The most conflict-driven dream I’ve had in the last 3.5 months

Since I became more regular about daily meditation since end of December, my dreams, in Chris’s words, have become “boring.” Nothing exciting or even remotely annoying seems to happen in them. They are a far cry from the dreams I used to have, where I was usually yelling at or beating someone who was frustrating me.

However, a couple days ago, I had the most conflict-driven dream I’ve had since mid-December. I was at the Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California, getting bored and wanting to go home. I had arrived by a charter bus that had set times it would take me back to San Francisco, and I realized that the next bus going back was just in 15 minutes, so I picked up my bag and started walking over to the bus. However, on my way there, I passed by a bakery store front with a familiar name: Bushwick Hot Bread. It’s actually the name of an Aussie-run home-delivery baked goods side gig that an Australian chef at Eleven Madison Park started during the pandemic when she could no longer work in the restaurant. Chris found out about her and started ordering her baked goods, ranging from lamingtons to sausage rolls, late last year, and we have both been loving her stuff. In addition to that, we also interact with her regularly on Instagram, and we follow each other.

Anyway, so I knew I had to run in to buy some baked goodies. I ran in to pick up a few things, and instead of ringing me up, the Aussie workers there just wanted to chat me up. I insisted I had to leave because I had a bus to catch, but they totally ignored what I said, instead carrying on conversation as though I had not expressed any urgency in leaving. I was left debating whether I should wait to get my items totaled up or just leave without the baked goods…. but I REALLY wanted the baked goods….

Well, that’s my subconscious “conflict” now – to have or not to have Aussie treats.

Chris’s “stress” rate

For his birthday a few months ago, Chris’s brother got him a new Garmin device, so Chris has been using it daily, wearing it during his swims, and keeping it on pretty much day and night. He was looking at the Garmin app and noticing that for the most part, his stress level, as recorded by Garmin, seems to go up throughout the workday, and as soon as work starts winding down, it goes down gradually. Yet, on Thursday, it was a bit of an anomaly. The stress level pretty much stayed steady from about 9am through the time he went to bed. Why would that be the case?

Oh, that was easy, I said to him. We had our family chat that night! And thus, that added to Chris’s debate with me that Zoom/Google hangout/video chats do NOT relax him, and thus he doesn’t really look forward to them as he would socializing in person with people he cares about.

I’ve stopped wearing my Garmin regularly, but I wonder what my stress level is like when I do virtual hangouts with friends given what he said.

Progesterone in oil (PIO) shots vs. vaginal suppositories

Before starting the IVF process, what I feared most were the injections. Little did I know that the daily stimulation injections leading up to egg retrieval were actually done with small, manageable needles administered on your abdomen, meaning, well, there’s a decent amount of fat on your stomach, so they won’t hurt very much beyond a tiny sting.

The “scary” injection is actually the progesterone in oil (PIO) shot, which is done to prepare your body (endometrium/uterus) to accept the embryo during an embryo transfer. The PIO is particularly ‘unpleasant’ as my doctor says because the liquid you are injecting yourself with is very very thick (hey, it’s called “oil” for a reason), which means you need to use a higher gauge needle, which… is not only thick, but it’s long… like SUPER LONG, 3-4 inches. And, as the added bonus, this needs to be administered on your butt. Yep, on your butt cheek.

You’re also expected to continue taking progesterone in various forms through the 9th to 12th week of pregnancy, assuming your transfer was successful. I asked my doctor about this during the IVF consult, and he said that this clinic actually had stopped using PIO because vaginal suppositories of progesterone were just as effective, if not more, than PIO. So I would not need to mentally prepare for PIO while at this clinic.

That was honestly like music to my ears. No butt shots. No big, fat, long needle. No butt icing. No butt heat applications. Phew.

But vaginal suppositories, at least the ones I am taking, are like vagina pills. Really. They come with an applicator similar to a tampon applicator, and you insert it through your vagina as far as it goes.Then pushing on the applicator, the pill pops out. That pill is then supposed to dissolve and be your body’s added progesterone. So lucky me, for this mock cycle, I get to insert this three times a day, as soon as I wake up, right before bed, and at some point in the middle of the day. As you can probably imagine, the middle of the day insert is not super convenient and would be even worse if it weren’t for this work-from-home/global pandemic situation.

