Monday, December 23, 2013

Joyous Holidays

Our family sends you all warm wishes and hopes for much love, happiness,
and glad tidings this holiday season and throughout the New Year.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratitude

I know this post is a bit late, but we have been busy with a newborn and remiss in updating the blog since we got home.  Yes, we are finally back in Dallas, with quite an adventure during our exit process at the FRRO! We were selected for an official inquiry, but I won't go into the details here; if anyone needs help or information, please email me privately.

With our surrogacy journey coming to an end, we can finally exhale and breathe that sigh of relief.  A flood of emotions overwhelmed us once we knew one chapter was closing, and another beginning.  However, it's fitting that today we acknowledge the immense gratitude we feel.

On this Thanksgiving day, we have much to be thankful for:

First and foremost, our daughter Audrey and the health and well-being of all our loved-ones.


We are very thankful for the joy and wonder that she brings to our lives every day.

We are also extremely grateful for the generosity and support of everyone that we have come into contact with in this surrogacy journey, many of whom we have been lucky to have met in person.

We wish and hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have as much to celebrate and be grateful for as we do.




Friday, October 11, 2013

They Don't Prepare You

It has been such a long journey to meet our daughter, beginning from before she was born, when she was only the ache that we had wishing for a child, by two gay men who had thought it was impossible.

That journey culminated yesterday when we picked up our daughter from the hospital.  We thought we knew what to expect.  We saw other parents with their children every day, and we met former "IPs" returning with their new babies.  We heard their stories, nodded at their advice, soaked it all in.

But they don't prepare you for meeting your own child for the first time.

They don't prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of joy mixed with equal parts wonder, love and gratitude.

They don't prepare you for the softness--not just of the baby, but of your own being, melting into a puddle before this little creature.

They don't prepare you for the true terror of the immense responsibility that comes with caring for your child in a world that suddenly becomes more dangerous.

They don't prepare you for being transformed into the biggest idealist and crusader for changing that world into a better place for your children.

They don't prepare you, because it's an indescribable experience.



Is there anything more precious than a baby's chubby cheeks and neck rolls?

"OK Dads, enough with the hair bows!"




Monday, October 7, 2013

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Gonna make this short and sweet:

It's a girl!


You could have knocked us over with a feather!  We expected the baby to come as early as November 5th, but we weren't mentally prepared, even though we had packed and had most of the planning already done.  Meera and Audrey Maya are fine. Audrey is on demand feeding and her vitals and systems are healthy and stable.  That's all we've ever hoped for.  And her grandparents are thrilled with their first granddaughter!

Today has been a whirlwind and I'm only now getting a chance to post this.  I had to go into work to get everything set up for my absence for approximately 3 weeks.  We also had to book flights for my brother-in-law to fly in from San Francisco to dog-sit, then book our flights to India departing the day after he arrived, then decide on accommodations and make reservations.  

My BIL arrived at 10 PM tonight, and we're so grateful for him dropping everything and catching the last flight out today.  Travis and I had originally planned to leave for India on Wednesday, but couldn't stand the thought of our little girl alone in the hospital for even one more day, so we're leaving tomorrow on Lufthansa (luckily able to get decent seats and pricing, at the last minute, too).  Due to the short notice and uncertain length of stay, we are just going to check into a hotel, but may switch once we get our bearings back in India. I used to travel a lot for work, and have amassed a lot of frequent flier miles and hotel points, so what better time to use them--but when oh when will the JW Marriott open in New Delhi??  

Anyway, we're almost done finalizing our packing; whatever we've forgotten we can most likely find in New Delhi, so our main concern now is getting on the plane.  Can't wait to meet our darling daughter!



We would love to greet you as God has blessed you with a  very beautiful and lovely baby girl.

We wish that your  beautiful angel will make all your dreams come true one day :)

Please note her details as below:

SEX -- female

T.O.B -- 09:51 AM

D.O.B-- 7th October, 2013

Weight -- 3.42 kg
Our colleague Ms. Nabanita will get back to you soon with her photos & further details.

With Best Regards,
Arpana
On behalf of SCI Family 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Delhi Belly

Many of us have heard of, if not experienced first hand, the infamous gastrointestinal distress cleverly called "Delhi Belly."  This post is nothing about that! 

Instead, I am happy to share with you this surprise update we received today and some pictures of our lovely surrogate, Meera, featuring her baby bump, a.k.a. our precious Delhi belly.

Greetings from SCI Healthcare..!!

We hope this e-mail finds you well.

We would like to inform you that Meera came to the clinic this morning for her regular check up.

As per our recent discussion with our obstetrician she is doing well.

We would also like to inform you that we have also captured some belly images of her.

Her belly is growing day by day and looking very beautiful.

We hope you will like the same.

We will keep you updated with her further progress & new status.

With Best Regards,
Yogita
SCI Healthcare




Any takers on how how many weeks till she pops?  I'm totally clueless about this, as I think her tummy looks huge already and am just so grateful for all of her care and efforts to keep our baby safe and sound in these final months.

