Monthly Archives: March 2013

a little more info about our visa work and stuff

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sorry it’s been a little while since i posted, but it’s been a super busy week, both with work and social life.

i turned 42 on Friday, and there’s not much to say about that. ¬†it is what it is, i am trying to feel neutral about it ūüėõ ¬†i did have a great weekend with hubby and family, so that was wonderful. ¬†hubby made me an heirloom piece of furniture, which is super romantic. ¬†he’s been working on it at a relatives house for several weeks, as a surprise and i am super touched and love it very much. it’s a potato and onion bin, and i have wanted one for a long time, since coveting his grandparents’ one. ¬†i have asked him to carve 2013 on the bottom so that our heirs will know when he made it ūüôā ¬†this is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me, and i just love him so much!!!

so what i¬†eluded¬†to when i wrote my last post, is that the visa situation is not ironed out yet. ¬†i did the online visa applications for both of us, but it was a bit of a nightmare. ¬†nothing that i expected to happen on the website happened. ¬†it’s supposed to offer you to print the application when you are done, but that only¬†occurred¬†with mine, and not hubby’s. ¬†so here i thought i had submitted his application and had no copy of it. ¬†there seemed to be nothing i could do to get to the print page back for his application; they give you a temporary number so that you are supposed to be able to go back in and retrieve your application, so you can complete portions you missed and come back with more information, or if you need to take a break, but NONE of the numbers i got EVER worked, EVER. ¬†luckily, i had the revelation that i could go into my browser history and go through every page associated with the India visa website, and i found his print page, so i was able to print and also save as a PDF, thank gawd.

another issue, is that the site is supposed to, at the end, ask you if you want to pay and submit your application. ¬†it didn’t do this for either of us. ¬†so we haven’t paid or applied yet. ¬†apparently, only SOME of the cities allow online paying and submission, and surprisingly, Vancouver isn’t one of them…. so we will have to go in person. ¬†we will do this in the coming week.

lastly on this topic for today, i have still, to this day, never been able to contact a human being at any of the phone numbers on the India Visa (Consulate) website.  never, not once, no how.  so an in-person visit is truly in order.

ok, then something a little disturbing happened after my last post.  someone read it and made a comment about how she and her spouse are a BC couple who are in the process right now, and are supposed to pick up their babies in June this year, and they have JUST found out that they have to stay in India for three months.  she said that they also have just found out that none of their paperwork can be done in Mumbai, only in New Delhi, whereas it used to be a 4-6 week process which could be done in either Mumbai or New Delhi.  really no other information was in her comment.

i struggled with whether i was going to approve this comment (you can approve or deny any comments on your WordPress blog before they just pop up on your page), but i think i will approve it because it’s part of our process, and i have been sharing all info on the blog, and don’t want to start being selective now. ¬†therefore, i don’t want anyone to get freaked out by this (though i must say it freaked me out), because it was a very short comment and there wasn’t much context at all. ¬†i don’t know if this is because she is one who started before the new guidelines, or what her circumstances are exactly. ¬†i will be talking to the visa office when we go in this week so we know exactly what this is all about. ¬†i have also emailed the woman to see if she is willing to share more information with me, but no response so far (it is a long weekend, and a beautiful one at that, so she may not have checked her email). ¬†that said, she may have also provided a fake email address, because i think that commenters can do that, not sure. ¬†my fingers are crossed that she will get back to me, so i can ask more questions for clarity, and of course i will share the information here. ¬†if not, i will get to the bottom of it, research, research, research.

hi Katie – please contact me again, i could really use any additional information you feel you can provide to us ūüôā

also, i have not yet heard back from the Canada Foreign Affairs office, so I will touch base with the Administrative Assistant this week as well.

this long weekend is recharging my batteries, so i am ready for more research and learning about the surrogacy process.

tickets are booked!

