Happy meal #29: Earl grey tea cookies

And we’re back with another edition of Happy Meal!

Oh I’ve been cooking but I either get lazy to whip out the camera to shoot or I am too lazy to write about it. The early grey tea cookies, for instance, were baked for Chinese New Year. And, erm, that was way back in February. I also made some oatmeal raisin cookies but that’s for another post.

During my recovery from the surgery, I spent a fair bit of time online when I wasn’t sleeping off the GA. One of the sites that I frequented was Martha Stewart and I was pretty intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe. Got husband to smash up the earl grey tea leaves that we had in the cupboard and off we went!

Earl grey tea cookies
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Weddings)

What you need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves, (from about 8 bags)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 226g butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

Combine flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Put butter, sugar, and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; slowly mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log and force out air. Transfer in parchment to paper-towel tubes; freeze 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until edges turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Two of Us

The husband turns 37

My friends on the Internetz, it’s my husband‘s birthday today!
(Be nice and wish the grumpy old fart a happy 37th, will you?)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Throughout the entire infertility journey, I’ve been talking about how I feel, how sad I am and how hard it has been for me. But it hasn’t been a walk in the park for him either. As brave as I have been, he’s been equally brave too. Because if not for his blessing and support, I would never have spoken out aloud about our struggles and pains (and gained some sanity in return).

Husband has been a trooper. While many men would have balked at the idea of DIYing into a really tiny cup or having their boys analysed or seeing a fertility specialist, he was all for it. Not once did he exhibit any signs of chauvinism, not once did he make this more difficult that it already is.

And I am so proud of him for being man enough to talk openly about our fertility woes. Seriously, my friends on the Internetz, how many men are brave enough to do that?

So yes, in more ways than one, he is the one with the balls in this relationship.
Even if he is a tenor.
Who publicly announces his love for bags and shoes. (coughgaycough)

Of course, he is not perfect. He has his arsehole ways and arsehole days. Honestly, there are days when I am fearful of this marriage breaking down under the strain of infertility because, by God, this is one of the TOUGHEST things I have ever had to endure. But each time I get pissed off with his arseholeness, he does something so wonderful or funny that I toss out the idea of returning him to the factory.

Plus, he says the darnest things like, Just because my soldiers are down doesn’t make me less manly.

See? I think I shall keep him.

Happy birthday, my darling husband!

Awesome picture taken by the awesome Alywin.

The organised chaos

No child? Stay childlike!

Scene 1 – Me sitting at home, Whatsapping my doctor*

Me: I forgot to take the progesterone last night, should I take double dose today or just ignore?
Doc: It’s okay, no need to take twice today.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Me: By the way, the nurses at the clinic are so cute. They are very nice to me.
Doc: Why do you say that?
Doc: They see you like small girl like that.
Me: !!!
Me: Are you saying that I am childish?
Doc: Ha ha.

Scene 2 – At my cousin’s boutique. I’m trying on this gorgeous polka-dot dress

Me: (preening) Should I get the dress?
Cousin: Why not? If you don’t get it, I’m going to return it to the supplier.
Me: Why? Sell to your other customers lah!
Cousin: Nobody is going to buy it, I just brought it in as an experiment. You know how my customers are like, they won’t buy such a dress.
Me: Oh no. What if I’m still dressing like this in my 40s?
Cousin: You can carry it off lah! Look at your face.
Me: What.
Cousin: You have a young face. And the way you behave too.
Me: Are you saying I am childish?!
Cousin: Err. (giggles)

Scene 3 – While walking home with husband

Me: Am I childish? I can’t be! Am matured adult.
Husband: Mmm.
Me: I certainly do not act cute.
Husband: Mmm. Actually, you do.
Me: What?!
Husband: Sometimes.
Me: (sobs) I DO NOT.

Me, at 30 years young

*Yes, my doctor and I are Whatsapp friends. If you are my friend the Queen of the Prairie, DO NOT COMMENT.

Health Goddess

Can anybody hear me?

It’s midnight.

I’m sitting in my bathroom, hot tears streaming down my face. I’m clutching my phone, waiting for my girlfriend to reply my desperate messages. But she is 13 hours away in another world and there is nothing that she can do for me but tell me that I will get through this one day.

