Friday, July 25, 2014
I am sure most of you would have guessed it correctly. Yes, Rita is pregnant! Dr. Malpani sent me a mail one fine day saying, ‘Congrats! Rita’s beta HCG is 721.72 mIU/ml’ (12dp5dt). We were at Hyderabad during that time; we were traveling to meet Rajender’s niece. When I showed the mail to Rajender, he felt so relieved. I could see his face calming down after that day’s tension about the outcome of the surrogacy cycle. I felt so relieved too. But we were not overjoyed or not even happy. We held each other’s hands and sat quietly. Neither of us talked anything about it. That day was quite beautiful, there was a relief yet both of us were aware that there were still numerous hurdles to cross! To be honest, I was a bit proud too, my decision was right after all! My last chance to have a genetic baby is still bright because of what I decided to do with my last two frozen embies. I thanked God!
I am pregnant and my little embryo is growing in a woman’s womb whom I have never met. We don’t even speak the same language! I am not sure what to do. Should we call her, will she feel comfortable? After a deep thought I decided not to call Rita. But again Dr. Malpani insisted that I must meet her. I could understand what Dr.Malpani is thinking. He wants Rita to feel comfortable about this pregnancy. If we meet her she will bond with us and also with the little seed that is growing in her. I understood this, but again I was thinking what if this pregnancy ends soon (I learned to be pessimistic in order to ward off horrible emotional pain). If I meet her now and if the pregnancy doesn’t progress well, I will be again in hell and I don’t know how long will it take for me to recover; I agree I was selfish! The pain I went through few months ago was still raw and it is for Rajender too. I don’t want to travel to Mumbai, meet Rita and raise our hopes too high, too soon. So I decided to wait for 3 more months to meet Rita. I was totally unaware at that time that I will meet Rita very soon.
Rita’s HCG value appeared pretty high for me. I was wondering whether both my embies implanted! Even though I knew how dangerous a multiple pregnancy can be, my heart was longing for twins again. How nice it would be if both my children come back to me – this is what I thought! Everytime I do want my life to be a fairy tale with a happily ever after ending but my fate is otherwise! Our mind is the most wonderful time machine, our thoughts could take us anywhere in a fraction of a second. I was dreaming of twins; I was dreaming of meeting Rita; I was dreaming of receiving two healthy children in my hands; I was dreaming that one of the child is a boy and another a girl; I was even dreaming of bringing Rita and her family to our place to celebrate the birth of our children…Isn’t five minutes enough to dream a whole life?
The next day I left to Madurai without Rajender. That was our first time to be away from each other after 6 years of married life. I was happy that I will be spending time with my mom and I was unhappy too to leave a person with whom I share a bond which is not easy to explain. He has been everything in my life: my best friend and my worst enemy too at times, my mom, my dad, my guardian angel, my boss, my lover, my husband, my child, everything, everything! I told him 1000 times to be careful, to be safe. I was the one who pestered him to send me to Madurai but then I was angry too that he is sending me away. With tears in my eyes I waved him good bye in the airport. A very big fear gripped me, if something goes wrong with this pregnancy in the next few weeks, I wouldn’t have a shoulder to cry on nearby. But I also felt relieved that if something goes wrong I don’t have to see that hurt expression in my husband’s face, the expression, the pain which I hate to see in Rajender’s face! That is what that hurts me the most.
After a week I received the ultrasound report. There was only one sac in the uterus. But even before that, I guessed that it might only be a singleton. Rita’s second HCG doubled only 70% in 48h. To be honest, I felt a bit unhappy. I felt deprived of something which I deserved. But I consoled my mind thinking that a singleton pregnancy is safe, it is easier for Rita too and all I need is a healthy baby in hand.
