Monthly Archives: November 2012

The money and the medical tests

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Alrighty, I am just posting a few interesting tidbits of information for you today. I have looked through my correspondence with a few clinics, and created a list of the test results I have been asked to provide, so far, pre-surrogacy.  For me, I am still waiting for the methotrexate to clear from my body and the Mirena to be removed (and then one month) before I can get the lady tests, but we can start to get the gentleman tests any time, and have, in fact started already. This list is compiled from a few different clinics, so some clinics may not require all tests, or some may require others I just haven’t heard about yet.

Also, I have provided a general quote list from one of the clinics. As you can see in the paragraph on the fee schedule, it’s just one clinic, and just to give a general idea of what you should prepare for, in terms of the clinic costs.  Obviously you will need to think about travel and food and hotels, etc., but that will probably depend on each individual’s journey.

See over there for the Fee Schedule and the list of requested tests (ugh, they seem to want to download to your computer, but I have no idea how to fix that… no virus, I promise, they are just MS Word 2010 documents).

Off and running (hopefully)

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So, the wigglers are off to the lab… we shall see what we shall see.

Though it may seem obvious to some folks, just in case anyone else was wondering, we are having hubby’s sperm tested because he’s never had a “scare” in life, either with me (we have always known I wasn’t able to get pregnant) or before me.

While this would seem lucky and good to most men, when it comes to wanting to do surrogacy, it’s important to make sure everything is in good working order.  I would imagine the average man only finds that info out by impregnating someone accidentally or on purpose, or perhaps if he’s a sperm donor… which this man is not.

Soooo… off they go to be poked and prodded and counted and analyzed.

Lil wigglers

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Exciting stuff… my darling is going to have his sperm motility tested tomorrow… or at least we are going to the lab for other stuff, and we will see if we need an appointment for this, or can just provide a specimen tomorrow.

Additionally, some other good news.  I told my “boss” about this potentially happening, just so he will be aware that I may be taking some time off for appointments, then more time off in 2013… and he happened to mention that he knew a couple who had successfully gone through the surrogacy process in India recently.  He was kind enough to email that friend and find out what clinic they used, and he provided me with the name and a vague account of his satisfaction level, and also mentioned that another couple had gone through the same clinic with success (2nd try).  He said that in his research, he had contacted other random couples from the clinic’s website, and they had all been happy.

Incidentally, this was a clinic I had already been in touch with, and instinctively felt was quite professional, so while we won’t make our decision on this alone, it’s nice to have a referral from a more personal source… seriously, it feels good to just have that simple connection, because this is a really big choice, and in a very different country.

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Methotrexate

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Sooo… I saw my dermatologist today, and she confirmed that I must wait at least three months for the methotrexate to leave my body.  So that means, the soonest I could harvest, would be January 28th, if I counted to the minute… (ooo… i like inserting photos into my blog)

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Minor setback…

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Ok, so I went to have my Mirena removed, and my doctor couldn’t find the strings.  Apparently it has drifted upwards, so I will need to go see a gynecologist who have better tweezers or something, so there is a better chance they will find it.  If they don’t find it, I will have to have it surgically removed.  I have the gyne appointment on December 12th, and have to have a pelvic ultrasound before that, so he will know whether or not to try to root it out in the office or not.  I am NOT looking forward to that gyne appointment, HOWEVER, having an OB/GYN doctor of my very own might enable me to get some of the more stumping questions answered, like how long I need to wait before harvesting after the Mirena is removed, and how long until the methotrexate clears.  I have also written to one of the surrogacy clinics with these two questions, but no answer yet.

By the way, I would still recommend the Mirena to anyone who has issues with their cycle, especially really inconvenient and painful issues.  I swear, I will be mourning my Mirena once it’s removed, I almost think my body is trying to suck it up so I can’t get it removed.  It’s ok body, once I am able, I will get a new Mirena… I promise!!!

