Thursday 27 September 2012

Diaper Rash

Diaper (or nappy) rash happens. I have tried many products and product success may depend on your little one's skin. However, for me and others who I have introduced the product to, one product stands out as number one. Unfortunately, it's not locally available so whenever friends or relatives visit from, you guessed it, Australia, I ask them to bring along several boxes for me. It's also available in the UK and serves other purposes beyond treating and preventing diaper rashes. It's Bepanthen!

So my dear friends from Australia, when we go pick up our babies, please bring along a few boxes for me... and yourselves!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Gender Surprise

I thought I would share an ultrasound photo of my daughter aka baby #2 on home soil. She is stretching her leg out - very cute. At the time of this post, we are at 21w4d - this ultrasound was taken at 17w6d. This was a private ultrasound with both 2D and 3D photos - I decided not to do 4D at that time. I plan on doing another private ultrasound session between 29 and 30 weeks.

Given who I am, I will always take the opportunity to find out a baby's gender without hesitation. Not that I care about the gender - healthy baby first - but it helps with some planning and organizing, and it's just nice to know. After saying that, I do like the fact that with SCI, I will not find out the gender until birth - a gender surprise. Very few surprises in life so I embrace it. I cannot wait for my second attempt!

On a side note, I learned something new today. For my son, I was told, "You're having a boy!" and with this second pregnancy, I was told, "You're having a girl!" Today, I learned that some doctors or ultrasound technicians say, "You're having a hotdog!" and "You're having a hamburger!" I thought these were funny metaphors! LOL!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Nasal Congestion & Mucus

My son has returned to preschool, which means more kids, which means more germs, which means more colds. Yes, yes, germs are "good" to build up their immune system but it's hard seeing your child sick. Very hard. For colds, he hasn't fully grasped the idea of blowing his nose - he relates it more to sneezing so he pretends to sneeze. Like everything, it will come with time - still funny though.

Although I don't remember him being sick as a baby, I remember the couple of times he had a cold and stuffy nose as a toddler. So what can you do if they can't blow their nose at a young age and need to clear the mucus from their little noses?

With loose mucus, you can use those infant suction bulbs or syringes. Although I had one, I never used it because of the feedback I got from my friends. The suction these provide including the rubbing of the syringe itself on the nasal membranes can be irritating, which in turn can cause even more inflammation and worsen or prolong the congestion. They do sell so I assume many have used them successfully.

Another option to remove loose mucus is to go old school - an option that I found gross to be honest. You can gently suck out the mucus by placing your mouth over the nostrils. You should do this for only a few seconds at a time so your baby can breathe - with the nasal passages congested, baby can only breathe through the mouth. Again, yuck!

For me, I chose to use the NoseFrida - my friends in Australia would be familiar with this. It's been available for some time now on this side of the Pacific Ocean. I think it's a God-send. It's better than a suction bulb because the tip is broad so it prevents you from accidentally rubbing it against the nasal membrane. It also provides you with more control over the strength of your sucking. Plus with the casing and filters, it's not yucky like the old school way. Of course, the more difficult task is getting your wriggly baby to stay still or older baby to cooperate but one could argue that this is a challenge with all methods.

For dried mucus, a saline solution/spray can sooth the inflamed membranes and help loosen the dried mucus blocking the nasal passages. I bought my spray but you can also make your own by using 1/4 teaspoon non-iodine table salt to 1 cup of gently warmed water. They say to use a dropper to get several drops in each nostril or use a wet cotton ball to squeeze several drops in. I prefer the spray versus dropper as it often triggered sneezing, which often cleared out the mucus.

Other tips that won't remove mucus but will help with nasal congestion are listed below.
  • Elevate baby's head safely to help keep airways open
  • Turn on the shower to create steam
  • Use a vaporizer in your baby's room
  • Use an all natural, non-petroleum based chest rub - many are not safe for young babies so ask the baby's doctor
  • Avoid products and detergents that contain fragrances or scents - babies have their own natural perfect smell
  • Use an air purifier to minimize airborne irritants - good for everyone, not just baby
  • Similar to the last point, I had the house vents cleaned especially given the age of my house as well as the year-long renovations last year

I'm sure there are many other tips but wanted to share some of mine with you. Oh I forgot - reason for this post is because my son has a cold. Poor guy but honestly, it doesn't stop my son - he is still energetic and active.

Summary point - go buy a NoseFrida for baby pick-up!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Onwards & Upwards

Off to the races again! If all goes according to plan, the frozen embryo transfer (FET) will happen October 18-20. Hoping that the second time around will result in a BFP - not only for myself but for my Aussie friends. Both couples are having two surrogates this second time around so my wishes, thoughts, and prayers are with them for one or more babies!

Talking about Oz, I have shared my baby #2 news with my relatives in Perth, who we are close to. They are asking us to visit Perth in 2013 - how fun would that be! This time around, I would have a reason to visit Sydney and Melbourne! Never been there before. I took my son to Perth when he was 3 months old and granted he was a great plane baby but at least I know what to expect flying such a long distance with a baby.

