By: Kerrie Olejarz
The days crawled by at a snail’s pace until finally came my long-awaited appointment with the doctor. Early in the morning I printed off copies of the enrollment paperwork and the required testing schedule to share with the doctor. I was extremely nervous to ask for his support to have a baby…in India. The potential judgment was looming and the fear that he would deny me this opportunity weighed heavily. I made the long drive to downtown Toronto and walked in to the office building that held my immediate fate. After a 20-minute wait, well beyond my appointment, I was finally called into the exam room, where I continued to wait another 25 minutes. Sitting there with nothing to read but a 1980’s copy of Reader’s Digest and a pregnancy wheel my mind wandered to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s father comes to see a back specialist in New York and his wallet gets stolen out of his pants in the waiting room. As I sat staring at the stirrups on the exam table, all I can hear in my head is Jerry’s father yelling, “my wallet’s missing, my wallet’s missing!”
Finally, I heard my chart on the other side of the door slide out of the door pocket and soon after the door opened, and, in God-like fashion he entered, almost one hour past my scheduled appointment time. At this point, I was just relieved to get this show on the road. He asked a few questions about what had happened since our loss in February and wondered if I had any answers from the Special Pregnancy Clinic. I quickly told him the situation and then went directly into what we had decided – to have a baby with a surrogate. He quickly agreed that surrogacy was our only option. He asked if I had found a surrogate to work with and my heart sped up — if I could sweat, I would have been dripping. I pulled out all of the enrollment information from the clinic in India. As I passed it to the doctor, I rambled on at light speed about the clinic, the surrogates, the testimonials I had received, and how I had done so much research and felt very well prepared for this. He quickly glanced over the paper work and said “why are you here if you have it all worked out?”
I explained that I needed his help with the required tests and the IVF cycle…that the doctors in India and he would together satellite monitor me for the first few days then I would hop on a plane to India. Having never done an IVF cycle, I did not know how my body would respond, and I needed the doctor to help me with the down regulation and first few days of ovarian stimulation. We could not chance hopping on a plane to India to find out that I have cysts which cancel the cycle. This needed to be done at home, in advance. The doctor explained to me that if I were his wife, he would prefer that the entire cycle be done out of country, monitored by one doctor. He also said he would help with a few days’ of down regulation but then I would be on my own. Finally, he told me it was far from a normal request and that he would need to discuss all of this with his business partner. So I sat there with mixed emotions, thinking it was good that he would help a bit. But looking back, his offer to help with just a few days’ of down regulation was nothing! Secondly, I thought that his “talk to the partner” statement was a cop-out; he had no intentions of helping us and this just bought him an excuse. IVF is paid 100% out of pocket in Canada so I thought this was a no-brainer. Take my money, do a scan, and prescribe some meds –it wasn’t that difficult! His closing statement was that he would get back to me with a decision by the end of the week.
I left his office angry at his arrogance and the fact that in this immediate moment, our fate was left in his hands. As the days went on I was less angry until the blocked ID showed up on my home phone and I answered it. It was the doctor and he immediately went into a rant about how I was making a horrible choice to work with a surrogate in India, that he had heard nothing but horror stories and had yet to see a good outcome from India. He continued on to say that he could never support such an inhumane process overseas. My heart pounded and my jaw dropped. I was able to interject into his rant and tell him I was personally speaking with people who were confirming the opposite, but he would not hear me. He wished me well and the conversation ended. I stood there in shock…what did I just hear? Were these words based on professional judgment or racial prejudices? In my kitchen, with the telephone in hand, I just stood there. My heart rate slowly returned to normal and I collected my nerves. I called my husband at work to deliver this news. He was equally devastated. Now what? Who do we turn to next? If my own doctor who witnessed me fall apart during the very last ultrasound of our baby would not support us, then who would?
We were broken. We were sad and hopeless, our dreams crushed momentarily, until a few days later we saw 24/7 coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The very hotels we had recently price-checked were under siege, on fire –and there was word of many people dying at the hands of the terrorists. Glued to the television for hours on end, we watched this horror unfold. During the four or five days of the attacks and television coverage, I was between the TV and the online surrogacy forums. People I had gotten to know through these forums were either already in Mumbai or scheduled to leave any day now. There were constant updates on the forums, and those who had blogs were posting their latest. I emailed the doctors –concerned for them, the surrogates, and the international clients. I quickly heard back that everyone was accounted for and doing well. As this tragedy came to an end, we had reached some perspective on our situation. There are many doctors out there and we would have to knock on doors for help.
The recent attacks also left us vulnerable to unwanted comments about our journey to India. When we initially told friends and family, they were all very positive and excited for us. Now, after the attacks, some voiced concern about us traveling to India. We had to calm family and reassure them that India will be safe, safer when we finally get there.