Category Archives: Surrogacy in India

so long (as in a long time, not good bye)

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it’s been a seriously long time since i posted.  i can’t really say why… or maybe i can.  i will try, though it will likely just be a bit of a brain dump, though i am sure any regular readers of this blog will be used to those.

since coming back from Mumbia, so much has happened.  we have moved and that was a horrible nightmare of a day, though holy shit, we love our new apartment sooooo much!!!

hubby’s grampa was in the hospital with what we were initially told was pancreatic cancer, though after some testing, it turned out not to be.  we were in the hospital with him and the gramma every night for awhile, and we are so happy with the results, but wow, it was stressful!!!  i won’t go into what an a-hole i think his doctor is, for providing that diagnosis with NO testing.  if we were in the USA, i am sure a giant lawsuit could ensue… anyways.

then, one of my beloved cats (Joe) became very sick and we had to take him to the vet three times in three days.  he refused to eat and hadn’t gone poo for days (still hasn’t and tomorrow is a week).  we had many diagnostic tests and it wasn’t anything obvious.  he had a bit of an abscess (some teenage acne gone awry on his chin) and i think it was painful and turned him off eating.  then it popped and he just hasn’t regained his taste for food.  he’s never been the BEST eater anyways, but now it’s ridiculous.  i was syringe feeding him all the time over the last few days, but today he finally had a wee bit of food on his own, though i had to crush up a few temptations treats (kitty crack) in the food to get him interested.  we will see how this goes.  he’s very frisky though, which is a good sign.  wow, i can sure talk about my cat’s illness, gawd help anyone if we ever do have a child.

also, work has been very busy.  kind of mentally exhausting in a lot of ways.  i love my job and am lucky to say that, but some weeks are more mentally draining than others.

so, where do we stand with surrogacy?  well, i guess that’s another reason i haven’t written.  we don’t know.  i am going to be honest here, and in doing so, may help myself talk through the “problem”.

our time in Mumbai was terrible.  i know that some people may just think “oh, you were sick, big deal”, but we were soooo sick and both at the same time, so it was hard.  that’s not the biggest deal, except that we really would dread having that happen again, and cannot imagine being that sick with a baby.  that’s the first thing in our minds when we reflect on that visit.  second, i have met a couple through this blog who are from Canada and are currently in Mumbai with their new twins.  they have waited so far 50 days with no word from the Canadian government on where their application to bring the babies home is at.  the website doesn’t say anything other than “processing”, the 1-800 number cannot be accessed from India, so they are having to rely on family and friends to appeal to the government for information and/or help.  it turns out (and this was alluded to when i was in touch with the government in my initial research) that the process of getting babies back to Canada could take over three months, and i can’t imagine being in Mumbai for all that time with a baby.  neither can hubby.  especially since we can’t even imagine being in Mumbai again, period.  it looks like India was a hot-bed of surrogacy for a long time, but then it became big in the media, then became regulated, and the Canadian government is making it more difficult to get babies back.  this apparently has happened with adoption from various countries too, Kenya and China and a few others that were in the press, it seems a pattern with the Canadian government, or maybe it just appears that way.  i am sure it protects someone…. there’s always a reason for this type of thing.

thirdly, we are very disillusioned with our clinic.  i must be honest, though we tried to kind of wash over this when we were there, some of the standards were very poor compared to Canada, i haven’t even provided some of the detail, and nor will i, as it’s pretty personal.  we did expect this, and had everything else gone well, i guess maybe we could have overlooked it, but it’s one of the issues that have compounded.

this is the kicker, and i have struggled with whether to talk about this on this blog or not, but i am going to, because this is anonymous.  we don’t really trust our clinic has our best interest at heart.  there are many things that make us think this, and maybe one day i will expound here, but the whole experience has made us so turned off that we just kind of put things on pause.

this sucks though, because there was no definite indication in India that i couldn’t produce eggs had i been healthy at the time, i know i ovulate still, my test results were decent, so i kind of felt like the clinic hung me out to dry because going through an IVF cycle and having eggs harvested in Canada is SOOOOO expensive, so now i feel like our only chance at having a child biological to both of us has been wasted, because we can’t do it here, and we don’t want me to go through any more medical treatment in India, it’s not a good idea…. it’s very discouraging and sad for both of us, so we have kind of being avoiding the issue.