Time in Madurai moved very slowly. I avoided discussing with my mom about the pregnancy. She was careful too not to talk about it. All my loved ones just behaved as if there is no such happening at all, the pain everyone went through has made them very cautious. Nobody was ready to acknowledge that pregnancy. On one such lazy day in Madurai I happened to meet my friend; she studied with me in college. First I saw her mom in the nearby farmer’s market. She was selling some of the produces from her farm. I enquired about my friend and she said that she doesn’t have children too. She said, ‘I will definitely ask ‘I’ to meet you’. One day my friend came to my home. She appeared as the same person as she was in college - bubbly, tralkative, laughing a lot. When she heard what happened to my twins her eyes were wet. She said, ‘Manju, you must have gone through hell. I am really sorry for what happened, do not worry, I will pray to God, you will have your children soon’. All the time I was watching her, she was not a bit sorry for herself. She genuinely felt my pain, worried for me, tried to comfort me.
I struggled for the right words to ask about her. She opened up. She said, ‘Manju, I have gone through very difficult times. We both had all the treatments that were possible. As a result we lost everything. My mom was telling to call you since you gave her your phone number. I wanted to talk to you so badly but you know what, I don’t have enough balance in my SIM card to talk to you. This is our situation now. We have lost everything due to infertility treatment. The company my husband worked was also closed due to some reason. Now we both work far away from home. Being away from home town also helps us to escape from several uncomfortable questions we face here. I have heard so many hurtful words till now. All my siblings have children, when I go to some family functions it is very difficult to face people and their thoughtless comments. Manju, I wanted to adopt my brother’s son after my sister-in-law died. In my home everyone was ready to give him for adoption but my in-laws didn’t agree. I have accepted my fate now. We will be without children, nobody will there for us during our old age. Time goes on very slowly. I stitch clothes and that helps to pass some time. There is a kind of emptiness always. The only solace is my husband; he takes care of me well; we just live for each other. If some stranger asks me about children, nowadays I say that they are staying with my mom and studying there’. She was telling all this with tears flowing down her cheeks and with a smile. We both were holding each other’s hand and crying silently. I had no words of wisdom to tell her. I understood she had ovarian failure. I even tried to coax her into using donor eggs. She just said that children are a closed chapter in her life. She said, ‘only now I am bit peaceful, please do not ask me to do anything more’. She left after sometime wishing me all well. I sat there confused and baffled, will I too end up like this!
My friend’s ordeal and the pain she is going through lingered in me for a long time afterwards. I compared my situation with hers. I felt grateful to be able to afford such treatment and for having very supportive loved ones around, but at the same time I wondered whether I am doing everything right. The question which always arises within me and which I try to keep suppressed came back with full force - am I going too far to have a baby? I consoled myself by saying, I am not doing anything immoral and I assured myself that I will do my best to Rita. This gave me some peace of mind.
The 6th week scan results came. I felt numb seeing that. I called Rajender and said not to keep his hopes high. I mailed Dr. Malpani, he agreed too that it is worrisome but he said, ‘let us hope for the best’. The scan report at 6 weeks read as below:
Gestation sac: 8.3mm =4.5 weeks
No fetal pole seen as yet
Chorionic reaction is poor
A bleed seen inferiorly, measuring 8x9 mm
Miracles do happen, now the question is – WILL IT HAPPEN FOR Manju?
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The day of embryo transfer came. My two frozen-refrozen embies were thawed. I was not a bit nervous about the thawing process. I know Dr.Sai is competent enough to do it in a good way. I was just waiting for the photos of the embryos. Actually, I felt a lot more relaxed than if I have to accept those little embies in my uterus. In other words, nothing appeared real. We were in Tirupathi on the day of ET, praying to Lord Venkateswara ( ridiculous right, you outsource your duty to someone and pray to God ;). I was wondering about Rita! How will she be feeling? Does she really know what it means by embryo transfer? I mailed Dr. Malpani requesting him to show her the embryos. What will she think seeing those minute blasts? I had no way of talking to her. I don’t know to speak Hindi, Rajender could speak (this is a very big disadvantage!). Inspite of Dr. Malpani’s insistence that I must meet Rita, I was very reluctant to do so. At those times my thinking was like this: I must never get involved in any way in my surrogate’s pregnancy. I shouldn’t develop a bond with the baby or the surrogate. Once upon a time I even told Dr, I don’t even want to see the ultrasound photos. I thought naively, I will see my surrogate when I have my baby in hand. The pain I have gone through and the pain I saw in Rajender when we lost our babies wanted me so badly to protect myself and my husband against any further pain brought about by any untoward happening. My thinking is - if we are in no way involved in this pregnancy (other than giving our gametes) our pain will be less if something unfortunate happens! I didn’t realize at that time that my thoughts were too childish and it can never be like that in reality.
