Thursday, December 27, 2012

FAQ we get about surrogacy in India


We wanted to tell our family about our surrogacy plans in person, and have made an effort to do this. But Mother Nature and American Airlines had different plans. We ended up playing the “delay-then-cancel” game trying to get out of town.  Maybe part of it was our fault for trying to fly out on Christmas Day. We ended up celebrating Christmas at home. But after spending a week in the Caribbean with the intention to fly out again after one day at home. We had no real food in the house and of course no stores were open. So I turned our Christmas dinner into a Top Chef competition where we had to make dishes out of the random ingredients we had in the kitchen. The winning dish: a can of corn that I did nothing to but reheat. Ta Da! Ok, so we had some really bad food and any aspirations  for joining the cast of Top Chef were squashed as fast as a “quick-fire challenge”.  The following day gave us more of the “delay-then-cancel” game. This time AA didn’t win any fans with me – maybe it was the multiple times spent standing in lines for hours trying to get any information. We found out that we couldn’t fly out for another 2 days, and it was unlikely we would get to the same city as our already-checked luggage. With so many cancellations, the remaining flights just didn’t have any more open seats. My poor husband was sorely disappointed, and I drug him home all Eeyore’d up.  

So now we must tell them over the phone. Having a baby is exciting and fantastic and that doesn’t change just because the news is coming over the phone, but it would have been nice to be able to celebrate in person with the rest of our family.  After we tell them, I plan to send them a link to this blog. I hope that it can clarify and answer any questions anyone has.  We have been beside ourselves with the amount of support we have received and are very fortunate to have such loving friends and family.

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it surrogacy in India safe?  We did a great amount of research before this undertaking. Our clinic is Surrogacy Centre India, and it is a very good clinic with a world-renowned reputation and a very dedicated staff. Our doctor (Dr. Shivani) was trained at Hammersmith College in London. She is very talented, but also compassionate. I have both the utmost respect for her abilities and the dedication she has to her work. Because of our history, it is very important that there is a Level 3 NICU.  This type of NICU has the ability to host even the most severe cases.  It’s kind of like an insurance policy - you hope you don’t have to use it, but if you do… you want it there.  

When I thanked our surrogate for protecting our child, she put one hand on her heart and one on her stomach. It was a gesture that transcended any language barrier, and I feel she is very committed to keeping the baby safe.  To be perfectly honest, I thought once I returned home I would worry about the baby being safe, but I have no such regret.  And after seeing the operation and meeting the woman protecting our child I can answer the question, “is it safe” with a very confident yes.

Surrogacy is legal in Texas, so why are you going overseas? This is an honest blog, so to be absolutely crude it boils down mostly to the cost.  The entire undertaking from IVF to delivery will be a little more than the legal/agency costs alone here at home.

Will you do it again? Honestly, I don’t know if we will do it again. We are discussing it as an option, but haven’t made up our minds. I can tell you that if we decide to grow our family further, then the answer is yes.

This seems private - why are you blogging? Ok, I understand this question and anyone who knows me knows I am the last person they would suspect of having a blog. A - I am not on “the Facebook” and B – wait for it - I don’t carry a cell phone.  I used to have one; I got it when a kid at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh made me feel like a dinosaur for not having one. I think his exact words went something to the effect of “YOU don’t have a cell phone?!?!” But after my son passed, people would call the cell while I was out doing XYZ with beautiful well wishes and sentiments. While I appreciated their calls, it could make doing XYZ after the conversation really difficult. So I lost the phone for a while and then found the sense of freedom from not having one overrode its convenience factor. To make a long story short, I’m not the tech-savvy person you suspect a blogger to be.  I am blogging because there are a lot of unknowns about undertaking surrogacy in a foreign country. I don’t know anyone who has done this. There are not a lot of books on the subject. The people who have started blogs and gone through this process have really helped me chip away at some of those unknowns. I felt a sense of responsibility to pay it forward.  It is a way to document our story for our child. And since a lot of our family does not live near us I thought it is a way that they could follow along as well if they want. I try to keep the blog centrally focused around this journey of IVF, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, and All Things Baby.

We have gotten an array of other questions, but it seems in most conversations these 4 in some variation or other seem to pop up. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bienvenidos Second Trimester - with everything looking great on the horizon!


The Nuchal Translucency test came back at 1.1 which is oh-so-very-normal. I was a little worried about this test coming back abnormal because of the initial high beta at 16dpo. The Nuchal Translucency is the first test indicator for Down’s Syndrome.  I have an uncle with Down’s, and when I was very young I thought he was one of the coolest people on the planet.  In fact, I still think he is pretty cool, and one of my favorite relatives on my father’s side.  But I have seen the trials that Down’s has played on his personal life.  