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ok, so we have got the tickets booked for Trip #1. ¬†we will be going on April 30th, arriving early on May 2nd, and leaving back home on May 4th (super early in the am), arriving home on May 4th just after noon, yay, backwards time travel!!! ¬†it’s a whirlwind trip, aka a business trip. ¬†we are SUPER excited!!!

i will write more about the visa situation later, i am tired, but had to say we booked the tickets, because we really booked them two days ago, but i haven’t had time to blog.

g’night!

various stuff

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since my last post about the visa situation, things have changed a little bit.  originally we had planned on going to India for the signing of the contract, then going to another country where my mother-in-law lives to do the hormone therapy, as she is a nurse and could provide my injections and a watchful eye, and we could have a lovely visit at the same time, whilst avoiding a long hotel stay in India.

it turns out though, that we must go to India for the contract signing, then return to our home country to apply for the medical visa which will enable us to travel back to India for me to start treatment and for hubby to leave a sample. ¬†while i am sure we could then leave India and go to my mother-in-law’s country, we are not sure if we will do that, because then we would also need a fertility specialist to follow me in that country, as there is some frequent testing that needs to be done along the way, and this is an additional trip, costing more money. ¬†it would have been more streamline the other way, to make just one trip from here to India, to the next country, back to India, then home…. but ¬†we MUST return to our home country after visit one to get the medical visa application underway, and we MUST have the contract to attach to our visa application. ¬†so that’s that. ¬†not a major setback of any sort, just a change in plans.

what else… oh, i got the test result back that i have been waiting for, the anti-mullerian hormone test. ¬†the result is in the normal range, but it seems on the low side to me, so i have emailed it to the doctor in India, and am waiting to hear back. ¬†unfortunately, i emailed her on Friday afternoon/evening, and it’s been a weekend, so she hasn’t gotten back to me, so i have kind of been worried all weekend. ¬†i keep watching my inbox, but i guess she’s probably busy on Monday mornings as well, so i should be patient (see, another lesson in patience). ¬†i have my fingers crossed that the result will be ok and we can proceed. ¬†if so, ¬†the plan is to leave her on April 30th and go to Mumbai, meet the doctor, the surrogate, tour the clinic, sign the contract, and be back on May 5th. ¬†a whirlwind trip, but it’s basically a business trip, and we want to be back quickly so we can start the medical visa process.

in the meantime, i am reading up on all kinds of ways to improve egg quality and stuff. ¬†i found this good article called “10 ways for women to prepare for IVF“, and it has lots of information, so i thought i would share. ¬†i am not sure how many of these suggestions i can do, but i will try some of them, can’t hurt.

in my internet travels, i have found many stories of women who have lower anti-mullerian hormone levels than me who have gotten pregnant successfully, so i am hoping i am worrying for nothing.

additionally, i got my family doctor to prescribe some oral contraception pills as requested by the doctor in India, so i can start them with my next regular cycle, which is just to regulate things for starting the hormone treatment for egg retrieval.

also, i got through to the Canadian Foreign Affairs office on Thursday, and left a message with the receptionist letting her know that we would require a letter stating that Canada recognizes surrogacy and that our baby would be accepted into Canada. ¬†she was lovely, and said she would pass the message along to the right person, and either he, or she would call me back. ¬†so hopefully we will get that call soon, and they will help us out. ¬†we technically don’t need this until we apply for the medical visa, but i would like to have it sooner rather than later… patience, patience.

still nothing in my inbox, but i am sure it will be there waiting for me in the morning.

g’night all.

Visas, the hardest part so far…

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Ok, i have been working for about a week to gather the information we need to get travel visas for India. ¬†along the way, various things have¬†occurred¬†to me; some i should have realized earlier, some i learned only during the online application process, some i just learned by trying. ¬†i am going to share them here so maybe you won’t be frustrated like me ūüôā