Thing is, I am not sure I can. At this very moment, I’m sitting naked among a million pieces of my heart. Or at least that’s how I feel. Because my heart chips off little by little, bit by bit. I am no longer the same girl that I used to be, I am no longer the fun, silly person that I was. This is an older, more wrinkly me. Beyond the physical changes, I am sadder, more jaded, hollower and angrier.

I think about how those around me get pregnant one by one. I see their babies grow and it reminds me just how long we have been trying. I tell myself that they are good people and they deserve all the happiness that they can get, I truly believe that. But I get mad. Because surely, I deserve that modicum of happiness too. Who is to say that I don’t?

Even if I get my happily ever after, I will never forget all that I have felt throughout this journey. I may grow fuller and stronger but there will always be a part of me that aches for the intense sadness that we went through. Infertility is a very long and lonely road. My heart breaks but each time, I need to pull myself together and stand straight up. Because life has to go on, I can’t continue crying on the bathroom floor with no end in sight.

I don’t think I will ever be the same again.

Health Goddess

So not funny

Once the people around you find out that you are trying for a baby, it’s almost as if you were begging them for advice. Now, I am all for advice, especially from those who had faced fertility challenges too (thanks A for the TCM recommendation!). There is so much that I do not know of and I am happy if someone were to open up my mind and teach me about something that I might have missed out on.

Even if I am a chronic Googler and have a PhD in Googling.

What drives me bonkers are those people who say things that are either a) entirely far out of the universe, b) without any medical or scientific basis, or c) not connected to our situation at all. And then I have to smile and nod my head dutifully even though my brains are going STFUSTFUSTFU!

So here you go, the top 10 platitudes/advice/rubbish that people tell me which irritates me and my hardworking but sadly misunderstood uterus:

1) But you are so young! Why try IVF?
Now, infertility is a medical challenge. Unlike wine, unfortunately, it doesn’t get better with age. In fact, it all goes downhill as you grow older. No amount of vintage ageing will make the sperm swim faster (motility) or look prettier (morphology). And neither will my eggs resemble the eggnoid equivalent of Maggie Cheung as I become older. These things need medication and changes in lifestyles to improve.

Also, my age is the advantage in this uneven playing field. If, even after taking the express bus (essentially what an IUI is), his boys are not keen to hook up with my girls, it’s obvious that going the natural route isn’t going to work very well either. The chances of a successful IVF decrease significantly as the female gets older. In this case, I am our trump card as am Fabulously Gorgeous young thing married to a grumpy old fart. Also have plenty of eggnoids in my ovaries, hopefully just as Fabulously Gorgeous.

2) XYZ took 10 years to conceive. The moment they stopped trying, they conceived!
Thanks but that was really depressing. You mean I have to be on the IF bandwagon for 10 frigging years? What kind of encouragement is that? Would YOU want to try for 10 years? And I’m not quite keen to try “giving up” just to see if it will work because tick tock tick tock goes the clock.

3) Next year, you will have twins collecting ang pows during CNY.
Yes, the chances of multiples are high in IVF, between 20 to 40 percent, depending on the number of embryos you transfer. But the chances of a live birth per IVF treatment are only about 30 odd percent as pregnancy does not equate to live birth. Even though I was a mathematically challenged arts student, I can still tell that the odds are actually AGAINST us.

Now, at this stage in time, when a reproductively challenged couple is looking at IVF, they are only thinking of having ONE child. Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or girl, just FOR THE LOVE OF GOD let us have a child.

Also, have you seen me in real life? How am I supposed to carry and birth two little watermelon things with that dainty pelvis of mine? There’re all sorts of very real health concerns here.

4) You will appreciate your baby more when he/she arrives.
Am I so sadly inhumane that I NEED to jump through hoops and hurdles in order to appreciate my child? I’d like to think that even if my kid is born thanks to some good ol’ fashioned sex, I’d still love and cherish that little bugger just the same.

5) Maybe this is God’s plan for you.
Erm, I don’t think so. Does this mean God doesn’t like me as much as He likes you? I simply cannot believe that God would sit there on the throne, chewing his pen and saying, “Hmm, I think yAnn and her husband should have a child after five IVF treatments. That will teach ’em patience, haha!” I don’t think my God does that and frankly, neither should your God.