Dr. Sai promptly sent me the photos of my embryos after the transfer. They looked perfect; I would say Dr. Sai managed to thaw them perfectly, close to 100%. Dr. Malpani sent me a mail saying that everything went well. I entered into a 2ww which is completely new to me. I was so relieved that I will not have any restriction in my activities from my loved ones (actually in every restriction they put for me I feel their insecurity and pain, it is very difficult to face it); I was relieved that I don’t have to obsess all the time about my uterus area; I was extremely relieved that I don’t have to perform that evil urine pregnancy test at the end of 2ww and nervously wait for a tiny pink line which will decide our future. I was also so relieved that I am in no way involved in the outcome of this FET cycle (although this thought is a kind of delusion) - may it be a positive or negative! What a pleasant 2ww! I was wondering what kind of instructions were given to Rita after embryo transfer. I wanted Rita to go on with her daily life and not lying down even for a day after the transfer. I hope she didn’t!
During the 2ww, I thought more about Rita than my embies. What it means for her to carry my baby? How will she feel when the pregnancy test comes back positive? Being a first time surrogate, will she be happy or scared if the test comes back positive? I thought, perhaps only when she gets a positive pregnancy test, she will start to realize the real impact of the job that she will be doing for me. I must admit that Rita will get only a meager 2 lakh rupees (less than 4000 dollars!) for the tough and altruistic job she will be doing for us. But I and Rajender have always thought, when she gives us our baby, her children’s education will be our responsibility (she has two lovely children-a boy and a girl). Rita will be a member of our family, she will be there with us during all the important happenings in our family and we will be there for her through thick and thin (if she wants it that way!) I wanted her to be one among us and my child will grow up knowing that he/she has two mom’s – the one who carried in her womb and the one who unfortunately couldn’t carry him/her in her uterus but who will always carry them in her heart ! After all Rita is doing something for me which my sister wouldn’t or couldn’t do. Treating her the right way is the best compensation I could give her for what she will be doing for us. Loving her and not using her is the way to go!
Surrogay in India is 10 times cheaper than in USA. If an US surrogate receives 40,000 dollars for her altruistic act, Indian surrogate gets only 4000-8000 dollars! This has turned India into a surrogacy hub. This is what attracts lots of foreign couples towards India for reproductive tourism. Such reproductive tourism benefits India as it earns lots of foreign exchange; it benefits doctors as they do see a good amount of profit; it benefits the tourists as they have a chance to get the baby they yearn for in just 1/10th of the price when compared to surrogacy in their own country; but does it benefit the surrogate? I would say yes, that is why they are ready to undergo the whole process. In a poor surrogate’s point of view 2 lakhs is a big money. It helps to alleviate their poverty at least a bit. Of course those few thousand dollars will not be enough to buy even a piece of land or a flat. It will not be enough to give their children the best education possible. Maximum they can do with that money is to live well for a year or pay their children’s school fees for two years (for a decent education)! Or they could pay the debt they have got from someone at a huge interest which is handicapping their normal life. This is all they could do! On the other hand, a rich person in Mumbai will easily spend more than 2 lakhs in a night for a party! If it is so, then is the compensation an Indian surrogate gets is unfair? Is it financial exploitation of poor women? I would say, yes and no. If surrogates are able to do some other job which could give them this amount of money, many wouldn’t prefer to carry someone’s baby due to the social stigma involved in it, especially in a society like India. Just because they have no source to earn that little money, is it OK to pay just 2 lakhs - 4 lakhs for Indian surrogates? I don’t know what others think about this but for me it does appear unfair and I think instead of discussing what is wrong, who is wrong and getting on with my own life, it is wise to do what is just in my eyes to my surrogate! Will I be able to keep my word?! :)
