Surrogacy in India: Time to Switch

The Next Family

By: Kerrie Olejarz

It was now May; two months off the surrogacy path had done us good. We took the negative emails with a grain of salt and tried very hard to not feel defeated in the process. We ended up having a distraction of a shattered ankle bone in Mark’s family –his mom. She managed through the surgery and was told she had to plant herself for three months, no walking on that leg. The second distraction, sadly, was that one of our cats grew a large tumor in her jaw. She was eighteen years old and we opted not to operate. We gave her the luxury of living her life until she showed the first sign of it being compromised.

Because we still had half of the donated drugs in our refrigerator and they were quickly approaching the expiration date, we decided to do another cycle and freeze our embryos again. We picked a new surrogate as well and decided to use our final embryos on ice in India. My cycle here at home and our transfer in India were all happening at the same time. We waited for the news of our transfer and did not get any. After some emails we found out that the thaw media had not arrived. We were disappointed beyond belief, but looking back I think it was not the delay in media, it was just everything.

Finally, about tens days later I was ready for my trigger shot. This was a long cycle caused by two days of using the wrong needle to dose the down regulation medications. I was supposed to have 1cc and instead I dosed out 10cc. The effect of this was a delay in follicle growth. The doctors here said we were at no risk and to keep plugging away at the stimulation protocol and cycle monitoring. On the same day as my trigger we got news that our transfer in India would be in two days’ time, the same day I would have my retrieval. The G20 summit was on in Toronto and downtown was a mess, chaotic and somewhat violent with protestors. And of course, our clinic was in the hub of it all. The night before my scheduled retrieval we experienced a black out and we laughed at this — it was just our luck!

Fortunately the stars somehow aligned and the next morning all was fine and we headed to TCART for egg retrieval. I had cycled for 16 days and was ready to be done with it all. As I got settled into my gown and IV, Mark headed off to the specimen room for the third time. I am sure he never imagined doing this once in his life and now he was on his third go of it and a bit of a pro. Egg retrieval was far from pleasant this time. As the doctor aspirated the first follicle the pain was immense. I thought I could tough it out until the second follicle. The pain was overwhelming and for some reason I started crying uncontrollably on the table, legs up in stirrups, causing the procedure to halt completely. A lovely female doctor offered more narcotics and I agreed. But sadly my brain had registered the pain so that even the additional drugs made little difference. In the end we saw a solid 18 eggs retrieved and I was done. I wanted to go home and rest and get any updates from India on our transfer. The nurses told Mark he had to give another sample before we left and although this was worrisome (the talk of slow sperm at first analysis is what prompted the request), it was a task that had to be completed. So poor Mark went in for another round. We were reassured that we would still have success, because the lab would do ICSI as required. ICSI is where the best sperm are selected and individually injected into the egg to promote fertilization.

It was the day before Mark’s birthday and I had planned a bbq that weekend to celebrate. But on the ride home, in so much pain, I was thinking I might need to cancel our plans. Upon arriving at home we went straight to the computer to see that we had three Grade-A embryos transferred to our surrogate and were officially in our third two-week wait of 2010. The next day –Mark’s birthday –I was a mess, with my abdomen swollen and the pain almost unbearable. I knew to expect this after the way the retrieval went, but for the love of God this was intense. I was walking hunched over, almost as if I had had a tummy tuck. Mark is an amazing caregiver and really took great care of me. I was feeling guilty that it was his birthday –not that birthdays are a big deal for us, but still –it should be his day to rest and instead he was taking care of me.

Around 10:30 that morning my cell phone rang and it was the embryologist from TCART with our fertilization update. In the end, straight IVF was used, because the lab was familiar with our typically good fertilization. We ended up with ten good embryos and four that were slow but still being monitored until freeze time. My sister had planned to come over in the afternoon for a mini birthday celebration and shortly after she arrived the doorbell rang. Nik and Lisa in Australia had sent me a beautiful flower arrangement with words of good luck on the card. This was such a wonderful sentiment from an amazing couple –our friends.

The rest of the week we spent lounging around the house. We took this time off work for the retrieval and to hopefully do some major gardening redesign outside. By Friday I was starting to feel mobile and the pain was much more manageable so the bbq was still on. The events of the week were a good distraction from our two-week wait. We also discussed what to do next in the event of a negative, which we felt was probably coming our way. We were emotionally beaten at this point and there was no energy to get excited at the possibility of a positive. A year into this we had faced so many struggles of not being able to get a doctor to help us, destroyed embryos, and two negative pregnancy tests. We received very kind words from the surrogacy community saying that this would be our time and baby dust was flying around the world for us. As lovely as the words and thoughts were, we felt little optimism.

Sadly, thirteen days later we received the call…NEGATIVE. Somehow, not surprised, we managed through our day like any other day. The call came to me while driving in my car so it was a very short call with Dr Yash. We knew our next steps already and now we had to take them. We had decided to switch clinics. Sometimes a fresh start can renew your optimism and overall mood. We took this decision very seriously and it was not easy. We had been working with SI for a year and had nothing but wonderful treatment from the doctors. They wanted us to get pregnant and we just didn’t. For us the new clinic was an obvious choice based on current success rates and that’s all it boiled down to. We wondered if we were making a mistake switching…would we be in the same position a year from now, were our renewed hopes going to be smashed? We spoke with IP’s working with the new clinic and they were all very happy and pregnant. We spoke with the doctor herself and her case managers to gather confidence. Financially this was stressful as well –starting with a new clinic, starting over, and still carrying debt from the last year of cycles and trips to India. The doctors at SI were heartbroken that we were leaving; so were we –this was far from an easy decision. In the end they wished us success…and a baby.

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