Regarding the FET, I was asked about my chances with frozen transfer versus a fresh transfer. Statistics aside, I know many couples and singles in the surrogacy community that have been successful and unsuccessful with both. If I have one piece of advice, I would say, try your best not to worry or think too much about this - whether it's a frozen or fresh attempt, it's one step closer to having a baby. My baby on the way is a result of a FET using five-year old frozen embryos. I had two frozen embryos remaining, luckily both successfully thawed, and one stuck. I believe 13 years is the longest that a embryo has been frozen that has resulted in a birth of a baby.

Anyway, life carries on. Work is busy at this time of the year especially with business plans being developed for next year and the fact that I will be on leave with baby #2 next year. Slowly but surely also preparing the home for the addition of my daughter. I don't have a lot of extra stuff (aka junk) in my house especially with the large-scale renovations last year but I do have one room to make into more of an efficient storage space. I have several plastic containers containing my son's baby and toddler clothes so I will go through them and take out anything gender-neutral and store the rest in that room. With my upcoming two-week vacation, I will take some time to get that all organized.

Also, just planning the details of our upcoming Disneyland trip. I appreciate some people show up to the happiest place on Earth and just go with the flow but to maximize our time there, I will plan our days out again like our first trip there in May. This time around, we will skip some rides and attractions but also try out some new ones... as long as I have the courage to do so! LOL! My son loves speed and fast movement so he's been a great influence on me to try different things. Children make so many positive changes in our lives that we don't expect or anticipate.

Anyway, a few weeks until FET - excited but grounded as usual. I trust Dr. S and her staff to do their best and help me complete my family. Fall is here in Vancouver - my favourite season - but it's been a summer-like September so far. Not complaining at all.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Sunday 23 September 2012

Hexadad Too Much

Although the BFN was disappointing news, I am grateful that I don't have the personality to linger in the "darkness" - the BFN actually made me even more motivated to move forward. Don't get me wrong - lingering in "darkness" is not necessarily bad because it's normal to feel down and sad about postponing a dream. I just choose to get up quick and focus on what I can control - and that is to decide what I am going to do with the next attempt.

I knew that I was going to give it another kick at the can but just wasn't sure if it would be with one or two surrogates. There are three main considerations for me. First is financial but in the end, it's money and growing my family is invaluable and priceless. I would just make things work. More importantly, the second issue is the additional number of babies I am willing to have. One surrogate would mean two babies at most while two surrogates would mean four babies at most. Yes, there is the reduction option (down to one per surrogate) but who knows what one will decide until one gets there. So add a potential four babies to my son and another on the way, that would be six - just call me "Hexadad". LOL! Finally, the third considering is timing. As mentioned in previous posts, I would like to have baby #3 during my year-long time off with baby #2. Having two surrogates would increase my chances of having #3 sooner than later.

Initially, I decided to go with two surrogates but in the end, I have decided to go with just one - thus the revision to this post. Again, financially, I would have just made it work. Also, if I am lucky with at least one of my remaining 14 frozen embryos with consecutive attempts, I will still have baby #3 while I am off on leave with baby #2. What sunk in for me is the potential for more babies. I have been blessed with one son already and another on her way - ideally, a third is all I really want. Sure if I am blessed with twins, I will be equally as happy; however, any more would be a challenge (mainly time and energy) for this single dad even with my ultra-strong support network. Reduction is a possibility (down to one per surrogate) but I really doubt I could take that route if both surrogates were to have twins. I would have "what-if" for the rest of my life. The decision to go with one has put my mind at peace - I was initially struggling with the decision to work with two surrogates.

What now? It takes four weeks to prepare a surrogate for a transfer so in the mean time, I will persevere, wait patiently, and continue to think positively. It will be a quick four weeks - two of those weeks I will be on vacation, of which one I will be in Disneyland with my son. Plus I get to read about everyone else's journey, which helps keep my thoughts and energy positive.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Results Are In

The two week wait went by pretty quick. Work is busy especially given that I plan on taking a full year off from work when baby #2 arrives in late January. Plus it was just one of those time periods at work when everyone needed to talk to or help from Human Resources. I do enjoy my job in many ways but being the main HR guy for a growing company of 850 employees can be much at times.

Outside of work, I'm also busy with the usual parenting duties, cleaning/organizing the home (especially with baby #2 coming), typical errands, volunteering, etc. I'm actually off to volunteer at a centre after this post, preparing and serving breakfast to the less fortunate with a bunch of work colleagues. Should be fun! Also, been planning our second trip to Disneyland year and finally got that booked. I took my son early this year in May but now that Carsland is open plus that this will most likely be our last time taking a trip together as a two-person family, I thought it would be a nice vacation since I'm off for two weeks' vacation anyway.

So yes, it was a quick two-week wait but the results are in! Well, it didn't work out this first time around. Disappointing news for sure and Dr. S said she would contact me to chat more. I did respond back to her, thanking her for her sentiments. Although it is not the news I wanted to hear, I also appreciate that even in the most ideal conditions, the final hurdle cannot be controlled and it's up to mother nature to help us out.

So I asked Dr. S how soon can I start the frozen embryo transfer - this may depend if I work with the same surrogate. Again, time is of the essence for me as I would like to ideally have baby #3 when I'm off on my year-long parental leave with baby #2. I'm also wondering if I should just bite the bullet and go with two surrogates this time around. No guarantees of course but potentially higher (not high) probability of getting pregnant. Topics I will chat with Dr. S about. Of course, her and her staff were very supportive in delivering the disappointing news.

