Friday, June 29, 2012


2WW - Maybe now would be a good time not to have internet instead of the last 3 weeks.

Correction, I did HAVE internet - all that I can get on my phone for a limited data plan of 300MB for 3 weeks. You would be surprised how fast that is sucked up. Most of it I used to read other IVF/Surro buddy blogs, even if I usually couldn't leave a comment. So yes I have been reading everyone and going through it all - sorry I couldn't write more on your pages!

We arrived back yesterday around 1pm and rather than instantly get online, I took a nap. And another. And another. Pretty soon it was 3:45AM and I was up for the day. Took another nap around 7am, but been running around since then. Hopefully it won't take my usual 5-7 days to adjust to the jet-lag.

Rather than obsess over 2ww, I did other things today. Most notably the research to become a PIO (Person of Indian Orgin). Apparently spouses are allowed to apply. We shall see. Some of it's kind of grey, but it would be nice if I didn't have to worry about the restrictions of my visa for traveling back and forth to India.

That's it for now. Congrats and Hugs to all of those whom I wasn't able to post to during my trip abroad.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some news is good news

Yesterday I began to prepare myself for the worst. My husband was affected especially hard by our news of no fertilization (and by the evasiveness of the embryologist to my specific question) and I knew I had to be tough. There was no way he could take the news and deal with an emotional wreck of a wife. We barely spoke the rest of the day and only ate what was around our hotel room (i.e. snacks). I didn't even want to discuss next steps yet.

Today we were able to talk more on our walk to the clinic. Misc things revolving around IVF. Typical things that I think most couples go through including questioning some of the way things were handled. Think most couples go through that when faced with bad news; stages of loss and what-not.

Once we arrived in the clinic, rather then wait for Dr. Patel (which we knew would take awhile - yesterday's doctor strike caused double duty today), my husband asked if we could go straight up to the embryologist's office. The lady in the office told us to wait and after a few minutes went into the lab. She returned shortly and I assumed she informed the embryologist that we were here.

We waited. And waited. The seconds felt like minutes. After awhile, I knew the news would be bad. If she had good news, wouldn't she rush to tell us? I tell myself that maybe she is in the middle of an ICSI procedure and can't, but the other lady looked pretty forlorn. I suspect she already knows the bad news we are waiting for.

Finally the embryologist comes out. Her expression is not one of good news. She sits and starts speaking to my husband in Hindi.

All of a sudden I hear the Hindi word for "1" twice. I perk up. Then I hear "4-6 cells"! The conversation goes on and on and I don't want to interrupt for fear something might be missed, but I'm dying to know if I am right, and if so, the quality of the embryo. (It's amazing how much information you can get with only knowing a VERY limited amount of Hindi.)

Finally there is a pause in the conversation. I'm right! My husband asks if I want to see images. We are given surgical hair covers and face masks as we head into the lab. On the computer monitor I see the one egg unfertilized and next to it one booming with smooth edged cells. No fragmentation. It's 6-7 cells now; transfer is planned for this afternoon.

Holy crap.

I'm still not going to get overly excited, there are still many hurdles, but I will allow myself to be happy for today.

No news is probably not good news

2 mature eggs retrieved.
24 hours later neither have fertilized, but neither have degenerated.
ICSI was performed.
We are asked to check again tomorrow. Can take up to 48 hours. Embryologist will not answer the question of what is the longest she has seen take.
Husband can barely speak.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Shot to the heart" - er no

Tonight I get my big bee sting shot in the arse at 11:30PM. Ack! The belly shots have been bearable (mostly), but I've been a little apprehensive about this one.

(BTW: 6 follicles for those of you keeping score. Ranging in size from 16-22.)

Maybe if I sing Jon Bon Jovi's "You give love a bad name" song (in my head), it will help. I can hear it now "Shot to the butt, and you're to blame..." Hmmm, maybe giggling while a needle is coming towards me isn't such a hot idea. Oh great. Now I'm going to have a giggle attack. Those always come at the worst possible moment.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: It was a shot in the belly and it was easier than one of the daily shots I had been getting. Easy-peasy. I had gotten myself so worried over the butt-shot from a IVF memoir book I read (said it was like bees stinging you all over your body and that one woman punched her husband in the nose after receiving it), that the idea of it was 100x worse than the reality. I did manage to embarrass myself by laying on my belly ready to expose my bum when the nurse kindly told me to turn over. Very typical of me. My husband grinning ear to ear. :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Plus 2 Minus 1

Yesterday we were given the good news that the two tiny follicles were responding well to the increase in meds. That means we were up to 6! Today we were told that I have 3 on one side (responding well) and 2 on the other. Down to 5. :-(. On a good note, we'd probably be down to 3 had we stayed the course as the 2 on my left side were the tiny ones.

