To some people, marriage seems like a prison because once you enter it, you cannot easily get out. You sacrifice your younger and gorgeous years for a man, and you give everything else for your children. To others, however, this “prison” is a photo frame and inside is a picture of “real happiness”. To me, having and raising children with the man that I love is something that makes my body and my soul complete. Unfortunately, I did not realize this until quite late in my life. My journey of having a child is saturated with difficulties and tears.
My name is Lisa, and I’m 42 years old. When I was young, having children was not on my priority list at all. Like many others, all I was thinking about was how to achieve my career dreams. I used to firmly believe that a woman’s sense of security is built on her career success.
The public media industry seems so glamorous and fun. However, if you are actually in the industry, you will understand the cruelty and competition of how fast older employees are replaced by younger people. To succeed, opportunity and diligence are inseparable. I worked very hard under high stress day and night, working over-time and always staying up late. However, the cost of it was my imbalanced endocrine system: irregular menses, weak immunity, etc.
When did the desire for a child begin? It was probably when all my good friends were sharing their happiness in the process of raising children, or probably when random children in street touched my heart when they simply were looking at me with their beautiful innocent eyes. Somehow, my desire of becoming a mother became stronger and stronger. I desperately hoped to have my own child and to hold his/her hands and explore the world.
To regulate my body, I started my long medical treatment journey. I first tried traditional Chinese medicines (TCM). Because I took these meds every day, I had this special TCM smell all over my body, so my friends called me a “Walking TCM pot”. When I first heard it, I thought it was funny, but then such comments became hurtful and bitter in my heart, bitter than the TCM itself.
Because I dreamt of having my own child, I tried everything.
The TCM that I tried did not seem to work, so I went to a hospital in Beijing to have thorough physical exams and fertility evaluations. The doctor at the hospital “Sentenced me to death” by saying, “Give up! Your ovarian function is too bad!” Suddenly, when I heard this, I could not hear anything else around me, and I felt like I was thrown into a gigantic dark ice cave and I had no strength to fight against it. My tears were out of control. I talked to myself, “Is it too greedy to desire having my own child? Why God took this tiny wish away?” I cried out loud like an orphan who was lost, without either hope or direction. The doctor saw this and was trying to give me some comfort, he said, “Well, actually there is another patient named Liz. Her situation was like yours, and she was able to succeed. Maybe you should talk to her and get some help.”
This news was like finding a lighthouse in a dark ocean. I regained some hope. Liz and I met at a coffee shop at San Li Tun in Beijing. I had thought that I was the unluckiest person before I met her, but Liz went through so much just like I did. We held each other tightly and cried for a long time. The same despair and desire drew us close together.
Liz said that Hanabusa Women’s Clinic helped achieve her dream of becoming a mother. I decided to go to Japan to give it a try, even if the chance of success was very slim.
On February 19, 2016, I went to Hanabusa Women’s Clinic for an initial monitoring. My heart was pounding so fast because I was terrified for another “death sentence.” Dr. Shiotani gave me a lot of encouragement and comfort. The monitoring went quickly and smoothly. Due to my old age and poor ovarian function, Dr. Shiotani recommended a mini-IVF protocol for me. Holding the stimulation meds that I received after the monitoring, I almost felt like I was holding the only key to open the door of having a child.
To optimize my treatment with western medicine, Hanabusa Women’s Clinic recommended me to take Shawkea T-1 and Shawkea Pine Knot Extract. I was taking three capsules of Shawkea T-1 per day and nine capsules of Pine Knot Extract per day. I regret that I didn’t treasure my body when I was younger, but since then I started to be extremely cautious about a healthy lifestyle. On March 10th, which was my cycle day three, I did an ultrasound in China. My left ovary had one follicle, and right ovary had none. I had to cancel that cycle.
I felt defeated, but I did not give up. I continued to use Shawkea products and stayed as healthy as I possibly could, but surprisingly I had to cancel cycle again in April because I had no follicles. When I came out from the ultrasound room at Hanabusa Women’s Clinic in Japan, I sat in the waiting area for a very long time, debating whether I should continue treatment or not.