That's it for now - off to volunteer but will keep everyone updated with next steps!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Sunday 16 September 2012

Is He Yours?

Some of you are already experiencing this especially if you used an Indian egg donor (and you are not of a similar ethnicity). Some of us waiting in the wings could possibly experience this in the future. I might be a bit over-sensitive about this topic and not because I am embarrassed by any means. However, I do believe in being treated equally as well as respecting people's privacy. So to each his or her own.

Anyway, my son is bi-racial - half Chinese and half Caucasian. However, he completely looks Caucasian - sandy blond hair, extremely fair skin, and sky blue eyes. I have black hair, brown eyes, and do not have fair skin. I appreciate this is unique - one usually (but not always) can see the dominant Asian gene in half-Asian children. I have met an Asian-Caucasian straight couple whose biological children look completely Caucasian. Although I do understand people's curiosity about the connection my son has to me, I think to ask the question is not appropriate especially when he is older and can comprehend the question. It's worse when they asked if he's adopted. There's absolutely nothing wrong with adoption but to plant seeds of untruth about such matters into the minds of children is unnecessary. Also, biracial children are common here in Vancouver - we are a such a diverse city and have been for such a long time. Why does it matter anyway? I can think about hundreds of other topics to talk about relating to children.

Don't get me wrong - I don't jump down people's throats for asking the question. For those who I feel are friendly, I keep it simple by saying that he is my son. I will say the exact same thing again if they start getting specific about genetics. 99% they get the drift. At this time, I have yet to meet any nasty people who are pregnant or have children around - if that were the case, I would have no problems returning the question and asking if their children (or unborn child) were theirs, hers, or his. Fair is fair I think. Of course, I would remain considerate and not ask the question if their children were old enough to understand. I would just pull the parent aside or whisper to them, about the inappropriateness of those questions.

Although similar and stupid question is, where is his mother. You are looking at his mother - me! Mother is a role in my world and has nothing to do with genetics or what I have between my legs to be honest. I believe regardless of your gender, we all play parts of the "father" and "mother" role - of course, being single, I play both roles and enjoy doing so. Now, when it comes to female and male role models, that is different. I can never be a female role model - my son has his aunts, grandmother, and my female friends for that. Finally, why does it matter to you, a stranger, where his "mother" (e.g., egg donor, surrogate) is or his relationship with her? I just don't have such thoughts when I meet someone with their child. Again, so many other children-focused topics we can talk about.

Another reason beyond equality and privacy for keeping the answers to these questions short and vague is to stop people's opinions from entering my ears. Many people have uneducated opinions about surrogacy, surrogacy abroad, gay parenting, single parenting, single male parenting, how children should be raised, etc. - and they like to give their opinions without solicitation. My favourites? "I could never be a surrogate." My response? "No you can't - it takes a very special woman to be one." Another is, "every child should have a mom." My response? "Didn't you have a mom?" I know I sound mean and I'm really not - it's just that I have an extremely low tolerance for stupidity and disrespect. At work, I am paid  to listen to all employees and "care" - outside of work, I selectively listen to those who deserve it.

I know these situations will continue for some time, especially with a biracial daughter on her way and potentially more children from India. I will also continue growing my list of witty and not-so-witty responses. I appreciate that I also might be over-sensitive but it's truly less about me at the end of the day, and more about my children. I know I can't protect them from dumb questions forever but I will try as long as I can while educating and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to handle these situations when they arise.

Of course, all of the above is null and void for people in the surrogacy community. I am an open book and feel sharing experiences is helpful. I believe in giving back and helping others achieve their dreams via surrogacy. What strikes a nerve are people who just want to stir sh*t up or quench their curiosity.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Time, Energy, & Freedom

First off, I am half way through the 2ww! Another week to go - I will be holding my breath, waiting for the clinic's email. I am hoping for one of those rainbow BFP emails that I have seen - the ones with colourful words. I believe it's a regular email if it's a BFN. I truly believe that what is meant to be will be but of course, I would like to hear good news too.

OK, so I may or may not have talked about this before but because it comes up regularly - with strangers or new people I meet - I'm revisiting the topic. My family and friends know that being a parent is not a difficult role for me as my lifestyle suits it perfectly. Strangers or new people I meet (including those who are already parents) often refer to how parenting takes up a lot of energy and time, and how freedom is lost. Perhaps it's because my son has integrated seamlessly into my life but I don't feel he takes up that much energy or time, or that I've lost much freedom.

Freedom-wise, I have no problems taking him to various places whether it's locally in the city or travelling around the world. He's done his fair share of travelling with me around the world. I had no problems taking him to Australia when he was 3 months old. Sure, I can't just head out at night to grab milk without taking him along but I rarely did that anyway. Travelling-wise, I can still have those last-minute trips - I just have one more to pack for, which is not a difficult task.

