Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Thanks to work being insane, the past week and a half has flown by... with very little time to worry about when we were going to receive our first email update from India.

Much to our surprise, it came today. I say this with reservation and hesitation because things can change at the blink of an eye... but the first blood test was POSITIVE for pregnancy!

Here's the catch though... they will do another blood test in two days and by then the beta hcg levels should have doubled. Today, they are 23.42 miu and that's 12 days after the embryo transfer. Dr. Samit's email said that is a "decent reading" but that we're "not out of the woods yet."

We contained our excitement when we woke up to the email this morning and were very rational about it and said that this only means that things are progressing well, not that we are sure that in 8.5 months we'll be back in India to welcome our little one into the world.

It's really tough. C and I were talking about how we want to jump up for joy and celebrate, but that it's so early we have to keep a level head about it so that we don't have a major let down if in two days the levels don't double or in two weeks, there is no heartbeat.

But for now, all is good. That's super positive. And screw it, we'll have a celebratory drink tonight anyway.

Here's to doubling down in two days time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What time zone am I in?

So it's Sunday afternoon now and it's been an insane few days travel and work-wise. So insane, that I forgot exactly which day it was and couldn't figure out why C kept asking me if I heard from the doctor (more than usual). It was Friday, you see. The day we were supposed to know about the embryo transfer.

Holy shit. How could I not realize it was Friday and why wasn't I on pins and needles waiting for a call. Here's why:

I was in India all week last week. Got home on Sunday morning and then Monday went to New York. Tuesday afternoon, I flew back home. Got stuck in traffic for nearly two hours, unpacked, repacked and Wednesday left for Paris. Got to Paris Thursday and went straight into the office. Changed and went to a work dinner...crashed for 4 hours (waking up every hour, on the hour). Had a major presentation that was part of an all-day meeting on Friday. Did that, bolted out of there for the airport so that I could get to Italy. Flew to Italy to see friends for Saturday and now it's Sunday and I'm back in France for the week for work.

That's how I didn't realize it was Friday. I thought it was Thursday.

With that all out of the way, here's the latest...

I got a note from Dr. Samit on Friday that said out of the 20 eggs retrieved, they were able to make 14 embryos of grade 1 or 2 quality. That apparently means good quality embryos. He said that they were going to implant four embryos into the surrogate. Why four? He said that by doing four, it left the best chance of one taking and the least chance of ending up with triplets.

Think of it this way: One baby...decent chance; Two babies....less of a chance; Three babies...even less of a chance; Four winning the lottery (meaning nearly no chance...not dreaming of it happening).

The implant apparently happened yesterday afternoon with the four embryos. I say apparently because I haven't heard anything further on it. But the last email we exchanged said it was happening "in about an hour," so I suppose since I haven't heard anything further, it all went smoothly and now we wait.

Waiting sucks. I'm not patient. And in this case, neither is C. I want to skip ahead three months. Then we'll be more comfortable (aka freaking out). Then we can start planning (aka freaking out). And then we don't have to sit on pins and needles (aka freaking out).

If we're unusually quiet on the blog, it's because we now wait for July 3 or 4 or 5 to hear how the blood work looks. If it looks like some certain something levels are increasing (I know, very technical), then we say yippppeeeee and we wait for another two weeks (around July 17-18-19) for an ultrasound.

So there it is. The very latest. And I'll do my best not to mix up the days next time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010



No, not my age (I'm 23 now, not 20). Ha.

And no, not C's age either (smart asses).

20 is the number of eggs that they retrieved from Donor yesterday! I had asked to get a phone call letting me know when the procedure was complete and how it went. Of course, no call and after drifting in and out of worrisome sleep all night, I called Samit's cell myself for an update.

Everything went well, he said. They were able to harvest 20 eggs and he believes they will be able to get at least 15 healthy embryos out of them. Such great news. The transfer will happen on either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I should get an update after that but won't know for two weeks after the transfer if the blood work comes back showing an increase in ___ levels -- which indicates a potential pregnancy. Then two weeks after that, they'll do an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat.