We had genetic screening done on ourselves before starting IVF.  The test is expensive, but we were fortunate that our insurance covered the cost.  (If you’re thinking about having it done, check your insurance- pleasantly surprised in my case). However, I learned from the screening report that Down’s is not genetic and that none of the chromosomal disorders are. So even if you have the test it will let you know if you are in the clear  for  genetic disorders, but chromosomally speaking you’re still in a worry world for a little while.  But like Mark Twain once said - “I have had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  And I am fortunate to file that one in the never happened category.

We got back yesterday from our #Birthday #Babymoon #End of Year Vacation #Celebrate Mayan Calendar Ending in Mayan Country # Let’s Give a Trip as Many Hashtags as We Can trip.  We had a really great time. The Caribbean is incredibly beautiful and the diving was great.  I figure it might be awhile before we get the chance to go diving again… unless someone wants to come along – yeah, I’m looking at you, Grandma!



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Season’s Greetings!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

10 weeks

The scan looks great with both baby and surrogate doing really well, and baby has graduated from embryo to fetus....

 



       

Friday, November 30, 2012

Parker - We Love You


A little over a year ago, I had gone to the doctor because of light spotting. The nurse reassured me that 95% of the time it was nothing, and I should come in because it is better to be safe than sorry.  I had an ultrasound and then routinely went back to my doctor’s office. He told me that my cervix was beginning to shorten, and that I should call my family and immediately head upstairs to the high risk maternity ward (his practice is in the hospital). I was terrified, my husband was out of town, and I was alone. We do not really have any close family that live nearby, so I called my mother who immediately got in a car and drove down to Texas along with my sister.   I didn’t know what to do.  I was scared. I was 22 weeks along and although I knew nothing about NICUs or premature births at the time, I knew it was too early for our Parker.  The doctors decided I should stay in the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy. The bed rest seemed to be working for the first two weeks, I had ultrasounds every other day and my condition seemed to be stabilized. The doctors even started talking about the possibility of releasing me in 10 weeks. But on Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend, all hell broke loose as quickly as lightning striking. My water broke spontaneously at 10:30 PM and there was a pool of blood.  I was convinced I could still remain pregnant.  My husband, who had just left the hospital, rushed back. Once he arrived, he grabbed my hand and reassured me that I had to let the doctors deliver him. I cried the entire time our son was being born.
Parker was born at 11:49 PM on Saturday, November 26th. We knew his chances were not good being only 24 weeks + 5 days, but wanted to give him every shot. And he did really well for the first 24 hours, but on Day 2 it was discovered that he had significant internal bleeding in the brain and his other organs were failing his sweet little body. It did not appear that he would survive and if by some miracle he did, his outlook for a quality life was  non-existent. At that point we decided to let him go with God. It is not an easy decision to come to grips with. I dropped to my knees in the waiting room of the hospital begging God to show me a sign, begging Him to let me know if we were doing the right thing. I haven’t always been the most religious person, I’ve even denied His existence, and I didn’t deserve the grace He showed me that day. But as I got up and brushed myself off,  I took a deep breath before heading back into my son's unit. A NICU nurse stopped me -  not my son's nurse, but another nurse in the department.  She grabbed my hand, expressed that the nurses were talking about us, and went on to offer a great deal of support for our decision. I took her as the sign I needed, and I thanked God because I wasn’t sure if I would have the courage.

Parker who was beautiful, tiny and perfect in every way passed peacefully in my arms exactly one year ago today at 3:32 PM on Tuesday, November 29th.  He spent the last 5 hours of his life outside of the NICU box  and in our arms. There is no question in our mind that we made the right decision, as those were the only hours of his life that he was given any peace. He left this world knowing that he was loved.
That time was truly precious. I never thought the best day of your life and worst day of your life could be the same day. Holding my son, even for that brief time, was without a doubt the most incredible experience of my life.  I love both Parker and our little one growing and getting stronger in India so much... I wish I had the words to adequetly express it.
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Little Jelly Bean


 
 
I woke up to a very fabulous Thanksgiving Day treat - our SCI update. Everything looks great and we certainly have a lot to be thankful for this Turkey Day. Little one is measuring 18mm or 0.7 inches - about the size of a jelly bean. Tummy Mummy is doing well, and everything is progressing as should be.  The heartbeat is strong and measuring 166.  According to “Your Pregnancy - Week by Week” – “Eyelid folds are forming on the face and nerve cells in the retina are beginning to develop. The tip of the nose is present. Ears are forming internally and externally.  Elbows are present, and the arms and legs extend forward. “ Aaah, little jelly bean has elbows now.
 
 Thank you to my new SCI family, my dear friends, and, of course, my family.  I am grateful for you all. Happy Thanksgiving.
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

To tell or not to tell....


