Thursday, 22 March 2012

My Deepest, Innermost Feelings (Mostly Dark) on being childless


I have been almost subtle in my past blogposts on my state of childlessness. Today, I feel the need to share on my personal blog something I couldn't get myself to verbalise up till now, simply being it is too personal, but I feel that it is time. I have always believed that the catharsis effect (releasing it via sharing through speech or writing) plays some role in preserving my sanity. THIS IS ONLY A HIDDEN PART OF WHO I AM, maybe at most 25% of me, so don't deduce that I am a suicidal person or something. Just a sharing blogpost.

Let us start from the beginning.

As a little girl, I had always believed I will be a fine mother one day. I played with my dolls and pretended to be their mother. I played with the cat we had and enjoyed watching my mother playing 'mother' to the kitty, RIP Meow Meow. I always looked forward to receiving new siblings (quite a huge age gap, hence I was an older child when they were born), or new cousins. I relish in playing with children and almost nothing they do will irk me or made me cross unless it is really over the 'accepted' limit.

Fast forward to the 21st century, I fell in love and fell out of love a couple of times before I finally found my man, the guy I call my husband today. We had some years together as a dating couple before finally taking the plunge, hmm, literally, into marriage, speeded up by both sides of the family's demands we tie the knot, reason being we had been dating since we were 23. Yup, I am one of the lucky ones to have found my soulmate at an 'early' age. I would like to believe in soulmate and that I found my soulmate in my husband. I count my blessings.

It was an eventful year in 2007 when we got married. Looking back, I am quite amazed at how I survived five years ago. I lost my beloved grandpa, my dear grandpa (dad's dad) with whom I was very close to, just days before my wedding reception. I was hospitalised 7 times in 2007, two being having to have had D&C performed on me as I couldn't stop bleeding -- google up D&C and you would be able to guess just exactly what happened. That is a whole different story which is best left aside for now, another raw emotions-filled memory box.

Anyway, I survived my first year of marriage, literally, hubby and I both grew up together in our first year as man and wife, and life has never been better, up till today... but a nagging feeling persists, we are still childless.

I would say the person closest to you once you are married should be your spouse, maybe children, but you should never replace your spouse with your children, in terms of attention, that is.

In my five years of marriage, from a young man to a not-so-young-man-anymore, my husband has proven the 'through thick and thin, in trial and tribulations' part of most marriage vows, he has stuck through with me and listened to me and held me close in those down times where you couldn't have recognised me for my usual self. NOTE: I usually do not appear as sad in real life, always with laughter and a ready smile on my face.

Let me say this straight: It pained me more than anything else in the world to not have my own child. The hurt is due to the fact of having your hopes crushed month-by-month, the pain is indescribable. It is only natural that I would crave for my own flesh and blood and after awhile, I am opening up my options to adoption as well. As long as the effort will not cost more than 10k, we've tried it, trust me.

We have tried almost everything except IVF (test tube baby) due to the prohibitive cost. We don't have 10k (minimum) times three (x3) for a 3-round IVF treatment to spare. The success rate at best is only 35%, hovering as low as 25%-35%. It is like knowing you will fail the test/exam and still paid the exam fees to proceed and sit for the examination paper you know you can only score the max 35%.

Sweet, sweet hubby has been there with me and he was there when I had to self-administer an injection to my tummy and for me, who have a strange phobia (fear) towards needles/syringes, it was a huge feat just to be able to poke my skin myself, I actually cried all three times I administered myself in a round (a cycle, which is a month, following your monthly cycle), just to stimulate ovulation. I managed to ovulate, it is not that I couldn't, but nothing came out of it. Stress took over by just trying too hard that we abandoned serious fertility treatment at the LPPKN (government subsidised clinic) in 2009 and turned to gynae visits instead for more stress-free option rather than invasive procedures every month.