Apparently my doctor’s office did do a referral to the fertility clinic, but still no call from them.  Don’t they want the money?  Even though I am in BC, fertility/infertility stuff isn’t covered by the MSP health coverage, so there are $$$ on the line here people… why aren’t you calling to book an appointment???  I guess I will call them next week if I haven’t heard back, but it doesn’t make me warm and fuzzy.

I really wanted an October 2013 baby, but maybe that’s asking too much?  Time’s a ticking, and I ain’t getting any younger (41, if I didn’t say so before).

I do have an appointment with my dermatologist, so I will ask her what she knows about methotrexate leaving the body, or it’s affects on human eggs.  I wish the internet was a bit more consistent in its information, about anything 😐

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Basic GP appointment tomorrow

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Ok, so I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow, for a few things.

  1. I need my Mirena IUD removed.  I had this inserted in 2009 to deal with really crappy periods, and have LOVED it ever since, but I need it removed so the hormones it contains will leave my body, and so that my test results will be accurate. There is vague information about this online, mostly geared towards women who want to be egg donors and want to find out if they have to remove Mirena first, and it seems like there are answers for and against.  I just want to do everything right, so out it comes.  I must say I am a bit worried, because I fear the issues I had initially, which prompted me to have it inserted will come back, and that will suck.  I also read about “Post Mirena Crash”, but I am hoping that’s just a bunch of bloggy drama.  Time will tell.
  2. I need to talk to her about methotrexate.  I had been on methotrexate for about 6 months for severe psoriasis, but went off of it about five weeks ago, because it was making me sick.  I need to confirm how long I should wait to harvest eggs, as it’s a shitty drug that can cause birth defects in a small number of cases, so I want it to be cleared from my body as well.  If she doesn’t have the answer or recommendation, I will talk to my dermatologist on my appointment on Friday.
  3. I asked her office to make me an appointment with a fertility clinic about a month ago, and I haven’t heard anything, so I need to confirm this has been done.  If my GP office has already made the referral, I will get all up in the fertility clinic’s face I guess 😛
  4. I need a requisition for the multitude of tests the clinics in India want, in order to give me an idea of what type of procedures I am looking at, and how much it will cost.

I will try to post after my appointment tomorrow, or at least later this week.

Holding pattern for a bit.

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Ok, so I am going to put this on hold for a bit, just because there won’t be too much to report in the next few weeks.  It has become very clear to me, that I won’t be able to get clear information or true quotes, until I have a bunch of testing done to find out what my ovarian profile is.  Those test results will give the Indian clinics the information they need to be able to decide what kind of treatment I need (based on how viable my own eggs will be, I guess.  I am seeing my own GP in about a week and a half, and she will probably be able to order some, if not all of these tests for me.  I have been referred to a fertility clinic in Vancouver, but they haven’t called yet, so being impatient, I am just going to get my GP to start the ball rolling.

In the meantime, I am going to make a scrap book so I can put a map of India in it, and a chart of Rupee/Canadian dollar exchange amounts, so when someone quotes me 500,000 Rupees for a procedure, I don’t freak out.  I will use this book to make notes when I make phone calls, or to add bits of information I don’t want to lose.  I know everything is done online these days, and of course I will continue to save all that kind of stuff online as well, but a book is easier to carry to places where internet isn’t readily available (like the plane).  I also suspect that when I go to India, I won’t want to carry my giant laptop, and my tablet only connects via wifi.  I don’t think wifi is vastly available or cheap everywhere in India (I could be wrong).

I have also started to make some of the phone calls here in BC to get information about what will happen when we get back from picking up our baby (fingers crossed!!!).  For example, how does a surrogate baby get Medical Service Plan coverage?  What kind of leave do I get from work?  I will provide all that information here as well, not to worry!

As I mentioned, I have been doing research on a bunch of different clinics, and have started communications with several of them as well.