  1. when you email the visa office, and they send an auto response stating they will get back to you in 48 hours with an appropriate response, it’s a bit of a fib. ¬†i have emailed twice in the last 8 days and have gotten no response whatsoever, other than the auto-response… twice. ¬†i am a proponent of getting things in writing, which is why i opted to try the email route; it seems as though they are not a proponent of providing things in writing. it’s probably better to call them, which hopefully i will be able to do tomorrow. ¬†for those of us with jobs that generally coincide with office hours, it’s sometimes a challenge to make these phone calls.
  2. read the visa requirements very carefully, even if they appear in various spots, for example, it says certain things in the guidelines for surrogacy (pertaining to medical visa) that i haven’t yet seen on the visa online application (though i am not done the application yet, so it may show up). ¬†bottom line, be thorough about your research, and don’t count on mine, because it’s not complete yet, and i may forget to put stuff down later when i finish various steps. ¬†here’s what i know so far:
    1. you will need two, matching passport type photos to scan and attach to your online application – there are specific measurements and requirements listed on the India Visa website
    2. you will need your passport to be valid for another six months, so it’s best to renew if you are unsure
    3. you will need to know your dates of travel (i know, this freaks me out. because how can you commit to traveling if you don’t know if you will get your visa approved?)
    4. you will need a “reference” in India – this can just be your hotel, so you have to book your hotel prior to the visa application process
    5. you will need a reference in Canada (or your home country – similar to passport i would imagine)
    6. there are LOTS of questions, they want to know about your citizenship, marital status, previous travel in the last ten years, employment, education, etc, etc, etc.  prepare to sit for awhile and fill in the application.
    7. there are many types of visas, with different durations, entries, prices, so make sure you apply for the right one.  right now we are wondering if we HAVE TO enter on a tourist visa to sign the contract, or if we can use a medical visa for a year, with multiple entries and forgo the tourist visa altogether.  all these trips are related to the surrogacy, so we are hoping so.  i will find out when i call, i am sure.
    8. VERY IMPORTANT – it seems that on the guidelines for surrogacy, we need a letter from our home country foreign affairs to state that surrogacy is recognized and that our baby will be allowed entry into the country after it is born. ¬†i didn’t realize you need this letter to be attached to the medical visa application, so basically i need it now. ¬†and i don’t have it. ¬†so i am trying to get it. ¬†but the foreign affairs office is closed. ¬†so tomorrow maybe i will have some answers ūüėź
  3. learn your own government a bit, so you can figure out where to call. ¬†as luck would have it, i have dealt with very friendly people who have gone above and beyond to try to point me in the right direction. ¬†i don’t think surrogacy happens willy-nilly, so every person in every contact centre probably hasn’t dealt with a case. ¬†kudos to friendly government employees who want to help!
  4. keep a book where you can write down things like office hours and time zones, who you spoke to and at what time, various things you learned along the way. ¬†it will be useful to you in the future, i promise. ¬†if for nothing else than to write in a blog to help others after you. ¬†but seriously, my motto has always been, “if you don’t know who you talked to on the phone, the conversation never happened.” ¬†i can’t deal with it when people whine to me that they had a big conversation with their telephone service provider where they were given a great deal, but then it didn’t show up on their bill, and they have no clue who they talked to, on what day, and at what time… doh!

i am probably missing something here in this list, but i need to go out and get those matching passport type photos soon, so will sign off.

 

travel vaccinations… do you need any?

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in making initial plans for a trip to India (or any other foreign country), there are many things to think about, and while one’s main focus might be baby stuff, you also have to deal with things like visas, passports, and travel vaccinations.

you should look at your local travel vaccination websites or go to see a travel clinic, as they will be able to help with all the questions you have.  also, you should apparently make sure all your regular vaccinations are up to date.

for us, i have looked at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s travel pages¬†and the Centers for Disease Control website about traveling to India specifically.

what’s interesting to note, is that it doesn’t just depend where you are going, it also depends where you are coming from. ¬†so your country may recommend vaccinations or pills for your safety while in India, but India might also require that you need certain vaccinations to enter India, depending upon where you are coming from. ¬†even if you stopped in certain countries on your way to India, you might have to be quarantined for awhile before leaving the airport. ¬†this could be days or weeks. ¬†this is probably pretty rare, especially in our case, because most of those “certain countries” are in Africa or Asia. so we are probably good.

so far, it looks like we have to ensure our hepatitis A and B shots are up to date (which i think they are from our previous trip to Egypt) and also we may need to take some anti-malaria medications daily while in India, as there are big time mosquito issues there.

also, keep in mind that some vaccinations take awhile to kick in, so a fair amount of pre-planning is best.

anyways, i will do more research, but i wanted to ensure this was something folks thought about when they were planning their own journey.

safety first!

what to feed the baby?

