Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Meeting

Our second full day here in Mumbai is a day that Geoff and I will remember for the rest of our lives.  After breakfast and a stroll on Juhu Beach we got ready for the big moment – meeting our surrogate. Our driver picked us up and we sat in typical Indian traffic for roughly 45 minutes before arriving at a different hotel where another SI couple was staying. Together we then visited Hiranandani Hospital, the birthing hospital we will be utilizing if we are lucky enough to get pregnant. Heena, another SI assistant, met us there and introduced us to a doctor who took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the birthing facilities. To appearances it’s different from the state-the-art hospitals we’re accustomed to, but I’m thrilled to report it’s clean and closer to the standards we are used to. While there we had the great pleasure of meeting another SI couple who are here to pick up their twin boys! Congrats Todd and Alper and best wishes to you both!

After visiting Hiranandani Hospital, we eagerly headed back to the SI offices.  Soon after arrival, we proceeded into a semiprivate room where our carrier, “R” was seated with her husband and an attorney named Amit who would facilitate the contract signing. We anxiously shook hands and offered the most sincere smile two people could offer. Amit explained the contract and then tried his best to cut the nervous tension by joking with Geoff and me about how this signing process is similar to a house closing as in both instances you sign a slew of papers. The formal signing took only a few minutes after which Amit opened it up to all of us to communicate. R was shy, extremely soft spoken and reserved. Beautiful is an understatement, with eyes and a smile as innocent and sincere as you can imagine.  She was dressed in a traditional Indian sari and wore gold chandelier earrings, a matching necklace and a small piercing in her nose. (Apparently, in most of India, women prefer to wear gold jewelry - with the exception of an Indian state named Rajasthan where silver is preferred.)  Her left hand was delicately decorated with Indian henna tattoos which I meant to comment on but just couldn’t remember in the thick of it.  Her husband understood some English, supposedly unusual for a lower caste family, and in true Indian culture showed more eye contact then she.  He appeared to be very supportive, aware of the implications of this process and very much a part of it. We were extremely happy for confirmation that R would not be on her own.

The process was a bit awkward but incredibly exciting and inspirational. The emotions of gratitude that we felt in her presence were beyond overwhelming. We are meeting the woman who will hopefully, very soon, be carrying our child – oh my god! I was so nervous. My legs were shaking uncontrollably and my heart pounded so loudly I thought for sure R would hear it. With my hormones at their height coupled with the intensity of meeting her, I couldn’t help but cry. I tried to hold back, but simply couldn’t. The SI assistants standing at the ready quickly came to my rescue with tissues and bottled water, patting my hands. Amit hugged me and told me it’s okay to cry. He explained to R and her husband that they were tears of joy and relief as we’ve waited a long time to finally meet them.

Through translation, we wanted them to know that her well being and health is our main concern. Their head nodding confirmed they understood. Aside from answering a few of our questions and asking us what nationalities we are, they didn’t have much to say. R's timidness didn’t go unnoticed and we didn’t want it to be any more uncomfortable then it already was, so as directed, we quickly moved back into the space where Doctors Sudhir and Yash were waiting for all of us. The doctors were very happy for us to finally be in this moment, to be sitting with our surrogate and moving forward with the process.

The doctors translated a few questions we had for R and let her and her husband know that we would always consider them part of our extended family. Geoff and I did struggle to express our thanks. This simple couple from the streets of Mumbai would be tied to us for the rest of our lives through this amazing act of sacrifice. What can you say? To complete our visit we gave them some gifts we’d brought along for them and their two sons. We had purchased a Lego set for each son and some Playdough.  We gave the husband a foam baseball and bat for use with the boys and much to our surprise, he knew what they were. Funny thing….as Dr. Sudhir was explaining to him that baseball is a very popular sport in America, the husband nodded and in the middle of his native response, we heard him say “ESPN”.  Not sure where he’d seen it, but he was spot on. (Gift selection was challenging, particularly for the father. What would be suitable for a low caste Indian father? We settled on something he could use with his children thinking, well, baseball is a lot like cricket – which is popular in India - but novel enough to be unique in their neighborhood.) Except for the baseball and bat, all of the gifts were in pretty gift bags with coordinating tissue paper and ribbon.  Geoff thought it might be awkward for the couple to walk home with these technicolor bags but in my family, gift presentation deserves its own attention. R’s gifts were in a hot pink, polka dot bag (of course!) and her eyes lit up in amazement.  Understandably, she preferred to wait until she got home to open it, but inside was a pretty necklace and matching bracelet for her, some girly things (eye shadow, lip gloss and nail polish), a body cream set and a journal for her to write her thoughts in while she’s carrying for us. We’re hoping they will enjoy the gifts and were pleased with our selections. They collected their gifts, shook hands with us once more and then went on their way.

Prior to our leaving the clinic another SI couple arrived to say hello. Stan and his wife were two days away from going home to New York with their new daughter Daniella. (Geoff had actually spoken with Stan on the phone more than once as we researched our India clinic options. He was a fantastic resource.) We held the adorable newborn for a few stolen moments and then said our goodbyes through hugs and handshakes. Congrats to the happy couple!

That evening, the doctors took Geoff and I out to dinner at the restaurant Jamavar in the amazing five star Leela Hotel, where we enjoyed authentic Indian cuisine from both Northern and Southern India. It was a fun night and a great privilege to have one-on-one time with the doctors, getting to know one another beyond the x’s and o’s of surrogacy. It was a great night after a full day. We collapsed into bed once we got back to our room.


  1. Great Post Shan!! I will never forget our meeting with our Surrogate. We had no idea what to say or do. We were also suffering from Jet Lag (We met her on our second day in Mumbai) Our surrogate was so Beautiful and her husband was supportive. The SI doctors are the best! They are always on top of everything. I am so happy that you two are finally at the this stage. This time next year you will be looking back and saying WOW! We did it!! Good Luck to you both as you have some very important steps here in the next few days. We are both thinking of you. Best of luck and remember that you are going to be awesome parents!!

  2. It was such a pleasure to meet both of you and share our experiences with each other. I am glad your meeting with your surrogate and her husband went so well -- it sounds very similar to our experience. As Greg mentions, the SI team are great and really do genuinely care about you and helping your dreams come true. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any help or advice along the way. Best wishes for the momentous days ahead of you and I truly hope you are back here soon for the same reasons we are!