Anyhow, here is the letter in case any of you were like me, and were wondering "how the heck do I word this???" I've replaced names with <relationships> as I'm not sure if I want to lose my anonymity. :-) Also, I wanted to wait to notify other family members until after our trip in June when we have a better picture of where we stand.
Sigh, I think with most people that this would be more appropriate in a phone call, but for non-trivial things, I'm really awful with the phone. I sometimes have trouble with auditory processing, most notably on the phone, and the more serious the discussion the worse it becomes. I'm very self conscience about it and with the exception of a small handful of people who I regularly speak to on the phone, it's tremendously hard for me. So if you are wondering why this is in an email - that is it in a nutshell. Feel free to call me with any questions, I just don't know how to start the convo about this on the phone and I get panicky when I think about calling people it. (I'm much better with it once the ice is broken.) Hopefully you will forgive me for this lapse in etiquette.
Last year we started our journey and looking into our options, when my doctor informed me that my uterine lining had begun to grow back (which explained why I was starting to have issues again.) This offered us new options and hope, only to be told that the lining was only back in some places, and with other damage the doctors still did not feel I could carry a pregnancy. When we questioned about new available procedures to possibly fix the problem, we were met with a new reality - the meaning of a woman's "biological clock." This doctors informed me that to try and temporary fix the problem would have a low success rate and the time that elapsed would mean that my "ovarian reserve" would have diminished. Essentially, we may miss our very narrow window of conceiving with my eggs.
I won't go into the long explanation of "ovarian reserve", but suffice to say a woman's chances of having a baby starts a steep decline at age 35. By 43, most clinics will not even consider using your own eggs. We have now gone through sufficient tests to know that my eggs aren't awful, but they aren't super awesome either. Still, the doctors think we have a decent chance, though we still have the issue of me not being able to carry a baby.
Enter surrogacy. Again, we knew this would be the main option for us when we first started dating. What we did not know was how expensive it was going to be. Using IVF with my own eggs - surrogacy easy enters into the 6 figures. More if we have to use donor eggs. There is no guarantee of a baby and many couples have to go through several IVF cycles at 15-20K a pop. Add on all the other costs, and it is crazy overwhelming.
Enter India. When researching surrogacy, which is horrifically expensive in the US, the idea of India came to me. I had looked at international options for medical tourism many years ago, and wondered if IVF and surrogacy was an option. Turns out it is a big option in India; the price is 1/3-1/2 (even with airfare, travel, time off from work).
The main thing that concerned me with this option was the possibility of exploitation. After endless hours of research, I am happy to report that I have a 100% confidence in my findings. In the US, a surrogate mother is paid 15-30K (more for twins). In India, while it is much less (6-12K), the money is LIFE CHANGING to the surrogate mother. It's is often more money that the woman (or her husband) makes in 10 years time. With the money many women buy a house (around 2500), educate their children, or help their family start a business. I do not feel we could make such an incredible difference in another woman's life here in the US.
That said, we wanted to be careful that the money would actually help the woman. Again, after many, many weeks of research, I have found several places that have international reputations. As one surrogate put it "carrying another woman's child and making 10 years salary is not exploiting, working 15 hour days, 6 days a week, crushing glass is." With <hubby> having family in India (often close to the places we were considering), we had the extra benefit of them being able to check everything out from over there. We are pleased that we have decided on a location that is known for tremendously helping the women. They not only insure that this is the decision of the surrogate, but also provide housing, health care, nutrition, 24 hour care, help towards the surrogate's children, education, and a trust fund to continue education to the surrogate even after giving birth. At present the clinic, besides being internationally known medically for IVF, has a waiting list of woman wanting to be surrogates for them.
We have recently completed all of our tests here that need to be done to determine the best course. The doctors think we have a reasonable shot with my eggs, so we are going to try that. Hopefully we will have success. If we have to use donor eggs, that becomes much more complicated as to get USA citizenship (for the India option), the eggs have to be mine OR we have to wait for <hubby> to become a citizen. Thus we are trying with my eggs first. In June, we will be traveling to India for 3 weeks to try for our first IVF cycle. That cycle will really give us the best picture if my eggs are truly viable, or if we have to start at other options.
Obviously very few people know about this right now. I wanted to let immediate family know before trying to figure out how to tell others. I guess I'll work on figuring that out next.