Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Wishes

I can't believe it has been four weeks since our last post! Life remains busy, and blessed. Today is our birthday and we have so much to be thankful for - our friends, our family, our health - the simple fact that we have the financial resources to continue our pursuit for a family. Steve awoke me this morning as he does every morning - by laying my robe at my feet, kissing me and telling me he loves me, but today he added 'Happy Birthday!' - to which I replied the same. He is the love of my life and thank God I am the love of his. My mom arrives from Texas this evening for a long stay and I couldn't be more excited to see her. We haven't seen her since May so this visit is long overdue.

We are cycling again now - with our third egg donor - using the same surrogate from cycle #2. We really want this to work for this particular surrogate and her family as much as we want it for ourselves. Embryo transfer should be in about 3 weeks with pregnancy test at the end of January. We are waiting for the suppression scan results which will tell us how our donor is doing - we went with a first time donor because we just felt good about her. If there is one thing that is evident, there is no definitive way to predict the success of a, we went with the one with the big brown eyes, beautiful smile and bone structure that had 'confidence' spelled out from ear to ear. The egg donor selection process has been the toughest part of this journey - at least for me. Falling in love with the idea of these women being our baby's biological mother and then having to let go of that notion and fall in love all over again, and now again - this has been challenging.

For all those, like us, in pursuit of parenthood - a short story of inspiration. My dear friend Tandy, whom I've known for over 20 years, called me this week. Her and her husband are spending their first Christmas with their adopted son Jake - he was born in July of this year through an open adoption. A quick run down of their 10+ year journey to Jake: 8 failed IVF self cycles and multiple miscarriages, followed by 2 donor egg cycles including one miscarriage and three attempts with donor eggs and surrogacy (all negative). Then, last fall, they were to adopt a child through an open adoption. The baby was born, given to them and they returned to their hotel to begin the state mandated, 7 day 'waiting period' - during which time the birth mother can 'change her mind' - which she did. On day 2, they drove the baby back to the birth mother and returned home to Dallas, devastated. Then, finally, this past July, Jake arrived. Her call to me was to tell us that we 'should never give up on our dream'.

I love following all our fellow bloggers' stories - some have news coming soon (fingers crossed, you know who you are) - others have crossed into the second or third trimester! Your stories keep our dreams alive. Thank God for this network of cyber-support. We all have our stories - some filled with more drama, some with less - but, the one thing that is consistent is that those with babies are the ones who were relentless in their pursuit. Good luck again to all waiting for a 'positive'. We are sending you love and baby dust.

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a fabulous 2010!

Terry and Steve

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On To Chapter 3

I've had a week to get comfortable with the idea.

On Monday, Dr Shivani called to tell me there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound - at 6 weeks, 5 days - since egg retrieval. We agreed to wait until Saturday (which was yesterday) just to be sure. Again, no heartbeat.

I was away on an extended, 8 day business trip when the news arrived Monday. The timing was rotten for Steve and I to be apart, but we managed to support one another via phone. Steve is always positive and rarely dwells on disappointments, but this time around I could tell he was having a hard time. He held onto hope all week.

It would be really easy to feel sorry for ourselves - super easy. I can't lie and say we haven't asked aloud 'why'. At the end of the day, though, there are a ton of people in the world facing far greater difficulties than this - it is important to keep perspective. We are strong and so is our relationship. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we also knew we were in it for the long haul. So, we will keep trying.

I feel so badly for our surrogate, but Dr Shivani assures me she is doing well. We will now wait for her to be prepared for another cycle. Remarkably, this will likely happen within 5 weeks or so. Given that we didn't have any embryos frozen (same story in both our 2 cycles), we will be selecting a new egg donor.

So, there you have it. Not great news to report, but we are doing just fine and feeling very positive. I do wish we had a crystal ball though - so we could see how long this journey will take - but, as I said in the last post...Patience.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


'...the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset.'

It's Sunday, which means my brain has finally gotten a break from its normal modus operandi - overdrive. I love Sunday - we relax, we cook, we spend time in our outdoor spaces, we go to bed early. It is also a time when I try and sort through emotions and bring some clarity to how I'm feeling about our 'here and now'. No, I am not that deep a person - I promise! I just like to try and find some sense of peace before beginning a new week. Attending mass helps, but we, admittedly, do not make it to mass each and every Sunday. We are going later this morning for a much needed chat with God.

Now, neither of us are patient people. We could both be described as 'annoyed' or 'upset' when faced with a 'delay' definition, impatient. So, perhaps, this is a good starting point for priming the upcoming week. I read recently that, as humans, we under-value or 'discount' future reward in favor of a more immediate, short term reward. In baby-making terms, we are so focused on all the benchmarks/tests/hurdles that we lose sight of the future reward! We want a healthy baby - for a lifetime! So, that has to be the focus.

I would say we are getting better at this way of thinking. I have said this before in other postings - I do not like to wait for anything - I always pay for over night shipping! So, perhaps this baby journey is the ultimate life lesson in self improvement.

We received word from Dr Shivani yesterday that drives this point home even further. Our first ultrasound was not great news. The ultrasound done at 5w2d did show a gestational sac, but it was measuring at 4w2d - one week behind. It could be a late implantation or could be an early miscarriage. We have another ultrasound in one week - at 6w2d. If there is no fetal pole at that time, then we will have our answer. We were so incredibly disappointed yesterday, but we have to keep things in perspective.

This journey is filled with highs and lows. If you go back and read others' blogs from start to finish, you will be amazed with the range of emotions - one day on top of the world, the next day in the depths of depression. At the end of the day, you either embrace your own personal life experience and try to learn from it, or you drive yourself completely and totally nuts! All along the way, we've managed to do a little of both. At the present, though, we are doing more of the former - embracing and learning - both about ourselves and the way we react to disappointments. God knows it is not easy, but we are trying our best.

We are not ready to give up on this pregnancy just yet, but we are also prepared for a potential disappointment and prepared for it to be just that - disappointing, not devastating. Been there, done that.

Here's to keeping your eye on the future, long-term reward and not getting hung up in despair along the way...

Friday, October 30, 2009


We jumped from 40 to 105!!! It doubled 1 1/2 times in under 48 hours. So, feeling a bit more relaxed today. Thank you again for all the wonderful, supportive emails and blog postings.

Our first ultrasound is next week.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

(+) Chapter 2


I just got off an airplane and had a message from Dr Shivani. We just spoke and she gave me the news. Our beta is a little on the low side - 40 - so she is taking another blood test on Friday and will phone with the results. Let's pray it doubles!!

Deep breaths...

I cannot begin to express how much the support from so many of you has meant to us. It is so reassuring to know you have so many people cheering you on and wishing you well. Overwhelming.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The date of our pregnancy test.

One week from Wednesday, 11 days, 12 nights.

We transferred 4 Grade A embryos to our surrogate today. Steve is convinced this is 'our time'. I'm not sure what to think. I know we've 'stacked the deck' - we have used a proven egg donor who is 22 years old and we have a surrogate with the most positive aura I could imagine. We transferred 4 Grade A's! Odds are very much in our favor, but the thing with odds is that there are no perfect odds...

Truth be told, I am feeling pretty positive about the outcome myself. The reality is this: you worry about getting a positive, then you worry about the hCG blood test rising, then you worry about getting to 12 weeks, then you worry about the triple marker, then you worry about.....

And you worry when you send them off to college. We've embarked on a lifetime of worries and that's the reality. My mother called me this morning to make sure I made it to Washington DC safely - yes, another biz trip. She was, yes, worried. I am, yes, 41. Whether we are pregnant this round or the next or the time after that, the worries will never stop - they've only begun. So, I will vow to stay off Dr Google, focus on productive activities and let nature have her way.

Until 10/28...happy thoughts.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Three Days Till Egg Pick Up...

Quick Update on Our Egg Donor: Heard from the doctor that the donor had 10 follicles on the last ultrasound with a few days of meds left to go. Because she has donated multiple times, the doctor knows what to expect from her response to the meds. She was honest with me when we met about what to expect. She said, 'this donor produces very few eggs, but very good quality - you will not likely have any embryos left for freezing.' So, we have known all along that we would probably only have one attempt with this particular donor. That said, hearing there were 10 follicles with a few days remaining sounds like we will have a few embies to pick from for transfer...and with any luck, just maybe some for freezing. Good news. This donor has gone thru three cycles with Dr Shivani and all three resulted in live births or ongoing pregnancies, so the odds are definitely on our side.