Congrats to all the families with babies born recently!  So exciting to have all our friends announcing their wonderful news lately! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Embassy update

We haven't received our visas back from passport processing yet, but in the meantime we followed up with ACS at the US Embassy about the time they quoted us for obtaining the baby's exit visa, and received the following reply:

Dear Bluebird,

The time line is a new policy by the Indian Government.  We had people get their exit visa less than 10 days and others more than that time.  I just wanted to let you know in advance so you can be prepared.  I would think expect up to 10 days although the Government of India told us from 10 – 20 days.  Most people haven’t hired a lawyer, but if you feel more comfortable doing so, then it is your choice.

Thank you.

American Citizen Services New Delhi

This has eased our minds a bit, as staying for possibly over a month would require us to rethink finances, travel & accommodations, pet sitting plans, and work schedules. Unfortunately, neither of our employers offers paternity leave; we must use our earned vacation (which is paltry in the U.S.) and once exhausted, would have to take FMLA unpaid.  So we will tentatively plan for 3 weeks, but hopefully can return home with the baby sooner.

We have talked to a few people who have done the FRRO process by themselves and were fine, but they were very meticulous with their paperwork. We are considering using a lawyer that has been recommended by many, as the service would give us some peace of mind for the FRRO portion, which would cost $200 USD for a singleton ($300 for twins).  If they can facilitate the process to get us through FRRO quicker, the fee would be offset by the expense of staying in India.

We will continue to monitor the situation and other folks' exit process to see if the lawyer and extended stay are warranted.  If you have any relevant information, please share!

On the baby front, we have received no updates.  No news is good news!

Not our baby, just a random funny image from the web!



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Travel documents and panic attacks

Well, we haven't booked any flights or accommodations yet (which turns out to be a good thing, see below), but when the doctor told us that the baby could arrive as early as November 5th, that got our adrenaline pumping and minds racing.  We would need to get the planning and packing seriously underway.  To divide and conquer, Travis was in charge of making packing lists and I would be in charge of the paperwork.

Naturally, we leveraged the excellent information and advice we got from Mark, Fred, Critty and others about what to pack and how to approach the paperwork.  Thanks everyone!

When I checked our passports, I realized that they will expire February 2014.  Hmm, I had heard about travel being restricted under certain circumstances when your passport expires within 6 months, and we were within that window.  Now this posed several quandaries:

1. Do we send off the passports and risk that the baby comes while the passports are being renewed?
2. Will we encounter more hassle using two passports, the new one and the old one, since the visa remains in the old passport?  Will a bureaucrat claim the visa is invalid since it is in a cancelled passport?
3. Do we risk it by not renewing and trying to travel anyway?




Even though we had found the list of countries that extend passport validity 6 months after expiry and India was included, there were just so many horror stories on the web and variables to deal with: embassies, airlines, pass through countries, screening personnel, etc. that we didn't want to deal with more uncertainties.  But unfortunately that would continue to be a theme in our journey.

We decided to bite the bullet and send off our passports for renewal right away, opting for standard service instead of rush processing due to the extra cost ($60 each) and turnaround time difference of just a week based on the then-current processing time.  We did opt to send priority mail and overnight return mail ($12.85) for the tracking and peace of mind in getting the passports delivered quickly and safely.  We knew the visa should remain valid in an old passport; if we had to explain this each time, that is what we would do.  If anyone has differing information or has experience with this, please let us know!

I'm happy to report that our passports arrived today, quicker than expected, but alarmed us when the old passport that contained our Indian visa was not returned.  We immediately thought the worst: that we would have to apply all over again, that we had been flagged as requiring a medical visa and would be denied, etc. However, a frantic call to the processing center calmed our fears, as we were informed that the old passport would be returned separately within 10 days.


WHEW!

On to the next item on the checklist.  Since it was recommended that we contact the US Embassy in India two months before our due date, we sent an email introduction to the American Citizen Services (ACS) in New Delhi.  They responded with the following:

Dear Mr. Bluebird:

Thank you for your email.  Please make sure to send the DNA kits to our Embassy.  You will have to contact one of the approved DNA kit providers on our website.  For the exit visa, you can only apply while you are here through our Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office in India once you have the passport for your baby.  We can issue your baby an emergency passport in order for you to get the exit visa.  Please note that the exit visa takes around 10 – 20 days to be issued from the Indian Government.

Please advise when your baby is born and documents are complete so we can schedule the appointment and DNA testing at our Embassy.

Thank you.

American Citizen Services New Delhi
JH

I added the bolding.  10-20 days!  Panic again set in, as this is not what we had budgeted or planned for with work or our families, some of whom were going to help us dog-sit.  With the passport and DNA testing taking about a week, this new wrinkle would extend or even double our stay to a month or more.  It's additional expense and time away from home, family, pets and work.