Other then the meager compensation an Indian surrogate gets, there is one more danger Indian surrogates are always exposed to: lack of freedom of choice! Indian surrogates are not highly educated women. Many are illiterate and even if they know to read and write, it doesn’t mean they could understand the medical terms or medical details that are shared with them. Many lack basic medical knowledge; like many of us, they suffer from health illiteracy too. Many find it difficult to grasp the medical information provided to them and make use of it aptly. This makes them highly vulnerable to exploitation in many ways. For example, consider this situation: there comes a couple to an IVF doctor with a demand that they need twins via surrogacy. They promise to offer him more money for that. Remember, doctors work for the commissioning parents as they are the one who is paying him. So naturally many doctor’s aim will be to take into consideration the best interest of the commissioning parents. In order to achieve a twin pregnancy or in order to achieve a pregnancy, the doctor transfers multiple embryos to the surrogate. The decision how many embryos to transfer to surrogate’s uterus is not left to Indian surrogate’s hand. Only the doctor and the commissioning parents decide that, but the risk of multiple pregnancy has to be borne by the surrogate and her body! There is no one for an Indian surrogate who will act on her best interest, someone who could talk on behalf of her and help her to take decisions which benefit her the most. I read in a blog where the prospective parent wants her surrogate to take a particular vitamin. She writes, 'I am not sure whether my surrogate is taking what I give her. So I asked her to take the vitamin in front of my eyes'! This might appear as a trivial issue but this clearly shows how helpless and vulnerable Indian surrogates are! If it is in USA, no surrogate will heed to your orders. If they think that particular vitamin is not going to do any good or if they find it uncomfortable to take it, they can politely refuse your request. They have the freedom to choose! Another example: a surrogate’s early first trimester TSH level is 2.63. The biological parent reads in a scientific journal that the TSH must be within 2.5 during the first trimester and that gives the baby the best possible environment to grow. She gets very nervous and asks the IVF doctor to put her surrogate on thyroxine therapy. A TSH of 2.62 will not harm the baby or hinder its development in any way. As the pregnancy progresses the surrogate’s body will start producing more thyroxine to meet the growing needs. There is no rationale to give the surrogate thyroxine therapy as it is a hormone which in excess can create lots of problem for the surrogate as well as the baby. But the commissioning parent is adamant that the surrogate’s TSH level must be corrected. Obviously most doctors who work on the best interest of their patient will put the surrogate on thyroxine therapy in order to satisfy his patient. An Indian surrogate will obviously not know what thyroxine is and what effects it will have on her body! If I could give one more example, a surrogate is in her 37th week of pregnancy, the commissioning parent want the baby to be removed from the surrogate via c-section as she was paranoid for many different reasons about vaginal delivey’s effect on her baby. Or, one of the commissioning parents has his/her birthday on a particular date and they want their baby to be born on that particular date. Or, the commissioning parent’s family believes that if the baby comes into the world on a particular day and in a particular time (auspicious day and time fixed by the astrologer!), it will do the family good (yes such people still exist!). The commissioning parent demands a c-section on a particular day. They ask the surrogate whether she would like to have a c-section and the surrogate was too tired to carry the pregnancy for many different reasons (she is eager to get back to her family and children instead of lying in the hospital for 3 more weeks). She says that she will agree to c-section and she desires that too! It is a well-known scientific fact that c-section posses additional risks to the mother. Should the surrogate’s wish be considered and a c-section ordered? Is she wise enough to take her own medical decision by weighing the pros and cons? I hope these examples will make you understand how easily an Indian surrogate could be exploited. I wish every Indian surrogate has a patient advocate with her who works on her best interests!
