Life

OUR INFERTILITY JOURNEY

I share a lot about fashion, business and travel on my blog but today I’m sharing something very personal with you. Things may always seem exciting or business as usual for us, but with all the highs, there have been lows.  It is actually hard for me to write this – I can’t go very long without crying as I write these words. I guess the easiest thing to do is to reveal our infertility journey chronologically.  This will be quite a lengthy blog post so keep reading if you like!

lace and locks, ivf, infertility

Around 2.5 years ago (1.5 years after we got married), we decided we were ready to start our lil’ family.  So we stopped using birth control and I started to monitor my cycles regularly. We thought once we decided on it, I’d get pregnant in no time.  I am the youngest of 10 children and fertility has never been an issue in my family. We had no idea it would be so difficult for us to conceive.  After trying for 9 months, we decided to see a fertility doctor in the Summer of 2016. After my first ultrasound, we were surprised to learn that I was diagnosed with endometriosis – tissue growing around my ovaries. I started crying instantly even though my doctor assured me women could still get pregnant with endometriosis – it’s just harder to do.  He said most people have a laparoscopy surgery where doctors look inside your pelvic area to see and remove some of the endometriosis tissue.  I let the news sink in and I went to another fertility doctor to get a second opinion.  This doctor (who is our current fertility doctor) confirmed that I had endometriosis and recommended that we try naturally first and then try IVF or the laparoscopy if needed.  He was a bit more conservative and so we decided to give that route a try. This was all happening around the same time we were opening our first Morning Lavender brick and mortar store in San Francisco and I was actually living in SF for three months while Jason stayed back home in Orange County.

Once the store settled down a bit and I was home more often, we tried to do our first IUI at the end of last year.  Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves placing Jason’s sperm inside my uterus to give the sperm a head start so to speak.  The doctor would monitor my ovulation to determine the optimal time to do the IUI.  We decided to try IUI as it was less invasive and not as costly or physically demanding as IVF.  We thought maybe our timing was off and that was one of the reasons why I wasn’t getting pregnant.  IUI would take away the ovulation guessing game, but still it was only a 20% chance of conceiving.  We tried 3 IUis in 4 months and I was also seeing a acupuncturist who told me I had to give up cold drinks, spicy foods, garlic, beef, caffeine, alcohol, etc… – basically everything I loved.  And so I carried around a thermos of hot water everywhere and did what the acupuncturist said for months.  It was depressing – I couldn’t have my coffee, eat all the foods I enjoyed and I still wasn’t pregnant.  I stopped going to the acupuncturist as it was stressing me out more than I felt like it was helping.  It seemed like everyone had an opinion of what to do or a friend of a friend who drank this or did that to get pregnant.  I started to wear socks for cold feet, kept a lucky fertility statue of the Virgin Mary in my room (no joke she’s still in our bedroom) and was prepared to try anything that would help.

So almost 2 years of trying and trying, we decided to take a break.  Every month started to feel like an endless, depressing cycle – I would start out hopeful, I’d ovulate, then try to be optimistic as read into every little thing (do my breasts feel different?, am I peeing more?, or do I feel fatigue more easily?) and hoped one of those symptoms meant that I might possibly be pregnant. But then I would menstruate and the frustrations and sadness quickly set in. It began to be difficult to be around others with children and on social media.  I’m at the age where most of my friends are on their first or second child.  Of course I was thrilled for all of my friends with families but it pained us to not have the family life they had. It was a constant reminder of our own struggle.  Whenever I run into people I know, I always get asked “how’s business” and “when are you guys finally starting a family?”.  I know people are being sincere but it’s not a simple thing to answer.  I would always answer “we’re working on it”.

Mind you this is all happening as Morning Lavender is growing.  I had no time to really be sad.  When you own your own business – it’s really hard to take a day off for personal reasons.  As proud as I am of our success, I began to question myself and every thing I had done.  I wondered if my ambitious drive was the real cause of my infertility.  I had grown Morning Lavender so quickly and wondered if I had overextended myself physically and emotionally.  You don’t know how many times people tell me “well maybe you shouldn’t work so hard” or “wow I guess you are choosing your career over motherhood”.  It’s insulting to be judged like that and no one would ever say that to a man.  The only reason I work as I hard as I do is to build a future for our family.  My parents came to America with nothing and instilled a strong work ethic and drive in me.  I never forget their struggles and that has motivated me everyday to work harder and persevere.