when we got back i looked at other surrogacy options, i knew about Thailand and the Ukraine before, but there are issues with both.  someone had let me know that Mexico is an emerging “player” in the surrogacy market (one state only in Mexico), and also apparently Cyprus is an option nowadays.  we haven’t done much research, as we know we would have to start at the very beginning to do it in either, and i am sure both have their own issues, so again, discouraging.

so, here we sit, in a sort of limbo.  each day i get older, and yes, hubby does too, but he is a fair bit younger, so age isn’t that pressing of an issue for him, but yeah… i dunno.  we don’t really have time to be confused or hopeless or bitter or whatever…. but we are.

i have also looked into participating in fostering children, though hubby isn’t as keen on that… it’s something i have always thought about, but …. ugh, my thoughts trail off in this post, because the thoughts are still spinning in my head without an end, so there is really no conclusion to any of the things i describe.  mish-mosh brain.

so, to my surrogacy friends i haven’t emailed, it’s just because i haven’t known what to say… i haven’t dropped off the earth, i just seriously didn’t know what to say.  i just have been avoiding the topic of surrogacy altogether, and emailing back and forth makes me think about it…. so sorry for being a non-communicative dolt.

that’s about it for now… i am still around, and will email when i can get myself to email (how’s that for honesty?)

Our hotel in Mumbai

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Now that our trip is over and we are home, i wanted to write about our hotel.  i have tried to consistently never talk about things (airlines, hotels, clinics, etc.) until i have finished using them, so now i can review our hotel and identify it.

for the duration of the three weeks, we stayed at Grand Residency Hotel & Serviced Apartments due to its proximity to our clinic.  we had visited it briefly on our first visit, as we had stayed at a hotel that was farther away, and knew we would not want to take a taxi or tuk tuk almost every day to the clinic, especially since there was potential that i wouldn’t feel great from the shots (or from other stuff, as it turned out).

the hotel is a smaller, “boutique” style hotel with not very many rooms, but a variety of rooms.  it has smaller studio type rooms and basic rooms and then larger rooms with kitchenette and separate living space and two bathrooms.  this is the size we had, and we were very lucky, because we had never needed two bathrooms more in our entire lives.

the hotel staff is very friendly, they learn your names, they are willing to accommodate any request, from room service, to laundry, to housekeeping, to providing boxes of bottled water, to allowing us to use their front desk computer to print forms for FRRO or airline boarding passes, to getting cabs, to booking tours, whatever.  they all spoke English quite well and were great to deal with.  on more than one occasion, we sat in the lounge and chatted with the hotel manager, he was extremely friendly and great to talk to.  the whole hotel had a family type feel, with the staff getting to know you and being so personable.

the room we had was very clean and everything worked, though there was a bit of a drip from the A/C unit.  there was separate A/C in both rooms, separate flat screen TVs in both rooms, and the kitchenette was functional with a microwave, toaster, two burner hot plate, kettle, and nearly full-sized fridge with freezer.  the “living area” had a desk with a chair, a small sofa, a comfy chair, a coffee table, and a kitchen table with two chairs.  there were two balconies you could go on (if you signed a waiver), so you could check the weather and temperature.  the bathrooms were modern and the shower was great; the water pressure rivaled ours at home, and we had really great showers.  the rooms both had blackout curtains, so you can get a good sleep without any light getting in.  the bed was a king size and VERY comfortable.  there was a side table on each side, with lighting for each side, and a large wardrobe with a few drawers and hangers to put your stuff.  the room also had an ironing board and iron for your use, plus hair dryer and the usual shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap.

the neighbourhood was good also.  there were many restaurants, small shops, coffee houses, and even a western style grocery store close by, so when we were sick we could get some foods we felt safe with.