I know we Americans have been spoiled with the historical (relatively) quick exit process of about 10-14 days total.  We can only hope that ACS are overestimating the visa processing time to eliminate unrealistic expectations.  We've also conjectured that it may be due to FRRO giving more scrutiny for those babies that were conceived in 2013.  Whatever the case, this appears to be the new normal.  We will be keeping an eye out for those returning from baby pick up over the next few weeks to see if this time frame holds.  Please contact us if you have any further information on this!

In the meantime, we will continue to pack, prepare, and look into flexible extended-stay accommodations, while we consider baby names.  All suggestions welcome.  :)


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Third Trimester! (and GDM)

I'm happy to announce that we have officially entered the third trimester!



Along with this wonderful news, we received an email from SCI last week informing us of an extra scan per the obstetrician's advice.  When I read this, it did worry me that there was medical concern enough to warrant more scrutiny just a week after our 3D scan.

Greetings from SCI Healthcare..!!!

We hope you are doing well.

We would like to inform you that as per our obstetrician's advise we have done extra USG scan for Meera.

Kindly find attached herewith reports of the same.

We are happy to inform you that our obstetrician has reviewed the reports & noted everything fine.

Your surrogate mother is doing fine.

As per our obstetrician's advise your baby is also doing fine.

Please note that her next scan will be done within one month.

We will keep you updated with her further progress & new status.

 
With Best Regards,
Yogita

SCI Healthcare

OK, so everything was fine?  Yeah!  


Not so fast.  


Within the hour, another email was received:


Greetings from SCI Healthcare !!

We hope you are doing fine.

We would like to inform you that as a part of our routine test, we have detected mild diabetes in your surrogate mother Meera.

Please note that she has been reviewed by the Specialist Physician and has been started on units of insulin daily after breakfast.

We are keeping a close eye on her blood sugar level and also on the pregnancy.

We will keep you updated with her progress & new status.

With Best Regards,
Lalit

SCI Healthcare

OK, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), I've heard, is not uncommon.  And SCI said it was "mild."  This is what I read from Diabetes.org:

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes....it is estimated that gestational diabetes affects 18% of pregnancies.


We don't know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother's insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother's body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.

However, untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower your blood glucose levels. Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do. So extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby's pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat.

This can lead to macrosomia, or a "fat" baby. Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the baby's pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

OK, this last part really scared us, so I emailed Dr. Shivani about the treatment and she responded with the following:

She is on 8 units Insulin -- titration of the dose is done as per the daily blood sugar readings which are done two to three times in a day.

The CTG recordings are also done regularly for the baby's heart beat.

With diabetes baby's tend to be large for dates and this could be why baby is measuring a bit big -- also scan is not the most accurate so lets wait and see how things go.

This is called gestational diabetes -- related to pregnancy -- the requirements of insulin could go up and down and generally once pregnancy is over the diabetes will resolve - we will need to monitor her sugars till it does post delivery.

Best wishes

Dr Shivani

At least Meera was being treated, and we can only hope that it prevents any of the serious complications to the baby from gestational diabetes.  We are also hopeful that Meera will be fine after delivery.  I think she must be wondering "what did I get myself into?"  All kidding aside, we will be eternally grateful for her role in creating our little one, despite the challenges.

So for now, the celebrations are postponed and the planning is in full swing for what we have dubbed "Operation Baby Pick-up."  




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hide and Seek




We had been waiting for weeks for the 3D images of our baby, and finally the day of the scan came and we received the following email:

Greetings from SCI Healthcare..!!!

We hope you are doing well.

We would like to inform you that we have done a USG scan for Meera as per our schedule.

Kindly find attached herewith reports of the same.

We would like to inform you that our obstetrician has reviewed the reports & found the same within normal limit.

Your baby is doing fine.

Kindly note that the baby was changing the position & face was not in view as the baby was trying to hide the face during scan.

So, Dr. Jolly was not able to capture 3d images of baby.

In view of the same, we have arranged Meera's meeting with Dr. Jolly tomorrow to capture the 3D images.

We will keep you updated.

With Best Regards,
Yogita
SCI Healthcare


What a mischievous baby, putting us through such torture!  Or maybe s/he was just shy, like her daddies.  So we put away our 3D glasses and would have to wait another day while the baby played peek-a-boo.

We would have to settle for the following report.  Imagine our surprise at how much the baby had grown!





Yikes, 31 weeks and 4 lbs?!?!

This had our hearts racing as we contemplated the baby coming in as little as 6-7 weeks vs. the 13-14 we thought we had to get ready.  We fired off an email to SCI asking about our due date and whether we should plan to come earlier than anticipated due to the baby's size and growth.  Dr. Shivani responded that normally the obstetrician will discuss with the surrogate and if all is OK they will wait for spontaneous labor, up to 40 weeks.  If nothing happens by then, either the surrogates opt for induction or c-section.  If there is any medical problem, the OB will recommend induction or c-section sooner, or closer to 38 weeks.  We would have to wait and see.