There are many different things to look at, to decide which clinic to go with; here are a few of them, in no particular order:

How long does the woman need to be in India for ovarian stimulation and matching of cycles prior to embryo implantation?   This seems to vary between 2 weeks and a month.  Some clinics suggest that the shots can be done in your home country, some say they should be done with the clinic for the whole time, but I would venture a guess that this may be financially based information, rather than health based.  I would imagine the clinic, or attached hotel, would benefit greatly from the woman staying in India for a longer period.  There is still more work to be done on my part to figure out the “real answer”, and it will probably all become more clear once I see a fertility clinic here in BC.

Where does the surrogate stay while she is pregnant with our baby?  For the most part, it seems that the clinics have a surrogate house, where the surrogates all stay while they are pregnant.  That allows them to monitor the surrogates health and welfare, and ensure they get proper, regular nutrition.  This is all part of the surrogate agreement, and it seems most common.  I have found one clinic where that wasn’t clear on their website, but I have emailed them to clarify, as I don’t think I would want our baby willy-nilly all over India while in utero… I am just sayin’.

Can you be in contact with your surrogate?  For the most part, the answer seems to be no, that this is not recommended.  I think this is for the emotional protection of the surrogate, and also the financial protection of the intended parents.  They also recommend you don’t give gifts to your surrogate (even via a third party) because of a few reasons. 1) I guess that opens up the door for blackmail on the part of the surrogate and/or “surrogate handler”; apparently this has happened, and 2) if the surrogate is living in a surrogate house, if one surrogate is “gifted” with presents from her intended parents, and others are not, it could open your surrogate up for resentment and poor relationships while she is sequestered (they don’t call it sequestered, that was me).  This makes sense to me, even though it may be one’s instinct to lavish a surrogate with gifts because you are so happy she is doing this for you, they recommend that you gift her afterwards.

I have had various answers as to whether you can ever see your surrogate in person (for one reason to ensure she’s the one you chose), I think the answer is generally yes, because she will never have seen a picture of you, she wouldn’t know who you were if you were in a room with her.

Also, some clinics say you can be present for the birth, some say no.  I will explore this later, when I am in real intense “negotiations” with a clinic.

As far as contact goes, I am somewhat disappointed that it’s generally not recommended to have some sort of a relationship with the surrogate after the baby is born, as I think my child will probably be curious about this person when they become old enough, and it may be an emotional issue if you just say “sorry, you have no hope of finding this woman who gave you life”.  I would also like to be able to update the surrogate over the years, but hey, maybe I am being selfish, and maybe the surrogates truly wouldn’t be interested.  I find that hard to believe, but this is a different culture… so it’s just hard for me to wrap my head around at this early stage.

Can frozen embryos be used?  Can frozen sperm be used?  Frozen sperm apparently has nearly the exact same success rate, so in general it has been very clear that the man doesn’t have to be in India as long, if at all.  Frozen embryos are successful, but far less than fresh.  I am pretty sure I have decided we will use fresh embryos for  our transfer.

How many eggs are harvested and/or embryos created?  It seems like they generally try to harvest as many eggs as possible, thus the ovarian stimulation.  They can then use the rest if the first try doesn’t work.  Most places implant several, and hope for the best.  Even though several are implanted, it seems the chances of multiples are quite low, and some clinics have limits on how many embryos will be kept in the uterus if several are successful, like one clinic doesn’t allow their surrogates to carry more than twins.  More info on this later, when I learn more, because  I am pretty certain we only want one baby, so I am a bit scared if twins happen to magically occur.

Can you select the sex of your baby?  No, gender selection is illegal in India.  I am sure illegal things happen, but I am not pursuing this, so will not be providing any more information on this particular topic.

How long do you have to stay in India after the baby is born?  For Canadian couples, this seems to be about one month.  There are several steps that are required, and they all take certain amounts of time, and are often dependent upon one another.  For example, you must have a DNA test for the baby, to ensure the baby is genetically related to you, your partner, or both.  From what I understand at this early stage, the baby’s Canadian passport will not be issued until this result is completed (at a Canadian DNA testing clinic, but the samples can be expedited from India to one of these clinics), and I believe the Indian government won’t release the baby from the country before this is done.

