Surrogacy in India: After the Devastation
By: Kerrie Olajarz
Although we were devastated, and wanted to leave India as soon as possible, we did have people there to support us and money in our pockets, so a few more days seemed manageable. The thing we dreaded most was telling my mother-in-law. In advance of leaving, we had not told her about the embryo mishap because the smallest things stress her out and cause her to not sleep. After calling the airlines to see if we could leave earlier, we noticed our siblings were on Skype so we gave them the news of the damaged fourth vial. They were devastated for us. It was nice to talk to home about what had happened that day and feel the love and comfort available to us 8,000 miles away. That night we slept all of three hours.
We awoke in the morning still markedly upset, but hungry, so we ordered room service. Shortly after breakfast Dr. Sudhir called to check in on us. Mark spoke with him and neither had much to say, really, what could be said? Mark and I later discussed the idea of fault. Is there a human error issue here? Was the vial packed incorrectly in Toronto? Or perhaps not received correctly in India? We did not want to blame anyone, because both clinics on either side of the world were there to support us.
Once again, the doctor called us with some ideas of what to do that day in an attempt to help distract our minds. He also mentioned that he and Dr. Yash would come by and see us later that evening to chat further about what had happened. We took the doctor’s advice and went out and about and ended up at a department store. The joy of riding an auto rickshaw was not taken away by our lost embryos. Sitting in back of a rickshaw taking in the sights was a real treat. A lot of the rickshaws had placards on them saying “Do not spit, stop the spread of TB” and the irony of this was that every rickshaw driver would hurl out a mouthful of sticky saliva at every stop. Being a pale and pasty Canadian girl, I was a sight to behold! All eyes were on me when we were out, and by this point, I would make eye contact and speak to each person. It was a lot of fun for me, not so much for my husband.
We ended up buying some towels and walked around various areas of Mumbai. The younger Indians who could speak English would say hello as we passed by and some would ask where we were from. Overall, the people of India were amazing. We tried very hard to ignore the begging children as warned by Amit in our “India 101” lesson. Prior to our trip we saw the movie Slumdog Millionaire, which made us well aware of the presence of the mafia in India and how they would use orphaned children for profit. It was difficult to ignore these sweet children; they were so innocent. And how ironic that we were in India, desperate for our own child? It really plays with your emotions.
That evening the doctors came to our hotel room and we talked about what had happened and the next steps. Dr Yash acknowledged what a test this was on us, and in typical humor, my husband remarked at how he had not studied for this test! We all laughed a little and came up with a plan. The head of embryology had made an offer to us to lessen the financial burden for our next try and we decided to take the offer. The doctors had been amazingly supportive from Day One and we were happy to have them on our side during this time.
Prior to the doctors’ visit, our hotel room phone rang. It was our Australian mate, Nik, who had just landed. This was a moment of excitement for me because we had been speaking via email for almost a year now. We leaned heavily on them for advice during our planning stages and they were always helpful and honest. He offered us support and condolences and we made plans to have a few beers that evening. Our email box was also full of support –lovely notes from our surrogacy community, perfect strangers from around the world who felt our pain.
We met up for our beers in the hotel restaurant bar. What a great night…weird that the day before we suffer intense emotional pain; the next day we are numb yet supported beyond belief; and then we get to spend time with an amazing Aussie. And to top it all off, after our visit with the doctors, Amit called and said he had heard our news and wanted to come by. He visited late in the evening and I brewed him a cup of Canadian coffee and we chatted. Again, the day was full of support. I think if this happened at home, most people in our lives would avoid us for a few days, thinking we needed space and time, but here in India, there was an overwhelming support unit that made it so much less painful.
The couple from Colorado were in the hospital now as their baby had been born the day prior. We made plans with Nik to take a trip to the hospital the next day and welcome their baby into the world. As we settled in for the night, we felt ok. We could not change the fact that our embryos were destroyed, and we could not muster up thoughts of blame. We were numb. Many emails from supporters suggested we take legal action, but against whom? we wondered. Is there really anyone to blame or is this a fluke, our black cloud rearing its ultimate ugliness? The next morning we connected with Nik on the phone and made plans to meet up at his hotel in Powai Lake District.