Quick Update on Our Surrogate: Her lining was already at 8mm last week, with several days to go before transfer, so we are in great shape there too! Dr S has said that she is a 'very cooperative surrogate'- never complaining about anything and very compliant with taking her meds. Evidently some of the surrogates can be quite 'fussy' as the Dr put it. When I met her she had brought a small gift for the doctor as she had just been at the temple praying for a positive outcome. She has quit her job as of a month ago to focus on this full time so I know she wants this to work as much as we do!

Egg pick up is Wednesday this week, Oct 14th...Pregnancy test results on Oct 28th!

Here we go again...'two week wait'- here we come!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Plan B - We Have Dates!

I cannot believe it has been almost a month since my last posting. Time has passed so quickly since returning from Delhi. I have been so busy with work that there has been little time for anything else. After returning from Delhi I was in Miami for a lengthy trip, then to Wash DC, then to Boston. Now home for two weeks...whew! Steve has felt like a bit of a widower. Only yesterday, after hearing from Dr Shivani, did it hit us - 'Wow! We are actually doing this again!'

We had a bit of a delay as our surrogate was 'late' - almost 10 days late actually. All systems are 'go' now and the egg pick up is planned for approximately Oct 14 or 15 with a 2-day embryo transfer on either Oct 16 or 17 - barring any complications. So, that means pregnancy test results on Oct 30 or 31. All approximations, but it still feels good to look at a calendar and make this all more real.

What a difference a little time and a little experience makes. We are so much more relaxed this time around. We have few expectations - perhaps we will be fortunate or perhaps we will need to try again - either way, that is just fine. I think the most important thing is that we feel like there is a compassionate doctor - a half world away. Life experiences shape who we are - they shape our expectations and they shape our tolerance and they shape our priorities. Had we not had the experience with our last pregnancy - and clinic - then our expectations, priorities and tolerances would be quite different this time around. But, we did have our last experience and so, today, what means most is compassion, empathy, patience, kindness. Not that any of these things negate skill level, medical expertise or credentials - because they do not. But, bedside manner is priceless.

Selection of a medical practitioner is such a personal choice. Our experiences with these individuals are also very personal. I would like to think there is a productive way for all of us pursuing surrogacy in India to both share our journey publicly and also, safely, share of our personal experiences - past and present. I think it is wonderful that there are so many practitioners pioneering reproductive therapies in India. Choice is a beautiful thing! I guess what I am trying to say is this - share your experiences because they are yours to share and no one can take that away from you, but please think twice before attacking a clinic, doctor, agency or service provider simply for the sake of publicly airing a grievance. It does no one good. This is a difficult enough journey as it is and I think it is safe to say we all created these blogs and on-line friendships for support - so, let's support one another. Can we not accept that there are several reputable service providers and that all thing considered equal, what works for one IP may not work for the next - and that is OK?

Fall is in the air here in LA - the evenings and mornings are brisk. It is my favorite time of the year. It's funny how seasonality affects everything about our psyche. Life moves and feels differently with the change of each season - ever how slight the change in a temperate climate like ours. Even so, I wonder how it might feel to be pregnant now versus how it felt in the warmer, summer months. Quite different I expect. With pumpkins and then the December holidays, I suspect our entire experience will feel quite different this time around - and we are really, really excited about that!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Delhi Continued

I am in transit at Newark Airport and have a two hour layover. The jet lag is hitting me with a vengeance and I still have another 6 hour flight to go! Did I mention tomorrow is a US federal holiday? Thank God.

A couple of additional notes regarding our upcoming cycle: Our cycle is actually planned for later this month. The good doctor uses a longer down regulation protocol to synchronize the donor and surrogate cycles, so we are just about 4 weeks away from transfer. We should have results in early October. The other key thing to note is that Dr Shivani was very clear about the number of embryos she would transfer - no more than 4 and ideally only 3. Quality, rather than quantity - another reason to feel good about her approach and conviction. Here is a shot I took of the doctor. Kathleen embarrassed her by immediately asking Dr S why she couldn't be my egg donor. LOL. Dr S blushed and said, 'Oh, no I'm afraid I am far too old'. Well, if we could only age so nicely!

For those traveling to Delhi, I wanted to share a bit about getting around, hotels and a day trip to the Taj if you dare. The airport is a far cry from the newly improved Mumbai version. It is definitely in need of a redo. Important also to note regarding departures - you absolutely must have a printed copy of your e-ticket receipt or they will not, under any circumstances, let you into the terminal building. I went thru this in Mumbai, but the security checked the flight manifest (which they had available), found my name and allowed me into the terminal. Not the case in Delhi. I had to go to the Continental ticket office which is an adjacent building and much to my dismay, the office was closed and padlocked! The next 30 minutes was a nightmare which ended with me having to pay off one of the military personnel to get into the building. Print your e-ticket receipt before heading to the airport!

Hotel: We had originally planned to stay outside the city at the Westin Sohna-Gurgaon Resort and Spa. It was supposedly only 60 km from the city and we thought it would be nice to relax and be away from the hustle and bustle. The property, as we had hoped, was amazing and the service outstanding, but getting there was nothing short of a nightmare. The roads were horrible and it took anywhere between 2-3 hours to get there - one way! It is also confusing because there is an area of the city called Gurgaon that is near the airport - full of corporate office complexes, and therefore business hotels. This hotel is NOT in Gurgaon - it is many kilometers south. After two days we moved to the Shangri-La in the city. Of the five star hotels, it was the only one that had a rate under Rs 10,000. We were very pleased with the property and the spa was outstanding. It is near to the India Gate and fairly centrally located. The traffic in Delhi is pretty unbearable and things are quite spread out - so, everything takes some time. From the hotel to the clinic with traffic took one hour - on another day, with no traffic, it took only 20 minutes. The only other hotel we checked out was The Park (on Parliament) and it was very worn, dirty in fact. Would not recommend that property - it looks very South Beach or Hollywood Modern in photos, but it is in major need of a facelift in person.

Food: We didn't plan to spend a ton of money on dining, but we had been told that Bukhara, at the ITC Maurya, was famous for being one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. We had lunch there - and it carried a $100 price tag for two - but it was our one splurge and well worth it. The food and service were amazing. We also had a meal at Daniel's (also Indian) at the Imperial Hotel (short walk from the Shangri-La) and it too was good - dinner for two was $60.

Taj Mahal: I would recommend flying. We drove. We left at 6am and it took about 3 hours to get there. We headed back at 1pm and didn't arrive back at the hotel until 7pm - 6 hours in traffic. We were both about to go mad. We negotiated a flat rate of 12.5 INR per km so the trip only cost about $140 USD. Parashar's colleage in Delhi is Anshul and he had arranged a docent to meet us. For Rs 250 he spent two hours taking us thru every detail of the history. I tipped him an additional Rs 1000. He also helped us navigate the onslaught of hawkers and beggars upon arrival. It is easy to say in hindsight that it was worth the drive, but it was brutal. The Taj Mahal, however, is like a mirage - beautiful. Pictures do not do it justice and it must be seen in person to fully appreciate its beauty. It is a moving experience.

Steve and I have laughed that he will never see it unless we airlift him and drop him by parachute, so I'm glad I can go ahead and check it off my list of things to see before I die.

And, to close, a shot of what keeps Steve busy when I'm away - Raleigh (left) and Bennett (right). Raleigh is our new Yorkie who came from Max's breeder. It is hard when you have loved a dog like we loved Max to have another of the same breed. Lucky for us, Raleigh has his own unique personality - and Bennett has taken quite a liking to him.

They are the best of friends.

And Steve is a really good daddy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reflections on Delhi

What a week. It has been a long five days and I am definitely ready to go home, but I feel good, really good. So good, in fact, that I felt our blog needed some color - presto, a rack of brightly colored sarees hanging over a beautifully tiled floor - and a new title - 'pursuit' being the key word. Steve and I are so lucky to have found one another - in our pursuit of happiness and companionship - we hit the proverbial jackpot. In our pursuit for paternity, there is no doubt, we will again find fulfillment. There is no way of predicting when, how or under what set of circumstances, but believing is key - and we do believe - in Miracles and in God and in Karma. We will reach our goal. No doubt. I fly home to LA tonight - with a renewed optimism.

Steve again stayed behind in LA to mind the house, dogs, yard, etc. I figure since he is going to be staying home and caring for our children, the least I can do is handle the leg work. Truth be told, I know the traffic here is going to drive him nuts and I'd rather spare myself the anxiety until we come for baby pick up. My mother did not raise a dummy. Not really wanting to travel alone again however, I easily lured my friend Kathleen into making the trek alongside - I dangled a day trip to the Taj Mahal as a carrot and she bought it - hook, line and sinker. She is so exhausted today. There is no real way to prepare someone for their time in India. Until you experience it first hand, it cannot be described. I love it and hate it all at once - it is both beautiful and disturbing. We were fortunate that Parashar set up his Delhi team to provide 24/7 support - from airport to hotel to clinic to tourist attractions - they have been terrific. If anyone needs the email contact for 'Your Man in India' - please let me know. The prices are reasonable and their services are priceless.