No one told me this would be messy. I had quite a mess with some of the progesterone leaking out and had to clean my underwear twice. It really feels like a dissolved pill, mushy, white, and pasty. And so, I’ve learned my lesson and am wearing a panty liner from now on. Oh, the joys of IVF.

A Series of Uneventful Dreams in the Last Week

I think that my boring, mundane, “I have no idea what the meaning of this is, but I’m at least happy that nothing awful or terrifying or violent is happening” dreams seem to be continuing. If I had to try to identify when these vanilla dreams started, I’d say that it’s likely when I became more deliberate about my daily meditation time. Here are some dreams I’ve had in the last week:

Our friend and handyman was in Chris’s parents’ formal living room in Melbourne, delivering a lecture on dry rot, how to identify it, and how to solve it as a homeowner. He had a pointer and a big white board with all kinds of drawings and diagrams on it. I was sitting at the entrance of the living room watching. 

I opened one of our apartment closets to realize that there was actually a doorway into ANOTHER hidden compartment for storage. And in that storage area, I had a lot of beautiful carbon steel and cast iron pans waiting for me to use them. Oooooh, this was an amazing find.

I was at a banquet hall with my parents and my aunt. My aunt accompanies me to the bathroom, and as I’m entering a stall and closing it, she asks, “when are you going to have a baby?” Ughhhhhh.

My mom is sitting at some random table with me, and she asks if she can borrow my orchid porcelain tea pot because she is planning to host a tea tasting with my dad at their house for some friends. This is obviously a dream because a) my mom hates hosting anything or having anyone over at the house and b) my mom could truly care less about the nuances in flavor of one green or oolong tea to another.  

Bingo with a food twist

The strange but uneventful dreams seem to be continuing. Last night, I dreamt that I was playing a game of Bingo, but instead of letters being on each of the boards, instead, there were pictures of food on each. Apparently, each of the food photographs was taken by a different food photographer that was in the room, self included. Well, with that said, I don’t even know how the Bingo game would even work!

This is actually a reminder to myself that I need to take more food photography courses online with my company perk. I need to do this before the weekend ends as I told myself I would. I need to be productive as always, right?


Since mid-December, I’ve been carving out about 10-15 minutes every day to meditate. I’m not 100 percent sure it is helping me, but I do feel pretty good after I am done, so I suppose for now, that is enough. It’s nice to spend a deliberate 10 minutes every day to clear my mind and just think about the moment itself.

The theme of the current meditation program I am on is about “acceptance.” And, frankly, I am not sure I totally believe in what it is trying to tell me. The narrator of the meditation is saying that oftentimes, when we get annoyed or aggravated by another person’s actions or behavior, it should shed a light on what we dislike about ourselves and need to change about ourselves. I strongly, strongly disagree with this for many reasons. So, let me get this straight: if I get incensed by how overtly racist someone is being, that should reveal that I should take a deeper look… at my own racism? Or if I get upset because someone is being really resentful, then that means.. I am actually the resentful one? I hardly think any of this is true. This is the kind of “therapy” that really needs to be reexamined and corrected. Maybe, just maybe, we get mad at someone else’s behavior because they’re just plainly being an asshole?

Psychotherapist visit

I decided to start seeing a therapist again to navigate through my feelings around this seemingly endless fertility journey we have been on. My support network is decent, but I figured I could use an impartial third party to talk to who doesn’t actually know me. Lucky for me, my company actually offers 10 covered therapy sessions through a program/app called Modern Health, so I don’t have to worry about any out of pocket costs until then.

We spoke for an hour today for the first session, and I knew she was going to be a good fit for me when she distilled down the things she thinks I am grappling with at a high level:

  1. Lack of control: it frustrates me when I feel like I have ZERO control over a situation and I start spiraling downward. This is also why I hate confrontation (despite what my passive friends say); in confrontation, you have no idea (and no control) over how the person you are confronting will respond.
  2. “All or nothing” mentality: You are either going to be completely successful or a total failure. Hence… you have five mature eggs… who knows if they will all make it or all die by Day 5?
  3. Negative thoughts tend to overtake any potential positive thoughts, and I always immediately jump to the worst case scenario: why does this keep happening, and how can we combat it to find more balance? I know at a high level why I do this; it’s like a defense mechanism. But why is it my ‘default’?

