it’s the optimal time during the month to conceive; without worrying where our dossier or “Dear Birthparent” profile is in the adoption process.

It allows us to travel together; explore a life together without the constant worry of not knowing if we’ll ever have a child to look out for us when we get older.

It allows us to dream again.

********

There was one last piece to Project IF: Part II. Mel had asked us to end our post with a positive “What IF” statement.

The thing is, I could only come up with the same statement I used at the very beginning of this post. And I’d like you to take the time to re-read it again below.

Because despite the apprehensions I would have about rearranging the life I had finally accepted I would live … I would happily rearrange it again, if it meant that I’d be able to bring a life (made out of the love my Hubby & I have for one another) into this world.

“What if, after years of struggling with the roller coaster of infertility and FINALLY accepting the decision to live child-free, I get pregnant?”

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

This entry is a contribution to Project IF. Bloggers from the ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertility) community are writing “What IF” entries for National Infertility Awareness Week, April 24 to May 1, in conjunction with Stirrup Queens and Resolve.

To add your own “What IF” and to read others entries, click here.

.

Thoughts on Adoption

Today, an article appeared on the New York Times regarding Russia’s decision to suspend adoptions to the U.S.

More Pics from Kairi's visit

The reason that Russia called for a halt on all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, in my opinion, was justified. I do believe that there needs to be further investigation from both sides of the ocean (or Bering Strait, I suppose).

As one half of an infertile couple, who at one time seriously considered adoption as a method to start our family, what this adoptive mother did was simply outrageous.  And furthermore, her actions have now affected any other potential adoptive parent who have invested much time, money and emotions in adopting a Russian child. This woman effectively shattered many dreams of many people.

Simply put, this breaks my heart.

******

Speaking of dreams … During our engagement, Hubby & I had multiple discussions about how our future would be. We dreamed of owning a house big enough for at least 4 kids with a yard big enough for the dog we would own. We dreamed about how great our careers would be and how we would somehow manage to balance work life and home life.

And we dreamed about how incredible it would be to raise our children; how we would help our children find that balance between being American and being Filipino. We would make sure that they could be proud about their heritage and still be able to embrace the environment in which they lived.

Tyler at the Lego Store in Downtown Chicago

After all, Hubby and I were half- and first-generation** Filipino-Americans. We knew, first hand, the struggles of growing up with half our feet steeped in Filipino traditions and the other half finding a way to assimilate into the Western culture. This was especially evident when we were teenagers growing up in the ’80’s.

I mean seriously … Hubby & I have joked around about how we learned about typical American Teenager behavior from watching John Hughes (RIP … ) movies. In reality, that’s  actually not that far from the truth.

But I digress.

Another one of our dreams as an engaged couple looking towards our bright future had always been about adoption. Yes … adoption.

We had always dreamed about opening our hearts and home to other children who might not have been given the same love and opportunities and life that we had. Specifically we looked into adopting internationally, because we wanted to help a child with transitioning into the American culture much like we had while growing up. We wanted these children to embrace their new environment while being proud of where they were born. Much like we were.***  Err … rather are.

However, in that foggy crystal ball version of our future, adoption was something that Hubby & I planned to do after we had children of our own. After we were able to produce offspring that contained both of our DNA.

Kairi loves her Big Brother

Kairi loves her big brother ...

Call us selfish, but we just really wanted to see our genetic traits in a biological child and then be able to raise a child through adoption. This child might not share the same genes as us, but would share the same love and warmth and upbringing as our biological children. And for me personally, it was a chance for me to see Nature vs. Nurture at its best.

Unfortunately we never did get to see that nature part. At all. And if I was a strong enough person, I might have been able to see the nurture part. At least with raising a child.

******

I applaud anyone who has sought to adopt as a means to start or add to their family.

It takes an incredibly strong and capable person to be able to put themselves through all the rules and regulations and investigations into your private lives just to raise a child that is not biologically your own. I know this from reading other IFer’s blogs about adoption and from talking to adoptive parents about their own experiences. From going to adoption agencies to gather information on our own.

... And Tyler loves his baby sister

Reading about Russia today also reminds me about other countries such as China and Guatemala that have also placed restrictions on potential adoptive parents from the U.S. And it’s because I know how long most of these individuals have been waiting for their chance to raise an internationally adopted  child. For those who have faced infertility, it’s the chance to raise any child.

And if I had enough strength, adopting internationally would have been my chance in passing a little bit of myself … that bit about being proud of my heritage while embracing the uncharted territories of being a first-generation immigrant … to my adoptive child.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** Hubby was born in the Philippines and migrated to the U.S. at the age of five; effectively making him a “half-generation” immigrant. Of course, depending on what version of immigrant generations you go with, Hubby & I can be seen as 1.5- and second-generation immigrants. At least that’s what Wiki says … )

*** Well … okay, so I was born in the U.S. … but hopefully you understand what I mean.

Patriotic and PO'd

I am so annoyed. And the thing is, I should know better. It’s not like I haven’t been out and about social-networking for years; so I can’t use the excuse that I’m ignorant to internet-iquette.