Finally, I decided keep trying a bit little longer, so I increased Shawkea’s dosage from three capsules per day to six capsules. The clinic continued to provide me with the most professional advice and the warmest encouragement. On May 10th, I had another ultrasound: even though my right ovary had no follicle, my left ovary had one nice follicle measuring at 0.4x0.2cm. Suddenly, I felt hopeful again. It was my happiest moment during that period. On cycle day six, I went back for another ultrasound, that only follicle disappeared. I had to cancel cycle one more time.
That day hit hard. I cried so hard and loud to the point where I felt like my heart, stomach, liver, spleen, and kidneys were coming out. It was the most hurtful when it seemed like there was some hope, but then it would disappear. My family members did not want me to suffer any more and recommended me to give up. However, I told myself, “I already put so much into this. I don’t want all my effort to end in vain.” Especially when I close my eyes and imagine the face of my baby, I was filled again with infinite power to continue this battle.
Treatment became the top priority in my life. I was following the medical advice meticulously, making sure that everything was as perfect as possible. On June 12, my cycle on day three, I had no follicle on the left, but one follicle on the right. A big miracle appeared on my cycle day six when ultrasound detected three follicles measuring at 8.5mm, 6.5mm, and 6mm. The Doctor told me that I can continue with that cycle. Hearing that, I was overfilled with joy.
On June 23, one egg was retrieved. On June 25, a fresh 4-cell G2 embryo was transferred. On July 8, I had my first pregnancy test. It was positive! As an atheist, I rarely prayed my whole life, began to pray every day for my pregnancy. This good news made me feel that all the despair and pain in the past were nothing, and my many years of waiting was worth it!
Believe it or not, fate played another joke on me. On July 14, I was shocked to find bloody vaginal secretion. This early sign of miscarriage shocked me like a lightning bolt. I was so fearful that God would take this hope away, so I started praying even harder each day while I was hospitalized to protect the pregnancy. Many times, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because I worried that the negative emotions may harm the pregnancy. This emotional stress felt like there were dark clouds over my head all time, making me feel suffocated.
Negative news finally arrived. In August, the fetal development stopped, and I had to have a surgical miscarriage. The embryo they removed from my uterus was tested. The result was chromosome 14 trisomy. To me, the surgery did not only take away my embryo, but also took away my soul… I was deeply depressed.
The days after I had the miscarriage, I became extremely undecisive. I kept hearing two voices debating all the time. One voice kept reminding me of past failures, while the other kept pushing me to have another try. Somehow, I believed in a miracle and decided to keep trying. I continued taking Shawkea, and I realized that my menses in September and October were very regular and the amount of bleeding was desirable. I rested and regulated my body for about half year. In January 2017 I had one egg retrieved, but that embryo did not grow to the blastocyst stage. Maybe I was defeated too many times, because this negative news did not impact me significantly. I accepted the failure and tried again.
On July 5, an ultrasound displayed two follicles in my right ovary. On cycle day six, the ultrasound found three follicles: two follicles on the right (0.9x0.8cm, 0.7x0.6cm) and one follicle on the left (1x0.7cm). I knew that this was extremely good odds for me, but I worried that my bubble of hope would burst again. On July 17, I had three eggs retrieved, and all three fertilized, and two became blastocysts on embryo day five. Their grades were G5AA, G5BC. One embryo passed PGS, and it was a female. When I heard the good news, I started shaking and crying uncontrollably. No one could understand how much happiness and suffering was in that tears. God finally answered my prayers.
My age and uterine conditions were not ideal, so my husband and I decided to use a surrogate to carry the pregnancy. Our surrogate was a beautiful and healthy woman in her 20s. Our embryo was shipped to the U.S. seamlessly. Then, the embryo transfer procedure was successfully done.
All in all, I wanted to write down my testimony to encourage you and other women who are going through the same thing. The IVF process is not easy, but I hope you can keep focusing on the light coming from the end of the tunnel and don’t easily give up. Hope your long-desired angel baby will arrive to this world soon as well!