The next day we heard from the OB that the baby can be born any day between 5th November till the end of November.  What a window!  So much for booking flights and making hotel arrangements in advance!  We will have to research some options and wait for things to become clearer as the time approaches.  We may just have to wing it, given all the surprises this baby has thrown at us so far!

Finally, the 3D scan we had been waiting for arrived.  Yes, we agree with some of you who find it a bit eerie and alien-like.  There are squishy, unfocused parts and it's not a perfect angle, as the baby is still hiding a bit.  But it's the first glimpse of what s/he will look like, and it has made everything suddenly very real for us.  

Seeing the image makes us almost feel like we will eventually be parents.

It's a wonderful feeling.








Saturday, August 17, 2013

Iron Injections

We received an unscheduled update from SCI:

We hope you are doing fine.
We would like to inform you that Meera's iron levels are low and due to intolerance of high dose of oral iron we are planning to give her iron injections.

Please note that the Iron injections are given as 6 doses each in saline slowly over 4 - 6 hours.
This has to be given in a fully equipped hospital -- as the risk includes anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction causing among other things inability to breathe) so needs to have emergency care faclities and and medical staff available within seconds.

Each injection is given as a day care procedure.
We are happy to inform you that Meera is doing fine and your baby is also growing well.

We will keep you updated with further progress.
With Best Regards,
Yogita
SCI Healthcare

First and foremost, we are glad that Meera and the baby are fine.  I had heard that iron deficiency was common in pregnancy.  The internet says that about half of all pregnant women develop iron-deficiency anemia. The following is taken from babycenter.com:

Your iron requirements go up significantly when you're pregnant. Iron is essential for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases until you have almost 50 percent more than usual. And you need more iron to make more hemoglobin for all that additional blood. You also need extra iron for your growing baby and placenta.
Unfortunately, most women start pregnancy without sufficient stores of iron to meet their body's increased demands, particularly in the second and third trimesters. If you get to the point where you no longer have enough iron to make the hemoglobin you need, you become anemic.
Your risk is even higher if you have morning sickness severe enough to cause frequent vomiting, if you've had two or more pregnancies close together, if you're pregnant with more than one baby, if you have an iron-poor diet (e.g., some vegetarians), or if your pre-pregnancy menstrual flow was heavy.

I did a bit of research to understand the treatment of iron injections.  The following information is taken from Anemia.org:

Iron injections are liquid solutions containing iron which are either injected directly into the blood stream through an IV or into the muscle – often the upper arm. Unlike oral supplements, iron injections need to be administered at a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office by a trained professional.


Iron injections are often given because patients are not able to take their full dose of oral iron or their body cannot properly absorb iron through their digestive tract. Because iron by injection does not have to be absorbed through the intestines, but is delivered directly to your circulatory system, it can help build red blood cells more quickly than oral iron.
Patients receiving iron injections can experience side effects, including flushing, headache, muscle and joint pain, dizziness, nausea, rashes, pain and inflammation at the injection site, fever or chills. Some patients may also experience a drop in blood pressure. Side effects may appear while receiving the injection or following completion of the injection. 
A very small percentage of patients who are allergic to the type of iron injected can experience anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis will usually bring about hives that itch, flushed or pale skin, and can include a constriction of the airway, swelling of the tongue or throat, a weak and rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting. These severe allergic reactions must be treated immediately in the emergency room or hospital. If untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to unconsciousness or death.

From what I've researched, most patients are able to tolerate the injections well.  If anyone else has experience with iron injections, good or bad, please let us know.
We started this blog to share information and our experience, in order to help those behind us, as we have been helped by those before.  I thought my posts have been fair, even if painfully honest about our emotions and difficulties.  In the end, it is just our opinion based on our particular experience and feelings about the process and the events that happened to us.  "Your mileage may vary."
Thanks to everyone for their support, both on this blog and offline. 
We are currently at 24 weeks and expect to get our 3D scans next week.  We're very excited about the scan and making it to this point in the pregnancy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Roller coaster

We got our 20 week scan last week but it was not what we expected.  First, the report was delivered a day late.  Not a huge deal, but now that the updates are monthly, they are long-awaited and expected on the day they are performed.  We don't know if that's too much to ask, but it's a disappointment when you check your email every 5 minutes the day you've been told the scan would be done.  By mid-day you give up checking, since it is midnight in India, and you start to worry something is wrong.  And then you have to explain (apologize) to your family that there is no update and this is just part of the process.

We had also been anxiously looking forward to this scan as we expected it to be the 3D scan, and had asked several times when we could expect it.  Up to now, all the scans had been of bone and cavity measurements.  The 3D scans we saw of other IP's babies were so amazing and gave you a sense of what the baby would look like.  Both our families were eager to "see" the baby for the first time.

Unfortunately, we just got a normal scan.  And due to the size, the email was slow to load the report and scan, so we could read the email header first and noticed that Gourav was CC'd.  Gourav is from the account billing department of SCI, so it's never good to see his name on an email, routine or not.  This was not a routine email, as we had paid our stage 2 payment for weeks 16-24 already. 