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the other day i was doing some research about baby stuff (surprise, surprise) and was thinking about what to feed the baby.  i know i am getting way ahead of myself, but really anything further than tomorrow is getting way ahead of myself, and i like to be prepared if possible, so try to give everything some thought.  ask hubby, i give everything some thought, or lots of thought, or too much thought.

for feeding a baby you have via surrogacy or adoption, your options are pretty much formula or inducing lactation; yes, you can feed the baby with your own breast milk.

the obvious choice for many, i think, would be to feed the baby formula, and i know there are lots of good ones out there. ¬†i also know that people have sent me research about soy based formulas not being great, something like putting your infant on massive doses of birth control pills because of the volume of soy they would drink day in and day out. ¬†i know that some babies have issues with cow’s milk products, so in the end, you might not even really have much of a choice with which to use. ¬†so there’s lots of research to be done on that side of the coin if that’s what we decide.

then there is induced lactation, where (in a nutshell) the intended mother takes hormones to make her body think she is pregnant, and then uses a breast-pump for a period of time before the baby is born, to induce lactation. ¬†the baby can then nurse, which provides great nutrients and immunity boosting goodness, plus promotes bonding between mother and babe. ¬†in my research over the last few days, however, i have learned that induced lactation cannot provide the baby with colostrum, which “provides not only perfect nutrition tailored to the needs of your newborn, but also large amounts of living cells which will defend your baby against many harmful agents. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in colostrum than in mature milk.” ¬†i did contact the clinic to ask them if the surrogate mother would pump the colostrum (as i have read online that many surrogates in other countries do this), but the clinic said it would not be possible. ¬†this actually made me really mad for awhile over the last few days, and i have considered looking into other clinics who would at least brooch this subject with the surrogate, and i am still on the fence about this. ¬†my instinct says that “anyone” would want what’s best for a newborn, but i guess i can’t make that assumption, it’s not that simple, there are so many factors that might make this “not possible”. ¬†trust me, this will be in my thoughts over the next while.

we won’t be deciding about what to feed the baby anytime soon, as there is lots to think about and tons of research to do, but i wanted to put it out there, because i know there are folks out there who didn’t even know you could breast-feed an adopted or surrogate baby.

anyways, off to bed…

 

a telephone call

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wow, it’s amazing what one phone call can¬†incite.

now that my test results are dribbling in, i decided it would probably be time to get in touch with one of the clinics i have been researching. ¬†therefore, i emailed the one that i thought was our favourite, based on the information we had gathered, and waited for a response. ¬†i just let the doctor know that the waiting for chemicals to leave my body is over, and that i have gone for blood work, and while not all the results are back, some are. ¬†the doctor got back to me, and promptly asked us to call her that day, which freaked me out because it was on a Monday night, and the requested time was the middle of the night… basically, i wasn’t ready to have a conversation, so i asked if we could postpone for a few days. ¬†she agreed, and we set up an appointment to talk a few days later, but still in the middle of the night my time. ¬†i think doctors often like to have their phone calls near the end of their work day, but that’s just an assumption. we will see if there is any way we can make future calls at an earlier time, because it was pretty difficult to have a phone call at 1:30 am, and still work the day before and the day after. ¬†if it’s not possible, then that’s ok, it’s a small price to pay.

so, we had a conversation and we learned some extra information that will be of use for other Canadian (or foreign) couples who may want to do surrogacy in India.  she talked more about the new regulations that have come into play recently, and she explained that there is an extra safeguard in place that requires that the couples go to India three times now, rather than just the usual two, or sometimes one (i had seen some clinics that just directed you to send your sperm and eggs or pre-made embryos to India and come back in 9 months to pick up your baby).

now, the government requires that the couple comes to India to see the clinic and meet the doctor and the surrogate, and sign the contract in person.  this ensures that all parties know what they are getting into and i respect that.  for this first visit, the couple should use a tourist visa.  the second visit would be when the sperm is collected and the hormones, egg collection and IVF are done, and for this, the couple must go to India with a medical visa.  if all goes well, the third visit would be 9 months (well, actually 10, as a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks) to pick up the baby or babies.

another tidbit of information from this particular clinic is that they will only implant three embryos. i also respect this course of action.