There is another view about Indian surrogates too. An Indian surrogate is poor and illiterate. She will do anything for money. Since she works as a surrogate in want of money she doesn’t deserve to be treated well. She has no moral values whatsoever. If you give her more space, she will demand from you more money (yeah, she will build a palace by looting you!). If you get increased vaginal discharge it is overgrowth of your vaginal flora, but if your surrogate gets increased vaginal discharge, it is STD! And even more, there are people who shout at their surrogate instead of thanking her when she was lying in pain after the c-section! No more a poor woman, who is risking her health and life to carry your baby, for the beggarly compensation you provide could be insulted! Actually, the reality is, Indian surrogates are highly desired because they live in a family setting, don’t use intoxicants, they are humane, friendly and humble than women elsewhere.
Please remember, your relationship with your surrogate is a two way street. Loving your surrogate instead of using her as a baby-making machine will makes a lot of difference in the way she cares for your baby!
So what happened at the end of 2ww? Did Rita conceive?
Saturday, July 19, 2014
How could the same person appear good and bad to different eyes? I think this post says it all :) I wish people understand the simple fact that, everybody is a mirror and this world just reflects your own quality !
The World is Our Projection by Sri Swami Satchidananda | Yogaville
The World is Our Projection by Sri Swami Satchidananda | Yogaville
Friday, July 18, 2014
After a day or two in Madurai, my mom slowly started this topic. She has tried to talk to me about this before, but in vain. She used to say, shall we go to this temple (there are several temples in India where childless couple go and offer their prayers in a belief that their wish gets fulfilled) or pray to this God and promise to offer something so that our baby wish gets materialized. I used to tell her, pray to God, I have nothing against it. I do pray to God all the time, sometimes I ask for a baby and sometimes if it appears too irrational I just ask for the strength to bear whatever comes my way in this infertility journey; and God has always listened to my prayers, he has given me the strength to bear whatever comes my way! I would tell my mom, other than praying to God please do not get yourself involved in any other extreme religious practices! I knew for sure many irrational beliefs could bring lots of heartache and unnecessary expenditure. If the person is not emotionally strong there is a danger of falling into lifelong obsession; even spiritual obsession can be life and soul destroying! I used to insist, amma, instead of all that please help people around you in some way or other, and then God will be much happier with us. Actually I acquired this attitude from my dad. I have never seen him going voluntarily to any temple. I know he prays to God, I know that he believes in a super power but unfortunately I never had a chance to know what his definition of ‘God’ is! He vehemently opposed superstitious beliefs. Without looking for auspicious dates, without giving our life’s decision to any astrologer or God man’s hand we lived such a happy, peaceful and fulfilling life devoid of irrational fears!
But this time the situation was much different. Our elders were in a state of disbelief and shock. We were too, but we had our own coping mechanisms. We spent our time learning why things went wrong; we were able to satisfy our mind with scientific explanations; we are young and had lot more things to do which could divert our mind from what happened – our work, friends, entertainment etc. But my mom and Rajender’s parents had only one coping mechanism – God and the beliefs related to Him! Rajender’s mom gave our birth dates to a nearby village priest and asked whether something is wrong with our horoscopes, the priest said, might be there is ‘sarpadhosha’ (which can be translated into English as ‘serpent’s curse’) and if you go to temples where snake is worshiped and perform ‘pujas’(worship), everything will be well from now. At the same time, my mom’s brother was insisting that we visit a temple in Kerala called ‘Mannarasala’, which is coincidentally a temple where serpents are worshiped too. When our parents brought forth their wishes to us, I told Rajender, let us do it this time. They feel so scared and insecure by whatever happened. We are also thinking of traveling somewhere and our greatest wish is to take our parents along with us to some tourist destinations. We were out of our country for almost 10 years. Once in a couple of years we could manage to come to India for a period of only a month or so. That short time was not enough to take our parents with us for some holiday. This is a great chance to make our wish come true too, so let us do it.