OK, back to the reason I am here. The baby making. Well, Dr Shivani who works with Phoenix Hospital in Delhi is our newest hope for bringing home a baby. I feel good about her at every level. She is responsive, kind and 'western' in her approach. I am happy to share as much as anyone likes via private emails. She is, simply put - a class act.

Synopsis: I met the surrogate, her husband and the social worker. I signed the contracts - clear and concise. I was provided detailed information about our egg donor. I learned that our surrogate will move into the surrogate house immediately upon testing positive for pregnancy - both at doctor's urging and by her own will. Payments to the surrogate are transparent - they are clearly outlined in the contract - I have full visibility to what she is being paid versus what the doctor is being paid - contractually - no secrets. The surrogate is paid monthly as long as she remains pregnant. If she miscarries in month 3, we pay for only 3 months - unlike Mumbai where you pre-pay and then cross your fingers and toes that the pregnancy continues. Oh, and I have saved the best for last - weekly email updates from the doctor herself! . She thinks it is ridiculous that this is a novel concept.

Details on our egg donor: She is 22 and has cycled 3 times with Dr Shivani and 2 times with another doctor. With Dr Shivani she has produced 3 positive pregnancies in her 3 cycles - one triplet, full term birth (not a surrogate, a private couple), one singleton birth and one ongoing pregnancy. She completed high school and has completed advanced studies as well. We couldn't be happier.

Trips back to India: Well, hopefully there will be only one trip back - to pick up baby(ies). Multiple samples of sperm have been frozen and the doctor has assured me that if we fail one or two more times, she will handle updating contracts (even changing of surrogates) through the mail. This is a huge relief - both in terms of travel expense and my sanity. We have made financial arrangements that will allow us to attempt 3 more times if needed.

I will post again soon with photos and more details about our time in Delhi. It has been a great visit.

Thank God Monday is a US holiday - I am certainly going to need it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New Day

Since my last posting, I have had a very amicable email exchange with the docs at Rotunda. I wrote that last post with no hidden agenda - there were things that needed to be written and Steve and I needed to share them and move on. Much to my surprise I received a rather detailed apology - acknowledgment - validation. I actually cried and shook reading the email. As important as it was for us to share our past experience, it is equally important to share this. The group at Rotunda are trying to make improvements and are adding staff - there was acknowledgment that what is really lacking more than communication is 'sensitivity'. The apology was heartfelt and I can say with all sincerity that there is at least one person in that operation that I will remain in contact with - I have promised to send a baby photo to this person - and that I will do. All in good time. I thank them for everything.

Plan B. We never knew what Plan B was going to be. We knew there would be one if needed and a Plan C, D, E...fortunately for us, Plan B has come together quite simply. We are very excited to report that we are moving forward quickly with a new clinic, doctor, egg donor and surrogate. I fly out to Delhi this coming Sunday. I am going to be touring the hospital, signing the legals, meeting the surrogate and leaving some of my DNA in the freezer...enough for Plan B, C, D, E...just in case. We cycle in just a few weeks time.

Given that I haven't been to the clinic yet, I can't share much. I can tell you my perceptions - every egg donor profile we received showed, at minimum, a 12th grade education and the doctor signed the first email 'I look forward to meeting you'. That's just about the touchiest, feeliest email I have received from India to date - aside from the aforementioned apology.

Sign me up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Time to Regroup

It has been almost a week now. A couple of sleepless nights. A new plan. More on that in a future post.

A few things that I want to share and then closing this chapter and moving onto the next. First of all, we do not blame anyone for this outcome. We know in our hearts that this baby was simply not healthy enough to carry on. Yes, we are saddened, disappointed and to some extent disheartened, but we have to keep trying. And we will keep trying...not with the same clinic however.

Now, nothing magically changed in our relationship (with the clinic) with the arrival of this news. In fact, the handling of the miscarriage was a mirror image of the 4 months leading up to this event. After several days of thinking, one thing is clear - when you want something from a relationship, you focus on the positive - halo effect of sorts. You recognize the challenges, but you choose to focus on the positive. That is my best characterization. In this relationship, the communication was poor - at times non-existent. It drove me (particularly me more than Steve) crazy! I have written about this more times than I can count. The workload of the small team in this clinic is immense and I am amazed they manage to deliver the service they do today.

If we had carried this baby to term, we would have still said the communication was horrible, but we would have been much more forgiving. I do see attempts to improve. For example, when you email the clinic today, you will receive an auto responder that advises a 48 hour response and direction if you do not receive a response in that time frame. Yes, this is an improvement. I hope continued progress is made. With so many successes to date, they know what they are doing when it comes to assisted reproductive medicine. There is no denying that. If the service component were improved, the total package would be incredible.

So, in closing, we find that moving forward with this particular clinic is both cost prohibitive (2/3 of the surrogacy fees are non-refundable, as per the contract, in a 1st trimester miscarriage) and emotionally prohibitive. I am just not the type that can go weeks on end with no news about my unborn child - just can't handle it. Maybe that's my issue, so I'll 'own' that one. There's no easy way to write this last part and not sound bitter, but it needs to be written - we did not receive one update from the clinic between the 7 week scan and the notification of the miscarriage (5 weeks exactly) and the news of the did we learn of this loss?

In an email.

Chapter closed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Not really sure how to write this one...

All I can say is, we are ok. Our surrogate miscarried yesterday. It was 12 weeks to the date of conception and she was already scheduled for an ultrasound. She began bleeding severely and when they performed the ultrasound her uterus was empty.

I am sure we are in a little shock, but at the same time, we know that God takes care of unhealthy babies this way - and there is tremendous reassurance in that.

We have some decisions to make now as to where we go from here. We had just sent the final payment to Rotunda so I have to see how much of a credit we will have with them before any further plans can be made.

Rest assured, we will keep trying.

Much Love,
Terry and Steve

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here and Now

No baby news - yes, I will repeat it again as I do every day - this is good news. We are nearing the end of the first trimester.

One thing that has been on my mind recently is how often we 'wish our lives away' - watching the minutes tick off in a difficult meeting or, as in our case, wishing the next six months would pass more quickly so our baby would be in our arms. It is a great challenge to slow down and live in the 'now' - a great one indeed. I ran across this article today that really illustrates how much we could all benefit by slowing down a bit and appreciating the 'here and the now'. Take notice of something special today that you might otherwise be inclined to let pass you by - it might surprise you. Enjoy.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007…

A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds – then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 Minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw the money into the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 Minutes later: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pulled him along and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for any significant amount of time. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common-place environment, at an inconvenient hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made....

How many other things are we missing?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Worry No More, At Least for Now

Things here are oddly normal. It feels like we've been moving at warp speed for a few months now and all of a sudden we are both, um, well, calm. I am a worrier. Got it from my mother's side of the family - all a bunch of crazy worriers. I worry about everything. Suddenly, I am not worried - about anything. That doesn't mean, however, that my brain is not on overdrive, because I can assure everyone, it is.

I am always on the road - have been my entire career - but I have been home since returning from Chicago in mid-June. I can honestly say this is probably the longest I've gone without traveling, ever. I think I really needed the time with Steve to process what is happening. What is happening? Well, lots of's a short list of things that fall into the category of 'things you consider after conceiving'...

  • Your own mortality
  • Your relationship with your parents
  • Things you said and/or did to your parents growing up - good, bad and indifferent
  • Your savings account
  • Your healthcare plan
And lots of subsets of topics relating back to the five above. It's really strange to shift, at 41 years of age, from considering only yourself and your partner, to suddenly considering an entire other person - who will be around (God willing) the rest of your life - and will be reliant on you! Not an earth shattering concept as we didn't go into this with blinders on, but holy crap! Which takes me to a short list of things that you 'consider less and less after conceiving'...

  • Planning a globe trotting holiday (a few examples might include Mardi Gras in Sydney, Halloween in New Orleans or Gay Pride in San Diego - which we are missing this weekend I might add)
  • Monthly trips to Barney's in Beverly Hills to buy a new frock or boots
  • The impending end of car lease and the excitement of picking out the next version convertible to sport around West Hollywood
No, these things, although entertaining activities for the past several years have become less and less so and now, with much joy, have been replaced by, respectively...

