India in My Heart
Our path to family had its share of twists and turns. That was how we landed at Plan J, also known as becoming parents through Indian surrogacy.
Hearing that "things happen for a reason" seems like a slap in the face, after every plan you've made has gone awry. We've hit more than our share of bumps on the journey to becoming parents.
+ PLAN A: Get pregnant naturally, have a baby, and live happily ever after. Didn’t happen. My husband and I come from big families. We have lots of siblings between us, and many nieces and nephews, too. We figured our family would just happen. So, although we married young, we waited to start our family until after we’d bought our first home.
+ PLANS B, C, D, AND E: Take Clomid to help sick ovaries produce lots of eggs. Try IVF with own eggs? Try IVF with donated eggs from older sister (twice)? Nope. We spent years trying to conceive, trying fertility drugs, infertility procedures, surgeries. Eventually, we decided to take a break and weigh our options. We realized that our desire to raise children would not go away. Our life was very good, but it wasn't complete without kids.
+ PLAN F: Adopt a baby. Nein. Two prospective adoptions fell through within a year. We decided to look into surrogacy.
+ PLAN G: Surrogacy in the U.S. Not an option. The hefty price tag for surrogacy in this country was beyond our means. After watching a TV show on Indian surrogates, I started reading blogs about surrogacy in India. We contacted a few clinics about using a known egg donor, comparing services, prices, and success rates, and we chose our doctor. Dr. Shivani Sachdev-Gour was a fertility specialist at Surrogacy Centre India, in New Delhi.
+ PLAN H: Surrogacy in India with donated eggs from a family friend. Nix. When a longtime friend heard about our plight, she called us offering egg donation. We were over the moon. She would travel with us, so her eggs could be extracted at the clinic, and the trip would be timed around her menstrual cycle. We booked our travel dates.
Then we had to choose our surrogate from donor profiles. I felt an immediate connection to the woman we chose. She was 30 years old and married with three children, all by normal pregnancies and deliveries. We were told that her husband was very supportive, and that she was excited to help us in our endeavors to be parents. Attached to the profile was her photo. As I looked at the pretty woman, in a beautiful yellow salwar kameez, I thought, This person has agreed to carry our child in her womb—nurturing, protecting, and sustaining him for nine months. What a priceless gift!
One week before we were scheduled to leave for India, our egg donor backed out, and we were left wondering what to do next.
Within days, Dr. Shivani sent us nearly 20 profiles of Indian egg donors, and we began to narrow our choices. It was difficult trying to perfectly balance appearance (does the egg donor have my eyes, my nose, my smile?) and past performance.
+ PLAN I: Donation from an Indian woman with a proven track record. Nyet. We eventually chose a new egg donor, who had an excellent record with her previous donations. With everything seemingly settled, we made our first trip to India, for my husband to make his "deposits." We managed to do some sightseeing, and it humbled me to think that our child might come from such a diverse and storied country. Soon after returning home, however, we learned that our donor had changed her mind about donating again after several previous cycles.
+ PLAN J: Eggs from a first-time donor in India. Please, God, say yes. We received new donor profiles from the clinic and chose another surrogate. I had expected to experience setbacks before getting our baby, but each one took its toll on my emotions. I prayed that I would be strong enough to make it to the end.
After the first embryo transfer, however, we felt that fortune would smile on us, that the first pregnancy test would come back positive. We visualized the results we wanted.
Nine months later, our baby was born. Along the way, we closely followed what was happening halfway around the world in our surrogate mother's womb. I read that in the second month a fetus grows from the size of a sesame seed to about the size of a lentil. Was it possible to love something less than a quarter of an inch long? I got warm and fuzzy whenever I read about the baby's development, and I imagined her tucked away in the belly of our lovely mother. Throughout her pregnancy, I felt affection and deep appreciation for her.
Since we’ve been home, time has flown by. It's hard to believe our little girl is 10 months old. She is the apple of her daddy's eye and her mommy's best friend. Everyday I am amazed by my life. The ride has indeed been worth it.
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