Except … well, except there are certain things in life that I guess I consider my moral compass in life. And one of them (amongst many others) has always been the ability that we’ve been given as human beings to make our own choices in life; to reason.

So when I start seeing Tweets or Facebook statuses that are intended to show “pride” or elicit some sort of dark humor, but end up sounding more offensive than anything … well, that just makes think, “What the H*LL were you thinking?”

In other words, did someone I *know* consciously make that decision to post something that might … just might be offensive to other people?

Don’t get me wrong … I’m the first one to admit that I’ve done things just as stupid as what I’m complaining about. I’ve even been called out on the carpet for such stupid actions as well. While it’s not the most pleasant feeling in the world, it has taught me the lesson to think what I’m saying before I speak … er, I mean type.

So what exactly am I PO’d about? Well, this is the status that started it all. One post that says …

“WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Press 1 for English. Press 2 to disconnect until you learn to speak English. And remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, JESUS CHRIST and the AMERICAN SOLIDER. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. If you agree and have the guts … copy and paste in your status!”

Yeah. I *personally* felt the sting of that one. On many levels. First there’s the whole “You’re in America, so you should only be speaking English.” Well I hate to burst the bubble here, but I believe that the US is considered a MELTING POT of different nations. You know, a mixture of people from different nations that have come to this nation in order to improve the quality of their lives and their families’ lives?

My parents were one of those people. Both came from the Philippines in search of a better life for themselves; a place where they could best make use of their education and talents and share it with the rest of the people in what has become their new “home.” While my Mom spoke fluent English (a primary language taught in Catholic school in the Philippines), my Dad learned it as a second language. And while I can’t *completely* understand what it’s like to learn English as a second language,  I can certainly empathize … especially since I’m “once-removed” from being born and raised outside the US.

And then there’s the part about having only two defining forces that have ever offered to die for me. I make no bones that I’m Christian; or more specifically, Catholic. I also fully admit that I’m not exactly a “practicing” Catholic; meaning that (much to my Mom’s chagrin) I don’t attend mass weekly. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God or Christ. Nor does it mean that I don’t hold myself to the basic Golden Rule, of which Christianity (and all other religions) is based.

In reality, I believe in the spirituality of Catholicism. I believe that there is GOOD in the world and that if your actions reflect what you believe in your heart to be good … then that goodness will return to you. But on the flipside, I do believe that BAD exist much in the same way. You reap what you sow. By living *my* life under the premise that I should do unto others as I would want done unto myself … well, that’s one of the reasons I *stop and think* about what I say or do before I act upon them. Would what I do hurt anyone else? What are the consequences of what I’m about to do?

Yeah … so to sprout the whole “Christ died for me” lecture in that Facebook status? Gimme a break. That is *NOT* a very “Christian” thing to do.

And trust me … I won’t go into the whole “American Soldier” bit; other than to say that I am patriotic enough to know that these soldiers have given up their “freedom” to keep America safe and *FREE*. And I’m also patriotic enough to know that it was a choice that they made. ‘Nuff said.

So why am I still riled up even though that Facebook status is now more than a week old? Well, it’s because of this status that was just posted on Monday:

“Shame on you America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment – yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this.”

Uh huh. Seriously.

Okay I get that, as a nation, we have homeless people and starving children and a health care system that’s broken for our elderly population / mentally ill population. But there is a reason why we are considered a wealthy country.

And when I mean “wealth,” I’m not strictly speaking about *FINANCIAL* wealth. I’m talking about a nation where we have many of the smartest, most progressive minds in the world. I’m talking about a country that shows their “wealth” by giving *every* individuals the opportunity … the choice, if you will … to improve themselves.

Do you think socialist countries afford every person that ability to better themselves? To move up in their station in life? More importantly, do you think that THIRD WORLD countries, like the Philippines or Haiti, are able to provide those same opportunities  to every citizen?

This is when America shines the most; when we provide *our* resources and services to countries that have been devastated by natural disasters. This is when we show exactly how generous a country we can be.

These moments … they are the moments when the words on our Statue of Liberty shine the brightest:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As I wrap up this long and rambling politically charged post … let me just remind everyone of one simple fact. Unless we are 100% Native American … we are all “immigrants” to this land. The same soil that has provided our forefathers (and now ourselves) with the ability to forge a new future; the land of opportunity … the land of CHOICES.

So just like our parents / grandparents / great-grandparents, etc who chose to come to the land of freedom (and who may have *NOT* known how to speak English) … choose your destiny (and your words/actions) wisely.

Walt in the World?!