  • A family vacation - driving with my parents in their RV (as they do in their new found retirement) to some place like, say, Montana or Wyoming or Maine - or, perhaps, Euro Disney
  • Monthly trips to Bel Bambini (cool store with anything and everything for babies) in West Hollywood where all the stars shop and we can basically afford nothing, but love to look and pretend - we have selected a very cool, daddy diaper bag from there though
  • An obsession with 'gently used' SUV's and Wagons - currently entertaining an Audi wagon, but it has become a nice past time to surf the net in search of the most utilitarian choice for a new born
Life is good - not worry free - but certainly the most peaceful place I've been in years. The joy that accompanies the conception and continued growth of an unborn child, our unborn child, is the most intense joy imaginable. My goal is to attempt to be as 'worry free' as possible for the next 30 or so weeks because I know my mother's genes kick in shortly thereafter and I will, officially, be in worry mode from then on!

We have had no news on the pregnancy which is just fine with me - 'no news is, after all, good news'. I know the monsoons in Mumbai have made it very difficult for the Indian residents to move about, so I just pray our surrogate and her family are safe and taking care of one another through the challenges this weather brings to Mumbai each summer.

Finally, I find myself thinking a great deal about all of those Intended Parents who have not yet conceived or who have lost their babies before they were 'full term'. It is a core prayer at mass each Sunday for me. There is a level of guilt that accompanies our 'celebration' when so many others' journies are not yet celebratory. I pray for understanding and acceptance for each of them and continued thanks for the positive things we've been blessed with thus far.

To all who are expecting or still attempting to conceive - thoughts, prayers and warm wishes are sent your way. Four babies (that I know of) were born in India this week to Intended Parents from North America. Congrats to the twin boys heading home to NYC and the two little girls who are headed home to NY and Canada. It is so cool to read these people's stories, day after day, and then see the happy ending. Amazing, and hopefully inspiring to those who are still trying, to keep trying and never give up on their dream. I know we won't, no matter the outcome of this pregnancy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Circle of Life

Well, we woke up to very good news today - ultrasound results - 'there is a single, well defined gestational sac in the uterus, a fetal pole is noted in this sac, fetal heart activity is present'. (Smile, sigh, cry, smile). For the first time, we are allowing ourselves to celebrate the reality that this now appears to be.

As I mentioned in my last post, we traveled to Las Vegas with Steve's mom for the weekend. While we were there we saw the stage production, musical version of Disney's 'The Lion King'. None of the three of us had seen the stage version - only the movie. There is a beautiful theme song - 'Circle of Life'. I'm sure most all are familiar as it was made quite famous by Elton John. The musical was terrific and I couldn't stop thinking about how much fun it would have been to have our child there with us. The whole 'circle of life' concept resonated with me after having visited the Krishna temple in Mumbai so I found myself very introspective about the whole concept.

One thing I haven't written about is something that brings on tears even as I type this. Steve and I lost the love of our life this past February - over four months ago now - our precious yorkie, Maxwell. This dog was super special - human-like, really - there was a connection with this little guy that cannot be explained. Both Steve and I have had other dogs and, in fact, lost a Maltese, Phoebe, a little over two years ago, but nothing has ever hurt either of us like the loss of Max. He was like a part of us. Maxwell passed away on February 27, 2009. It was about this time that we accelerated the process of pursuing surrogacy.

So, given how special Max was to us and how much we sought to fill this void, it shouldn't surprise us that the estimated due date (window), as per the ultrasound is February 23-28, 2010.

We are feeling very blessed this morning - a door closes and a window opens.

Maxwell (12.13.96 - 2.27.09)

Oh, and yes, we do have two new puppies for our baby to grow with, play with and love. A maltese/yorkie mix that just turned one and a yorkie (from Max's breeder) that will be one year old this October. Both are, a house full of boys, at least for now. Can't wait to see if we continue the male dominated theme or, perhaps, add a girl to the mix?!? Both sides of our family are all boys - no girl grandchildren on either side of the family - so, there is no doubt that all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and nephews would love a girl - but we will all just have to wait and see about that...I, personally, love surprises.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Well it is a 3 day holiday weekend here in the US and boy am I looking forward to a break from the daily grind. Steve's mom is visiting from Atlanta and she's never been to Vegas so we are taking her there for a couple of days. Certainly not a destination of choice for me - first of all, it is 102 degrees there at the moment and the drive (about 300 miles) can take 4-5 hours with traffic build up on a holiday weekend. I was just there for a trade show last month. Two months, back to back, in Vegas, sends shivers down my spine. I am, however, happy to see Steve's mom and she will love seeing all the lights and action for the first time - it is like nothing else you will ever see. So, off we go to the land of trashy people who spend too much, smoke too much and drink too much - Ugh. Every time I visit I wonder where the people come from - it is nothing short of bizarre.

Baby update:
We received the fourth, and final, beta results today. At 27 days past 3 day transfer (30 days past ovulation) we are only at 1860.

14 days past ovulation = 31
17 days past ovulation = 61
21 days past ovulation = 392
30 days past ovulation = 1860

We only doubled every four days since the last test. Maybe reason for concern, maybe not. The numbers have consistently been 'low', but also within the 'normal' range for the gestational age of the embryo. For example, for 3-4 weeks gestation, the 'normal range' according to Rotunda's laboratory is 1110-31500. We are at 1860 - 3.7 weeks since embryo transfer - within normal range.

The first ultrasound is scheduled for Monday. The ultrasound will show whether or not there is a yolk sac in the uterus and, if yes, whether or not there is an embryo present within the sac. They will also be testing to see if cardiac activity is present - and it should be at this stage. We expect the results when we awake on Monday morning. Anything is possible - people with high beta levels miscarry at this stage and people with low beta levels do as well. Only time will tell. All we know is that our levels have consistently fallen within the 'normal range' - albeit the low end of normal, but normal. At times we doubled every 1.5 days and at others every 4 days. Who knows?!?!

I will post on Monday once we get the ultrasound results. The docs say the surrogate is doing fine and has reported no problems or bleeding. This is good.

In the end, we want a healthy baby and we are willing to stay the course until we have just that - God willing the money holds out! We hope and pray this little one is growing and healthy, but if that is not the case, we fully embrace that God is at the wheel and whatever will be, will be. We both live a very faith based life and have prayed all along - not that we would have a baby, but that 'God's will' would be for us to have a baby and that we would be comforted in the fact that 'God's will be done'. Everything happens for a reason - we believe that whole heartedly and that is what keeps us going every day. If you say a prayer for us - we ask that you pray for our understanding and acceptance of the outcome rather than praying for a specific outcome. Understanding and acceptance is a wonderful gift. Thanks as always for all the warm wishes, thoughts and prayers.

Much love to our friends and family,
Terry and Steve

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No News IS Good News

And I have virtually no patience - I want everything now - immediate gratification - if it's not in stock, I have no intention of ordering it. It drives Steve crazy. If I must order it, I will always pay for overnight shipping. Just one little burden I bare in life. So, let me tell you how crazy the communication with India makes me - OMG!!! I knew it going in and I experienced the communication lags during the 'courtship' with the clinic and I read about it and continue to read about it on other blogs and forum boards. Several people have written that 'no news is good news' as it relates to getting updates from the clinic...and I think that is a very powerful statement, mindset and way of 'Indian, surrogate, pregnant life'!

For all of you out there with limited knowledge about IVF or the reproductive process in general, there are a series of hurdles - most critically in the first 12 weeks. The first is the Blood Hcg level tests - the first one is generally done at 14 days following egg retrieval and this tells you whether or not you are pregnant. It is essentially testing for an elevation in one particular female hormone. This hormone concentration in the blood should double every 48-72 hours in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. I could write an entire page on this topic, but let me just get to the point. So, there are vast ranges of 'normal' depending upon the week of gestation. Everyone insists the value itself (how high or low the number) is not significant, but the doubling of the value every 48-72 hours (or not doubling every 48-72 hours) is the earliest indicator of either a successful pregnancy or a potential miscarriage.

First Blood Hcg (called 'beta') @ 14 days past egg retrieval = 31 (normal range 16-156)
Second 'Beta' @ 17 days past egg retrieval = 61 (essentially doubled in 72 hours, so OK, barely)

INSERT my psychosis here. I went to this awful, crazy place I tend to go when I cannot control an outcome and it was ugly. We were to wait 4 days for the next update. Ugh. I even went so far as to email Rotunda on Sunday to confirm if we should expect the report by email on Monday morning, Tuesday morning or Wednesday morning. Prompt reply by one of the docs on Sunday afternoon - I was told to expect the report via email on Tuesday morning. So, I was thrilled when Tuesday morning finally arrived. This was a pretty critical benchmark.