Regarding time and energy, I think I use my time better now because of my son instead of him taking up my time. Although I am a natural planner and organizer, being responsible for a little one makes you even a sharper planner and organizer. I am also someone who doesn't need a lot of alone or me time. In fact, when I do need it (e.g., headache), my son is a brilliant independent self-entertainer - if I had conditioned him to be a needy child, perhaps that would have been different. Energy-wise, I would say he doesn't take up more physical energy - I guess if you sat on the couch 24/7 then yes but if you had a normal lifestyle with a mix of couch activities and outdoor activities, not much changes. You just use your energy time in a different way.

I will say that when it comes to mental energy, having a child does make you use up a lot more compared to when I didn't have a child. But this is normal because you are responsible for your child and you always want your child to feel well and happy. When my son is sick, I always feel stressed because I feel helpless - yes, I know what to do and look for but I can't instantly make him better. One also naturally gets concerned over their child's development if he or she is slightly behind even though you know everything comes with time including potty training *smile*

In the end, even if you feel having a child does take up more time/energy and will make you lose some freedoms, having a child brings so many new positive things into your life that you never had. I could list many things but you know what I'm talking about. Finally, no description can do justice to how you will feel when you finally fulfill your parenthood dreams.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Sharing My Journeys

Initially, I wanted to keep my posts focused on my journey in India. I felt if I shared too much about my son or current surrogacy pregnancy on home soil, some might perceive it as bragging or flaunting, which is not my intent. I am very proud of my son - he is my raison d'etre (reason for being) - and know how it feels when the dream of parenthood finally comes true after wanting it for so long, and I genuinely want that for everyone who have come to Dr. S as their dream maker. I know for a fact when the two couples I befriended in India finally become parents, I will cry like a baby. I get teary just reading blogs of strangers achieving their parenthood dreams let alone people I have spent some quality time with! I keep us all in my prayers and thoughts as we get through the 2ww.

Anyway, I look forward to potentially a surprise gender reveal in India in 9 months. For my current surrogacy journey on home soil, I am happy to share that my son will be a big brother to a little sister in late January/early February. I found out the gender the evening before I left for India. Like many, I am hoping for a healthy baby and gender is irrelevant. After saying that, another son would have been "easier" given the boy stuff I already have (same season as my son's birth) plus just the fact that I know boys and their parts best. A daughter will be a wonderful new adventure and I know there's nothing tremendously different except cleaning "down there" and even that is not rocket science. It's just the unknown so that makes me think a bit more. I am thrilled nonetheless and now I can finally go right and left when I'm shopping for children's clothing! LOL!

With one son and one daughter on the way, I think about what I may potentially have in India. As long as the baby or babies are healthy, that is all that matters. Because I will have one of each, I really have no preference. To be honest, I'm more curious if I have have two, one, or none. We shall see how things progress. In the end, I do feel so lucky and blessed to have this one last shot at building my family. With one or two babies in India, my family would definitely be complete.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Treatment Summary Report

So what is in a treatment summary report?

First of all, it is great to be home - my dad picked me up and to my surprise my son was in the van waiting for me too. He told me that he missed me - I am so lucky to have such a sweet boy.

Secondly, I was getting a bit nervous as I did not receive a fertilization status update like my Aussie friends did - our embryo transfers were scheduled for the same day. But after a good sleep, I woke up to find my treatment summary report. So if you don't get a status update, no worries as it will be provided in the treatment summary. In summary, I had 24 follicles, 19 eggs collected, and 18 eggs fertilized. 4 high-quality Grade 1, 8-cell embryos were transferred. Of the remaining 14 embryos, 13 were frozen ranging from 6-8 cells and Grade 1-2. This is summarized - no specific details per embryo frozen is provided. I'm very happy with the results!

It's pretty exciting to see the report. I cannot wait to find out the results in two weeks as well as for the two Aussie couples I met in Delhi. I'm crossing my fingers for all of us - it would be wonderful to return to Delhi around the same time next year! After saying that, for myself, I believe what's meant to be will be so we shall see what happens in two weeks' time. Woohoo!


Here's what you get in the report - keep in mind that some of the information is summarized and not detailed as it is provided in earlier updates such as sperm analysis. It's not a major deal for me as long as everything is AOK.

Basic Information

This section provides name of patient (me in my case), date of birth, cycle type (ICSI in my case), and cycle number.

Oocyte Collection Data

This section provides collection information on the number of hours post HCG, date of operation, duration, and the names of the surgeon, anesthetist, and embryologist. You also get information (for each side) on the size of leading follicle, number of follicles punctured, number of eggs retrieved, and number of ovarian stabs. Finally, information is provided on sperm - they list a few items but just provide general comments such as "frozen thaw, good survival" (I only did two donations given my schedule) - as well as any operative notes and complications.


For each of the four embryos transferred, they provide the cell-stage and grade including date of transfer. They use numbers here for grading versus letters back home. They summarize the total eggs, number fertilized (2PN stage), number frozen (cell stage and grade), and any abnormalities.

Embryo Transfer Details

This section provides information on position, vaginal discharge, cervix, and transfer type. It also provides information on ease of transfer, type of catheter, mucus on catheter, blood oppn catheter, and re-insertion of catheter. They write the date of pregnancy testing on the form as well - two weeks from transfer.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Inside Delhi Airport

Once I reached the entrance of the Delhi Airport, I was greeted by an armed guard/security officer. He asked me for my name and boarding pass - in my case, I showed him my cell phone with the e-boarding pass. If you do the same, just ensure your cell phone is fully charged. He then asked specifically for my flight number, which he conveyed to the other guard who brought me a list of passengers for my flight. I looked through the list and showed it to the first guard. He checked it against my passport and I was in.