For those of you who are of medium-income-range, and would like to try a subsidised alternative of fertility treatment, here is the link, under Rawatan SubFertiliti:
The English name for LPPKN is: National Population and Family Development Board, an agency under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. -- don't bother turning on the English version of the website as the translation isn't complete.

ONE NOTE: DO NOT expect private hospital (nice) treatment or smiles all the way as you only pay a fraction of the price - RM10 for consultation, RM10 is about USD3 for a specialist consultation, and subsidised (discounted) procedures and tests, and to some extent, the expensive ovary-stimulating drugs. A friend had a success on her second IUI (artificial insemination) attempt and is now a mother to a pair of boy-girl twins, she was the one who introduced me to LPPKN. Happy for her, seriously.


The people around you will add on to the pain and hurt, like the cliche "to add salt to injury".

I remembered sharing with a girl friend when I had myself checked and all, in my attempt to conceive and she said that she'd rather not know what is wrong with her or do so many things just to get pregnant and let it happen naturally, not like some people and she added, no offence. Geez, girl, I am still taking offence or rather, feel quite hurt by that. About a year after that statement, you are one of the lucky ones who had a miracle happen and you conceived when you least expected it, with our common situation, having PCOS and all, but I am not so lucky and so are many other women like me out there, and of course, rather than mulling about it, I sought help.

Whatever you do when are a childless couple, you get judged. For doing nothing, you get judged. For getting help, you get judged. Even when you are doing something, you get judged for not doing enough or doing it wrong.

One insensitive remark I remember till today was of an acquaintance who 'jokingly' said maybe we are not pregnant (I refer to 'we' being pregnant cos I think of our journey to conception as both me and hubby) because we had not been doing it right in bed, he said some crude words and we had only met once or twice before that and he thought it was funny to poke fun at our childlessness like that. I took offence immediately and told him right off that is unacceptable.

Hey, what I do with my husband in bed is none of your business and I am perfectly happy with his performance and we thoroughly enjoy each other's company, infertility isn't inability to have sex. Now I am really angry and still fuming at insensitive remarks like that. Oh well.

Anyway, after more or less 'giving up' with expensive fertility treatments, I stick to my current gynae, bless his gentle soul, who put no pressure on me, and the kind nurses who are rooting for me all the way. I still remembered the first time I ovulated last year and the doc was very excited, and the nurse was almost cheering me on when the internal scan (pelvic/trans-vaginal scan) showed that one ripe follicle. I think they were more excited than I was. Bless their soul. Of course, nothing happened out of that and I am still without a child. I guess you can get used to prognosis like that after some time :-)

My family and hubby's family, after some 'orientation', has since learned not to breach this subject that often and usually they tip-toed gently on this subject, with an underlying encouraging tone. Appreciate that but I guess no one besides those suffering from the same 'predicament' will truly understand how difficult our journey is.

I also feel guilty when I poured out to hubby, and he told me: Do you know I also feel pressured? Seeing you like this and I cannot do anything about it makes me feel helpless.

I then said "Sorry", and toned down and took control of my feelings. He too, is in this journey, and being a man, it is harder to verbalise his feelings.

Of course, I would be lying if I say I don't fear my hubby leaving me just because we have no child to bind us together. Call it irrational fear, but I guess women are hard-wired at birth to think like this... all the dooms' day thoughts of "What If's". So far, so good, hubby has reassured me again and again that he will be by my side no matter what.

Another fear is that we will be nearly dead/too old by the time any possible child is born/adopted by us and when we die (due to old age) the child is still in school. I don't wanna be running after a toddler when I am in my mid-40s (sorry to those who are doing that), but I cannot fathom that I will look more like a grandma than a mother to my own child. Geez, call that vanity but that is just my fear.

Now I have been writing a pretty long prologue of our journey and will now dwelve into these feelings to begin the catharsis. Catharsis is defined as the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music, or emotional release.

I think some of you who read my blog before this would have read this before, something I wrote two years ago when I turned 30.