No email arrived on Tuesday - I emailed them asking if there was a problem. No response.
No email arrived on Wednesday - I emailed them asking if there was a problem. No response.

The emailed report arrived, finally, on Thursday morning (today).
Third 'Beta' @ 21 days past egg retrieval = 392 (doubled almost 3 times in 4 days, very nice improvement, sigh of relief)

This blood was drawn on Monday of this week and the fourth test will be performed tomorrow, Friday. We are looking for the number to hopefully be at least 1500, at which time they will schedule the first ultrasound. This will verify that the embryo is actually attached in the uterine wall (rather than tubal) and that there is a yolk sac and fetal 'pole'. This will tell us if the pregnancy is viable - huge hurdle.

So, back to this communication 'problem'. It 'is what it is' - and I write this to share with anyone heading down this road with Indian Surrogacy. The clinics are busy - beyond busy - and they simply struggle to keep you informed. I honestly believe they are excellent practitioners of reproductive medicine, but could use a business manager! I saw first hand the sheer numbers of people coming thru the doors - I honestly don't know how they even manage to deliver the service levels that exist today. I can only imagine the number of emails that must go unanswered. I often times get emails from Dr Kaushal or Dr Gouri at 2 or 3am (India time)...often times.

So, I am quite certain the docs 'manage by exception' - meaning they deal with the most critical communications - often problems - first and then get to anything else that time allows. That is the only conclusion to draw. My neurosis over a blood test report was not the most pressing issue - keeping in mind one of their clients lost their twins this weekend at 24 weeks - which has saddened the entire Indian Surrogacy community.

'No news really is GOOD news'. I must remember that for the next eight months or else I might just lose it! So, I vow to repeat this to myself - and pray that the phone does NOT ring.

As an aside - I could have 'Skyped' them and spoken to a live person - and that was the plan should I have awoke to no email today - but I am reserving that right for a full flegded panic attack.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Yes, folks. We are pregnant!!!!! I will share more later, but I just hung up with Dr Kaushal and she said 'Congratulations!' I cannot begin to tell you how this feels - nothing short of unbelievable. Steve and I were both in tears on the phone.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who prayed for us and sent warm wishes and heartfelt thoughts our way. It has really kept us going the past two weeks.

Terry and Steve

Saturday, June 13, 2009

'New Delhi Belly' (via Mumbai)

My boss, who recently returned from a business trip to India shared this catchy phrase with me - 'New Delhi Belly' - cute name for a not so cute stomach situation that hit me about two days after returning to the US, from India. Good Lord. I cannot remember a time where I have spent more days and hours either on the toilet or over the toilet. The strange thing was that it came and went - along with a pretty high fever - every several hours - for several days. Just when I would think it was subsiding, along would come a headache (often times late in the day), followed by fever, followed by a poop-tastrophe. Not funny I can assure you.

I had to fly to Chicago last Tuesday and I knew it was going to be a dangerous journey, but off I went. I had a connecting flight and seriously considered deplaning and not continuing on to Chicago - that is how sick I had become mid-flight. Alas, I made it to Chicago and, amazingly, to work on Wed, Thurs and Fri. Only today have I finally had a meal that didn't consist of soup or yogurt or bread. I swear I have lost 10 lbs - in fact, I know I have. I weighed at the gym this morning (first time at the gym in over a week) and I weighed 155 fully clothed. Yikes! Even with my manorexia issues, that was too thin! So, I had breakfast x2 today and will certainly gain back the 10 lbs by tomorrow. Lunch already sounds appealing.

I still have no idea which meal(s) may have brought this on, but I will most likely live on protein bars and bottled water the next trip because this has been a full on nightmare!

So, taking the day off today (still in Chicago) and preparing for a trade show that commences tomorrow and continues through Wednesday. Work will be nuts the next several days - which is good - keeps me focused on things other than babies. Monday is the the day we get the big news - are we pregnant? or not? My emotions the past two weeks have run from one extreme to another. I am just happy that the day is almost here. Steve is confident it will be a positive and I am confident we will be just fine no matter the outcome.

I will post on Monday once I get the news! Love and thanks to all our friends and family for all the prayers and warm thoughts.

Terry & Steve

Thursday, June 4, 2009

3A, 2B

No, not an airline seating chart…the grading of our embryos. I woke up in my NY hotel room this morning to find an email from Dr. Gandhi at Rotunda – I quietly said a prayer before opening the email. We had, what I had previously referred to as a ‘best case scenario’, 5 embryos! I wanted to call Steve, but it is 3 hours earlier in LA – so I waited until 7:30am, NY time, and woke him at 4:30am. We are both thrilled. All 5 were transferred and, as we had known would likely be the case, none to be frozen. Pregnancy test scheduled for Monday, June 15. Yes, I know, I know – 5 is a lot, even with 2 B’s in the mix, but if there is anything that is certain about this process, it is that nothing is certain about this process. My first call was to one of my oldest and closest girl friends, Dana, who lives in Atlanta. Dana went through two IVF cycles a little over 5 years ago – one failed and one successful – her beautiful son Jack will be 5 this November. In her first cycle, they transferred 3 Grade A embies – pregnancy test, negative. In her second cycle, they transferred 2 Grade B-/C embies – pregnancy test, positive. Anything is possible.

One of Our Grade A Embryos

I am sitting on a plane to fly from NY to Washington DC this morning - as I type this. Caroline Kennedy just boarded next to me – love the Kennedy family. I digress.

Fortunately, I am buried in work so there is little time to worry or obsess – though I’ll make some time for these activities I’m sure. I am back in LA tomorrow evening, Friday – home for the weekend. I leave again next week for an unusually lengthy business trip to Chicago and will be gone for another 8 days. Ugh. In fact, I will be in Chicago when we receive the news of our pregnancy test. I only hope I can make a call to Steve that day to celebrate. He is the eternal optimist – me, the realist. Only time will tell.

I did run across something interesting yesterday – our horoscope on I was meeting with one of my sales people in NY yesterday and she (a fellow Capricorn) was sharing that our horoscope (mine, hers, Steve’s) spoke to ‘fertility’ for June. She printed a copy for us and here are some excerpts:

‘June could well go down as one of your happiest months of the year.’

‘If you are already married, the topic of having a baby may come up in June. It’s a lovely time to summon the stork, for planets in Taurus are very fertile and loving. If you want a baby, this month would be the time to make that dream a reality.’

‘If you were hoping to have a baby, this would be a month to seriously prepare for that child’s arrival.’

‘You are clearly ready for a life transformation, and doubly so if you were born early in your sign, say, near December 22-25. You seem anxious for the next chapter of your life to begin and happily, there is no more reason to wait. Indeed, everything in your chart is showing that you are biting at the bit, ready to bolt out of the gate.’

‘Capricorn does not make any moves before they have considered all details thoroughly, so chances are, you’re more than prepared for your next big step than you may have guessed.’

It would appear that the ‘stars are in alignment’ - so to speak - but then again, I am reminded , nothing is certain in life. For the next 11 days, however, I will join Steve and err on the side of optimism – the world can make do with one less realist – at least for now.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Easy Come, Easy Go

Steve and I have a mantra we live by – a simple understanding that life is all about ups and downs – the basic premise that when you find a few dollar bills in your pant pockets while doing laundry in the morning, you shouldn’t be surprised if you incur an unexpected expense later that day to make it a ‘wash’. Today was the epitome of an easy come, easy go kinda day – not in the financial sense – but more so in an emotional sense. Lucky for me, it began and ended on the side of ‘easy come’. There was a whole bunch of ‘easy go’ in the middle and I’m still a little bogged down in it.