Earlier this year, we decided to go on a trip to Japan with our friends to not think about it.  We tried to convince ourselves, maybe it’s just not our time and we should travel and enjoy life while we can (not saying that you can’t when you have a child but we hear it’s different).  We had a great time and when we got back, we decided ok lets just take some pressure off – we are going to try naturally again and make moderate changes in our lives.  I started to hire more people and trust in our team to take some of the stress off myself.  At the same time, the opportunity to open a second brick-and-mortar location came up and I had finally found my dream space.  So we signed a lease and began this 8 month journey of renovating an old building in Old Town Tustin to open up our dream retail concept store.  Almost at the same time, we bought a new home to be closer to work and my family.  We found a great home in a great neighborhood with lots of rooms for our family one day.  Some of the rooms were a bit outdated so started remodeling it right away.  We decided to we could live in construction for a few months as we remodeled our kitchen and master bathroom.  And yes this all happened in a span of three months!  So moderate changes became BIG life changes and the guilt of doing too much came back.  I kept telling myself though, we are just setting everything up for when the baby finally comes.  We have a plan and God has a plan for us.

In June, after several months of trying naturally and with my 37th birthday approaching (I know – Asians don’t raisin), reality set in and we were still not pregnant.  So we saw our doctor again and he suggested we finally do the laparoscopy surgery to try to remove some of the endometriosis.  It was an outpatient surgery and I was back to normal within a week with a tiny scar on my stomach.  The surgery had went well and I was optimistic although the doctor could not remove all of the tissue since some of it was too close to my ovaries.  Jason and I decided that we would try naturally until the end of 2017 and if I still wasn’t pregnant, we would consider IVF in January.  After a few months, we went in to see our fertility doctor for a checkup.  We told him about our game plan and he thought it was a safe decision.  He noted that with my endometriosis, if we did IVF, he would have to freeze the embryos first, then starve my body of estrogen for months with medication to remove the endometriosis before he could implant the embryo back in.  This meant the IVF process for me could be 5 months rather than 2-3 months for other people.  Since I was now 37, I realized that I wouldn’t have a baby until 38 at the earliest.  I know plenty of women have children in the 40s these days and my mom actually had me when she was 37.  I know age shouldn’t be the determining factor, but I’ve been advised about the risk of miscarriage and health complications for the child only increase with age.  So amidst all the chaos in our lives right now (November is the busiest retail month), we decided we didn’t want to wait any longer and that having a healthy child IS our number one priority. With the support of our team, family and friends, I know we will find a way to finish our home remodel, open the new store and ship all of the Black Friday orders.  Did I mention we are also hosting Thanksgiving for both families this year??!

So where does that leave us now?  I just finished 12 days of injecting hormones to produce multiple eggs.  I was too scared to do the shots by myself so Jason would inject 2-3 shots in my abdomen every night.  In the morning, I would do another shot to prevent ovulation from happening too soon. The shots were painful as they were given but I only experienced minor bruising and bloating.  Tomorrow I will be doing my egg retrieval and then hopefully I will have some fertilized eggs -> normal embryos -> then complete my transfer in January or February.  Our home is finally done (yay), Thanksgiving is 4 days away (nom nom) and the new store is about 2 weeks away from opening (hopefully).  According to my doctor, I need to take it easy for the next 2 weeks to recover from the egg retrieval.  We are just going to take it one day at a time and yes I am really going to take it easy.

I decided to finally open up about my infertility publicly after other courageous friends recently spoke up about their own struggles.  After privately speaking to them, I felt better knowing I was not alone.  It’s not a common subject most people talk about and can be quite a lonely journey.  My husband has been the most amazing and supportive man.  But even with him by my side, there’s a loneliness and sadness that only I can feel. But finally speaking to other women about it has given me new strength and added hope.  As a strong willed person, it’s been hard to accept the fact that I can’t do this on my own – that I do need help and that we have to rely not only on science but more importantly FAITH.  As my husband has told me time and time again, God only gives us challenges that he knows we can handle.  We need to trust that He has a plan.  I believe if we can do all the things we do, we can surely make this tiny little miracle, right?  With my father watching from above, the support of family & friends and the trust of God, I know we can do this.

If you read it this far, thank you for taking the time to read about our difficult journey.  I know plenty of women who are going through even tougher times so please be mindful and respectful of everyone’s struggles. I’m thinking of all the women who have endured miscarriages, infertility and childbirth and express my support and love to you all.  Feel free to privately message me if you want to chat or vent. Thank you to everyone who has offered us advice and support along the way. I will provide updates from time to time and hope you don’t mind I’m digressing from the usual fashion and business related posts!  Thanks again for reading!

 

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22 Comments

  • Reply Lisa November 19, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    God’s blessing on you and Jason. May 2018 bring you nothing but happiness

  • Reply Emily November 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. You’re absolutely right in that not many people talk about this. Until you start discussing the issues with people, you realize many women go through the exact same experiences. My husband and I went though something right when I found out I was pregnant, that caused many sleepless nights and it wasn’t until I started talking about to people that I realized I wasn’t alone. Good luck tomorrow!!

