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A story of a Harvard student going through IVF

Month: March 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Post Miscarriage Depression

While the media and society pay a lot of attention on postpartum depression, Journal of the American Medical Association claimed that the major depressive disorders are more common in women who suffer from miscarriage.

The common myth of post miscarriage depression is that people often assume the pain and grief would ‘fade away’ after the regular schedule is resumed and/or when women become pregnant again.

My humble opinion is that…yon can’t assume things are over unless you’re fully honest about your feeling. There are things imprinted in your memory that nothing will make it go away.

I was depressive and suicidal  as a teen. I’d been through the cycle of depression. I’ve seen the darkest of the darkest.

It all seems too familiar. The hopeless, sadness and loneliness were all too overwhelming to me that the idea of ending my life across my mind just a few nights ago.

I recognize this process. I’ve been there before. I should not let myself go down this path like I used to.

So I decided to take a brief medical leave. I deserve to be surrounded by families and allow my body and mind to rest.

Despite school schedule and homework, I’ll need this medical leave before I can stand again.


A month that felt like a year

It has been exactly a month since my child left me (physically).

A month felt like a year. I felt like my mind and soul have been dragged by emotional pain and heartache. I am like a boat that is slowly sinking.

Just exactly 2 months ago, I left Boston. That was the happiest day in life. I survived a J-term. I became the top 6 student in class AND I had 2 heart beat in my body.

Exactly a month ago, I was on a surgery table waiting to be wheeled to the operational room.

We have literally experienced life and death in 30 days. I lost hope eternally and instantly.

I thought school could at least get my mind off things…but it’s getting tougher and tougher.

I don’t know what’s the real purpose for me to run 3 group projects. I lost interest sitting in the classroom and listening to stranger’s presentation.

Exactly 2 more months to graduation. It felt like I have to crawl for 2 more years to the finish line.



1/2 Lean Out. 1/2 Limbo

I have “Lean In Supporter” as part of my LinkedIn title.

I’ve been supporting the message and notion by Lean In as early as it started. But the incident of losing my first child really makes me rethink my personal belief and …literally everything.

Here’s a quote I keep in my home office:

“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…” by Mark Twain.

The reason I posted it on my wall was intended to be a reminder of my own aspiration. I wanted to climb up the ladder, have more ‘skin in the game’, and/or being able to start my own project one day and to make some (+) changes.

Till I became pregnant, everything changed. My own focus was shifted to protecting my own child and building a family with the love of my life, my husband.

It was so intimate, so full of purposes and so tangible. It might slow down my career plan but that doesn’t matter to me anymore.

And when I lost its heart beat, when I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet this child in person, I began to wonder what will eventually make me regret 20 years later….

The truth that my husband might never become a father would be my biggest disappointment and even guilt in my lifetime.

But I hate to have “trying to conceive” as my ‘life priority’ now as it will add emotional and physical pressure to me and to us. I am not brave and courageous enough like others, who could bear multiple losses and still keep their heads up. (No offense to others) But  I still believe that it is supposed to be a joyful, yet stress free journey. And if we let our ‘ego’ take over our relationship, it will just defeat the whole purpose. And that won’t be the life we envision to have.

Yet, I am scare that I’ll eventually and unintentionally let myself to prioritize my career ahead of everything else.

I don’t want to “Lean In” like I used to. I am practically in limbo.

A $5000 Outpatient Surgery

I worked in the healthcare business for more than 15 years. I stand for health equality and women’s health access for all my life. But today, just like the 99% of the American folks, I too was struck by my medical bill.

Like all smart customers, we should have asked about the price and all details before payment. When it comes to life crisis (such as miscarriage and all things related), you don’t have much choices as a patient but to accept the reality.

My DC surgery was considered an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require hospital stay. And I am fortunate to say that my OBGYN did a fabulous job. I didn’t have any infection or serious side effects afterward. She really saved me physically and mentally (without going through additional drama).