as far as negatives are concerned, there were very few.  the main one, which won’t be an issue for long, is that once we arrived there was some fairly heavy renovations going on in the hotel, so there was major banging and hammering from 10:00 to at least 18:30, sometimes 20:30 every day except Sunday.  at my sickest, i had to call the desk and beg them to make it stop, and they were fairly fair about doing so.  we understand that renovations need to occur, but for three weeks, it became unbearable.  we would have appreciated if the hotel staff had let us know ahead of time, so we could have a) made an informed decision or b) asked for a different room farther from the noise.

second negative is that our room faced a convent school, and while it’s very cute to see and hear little girls swarming around at certain times of the day for a few days, it became uncute pretty quickly.  no big deal though, it was for an hour at 13:00 and an hour at 18:00.  the car horn honking goes on for many more hours in the day in Mumbai, so you get used to noise pollution to a degree.

third, we could hear every single door bell on our floor, and maybe some below as well.  it is a very distinct door bell, and by day two we were SICK OF IT!  it would be great if the hotel would turn down the volume, so the residents can only hear their own.  we think the elevator also made the same chime, so it would have been nice not to hear that as well.

fourth, the internet was fairly expensive.  you have to pay a daily rate, and you can only have two devices on it.  therefore, we couldn’t connect our phones or camera to it unless we paid more.  the daily rate was pretty expensive too, though the manager was willing to negotiate a bit on this.  the internet in India is a bit less fast than in Canada, so you have to be fairly patient, but all-in-all we had mostly constant connectivity.

lastly, we aren’t sure if we became sick from the hotel food.  we aren’t going to say yes, because we certainly ate other things at first, but we just aren’t sure.  we only drank bottled water, but we have heard horror stories about bottled water being re-filled with random water and resealed, so who knows if that was the culprit.  the restaurant had a variety of western foods, indian foods, and chinese foods, and we tried quite a few at the beginning.  for the most part, they were very delicious, and always arrived hot to our room.  in particular, the cottage cheese corn balls were divine (sounds strange, i know… but yummm!!!).

so, had the renovations not been happening and had we not been sick, we would have loved our hotel stay.  we would still recommend this hotel to anyone, just call ahead to make sure there are no renos happening.  because we were staying for three weeks, the manager negotiated with us to provide a better rate, which was also really nice.  this was a very nice hotel, very comfortable, very clean (no bed bugs either, trust me, i checked!!!), courteous staff, we didn’t feel badgered by staff for tips (like at other hotels), and we felt like we got our money’s worth.  don’t hesitate to stay at Grand Residency.

Long time – long post

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Wow, it seems like such a long time since I have written a post. We are in the Seoul airport now, on the way home and have a bit of a layover, so it seems opportune. I have a few minutes to reflect too, though i don’t think my reflecting will be particularly fruitful, as i am already lacking in sleep.

Though we have been gone for about nine hours, Mumbai seems a blur. As always when i travel, but particularly this time, I wish we had done more. Though there didn’t seem a lot to do in Mumbai, we even asked people what to do and nobody had great suggestions. I wished we had maybe gone to Elephanta Island, but we just weren’t in any shape to have done a ferry ride and then island walkabout… Even here in the Seoul airport, debarking our first flight, we met a guy who lives seven months per year in Hawaii and five in India (musician, tough life.. Haha!) and he said he tries not to spend much time in Mumbai, as “it’s a shit hole.” he says that he would actually choose India over Hawaii to live, as it’s beautiful in other places other than Mumbai. Interesting food for thought.

So, to round out that thought… After this trip, and during the trip while I was so sick, I wondered over and over and over if I would ever want to return to India. At this juncture, so soon after leaving, my guts (after rotting for three weeks) say no. But there’s a bitter taste in my mouth (both of our mouths) from the experience. Not just the multiple illnesses, but the nearly instant lack of success as well. The trip was pretty much a bust that left us with so many more questions than answers, and we will need to really do some heavy thinking, researching, and working before we can take a next step on the surrogacy journey.