This is different for every country, so if you are in Australia, UK, USA, etc., the time may not be a month.

Ok, those are some of the salient points I have learned, so will sign off for now, and probably not add much more until I have done the appropriate testing with my doctor here in BC.

Finding a clinic, not as easy as one would think…

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Initially, this idea was presented by my mother-in-law, who had seen an article in one of her local magazines.  She thought that this would be a good option for us, and so brought the article when she came for a visit.  It was immediately interesting to us, as it wasn’t something we had considered before, and had kind of settled on wanting to adopt one day, as that seemed to be the only viable option.  Now, with this concept, it gave us the opportunity to have a baby with our own genetic make-up.

So, in the last few weeks, since this idea was presented, I have been researching clinics that specialize in surrogacy in India.  It turns out that there are a LOT.  After reading the article, my first instinct was just to go online and google “surrogacy in India” and low and behold, something I noticed was that there were numerous blogs about other people’s experiences.  Most of them seemed to be written from the time a couple had already settled on a clinic, and they were writing about their positive experiences with that clinic.  While I thought this was great, and very informative, I didn’t see it for what it actually was at first.

After I had read a few blogs about a certain clinic and how fabulous it was, I had almost settled on the decision to go with that clinic.  In reading about that clinic, I came upon glowing reports of a certain doctor that ran that clinic, and so many great comments about her, so then I decided to google her name to find out more.  One of the first hits on google was a warning blog about that doctor and some pretty horrific accusations about that particular couple’s experience with that doctor and clinic.  I am not exactly sure how the complainant managed to bring their complaint to the top of the “google” heap, but they did, and so it was pretty prominent.  They alleged that this specific doctor was “holding their baby hostage” until they paid higher fees than she had initially quoted, and that they were supposed to receive a discounted rate for each other couple they had recommended use that clinic.

So, I am not here to say anything negative about that clinic, and I may even end up going with that clinic in the end, but in the article, I did end up learning that many of the blogs out there are written by people who have gotten kick-backs or discounts on their own surrogacy procedure, because they have agreed to post their positive experiences online and recommend clinics to other couples.  I am sure this is rampant in the industry, so I recommend to not just look at a positive blog and stop there with your research.  Take each one with a grain of salt, and read it for the information that is actually useful and important to you in your journey, whether that be staff kindness, price, cleanliness, number of successful births, professional behaviour, ability to meet the surrogate, surrogate screening, whatever….

It’s getting late and near to bedtime for me, so I will continue next time with more information I have found out in the last few weeks.

And so the journey begins… (how many blogs start that way?)

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“Namaskaram” is a greeting kind of like “hello” in Hindi (the official language of India), which is appropriate for people of all ages… I guess it’s similar to Namaste, which is commonly used in the yoga community.

We are a BC couple who are about to start the process of having a baby using a gestational surrogate in India, so thought Namaskaram Baby would be an appropriate blog title.

We have heard through the media and through research online that India has excellent surrogacy laws and practices which enable people from other countries all over the world to easily, inexpensively, and successfully have babies.  This includes people and couples from all walks of life, including same sex couples, single women or men (gay or straight), and married couples of all races and religions.  In our case, we happen to be a Caucasian, married couple, so the details of this blog will reflect things pertinent to us, but if we find out details along the way that may be relevant to other groups, we will try to include them.

We would like to share the process, so the steps will be clearly laid out for other couples who would like to know about this journey, as they may be in a similar situation.

We also will likely stay anonymous, as this is a bit of a private process, and we are so early on in the process, that we aren’t even sure it’s going to work.

This is our first blog, so bear with us… We aren’t going to commit to any number of posts per week or anything, but will post whenever we have time, or when there is something interesting to share.

Stay tuned.