We are so excited but at the same time, trying to keep it all in perspective. I mean, all has gone smoothly so far, but at the same time, nothing has really happened yet. The important stuff is happening this week. And even then, until we're through the first 12 weeks, we have to be cautiously excited and attempt to control emotions. Easier said than done, of course.

Donor has headed back home and should be arriving any time now. She sounded good when I heard from her and didn't mention any pain or anything. Can't wait to get her full download of her experiences there after I left.

I hope the couple from Virginia had as much success during their visit to India as we did. Would be really great to see them back in Hyderabad in nine months.


It's the lucky number of the day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Time

oday's post won't be nearly as fun as the past few have been. No description of the goat-filled streets and no talk about spicy food and the draining heat. Nope, today you get an update on follicles.

Jet lagged as hell, I crashed around 9:30 last night. The 30-hour journey took its toll on me. I was awoken by my cell phone (which I've now changed back to my bberry by the way) at around 2am and it was Dr. Samit saying "good morning sunshine" No, he didn't really say that.

He called to let us know that Donor's ultrasound looked great. The follicles have grown to 20cm and they are now ready to schedule the retrieval and the implant. Retrieval is scheduled for 9:30 am on Wednesday and the implant will take place on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Yes, this is for real now.

It's time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Last Day in India

Just when I got into the swing of things and pretty much adjusted to the 10.5 hour time difference, it was time to pack my bags. Woke up to a cloudy day and to our car arriving an hour and a half early to go to the doc. Suppose early is better than late, but we told them we’d see them at 10:30, not 9, and we headed to breakfast. On our way down, we ran into the Virginia couple who also had an appointment today, at 11.

Over breakfast Donor and I talked about what an experience we’ve had so far and how we’ll be bonded for life. Ok, it wasn’t that emotional and dramatic, but we did talk about how unique this has all been. Donor finished up her spicy Indian breakfast (her usual) and I had my usual made-to-order omelet.

We made our way to the clinic, today dodging more goats than we had in days past. It’s funny because we have goats at home, no big deal, but for some reason every time we see them here, we get excited and want to take pictures. Maybe because they aren’t roaming a big green pasture and instead are hanging out in the street like stray dogs?

Dr. Samit and team were waiting for us when we got to the clinic. They decided to play it safe and get one more sample from me. Now they have plenty to do the job. Donor went in and did her scan. Her follicles were about 14cm, which meant there was probably still a few days to go before they give her a “trigger” shot. Once the trigger is given the retrieval will take place exactly 36 hours after. Dr. Kiran will be the person who does the retrieval and she is estimating that it will happen on Wednesday morning, first thing. We’ll know more on Monday when they do the scan again.

We had asked for a tour of the facility and they happily agreed to show us around. The couple from Virginia joined us on the tour. Our first stop was the roof top of the three-story building, which is the surrogate quarters. They have been so busy that they are building an additional mega-room to house another 10 surrogates.

I have to say, this was one of the coolest parts of the trip. As soon as we came up onto the roof, the surrogates all came peeking out, with huge smiles on their faces. Some looking like their belly was going to burst at any second. There were about 5 or 6 in each big room, with their own kitchen and a big roof-top patio. These women were so friendly and happy to see us. They were excited to take pictures with us and were jockeying for the position right next to me and Donor. Not only were they living within the support system of each other, but the clinic’s selection process is done so well that they were truly happy and excited to be doing this and you could tell that after nine months, their lives were going to change significantly for the better thanks to this experience.

Next stop was the second floor. This is where both Dr. Samit and Dr. Kiran have their offices, the surgery room is, and Dr. Samit’s embryo lab sits. I had asked to meet Dr. Kiran who couldn’t have been more friendly and intelligent. I had a million questions, of course, but one stood out with hope. I had asked how long the retrieval would take and she smiled and almost laughed and said that normally it takes about 5 or 6 minutes per side but that Donor has so many follicles that it will probably take her closer to 15 minutes per side. Wooo hooo! Super Donor. Fingers crossed.

