Surrogacy in India: Vial Number Four

The Next Family

By: Kerrie Olejarz

On the drive back to the hotel, Ajit pointed out Lilavati Hospital where the embryo transfer will take place. Since Ajit was aligned with Surrogacy India, he knew the drill and really added a level of comfort to the visit. He was in constant communication with the doctors, arranging all kinds of transportation for Intended Parents during their visits to Mumbai.

The next day we went to South Mumbai. We did all the tourist must do’s. We saw the Gateway to India, we gazed at the Taj Hotel and imagined how horrible the terrorist attacks were, as signs of fire damage and bullet holes were still present. We ate lunch at the Leopold café and chatted with Ajit about how many people died in the café during the attacks. Lunch for me was toast and tea. My stomach was in knots knowing that we were only hours away from finding out what happened to vial Number Four. I barely enjoyed this day of sightseeing. With time to kill before we had to arrive at the hospital, Ajit took us for another coffee in Bandra as he could see my nerves were fried. We finished our coffee and headed to Lilavati Hospital, which was just a short drive away. Ajit held onto our cameras as we made our way into the hospital. He said he would wait for us, and we felt horrible for him because the wait could be hours. He insisted and wished us good luck. We went through the security check at the hospital, which had become normal for us. Since the attacks, security is high everywhere. To enter our hotel there were two security checkpoints. At first this was an intimidating sight, but soon became comfortable as we got to know our hotel security gal (who sadly took ill days before we left so we never got to say goodbye).

The hospital was like any hospital, busy, lots of families waiting around and somewhat difficult to navigate. We found the doctors outside the IVF lab and semen collection room, and also, our surrogate was there with her assigned caretaker. She looked so beautiful and so excited. She had a gorgeous white sari on and her hair was done so beautifully. She was all smiles and gave us a shy wave from across the room. We sat in the waiting area for a few minutes and then Dr. Yash appeared and we headed to the cafeteria to talk. The doctors at Surrogacy India always made us feel welcome, like they were truly invested in us. Not much was said as we were both nervous, and Dr. Yash is such a quiet and thoughtful woman. We had a drink and chatted and then headed back to start the thawing of our embryos. It was time. Our hearts sunk, yet we were somewhat optimistic that vial Number Four was our ticket to parenthood. We sat in the waiting room with Dr. Sudhir and our surrogate. I stared at the door notably marked “IVF SEMEN COLLECTION” and recounted the stories I had heard from people about the state of the room, and I was dying to get up and open the door to see for myself. I respected the door and didn’t open it, and to this day, I regret it.

We waited, and waited, and read the same newspaper over and over. Finally, Dr Yash appeared from the lab. She looked defeated and sad. We knew before she said anything that the news was not good. She was in her scrubs, hair net on and surgical mask draped around her neck. She had vial Number Four in her hand, and told us she was sorry, but there were no embryos. Vial Number Four had also been damaged; it just was not visible until today during the official thaw. She showed us the vial and the damage and explained the mechanics of the apparatus. Our world exploded. Our poor surrogate sat there wondering what was going on. I was a mess, crying, sobbing like an old Italian woman at a funeral. Mark was strong, comforting me –as was Dr. Sudhir. I felt that our world had come to some catastrophic end. The head of embryology appeared and invited us all to come into his office. He gave us words of comfort and tried to help us understand that this was not the end. He gave us some options and explained how this had never happened before. We heard him, we thanked him, and we needed to run, far away from the hospital. We worried about our surrogate and how she would take the news. We could not muster up any words to say and we just headed toward the elevator, which of course was not working. I was angrily pushing the down arrow button and nothing was happening! “Get me out of here now!”was all I could think. We eventually found stairs and left the hospital, quickly finding Ajit. Mark told Ajit what had just happened and he was upset by our news. He made mention of what a great couple we are and how this was not at all what he wished for us.

Of course, it was after 8pm and traffic was chaos. The drive back to the hotel took forever. I sobbed and thanked Ajit for his words and eventually we got to our hotel and said goodnight. We walked to our room like zombies, the walking dead. My sobbing was over and now I was just numb. We talked about leaving India as soon as possible and decided to call the airline to see if we could make this happen. Fortunately we had installed Skype on our laptop and used it to call the airline. It was going to cost an additional $2500 to change the flight. We decided to stay in India for the rest of our time and try to enjoy it for what it was.

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