I have always tried to side-step this issue and making it 'lighter' by trying to see the positive side of things:

Now, I will try to let it all out and unleash that untamed raw feelings from the dark abyss of my being. Let's see if this catharsis session works.

*I paused for about 10 seconds thinking of how to put it into words*


These two feelings are interconnected, if you ask me. First, you blame yourself (doesn't help with the 'maybe you didn't do that, maybe you did that, that is why you are not pregnant yet' well-intentioned remarks from family and friends and including strangers), after blaming yourself for not being able to get pregnant, you turn the blame on fate/God/others/your past/anything you can think of and think: WHY ME? Self-pity crept in and if you allow yourself to wallow in self-pity, the downward spiral of dark emotions will begin.

I feel like a wolf sometimes. These dark feelings I have, I can only cry to the moon deep into the night. I feel like howling in pain, soaked in the moonlight while tears soak up my face while I howl my pain to the moon. The feelings of longing for something I don't have (which is the root of suffering as what you crave for isn't in your hands, as per Buddhist teachings), I know rationally I shouldn't think about it that much, but deep inside, the Mother Wolf inside me is mourning her lost cubs-to-be, and the possibility of not having any cubs at all in her entire life.

I have cried many times alone and in the arms of hubby, who felt equally helpless, and also in front of my parents and my dear sister. I have learned that sharing with loved ones, while is supportive in some ways, is not fair to them in terms of putting more stress on them, as they are feeling as helpless as I am. I have since restricted my 'howling' to private alone-moments or in the selected few times (I try not to) with hubby. There was once a couple of years ago, I was feeling really down and triggered by some event/remarks, I actually burst into tears in the car, moments after stepping into the car to an alarmed hubby. In moments like this, sadness/disappointment/anger/frustration/pain all rolled into one.

I find myself on the verge of tears at the slightest provocation/remark/trigger on bad days which isn't happening that often now that I am off hormones-treatments for now. On good days, I can laugh about it and even 'forget' about it, but on bad days, I would fall into that emotional abyss and feel like howling again.

Yesterday was one of those days. I went for my monthly check-up at my gynae and jokingly told Alice, one of the nurses, that even the front counter girl could recognise me as I have been a regular for more than a year already at the specialist hospital, and I said "Even those who are pregnant at most sees the doc 9 months up til delivery, I have been coming monthly for more than a year already, longer than any pregnant woman", she laughed, being her usual cheerful self, and then I went in, escorted by Prema, another nurse.

Doc confirmed I have yet again to be successful in conceiving, and dear sweet nurse Prema held my leg on the examination bed in support/comfort to let me know they also wish that I will be successful soon, and one day I will be pregnant too, like many women in this world. I felt like bursting into tears there and then, touched by the sincerity of my 'medical team' I see on a monthly basis, sometimes more than a couple of times a month, depending on what type of treatment my doc puts me on. On the other hand, I felt like crying because of yet another month of failure and I wish more than anything to be a mother, not just a godmother (which is the second best thing in life right now), but a mother.

Adoption has been explored. You would be surprised at the intricacies and difficulties of getting a child to adopt in Malaysia due to the fact that I am a non-Muslim and as a non-Muslim, I cannot adopt a Muslim child. Muslim couples get pushed up the list as there are more Muslim babies available for adoption than non-Muslims ones. International adoption is possible, and while we can try to ignore the fact that the cost is prohibitive, the Malaysian laws do not grant automatic citizenship to internationally adopted children, hence their future is insecure in the adoptive country. I wouldn't want that for my adopted child. Hence we can only wait for the local wait list.

So many people have suggested adoption and said things like "GET A CHILD FROM CHINA, GET A BABY GIRL FROM CHINA, etc". Yes, I know. But it isn't that clear-cut. We are still trying - both at trying to conceive and adopting. We have been put on waiting list, went through the interviews/screening, felt more like police investigation with a 6-member-panel interrogating our every aspect of being/life. WE HAVE TRIED THAT, one year on, after being put on the waiting list, we are STILL WAITING.