So we knew there was a problem with the pregnancy. 

Again. 

That would require more money. 

Again.

When we finally got the scan and report downloaded, the report showed there was a complication.  I have waited to post an update until we knew more information.  In the past I've freaked out whenever we got an update that wasn't "normal."  While this case was not much different, I did not go into a full-blown panic.  I've learned that there is nothing I can do about the situation except manage my emotions. 

Greetings from SCI Healthcare !!

We hope you are doing fine.

We would like to inform you that we did Meera's scan yesterday as per our schedule.

Kindly find attached herewith the reports for the same.

We would like to inform you that our Obstetrician & Urologist- Dr. Vishal have reviewed the reports and noted that it shows "Maternal right kidney is hydronephrotic".

In view of the same, we arranged her meeting with our Specialist Physician- Dr. Sinha.

We are also doing further investigations to check for any issue related to this.

Please note that Meera is doing fine and not complaining of any thing.

We will keep you updated with further progress.

With Best Regards,
Lalit
SCI Healthcare

The USG scan showed that everything with the baby was fine.  However, the USG report showed that Meera's right kidney was hydronephrotic.  She would need to be seen by a specialist, thus the need for us to transfer 20,000 INR to Gourav.  I'm sure it would have cost much more in the U.S. to see a specialist, but in the U.S. at least it could have been covered by insurance.

Not being medical people, we reached out to our medical friends to find out more about this diagnosis.  As I think most IP do, we fear what the worst case could be, whether or not this is probable or remotely possible.  Luckily, Meera was not in any pain or complaining of anything.  We learned that asymptomatic hydronephrosis can be common in pregnant women, since the fetus can compress the mother's ureter.  Treatment for hydronephrosis, depending on the severity, could be conservative with analgesics and antibiotics, up to catheterization and ultimately surgery. 

A few days later, we received this email response to our queries:

We thank you for your e-mail.

We would like to inform you that Meera has already met the Specialist Physician for checkup & follow up.

We are happy to inform you that all her investigations have come back normal and we don't need to do any further treatment at this stage.

Kindly note that we will request Dr. Jolly to capture 3D images during Meera's next scan.

We will keep you posted.

With Regards,
Lalit
SCI Healthcare

While we breathed a short sigh of relief, the words "at this stage" rang in the back of our minds, like that eerie echo you hear in scary movies "at this stage....at this stage....at this stage...."

Part of the process we knew about but did not adequately prepare ourselves for was managing our expectations.  We heard IPs who went through this in the past describe it as a roller coaster and we thought "yeah, yeah, we got this."  But truly, it is a test of your emotional mettle.  From the waiting, to the disappointment and dejection, to the fear and desperation, to the hope and elation, it is a very dynamic and stressful process.  We worry over every little thing that it's almost impossible to enjoy the pregnancy and anticipation of having a baby now.  I think we have lowered our expectations so much that we just pray that nothing else goes wrong.

I hate to write that above paragraph, and have struggled with whether or not to publish it, but I think it bears repeating for any other IPs that may be considering this path.  I don't wish to sound ungrateful, because we are thrilled that we are finally pregnant and halfway to hopefully becoming parents, while there are so many childless folks and gays/singles who have missed the cut-off in India and have to seek other avenues.  But on the flip side are the people who get pregnant on the first try (or inadvertently) and have blissful, trouble-free pregnancies.  It just feels like we are due a few breaks, after all.

But this is our reality, and until we have that bundle of joy in our arms, we brace for the next turn on the roller coaster and hang on.

 
 
 
P.S. If anyone out there has had this diagnosis, we would appreciate hearing your experience.
 
P.P.S. Congrats to one of our local SCI IPs who had a healthy baby boy this week!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cautious Celebrations

Ever since we found out that our surrogate was discharged from the hospital last week, we've been celebrating guardedly.

To show our appreciation for Meera's sacrifice being on strict bed rest for 6.5 weeks, we sent her a card expressing our gratitude, along with a cake and flowers.  If any of you wish to recognize a special event for your surrogate, SCI suggests Ferns N Petals.  We can recommend them too, as the delivery was timely (next day) and the cost was surprisingly very reasonable.  We asked if the staff could send us a picture of Meera when she received the flowers, and they were able to provide the following:


Sorry to blur Meera's face since she is truly a lovely person outside as well as in,
 but we do want to respect her privacy.
 
This past Sunday we met up with fellow bloggers and IPs from the Dallas area to celebrate our ongoing pregnancies and in one case the successful birth of twins.  Those in attendance included Travis and myself, Tim and Nathan (Two Men, One Dream… 8,172 Miles Away), Kim (Surrogacy in India, an Involved Aunt's Persepctive), and Mark (non-blogger; he's "marktex" in the SCI forum).  We invited Critty (My Dreams are in Far Off Places), but she was away in Oklahoma visiting family in preparation for her impending baby pick up.  Six babies (that we know of) from the Dallas area through SCI! 

