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.
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!