I FEEL LIKE MY DREAMS SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL to be a mother is being taken away from me, slowly but surely as the clock ticked on. I only have about 3 years of ideal child-bearing-years left, and I told hubby I will stop trying once I am past 35, or maybe 40 (if finances permit). How can I not help but feel DESPERATE? Go for a holiday? Hubby and I have been on numerous trips/honeymoons to relax, but infertility is a medical condition that cannot be cured just by relaxing. It is not that simple. I feel like shoving shoes up people's mouth when they give insensitive advices/judgments,etc. That's my inner-most feelings, but of course, civility dictates I must grin and bear with that, with me, being a good sport while seething inside.

I am a woman without a child who is wishing more than anything else, to want one to call her own, please don't deny me even my rights to feel my emotions that I am feeling while I try to make my wishes come true. Hence this blogpost is to share those feelings that I kept inside. I know how to be positive, but everyone has their down time, hence I am sharing how and what I feel during my down times, which isn't that often as time goes on.

I feel like this can summarise my entire blogpost aptly, copying Feeling No.2:
I feel like a wolf sometimes. These dark feelings I have, I can only cry to the moon deep into the night. I feel like howling in pain, soaked in the moonlight while tears soak up my face while I howl my pain to the moon. The feelings of longing for something I don't have (which is the root of suffering as what you crave for isn't in your hands, as per Buddhist teachings), I know rationally I shouldn't think about it that much, but deep inside, the Mother Wolf inside me is mourning her lost cubs-to-be, and the possibility of not having any cubs at all in her entire life.

*This article isn't written to disparage or critise or meant to lash out at anyone. It is just a reflection of my innermost feelings.*

Post script: This is only a part of me, not my whole being so please don't misunderstand that I feel like this all the time, I have since learned to be positive and learned to be optimistic on this very sensitive subject, but of course, there are downtime which I call my bad days due to hormonal changes, which is becoming lesser by the day. I am usually a cheerful and bubbly person as many who know me can attest to.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Excited! Recording my excitement in anticipation of my first long trip!

I told hubby I am gonna blog about this BEFORE the trip so that I can record down my excitement in anticipation of my FIRST LONG TRIP.

There is only a first time once, right? So here I am, blogging (or showing off to some), of my upcoming dream trip to Disney World (in Florida) which comprises FOUR LANDS and two water parks (Imagine any Disneyland in the world and multiply that by four) and Harry Potter' World - Universal Studios Island of Adventure! Yippie!!!

On a scale of one being the lowest and 10 being the highest, I would say my level of excitement is maybe 9.5, simply being that isn't the only thing I am thinking about on a daily basis while waiting for the upcoming trip!

Anyway, in point for to list the crazy things I do in anticipation of the trip of a lifetime (at least at this point in time):
1. I have been reading a guidebook and we have collectively been doing research on the Internet on our trip since January, and our trip is only set to start on March 23.
2. I have been keeping it a secret from most people, and bursting in excitement only to a selected few just cos I cannot keep it a total secret, which by now is no longer a secret two days before our trip (March 21, today lol)
3. I have started packing since early March, and finally finished packing (almost) yesterday with hubby's help. Some loose things are gonna be added up to the last day.
4. I wasn't even that upset by things that will usually upset me and set me to tears/frustration, everything seemes not so bad just because I have this trip to look forward to.
5. Even the possibility that something may go wrong during this trip doesn't even dampen my mood. It is afterall the trip of a lifetime. lol

Okay, I am babbling nonsense. I just wanna say, I am so VERY EXCITED!!!!! Orlando, here I come! lol
So no matter what happen, this is a message to myself when I re-read this in the future, I am really excited and anything is going to be really worth it, no matter what. :-D *big grin*

Saturday, 17 March 2012

CONDITIONAL LOVE: Mommy I love you, thank you for buying me ice-cream.

