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Maternity Leave

by The Next Family October 17, 2011

By: Kerrie Olejarz

At the end of Week 32 I was feeling super organized. I had ordered custom thank-you notes for the upcoming shower, baby’s room was ready, and most of the baby gear was piled up in the basement waiting to be sorted as “pack for India” or “leave at home”. Mark’s birthday was that same week and I was on a mission to find one of those cute baby sleepers that says “my dad rocks” or something like that. My office workload had been transitioned to two people, so my days in the office were mostly spent on additional training and backing up the two girls on their new decision-making opportunities.

I spent my lunch hours looking for the most adorable sleeper for Mark’s birthday and also favours for the upcoming shower. My sister and I had decided to give Indian bangles as a shower favour, since I was opposed to giving the standard chocolates or candies. I knew people were going to be very generous at this shower and I really wanted the take-away favour to 1) show that I really appreciated their support; 2) have a slight Indian flair; and 3) be something anyone could use. I found a few great Indian shops and worked on negotiating a better price than their usual retail list price. I finally had success at one of the shops and came home with almost 400 bangles in a bag of various sizes and colours. To this day I still find glitter in my house in the most random spots!

I had success finding two adorable onesies with the cute sayings on them for Mark’s birthday. Sadly Mark was sick on his birthday, but we ordered in Thai food and had the family come over for a small b-day celebration. We were all abuzz about the soon-to-be baby and despite Mark being sick, he enjoyed his last birthday before officially becoming the coolest dad.

We were due for another baby update from India in the next few days. The waiting on this one seemed a little calmer for us, less emotional chaos. The update came in with a beautiful 3D picture of the baby. The baby looked sleepy or grumpy in this picture, but it was super adorable! We were less than 60 days to go to full term. The consensus on our baby based on the 3D pics was that we were having a boy, but a few supporters on our blog adamantly said girl. We really were not concerned with the sex, as we had waited so long for this baby that the most important thing to us was a healthy one. The updates showed that the baby’s heart rate was still at 152bpm and estimated the weight at 4.3 lbs –give or take 0.77lb. Yay, we were having a good sized baby! At this point, if the baby was to be born premature, the weight was tracking along very nicely and baby was measuring right on track at 32 weeks gestational age. The report contained the standard clause at the end that was a declaration from Dr Jolly, the consultant radiologist, that “I, Dr Suneet Jolly, declare that while conduction ultrasonography/image scanning of Sumita (the pregnant woman), I have neither detected nor disclosed the sex of her fetus to any body in any manner.” This is a very serious subject in India, and any doctor who discloses the gender of an unborn baby may be punished by law, and lose their right to practice medicine. Most of us in the surrogacy world were not too worried about gender, but knowing the gender sure would make planning a little easier!

A few months back when we discussed the idea of a baby shower I was asked to put together a slide show of pictures to help showcase and explain our journey. I had been working on this and decided to do it in power point and project it in the hall on a loop during the shower. I really enjoyed putting it together as I got to look back at the last 3 years and review the road we travelled, the people we met, and ultimately the baby soon to be born. I included pictures of me giving myself shots of IVF drugs in the abdomen, people we met on our first trip to Mumbai, and the babies we have seen born to newfound friends around the world. The bulk of my presentation contained pics of our baby – 3D pics and standard ultrasound pictures. I knew all the old Polish ladies would have a hard time making out what these pictures were and thought it would be fun to watch them trying to sort it out while having a glass of wine.

I was one week away from being off on three weeks’ holiday and maternity leave! My mouth was still numb and my throat painful but who cared, I was soon to be a mom!! The excitement was overwhelming to say the least. Mark and I continued to have fits of uber excitement, and all the baby shower excitement and empty suitcases were just icing on the cake. One week of work left…well, actually four days, as HR told me to leave a day early since a statutory holiday fell on one of my upcoming holiday days. No complaints here, the sooner the better for me!

The last four days of work were fun. My co-workers were so excited for me and had so many questions about when we will leave for India, do we know the sex, how long it will take to bring home the baby, and can we buy formula and diapers in India and so on. Mark’s work was so supportive of this baby as well. He asked for six weeks’ parental leave and they granted it with no problem. He booked off one week of holidays and then six weeks’ of parental leave. He works for a small company and it was so wonderful to see them so supportive and happy for him. Some of the girls in his office actually followed our blog and knew step by step what was happening along the way. We were in such a good place at this point and enjoyed every moment of it.

The upcoming Sunday was my Big Fat European shower. We locked in the menu a few days beforehand: chicken, beef, roasted potatoes, two salads, a vegetarian lasagne, sweets, wine, and coffee. We had over 50 confirmed guests. As a small surprise, we arranged a Henna artist to come to the shower. We booked her for two hours, hoping that the ladies would embrace a little bit of India. My work week finished and on my last day the team threw me a lovely lunch, with people from the two divisions in the building joining in. The team presented me with yet another gift for our baby: a beautiful gift basket of organic cotton clothes and toys. There were many nice speeches made by the senior management team and I was truly moved by how kind this group is. Often at work we spend our days in survival mode, and fighting for our individual cause, but on this day, all this was dropped and forgotten. It was a wonderful send-off on my last day before becoming a mom. The senior management team is of course all men, but what a wonderful group they are to take such good care of me and show such support. I left that day kicking my heels in the air! The weight of work was lifted and I was now that much closer to finally meeting our baby.

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