We took a ride up to the big temple in Hyderabad that sits atop a hill and is made purely of marble. The couple from Virginia rode with us and were excited to see a bit of the “real Hyderabad” outside the confines of the Golkonda Hotel.

Once we got back, I finished up packing. And with bittersweet emotions began to say goodbye to Donor. I was very happy to be heading home, was very bummed I had to leave Donor there to finish solo though. We had talked about this before we went... She had said she would rather me fly with her to India than stay for the end, as she had never traveled so far in her life – totally her choice but still a bit bummed. Good news was the couple from Virginia couldn’t have been nicer in offering to stay with her during the retrieval.

I’m now on my plane from Dubai to Washington DC and I have to say, what Donor has done for us is amazing. There aren’t words to describe how cool she has been through the process, how willing she has been to just roll with things over the past few months, and how open-minded she’s been during our stay in India. We really do owe her all the thanks in the world because without her, this wouldn’t be happening.

It was my last day in India but could very well have been the first day of a totally new life.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Knock on Wood

Finally got a full night's sleep. God, did that feel good.

We started Day 3 with a quick b-fast and then headed out to Kiran Clinic. There was a bit of a hiccup in the timing. We were supposed to go at 10:30, car didn't show up until 11:15 as they thought we had a noon appointment. All got resolved, but a bit annoying.

We got to the doc and had our appointment. Donor just got her injection and I did my thing. All smooth sailing. The interesting question has come up though of whether or not we will use two surrogates vs. one. Here's the deal:

We have gone under contract with the ability to use two surrogates. 36 Hours after the retrieval of Donor's eggs, they will implant the embryos into two surrogates if we choose. The benefit is that the embryos are fresh, not frozen, and that the chance of pregnancy increases dramatically with two surrogates right out of the gate. The negative? Both could take and that would mean at least two babies and a significant increase in the cost as there would now be the need to pay a second surrogate. What to do...

We are happy having two if there are twins in one. That's a "natural" thing that we shouldn't mess with. But do we roll the dice and gamble with two surrogates? And what if they both have twins? That would mean four! No way. We have a day to decide.

Donor didn't get a scan, but she will tomorrow. Her follicles measured about 8-10 cm yesterday. Tomorrow they should be closer to 14. That would make the retrieval Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

After our visit with Dr. Samit, we decided to take a few hours and head out and see Golkonda Fort. It was a 30 minute drive from the hotel, through the old town, past wandering goats and cows. It sits upon a hill with the inner walls at the base of the hill and then the old outer walls a bit further out. It's really a beautiful sight. The entire city used to be there and it's made out of stone and rock. You can see the different structures that used to be part of the town, the gates to the city, the ruler's quarters, and the village common areas.

Equally as interesting were the people. Locals were there with their families having picnics and enjoying the history of the Fort. They loved donor, tall blond, pretty. At least 15 different people/families came up to us to introduce themselves and take a picture with us. I suppose I could understand as we've only seen two other white-skinned people in the entire city -- and they both were in our hotel and are going through the surrogacy process as well. A nice husband and wife from Virginia. One of the families even invited us over to their picnic as a thank you for letting them take pictures with us. The mother cut a mango up for Donor and I. Really sweet (yes, the mango, but also the gesture).

After the fort, we hit the pool for a few hours, where I caught up on work and got a little bit of sun. Work has been frantic. And I hate my iPhone. It's terrible. Deletes emails automatically, then reloads the entire inbox (15 minutes later), freezes, battery dies in a half day. Terrible. I'm going back to BlackBerry.

Since it was my last night in India, we decided to do a nice dinner and went to Water Front. This restaurant sits right on the shore of the big lake in the center of town. It's really an Oasis from the madness of the streets of Hyderabad. The restaurant was amazing. I ordered a Lychee Martini (couldn't resist) and knew this was probably a huge mistake. If you haven't traveled outside the U.S. much, know that mixed drinks are usually a disaster, apart from margaritas in Mexico. To our surprise, they were perfect! The food was wonderful, live music, AC, it was great. Really nice last night. Bummer that work kept me on the phone for 25 minutes while Donor had to eat her dinner solo. But alas. Why should I be surprised?