On another note though, the last three weeks has left me with some other amazing stuff. I connected (via email) with a few women who were in Mumbai at the same time as we were, doing surrogacy stuff. One was doing the first step, same as us, and i wish her all the success imaginable. Her wee family is the epitome of folks who deserve the best possible outcome, because they have almost more to offer a baby than I can imagine, from what little I know already. The second couple are from Vancouver, a mere 20 minute drive from our home, and they are picking up their two bundles in Mumbai. They used two surrogates and didn’t imagine they would both be successful, but they were, and they welcomed first a baby girl, then around a week later a boy. How perfect! (for them… Two freaks us right out!) What i can say about this woman so far, is that she is amazing for her immediate willingness to share information with me, even in the midst of all this baby-picking-up. Through her, I will probably be able to share some details about the pick up portion of the surrogacy process, far sooner than if you had to wait for our bundle. So two fantastic women and two fantastic connections for us.

On the home front, we have had sooooooooo much support from our friends and family back in Vancouver. Throughout the last few weeks, even with the time difference, I have felt supported and missed.

One of our close friends actually told me she would be willing to donate eggs to us, if we didn’t think it was too strange. She and her hubby already have two wonderful (and gorgeous) wee kiddos, who we love, and she doesn’t plan on more, so she wanted me to know she would be willing and happy to share. We do think it would be too strange of a dynamic, but to think that someone would just do that for us is amazing.

Our great friend/building mate came through for us and took grand care of our cats for three weeks. If it weren’t for him, we couldn’t have gone i don’t think. There isn’t anyone else we can think of who would visit our boys twice a day to take care of their needs. Amazing!

And last, but certainly not least… We mentioned we got a new apartment, but what I hadn’t mentioned yet, was that our current apartment had to be shown to potential renters, and since we had been so sick before leaving, it was far from pristine and show- worthy. So, at the drop of a hat, my best friend went over and took care of it. I can’t even believe it. It was then snapped up by the first people to see it, so no more showing!

Plus, as always when we travel, hubby and i got along so wonderfully. We always get along really well and have a great connection, but it seems that when we travel, our symbioticness really comes out the most. Maybe being out of our comfort zone pulls us together…

So… I have felt more connected in the last three weeks, and that is something I value mega, mega! Even though we don’t have a million friends, the few we have would go through fire for us… And that is, I dunno.. I don’t want to say something cliche here… So use your imagination.

It’s official… India hates me.

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I have spent another 36 hours deathly sick. I don’t know what keeps getting me here. Normally I have what I consider to be a strong immune system, but every germ in this country seems to have gotten to me. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, I don’t seem to have malaria or dengue fever or typhoid, so that’s a positive. It’s so hard to be sick, then nearly better, then totally sick again, and over and over.

At this point, we are just counting down the days to go home. Get home, get moved, get healthier, get on with getting on. Think about what our future holds.

It’s funny to hear my husband say, “when we get on the plane, I am eating EVERYTHING!” i guess it’s because he was so sick on the way over that he rejected every meal, and now we have had such a hard time with what we assume is food-bourne illness here, he is just waiting with baited breathe for something he feels is safe. He’s also listed all the foods he wants to eat at home. I am dreaming about fresh produce and milk. We have only found UHT milk here, which is in a tetra pack and is only good for 48 hours after opening. It’s just odd.

FRRO Mumbai

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Today was our FRRO appointment, which was something we had been dreading. We had heard several stories and read other blogs about experiences in India’s FRRO offices, and had very low expectations for today’s visit.

First off, we tried to make appointments on the computer last night, because you have to fill in an online application form (each) and then at the end of the process it asks what date you want the appointment. For hubby’s, it told us we had passed our 14 days and asked if I would like to make an appointment with a penalty. How this was false, this was the only option. We selected today’s date and said yes, but it automatically said our appointment was in three days. So then when I went to book mine, I’ll requested the date the same as hubby’s and printed them both out. Upon looking at our print outs, we noticed that hubby’s appointment was for today and mine for Thursday. Jeez! Not surprising, but irritating.

Soooo…. Off we troddled today, in a taxi who knew where he was going as luck would have it, for the 45 – 60 minute ride through terrible traffic, to about the farthest south you can possibly go in Mumbai. The driver parked and we went in and had an almost totally painless experience at the FRRO. Most of the staff we fairly quiet and unhelpful (outwardly so) but when we asked they would tell us what to do. There were tons of people sitting around waiting, and we kinda thought maybe that’s what we should do, as someone had told us “wait and they will call you”. After awhile, we noticed that some people who had arrived after us were going in, so i asked (nicely) someone if we were just to wait, and they ushered us in.