Kim had just returned from India, so she had loads of information and stories to share about the process.  We tried to take it all in and make mental notes about flights, apartments vs. hotels, diapers and formula, and of course the dreaded FRRO.  Naturally, we also reminisced and relayed anecdotes about India and its myriad of experiences to be had.  From all the delicious food and the unfortunate instances of Delhi belly, to the Taj Mahal and the pesky guides steering you to the shops, to crazy Rahul and his fantastic drivers, among many of the beautiful people one encounters in India.

It was really great to socialize in-person with folks who share a common bond.  It reminded us what a great community this is, one in which you become a member by deliberate choice, not chance.  And we are lucky to be a part of it.  Cheers!


P.S. 16 weeks!  Grow baby, grow!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye"

We are thrilled to report that as of last night, our lovely and long-suffering surrogate has been released from the hospital!  It has been a loooong, anxiety-ridden six and a half weeks, but her bleeding has finally stopped. The SCH has partially resolved and shrunk in size, so the medical team decided it was safe to discharge her.  She will still have regular check-ups with the obstetrician and remain on bed rest, but in the surrogate apartments where she can be more comfortable and with her family close by.  What a relief for us, as well as for them, I'm sure.  Along with telling the hospital "so long, farewell, auf widersehen, goodbye" and "अलविदा" (Hindi), I have a feeling Meera was glad to say:

And we are equally delighted to say adios, au revoir, cheerio, and ciao to the first trimester!  At 14 weeks, we are officially in the second trimester!  When we got the email informing us that Meera was being discharged, I thought I would have been jumping up and down for joy, but it was more like a huge exhale from holding my breath for over six weeks, a sigh of relief, a weight being lifted off of us.  We still have a long way to go, but if these past 13 weeks have taught us anything, it's to appreciate and celebrate the good news, as things can turn on a dime.  So while we take it one day at a time, we are cautiously celebrating this huge milestone.


 

Finally, we have to acknowledge and express our gratitude for all the support we have continued to receive from our family and friends in person and online.  We received so many comments, emails, texts, and calls helping us to cope over this difficult time.  We appreciate all the advice and words of encouragement, as they definitely helped us manage the doubts, fears, and stress of this process.  And of course we are thankful to Dr. Shivani, Yogita, Meg, Margarida, and all the medical team and administrative staff at SCI for keeping us updated and taking care of Meera and our little one. 

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers.  They worked, and we are truly grateful.


 
 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Status Quo

Sorry for the lapse in posting, as I know there are many out there concerned for us, our surrogate, and our little one.  Thank you to all who have emailed asking if everything was OK.  I have been feeling somewhat ambivalent about blogging, and thus the lack of posts.  Besides the fact that I don't have much to report, I feel like our bad luck is lingering over us, which has thrown a wet blanket on our excitement about the pregnancy and all these early developmental milestones we would otherwise be celebrating, sharing, and blogging about.

Meanwhile, Meera, our surrogate, is still in the hospital due to bleeding from the previously disclosed SCH.  It has now been almost an entire month since she was admitted.  It must be terribly difficult for her to be on complete bed rest, away from her family and personal comforts.  Hopefully her husband and four year old son get to visit her often and are making do without her best they can.  We feel bad that she was also in the hospital over Mother's Day, but we mailed her a card and were informed by SCI that they received it in time and translated it for her.  They relayed that she appreciated it and sent us her best wishes just the same.  We've been told that she seems to be staying in good spirits, considering, and we are grateful for that and for her sacrifice.

Unfortunately, according to our last USG report over a week ago, the bleed has grown to 6.9 x 4.3 cm, which has kept Meera in the hospital on strict bed rest.  However, the baby appears to be developing fine.  Possibly more than fine, as the report noted that the baby's approximate gestational age was calculated to be several weeks ahead of schedule at 13W6D at the time of the scan.  By that measure, we would be in the second trimester already!  However, Dr. Shivani said the scans were not totally accurate and could be off +/- 2 weeks, which makes sense based on our transfer date, we would only be around 12 weeks tomorrow.

We continue to receive daily updates from SCI.  "Update" seems to be a bit of a misnomer, as there really hasn't been much change.  To be honest, the emails have started to run together as they sound so much alike, and I commend Yogita for being able to provide us Meera's status without simply copying and pasting yesterday's email verbatim.  There is always her pleasant greeting, and then acknowledgement that Meera is still in the hospital and that the doctors have noted varying amounts of bleeding ("mild" to "minimal" to "some" to "on and off" etc.).  She notes that Meera is receiving supplements and medication, being observed/reviewed/monitored, and being cared for well by the staff of coordinators, social workers, nurses, and/or doctors.  Basically:



We are getting accustomed to the emails and I am sometimes dismayed that I have become a bit casual about them.  At first, I used to open them with a mixture of anticipation and dread, bracing myself for the news, good or bad.  Now we have come to know what to expect: wake up, check the phone for the email, then forward to family, and roll out of bed to get ready for work.  Of course we still worry, but a certain routine has developed and we have since given up trying to decipher from the description of the amount of bleeding if Meera is getting better. 