I received the bill from the medical group today. To my relief (after insurance coverage/deduction), the leftover balance is about $1000.

But for the record, the whole DC surgery plus the blood tests prior to the procedures are a little over $5000. No joke.

I chose not to take the abortion pill at home because I know for sure..that I won’t be able to deal with the graphic and emotional trauma as seeing my baby passing from my body.

Instead, I opt for the ‘extravagant’ solution. I paid someone (my Dr) to do it for me. When my Dr said “you won’t remember a thing about how it happened. You’ll also bleed less.” I immediately made up my mind.

I am fortunate to have this option. But for many women out there, they have no other choices. Some might not even have health coverage. Just thinking of that….really hurts me.

I still can’t tell you what I will do after my graduation. I honestly don’t know how my degree can make the world a better place…

Yet, I hope we can all stand behind those who continuously fight for women health access. I hope we will never neglect those who need care and comfort.

It’s Spring Break!

It’s Spring Break. I should be excited. I should be playing outdoor or binge watching Netflix and do nothing.

Instead, I’m feeling nervous and anxious. A simple group meeting or any exchanged conversations with classmates would make me unease.  I tracked every word I said/wrote. I am seeking for ‘approval’. I’m worry about how people judge me. I don’t want people to think I am slacking around or not contributing to any projects.

I am tired of pulling a ‘racism’/’sexism’/ ‘leanIn’/’management guru’  checklist to whatever communication I’ve encountered. And I try to keep my vow with my baby that I should have a new set of eye to see this world differently. I tried to seek the most comfort in all situation. But sometimes, I just have to bite my tongue and to defend my work. I won’t be shy giving you my feedback, if you give me the invitation.

But I am tired. Probably because I’ve been thinking too much. I’ve been too sensitive. And I’ve been making a lot of judgement to others and to myself.

I just want to lay down and to feel the Summer breeze.


“Let the herbs in…”

I was a clinician by training. I had 2 degrees in nutritional science. To me (by logic), the theory in Chinese medicine has never aligned with what I was taught at school (and what I was told by my OBGYN).

But as a human being, when there’s no closure can be given by Western medicine…you want to try something else. A way to give yourself some hope…something tangible to work on.

My OBGYN said all my night sweat, fatigue, headache are the result of hormone, esp after childbirth…There’s no solution and no medicine to cure but to take it easy and WAIT.

My Chinese Dr said I am literally ‘too weak’. How he explained was that I don’t have enough ‘chi’ to circulate my blood. Before I want to do anything (or try again), I need to get my ‘blood’ running again.

For those who are not familiar with Chinese medicine, the dr would usually check your pulse and look at your tongue before writing you a ‘herbal recipe’, which you need to buy the herbs and to boil them with water at home.

It isn’t my first time seeing Chinese dr. I grew up in Hong Kong and my family gave me herbal soup many times when I was a child.

Does it help? I have to say it does provide me a pretty good alternative when your Western dr knew birth control pill is the ‘only’ way to ‘regulate your cycle’. When it comes to women’s health, I seriously doubt the effects of contraceptive pill, as a way to police our ‘mother nature’.  Therefore, I started going to see a Chinese Herbal Dr a couple years ago. I don’t know what is the chemistry behind the herbs….but a simple herbal soup does give me the strength and regularity that a pill can’t.

My Chinese dr only charged me for $10 per visit and all the personalized herbal Rx for a whole week only cost me less than $40 bucks. Plus, he works everyday (except Wed) from 9 to 4. Better than the Affordable Care, isn’t it?


The herbal soup

So here I am….on day 1 ‘post miscarriage’ herbal therapy. I have a Rx that I can’t read, except my last name.


The Rx


I would be lying to you if I told you I have fully recovered.

The most difficult part of saying farewell to your unborn child is…you can’t bury the body, you don’t get to see / hold for the very last time, you don’t really know when ‘exactly’ it passed. And above all, you don’t have a closure.