  • Reply Jennie Pham November 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Hi, thanks Kim for sharing your journey. I agree with you that God is able and he can do all things! I pray that this journey will be a success for you and you will surely be blessed with a beautiful child that He is in the process of forming for you!! Happy thanksgiving and remain faithful and trust in His sovereignty!

  • Reply Lauren November 19, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Sending lots of love and good vibes for your retrieval tomorrow! We underwent 5 retrieval cycles and 2 frozen transfers before finally getting pregnant and having our baby girl. I know it’s hard on your body and mind right now, but it will be all worth it!

  • Reply DALILA November 19, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Kim , praying for a smooth egg retrieval !
    Infertility is a pain in the butt, BUT nothing is impossible for HIM!

  • Reply Ally Lieu November 19, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! With a full ❤️, I wish you a smooth IVF journey with the most amazing results.

  • Reply Christine November 19, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Stay strong, Kim! YOU GOT THIS!

  • Reply Tracy Wellen November 20, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. My husband and I are also experiencing infertility issues (PCOS) so I can definitely relate to your blog. Well done for opening up on a personal issue, I shared my story too and realised that in opening up publicly, others also suffering or experiencing the same issues opened up. Wishing you all the best of luck with your first round of IVF – sending baby dust your way xx

  • Reply Adriana November 20, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I know what you’ve been through. I’m 8 years waiting and now I’m pregnant . I combined IVF with acupuncture for the emotional issues. The Chinese doctor is also especcialist in fertility. For it helped a lot because I start crying whenever I remember hospital. I was very traumatized… I wish you the best. Good luck.

  • Reply Queena November 20, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Wow!! First of all, you look fabulous at 37. I am 37 as well and also in the process of moving homes, jobs, and IVF and hosting thanksgiving! I hope to hear success stories in your store and baby…just want to thank you for sharing since I’m in the same boat.

  • Reply Meg November 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I’m so so so proud of you for opening up about this. I rarely did when we went through it and that feeling of being alone only magnified. I spent too many days grieving by myself and it served and helped no one. There’s such regret for not letting people in in the midst of it. From where we are at now…I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy…but I wouldn’t trade it for all of the riches of the world. It created a perspective of tenderness and thankfulness in my journey of being a mom, one that I won’t ever ever get over. I don’t take any bit of what we have now for granted. I know there’s not a soul on earth that can promise you a baby, but I do want to encourage you that you’re not alone in this. I’m praying with you and for you that you will get pregnant and have not one, but many. I’m praying that this “suffering” (because it is like a death every month) will end and that joy will come and that your prayers will finally be answered! Thanks for letting us in, thanks for sharing your story, thanks for being willing to encourage others who are going through the same thing.

  • Reply happygutjourney November 20, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Kim & Jason, I applaud you for being so brave and sharing your struggles with us. This is something SO many people don’t talk about because they think it’s shameful, but there is absolutely nothing shameful about it – in fact, I wish more people would be as open as you are so we could remove the stigma behind infertility!

    I will say first, PLEASE do not blame yourself for anything and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re any less of a woman because of your fertility struggles – you are absolutely beautiful and worthy the way you are. There are so many different ways to live and love life, so many different paths to get from point A to Z and so many different ways to serve God. Your time will come! I know SO many couples who have tried for years (one tried for almost a decade) and they’ve just been blessed with a healthy and beautiful child (some even got twins!)

    You’ve got time. God’s timing is always perfect even if ours isn’t. One day you will read this post again with tears of joy when you have your little bundle of joy on your lap 🙂 But know also that you already have everything you need to live a thriving, fulfilling and purpose-driven life to the best of your ability – God knows what’s in your heart, and the best you can do is focus on what you CAN control and let go of what you cannot by allowing God to handle the rest. I don’t know you personally but I am sending you two so much LOVE, light and blessings!!!

    Ignore the ignorant people who make snarky comments about you choosing your career over motherhood – most of those people don’t realize that there are different ways to live a purpose driven life that doesn’t always involve parenthood. Different paths for different people 🙂

    P.S. – I had no idea you’re 37 because you look soooooo young! XOXO!

  • Reply Cici November 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you for courageously sharing your story. Prayers for success with this round of IVF.

  • Reply Katie November 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey so other women can learn from it. Wishing your family happiness, peace, and joy, regardless of the number. Hope your wish come true.

  • Reply Lisa November 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I was 40 when I had my now 11 year old. I went through IVF. don’t gibe up hope….its a lot of shots and craziness but I know your miracle baby will come someday too. Prayers!