6) So sorry to hear this but I think I will face the same problems in future
I am very sorry too to hear that you believe you may face infertility in the future. If you ever do, I promise to do my best as a friend to you, to offer you support because I have been through it. But right now, I don’t really care. Right now, it’s about me because I am the one who will have to get through whatever IVF brings. I’m putting me ahead of everyone else, including that occasionally arsehole husband of mine. The only advice I can give you now is to get yourself checked out by a fertility specialist ahead of time. The only help I can give you is to offer you my doctor’s contact. But until you are staring down the barrel of the smoking infertility gun, I don’t give a flying fuck.

7) Are you sure you want kids?
This is often accompanied by sad looks in the direction of their misbehaving spawn. No, am actually not quite sure if I want kids. I set myself up to be a genetically modified cow with all these HORMONES because I FEEL LIKE IT! I love being a raging hormonal monster just because! Also have way too much money, shall spend it at the doctor’s! La dee da!

8) Why don’t you take my kids?
Again often accompanied by sad looks in the direction of their misbehaving spawn. Your kids are adorable, they really are, but I don’t want yours. I WANT MINE. I want a mini me who has got my eyes and my mess of wild but Fabulously Gorgeous hair.

9) What you should not eat/do
Many women have conceived with a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I really doubt that my 1/4 cup of coffee a day or twice a week can of Coke will seriously impair the functions of my uterus.

10) Just relax and you will get pregnant
Honey, no amount of relaxing will help you to get pregnant if a) your partner’s sperm is looking a little sad and sorrowful, b) you don’t ovulate and the sperm is busily swimming around for a target that does not exist, c) your egg flounces right into a wall because your tubes are blocked. I could go on forever with all the fertility problems that could plague a couple but IF is a medical condition that needs to be treated. I promise you, I am pretty relaxed, I’m not mentally translating the National Anthem to Swahili all the time.

What you can say: “I know you are going through a tough period. I may not understand but please let me know if there is any way I can help you.”

And the funniest advice that someone has given me? It’s from someone who shall not be named on my blog: “Wanna know how I conceived you? By waving my legs up in the air after sex!”


My porky chop

Just to recap: my little buddy Rai was born three weeks ahead of his due date. He was teeny tiny, at just a little over 2kg.

Exhibit A:

Rai at Day 1

Exhibit B:

Sleeping buddy at 1 week old

He was so fragile and so tiny! Aww.

10 weeks on, he’s no longer that tiny. In fact, he’s positively chubby.

Exhibit C:

Dad and his mini me

What a little porky chop! Those cheeks! They look like they can hold a week’s worth of food.

I really love my little buddy. He’s turning out to be such a sweet-natured and lovely baby. He doesn’t cry very much nor does he fuss often. Sometimes, he’d give a yell but stop yelling when you wave your hands in front of his face and talk to him. He’s a greedy little bugger too, wolfing down his bottle like there’s no tomorrow. I guess that’s why his cheeks have ballooned.

Uncle Jimmy is boring. Yawn.
Tiny foot

More on the life of Rai here.

Health Goddess

I don’t actually have balls

Some many people have come up to say to me, Oh you are so brave! You are so strong! My little heart swells with pride for a bit and then it comes back down to earth with a loud thud. Because really, if I want to be truthful with myself, I am NOT BRAVE at all.

I didn’t choose to go on this infertility journey, I never asked to be part of a fertility challenged couple. I didn’t put my hand up and say “I’ll do this for the good of everyman!” (More like screw everyman, just get that sperm into the egg already) I didn’t put on my armour and went about it in a swashbuckling way. I didn’t charge headlong into this without fear.

It was more of a whirlwind affair, me and infertility. Unfortunately, as with many illicit relationships and one night stands, there are consequences. One moment I was told our chances of conceiving naturally are very low, the next a packet of little white pills (Clomid, nothing illegal) was shoved into my hands and I was told to ingest them faithfully. Had a fat needle plunged into my arm 12 days later and then tadah! I was sprawled across the uncomfortable bed, meeting the speculum for the very first time and feeling the catheter make its way up Madam Hoochie.

I didn’t have time to think about it, I just went with the flow. I didn’t have time to dwell on how unpleasant the state of affairs was, I didn’t have time to decide if our bank account could sustain this chain of events.

More importantly, I didn’t mourn our ability to procreate the natural way.

And guess what? You can’t mourn! Because tick tock tick tock the clock is reminding you every second along the way that you are getting older! Your eggs are getting older! The sperm cannot survive on their own for more than an hour! Rush! Rush! Rush! IUI #1! #2! Heck, #7!

Evolution is a bitch. And most definitely male.