Because I wanted hard copies of my boarding passes, I then went to Cathay Pacific to check in one bag and got my boarding passes for both legs of my flight. After that, I went towards the security check for international flights - ensure you fill out the "Departure card for passengers" before you line up. The card is similar to the entry card you filled out when you arrived in the country. Also, remember to put on a baggage tage for anything you bring on board - this is something that I am not required to do on my domestic flights back home and don't recall with my international flights so I didn't do it nor did they say anything when I went through security. The result was I couldn't board the plane. I will talk more about this later. Anyway, I got through customs quickly as well as security - take out all electronics and metals. It appeared that all women (including airline staff) must be escorted by a female security staff member into a private curtained room to be padded down I assume. This could have been required during arrival but I don't recall.

After that, I hung out in the waiting area. I was very tired given the time of the night but was able to stay up. When it came time to board the plane, I was asked to step aside because my carry-on bag did not have a security-stamped baggage tag - it's just one of those regular address tags, which they stamp when you go through security. As mentioned, I didn't know this nor was I informed when they checked my bag at the security check. So they had a security officer go through my bag, passed me an unused tag, and stamped it. It didn't really take that long or wasn't a big deal but it was something that was unnecessary. So make sure you have a tag on any carry-on items.

Anyway, battery is dying and I checked in my charger. In summary, the flights have been quite uneventful and going by quickly. Next post will be when I'm finally HOME! I also am anxious to hear back regarding the number of eggs that fertilized and their individual grading.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Hotel to Delhi Airport

Just arrived in Hong Kong so I have a few hours before my flight. Given this, I am spending the time in the Traveller's Lounge (West Hall) to have a nap, shower, and a bite to eat. The last time I was here was when I took my son to Perth, Australia when he was just three months old. The lounge is not for everyone but it's a nice break before I take on the final 12-hour leg of my flight back home to Vancouver. Their prices are pretty good for what you get.

So to continue from my last post, checking out of the Svelte Hotel was pretty simple - it took a little longer than expected but that's because they caught an error on my hotel statement. I was charged for internet but as an I Prefer member, I get internet complimentary. No harm in signing up if you have not already done so - it's free and if you're staying at the Svelte, it's one less cost.

Before getting into the car, I left a tip for the cleaning staff and handed a tip to the bellman who was the same guy who took my bag up to my room and explained everything to me on my first day at the Svelte. The driver was punctual as usual - I asked him to pick me up at 11pm for my 2:30am flight. The drive to the airport was a quick one and it was nice catching up with him again - he is the owner but also a driver himself. Except for the phone calls to schedule rides, we only saw him during pick-up from the airport. I complimented him on his drivers and continued to chat about this and that. He asked about our experiences at the Taj Mahal specifically about the driver - I spoke very highly of our driver. However, since he wanted more feedback, I also mentioned our experience with our tour guide. He apologized for Jack's behaviour as he saw it as a bad reflection on him and said he would discuss it with him. My intention was not to get Jack in trouble but to share feedback and better the interaction and relationship between Jack and future clients going to the Taj Mahal.

Also, being the "knowledge whore" that I am, I asked my driver something my fivesome was talking about earlier in the day. I had an idea of the answer because my ex-boyfriend was of East Indian decent but I asked to confirm. Why do boys and men hold hands in India? He confirmed that it's something normal and a sign of friendship and not a gay relationship as is the case in Western culture. I also asked about the police and found out that if you have money, you can bribe them with very little worry. I also learned that they must pass a physical and knowledge test, and given the physical component, many police officers are from the army because they are fit. However, he adds that they become "fatties" once they become police officers, which made me chuckle.

Once at the airport, I paid my bill for the rides I accumulated during my stay in Delhi, and gave the driver a healthy tip. After saying good-bye, I headed towards Entrances 5 and 6 - these are for international flights. I will write about what happens next in my next post - you often here about the complicated process of getting back into the airport for check-in.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Last Post in India

I am getting picked up in about an hour to head to the airport. My flight is at 2:35 am so I thought I would try to sneak in one more post before I fly out or at least start it and finish it off at the airport.

Today was Taj Mahal day - let me first say that I am happy that I visited it but would not do it again, only because it took 4 hours each way (which I did know ahead of time). Next time, I will reserve that time for more shopping! Anyway, the day started out with a quick breakfast downstairs with my usual breakfast buddy shortly joined by his "I'm not a morning person" partner - you know I say that lovingly! We then headed out to pick up the Greek-Oz couple and started our long journey to the Taj Mahal. Along the way, we did do one quick pit-stop for a snack and washroom break.

When we arrived in Agra, we picked up a tour guide, Jack - aka Alf - near the entrance of the Taj Mahal. Gas cars are not permitted near the TM so we parked and was taken closer to the TM via an electrical open vehicle. He advised us to take only our mobile phones, cameras (we read video cameras were not allowed but signs at the TM indicated otherwise), wallets, and water and leave our bags behind. We gave 750 rupees each to the tour guide - price of an individual ticket - plus 200 rupees as a group for such things as tips to others or something like that. He returned with tickets (which we should have asked for at the end as a souvenir) and bottled water for each of us. When we arrived at the TM, he advised us to ignore all vendors because they were not "government-approved". We went through a security check and started our tour.