"Mommy I love you... " that phrase made hearts melt.. but not the following phrase that comes with it - "Thank you for buying me ice-cream."

I couldn't help but chuckle softly and turned over to my right and sure enough hubby was suppressing a grin. The little boy of about 6 or 7 was walking with his mommy one fine evening in Singapore during our Sept 2011 trip, and we happened to be within earshot of the cute exchange.

If I remember correctly, children does not really 'love' or learn to love unconditionally until they have 'matured' into an adult, at least that is what my Psychology classes taught me last time during my undergrad years. Imagine you are born and everything revolves around you from infancy right up to childhood, and you cannot help but have this self-centered mind-set and imagine the rebellion when some 'sense of responsibility' were being forced upon these self-centered individuals who had everything served right up to their hands/mouth all these while, and then we have this thing called the rebellious teens. Not a surprise why they rebel, isn't it? They have been conditioned that way, and suddenly you are changing the rules? Kinda unfair if you ask me... lol, anyway, it's part of the growing pains.

I don't know, I don't have children myself, but I do have goddaughters, two of them and I love them to bits, I know they love me as their godmother but to what extent, I am not disillusioned, they love me for the gifts I supply on a regular basis, like more than a couple of times a year. Proof? They finally verbalised it, or rather, the elder girl, when I arrived at the airport and followed her parents (my friends) to pick her up from school, the first thing she said was "Mommy Sue, where is my birthday present?", it was her birthday a couple of years back. I think as children, they quantify love to the amount/total of gifts you give them?
Anyway, she is turning 11 this year and her sister, my younger goddaughter is turning 9, and I had a glimpse of what kind of teenagers they would grow up to the last time I saw them as I slept with them my entire trip there and we had some girly chat before going to sleep.

Hmmm.... let's hope their tween (pre-teen) years are prolonged and still keep the innocence around them, they still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, thanks to their mother, my good frend Audrey who wanted to provide/preserve the sanctity of a childhood in today's harsh world. Instead of a coin, Audrey gave her girls 5 bucks for each tooth under their pillow, *salute* I didn't even have any when I was a little girl!!!

Back to conditional love, it is quite disheartening to see that some children never grew out of their infancy, i.e. adults who are self-centered and hardly make the effort to expand their view/horizon. "Of course I love you, honey, you are so beautiful".... five or ten years later, they are no more beautiful or sweet anymore and they move on.

Infidelity aside, we have people who don't treasure relationships of any kind and for them, it all boils down to "how much is she/he of use to me and what does it matter to me?" Hence with these kind of people, friendship has an 'expiry date'. When they feel that you are of no more use to them, you are considered expired friends and they cease to even make effort to be friends with you anymore.

That, my friends, is called Conditional Love. Maybe not 'LOVE', Love, maybe conditional relationship. Nope, conditional ties is more like it, relationship takes a lot of work, so they just form ties that are easy to cut off after it has run its course.

I have learned to not really care about these 'children/kidults (kid+adults) who never grew out of their infancy' and their self-centered little world over the years. Of course that is learned through many bitter and painful experiences with such people whom you thought were your 'true friends'. Oh well, good riddance I guess. I have more like-minded people whom I call friends in later part of my life and there is nothing that I would change about them!

Here's a toast to maintaining a good relationship with as little conditions as possible! Happy relationships, everyone!!!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Hair Rebonding 2012

I love my hair as any woman should.

I used to have really thin straight hair as a little girl and as puberty set in, it grew thicker and instead of straight, it began to curl to waves by the time I was in my 20s.

I did my first hair rebonding in 2010, courtesy of my cousin Tyng who 'treated' me to my first hair straightening session in Nov 2010. I broke the rules for the first five days and ended up with less than satisfactory result.


Can I tie up my hair after rebonding?

1. DO NOT TIE UP YOUR HAIR (EVEN FOR SHOWER CAPS, I didn't tie up my hair and just let it roll up a bit but loose, into the shower cap).