On a separate issue, we are going to have to retrieve on Sunday instead of Monday. Normally the doctor is not at the clinic on Sundays, but one follicle has grown so large (23mm!) she fears we will lose our chance if we wait. So a Sunday retrieval it is.

We met our surrogate yesterday and she is quite lovely. 34 years old with 2 boys and had a successful surrogacy 4 years ago. She is a half inch shorter than me and is the weight I was when I was pregnant so long ago. In my IVF book, with the exception of 38-40 IP mothers, gestational carriers have a higher rate of pregnancy for all ages. Sometimes over 10% higher. For 38-40 it's about even. This sounded pretty interesting to me even though it currently doesn't apply. Here's a pic of the chart (keep in mind the picture and blog post is from my phone. The darker line is for those who used a surrogate / gestational carrier.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Day

Yesterday sucked. Really really sucked. We had our Day 6 scan and it revealed only 4 follicles maturing on one side and 2 tiny ones on the other one. Basically I'm a poor responder.

If you're keeping score, at my original appt in the US, I had 16 follicles. 16 put me right at the next level of a better success rate. Not the highest, but still fairly good. On our first appt here in India, my initial scan only revealed 3 and a big cyst. Aspirating the cyst revealed 14. 14 put us in the fair range, but it was a hell of a lot better than 3. I don't know if they'd even go through with 3. Crisis averted.

But now we are down from 14 to only 4 responding. I expected 70% (as that is what is the norm) and thus 4 is crushing. 4 combined with my age drops us down again. Immediately I started ferociously pulling up stats I have saved to my iPhone, and then I stop. I don't want to know anymore. Neither my husband nor I am religious and it is times like these that I wish I could be. For the moment, hope has left me and and the realist in me wishes I had not let the excitement of the process overcome the knowledge of the likelihood of success.

How do women go through this roller coaster over and over? I'm not sure how many times I can, knowing every month our chances decrease as I age. I'm not sure how many trips to India we can do with me not working. I'm not sure if I can get an exception to my visa to return in a month (I have a 10 year tourist visa from 2008) or instead try for PIO cardholder status (husband is still considered Indian citizen). I'm not sure of so much.

If this seems early to have lost all hope, then realize these were my thoughts and feelings of yesterday. Today is a New Day. The doctor has doubled my dose and I am cautiously optimistic.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Daddy's Day!

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful dad! He is my step-dad since I was 19/20, but he is 100% my Daddy and I love him so. My hero and a great man to look up to.

Happy Daddy's Day to all of you new IVF/surro-daddies out there. Here's hoping that there are many, many more!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to baby 500 and 501!!!

Sign at Dr. Patel's clinic
Today was very exciting at the clinic and we were asked to stay after our shots. They were having a major celebration as the 500th surrogate baby was born today (technically it was twins, but the focus was on #500). We were more than happy to stay for the festivities.

After popping 2 balloons to help decorate, I gave up. One of the doctors teased me that it was a good thing no one was near delivery time because of the loud bangs. Had not realized so much media would be there and it was a little overwhelming for me as those things tend to be. I was pulled over for some photos, but I'm fairly certain that I didn't even make the crop. I seemed more in the way then anything else.

There were babies all around, but the
two new stars were the focus. There were so cute, and despite their tiny size, looked healthy. Dr. Patel worked her magic with the media and as always, was stunning to watch.

After all the interviews, cake and samosas were passed around. Yum! I needed some sugar after all of that excitement. A gorgeous 5 year old girl had taken a shinning to me and I thought of her as we exited the clinic.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

India is getting a egg-sperm-embryo bank!

Another great article from Times of India - Ahmedabad

Gujarat to have India's first egg-sperm-embryo bank

Front page, bottom fold

Picture from article

Reading "The Times of India" (inclusive of "Ahmedabad Times" version) I was immediately struck by the article on the front page, bottom fold: Womb rental incubated her business - Surrogate Mother Invest Earnings.

--by: Bharat Yagnik

Ahmedabad: Madhu Solanki is a 34-year-old successful businesswoman running one of the largest grocery stores in her village, Waghpur near Anand. Madhu got the seed investment for her business from her womb, literally!

In 2006, Madhu had given her womb on rent. She had opted to become a surrogate mother for a childless couple from Bangalore to get out financial crisis - she along with her husband struggled to run the family on a meager income of Rs 4,000 per month. She got 2.25 lakh for renting out her womb. Madhu could save Rs 80,000 after building a small house.