Alf was very knowledgeable and he held my attention as he told us the story behind the TM. There are photo opportunities along the way; however, you cannot take photos in the actual TM. Prior to going into the TM, he had someone put on shoe covers for us - we tipped him. Overall, it was a beautiful place - I have attached two photos at the end of this post. After that, we went to a "government-approved" shop - I bought a traditional outfit for my son as well as my mom. Prices were OK - could do better at the M-block market I believe but prices still relatively cheaper plus there were some items that you could only buy there (e.g., souvenirs related to TM). I would still recommend checking it out. As usual, if you show interest, they are open to price negotiations. After that, we were pretty hungry so we grabbed something quick at KFC before starting our journey back to the hotel at 3:30pm. We all are looking forward to eating non-junk food when we get back to our usual lives! By the way, Jack was very motivated to get a tip but too aggressive in his approach. We did give him something because he started to hang around waiting for a tip - we sensed he wanted more. To each his own, but this type of aggressive tip-seeking left a negative taste in our mouths. But I will add our driver was great - he had major skills on the crazy roads and traffic. I believe there are invisible lanes and lines that only Indian drivers, bikers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians can see!

Anyway, on our journey back, I received an email from the clinic - they have been trying to get a hold of me at the hotel and on my cell phone but I was out of network range. Apparently, my surrogate was having some "vaginal discharges" so Dr. S recommended another surrogate. I was happy with the replacement - mid-30s, a proven surrogate, and married with children. I wasn't really concerned except they wanted me there at 4pm to sign the revised contracts, which was not possible given our current location. However, they were more than happy to wait for me. We ended up being there around 7pm, thanks to our super driver! I signed the contracts quickly and headed back to the hotel. There, I scheduled a ride to the airport with our driver, rested up, and took a shower before meeting up with the Aussie boys and the Greek-Oz couple again for dinner. The Aussie blokes who we had recently met at the ISIS Hospital also joined us.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes - for sure I will keep in touch with the Aussie boys and Greek-Oz couple. You guys made this trip so easy and fun! Off to the airport now so will post once I get settled back home. I have missed my son big time so look forward to seeing him again!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

M-Block & Contract

The Aussie boys finally arrived at ILH so together, we all five went to visit the M-block market - one of the busiest markets in New Delhi. It's basically rows of shops selling a large range of commodities and products including brand names. There are also Western eateries - before walking the market, we stopped at KFC for a bite. Unfortunately, we were not able to stay too long, thanks to me - my appointment with the lawyer back at the clinic was scheduled for 5pm (the Greek-Oz friends were scheduled for 5:30pm) but the market is only a few minutes away. However, I was able to purchase a nice set of silver earrings, pendant, and chain for my mom for 4000 rupees - definitely a deal relative to what you would have to pay back home. Interesting note - although they have a VISA sign up, they only took cash. During the same time, I also received an email from the clinic stating that my egg donor had an egg retrieval of 19 eggs. Although that was good news, I also knew in my mind, given my previous surrogacy experience, that the number that ultimately counts is the number that gets fertilized and the grading of each embryo. The transfer is on Saturday so I should get a report before or around then.

I had to wait a bit to see the lawyer so technically we didn't have to rush from the market. I had a quick question for the lawyer but basically I initialled the pages of the contract with a few full signatures here and there. They send the contract ahead of time to review. In all, it took less than 10 minutes. They do ask you if you would like to meet your surrogate. In the end, I did meet her and basically thanked for being my surrogate and wished her all the best. I added that I was already a parent via surrogacy and my son was looking forward to becoming a big brother - I showed her a photo of my son on my smartphone. It's not the most comfortable situation so best be prepared with what  you want to say if you do wish to meet your surrogate. Mine was not too shy and made eye contact me with me. In the end, I asked if she had any questions, which she didn't, and thanked her again. Since I was not going to be here on Friday, they said they would scan and email my contract to me.

After that, I went back to the hotel with the Aussie boys and rested up (including a shower) before we all five us met up again to have dinner at TGI Fridays in the mall. After dinner, I went to get more money exchanged in the mall at TUI Travel before heading back to my room. Caught up with more work emails before falling asleep quite early.

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Here are a couple of shots of the lounge area at the clinic. I cannot say enough about how friendly the staff are there - they also offer you bottled water and juiceboxes. The lounge itself is very modern looking and clean. It can get busy when there are many clients in there but we all just make room for each other. It's a wonderful place to meet other clients and potential new friends!

Update (September 9): SCI has posted a video on YouTube - what you see is what you get. That is the identical tour that Dr. S took me on. I was very impressed with how put together the surrogates were dressed and groomed. We share our building with some government staff, some of which could learn from these ladies in terms of how to present themselves.

India Luxury Homes

After my Greek friends were finished with the husband's donation, I went back with them to the India Luxury Homes where they were staying. It's not too far from both the ISIS Hospital Clinic and Hospital. I took some photos which I have included at the end of this post.

