Friday, June 25, 2010

We're On Our Way (we think)

Yesterday’s promise was too good to be true. Late last week SI determined that our next embryo transfer would take place on June 24. Amazingly, that day is also our three year wedding anniversary. Was it actually true that the first day of our embryos’ lives in utero would be on the same date their parents married? That had to be a good luck sign, right?

Well Geoff and I felt the cheery, positive thoughts slowly slip away as the 24th passed without any correspondence from the doctors. No call, no email, no text, nothing. Sadly, the anxiety of waiting to hear an update overcame any desire to celebrate our anniversary. Did the transfer actually happen? Did both of our embryos (we only froze two) thaw successfully? Is R ok? Is anybody on our side in India? It wasn’t until midnight (Friday the 25th in Mumbai) that we finally caught up with the doctors. I’m not up for reliving it but, bottom line, the thawing process started late on the 24th, the IVF doctor felt it was best for the transfer wait until the 25th (to ensure the embryos were fully recovered and healthy), and - because of the hour - SI didn’t get around to notifying us. Moving past our annoyance, the take home message was that we had to be patient a bit longer.

At the crack of dawn this morning we received an email with some good news. Our two embryos survived the thaw and were in very good shape. One embryo is an eight cell, grade one and the other embryo is a four cell, grade one. We still don’t have actual confirmation that the transfer took place (of course!) but this part of the process is fairly straightforward so we’re going with the no news is good news theory until we hear back.

It's all very ironic. When we were in Mumbai for our first attempt we very much wanted to be home to share the news of the transfer with our families. Now that we're home for this second attempt we both couldn’t resist wishing we were in Mumbai to see everything through and to wish R lots of rest with her feet up.

Anyway, here we are, back again in the nail-biting, two week wait (we think). Fingers crossed!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Take Two

One of the toughest parts about writing a blog dedicated solely to our surrogacy experience is that events don't unfold into neat little chapters. For example, two full months were spent simply awaiting R's recovery from our first attempt - give or take, a woman's body needs about two cycles to return to "normal". Since Shannon and I want to spare our readers talk about other topics, much of this time wasn't very newsworthy. (Which is just as well as this time off from the surrogacy world was a welcome respite.)

Emotionally, the down time still saw a lot of action. Optimism takes effort; pessimism is easy. Well meaning friends correct our 'if we have a baby' comments with 'not if, when', not-so-coincidentally spotlighting how such comments come from those with their own children, not the childless. Don't get me wrong, positive attitudes are absolutely preferable and our friends mean only the best. Nevertheless - and maybe this is a guy speaking - optimism needs a little realism. Shannon and I are trying very hard to take everything in stride, hoping for the best while expecting, well, perhaps it's best said that we're not expecting anything. Whatever happens, happens.

And new things are starting to happen. As we wrote in our last post, we'll be working with R for our second attempt. To that end, R was put through a mock cycle. In a mock cycle the surrogate is given a round of IVF meds to prepare her for the implantation of embryos. However, no transfer occurs. Rather, this is just a test run whose objective is to measure the quality of the carrier's uterine blood flow and thickness of the uterine lining (the endometrium) to be sure her body is ready and able to get pregnant.  I confess the purpose of this run with R is not overly clear to me. R is not an unknown variable - she has never had trouble in the past - and, because embryo thawing occurs on the day of transfer, it's never too late to stop the process if R's body isn't ready. Ironically, we're going to put this theory to test because R caught a cold during her mock cycle and couldn't complete it anyway. SI's doctors felt her progress up 'til that point had been perfectly normal and advised we just proceed as if she passed the mock cycle with flying colors.

Give or take a wrinkle in preparation, our next embryo transfer will take place in the third to fourth week of June. We're back!

Shannon and I have been drowning SI in questions after requesting that they be more proactive and free with information. So far, so good. Dr. Sudhir acknowledged occasions during which his agency could have performed better and has promised to work harder to keep us informed and in the loop. It's still early so we reserve judgment but it's been a good start. This includes their confronting and discussing rumors about the reliability of the IVF Center that SI uses. We'd heard some lousy things about that Center's top physician from first-hand witnesses but SI has assured us - quite logically - that it wouldn't be in their best interest to associate themselves with an unreliable IVF clinic. We were told that a mix of facts, rumors and disinformation from competing agencies stirred the pot.

Ultimately, what can we do? We're thousands of miles away and early on had come to terms with the fact that we would be relinquishing control to and investing trust in SI. This clinic issue is an example of where our trust was put to the test. To date, however, SI has not given us reason for doubt; they have a really good track record (as does the IVF clinic, by the way). Plus, we're already committed. It's a shame this extra-curricular garbage demands any of our attention as we've enough on our plate. However, though there are examples of couples whose India surrogacy experiences have been virtually flawless, I'm thinking Shannon and I are a bit more typical. Not everything goes as planned, is predictable or problem free.

We never consciously expected otherwise. And despite it all, here we are two weeks or so from a second attempt. Having gone through this all once before, we're old pros who'll surely take it all in stride. (Welcome to the 'lying to ourselves' section of this entry.) Oh, we're just making babies in India - how was your weekend?