We decided to split our pilgrimage into two parts: one with my mom and uncle and the other with Rajender’s parents. With my mom we planned to go to Kerala and on the way back we decided to visit ‘Munar’, which is a very beautiful hill station. With Rajender’s parents we decided to go to Tirupathi and Kalahasthi (kala=snake, hasthi=elephant). Our trip to Kerala was arranged by my uncle, who is my mother’s sister’s husband and I have to talk here about my uncle and aunt and the ordeal they went through in life!
My aunt and uncle had two wonderful children – a boy and a girl! When the girl was around 16 years old, they lost her to blood cancer. That was a very painful death for their child. When they recovered slowly from what happened and tried to concentrate on their son, they lost him too to a car accident when traveling to Tirupathi! Their son was doing his MS in USA at that time. This horrible incident happened when he came for a month holiday to India. My aunt and uncle were in the same car but they escaped with minor injuries. They lost their son, who occupied the front seat of the car, to whiplash injury to his spinal cord. I cry when I write this. If the loss of my children at 5 months pregnancy could give me hell lot of pain and drive me mad, how to describe their pain? My aunt would say, ‘in the accident my spectacles broke and when they brought my son’s body to me, I couldn’t even see him properly’. Life is cruel, very cruel and unfair too! Theirs is a very happy family and their beautiful nest was shattered beyond belief within seconds. They say now, 'we thought we will end our life. But it is not that easy too’. To make the story short, my uncle turned all his attention to his business after this incident. He left the government job he had. He helped to educate many poor children who now look upon my uncle and aunt as their parents. He became the guardian for many in our family. He earns a lot now; helps many people; he gives job to many families and all this he achieved after his loss, after the age of 55! If you are someone who thinks infertility is the utmost pain and curse, how will you call what happened to them? They proved that what happened to them doesn’t matter but taking life in its stride and making it meaningful after all that happened to them is what that matters the most!
So one fine morning we left our home in a comfortable vehicle for the pilgrimage. My uncle and aunt were coming out of their nest after 10 years. We were so happy that it is happening because of us. My uncle likes Rajender so much - he sees his son in him. That is the beauty of my husband’s nature, people fall in love with him in the first meeting. His good nature reflects in his face, and the way he is humble, caring and respectful will touch even the most hard-hearted person. Yes, of course I am proud of him! Even my family loves him more than they love me, including my mom!
When we entered from Tamil Nadu to Kerala, I felt I am in ‘God’s own country’! Kerala is such a beautiful and fertile state, while most regions in Tamil Nadu is dry. My mom actually grew up and had her education in Kerala. She was so happy to visit Kerala again. We actually went to the place where she lived with her parents. It is called ‘Alappuzha’. I was born there. I got to see the house where my grandparents lived. After 35 years it is still there unaltered but somebody else lives there now. The most beautiful happening is that, my mom got to meet her friends after 35 years (with whom she had no contacts at all!) The happiness they shared when they met each other was soulful. I had a great satisfaction that the trip has served its purpose. When my mom used to talk about her friends with a twinkle in her eyes, I used to wonder, will they ever be able to meet again. But now she has contact with almost all her friends.