what was really funny, is that the doctor let me know that hubby and i could just jaunt over for the weekend to get the first visit out of the way. ¬†she said if we arrived on a Friday or Saturday morning (they are open on Saturdays), we could have the paperwork signed on the Saturday, and be home by the Monday. ¬†at first i was thinking that this sounded crazy, but then i realized that business men likely make trips like this all over the world, all the time. ¬†i guess just for me it sounded really overwhelming. ¬†HOWEVER, i got right on that bandwagon and started thinking that if we could do this on March 29th (incidentally my birthday, which probably added to my excitement), that it is a long weekend and hubby probably wouldn’t have to miss much work (he barely gets any paid time off each year), so that could save us a few bucks. ¬†then i came down to Earth and realized that his passport isn’t valid past May, and to enter India you need to have six months left on your passport before it expires, and we need to renew his right away. ¬†that’s going to take a tiny while, and then we need to get the tourist visas for India, and that will take a little while too (they say three days, but who knows). ¬†to get the visas, you have to send your passport numbers in, so we really need hubby’s passport before we can proceed. ¬†also, some of the test results aren’t in yet, and they are important. ¬†we have doctors’ appointments on the 22nd, so hopefully the test results will be ready by then. ¬†so, we won’t be going for my birthday, but i think this means we will be going pretty darn soon.

anyways, the phone call really made reality set in, and it made us realize that this can happen much sooner than later, so we are super, super, super, super, super excited, and fingers crossed, everything will be smooth sailing from here.

as always, i will keep y’all posted!

information about travel visas and passports

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in communications with one of the clinics i have been emailing with, i have received the official letter that outlines the new changes from the Indian government.  one of the things of note, is that intended parents must not enter India on a tourist visa, they must enter on a medical visa.  i am not sure if this is the case for the second trip to pick up the baby or not, but for now, i will be filling out the Online Indian Visa Form for the first trip as requests for medical visas.  also, it is important to note that your passport has to be valid for a full six months past your travel dates, so we will need to get a new passport for my darling, as his expires in May.  i will need a new passport before the second trip, as mine expires early in 2014, i think May as well.

also, the doctor at the clinic has said that there likely won’t be any issues with Canadians participating in surrogacy in India, but you still have to be a heterosexual couple who’s been married for more than two years.

she also recommends that we contact the consulate (not sure which one yet, because i am not up on all this political stuff, but i guess i will be soon) ahead of time, so we know that Canada will accept the baby. ¬†so that’s another thing i can start to do ahead of time.

this gets more real every day!

the vampires have had their way with me

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they’ve done it; they’ve taken EIGHT VIALS of blood from me in one day. ¬†yes, that’s my dramatic way of saying i have had my blood tests today. ¬†as luck would have it, the phlebotomists at my local lab are VERY good, and they only took one try each (i had to have seven vials taken, then two hours after eating i had to have one ¬†more taken) to “get it”. ¬†i have learned, though late in life, that if you tell them you are terrified, it makes them nervous and they usually fumble and have to try a few times. ¬†if you play it cool, they are cool, and it’s much easier. ¬†also, just last year, someone clued me into the fact that if you are dehydrated, your veins are all pathetic and hard to find, so i chugged water for 24 hours in preparation.

so what useful information do you need, aside from my dramatic account of the blood-letting? ¬†well, in BC, one of the tests, the anti-mullerian hormone one, costs $160 and is not covered by the BC medical services plan. ¬†also, even though i went to the main lab in BC, they had no record of the inhibin B test in their computer system, so i couldn’t get that test today. ¬†they suggested i go back to my doctor and talk to him about it. ¬†since my appointment with him is in early April, i am hoping this won’t be a set-back. ¬†from what i understand from a quick internet search, inhibin B is an older test that isn’t used very much in N. America anymore, so i am hoping all the clinics in India don’t insist upon it, and can get a clear picture of my ovarian profile without it, or we could be waiting even longer. ¬†i will do a bit more checking, and if i find that it’s important, then i will call other labs or an IVF clinic to see if they do it there… i really hope it’s not a show-stopper, because it’s gotta be drawn on day 2 or 3 of my cycle, and that only comes around every month or so… lol (nervous irritated laugh)

so, in addition to teaching me patience, this process is teaching me to be hyper-organised, because i never really thought to call the lab to ensure they did all these tests while i was waiting for the appropriate blood drawing day, and this worry could have been averted. ¬†so, if you ever have to have blood tests on a certain day or time, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and find out if they are possible or if you need to do anything special. ¬†prepare, prepare, prepare.

now to wait for the results! (yes, i can check online, and will probably do so in a neurotic way every day, so will keep you posted… some basic results are already available, but none of the ones that really matter to this process).

g’night.

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