In all seriousness, the “to tell or not to tell” decision is not something to take  lightly, and in the past I would not have told this early so I understand if your questioning the thought. But this year has been a rather difficult one. Not just for me, but for our entire family. My husband and I did lose our son, but the rest of our family lost  a loved one as well. I admit sometimes in this past year I have been selfish with my own grief and have forgoton others must be grieving as well. This baby in no way will ever replace the son we lost. But this pregnancy does represent happier times ahead, and I don’t feel that I can protect myself from pain by not embracing this joy . I want my friends and family to be able to celebrate as well.   Besides it is really hard to keep news this exciting to oneself.

We were fortunate that my father-in-law was visiting last weekend.  So we had the opportunity to tell him in person.   At dinner, my husband and I both raised our glasses for a celebratory toast - after we already had a few glasses of wine that is - and announced we are expecting. (I admit I adore the expression on peoples’ faces before we begin the “Gestational Carrier” talk).  He cautiously raised his glass in absolute  horror. I am sure he must have been thinking “I should be happy, but have they seriously lost their minds????”  Once we explained I wasn’t pregnant, we all laughed and he was immensely relieved that I wasn’t taking an “everything is better with alcohol” approach to pregnancy.  I am probably having more fun with the drinking to announce our baby than I should. But when and where else does a girl get to celebrate pregnancy with cocktails?  Why not have a little fun with it?
 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

WEEK 6: (embryonic period)


 

 
A baby at this stage is between 0.08 to 0.16 inches long, or 2 to 4mm. Our little one is 3mm and falls perfectly into this normal category. This is measured “Crown to Rump”, and you may have wondered what in the world does that mean??? Because I did.  Basically, they measure from the top of the baby’s head to its tiny booty.  They will use this measurement throughout the pregnancy because little ones are rarely stretched out to give its total height. This is the week the clinic determined fetal pole and heartbeat. Fetal pole is the first visible sign that there is a little embryo growing. My heart just leaped out of my chest when I saw our baby yesterday. I blew up the photo - I think he/she kind of looks like an egg snuggled in a nest.  The heartbeat is measuring 126 and is cause for celebration, not so much for the measurement itself (which by the way is perfect) but for the fact that we have one is the all important milestone in any pregnancy. A milestone that drastically cuts your risk of miscarriage, and even more so if the heartbeat measures more than 100bpm. We are very fortunate and I feel so blessed.

SCI informs me that the tummy mummy is doing well, and everything is progressing as should be.  This week she might begin experiencing morning sickness, heartburn, and could begin gaining weight. The first trimester is a tough one and my heart goes out to her. If there was any way I could experience these awful side effects instead, I would.  Our next scan will be in two weeks (8 week mark) J

 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh Beta Madness


We received an email today from the clinic.  Does anyone else feel like it’s Christmas when you have news from SCI? Our surrogate mother and baby are doing well, and with one PHEW we are having a single baby (one gestational sac). I love the idea of having two babies, but better yet I love the security of our little one having one cozy uterus for him or herself…as well as the safety of a singleton pregnancy for our lovely surrogate.  

JJJJJJBut we are having a babyJJJJJJ

The ultrasound is scheduled for next week to confirm its little heartbeat.

But I was concerned about the high beta number and having a single gestational sac.  My research shows that a high beta number could mean:

  • Multiple pregnancy (scratch that)
  • Down Syndrome (Scary)
  • Molar pregnancy (Scary)
  • Multiple embryos tried but failed to implant
  • Healthy pregnancy with lower risk of miscarriage

Ooh, I like the last one - that’s the one I’ll take please….

A study was done in Australia (another reason to add to the “why Australia is awesome” list) by G. Homan, S. Brown, J. Moran, S. Homan, and J. Kerin of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Adelaide. You can read the study abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10685527 if you’re interested.

Anyways, they concluded that Beta rates higher than 500 in a single pregnancy at 16 days post ovulation (or 16 days after egg retrieval) have a 95% chance of an ongoing pregnancy.

Well that is enough for me to celebrate! ** Cheers**

Saturday, October 27, 2012

 
cOnGrAtULaTiOnS...!!!

A Beta HCG value is 587.5 which is very good!!!!!
 
Can you believe it we are PREGNANT!!!! J

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One Week Down



I have learned a great deal about myself during the first week of my two week wait. I am evidently slightly obsessive (OK, so maybe this isn’t exactly new news). I keep Googling “two day transfers with 4 cell embryos” as if Google is going to come up with some relatively new information at any moment. 

What I have learned in my obsessive Googling: Many medical professionals believe the best place for the embryos to develop is in the uterus, and two day transfers are early transfers that get those embies in the best place they can be. Four cells embryos are exactly where you want your embryos to be 48 hours post retrieval. That is all very positive news, and I am optimistic. BUT either you are pregnant or you’re not and I soooo want pregnancy.  And would it be entirely selfish to wish that both tummy mummys could have a singleton pregnancy?   That both kids are always healthy, they say please and thank you, graduate summa cum laude, and become the kind of adults who recycle? We are wishing right?
The first week of the two week wait was spent in India and traveling home. It was a bit of strange route home: New Delhi to Singapore - Singapore to Korea - Korea to California - then finally California to sweet old Texas.  The 38 hour trip was all worth it, and my incredibly sexy husband met us at the airport with flowers, jewelry, and cupcakes.  Normally we are not ones for PDA, but we hadn’t seen each other in three weeks…so after the baggage carousel love fest of 2012, we headed home. I missed him so much! We have been together now for 15 years. I feel so old saying it. But the truth is we were just kids when we first met. I can’t imagine taking this ride through life without him.  And as crazy as this two week wait is, I cannot express how glad I am to be back home with him. 