Instead of depositing the money in a bank, Madhu decided to start a business. "There are three-odd grocery stores in my village. Being a woman I knew precisely what ingredients women need for their daily routine. The learning curve was difficult but I got the hang of the business in a few years," says Madhu, who owns the Anand Grocery Store. The store's daily collections now stand at Rs 10,000. Given her huge success, she has been appointed as a trainer to make entrepreneurs out of eight other surrogates who have earned decent money and are keen to invest it wisely so that they become financially independent.

"Madhu has trained eight surrogates who are in the throes of beginning their own grocery business. We want more women to stand on their feet," said surrogacy specialist Dr Naina Patel.

Madhu is a mother of two sons - one 10 years old and the second was born after she bore a child through surrogacy. Madhu and her husband are keen to give good education to their sons. "Becoming a surrogate changed my life. But the key is not to spend the money but use it to become financially independent for life," says Madhu.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First day jitters

Our nice A/C waiting room is for IVF peeps only. We waited only a short time (by universal doctor standards) to have our initial consult and then blood drawn. After which, we grabbed some lunch at The Rama Hotel's Thalis restaurant. Both my husband and myself enjoyed it very much, although it was on the sweeter side of his preference - typical of Gujarati cuisine according to him.

After lunch, we came back to the clinic as directed. After another short wait we were able to see Dr. Patel. She was concerned about a high estradiol level and we went over the dreaded "you're 40 speech". I appreciate the honesty, but that is one "tut-tut" I've grown weary of, regardless the source. We followed up with a scan that gave us more bad news: only 3 follicles and a 2cm cyst. The cyst would have to be aspirated to insure the highest chance of success. Come back at 5:30pm. Eat or drink nothing.

"Ok!!!! Wait what?" We had 3 hours to burn in the heat of Anand (currently at 104 F) and I was instructed not to drink. Fine. We took a rickshaw/tuk-tuk (my first ever!) to the famed Big Bazaar (BB) where even the girls in Bedazzled burkas stared at me. The BB here is like a really tiny Walmart with food items. Even though the drinks were in a refrigerated area, the want to drink was too much and I walked back over to the skin lotion aisle. The Nivea whitening lotion I bought is a testiment on how well marketing works (I've seen the commercial 30+ times now, and it has convinced I'm covered in spots from skin damage, even though I'm not positive that's what the Hindi spoken commercial says.)

After BB, we return to the hotel for an hour, and then back to the clinic. At the clinic, in a not so A/C area, I'm handed a consent form to sign. I ask what it is for and I understand it is for the anesthesia; it's at this point I realize I will be getting GENERAL anesthesia and not local. Ask my husband to confirm this and he does. Crap. I'm not known for doing well under general anesthesia. I prepare myself (and others) for the liklihood of puking.

Fortunately, I did not puke when they woke me up, but my husband was asking me what the class of antibiotics was that I have a problem with. Once we figured that all out, an older lady in a white sari added a yellow liquid filled syringe to my empty IV. They let me rest till I was good and ready to come back downstairs.

Dr. Patel informed us that once the cyst was aspirated, she could see 14 follicles. Yay!!! I had to confer with my husband that I understood correctly. Not because any language barrier, but because I still felt a little loopy. He said yes and I was jubilant, if not completely dexterous.

That pretty much was the end of our first day. We went back to the hotel for me to rest, which really turned into me going to bed for the night. My poor husband missed dinner for the second night in a row.

Off to see the wizard

In the waiting room
One can safely say the traveling to a different country, even one you have been to before, is a bit like Oz. Sometimes it's stormy and things are quite different. India is no exception. It's been a few days, but I think it will be a few more before I'm not dizzy from the tornado anymore.

This morning I was able to awake early, mostly because I played catchup with sleep yesterday and last night. I woke around 5am and my husband woke just around 6am. Even so, we relaxed as we got ready - until the luke warm shower startled me awake.

Our room at La Casa is very nice and even though it's a little farther from the clinic and though most westerners are at the closer Rama, I am glad we chose it. My husband thinks they may have upgraded us.

The tiny rocks in my sandals are an attest to us getting a little lost, but now we are sitting in our air conditioned room (separate from the regular clients) with 4 other ppl: an Indian couple and an Indian woman with her mother. I'm fairly certain this is the IVF room and tell my husband as much. I overhear the word "cycle" mixed with Hindi and I feel confident in my guess.