My cousin, who otherwise loves the Disney Channel, recently made a comment about how Disney hates Asians. She commented on how many of the Asian actresses or cartoon characters on this network tend to be portrayed as either b*tchy or ditzy. Well, other than Mulan, that is.

And even though my cousin might disagree, I do think Lilo (from “Lilo & Stitch”) can technically be considered an Asian. Because … and follow along with me here … The Philippine Islands are located in the Pacific ocean. Therefore, Filipinos are considered Pacific Islanders and are lumped into the “Asian/Pacific Islander” category (as “dictated” by the US Census Bureau). And seeing as if the Hawaiian Islands are in the Pacific …

Yeah, so that’s my logic in explaining Lilo’s Asian-ness …

But my cousin’s comment reminded me of something that was pointed out to me by one of Hubby’s cousins last summer on our trip to Disneyworld. While at Mickey’s Toontown Fair, we stumbled upon one of the biggest mass-marketing stores inside the Magic Kingdom. Inside this store were rows and rows of toys from various movies. One entire section was dedicated to the Disney Princesses.

What Hubby’s cousin pointed out to us was this:

308

Rather inconspicuous, don’t you think? I mean really … Snow White, Belle, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in one package. Princess Jasmine, Ariel, Mulan and Pocahontes in a separate package.

The “Classic Princesses” (although, I question if Belle, created in 1991, is considered a “classic”) in one set, at eye level on the shelves. And the rather “unique” Princesses (an Arabian Princess, a Redheaded Mermaid, a “China Doll” and an American Indian Princess) in another set, located at waist level on the shelf below.

To me, it’s one of those things that make you go “Hmmmm ….”

Anyhoo, going back to my cousin’s initial comment … the reason I’m writing about this topic is because I’ve often felt the same thing about the way that American mass media portrays Asians. And specifically Asian-American females. It seems as if we’re perceived as being one or the other.

Yeah ... Lilo is a "Pacific Islander"

Yeah … Lilo is a “Pacific Islander”

Bitchy or subservient.

Intelligent or ditzy.

Foreign-born or Adopted.

As an American-born and bred Filipina (and even for those that may have been born “abroad” but spent there formative years growing up in the US), this is a rather annoying (and not to mention incorrect) observation that has not often been voiced aloud.

I can’t tell you how many people have asked when my Hubby (who is also Filipino) and I moved to the US. And did we marry each other before moving here? Or did we marry after one of us became a US citizen? (The answer is NO for both questions, btw … we met in high school here and subsequently married here six years after we started dating.)

And while I’m on the same subject, I can’t tell you how many of my Asian girlfriends who married “non-Asians” have been told by others that they thought they were “mail order brides.” Just because they married outside of their culture.

Or how about when I was working at the beside as a Registered Nurse in a hospital setting? I found myself taking care of many American Vets who served in either WWII or the Korean/Vietnam wars. And many times, I was told that they could “never understand” me because my Chinese / Vietnamese / Korean / Japanese accent was “too strong.” Even though I speak perfectly clear English with my hometown Midwestern accent.

I could go on and on. Like my first job at a local fast food establishment; where my boss thought that Asians were “too smart for their own good” and should not be allowed to work the cash registers. Or even this incident, mentioned in one of my much earlier blog post. But then it would seem as if I’m merely “complaining.”

The truth is, I hope that others would see that not all Asian women fit into any one stereotype. That we are all unique, just like every other woman out there. That like every Disney Princess out there, we want to be recognized for the unique strengths we can offer to this world … regardless of how we physically see our “outer” reflections in the mirror.

And so, to bring it all back to Disney … here’s a song from one of my favorite movies of all time; one that sometimes hits closer to home than I’d like it to.

Born on the 6th of July

I’m coming up on the last minutes of my actual birthday; I turned 37 years old today. And while I’m not exactly thrilled to be another year older, I must admit that this has been a wonderful day. Actually, it’s been a wonderful four days.

297It started out on Friday with the corporate Independence Day holiday; which meant I wasn’t chained to my desk or weighted down by twenty zillion emails on my work-issued crackberry. It was also the only day Hubby and I both knew we’d have all to our own this entire weekend.

So what did we do? Spent it sleeping in until about 9 am, followed shortly after by the presentation of my “early” birthday gift. Then it was off to Evanston and on to the beach, where we spent the afternoon swimming in the cool (but not freezing) Lake Michigan weather and lying on our large two-person beach towel reading. That was followed by a really late lunch (or early dinner) at the local seafood restaurant and a movie at the Evanston theater. Overall, a very relaxing day.