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

India



The best Chai I have ever had!
India is so alive - the colors, the smiles, the laughter. The genuineness and depth of the people is so inspiring. The food is incredible, and if I eat another bowl of Chicken Makhani I will burst with pure happiness.  Elizabeth Gilbert could have skipped Italy and Indonesia, and done the whole lot of "Eat, Pray, Love" right here in India. 


Although there is so much joy and love here, there is also a great deal of poverty. The children of ART are so wanted, so you know they will be cherished, loved, adored, and probably a little spoiled…but I wish all children had that starting out. The unfortunate truth is they don’t, and that has never been more exemplified to me personally than in the eyes of these children of the street. Rahul our driver / generous teacher of Indian culture has explained that I should stop giving them money. Apparently, there is a mafia type system amongst the street kids; they have bosses who take their money, and any that is left over goes mostly to drugs. I know I have been told if you really want to help them, you should donate to a charity that attempts to get these kids in school. But when a 6 year old grabs on to your taxi as you are driving off full speed or taps on your window with eyes that say I haven’t eaten in a really long time, how do you not?  Delhi traffic is insane - I know another blog referred to it as Cairo on steroids. Since my husband has never been to Delhi, I hope he can appreciate that considering how fearful we were to even cross the street while in Cairo.  And these poor little kids seem so vulnerable out in the middle of the cars, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks.
 

The sights are amazing, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. For me to describe the architecture of the Taj Mahal or the peace that comes with visiting the temples would be to truly do it an injustice.
 

 
 
 
 
India will always hold a special and very prominent place in my heart.  It is with much love that I say farewell.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Transfer



Of my 14 eggs, 8 of them made it into embryos:

·         5@Grade I

·         1@Grade II

·         2@Grade III

And 4 were transferred to each of the precious Tummy Mummy's .

Now the Two Week Wait begins…..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Egg Retrieval Day


Optimism coursing through every vein in my body, I woke up early at 4:15 AM… I think due to sheer excitement. I took a shower and forgot I was not supposed to put on deodorant. I enjoy taking showers, so subconsciously it may have been an excuse to take another one before I headed in for the procedure. I donned my lucky shirt - a vintage looking t-shirt with Wolverine from the X-Men ready to attack on the front. I suppose it might be a bit odd for a grown woman to wear sci-fi cartoon characters outside of ComiCon, but I don’t care; he brings me luck, and today I am taking all I can get. 

I had to wait a bit until they served breakfast. I managed to choke down my scrambled eggs. With all the talk of eggs - "How many eggs do you think they will get?", "How many eggs might fertilize?", "What is the percentage of quality eggs?" - actually eating eggs in any form is no easy task. But speaking of eggs, mine need protein. I am not sure if it is an old wives' tale, scientific fact or a new internet rumor, but the word on the street is that protein can help egg quality.  Whether it is true or not, it seems worth doing.  And scrambled eggs have protein in abundance - thus, the last and final day of choking these down.  Tomorrow, I can eat the dosa or something else delicious.

So one thing I've learned about IVF is that it makes you  hungry - I mean Hungry Hungry Hippo hungry.  I do apologize for all the references to food, but I haven’t been able to satisfy my stomach since I began these injections. So food and eggs (mine that is) are nearly consuming all thoughts.

My procedure was scheduled for 3:30 PM, and after 10:00 AM I was to halt all consumption of food and beverage. Trying to hold off the thirst that was sure to follow, I downed a Gatorade at 9:59 like a frat boy with a Natty. I then waited for 3:00 to roll around… I checked in on all of my blog family and took another shower.  I went to the clinic and then got dressed in the gorgeous gown supplied by all hospitals.  I remember the anesthesiologist asking a few questions about asthma and snoring, and then I remember waking up in the room I started out in. The whole surgery took about 20 minutes.  Dr. Shivani came in and said that everything went really well - they were able to retrieve 14 eggs.  My 14 sweet little egg babies!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Surrogate Meeting


I was fortunate to get to meet the beautiful surrogates who might carry our babies. I don’t want to use their names out of respect for their privacy, so I will call them Tummy Mummy D & B.  Tummy Mummy D is a 26 year old housewife with two small boys aged 5 and 4. Tummy Mummy B is a 31 year old divorcee with a 7 year old daughter. They both had such warm smiles. The cheerful Arpana acted as our interpreter and I started off telling them how humbled I was by their generosity for doing this.   I had been practicing Hindi because I wanted to tell them thank you without an interpreter - I told them "Dhanyavaad".  Evidently, I must have needed a bit more practice as they smiled at my painfully weak attempt.