Now we wait. There is an autographed picture of Oprah watching over us (Dr. Patel was on her show) next to the god Ganesh. Between the two, I'm hoping at least one will shine favor upon us.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Off to a bad start

Today we fly to India. This is what has happened so far (posting from phone):

-They inform us at the airport that they can't print our boarding tickets for the Paris-Mumbai leg of our flight. They don't know WHY, they just can't and they are SURE it's not because they may not have our seats available.
-On that note, they are fairly certain we WON'T be able to sit together. We sometimes have a problem with this domestically becz my hubby is not a citizen, but we have never run into it internationally. Oh yea, and I have problems flying and have to keep my feet elevated. I'm sure whomever is sitting next to me won't mind my feet in their lap.
-The TSA guy is yelling at everyone, including my husband. This never bodes well as he does not cow tow to TSA ever.
-We opt out if scanner (as always) and go through the biggest pat down I have ever received. I've recently been opting out becz of our fertility issues.
-The girl behind us (between 8-10) decides to kick and bump our chairs the entire flight. I say something politely to her mom and to her several times, but it does no good. The last hour I turn around and almost in tears (have not slept) and tell the mom/guardian to please make sure it stops as it has been going on all flight. She looks at the little girl, says "ok" like it's a big hassle and rolls her eyes.
-We land and my husband realizes that TSA did not return his laptop.
-We go through Paris security and I realize they did not return mine.
-Air France gets us seats together.
-TSA or ATL airport can't be reached since it is middle of night in USA and TSA is ONLY for USA.
-I realize that I may have been using regular cell phone instead if google phone. Expect big charges.
-I call brother who works at airport. Don't realize that he has to get up in 5 hours to go to work. Feel like an idiot. They are looking into it for us.
-No sleep. Extra emotional from BCPs, but I've somehow managed to hold it together so far. I predict I'll cry before this (new) day is over.

5 minutes later:
And I just walked in to the men's restroom...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What to pack...

Everyone is asking if I am packed for my trip to India, so I guess I should go start.

I hate packing for big trips. You don't want to over pack, but you certainly don't want to under-pack. Way over-packed for my last trip, thus I will probably under-pack for this one...


Better get to it. Any advice? I've been to India before, but my brain always stalls when packing.

UPDATE on 06/04/12: 

I'm updating this list in case anyone in the future needs something to check against.

I think I'm good on clothes. I've packed a few short-sleeve salwar-kameez, couple of light-weight saris (seeing family in Mumbai first), some jeans, various shirts, and the rest long skirts. Also packed the standard toiletries and makeup bag. Oh yea, and undergarments - of course.

Still deciding on which shoes... I've been on a hunt [obsession] for good travel shoes for awhile.

Here is hubby's non-apparel list to me:

Books to read - paper and electronic
Breakfast bars
Toilet paper (the Indian ones may be too rough for you) (I love that he knows this!)
Wet wipes
Hand sanitizers (if we are out)
Soap (for bathing and cleaning our clothes; we can use the same soap)
Band aid

Here is the additional things I came up with:
birth control pills
compression socks
easy snacks to eat when taking BCPs
anti-bacterial wipes
small flashlight
Gatorade/hydration power packets (thanks SKhan!!!) 
extension cord?
dry fruits/nuts
microwave popcorn
notebook (to record journey AND to keep copy of receipts/expenses) 
money - dollars and Rupees
hair brush (it weird how often I forget this) 

Stupid BCPs

It's official: my back really freaking hurts. Like worst-period-in-the-world hurts. For days now. I've come to the conclusion, based on other "girl problems", that this is the result of taking BCP*. Oh joy. My body wants my period to start and we are artificially postponing it. It's like a freaking war.

Let me back up a bit. Because my period decided to start early 2 months in a row, we had to change when I start my BCPs. Especially since plane and hotel reservations had already been booked for IVF treatment to start in India. What this means is that I had to start BCP a week later AND have to continue with active pills for 28 days instead of 21 days. Yep - I knew my body would LOVE this roller-coaster.

When I was 15 my OB/GYN put me in birth control to help with severe period problems. Unfortunately, most of the time it created more issues. Over the years we tried various kinds, and I think we finally found one that worked, but then I stopped taking BCP and by the time I went back on we couldn't remember which one was the one that caused the least amount of symptoms. Pile on top my ADD** and I would forget to take my pills all the time, causing my period to be everlasting. Wheeeeeeeee! Needless to say, it's been awhile since I have taken BCPs.