We head back to the clinic tomorrow and then I'm off to the airport to begin the nearly 30 hour journey back home. I'm nervous and anxious. I really want this to work. But know that it's totally out of my hands. I've done my part and now it's up to the powers that be.

Do me a favor?

Knock on wood.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Heat. Hot.

Two words to describe Day 2.

Fuck was it hot. It had to be over 100 + humidity today. The good thing was that we woke up and decided to venture out and check out Hyderabad this morning. This was after I managed to score about 5 hours of sleep. Not nearly enough, though it felt good.

Being the thrifty people we are, we had bfast in the hotel since it was included (insert “me being cheap” jokes here). Pretty decent buffet and we left with full stomachs.

We decided not to take a car from the hotel that would inevitably follow us around everywhere and hover. Instead, we went to the street and grabbed a tuc tuc to take us to Laad Bazaar — several streets of outdoor markets selling everything from fabric to jewelry to the famed Hyderabad Pearls.

The ride to Laad (about 15-20 minutes from the hotel) was interesting. I’m going to take the Flip with me tomorrow to capture it but think of chaotic streets, overfilled with cars and tuc tucs and motorcycles of all sizes, add in people wandering across the streets everywhere you turn, and then top it off with no traffic lights or even traffic rules for that matter, and you have driving in India. It’s madness.

We dodged oncoming cars all the way to Laad where we jumped out and started to wander through the dusty, heat-radiating streets. (side note: You may be wondering what about the doctor? We had the day off today. Donor had to just give herself a shot, I had to make sure and not “release” my part of the deal, if you know what I mean. I get to do that tomorrow.)

First stop was a shop that sold purses and bags. Every type you could think of, apart from the designer lines. We were escorted upstairs by the friendly staff to what I thought for sure was going to be like the back rooms in NY where my parents buy the best knock offs you’ve ever seen. Nope, it was just cooler up there as they had fans and chairs for us to sit in while they showed us the collection. Donor walked out with four small ones and a medium-sized one. All very cool. And I got us a good deal (of course).

We wandered a bit steering clear of the begging women with babies in their arms. Tempting. Sad. But can’t help every one of them.

Next stop was scarves and shoes. Donor looked through a ton, they unfolded everything with great excitement, awaiting the looks on our faces to see if they should push the sell or not. We ended up not buying anything, but got to see some really great designs for women to cover their shoulders and head with.

The heat at this point was oppressive. For real. It was making us a bit delirious. So what better place to pop into than the pearl store. You may not know but Hyderabad is also known as the City of Pearls and is home to one of the largest pearl drilling centers in India. This makes for an amazing bargain that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Donor and I both walked out with some great gifts. And she has an incredible Jackie O necklace now. In the midst of us checking out all the variations of pearls, the shop owners brought us a refreshing drink. It was over ice and looked cool and refreshing so we were respectful (and in need of something cool) and drank it. It was sugar cane juice– made right out in front by squeezing the juice out of a sugar cane. Ice probably wasn’t the best move. But we were desperate. Hope our stomachs don’t mind.

We wanted to grab some lunch and sit in some AC to cool off a bit. After taking a tuc tuc to the wrong train station (we found a bar/pub in our guidebook that was near a train station), we ended up heading back to the hotel for lunch and pool/work time.

It’s definitely monsoon season. Just after we got back and sat down in our now “regular” restaurant, the doors to the hotel blew open and the monsoon rains started. Buckets and buckets of water came down. I decided to go out to the pool and sit under an umbrella (peaceful). Donor decided the room and a nap was more up her alley. The rain stopped after maybe 20 minutes, some sun came out and I spent a few hours working on my computer, out by the pool.

Not a whole lot more to report after that. We grabbed dinner in the hotel again, since it was included (we get breakfast AND lunch or dinner). Good food. We listened to the 80s American hits that the Piano Man was singing in the restaurant and that made us even more sleepy than we already were. No desert tonight. Just back up to our rooms to finish up some work, write this blog, and crash.

Tomorrow, we are back to the doc to see how things have progressed so far. Fingers are crossed. My stomach is telling me I’m anxious. And nervous.