I went on to say through Arpana as our gracious interpreter that my husband couldn’t be here, but of course wished me to convey his gratitude. Our babies are not safe inside my belly and we are so grateful that you will protect them. They smiled back at me as if they understood that it was hard for me to admit that my body could not protect my children. I thanked them again with another attempt at my one Hindi word – " Dhanyavaad ".  

Arpana then asked if I had questions. I was so focused on how to express how grateful I was that I didn’t prepare for the opportunity to ask any questions. For the past six months, I had a thousand questions that had been racing through my mind about what the surrogates would think, feel, and be. But in that moment, I froze and could only think of one - “Are you comfortable in the surrogate apartment?”  They both nodded that they were and I thanked them again. They shook my hand and then they were off.   I have such admiration for these women and their strength to do this - not only for me and my family, but I also admire what they are doing for their own children's future. It truly is an amazing act of love.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trigger Shot



IVF Cycle Day 12

 I didn’t have many of the symptoms associated with IVF until the last two days. I now have experienced some nausea, back aches, and more severe cramping than I had previously.  My mother gave me my last and final trigger shot of Lupron.  We set the alarm for 6:00 AM and groggily woke up to give the shot, which  in hind sight was great because I was able to roll over and return to my dreams of Rahul's prediction of us having three babies. Wouldn’t that be one non-stop party! Anyways, I completely slept through the burn J

LH 1.2

Estradiol 3232

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stim Day 7



 

IVF CYCLE DAY 10: I can feel that my ovaries have become quite swollen, although the pain is still relatively mild.  The ultrasound showed the follicles measuring 13 - 15mm. My injection prescription has changed to Orgalutran and Humog HP. From what I understand, this will help the follicles to mature a bit more for egg collection which is tentatively scheduled for the end of the week.  I meet the surrogates and the lawyer  tomorrow evening.   I hope that I am able to express the magnitude of what carrying this child will mean to both me and my family, and how grateful I truly am. After all the planning and research, I could absolutely pinch myself that this is really happening.   

L.H:  2.01

Estradiol:  2733

Saturday, October 6, 2012

STIM DAY 5


I was really nervous going in for my IVF Cycle - Day 8 (Stim day 5) ultrasound. I had some symptoms the night before that had me completely convinced I was prematurely ovulating. I laid down on the bed for the scan and in very "woe is me" fashion, I told Dr. Shivani that all is lost - I am ovulating. I didn’t exactly bring my hand to my forehead, but I might as well have. Dr. Shivani smiled and told me that I am not ovulating and the symptoms that are similar to ovulation can be brought on by the rise in Estrogen.  The poor doctor deals with hormonal women all day and I have a stinking suspicion she might get this reaction frequently. Fantastic! I am sure my mother would have wished this information was known the night before, as I spent the evening recollecting all my baby dreams that have crashed and burned in such a dramatic fashion that Meryl Streep would have blushed. All is not lost, and the Day 8 ultrasound looks promising. In fact, it appears we should get 16 eggs which is two more than initially expected. According to advancedfertility.com, it is just enough to put me in the higher success rate threshold– I’ll take it!

Estradiol  - 821

LH  - 1.75

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shots!!!


I've had a few of the injections now. Dr. Shivani put me on 400g of Repronex and Puregon. From what I understand, the Repronex is to stimulate the follicles. The Puregon is to prevent premature ovulation. So far it has been relatively easy. I kind of chickened out on giving myself the shots. I tried – ok, so by "trying", I mean I had the intention of giving myself the shot, but then the nurse asked if I wanted her to stick me  instead  and that I could just come to the clinic everyday and not deal with that scary needle myself.  I jumped on that like a cheerleader on a trampoline.  

The shots themselves haven’t been so bad. They just burn a bit going in, kind of like a bad bee sting. Some time ago a friend recommended to another friend going through IVF that she buy some maternity jeans to wear. I have no idea how or why I remembered that, but am so glad I did.   Since the shot is given in your stomach it is nice to not have anything binding on that area.  Anyway, it was such great advice, I thought I would pass it on. But I have to admit it's a little ironic to be wearing maternity jeans while going through surrogacy treatment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hilton is Awesome




 

The Hilton Garden Inn at Saket Citywalk is fabulous.  The hotel has a direct entrance into the DLF Mall, which is great for dining - you literally walk out your door of the hotel and into the mall with both a food court as well as some sit-down dining options. There are American chains like  TGIFridays and Hard Rock Cafe, but also a lot of other attractive sit down cafes and restaurants as well. Speaking of dining, the breakfast at the Hilton is unbelievably good.   (So between hormone injections and all the deliciousness, I have no doubt that I will have some extra “incentives” to hit the gym back home.)  In addition, there is a hop-on, hop-off city tour bus called HOHO with the mall / hotel as one of its stops. All of that and free wifi!!! I am very pleased, and grateful to those that recommended the hotel.

