Surrogacy in India: Pleasant Surprises
By: Kerrie Olejarz
With every week that went by we were emotionally –and also financially –deeper into this pregnancy. We were starting to feel the pressure of the costs. If this was our first try the costs would have been manageable, but after multiple trips to India and multiple tries, we were starting to carry some hefty debt. We opted not to stress about the money. We always said the surrogacy costs for us would be like buying that luxury car with a five-year payment plan. The truth of it is that the cost is so much less than if we had done this in North America so we just had to figure out a way to not feel overwhelmed. A few short days after the level 2 scan, we received an invoice from India. We dreaded the cost, and ball parked it at over one thousand dollars. As soon as the email came, Mark was first to see it on his iPhone and quickly did the conversion from rupees to Canadian dollars then texted me in sheer amazement, questioning his conversion. Without getting into specifics, the cost was less than a week’s worth of groceries! When it comes to this pregnancy, we would never deny any treatment based on cost, that would just be stupid, but this invoice was such a pleasant surprise considering how extremely important the testing was.
It was also getting time that I outed myself at work. I needed to give them enough time to fill my position and I also thought it may take some of my internal pressure off by letting this out. I decided to do this around Easter, that would put us at 22 weeks pregnant, and probably we would feel much more comfortable at that point. The day before Good Friday I let my news out and it was very well received. Some of the girls were super excited while the male management team barely acknowledged it; it’s a guy thing which I did not take personally. It was great to unburden myself and know that my official countdown could begin! Easter felt different this year as we had hope. We felt an unusual sense of optimism unlike the past.
We were anxiously awaiting our next update on our baby and surrogate which was a few weeks away. The weeks felt like months, and when the email updates finally came we were overwhelmed with joy and could let out our long held breath. Week 24 came and we started to embrace this pregnancy full on. As scary as it was, we started to feel confident that all was and would remain well. We decided to order a stroller and car seat using our frequent flyer points. It was an awesome feeling to get a seven hundred dollar stroller and two hundred dollar car seat for nothing, zilch, nada. For us this was a huge step and one that we never thought we would take. We had so much to gain and so much to lose at this point and sometimes you just have to dive in head first with optimism.
It was also around this time that people started asking us if we knew the sex of the baby. It is not legal to disclose the sex of an unborn baby in India due to previous gendercide. Doctors will lose their licence if they disclose the sex of any unborn baby, so it will always remain a surprise until birth. The ultrasound doctors also follow this law and never send any picture which could highlight or identify the baby’s sex. It makes sense, but it was still a little difficult to explain to people. Mid-May finally arrived and we received our Week 24 update. We received a 3D picture of the baby in which he looked like he had been in an MMA fight with a large bump on his nose. It is always alarming to see these unusual images but we know it’s the nature of the game when they switch from 4D to still 3D pictures; you end up with odd shadows and unusual details. This could be alarming, but we often found it comical.
The baby had a nice solid heartbeat of 150 beats per minute and was weighing in at 1.3lbs, plus or minus 0.77lbs. The same day we received some belly pictures of our surrogate and boy oh boy did she look pregnant!! As previously mentioned Sumita is a very tiny woman and we were sure she was really starting to feel uncomfortable carrying around our big western baby. To see our baby bump was more than overwhelming –it made it very real for us, real beyond explanation. She was wearing a beautiful royal blue sari with yellow and red flowers on it. We felt such a connection to her through these pictures, and seeing our baby bump also reassured us as to what a great job she was doing taking care of our baby. She looked healthy and at a good weight and we just hoped she was feeling well and not too uncomfortable.
Over the next week we were both plagued with the stomach flu, flat out in bed, running to the toilet, vomiting and diarrhea! The exhaustion of the flu is almost unbearable. It reminded me oDelhi Belly is nothing compared to the flu!!!
By the weekend we were on the mend, and fortunately it was a holiday weekend here so we had an extra day to relax, or so we thought.
Monday morning we awoke to very disturbing news out of India. Our surrogate was in the hospital, diagnosis… preterm labour! We panicked; we were only 26 weeks along, way to early for this baby to be born. We immediately contacted the clinic in India who told us that Sumita was feeling contractions and notified the doctor immediately. They admitted her to hospital and after some triage analysis started her on a magnesium drip to slow and stop labour. We were told she was doing well as was the baby. Dr Shivani promised to give us updates as she had them, and until then, we just had to sit back and wait. Of course I started searching the internet for viability statistics for preterm births. The general consensus was positive, but in the event this did happen our baby would have a long road ahead of them. We dreaded to think of this scenario and stayed optimistic that because Sumita took such good care or our baby and they were in the best hands with Dr Shivani, all would turn out ok. Absolutely no risks were being taken with this pregnancy and we were more than appreciative of the care both Sumita and the doctor gave our baby. The holiday Monday was stressful for us. We opted to not tell too many people but did share this with our surrogacy friends via our blog. Two days later we received the news that the labour had stopped and all was well. Sumita would stay on the magnesium for a while as a precautionary measure, and of course, some bed rest time and taking it super easy. Crisis averted. As rough as this experience was, we took such solace in knowing the quality of care and attention to detail all the thousands of miles away in India. A few says later we received our invoice for this little scare. The invoice was detailed and broke down all the costs by day. It is such a small thing but so important to have a detailed invoice. When you are paying bills of this size you want to understand what it is you are paying for. Dr Shivani’s team really has their act together and they understand the importance of these kinds of details. We made arrangements to wire the money as soon as possible to settle up this bill. Dr Shivani pays the hospital bill on our behalf so we wanted to ensure we paid as soon as possible.