So for the last few days I've been dealing with ever-increasing back pain. Having had cryoblation uterine surgery several years ago, this is one of the symptoms that I have not had to deal with much until recently. (I say recently because as my uterine lining has begun to grow back, so has my symptoms have begun to return in increasing degrees.) Nothing like this back pain though; it's been a good 5 years since I've had to deal with this. Holy crap. Any time I take a deep breath it's even worse. Basically I'm walking around not wanting to breath: no fun.

Add on the lovely headache and nausea I now feel every night and I am a barrel full of monkeys good time.
Wine would probably help, but I'm really trying to not drink right now before my IVF treatment. Plus I've only been awake for an hour...Drinking all day probably isn't the best plan for me right now.

I've  tried yoga and back massages (thanks hubby!!!) to no avail. Maybe some Ibubrofen will help. That used to give me some relief. Unfortunately it will do nothing for my tiredness, headache, and nausea that will come later today. Blerg. Given my propensity of having side effects with medicines, I'll bet my IVF treatment is going to be a hootenanny.

*BCP stands for birth control pills
** I still use the older term ADD to differentiate from the hyperactivity symptom most commonly associated with ADHD. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

this does not install confidence...

UPDATE ON STORY on 06/03/2012. See at bottom. 

My husband casually mentioned to me as he stepped out of the shower this morning, some news from his sister.  Apparently there was a some sort of mix-up at our clinic. At least I think it was our clinic...Not exactly sure. That's how these things sometimes go.

What was this oh-by-the-way casual mix-up? Apparently a couple went to India and the first try for a baby was unsuccessful. They went back a few months later and the second try was successful. They also found out the the first try was "whoops", successful after all. So they will be having 2 kids a couple of months apart, so sorry about the mess-up on the first. WAIT WHAT???

 "Was it IVF or surrogacy? Wait I don't think that's even possible with IVF. Couldn't even imagine what the meds might due to a growing fetus. How could they miss a pregnancy in the first one? Don't they do blood tests AND scans?" blahhhhhh blahhhhh blahhhhhh, my mouth continues on a rampage of questions/statements that I have no control over stopping. I could tell by my husbands expression that he just realized that his "interesting story" was horrifying to me. And not because of 2 babies (which is probably what he thought was pretty cool about it.)  I have to keep myself calm knowing that the story is being relayed through several people and I will be able to ask our doctor about it face-to-face in 10 days. I wouldn't be shocked if it wasn't our clinic. And by that I mean "I really hope it isn't our freaking clinic or I may loose it."

Sigh. In my determination to hunt down the facts (he told me his sister read it in a news story in India) I reach out to my ever faithful Google. Except apparently Google is a whore today because she is MIA on this news story. She does, however, give me snippets of more bad news: a surrogate mother dies in her 8 month. I am thankful that it was not my clinic, but it still saddens me greatly. Yes I know that women die in childbirth, and one of the big reasons I chose the place I chose was due to my concerns for the surrogate mother, but this is still upsetting. Her poor kids and family.

I am further upset because I read related articles and the follow up comment section (always a big mistake). It appears that this news story has inspired many to write about how surrogacy exploits the poor women of India. Suspiciously missing is the [objective] reporting that talks about good clinics. Or even how these same women are exploited every day of their lives in grueling working conditions when not acting as a surrogate. How being a surrogate gives a possibility of changing this for them. Or how it's not exploiting when western women act as surrogates. On and on.

I furiously start typing all of this in a comment section where the only previous comments are negative to surrogacy (including the authors). I click on a link and realize I have just erased 30 minutes of pondering and typing as the link does not open in a new page, but instead uses the same. It's just as well. People don't want to think about the bigger picture. It's much easier to criticize than to research or even think about the bigger issues with poverty. Never mind they don't mention that regulation would help get rid of the bad clinics and help insure surrogates would be in the best care. Never-mind that... oh just never mind. I'm exhausted. I'm tired of ignorance.

Dr. Nayna Patel sets up a fund (required for IPs to pay into) that helps educate surrogates with trade and language skills. They are allowed to access this during and post surrogacy. She helps the women set up bank accounts in their own name and guides them in a multitude of ways. She is thought of as a hero in her community because of all she does for her surrogates and their children. She helps women have a chance out of poverty. What are all the critics doing??? Besides typing their ignorance time and time again? Usually pontificating with little information.

Ok, so this has officially turned from story to rant. Sigh. 6 more days until I leave for India. I better get off the computer and get some things done.

UPDATE: Spoke with the sister today and it turns out there was no mistake. A couple used 2 different surrogates and both got pregnant with twins. Shew. I didn't even bother to ask if it was our clinic as no mistake was made.