The day started with me up before the crack of dawn and getting a good bit of work done. I knew I had some down time today and the driver that Parashar had hired for us was to take me on a tour of sorts – I had a short list of things I wanted to do and see. My first stop was at a nearby Krishna temple. It was beautiful and the energy was unbelievable. I left my shoes with the guy out front in exchange for a red plastic disc with the #99 – my claim check. There were vignettes behind glass that resembled something from a history museum – mannequins set up to tell a story and a narrative on a plaque next to it – in both English and Hindi. There were scenes depicting the lives of the various Lords, which were interesting - but the most interesting of all was the second one – the one that spoke to the heart of this particular faith. There were adults, children, babies and a skeleton. The caption spoke to the fact that life is a circle and that at a human being’s core is the soul and the Hindu believe that the soul moves from one body to the next as one life ends and another begins. There comes with this notion a sense that you should ‘own’ the body you are given and the circumstances with which you are dealt. At the risk of getting too philosophical, I will stop there, but it was moving and stayed with me throughout the day. There were people chanting and dancing and most importantly, smiling – several engaged with me and grabbed my hand to pull me into the circle of activity. It was the happiest bunch I’ve ever encountered in broad daylight with no mind altering substances involved – at least I don’t think there were mind altering substances involved? I stood, watched, pondered and then placed Rs 100 in the offering box and asked Lord Ganesha to remove any obstacles standing in the way of our pregnancy. Away I went to retrieve my shoes and head to my next stop. Now, being a good Catholic boy, I felt obliged to be an equal opportunity thither and headed up to a beautiful, old Catholic church on a hillside (behind the Taj Lands End Hotel) – near the coast line. (Not to digress, but I was amazed at the number of Catholic churches in Mumbai.) I went down to the altar, said my business with the Trinity and, again, placed Rs 100 in the offering box. At this point, I’m feeling pretty darn pleased with my day, my life and myself.

Entrance to the Krishna Temple Near Juhu Beach

Another View

For those of you who aren’t aware, there is a family in Mumbai who are richer than all but about 3 other people in the world. They are in the midst of constructing a high-rise home for themselves in South (Old) Mumbai – literally, tens of stories high. We recently sold them furniture for this little piece of real estate and I wanted to see the place for myself. So, I asked the driver to take me to the home of the owner of ‘xyz’ company – he knew little English, but knew exactly who and what and where – and we headed that direction. Now, I must say the poverty was evident up in Juhu near the hotel – there were slums everywhere, but it wasn’t until we took this drive to South Bombay that it became, for the first time, overwhelming. The drive took over an hour and a half, but could not have been more than 25kms. At moments we sat parked in traffic for 2 or 3 minutes at a time. During these moments, the homeless – who beg aggressively – would approach the car and literally throw themselves against the glass and would not move away – all the while begging in perfect English for some mercy and becoming belligerent when you don’t hand it over – it is painful. You don’t see a ton of westerners – in fact, you see very few outside the large hotels – so these folks flocked to the car when they saw my white ass in the back with an Indian driver in the front – and it was no limo, trust me – but there was a perception that I had some money. The worst part for me was how many of them were disfigured or amputees. I asked Parashar about this and he shared with me that many of them disfigure themselves in order to assist their begging efforts – others remove an appendage to cure an ailment because they have no access to healthcare. Ok. That was too much information. I saw ‘Slumdog’ just like everyone else, but seeing it in person is a horse of a different color.

The trip back featured stops by two beautiful Mosques, a stop at a juice stand that the driver said is ‘famous’ and was so busy I’d be willing to purchase stock if they went public (I treated myself to pomegranate and the driver to apple) - and a lesson on why some Indian men wear turbans (while most do not), why some Indian women have dots both between their eyes and at their hair line (while many do not) and why there are live goats, chickens and cows at all the markets – short answers – family tradition(s), married versus single and to be sold for food – with the exception of the cows which are apparently only for the Muslims – the Hindus want nothing more from a cow than milk – they are too sacred to be eaten.

For those of you traveling to/from the US, all the flights depart back to the states in the evening – which means you pay for an extra night at the hotel or check out and be, essentially, homeless for the afternoon and evening hours. I opted for homeless and grew to regret it. The hotel gave me a late checkout at 3pm, but I still had some 8 hours to kill. We did the best we could to fill the time, but by 5pm I decided I would rather go to the airport and get some work done so I could sleep on the plane. All I can say is that leaving the Mumbai airport is not nearly as easy, or pleasant, as arriving – to say the least!

1. Hunt through mounds of people to find a tiny entrance to the terminal and get turned away because you need to walk 20 ft to another entrance for ‘that airline’.

2. Be turned away by a second security guard because you ‘cannot enter the airport until 3 hours before your flight’. Ok, that would be 8pm and it was now 5:30 and 95 degrees and 95% humidity outside! I must have argued with this man for 15 minutes – who was armed by the way. Who in the world says you cannot enter an air-conditioned space when it is sweltering hot outside – much less a public space? This guy was really getting on my nerves. Suffice it to say I got in the airport - and not in hand cuffs I might add. I even managed a smile out of him – more than I can say for the nurse at Rotunda that I now refer to warmly as Tiny. They actually have a flight manifest for every airline and every flight departing and they check for your name – if you are not on the list, you cannot get into the airport. Thankfully, I was on the list. I suppose you cannot walk in and buy a ticket. This was a first for me. Highly annoyed.

3. Security screening. Hmmm. I am all about consistency and let me tell you there is nothing consistent about this process – thorough you might say, but not consistent. Oh, almost forgot the Rs 600 ‘departure tax’ that Continental levied in exchange for my boarding pass – I am convinced it was a scam but I was too tired to push the issue and I asked a gate agent who was an employee, not a contract worker, who said it was new (and legit) and in the future would be included in fares. I need to make a note to loop back on this. I paid cash and it took 10 minutes for them to get me change. Highly annoyed.

4. Passport Control – check nothing. Immigration – check passport and boarding pass. Security screening – do not ask for passport or boarding pass but insist on seeing my nail clippers and sharing a laugh amongst themselves as they inspected them. No clue here. Shoes stayed on as you walk through metal detector. Gate area – check passport and boarding pass AND go thru another metal detector and baggage x-ray. Shoes came off. Hand-wanding and pat down. This time they took my cell phone apart, fully unwrapped Lord Ganesha and interrogated me about the material from which he was carved and why I bought him. Highly annoyed. Boarding Agent – check passport but do not ask for boarding pass (yes, that is correct). Uniformed agent at top of jet way – check boarding pass but not passport – maybe there is a system after all? Uniformed agent at bottom of jet way along with armed guard – check passport and boarding pass. I hate to complain about security because it is needed – no doubt – but this became ridiculous. There was also one last interrogation by the guy at the bottom of the jet way. I’m exhausted. And annoyed. Highly annoyed.

Now back to how the day ended on ‘easy come’ – just the way it started. I was in Continental’s Business First cabin (upgrade on miles) – to Newark – stopping in NY for business en route home to LA. Maybe not a huge deal, but the seat next to me was empty – and I got extra space and two feather pillows – see, I’m not really all that hard to please.

Note to self: do not lie to get upgraded. We were delayed leaving Mumbai because a woman asked for my empty, neighboring first class seat – she claimed her infant (in arms) was running a fever and she needed the child to be comfortable. Come on lady – I am not one to lie and I could have crafted something better than that on command. Not only did she not get upgraded, the captain tossed her off the plane! When he told her she had to deplane if her child was sick, she said the kid’s fever had just broken – in the last five minutes? Whatever crazy. She sure was standing in the jet way as the boarding door closed. Bummer.

Air carriers: if you have a choice between Delta (non-stop from Atlanta) and Continental (non-stop from Newark) - especially if you are using miles to upgrade – go with Delta. They score better on the seat, service and food – much better.

I will update on the embryo transfer on Thursday once I hear from the docs. I certainly am eager to hear how many and what grade – that is why I created this blog after all – to talk about making babies. I am trying not to obsess but it isn’t working.

Steve, I am almost home honey – two more days. I miss you so much. Thank God for Skype.

Jackie and Lisa B - enjoy Mumbai this week! Sorry we missed each other this trip.


Monday, June 1, 2009


Well, it has been quite a day. I left the hotel at 9am - arrived at Rotunda at 9:30 and was there until after 1pm. Details to follow...

After leaving the clinic, I had told Parashar that I wanted to make a couple of purchases - I always like to take something special home from each newly visited part of the globe - and, being the first trip to India, I wanted something cool. Steve and I have a growing collection of carved pieces on the shelves above our bed - there are two beautiful Buddhas from previous trips to Thailand and a Boomerang from our time in Australia. Steve and I had talked about getting a 'snake charmer's whistle' (insert joke here for those who know my hometown is proud to be the home to the Miss Snakecharmer Pageant) but I couldn't find one so I shifted gears and began to search for a carving of one of the Hindu Gods. In steps Ganesha...

As I went through the various teak pieces - all hand made and pretty amazing - I looked at everything from the God of Finance to the God of all Gods, Krishna. I kept being drawn to the elephant headed man - familiar image - we've all seen it before - I just never knew the story. Turns out Ganesha is the God for Removal of Obstacles. Hmmm. We want to be pregnant and have gone to pretty extreme lengths to try and get there. I had just wrapped up at the clinic and there is nothing more to do now but wait. So, as I studied the different carvings, Parashar came over and said ' you know, Ganesha brings good fortune and removes obstacles'. Well, no I didn't know that, but sounds like Ganesha is going over the bed, back in LA. It is wrapped up neatly for travel and I don't want to unwrap him so here is an image to show you what I am talking about. Familiar to all I'm sure.