Can I wash my hair after rebonding? How many days should I wait before washing or wetting my hair to let the chemicals set?
2. DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR, no matter how oily your scalp is, DO NOT WASH IT or else the effect won't be as nice, put the confinement ladies hair powder (or any other powder) as hair powder will make the hair less oily (popular among Chinese ladies who needed to observe the no-hair-wash for one-month rule after childbirth, seriously).

3. I think these are the top two rules, cannot recall anything else, but oh, AFTER the first five days maintenance are crucial as well, but oh well, that goes to any normal hair care, like steaming/treatment/scalp treatment, etc. Hair care after rebonding realy matters for smooth silky locks.

Anyway, I digress.

For 2011, I decided to have my hair rebonded for the second time. I took advantage of a RM88 opening promotion and here is the result:

Reminds you of a female ghost with long hair or the Malay will say pontianak/kuntilanak, right? lol. I blogged about it as well in June 2011 (check out my June 2011 archives) and am very satisfied with the result, and this time around, I tried very hard not to break the two rules above.

ONE BIG RULE: You are supposed to wait AT LEAST (minimum) SIX MONTHS between rebonding before you do your next rebonding, if you don't want healthy hair, go ahead and do it at a shorter interval. For naturally curly/wavy hair, there is one exception to the rule, which is to NOT do rebonding on the entire length but only on the roots, so the damage isn't as bad. Talk to your hair dresser for what suits you best. The main concern is your hair will be so damaged, it will break/fall out.

So the NUMBER ONE RULE OF POST-REBONDING MAINTENANCE IS: REGULAR TREATMENT. Regardless of what hair treatment, having some/a few is better than nothing at all, be it home treatment/daily hair serum, regular serum after hair wash, or salon treatment (varies in types and prices), do it for the sake of good strands of hair!

Now, I followed the ONE BIG RULE and waited longer than six months for my third rebonding. I did it in Feb 2012, and I plan to make it the only rebonding session for this year for the health of my hair.

This is the result (I trimmed my hair length and dyed it black 3 months before this in Nov 2011) after the rebonding:

This time around (current rate) it costs me RM158 for rebonding plus on the spot treatment. Still cheaper than most places in Klang Valley (Selangor and Kuala Lumpur).

Compare the before (in red, hair dyed light brown),

and after (in fuchsia, hair dark brown) pix:

Call it illusion or whatever, due to the hair colour which is darker, but my hair looks thicker and shinier and definitely healthier, right?

Secret? Tonnes of hair product? Not necessarily. lol Monthly salon treatment(about RM80 per month), plus daily serum and more concentrated serum on ends after each hair wash), plus scalp treatment *inclusive in salon treatment* and also hair tonic to promote hair growth (don't really stick to a regime, so I guess the salon treatment helps a lot).

MY ADVICE after years of trial and error is:

Stick to a hairdresser, go for regular hair treatments, try to stick to a regular home regime (I do miss it a few days in a week), and voila, soft silky hair. Rebonding without regular treatment will only damage your hair further and the effect isn't nice, trust me, coarse hair which is dry and always in disarray after awhile, so the rebonding effects will come to naught, so please treat your hair nice and 'invest' in some treatment!

No prizes for guessing my fav salon/spa at the moment. :) I am a regular, so just mention Sue's name for some special rates. Just say "Saya kawan Sue" even though I don't know you personally. Haha.

The map to go to Arowana Beauty Spa is on the right.

Arowana Beauty Spa
328 (Ground Floor), Jalan Negara,
Melawati Square,
Taman Melawati,
53100 Kuala Lumpur
(Behind Bank Rakyat Taman Melawati Branch),
If you're coming from the opposite direction of Bank Rakyat, then you'll see Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN/NRD) branch office first.

Call 019-2226825 or 03-41086825 for appointment.

This is not an advertorial - I wasn't paid anything, what I have gained is good service from very friendly women staff who love what they do best - to make other women look and feel good. :-)