In my opinion based on the apartment my friends were staying in, it's a nice space. Clean, well air-conditioned, well-decorated, and had all the amenities including a washer/dryer. Of course, it's very affordable relative to the Svelte Hotel. Putting aside price, the Svelte Hotel has various room options that are just as open and then some for the larger rooms - the larger rooms are expensive of course. I recommend you read up on everyone's blogs to get a good sample of perspectives and opinions but for me, I think it would work as a place for an initial visit. Sure you cannot just walk out and find the types of shops and restaurants like you can here at the Svelte Hotel but you can make car trips to these shops to avoid cabin fever. This of course is not a factor for those who want to cocoon themselves for their entire stay.

However, for me, for baby pick-up, I prefer the Svelte Hotel. First of all, although it's not a major deal, there are a few flights of stairs at the ILH - no elevator. So it's not as convenient when you have to take a baby stroller up and down the stairs during any trips out. Plus you have to be comfortable holding a baby while walking up and down the stairs. Secondly, if you do run out of something, it's not as convenient as going into the mall and visiting one of the stores (e.g., food marts or baby store) - of course, this can be avoided by stocking up on items. Also, given who I am, I could not stay in a room or apartment day in and day out with baby so having the mall connected to the Svelte Hotel is a big positive for me. Yes, you can easily pack up baby and drive out to the mall from ILH but for me, I like the convenience of just walking baby out the door. Security-wise, I also like the fact that there are a lot more people around including security personnel in and around the Svelte Hotel and mall. I appreciate that can be negatives associated with plaes where large numbers of people congregate but for me the positives outweight the negatives.

In the end, if you can afford it, I highly recommend the Svelte Hotel. ILH is a great option as well so not advising against it but for me, the Svelte Hotel is my choice for baby pick-up. I have not visited the other accommodations so again, check out the blogs and ask those who have stayed there to get information so you can make the right decision for yourself and baby.

Thank you to my Greek-Oz friends for letting me take photos of their place. Theirs is a two-bedroom (with ensuite in each) separated by a full kitchen, dining area, and livingroom.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Second, Final, Fresh Donation

Time has flown by here - the main reasons for that have been the two awesome Aussie couples who I have become friends with. We have such fun conversations while sharing our individual but similar experiences with the various stages of our initial visit to India and SCI. A big thank you to them for making this trip a memorable one!

On Wednesday, I got up early (again) so decided to go down early to have breakfast with my new tall friend from Oz. Before doing so, I Skyped with my 4-year-old as well as my mom, sister, and 3-year-old nephew. My parents are looking after my son while I am away. After breakfast, I headed back to the room to catch up on a few work emails before going to the ISIS Hospital to make my second, final, fresh donation scheduled for noon. Given my schedule, I only provided two samples - one frozen and one fresh. I was a few minutes late given the traffic nearby the hotel. Along the way, being a visible foreigner, you will have what appears to be homeless children or mothers approach your car for money. There are also vendors that walk through the traffic when stopped at red lights but they don't hassle you.

Once at the ISIS Hospital, I again was led to the donation room - asked to write my name on the sample container and envelope, and once I had finished to place the container in the envelope, leave it on the bed, and advise reception. I provided my sample fairly quickly *insert applause here*. My new Greek friends from Oz were scheduled right after me so I waited in reception with the wife while hubby did his thing. We also met a gay couple from Australia waiting to provide their donation.

I decided to take a few photos of the donation room - it was something I was curious about prior to going to India. Was it similar to the donation rooms back home? Given my previous surrogacy experience, I knew the typical set-up but what would it be like in India? As mentioned in a previous post, as you enter the room, you see a bed, chair, and laptop with access to the internet. In front of the chair, you face a wall-mounted TV with straight porn movies. To the left of the chair is a door that leads to a washroom. Overall, I found it to be a very clean room and it's private - just remember to dead bolt the main door and check to ensure the door in the washroom that leads to the hallway is also bolted. But they remind you to do this as well.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Svelte Hotel

Photos of my hotel room - Executive Suite (smallest suite/room in hotel) - as well as the view from my room.

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Squeezing the Charmin

Actually, no worries about squeezing the Charmin here at the Svelte Hotel. I'm still enjoying my stay at the Svelte Hotel but had to post a photo of a new roll of toilet paper. Relatively, it's not very soft but its thickness gave those of us staying here a chuckle. You can purchase thicker rolls in the grocery marts in the mall but I might bring some from home for any future visits. There are also no garbage bags in the hotel but perhaps they sanitize each container after they remove the garbage? This especially would be an issue for used disposable diapers - I wish I could bring my Diaper Champ with me!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Haven't Met You Yet

There was a time in my life when it was just me, myself, and I. Sure I have always had great friends, very supportive family members, and a wonderful career. Something was missing and that was parenthood.

Many of us have arrived at this point because for various reasons, the journey to parenthood has not been an easy one. For me, I often wondered when would I finally get to meet my child. This finally happened in late 2007 via surrogacy. On his second birthday, I made a video with photos of my son. I also looked long and hard for an accompanying song that represented my journey to parenthood specifically the fight and hope within me that kept me going. The song I found was Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet". I am not a Pollyanna by any means but I do believe in positive thinking and hope. So if you ever find yourself a bit down, perhaps give the song a listen. Specifically, the following hit the nail on the head for me:

I might have to wait
I'll never give up
I guess it's half timing
And the other half's luck
Wherever you are
Whenever it's right
You'll come out of nowhere and into my life

There can be a lot of darkness on this path to parenthood. But when the stars align, there can be a lighted path to a wonderful desitnation. I wish you all my genuine best wishes - stay strong and be patient. You just haven't met your child yet... she or he is eagerly waiting to meet you too.