I am still adjusting my circadian clock, but I feel it is almost a losing battle. I have had so little sleep in the last 4 days. I tried to sleep on the plane, but the airline put me in the middle (UGH.) In fear of  getting dehydrated and doing an IVF cycle, I may have went a bit overboard on the water drinking. Needless to say, I didn’t want to climb over a stranger all night.  I asked the flight attendant if I could change seats - no problem, there are lots of empty aisle seats. So picture it:  (Me) - (empty seat) -  (smelly, incredibly limber gentleman). Before take-off, my "neighbor" decides to make a bed out of his seat and the empty one between us and puts his nasty, smelly feet all over me. He keeps pushing me with his feet in a similar way that my dog does when he wants the couch to himself. The flight attendant walks by and asks if I would like to move to a different seat before take off - Yes,  Yes,  Yes!  I move and he says thank you - whatever. The pleasantries are quite surprising considering he literally just kicked me out of the row.

So now the seating arrangement is: (Me) - (empty seat) - (very nice lady). She at least waits until I fall asleep before she tried to make a bed out of the two seats she claimed. I literally woke up with her smelly feet in my lap! The only  feet I would allow in my lap are my husband's size 13s, and every time I tried to fall asleep –  her feet appeared in my lap. Ah, the tales of economy class..... 

No worries, we arrived safe and sound so that is what really matters. At first, I was so excited to meet the doctor and see the clinic  that I could manage on a mere 3 hours of sleep.  Now I'm  determined to get on India time and I want to stay up, but for some reason I am still  sleeping intermittently for 3 hours at a time.  I walked around the mall a bit, and it is really nice. But when I realized I was talking to a mannequin and not the store clerk, I surrendered to my tiredness and went to lay down in my very comfy Hilton bed.  So be it  - if I am stuck on American time, at least I won't be the crazy person talking to mannequins.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I went to the SCI clinic yesterday for some blood work, and then again today to meet Dr. Shivani for my ultrasound. My first impression of the clinic is that it is nothing like any of the clinics portrayed in the documentaries or in books like "The Sacred Thread". The clinic is very impressive, modern, and with the exception of the outside traffic, not all that much different from my fertility clinic in the US.
I was very nervous to meet Dr. Shivani for the first time. I see all the beautiful dreams she makes come true for so many couples, so I am in just complete awe of her work.  I didn’t know if she was going to ask me about Parker. I didn’t want to cry because when I do, I gasp for air and can barely talk; since I am also still fighting sleep deprivation, as well as the hormonal surges of PMS, I at least wanted to maintain my voice. In other words, I had to remind myself to just "be cool, man". Dr. S is very gracious and within moments I began to relax.  She took the papers from my doctor describing the risk of a pregnancy, inserted them into my file, and to my relief we didn’t have to discuss it. She then began to summarize the IVF protocol; as this is my first IVF cycle, she was very good at explaining what I should expect.   She also seemed very positive about my labs -  LH 1.4, FSH 4.1, estradiol 66, and AFC 15. I begin injections tomorrow and will be shown how to give them to myself so that I can travel and see the Taj Mahal and all the sights of Delhi.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Que Sera Sera


So after making all the initial checks - passport, hotel confirmation, and what not - it seemed like all that was needed was to grab a cab and  board our plane.  When we arrived at the ticket counter for United Airlines, we were instructed to use the automated kiosk. No problem  - done this a few times before.  Unfortunately, all I got was "Error!", "Error!", no matter what I did, "Error!"  I was being a bit proud of myself for waking up at 4:00 AM and still handling myself graciously, but I was in serious need of some assistance.

Fast forward twenty minutes later. I get the much needed help that I so desperately required. The flight we planned to take had us routed through Singapore, where we were supposed to arrive at 11:55 PM local time and depart 2 hours later. But since the connecting flight to Delhi would technically be the following day, they could not check the bags to our final destination.  They suggested that we  fetch our bags in Singapore and then recheck in at the Singapore airport.  So far this is OK - I didn't need a visa to travel to Singapore.   Common sense tells you that a person could not clear customs and recheck into the airport in 2 hours.   

The ladies at United were kind and were doing their best to accommodate the situation, but their computers were not allowing them to override the system to check our bags to our final destination (and they really tried).  Fast forward another 2 hours and the lovely United ladies re-routed our flight: a quick jaunt to Newark, then direct to New Delhi.  Slaps on the backs all around - we grabbed our tickets and although I was a little frustrated,  I brushed it off.   