  • Reply Maureen November 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey. What you are going through is difficult. I have friends who have also gone through or is going through IVF and it’s no walk in the park. Hang in there and sending you big hugs.

    http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  • Reply Tierra November 23, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Kim I commend you for being so real and honest and transparent. I pray for you and your husband, for your continued faith, strength, and endurance. May God bless you with all your hearts desires

  • Reply Rian November 23, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for opening your heart and struggles to us. I’m so sorry for all that you guys have been through, but I’m also amazed at how much you’ve accomplished. You’re such an inspiration and model of hard work and sweetness. I wish you both the very best and I’m certain God has big plans for your family, to grow it and make you prosper.

  • Reply Iliana Castilblanco November 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Wow!!! This makes my heart melt for you and your husband! You guys will be in my daily prayers I have faith that soon you will have great news!! Please pray to the virgen Mary everyday and tell her that you want to be a mother soon If you ever need prayers please don’t hesitate to ask, we need to support each other! I am a strong believer that God listens! Blessings and happy holidays

  • Reply Nadia November 29, 2017 at 4:40 am

    Hi Kim Le, first of all, I commend you for sharing your story publicly and I want to thank you for helping to raise awareness on a topic that for some reason remains somewhat taboo.
    I want to let you know that you are stronger than you think you are. I have been through 6 IUIs and 3 IVFs over a period of 2 years to become a mother so I know how it feels and how isolating the process can be.
    But you must have faith and do whatever feels right to you and your husband to start your family. Please don’t listen to what people say. This is your journey and nobody else’s.
    I want to send a lot of positive vibes and hope your way.
    If you do not know it already, I would recommend heading over to the ‘Don’t count your eggs’ blog where Maya documented her journey to her daughter. This blog has helped me so much through the process. Maya and her husband have even produced a documentary called One More Shot (available on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo on demand) which I highly recommend watching.
    Anyway, please know there is a whole community of incredible people out there for support.

  • Reply thegracemattei November 30, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Hey lady! I actually stumbled across your blog while looking for some good holiday outfit ideas on Pinterest, and ended up coming here and reading this whole thing. While I haven’t been there myself, I can only imagine how difficult and trying this experience has been for you – and I hope that the end of the road for this journey comes soon. Lots of love and prayers to you – and in the meantime, congratulations on the other successes in your life, like your flourishing business! It sounds like you have some really great things to distract yourself with from this tough situation in the meantime. Don’t give up! Never give up. xx, grace

  • Reply Kelly Kamentz December 1, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Dear Jason and Kim. I never heard of you guys until 2 days ago as I was listening to Bethel Worship 2017 on YouTube and your Lavender Gal kept popping up – so i decided to check it out. I’m the last person in the world to know anything about fashion – so it’s almost funny that I would check out your site. But I was so blessed – you are beautiful, but there was something different about you – now I know having read this blog your beauty comes from within – it’s Jesus in you! We wish you God’s very best in this business that He has led you to begin for His glory to help women young and old shine the beauty that God has put in them. Keep going! You are making a difference.

    And now the reason i am writing. My wife April and I got married with both of us having a huge heart for children. While no one is ever ready financially, we just trusted God, that he would supply our needs. What we didn’t expect was the month after month, and year after year of disappointment. We couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t answer the deepest desire of our hearts. Because we fully believed that God was a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, and that just like He promised He gives us our hearts’ desire. Making things worse was every trip to the mall seeing teenage girls pregnant or pushing around strollers and here we are…

    I will never forget the moment watching my wife across the living room (which was not much larger than current master bedroom closet) talking to the nurse on the phone – confirming our scheduled surgery – and her telling April – “There’s no need to come in… you are about to have a baby!”

    By the time our precious daughter, Kelsey was a year and a half old, we knew that if God never gave us another child, that blessing alone was more than we ever could imagine. But we hoped, and we prayed. Then came Adair, then came Klarysa, then KC, then Arden, then Allie.

    The couple who could not have children… God gave them six in six years. Allie is now 17, and Kelsey is 24. All of them love God, and are powerful women of God. Our son also, is mighty in God – who is so very faithful.

    Just wanted to tell you that not only does God love you, he does and he will give you the desire of your heart. April and I will continue to pray with you and Jason that God will add to your family the children of his choosing in his perfect time. When we feel he has forgotten – he is working where we cannot see.

    May God bless you with the joy of knowing him, and knowing his goodness. Heavenly Father, the God of all good, and the giver of every good and perfect gift – would you pour out your blessing and favor on Jason and Kim and would you bless them beyond their deepest hopes and dreams. Would you be enough, more than enough, and would your give them their hearts desire in your complete and perfect time. In Jesus Name,

    Kelly and April

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