PS - I am pround to say that Michael Buble is from my neighbourhood. He is an outstanding individual.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Monday 3 September 2012

Meeting Dr. Shivani

My first full day in Delhi started out well - I had a good sleep so I felt quite refreshed in the morning. The day started out with a breakfast buffet (opened 7:00-10:30am), which came free with my stay at the Svelte Hotel. I think this depends on how long you're staying or the deal you receive. There's a decent selection of breakfast foods, which includes a fresh omelette. I then met two couples from Australia for coffee in the mall - one staying at the Svelte as well while the other is staying at the Luxury Homes. The couple says that although it's nice inside, the Luxury has very little around it so they will not be returning there for baby pick-up. The couples are wonderful people and I spent most of the day with them. It's great connecting with people who are going through the same journey with SCI.

The driver then took me to the clinic. In the lounge, I met a guy from Israel and started talking. Every person or couple you meet (whether in person or online) has a personal story and in the end, we all have the same dream and have chosen Dr. S to help us to fulfill that dream. Dr. S was running late but I eventually met the famous Dr. S. She is very pleasant and went through the process, timeline, etc. for my surrogacy with me. Embryo transfer planned for Saturday, September 8 - I advised Dr. S that she can select the surrogate for me since she is the medical expert. She also talked about the clinic followed by a tour. I met all the staff who are a pretty friendly group of people. Overall, it's a well-organized, well-run, clean, modern-decorated clinic. It's too bad there are idiots out there who are bad-mouthing SCI and Dr. S - don't believe everything you read!

My driver then took me to the Isis Hospital which is nearby. It is also a clean environment - I basically filled out a form and was escorted into the donation room. It's a clean room with access to the internet on a laptop, TV with straight porn, and connected to a washroom. It has bolts for the doors so it's very private. After providing my sample, I advised the reception and my driver took me back to the Svelte Hotel. Before going in, I had to make a pit-stop at the KFC across the street for a light snack as I was feeling a little light-headed. I then rested in my room until the couples dropped by and we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in the mall for dinner. We got some groceries on our walk back to the hotel and retreated for the night.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Update (September 3): I received an email with a profile of my surrogate. I am happy with the selection - she is in her early twenties, married, and already has children of her own. Crossing fingers!

Hello New Delhi!

Deplaning was very fast - I thought it might be slower for bigger aircrafts but this was not the case. Customs was very fast - no questions - and my luggage (one piece) came out within seconds of reaching the carousel. Even at that time of the night, close to midnight, there were many drivers with name signs. Rahul is my driver but he had one of his workers meet me at the receiving area, who then lead me to Rahul and the car.

Rahul is a very nice young ambitious man. He is very friendly and spoke very highly of Dr. S and SCI. Working with SCI clients has helped him purchase several taxis. He is also getting married next year - an arranged marriage, which is common in India. He is a very positive individual and wishes you well on your surrogacy journey. You don't pay him upfront - you pay on your last day. I assume this is the case with all the rides you hire him for during your stay. First initial observation of Delhi - they drive crazy here and there is definitely an art to honking. However, it all works out in the end like organized chaos.

Once I arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by the door staff. You enter a walk-through metal detector first - this is normal here with hotels and the malls. I quickly checked in and was taken to my room. I was shown around the suite and told about the services in the hotel as well as what was around the hotel. I did take some photos so hopefully I can put together a quick slideshow of the photos in an update. The hotel and suite are clean and modern - the only thing that would make it perfect would be a washer/dryer but it's a hotel. I eventually fell asleep.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Quicker than Expected

The trip over to India felt a lot quicker than expected - a big positive. I had actually returned Friday evening from a work trip - I landed at 10pm, headed to the office to tie up a few things before my trip, went to the supermarket at 11:30pm to pick up some snacks for my trip, and then headed home to start packing. Saturday morning was quite hectic as well but after saying goodbye to my son (first time I will be away from him for more than two consecutive nights), I got to the airport in good time. In fact, my flight was delayed by 25 minutes to 3:25pm; however, this was made up in the air. The only things I forgot were two pair of shorts and one t-shirt I left in the dryer. No big deal.

The 13-hour flight to Hong Kong was very good - mainly helped by watching a few movies: Prometheus, Brave, Battleship, and Snow White & the Huntsman. There was a seat between my window seat and the aisle seat. I spent some time listening to music and sleeping. The food was decent - it's airplane food - but good ice cream. Some odd behaviour mainly from people who probably don't fly too often. It was a quick transfer to the next flight. The 6-hour flight from Hong Kong to Delhi was uneventful - I watched two movies that I've seen before: The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods. One interesting note - before landing in Delhi, the crew sprayed the cabins with an approved pesticide. They do warn you ahead of time but I've never experienced that before. Landed on time - I was finally in Delhi!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!