Then the freak out - we are arriving a day early! Rahul is supposed to meet me at the gate and I don’t even have a hotel reservation for the first night. I had everything so organized, what was I going to do? My mom - the ever so Que Sera Sera optimist-  told me “to forget about it, we'll figure it out when we get there.”  I am not exactly the "figure it out when we get there" type of gal.  I have never been diagnosed with OCD but I know I do have the tendencies – it’s a flaw,  love me or don’t. I was freaking out all over the place ....my heart beating fast, sweaty palms,  the whole lot. What am I going to do? We left our cells at home. Do they still have payphones? Turns out they do - thank goodness for the leftover vestiges of yesteryear.  I was able to call my very understanding husband in mid panic attack and he extended our hotel reservations (my hero).  And thanks to the technology gods who gave us WiFi, I emailed Rachna at SCI who is such a fantastic person and within minutes had our airport transfer rearranged.   Thanks to my now dear friend for life Rachna and my husband it wasn’t such a big deal.

We then passed through security, and took a quick bathroom break before heading to our gate. Warning - too much info ahead - but for you self-cyclers, you will understand.  I started to spot- maybe it was the stress, but this wasn’t supposed to happen for another week. (We were arriving early just in case.) So as you can understand, I am entirely grateful to the whole snafu that lands me in India even earlier.   I am taking this as a sign that the stars and universe were aligning to get me to India when I needed to be.  Que Sera Sera indeed!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We are off


 

Read up on my travel books

 


 
Registered with the embassy
 
 
 
Said my goodbyes
 
 
 

 
And now we are off...  I confess I am unbelievably nervous, yet excited at the same time. I am headed off to the gym before I leave for Yin/Restorative Yoga.  These classes seem to have been a well kept secret amongst the over-50 crowd at the gym. Anyways, they are in no way a "work out" in the sense that you either sweat or exert yourself,  but it is a great way to relax.   That, my friends, is the kind of working out I like to do.
 
My next post will be from India J

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Sacred Thread


 I commend and thank Adrienne Arieff on writing this memoir of her experience. If you haven’t read it, it is definately worth picking up.  I am just starting my journey, but the paths that lead both of us to surrogacy in India are very similar.

Adrienne worked with Dr. Patel, the doctor who gained worldwide fame through Oprah Winfrey.   The Oprah show declared that surrogacy in India was mutually beneficial for Indians and Westerners alike, describing surrogacy as “Women helping Women”.

Like many women who choose this path, it wasn’t an easy one.  Arieff had 3 losses - two early miscarriages and the heartbreaking loss of Collette at 20 weeks.  She does a very good job of describing the emotional intensity of these difficult times.  She is heavily criticized for her choice of surrogacy by her “friends”, but she defends her decision eloquently.  Later Arieff desperately wants to connect with the surrogate pregnancy and flies back to India to spend the remainder of her pregnancy with her surrogate. Despite a language barrier, they connect, bond, and appear to truly love each other.  Arieff discusses the personal growth made by both herself and Vaina (her surrogate), which leads the reader to agree with Oprah -  it’s a “win-win” situation. The book is great and provides an insight into this process. 
If you read the book, what did you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Now? Why Surrogacy? Why India?



I don't think anyone chooses to use a gestational carrier. And it's not like you have some wine, one thing leads to another, you wake up the next morning "Oh, did I just sign a gestational carrier agreement?", and 9 months later you have a baby. For me, I had two miscarriages; the doctors ran every test they had and could come up with no reason as to why it was happening.  So when I got pregnant the third time, I was really scared.  My doctor told me that once he hears the heartbeat on the Doppler, there is less than 5% chance of miscarriage. Before I had never gotten that far. “Ecstatic is the only word that describes how I felt. I fell in love with my son Parker in the womb and at 24 weeks I gave birth to him. He was in distress at birth, but the doctors were able to resuscitate him. Parker’s chance of survival was very low- he had many health problems due to his size, including brain damage and internal bleeding throughout. At best, he was looking at a life sentence as a prisoner in his own body. Before Parker passed, we held him in our arms, we sang to him, we kissed him, and when it was time to go he knew he was loved. We took away his suffering, and gave ourselves the most unimaginable pain- a life without him.

The Doctors could not give a reason as to why this happened. Because Parker was so small and his position at birth required a surgery that made subsequent pregnancies life-threatening to both myself and our future babies, they suggested that a gestational surrogate could be a solution. I could consider undertaking the risk if it was just myself, but how could I do that with our children’s lives?
 
What we did not expect about this process was how complicated, emotional, or expensive it was going to be. Given that our fertility is quickly declining, time to save the money is just not on our side. Surrogacy in the US is expensive, complicated, and in cases where parentage is disputed, the courts tend to side with the birth mother even if no biological link exists. With various scenarios involving egg donors and sperm donors, defining who is a parent can get intensely complicated.