I'll continue the search for a whistle but will be rubbing the elephant's head in the meantime...

Rotunda is about the size of most of my client's terraces. Seriously. I bet the entire space is 1500sf - if that. In that space there is an operating room for the egg retrieval and insemmination procedures, a small recovery space, lavatory, lab room, semen collection room and two small offices - oh, and a lobby that was busier than any doctor's office I've ever seen. I was exhausted just by watching the people in and out of the place. I arrived at 9:30 and was taken back to one of the offices to meet with Dr Gupta. She advised that the egg donor's procedure was for 11am and that I should provide my semen sample at approximately 10:30am. I would meet with Dr Kadam a bit later...she is the Director of the Egg Donor Program. Shortly after they sent me into one of the other small rooms to have blood drawn. Now, the doctors are lovely - really, sincerely nice. This tiny woman, who I guess was a nurse, however, was dreadful. I could not get that woman to smile for the life of me. First of all, she was about the shortest person I've ever seen aside from a midget and had the personality of the syringe she stuck me with. Anyway, whatever. Then I headed with my specimen cup to the 'semen collection room'. Yuck. I must admit, I was pretty worked up about the whole experience, so worked up in fact that I had little interest in the porn I brought along for 'assistance'. I was fairly certain they might knock on the door to see if I was alive before I made something happen. In the end, everything came out alright - at least the doctor's said so after peering at it through a microscope.

So, this now took me back to the lobby by 11am. Where was my egg donor? You could not chase a cat in the place and I did not see her anywhere - I had studied her picture so I knew I would know her instantly. After obsessing for several minutes I decided that, perhaps, she was in this small hallway around the corner - near the operating room. I saw that the lavatory was down that way so I rounded the corner - mind you all of about five feet away from where I was sitting, but around the corner - and there she was. All 5' of her. Now, she is not as short as the lab girl, but short - but also very cute. She had no way of knowing who I was and I believe she had both her mother and her aunt with her - at least that is who I decided they were. They were too old to be patients and not dressed to be staff. The bathroom was occupied which was perfect because it gave me a bit more time to study every detail of her...when she wasn't looking of course - yes, I was discreet. I did share a quick smile with her, but she looked scared to death. I felt really horrible for the poor thing and would have loved to speak with her, but it would have been fully inappropriate and I doubt anyone would have appreciated it. She was in surgery for over an hour and then I heard them wheel her into the small recovery room behind the lobby. She was still there when I left at shortly after 1pm.

So, my meeting with Dr Kadam...well, not the best news, but not anything to freak over. They only harvested 9 eggs from the donor. They generally hope for something in the low teens. The doc was really great and immediately told me that she would do ICSI on all nine eggs to ensure the highest possible fertilization rate. Good case would be 3 or 4 embryos and best case would be 5 or 6 (unlikely, but possible). That means no freezing extras which means no baby if this cycle fails. We would have to pay for another egg donor and another surrogate and, essentially, start over. Or we could end up with a litter which is what happens sometimes when you implant 5 or so embryos. Nothing to do now but wait and give it up to a higher power. I'm totally cool with that and, if we get a 'negative' in 2 weeks then we'll just save our pennies and try, try again.

PS - ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) - means they inject the egg with one sperm to fertilize it. Generally 70-80% fertilize with this procedure. So, with 9 eggs - 6 embryos is about the best case.

ICSI Treatment - Sperm Injection

Now, last but certainly not least of this three ring circus was the following...Dr Gupta asks me 'would you like to meet the surrogate?' What? I had heard all along that this was tabu. Well, it turns out she was coming in for her final blood work at noon and they would allow us to meet briefly. So, we met - and, the woman was so shy I thought she was going to pass out. She spoke very little English and would not make eye contact with me or the doctor - she just smiled and kept her head down. She is 29 and has two boys of her own. I kept it brief because she was clearly uncomfortable. I thanked her and she smiled. I am glad I had the opportunity to see her - she seems to have a very kind soul. Now let's just hope her uterus likes my ICSI treated, egg donor's eggs!

Thanks for all the warm thoughts and well wishes.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mumbai for a Jiffy - Literally 72 hours, but who's counting?

Well, after more than 11,000 miles, I am finally in Mumbai. I cannot believe this journey started only 2 1/2 months ago and here I am in this far-away place - filled with much anticipation, but really just feeling blessed to be taking this amazing ride - whatever the outcome.

I have learned so much from the Americans and other non-Indian couples who have journeyed down this path before me - through their blogs and emails, I found the reassurance and confidence to do this and Steve easily jumped on board. I will back track and write about the steps thus far, but first want to share my initial reflection on Mumbai.

I traveled for the better part of 24 hours to get here - 5 hours LAX to ATL and then 17.5 hours from ATL to BOM. Yes, I cashed in some of those Delta Skymiles and sat up front - I have flown close to two million miles over the years and can honestly say it was the best long-haul first class experience I've had - better than the Asian carriers. I flew on the Delta 777 configured Business Elite cabin with lie flat seats (not the old version seats on the 767, these are very different and much better). The layout is a little crazy like something out of a sci fi flick, but the service, the food and the comfort factor were all A+. The seat itself was not particularly comfortable in the lie flat position, but there were so many adjustments on the seat that all you had to do was play with it to get it into your own personal 'sleep # setting'.
Two movies, 1/2 a Chelsea Handler book, 7 hours sleep and many trips to the lavatory later and I arrived in Mumbai - albeit 2 hours late - just before midnight on Saturday, May 30. Yes we were an hour late leaving Atlanta and another hour in a holding pattern over the Arabian Sea so the flight was 2 hours longer than planned - scheduled flight time 15.5 hours - actual 17.5 hours.

The customs arrivals process was simple and pretty quick - the airport was humid and musty, but surprisingly modern and clean. The first stop was a somewhat chaotic counter with no lines, huge floor fans moving around hot air (and all sorts of interesting odors) and six or seven plain clothed Indian personnel wearing medical masks. This first stop was to have our 'Swine Flu Declaration' stamped. This was ridiculous. First of all, these 'Swine Flu' forms were the reason for a late departure in Atlanta. Someone at the gate had forgotten about the Indian government requirement (apparently) and we had to wait for them to be printed off a laser printer at the gate...300 of them approximately. The flight was full - not one empty seat. So, after being pushed and shoved into a position at the counter, a woman looks at my form, glances at me, says nothing and stamps it. What did the form declare? I checked boxes saying I had no fever and did not believe I had been around anyone with flu symptons. Huh? Yes, a highly effective deterrent to boarding someone with flu exposure. Not.

Once past this station, there was fairly quick movement through to customs/passport control - there must have been 50 or so agents and I was through there in 5 minutes - tops.

Then onto customs declaration which was the point past baggage claim. There was one small baggage screening section and a line that was 10 people wide narrowing to this one little machine with two workers. I stood there for 10 minutes without moving and then decided to walk around the other side of the screening area to an agent who looked at me and let me walk right through...past 100 or more people. I have no idea. Then a long corridor past aggressive currency exchange agents all trying to pull your attention so they can trade your currency at an inflated rate. Keep walking. Finally, you exit the airport and there are literally thousands of people behind ropes holding signs for car pick up. Saturday night I am told is particularly busy. Luckily, my guy was right up front holding my name on a card front and center. I exhaled for the first time in 20 minutes. It took only about 5 minutes for his co-worker to bring around the car and only another 20 minute ride to arrive at the JW Marriott on Juhu Beach. My concierge is Parashar with He was referred by Mike A and Mike B in Boston who used him and he is the kindest, most patient man - and immediately put me at ease. The cost for his services is approximately $30 per day + approximately $30 per day for transportation (unlimited from 10am - 6pm) - well worth it. You don't want to do this alone! Today there are no charges as I am on my own.

I wasn't really too sure what to expect upon arriving here. I had heard so much about the mounds of people and chaos, but, to be honest, I find it no less stressful than any other large, developing city. Parts of Athens looked like much of Mumbai prior to be awarded the Olympics as I recall and the traffic and sanitation are not unlike parts of Bangkok. Yes, the driving is mayhem and there are no lanes and rickshaws EVERYWHERE coming at you from all sides - it is amazing more people aren't hit, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

Now, Parashar and I agreed that I would hang out at the hotel today, Sunday - maybe get some sun at the pool, get some work done, rest. He is to pick me up tomorrow, Monday, June 1 and drive me to Rotunda (the Center for Human Reproduction) for the Egg Pick Up and IVF. My appointment to provide my semen sample is at 10am - the exact time of the scheduled Egg Donor's 'Egg Pick Up'. I bid good bye to Parashar and he agreed to pick me up on Monday morning at 9am for the 30 minute ride to Rotunda from the hotel. He plans to take me sightseeing in the afternoon and says he will provide a local cell phone so I do not incur roaming charges on my US mobile phone.