I’m not brave. I whimpered when Mr Thick stuck the needle into my tummy even though my poor doctor reassured me a million times beforehand that it wasn’t going to hurt. (It didn’t.) I cringed during each and every IUI even though everybody else said that it felt like nothing but a mere pap smear. (Everybody = forummers = liars). I yelped when that stupid injection was stuck into my bare ass. (It HURTS! Also, I have no ass.) I cried when I was told that it was time to move on to the I, the V and the F (No shit.)

Look, there are many women who have gone through a lot, lot worse than I have. Five, six, nine IVFs and still going strong. And they probably don’t complain as much as I do. What can I say? I studied Theatre Studies and Drama for my A’Levels and, mind you, scored a stinkin’ A for it (though I highly suspect many of my illustrious peers couldn’t believe my grade, I was really terrible at it).

I’ve accepted that this – the jabs and the scans and the meds – is my reality. And it’s not bravery that allows me to do so. It’s fear – the fear of a childfree future. And the older I get, the closer that reality gets.

And so I persevere.

Foodnotes, Two of Us

Down by the riverside

The very best dates are often those that just happen.

We ended up at Robertson Quay, where we indulged in sinfully hearty burgers (Bar Bar Black Sheep) and stopped for coffee at Kith Cafe.

My favourite beer in the world! A colleague saw me with a plastic cup of beer at an office party (v classy) and said, I didn’t think you are the sort to drink beer. And when I asked her why, she replied, You always look so put together, you look like the girl who drinks wine. Well, WHY did I buy that new epilator? I’m gonna embrace my inner beer drinker and stop shaving my legs and armpits! Oh, and not shower for three days.

Coffee followed by beer. Mmm hmm. This is one liquid diet I would happily follow EVERY SINGLE DAY. Oh what the heck, let’s throw teh-si into the mix too!

We. CANNOT. Get. Enough. Of. Bar Bar Black Sheep. I had the blue cheese burger and it was divine. I still prefer the mish mash, airy feel of the Cherry Avenue outlet though.

New coffee hangout for us, yay! Also, they use a lot of chalkboards in their decor. I have this illicit love affair with chalkboard so they automatically go right up my favourite list.

Health Goddess

In or out?

There, you’ve done it. All of you.

Ever since we came out of the closet, I’ve received a lot of comments and encouragement, both on this blog and in private correspondence. I’ve got people writing to me and telling me that they are struggling like we are. In fact, my site has never been more popular!

And now that I have had such a wonderful response from everyone, I can’t possibly stop talking about this, can I? And so even though I have said that this is not an infertility blog, this is fast becoming an infertility blog. I’ll try my very best to have a life outside of eggs and spunk but you may have to pry my cold dead hands from the computer as I stalk the forums and read up all about IVF.

I mean, it’s YOUR fault for liking all my angsty posts.

In truth, I had been thinking about whether I should go public with our situation. Well, as public as this blog can get, anyway. If this is just about me, I would have, trust me. But because this involves Mr Thick too, I wanted to respect his and our shared privacy.

The plan had been to keep everything quiet and then TAHDAH! announce it when the sperm finally meets the egg and settles down nicely in my womb. BUT – writing helps to take the edge off my negativity and I found myself composing blog posts about how sad I was, how angry I was, how despondent I was, how hopeful I was. And I realized that I couldn’t keep it under wraps for long because I might EXPLODE from the sheer force of it all.

Also, it was becoming increasingly clear that his boys and my girls are not keen to hook up. At all. Good to know that we can spawn potentially prudish children but they need to be LESS PRUDISH NOW so that THEY CAN ACTUALLY BE SPAWNED.

Sometimes I wonder if our turn would come, that we will have our happy ever after. Because the thing with undergoing IVF is that you no longer have a safety net, this is probably your last shot at conceiving a biological child of your own. Back when we were going through the IUIs, I knew that there was a chance it would come to this. I would hope that this is it, this is the cycle that works but have this gut feeling that it wasn’t.

Really? We can’t just shag and make a baby?

But truly, I am so glad that I came to the decision to come clean, with husband’s blessings. The outpouring of encouragement has been wonderful. During my darkest moments, I wrote a couple of locked posts addressed to my non-existent unborn child. The hope is that one day, there will be AN ACTUAL CHILD reading these posts. I’m unlocking them now since there isn’t a need for me to keep it under wraps.

In the meantime, welcome to my world.