We both are really comfortable with international travel and wondered if IVF and surrogacy was an option somewhere else in the world. Well, it so happens it is...We looked into various other countries such as Thailand, Georgia, and Panama, before deciding on India.

 The critisism of surrogacy abroad is often focused on the possibility of exploitation. If in any way, we felt we were taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable to exploitation, we would pursue other options – Period- End OF Discussion- Full Stop!

 After six months of extensive research, we have found that Indian surrogates are paid between $6,000 and $10,000. In most cases, this kind of money is life changing to the surrogate; it is often more money than their family makes in 10 years. Imagine what you could do with an additional 10 years of your salary- Secure you children’s education? Buy your dream home? Start a business? Go back to school? They do all the things we would do with 10 years’ salary.

In the US, a surrogate mother is paid between $15,000 and $65,000. Although this is still a great deal of money, it is in no way as impactful. Since the woman who carries our child will make such a difference in our life, it is comforting to know that her life will be changed for the better as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shipping


My husband works unpredictable schedules.  We never really know when he will be able to have time off, and even when he thinks he does it can change last minute.  This keeps life exciting and us on our toes. So for him to be able to say he needs to be in India at a certain date - not going to happen. The solution for us is to ship his errr….,  ummm… let’s say his  “sample”.

Things were going very smooth until time to ship. At that point, our local clinic became concerned with liability issues and refused to let us sign a release form. From what I understand, this is a very unusual reaction. The local clinic’s suggestion: they would hand over our samples to us personally, but not to the very professional cryo- shipping company with the very high-tech vapor carrier. WHAT???

“No! Please, please, please work with me” I pled as I burst into tears with the embryologist here in the States.  Fast-forwarding through a very long and emotional day, the clinic finally agreed to release the samples if we stayed  with the samples from the time they were put into the vapor tank until the shipper picked them up. We could then assume all liability for them.  If you are going this route, the shipper (Core Cryolab) has been fabulous in helping us to circumvent these issues so that in the end we didn’t even have to wait with the vapor carrier. Core Cryolab is incredible! 

Once our samples left our local clinic, it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Everything else went smoothly.  I know I should cut the local clinic a little slack since they really are the newbies involved in the process of international shipping. Core Cryolab and SCI have done this multiple times. So let me tell you it was a great relief when the shipment was solely in Core Cryolab’s hands. Today we got our confirmation that the shipper arrived safe and sound at  SCI!

Lessoned learned:  Before providing any samples for shipping to India, get the release protocols from your local clinic in writing.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tickets in Hand


We have tickets! We have visas! We have an appointment to meet the lovely Dr. Shivani! My mom offered to go with me to India! Yeah, Mom! My mother’s visa went off without a hitch, and had hers back in seven days. Mine, on the other hand, didn’t quite go so smoothly. It took a minute to notice they had put a different surname on the visa.  This is a very big deal because they won’t let you in the country unless you are you on all of your documents. So thanks to the good people at Travisa all was handled and they corrected the mistake, but these things still take time. SCI was more than reasonable about putting off treatment for the next cycle to allow the time for this to get corrected. So for me the entire visa process took 6 weeks. But I have it now, and I’m legal and ready to go to New Delhi which will be in a little over three weeks! J  It’s so soon, and now with plane tickets in hand it feels real. I am so happy and excited to get started.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The View


Watching "The View" today, there was an incredible story about a grandmother who acted as a surrogate for her daughter.  The couple had lost babies at 5 months pregnant and could not safely carry a child to term. The grandmother stepped in with such a generous offer of love to keep the baby (a little boy name Finn) safe for 9 months.  It was a very overwhelming offer and one that my own mother made, and I confess I shed a few tears while watching her story.  It is a very selfless act to be a surrogate for someone, but especially at that age. I fear there are health complications of being pregnant post-menopausal.  These risks are the reason I could not accept my own mother's very generous and loving offer.  For us, the answer is commercial surrogacy and a trip to New Delhi.  And because 32 is not too old to still need mommy, my mother will be in tow as I take her up on her also generous offer to hold my hand through the process instead.  

Little Finn’s grandmother said something that struck a chord “that couples in these situations feel so alone.” I just wanted to say thanks to all those who take the time to blog and share their stories - it really does help me personally feel less isolated.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome


We have a new little baby girl in our family. I am not at all partial, but I really do have the cutest nieces and nephews.  We haven’t really shared our plans with many yet, so it is in secret that I hope she gets a cousin to play with oh so very, very soon.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NKOTB


So I am kind of a new kid on the block to blogging.  Even thinking about the term "new kid on the blog" gets me thinking about Donnie Wahlberg.  Boy was I in love!  According to Junior High Me, we were going to get married and live happily ever after. But, sorry Donnie, I traded up and  married the most amazing man. I desperately want to have loads of children with him.  I however can not  carry.  That my friends is what brings us to this chapter in our lives.  I hope to share this story with you - my friends and family -so that my future babies will know the story of how they came into this world.