One last word on the hotel: security is tight, which is good, but at first alarming. When you pull into the gates, there are many security personnel along with bomb sniffing dogs. The hood is raised along with the trunk and mirrors hanging from sticks are run under the car as part of the inspection. At the entrance to the hotel there is a metal detector and baggage screening belt - not unlike any federal building in the US, but certainly not something you generally see at a hotel. This hotel, I am told, was targeted for the November 2008 attacks, but were foiled in their attempts at this particular property - so, security is high.
The service industry here is unlike anything in the West - they walk you to the room and expect no tip - there is little expectation of being compensated for common courtesy and general assistance - they see it as their job. Unlike the US where we place tip jars at the counters in Starbucks! It is refreshing and it makes you want to offer cash gratuity.

I am a long time Marriott Frequent Guest so I was given access to the Executive Lounge. Unlike many of the US properties, the lounge is open 7 days a week and there are not just snacks but full buffet spreads at various times throughout the day. Breakfast was amazing and I had two different people serving me at any given time. All is complimentary.

View From the Hotel Lobby Looking Out Toward the Arabian Sea

View Out the Front of the Hotel Toward Street Entrance (Security Checkpoint)

After breakfast I decided to take a walk. Parashar had advised against strolling on the beach today as he said it was 'Sunday which is a holiday for locals and the beach is not safe for tourists'. This sounded a bit paranoid to me and of course I was curious so I headed out for a little exploration. Attached are some pictures of what I found...a little scary. Note the live cow. I did get accosted by some young Indian boys who began to throw rocks and laugh - I couldn't understand a word they were saying, but I don't think it was good and I heard some variation of 'American', so I headed back to the hotel.

Google: 'Gay Surrogate India'. What you will find are various links to a laundry list of news articles and You Tube videos with one recurring story about an Israeli same sex, male couple who had a baby through surrogacy in India. This is how it all started for us. The clinic the couple used - Rotunda, The Center for Human Reproduction in Mumbai, India.

Simply put, we couldn't afford the $100,000+ USD it requires to go through the Egg Donor/IVF/Surrogacy process in California. Yes, California is one of the premier locations for such services in the world and there are a host of facilities that cater to same sex couples, but at prices that only a select few can actually afford. So, I went on an informal 'google' search for options in other countries. I figured if you could adopt internationally then perhaps you could do other things internationally too. Low and behold, the unfolding world of Medical Tourism in India and the evolving reproductive therapy business in India. I had no idea what I was about to learn.

The reality for gay men seeking to build a family is as follows:
  1. Adoption in the US is filled with uncertainty - the birth mother can change her mind even though she has assured you otherwise. We had a straight couple - close friends of ours - enter an open adoption in California recently. The baby was born and handed over to our friends - the following day the birth mother called and asked for the baby back. Heartbreak. The length of the 'window' for birth mothers to reassert parental rights is different by state. Bottom line - too risky for us.
  2. Adoption outside the US is not allowable for single men (much less coupled men) - single women yes, single men no. Sure there are ways around it if you know the right people, but there are no guarantees and the costs are not insignificant - the costs are in fact very significant.
  3. Surrogacy in the US - as I mentioned - expensive. The contracts are also risky and there have been instances of surrogates asserting parental rights. We have also had friends who experienced nightmares with unsophisticated surrogates who ate poorly, smoked, drank or worse. You limit some of this risk by selecting a well established agency, but you pay dearly - thousands upon thousands in agency fees.
  4. Surrogacy in India - legal, gay friendly, affordable, less risky. Lots of people have written about this before me, but here are the key points. There is legislation set to go before the Indian Parliament to provide more specific legal support for the process - it is somewhat unregulated at present - there are guidelines in place but no real oversight to ensure compliance. There are three main clinics in Mumbai - yes, there are countless others, but the three main ones are Rotunda, Surrogacy India and Dr Patel (in Anand). The two former are open and willing to working with gay couples - the latter is not. The estimated costs for egg donor + surrogacy (excluding travel expenses and unforseen medical complications) is approximately $28,000 USD. These costs are ever changing and have gone up significantly in the past few years. You can read more about Rotunda on their web page There has been no recorded incidence of an Indian surrogate asserting parental rights over the child she has carried and birthed - not one. There are a host of reasons not the least of which is cultural acceptance.
We only contacted Rotunda - we started there and ultimately signed on with them.

The Process:
  1. Wait for forms to arrive via email. Visit a local notary public and have them signed - send via UPS or similar carrier so you have tracking. It takes things about 4 or so days to arrive and costs around $50 for the air courier fees.
  2. Deposit Rs 60,000 via wire transfer to register in the program. Note on this: because all rates for Rotunda are quoted in Rupees, I did the first wire transfer in Rupees. I got killed on the exchange rate with Bank of America, my bank. The rate was roughly 7% more than anywhere else I looked on line. On subsequent wire transfers, I sent the amount in USD and the clinic's bank in India did the exchange which saved me big time on the currency swap.
  3. The doctors at Rotunda will ask you to send them six separate lab reports. Visit your local physician and request the following blood screening: (1) HIV antibody test, (2) Hepatitis B antibody test, (3) Hepatitis C antibody test, (4) Blood Typing and RH. You will also be asked for a (5) Semen Culture as part of this lab work. Now, my primary care doctor at Cedars had no clue what this was, but he requested it. When I got to the lab for the blood to be drawn, they were equally as confused. After several phone calls, it was determined that all I need to do is provide a semen sample and off I went to the men's room with a specimen cup and my laptop. The confusion on this point was that a semen culture does not require immediate testing of the sample - meaning that you can provide the semen sample and they can culture it later - they are checking for STD's and bacteria. You will also be asked to have a (6) Semen Analysis - this one MUST be fresh - they must test it within 30 minutes or so. I went to a local, male fertility clinic for #6 and paid $150 for this report which covers a whole bunch of details as it relates to your swimmers. They look at # of sperm per milliliter, volume in the ejaculate, motility (what % are moving), morphology (what % are normally shaped) and a handful of other things. Anyway, given that the process is done via IVF (in a lab dish) you only have to be slightly fertile to make it work. So, the fact that I had a low sperm count became irrelevant - they are just checking to make sure you are not completely infertile. If you have even one sperm - they have a process by which they inject it directly into the egg to feritilize it - pretty amazing. For those who are wondering - normal count is anything over 20 million per milliliter - YES - 20,000,000!! I had 18 million. What causes low sperm count? Drinking, smoking and everything else I did in my 20's and 30's. Ugh.
  4. Scan reports into email and forward to Rotunda.
  5. Deposit Rs 200,000 for Egg Donor Fees and IVF + Rs 45,000 if you wish to have any supernumerary embryos (those that aren't implanted in the first cycle) frozen for future use + Rs 150,000 for Surrogate Preparation. This is it for fees until you determine if you are pregnant. For reference - $1 USD = approximately Rs 49.00.
  6. Wait.
  7. Wait.
  8. Wait.
  9. I had a couple of panic attacks from not hearing back from Rotunda. The longest gap was 3 weeks. I was reassured by several of their clients - whom I met on line - that this happens and that the clinic is very busy and somewhat short staffed. I can tell you that it was approximately one month from first contact until they emailed us 5 egg donor profiles to select from.
  10. Pick your egg donor. You will get a handfull of PDF files emailed to you by the clinic. You have a small headshot, age, weight, height, Caste (Muslim, Hindu) and basic medical and fertility history (previous pregnancies including any abortions) and education/occupation. Our first donor selection ended up being unavailable because she ended up pregnant by her husband - not meant to be. So, we asked for additional profiles (we didn't prefer any others from the first lot). They were emailed over and we re-selected. They are all named with initials as the entire process is anonymous and we will never meet either the egg donor or the surrogate. The surrogate was selected for us - with no input from us - but they did send us her profile so we could see all the same information as was on the egg donnor profiles.
  11. Wait for the egg donor to begin her medications/stimulation - which begins upon commencement of her menstrual cycle.
  12. Wait for date from Rotunda to fly to India - generally a 3 day window.
  13. Fly to Mumbai.
  14. Pray, be open minded and know that everything happens for a reason and whatever the outcome will be, will be.
  15. To Be Continued...