We first went to ‘Mannarasala’ temple. It is in ‘Alappuzha’ district. My mother’s brother who is now more than 70 years of age guided us throughout the journey. He is the one who is very eager to make us visit the temple. I could see his happiness and enthusiasm even at that age. If you want to know more about ‘Mannarasala’ please visit this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannarasala_Temple.It is a beautiful temple situated in a forest area. There were statues of serpents everywhere. We were asked to buy a metal snake figure and a small cylindrical wood (called ‘uruli’) along with some other items for worship. After the ‘puja’ is over we were directed to a very old woman priest. She sat inside a small room and via the window of that room our details including our name and birth dates were given to her. They said that she will write our name on the cylindrical wood and will pray for us to give us our generation to ‘Nagaraja’ (Serpent Gods). Once we have our baby, we must go with our baby to the temple and give the receipt they have given us. With that they will identify the cylindrical wood with our name on it and will remove it or change its position. This is what we were told and this is what we did. They also asked us to pray in this way to the serpent God there, ‘if we or our ancestors have done any harm to you or your generations please forgive us and give us our baby!’ Tears were running down my cheeks when I said this, at that moment my rational brain has taken a back step. We prayed; we did whatever was told to us whole-heartedly and with utmost respect (atleast Rajender did so!) . I could see so many women who came to offer their prayers; I saw so many women who came with their beautiful babies to offer their thanks and I felt I will also have my baby! We were given some holy ash and were asked to have it on our forehead every day after taking bath. We did follow it as much as we could. This article in Dr. Malpani’s blog will be very interesting and informative too: http://blog.drmalpani.com/2014/03/infertility-in-hindu-mythology-dr.html
Then from there we travelled to several temples. We went to Trivandrum too. We got a chance to visit ‘Sree Padmanabhaswany Temple’, which is situated in Trivandrum. That whole day we were travelling and visiting temples. It was a great experience. My mind was so calm and fearless. I enjoyed thoroughly the nature’s beauty what Kerala offered us and the food was amazing. Whenever we need to enter a temple we have to remove our sandals and walk bare footed. My feet were getting natural acupuncture. At some places there were stones, at some places there was sand, and in some places there was grass and all those created different sensations on my bare foot. When the stones pricked, it was a bearable pain, the sand tickled my feet, and grass beds were very soothing. The temperature varied too: some places were hot, some were cool, some wet! My feet enjoyed so many different sensations at a time and I just loved it! When evening came, we went to the beach and when I stood with my bare feet in sea water, I felt worriless and peaceful. I really thought, ‘Do someone has a beautiful life than me? In the past few months, I have tasted so many different emotions in life – happiness (after conception of twins), fear and excitement (during pregnancy), horrible emotional pain (when I lost my children), insecurity (when we decided to get back to India), happiness and content (when we got to see our parents and spend time with them), peacefulness, joy, renewed faith and hope (when we had this trip) and lots of love! I really thanked God for my life; I thought I wouldn’t exchange my beautiful life with anyone else in this world and for anything!’ At the same moment, a fear struck me too; I silently prayed standing in the beach that I should never ever face the ordeal which I went through (losing my twins)’
Did God listen to my prayers?
When we came home after the beautiful Kerala trip, the surrogacy agreement papers were waiting for us. We signed it and sent it back. Within few weeks after that, embryo transfer was scheduled for Rita. My two embryos which were frozen on day 3, which were grown to day 5 (during previous FET cycle where I conceived my twins) and refrozen again, were thawed. Did those embryos survive the thaw? Were those embryos successfully transferred to Rita’s womb? Remember, those little embies were my last chance to have my genetic baby, as per our decision!
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I am a South Indian, Tamilian and my native is Madurai. I am sure you would have captured my haughtiness in the previous line. Who wouldn’t be proud of their roots? The day we left for Madurai from Rajender’s place I was so happy. I was going to see my mom - is there anything else needed to be happy ? My mom was eagerly waiting for me too. She was heartbroken about whatever happened. She went from temple to temple all those 5 months of my pregnancy. She lived with the thought of her grandchildren whom she never saw. I know she carried them in her heart and to let go of such a beautiful dream at the age of 60 is painful, very painful.
Madurai is a very small, beautiful city. It is famous for the temples situated there (every street has a small temple!). The most famous temple is called Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple and the above picture shows one of the temple’s towers, magnificent isn’t it? Every time I go there the temple’s architecture never ceases to amaze me. I love roaming around the streets situated close to the temple rather than going inside. Oh, I simply love Madurai for its liveliness.