Saturday morning was spent cleaning, in anticipation of my parents arriving by train later in the afternoon. And really, that was probably the most work I did all weekend long. (Except for that relatively last-minute document that work required me to have completed by Friday morning … )

298By 1 pm Saturday afternoon, Hubby and I were on the Chicago River waiting for our Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) docent to begin our tour of the significant buildings along the river. It was an excellent tour and it definitely gave us a different view of the Chicago skyline; one we had never seen before. The only downer was that it was a very cold and wet day. Oh well, this just means we’ll have to go again on a brighter and sunnier day. 🙂

My parents “rolled” into town around 5 pm on Saturday evening. And because it was still raining at the time, we headed over to the Water Tower only to find that the indoor shopping center would close at 6 pm. So instead, we took the Lakeshore scenic drive up to Evanston to have dinner at the same seafood restaurant Hubby & I ate at the day before.

299What I didn’t realize at the time was that Hubby was already thinking in “advance.” You see, by the time we made it up to Evanston, the rain and clouds blew over leaving a clear evening sky in its place. Which made it perfect weather for Evanston’s 4th of July fireworks. So after dinner, we walked down to Patriot’s Park along the waterfront and sat front and center for the show. Perfect way to end the day.

Yesterday (Sunday) was spent at the Shedd Aquarium downtown in Chicago’s Museum District. Hubby & I had been there earlier in the year when our nephew Tyler spent his Easter break with us. Unfortunately, the sea-quarium was being remodeled, so we didn’t get to see the dolphins or whales at that time. But yesterday … those beauties were back. And showing off just for my parents; who had never been there.

For my parents, I think the best part was the whole “Wild Reef” exhibit, which is the shark exhibit. Hubby & I had been to the Shedd about 5 years ago when this exhibit first opened; mainly because our nephew has always had a thing for sharks. What we hadn’t expect was:

  1. The sharks to be so d*mn small at the time, and
  2. The whole exhibit to revolve around protecting coral reefs

The whole coral reef aspect was the same thing that both my parents and Hubby & me loved. And that’s because the Philippine Islands played a ginormous role throughout the exhibit. What we had learned is that the Philippine waters house the largest, most diverse fish and coral life in the world. And seeing how prominent the role of the Philippines played everywhere in this display, it was an absolute cool way to learn more about my heritage and where my parents came from!

300And today … “B”-day (as opposed to “D”-day … 😉 ). I wasn’t expecting much of anything other than a (well-deserved) day off from work to spend with my Hubby and parents as we traipse through the town. But it was such a fun day!

We started out in Chinatown where we walked through and picked up a variety of different things … like a back scratcher (can never have enough of them) and a hand-painted fan (for those hot days). Oh, and some delish sweet and sour gummies from an Asian candy store … yum! However, the real reason to go to Chinatown was to have a Dim Sum feast at our favorite Chinese restaurant. And because it was my birthday, I had to have my traditional “Long Life” noodle dish!

While  in a post-food ingestion haze, Hubby drove all of us over to the Sears — oops, I mean Willis — Tower to do the most touristy thing in Chicago. Yep, went all the way up to the observation deck; but not before spending more than an hour in line. But it was definitely worth it … the views of the city were absolutely spectacular!

And then there were the glass balconies. Oh yes; glass. It’s the newest part of the the attraction; four retractable glass balconies that allows a view of the city that’s definitely unique. As in “103-stories-straight-down” unique.

It was a little daunting at first, but once I was on there it wasn’t so bad … as long as I didn’t continue to look down for extended periods of time. From then, it was just a matter of taking silly pictures of us “falling” or “hanging on to dear life.” And of course, since I’m such a “rebel,” I had to do something “dangerous” … well at least what others would perceive as dangerous.

302Oh yeah … I made Hubby take a picture of me jumping on the balcony. Which, if one didn’t know how absolutely reinforced these balconies were by steel, would really freak anyone else that was on the balcony when I jumped. Heh … told you I was a rebel.

My parents took us out to dinner afterwards, at my place of choice. But because my parents had yet to to experience authentic Chicago deep dish pizza. So that’s how we ended up at Pizzeria Due and stuffed beyond belief and in desperate need of something to do walk off all the food we ate.

That’s how my Mom, Hubby and I ended up at the beach 3 blocks from our apartment, walking along the lakeshore. And it was a beautiful evening to do so as well, with the full moon shimmering off the lake.

Afterwards, it was back to the apartment where, after an unexpected phone call from Dr. Bro (who actually remembered to call on my actual birthday — a miracle in itself), Hubby surprised me with a birthday cake.

303And so that was my Birthday weekend. A lot of activity in a small span of time. I’m so grateful my parents were there to celebrate it with me. And I’m so incredibly lucky to have a Hubby that loves me so much.

So now I’m off to do a little more work before heading off to bed. I’m not going into work tomorrow, as we’re taking my parents to the train station late-morning, but this is something with an unfortunate deadline.

And what a blessing it will be to have tomorrow off. Because after a busy four days, this 37-year old body certainly needs the rest.

301

Other Related Strings

Archives