We just hope and pray that she does.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Update

Our poor surrogate is still in the hospital on complete bed rest due to bleeding.  It has now been over a week, and based on the daily updates we have been receiving from SCI, I expect she may be there for awhile.  For the first few days we were informed that the bleeding continued, but was mild and decreasing.  On Friday we received word that during a bedside scan the doctor detected a "3.7 x 1.9 cm area of s/c bleed seen along anterior wall of lower uterine segment." Freak out time again, and immediate search of the internet to understand what this was and what it meant!

The s/c bleed or SubChorionic Hematoma (SCH) is a pooling of blood in one of the layers around the baby and the uterus.  Not sure why it forms, but risk of miscarriage is increased.  Eventually the blood should either be absorbed back into the body or expelled through bleeding.  There is really no medical intervention for the SCH.  Meera is being kept comfortable and given iron infusions due to the blood loss.  They are running medical tests periodically to ensure everything else with her health and the baby's health are sustained.

Dr. Shivani provided the following additional information:
  • The bleed is behind the placenta, but the location doesn't matter much at this stage.
  • Meera has some mild lower abdominal pain but is otherwise OK.
  • The baby's size, gestational age and heart rate are appropriate for the period of pregnancy.
  • Unfortunately, the only thing to do is wait and see. 
This morning, we received an update that the SCH had grown to 6.7 x 3.9 cm.  While this was alarming to me, Travis and many others have continued to remind me that there really is nothing that we can do.

We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers for our surrogate and little one.  We also are grateful to all the people who reached out to us with their personal stories, which were very moving and hopeful.  Finally, we want to thank all those who provided us advice and tapped into their medical resources to give us more information on this issue.  One of the scariest parts of this process is the uncertainty and unknown.  Arming myself with information is one of the ways I try to combat this, but the past week has really driven home how harmful and scary random information on the internet (Dr. Google) can be, and conversely how powerful and far-reaching our support network is.  So thank you to our "family," both online and off. 




For now, we continue to wait and hope.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jinxed

We went to see my family this weekend for my mom's birthday party and to surprise them with the news that we were pregnant.  And a surprise it was!  I stealthily placed an anonymous "You're going to be a grandmother again!" card amongst the birthday gifts, and inside the card were just the ultrasound pictures.  When my mom opened the card and found the ultrasounds, all eyes turned to my sister, who was flabbergasted.  Since there are already five grandsons, the whole family was expecting, nay practically pressuring, her to try again for a little granddaughter.  So no one believed her denials that she wasn't pregnant!  She had to point out that she was drinking and wouldn't do that if she was pregnant!  Then the focus turned to my sister-in-law who succinctly replied "I'm not pregnant!"  She and my brother already have three boys and have claimed that they were done having kids.  So everyone turned back to my sister, not understanding why she was protesting so much.  Confused, they eventually asked if Travis and I were having a baby, and the reaction and surprise on their faces was priceless!  The excitement and happiness they expressed for us made it one of the best days in our lives, truly unforgettable.

That brings me to the title of this post.  For those who aren't familiar with the term, "jinx" according to Wikipedia refers to bad luck brought on by:
  • Talking about a future event with too much confidence. A statement such as "We're sure to win the contest!" can be seen as a jinx because it tempts fate, thereby bringing bad luck. The event itself is referred to as "jinxed". A dramatic historical example of this type of jinxing is the Titanic, which was said to be unsinkable, then sank on its maiden voyage.
  • In a similar way, calling attention to good fortune – e.g. noting that a certain athlete is having a streak of particularly good fortune – is thought to "jinx" it. If the good fortune ends immediately afterward, the jinx is then blamed for the turn of events.

So the very next day, Monday, we received one of those dreaded "unexpected emails from SCI" that I wrote about in my last post:

We hope you are doing well.

We would like to inform you that your surrogate mother Meera was admitted in the hospital yesterday due to bleeding.

In regards to the same our obstetrician team has reviewed & put her under necessary care and medications.

We have also sent her blood and urine investigation to the lab.

She is on complete bed rest & we are keeping very close eyes on her pregnancy.

We are taking very good care of her and our obstetrician has been checking her on regular intervals.

As soon as we receive any new updates, we will inform you ASAP.

We will keep you updated with her further progress & new status.

With Best Regards,
Yogita
SCI Healthcare

We are obviously worried out of our minds, since we are so far away and feel helpless in this situation.  We frantically Googled "bleeding" and "pregnancy" and "9 weeks" to find out everything we could, just to conclude that it was inconclusive--sometimes it results in miscarriage and sometimes it doesn't.  We sent SCI an email with some follow up questions, relaying our concern that Meera wasn't in any pain or discomfort, and hoping that her son and husband were ok and not worrying as much as we were.