None of the human experience can prepare you for that

I don’t know how others process it. After reading miscarriage forums for weeks, my case is just 1 of 100xx of many families experienced. A lot of women miscarried more than 3x and are still trying. I applaud them. But I don’t see myself there….I am already ‘frozen’. I don’t know how to move forward.

If all goes well, I am graduating in 2 months. I don’t know how to respond to Qs like “what do you want to do after that?”, “have you been interviewing or looking for jobs?” or “how do you want to make use of your degree?”

No offense to all. It might not be socially acceptable to say “I don’t know”. It might even be a ‘sin’ as I seem to check myself out from the job market…ditching all social events in the Valley, where ‘breaking the ceiling’ is what we are ought to do…

All I know is…I want to return to the time when my baby and I were happily jogging along the Charles River. I want to re-live the moment when ‘we’ both shared a bowl of tomato pork soup based ramen in Somerville.

I just Tomato & Pork Soup Base Ramen in Somervillewant to live.

Sapphire for September

I want to carry something that would help me remember my baby. Its birthday (due date) is Sept 16. Birthstone for Sept is Sapphire. A week after I had my DC surgery, I ordered a handmade necklace with a Sapphire stone from Kansas, thinking I would get to wear it wherever I go…Ironically, I forgot my skin is sensitive to metal. Upon I put the necklace on, I developed rash all over my chest. It became even worse after numerous of night sweat (typical symptom after child birth). This happened just like how some people explain the cause of miscarriage, that is your body would simply reject / discontinue the development when ‘it’ is not meant to be….

I refused to just put this necklace aside. The color of the Sapphire stone is so beautiful that just like how this baby ‘shines’ in my heart. Thanks to my dad who left me zillions of plastic wire ties when he last visited me… I then took the Sapphire stone pendant from the necklace, tied it to my Alex & Ani bangle bracelet with my husband’s initial on it. I cut the tail of the tie and burnt the edge a little bit just to polish the end. It is far less than perfect from the professional jewelry maker (plus I ain’t a good hand crafter at all). But at least, I get to wear it now.

At least, it’s something I can physically hold on….


Why I choose not to keep my miscarriage as a secret

Soon after I knew about my miscarriage, I started looking up tons of information (solutions, causes, diagnosis test, etc). But surprisingly, the only take away I had after reading pages and pages of info…the only thing that stick in my mind was “we all grief differently. Don’t force your partner to grief the way as yours…”

It all came down to what I want to do to make this pain less hurtful.

I wanted the world to send blessing for my unborn child. First and foremost, wherever s/he is, I wanted this child to be accompanied with love and peace.

So I immediately texted a friend of mine in Kauai, who goes to a local temple. I asked her to give us a prayer.

I also wanted my close friends and families to know I need companions. I needed someone to grieve and cry with me. I am too fragile to handle this all alone. I lost a child. How can I bury it with silence? Why should I bury myself with pain and loneliness? So I went to my personal blog, made the announcement and sent it to a few people.

The responses were surprisingly warm and loving. While we have no families and relatives nearby, the virtual connection from texts, email and phone call were essential for me to survive the first (darkest) few days.

A couple days later, I wanted more people to know. Not much about asking people to sob with me…but I want the bigger world to know my child, our child has left us. It’s a life that deserves attention and love. Yet, s/he didn’t make it to see the world. I want ‘us’ to recognize his/her presence. I want our baby to know ‘we’ are showering him/her with love and gratitude.

It is also an ‘outlet’ for me to send a message to the world that I could never reach.

And then I hit the ‘Post’ button on Facebook and left my blog URL there.

For the next few days, I was floored by the support and messages across the globe. From Sweden to Canada to Hong Kong, people are sharing their experiences, thoughts and warm wishes with us.

I am not alone in this journey. I am wrapped around by kindness, love and humanity.

They might not cure my pain. But they sure touched and warmed my heart and soul.

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