I love talking to therapists. I feel like I have even more respect for them after having read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.

Subconscious and dreams

Chris loves to harp on me and tell me that because I tend to think negative thoughts, it’s no wonder that I oftentimes have dreams that are full of conflict. I’m usually fighting with someone, having a passive aggressive interaction with another person, or even beating someone. The funny thing about this is that this actually hasn’t happened in a few months. I haven’t remembered any dream that has any real conflict in it. Now, I tend to have dreams about relatively benign or everyday things: going grocery shopping, sorting through items in the cupboard, even measuring out ingredients.

But then, last night, I had a weird dream that did not sit well: my mom called to tell me she got diagnosed with cancer. It felt so real when it happened that I actually thought it was real… until I woke up. And then, when I woke up, I wondered whether my mom actually DID have cancer and just wasn’t telling me.. because that actually sounds like something she would do in real life… and not tell me until it was too late.

Conditional Citizens

I stumbled upon Laila Lalami’s book Conditional Citizens, which was released in September 2020, while reading reviews for another book on race relations in the U.S., a few months ago. Being Muslim and Moroccan, and having been educated in Morocco, the United Kingdom, and here in the U.S., Laila Lalami has an interesting and in depth perspective of what it means to be an immigrant in this country and to somehow always still be considered “other” and “conditionally American” despite having citizenship status now. In her short but well-thought out book, she weaves personal stories with facts from throughout human history, and it’s almost like you’re listening to a thoughtful lecture when reading the book.

I think this is also on the list of books everyone should read. It’s for people who believe that people “choose” to see race in everything. It’s for people who believe that racism no longer exists. It’s for people who believe that it’s a choice in this country to be rich or poor. It’s for individuals who think that if you work hard, you will achieve everything your heart desires, and if you do not, you will live surrounded in roaches and squalor. It’s for people who have chosen to turn a blind eye in the role that U.S. government has actively played in past, present, and future, in continuing the disempowerment of poor people. It’s for those who believe in the national myth that poverty is 100 percent in an individual’s control, and that the concept of “living paycheck to paycheck” is an actual choice. It’s for those who believe that for the most part, everyone treats everyone else equally regardless of race, sex/gender, religion, yet has no problem asking a non-White person, “Where are you really from?”

Preparing the house before the procedure

Today, I had the day off because my company gave us a Wellness Day today. And even better news is that I have the day off on Monday, as well, for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, so all in all, this weekend will be a four-day weekend, with tomorrow’s procedure and my birthday on Sunday. And on my day off, what did I do? I went down to Chinatown to stock up on ingredients, produce, and baked goods, and also get the apartment ready for my bedrest day tomorrow post procedure. I cleaned the bathroom (because honestly, Chris’s bathroom cleaning methods are just never up to par) even though I’ve read that most women don’t do any housework before the procedure and instead rest until the day of for their entire period of stimulations. I even made Instant Pot chicken pho because I read that some women cannot eat solids after the procedure, so they subsist on soup and light foods for up to a week after the procedure. I even prepped a bunch of vegetables to make sure we had greens to eat for at least 4-5 days after. I think we’re all ready.

I’ve been relatively calm during this period of “stims” as they call it. I’ve been fairly positive and optimistic. All my appointments seemed to go well. I’ve been consistent with my daily meditations and exercise, although the exercise, as advised, as gotten lighter as we’ve gotten closer to retrieval day. I’m lucky in that I have not had any bad side effects from the medications. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, stomach protrusion/swelling, and especially mood swings. Many women have reported crying frequently or having excessive arguments or tantrums with family/friends/their partners, including friends who have gone through this. I’ve encountered none of these symptoms. The worst symptoms I’ve had, which I cannot complain about at all, are slight soreness at the site of injection immediately afterwards, plus some slight bruising. I feel decent. I think I will be okay. I can do this. I’m going to do this.

I’m ready for tomorrow morning.