Of course, I could just blame it on the sugar cane.

Day 1

I'm only a half day late in posting the recap of Day 1. Which is good for a non-blogger like me.

The good news is that we made it. Bad news? It took 30 hours, visited Washington DC, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi on the way. And true to the 6.5 million people living in Hyderabad, it took us over an hour to get through immigration at 3:45 a.m. when we arrived. That wasn't fun.

We got to our hotel around 5:30 or so, just as the sun was coming up. Exhausted, but full of culture-shocking thoughts, we went to our rooms for a few hours of sleep before we had to visit Dr. Samit. I thought fatigue would drive me to sleep, but instead, nerves and anticipation kept me awake. I finally dozed off for an hour or two, after checking in back home and recapping the journey.

Our car picked us up from the hotel at noon (which really meant 12:30) and took us to appointment numero uno (that's for you pinch). As we pulled up to the Kiran Clinic, we noticed a few women looking out the window at the arriving car. We think they were probably a few of the surrogates who are living in the apartments upstairs (all surrogates agree to live in the apartments for the duration of the pregnancy, under nutritionist and medical supervision -- more later on what a positive that is). It's a simple building, clean and full of friendly people.

We were shown upstairs to the office of Dr. Samit where we sat down to go over paperwork, health history, etc. They came in and took blood from both the donor (you'll notice I'm not using names to keep it all somewhat private) and myself. They must be magic needles because I didn't feel a thing. Then they had to do an ultrasound to measure the follicles on her. All in all it took about an hour or so. Very easy. Dr. Samit was very friendly and the donor couldn't get past how young he was (youngest in India to have such success as an embryologist).

We were told that all seemed good and that we needed to come back on Friday. Donor has to give herself the injection on Thursday (she's a pro at it) and then we're back Friday for her blood work and ultrasound again. They think the retrieval will take place on Monday.

We spent the afternoon getting driven around from touristy shop to touristy shop before we ended up back at the hotel pool to cool off a bit. The hotel has a nice pool area. Very Vegas. Without the people (we were the only two there), the crazy prices, the music, the gambling and the massive size and excess. Ok, it was nothing like Vegas. But it looked like it could be (black and white lounges around an infinity-type pool -- small though).

Still exhausted we decided to have dinner in at the hotel. We both had some really good Indian food. No idea what it was (chicken and veggies of some sort).

Went back to the room at around 10pm with all intentions of going to sleep. In true work fashion, I was up until 2 a.m. trying to put out a few fires, catching up with home in the middle of it all, and trying to keep my eyes open. That was until I had enough and sent an email saying "I'm going to get a few hours sleep, the first in three days, so will have to catch up with you all tomorrow."

And that... was Day 1.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Munching on Hummus in Kuwait

Ok, so I didn't find a free few minutes to go into the details about what we're doing, how we settled upon our donor, surrogate, etc. But I will. Promise.

Right now though, I wanted to drop a note to talk about how much sand there is in Kuwait City. Seriously. We landed in high winds about two hours ago. Those winds have created a dust cloud that darkens the city under a brown-like fog. Guess that's not something that I necessarily expected. So why are we in Kuwait, you ask?

Today is the first day of our journey to India to physically begin the process of IVF and Surrogacy. We've spent months going back and forth, researching, laughing and screaming about our options. But now it's kind of real. The gist is that we settled upon Planet Hospital to coordinate our IVF and Surrogacy process, which will take place at the Kiran Clinic in Hyderabad, India. A friend has been the amazing person who has really made this all possible by agreeing (with very little reservation) to be our egg donor. We couldn't have been more lucky and we owe her the hugest thanks ever.

That said, we woke up yesterday morning and headed to the airport for our flight to India so that she can go through the egg retrieval process and so I can...well... do my thing and leave my piece of the fertility puzzle. We're in Kuwait, heading to Abu Dhabi shortly, connecting to Hyderabad -- where we arrive at 3 a.m.

Is this for real? This day came really fast. But "thanks god" it has worked out so amazingly so far.

More to come.

Back to my hummus.