We reached Madurai at early morning 4:30. We took an auto from the railway station to our home. The auto driver was a young lad and was chatting happily. The moment we were to enter our village border, the auto driver turned to me and asked, are you wearing slippers. I was not sure whether I heard it right, his question didn’t make any sense to me. So I asked him to repeat his question. He again asked, do you have slippers in your feet? I was so confused; what kind of question is this! I reluctantly said yes and he replied, I will tell you the reason for this question later. When we were nearing our home he said, sister, there is a graveyard at that turning. If you do not wear something in your feet, the spirits (ghosts) which live there will catch hold of you and come along with you. I always make sure I wear something on my feet when I cross that area. A big smile appeared on my face and I knew at that moment that I was In Madurai, a city with gullible, friendly people. I looked at Rajender and he was smiling at me, no actually grinning at me and I know the meaning of it! He just said with his eyes, is there a bigger ghost than you, will anything even dare to come near you!
My mom was waiting for us. At 5’o clock in the morning she has made hot, hot idlies, chutney and sambhar. Another name for mother is love; no one can take her place. In my in-law’s place I have nothing to complain but I was never as happy and comfortable as I am with my mom. In my place I am the queen, I can get up whenever I want, I can eat whatever I like, I can sleep whenever I want and I can be myself. In my in-law’s place I have to behave well and it is very, very hard to be someone else all the time. At 5 AM, I ate the breakfast which I love most and slept happily until 10 only to wake up and ask, ‘what’s for lunch amma!’
When I said to my mom that we are going to take the surrogacy route she was very happy. She said, ‘Manju how long will you suffer like this. How many injections, how many injuries to your body and mind! I think surrogacy is a better option’. She wanted her daughter not to suffer anymore. My sister is a gynecologist, when I asked her opinion, she said, do whatever appears right for you. With such a fear about carrying a pregnancy, it is not wise to try to get pregnant again. I support you both completely regarding your decision to opt for surrogacy.
My dad is no more, but if he is alive he would have guided me in a very wise manner. When I have to take important decisions in life I miss him dearly. He was a Judge, a very honest Judge. In every nook and corner of my home I feel my dad’s presence. If someone says that I am courageous or appreciate my perseverance, I owe all such praises to my dad. He is the one who brought me up with all these qualities. I take after my dad not physically but mentally. I strongly believe that the good life me and my sister live now is just because of my dad, because of his honesty and good deeds.
I mailed Dr. Malpani regarding our decision to opt for surrogacy. Between the times I lost my twins and the decision regarding surrogacy, I might have asked innumerous questions to my Dr! He was very, very patient with me. He understood my fears and insecurities. He did his best to help me. He would say,’ Manju, we will do our best to help you have a baby’, and those words mean a lot to me. He never, ever said an uncompassionate word, nothing which would hurt me even unintentionally. He took the role of my counselor too! I owe my ability to live normally and happily even after whatever I went through to him, perhaps only to him!
I was not patient; I wanted everything to happen quickly. Dr.Malpani told me that they have to search for a surrogate first and then have to prepare the agreement. I was wondering how long it might take. But I received the surrogacy contract in my hand within a few weeks. I was reading it page by page and for the first time I got to see Rita, my surrogate! There was a passport size photo of her and her husband. I kept on looking at the photo. She appeared shy, calm and humble. I knew that she has two children and she is a first time surrogate. I had so many questions in my mind : Why she opted to be a surrogate? What is her husband doing? How old are her children? Does her husband treat her well? Where does she live, in a slum? Will she take care of my baby well? I am going to take a great leap of faith and trust her, am I doing everything right? In my quest for a baby, am I putting my baby itself at risk? So many questions haunted me and I asked Dr. Malpani everything. All he said was, Manju you must come and visit Rita, and then many of your fears will vanish.
I didn’t sign the contract at that time. The reason is, my name is misspelled in the document. So I sent it back to the lawyer. In between the time I sent the contract back and received a new contract, we went for a pilgrimage, yes a pilgrimage in search of baby luck!
Did I meet Rita in person? Where was the pilgrimage to? A lot more to share! :)