We also sent Meg and Margarida an email with some questions, SCI's historical outcomes with this, and what to expect.  We want to thank BrooklynCouple as we knew they recently went through this (their surrogate is fine now and they just recently passed the first trimester!); they were amazing with the details and helped to comfort and calm us a bit after I emailed them freaking out (I seem to be doing this a lot these days).

We would be interested to know anyone else's experience with bleeding in the third month of pregnancy.  You can leave a comment, point us to another blog, or email us (address in our blogger profile). 

I can't help but feel a bit like we jinxed ourselves, and I wish we had waited to tell our families.  They were so happy for us, but now we may have to deliver some heart-breaking news.  We have decided to wait a few days before telling them that Meera is in the hospital, hoping that everything improves quickly.  I guess I kind of half-expected that after all that we went through to finally get pregnant, that we were owed a trouble-free pregnancy.  But I know that's not how it works.  We just have to wait, hope, pray, and stay calm and positive.




Friday, April 26, 2013

Surprises

We received another email from SCI earlier this week.  We had assumed that during the first trimester, scans were done every two weeks.  Since it had not been quite two weeks since the last scan, and as any IP knows, a moment of panic occurs when you hear unexpectedly from the clinic.  Especially after Meg's comment that 70% of SCI's miscarriages happen between weeks 6-8, I freaked out a little (a lot). 



But not to worry, all was fine:

Greetings from SCI Healthcare..!!!

We hope you are doing fine.


We would like to inform you that we have done USG scan for Meera as per our schedule.

Please find attached herewith files of the same.

We are happy to inform you that Dr. Shivani has reviewed the reports & found everything satisfactory.

Your surrogate mother is doing fine & her pregnancy is going well.

Everything is going as per our schedule.

Please note that her next scan will be done within two weeks.

We will keep you updated.

With Regards,
Yogita
SCI Healthcare


To my untrained eye, the scans do not seem as clear as the last ones, but as long as the doctors with their expertise tell me that everything is satisfactory, I'm happy.  This USG (ultrasonography) scan shows that the baby is at 8W2D, and is on track based on the last ultrasound (done 10 days ago, which showed it at 6W6D):




The "anteverted uterus" just means it's tilted forward toward the bladder (opposite is "retroverted" or tilted back), which is common and should not be anything to worry about.  The POD is the Pouch of Douglas or rectouterine pouch.  "No free fluid seen in POD" is good according to Dr. Google, as the pouch commonly gets fluid in it
due to its position at the base of the peritoneal cavity; occasionally, these fluids do not drain correctly and over time, can cause other medical issues
unless it is drained.  So everything is progressing well. 

As I have read over and over in everyone else's blogs, "no news is good news."  So I emailed Lalit who does the treatment scheduling at SCI to ask if we can get the date of each next appointment, so that we know when to expect the next communication, and he was very obliging.  Meera is scheduled for her next check up on May 3, and I'm glad to get updates a little more frequently than two weeks.

Since my last post, once we got the heartbeat, we broke the news to Travis' family that we had been trying to have a baby and were finally pregnant.  Their reactions were priceless.  When we told Travis' brother-in-law that we have a surprise and held up the ultrasound over Skype, he asked "Is that a hurricane?"   I guess it kinda looked like a weather radar scan.  When we told Travis' mom that she was going to be a grandmother again, she asked "What color is it?" thinking that we rescued another Siberian husky from the pound! 

My mom's birthday is this weekend, and since the whole family will be gathered together, Travis and I will announce to them then.  I expect more surprises and tears.  Happy ones, I'm sure.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Heartbeat

156 BPM!!
 

We received the following email from SCI this morning:

  Many Congratulations !!!
 
   We hope you are doing well.

   We would like to inform you that as per our schedule we have done
   USG Scan for your surrogate mother to detect the number of heartbeat.

   In regards to the same we are pleased to let you know that we have noted
   single heartbeat.
 
   Please find attached herewith scan reports of the same.
 
   Dr. Shivani has reviewed the report and noted that heartbeat rate is also
   satisfactory.

   We wish you good luck !!

   Please note that her next scan will be done within two weeks.

   We will keep you updated.

   With Best Regards,
   Yogita
   SCI Healthcare


I believe you can actually make out the baby's form in the bottom scans!


We are over the moon!  Our baby is an over-achiever, going from 4 weeks 2 days to 6 weeks 6 days in just over a week!  We are definitely proud papas already.

Thanks to everyone for keeping us (somewhat) sane this past week.  I especially want to thank those who gave us encouragement by sharing very personal details about when/how they informed their families of the exciting news.  We were very touched.  It made me realize that while this is a potentially worrisome and precarious period, it is also time I will never get back.  I need to be present and not live in fear of the uncertainty.  We've decided to share this news with family in the coming weeks and can't wait for their reaction.

Thanks for sharing our journey with us!