Somehow, we are on the last day of 2021. This year, I’ve done nearly no traveling, both due to COVID but also because I embarked upon another wild adventure – motherhood. I spent most of the year waiting – waiting to become pregnant, waiting to get through my pregnancy, waiting for my babies to leave NICU… My patience was tested time and again. It’s currently 1 am. I debated whether to sleep instead, but I wanted to take this time to reflect and remember this pivotal year of my life.
I started the new year amid our IVF cycle. Our lives surrounded weekly visits to the IVF hospital. We had our embryos undergo genetic testing, and the result showed that we didn’t have any “normal” embryos. The news was disappointing, but the doctor nevertheless recommended that we transfer all three embryos. I spent a lot of time with my family, particularly my nephew. Also rediscovered my childhood city here in Taichung.
Due to a silly visa ordeal, Xav had to travel back to France during this COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, I went through IVF transfer alone, and it was a month of many shocks. Within 28 days, I went from unable to conceive for over 2+ years to being having THREE embryos swirling around inside of me. I had only barely gotten over double lines on the pregnancy test. I then had to process the fact I was suddenly pregnant with three babies?! To say it was a wild month would be putting it very lightly.
Xav returned to Taiwan the day I found out we were having triplets. He endured two weeks of quarantine. We then took a short trip to stay at a cabin in the woods. At this point of my pregnancy, I had lofty goals to take a trip once a month and thoroughly enjoy our last months as a life of duo. Pregnancy symptoms hit me hard, and I spent most of the month vomiting and sleeping due to extreme exhaustion. We also found out that the third embryo didn’t make it during the month. The news was a relief with a tinge of sadness.
Baby bump began to appear. I spent most of the month feeling ill still, patiently waiting for the magical second trimester to appear. I couldn’t wait to have more energy and carry on an active pregnancy. The month was filled with a lot of tests. Since our embryo quality wasn’t technically “normal,” I went through CVS and amniocentesis testing to rule out any genetic issues. Fortunately, all results came back normal in the end.
For two short weeks in May, I felt well enough to take a short trip to Lukang, a charming town outside Taichung. For the first time in a while, I was up for exploring and taking photos. Little did we know, this would be our last trip of my pregnancy. Soon after this outing, COVID cases flared up in Taiwan, making leisure travel impossible. My vision of an active pregnancy was also shattered due to complications.
COVID lockdown was in full force. Summer also came with a vengeance. I tried to get my steps in by taking walks in IKEA, grocery stores, and empty shopping malls to avoid the heat. I was growing exponentially. My sister was also pregnant, but a few months ahead of me. Misery loves company, and it was nice to have someone waddle around with!
By early July, at just 24 weeks of pregnancy, my short cervix landed me on bed rest to prevent preterm labor. I was still very tired and sleeping an insane amount. My mind couldn’t focus enough to do much during waking hours, so I watched an absurd amount of TV. I couldn’t even concentrate enough to follow TV with plots. Tour de France, the Olympics, and HGTV were the right kind of mindless TV that kept me entertained. I also re-watched the entire series of Downton Abbey since I already know the plot – no concentration required.
Since the pregnancy was precarious, I arranged for a maternity shoot at just 28 weeks. I was getting impossibly large anyway. Good thing I did, because just as I thought my condition was stabilizing and I could go out a bit more to restaurants, things took a dramatic turn. I ended up at the hospital on strict bed rest for a week. Then our twin boys were born via emergency c-section at just 31 weeks of gestation at the end of August. Pregnancy abruptly ended, and I never did find bliss.
I turned 35 in September. Inadvertently, I had reached an arbitrary goal of popping out babies by age 35. The twins’ unexpected early arrival meant they needed to be in incubators at the NICU. For over 40 days, Xav and I visited them daily for the cruel allowed time slot of 30 minutes. The postpartum hormones combined with the uncertain health of my babies sent me waves of wild postpartum blues.
After 42 days, the twins were finally discharged from the hospital! Our family of four finally reunited. We checked into the postpartum center here in Taichung. It was a trial run on parenthood (without a return policy). I am so grateful that we had a team of nurses to guide us on caring for the twins and let us very slowly ease into sleepless nights. My sister and I also acquired lovely mom friends via the center. After a year of living in Taiwan, we began to finally build a community.
Two months after the twins were born, we finally came home to begin life just the four of us. The struggle is real. We navigated life on little sleep and observed our babies to better strategize. Xav and I make a good team. Our travels had prepared us well for this mega-adventure. We took the twins on a day trip to acquire their US passports. Looking forward to resuming our wanderlust ways with the boys!
In this final month of the year, we begin to adjust to parenthood. Life has settled into a nice routine. This may be the first time in my life that I don’t dislike a routine. There is nothing mundane about the daily grind – the twins bring constant surprises, mostly full of joy but sometimes filled with nonstop crying and fuss. We are also cherishing our weekly date to not get lost in all things babies.
I had waited a long time to become a mother, and this year was the beautiful culmination of all that patience. I am learning to set realistic expectations with motherhood, which means not setting any goals or resolutions other than keeping the twins alive and relatively well in 2022. Can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me while maintaining elements that are authentically me.
Wishing you all a very happy new year. May 2022 bring you joy and health!