The gentleman who worked us through the process was very lovely and efficient. After he processed hubby, he noticed that my appointment wasn’t for two days hence, and we played dumb and asked if there was possibly anything he could do, or would we have to go back again? He tried and failed a few things on his computer, tsking the whole time, and then said he would go talk to someone. He came back a few minutes later, and voila, he processed me. He even gave us two extra days extension, “just in case”. He was great!

The office was fine, they sold water and refreshments, you can get your papers, xerox copies, and photos there for a fee (we had all this). We didn’t check the washroom facilities, but people were going in and out and seemed fine.

We believe the key here, was that we were the best behaved. There was an obnoxious American guy who was demanding a receipt for his photo, which cost 100 INR ($1.75 CAD) and kept saying he needed it for his agent. Whatever. There was a group of scantily clad yoga and girls from Australia, who were totally disorganized and bitchy, then a bunch of other folks who just seemed very grumpy, and then us. We expected beurocracy and for it to take time, we were prepared, and we were pleasant. So easier to deal with. Our hotel manager had told us the previous day that if you act like a jerk there, they will just tell you to sit down and wait…. Like anywhere else I guess.

We went late, because we had to pick up a letter from our clinic and we had NO idea how bad the traffic was, so we arrived at 12:00, and they stop taking applications at 1:00. We were out of there by 2:00, stepping out into the worst monsoon of all so far, and lo and behold, our taxi driver had waited the two hours for us! He was great too; so much greatness!

Hint – if you are travelling from the top of Mumbai to the bottom or vice versa, and a taxi driver asks you if you want “ceiling”, “sailing”, “sealing” and you have no clue wtf he is talking about, what he means, is “do you want to take the SeaLink” bridge. The answer is yes. It is a toll bridge that costs 55 INR (96 cents CAD) and cuts a 45 min drive to 5 mins…. So just say yes. We had no clue about ceiling, sailing, sealing, and said no because we thought he was asking if we were going sailing, but on the way back he explained it to us… Lol.

Not this time

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The news is bad. There will be no egg retrieval for us at this time. It’s a combination of things: my severe illness messed up my cycle and my right ovary cannot be visualized, no matter how hard they try, plus my blood pressure was going up from just a few injections, and the IVF clinic isn’t totally equipped to deal with issues other than IVF specific ones.

Before we came, we purchased additional travel medical insurance, as everyone should do when they travel our of province or country, in spite of the fact that one of the main clauses states that there will be exclusions or reductions in coverage if you travel for the purposes of medical treatment. We took this to mean that things related to the medical treatment would be covered, but perhaps if we were hit by a motorbike, we could be covered. Therefore, BP rising due to meds would most certainly not be covered, especially since high BP is a preexisting condition, so we are not prepared or covered for that risk.
As far as my right ovary is concerned, I am fairly pissed off that this wasn’t fully clarified in Canada. While the OB/GYN did see on the report that it couldn’t be visualized, it was thought that when push came to shove, they would be able to move the fat, organs, intestines, or whatever out of the way to see the ovary. The two docs in India here tried to ultrasound via both internal and external methods, and could not view it no matter how much they tried. They state there are massive (or massive amounts of) fibroids blocking all views. Obviously I will need to check this out back home. I it is possible that the fibroids grew when I was on estrogen pills for that month, after the Canada ultrasound…. Who knows.

I was pretty distraught when we found out and only vaguely discussed further options with the clinic, so we have made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon to discuss what we can do going forward. Some of the options in my mind are:

1. Leave a sperm sample here for use with an egg that we send from Canada, IF we can get one/some

2. Send embryos from Canada, IF we can get eggs with which to make embryos

3. Leave a sperm sample here for use with an egg donor here

There are many aspects to discuss together, things to consider, not the least of which is cost. But we need to know the options and costs associated before we can really delve into the talks. We also need to know how much refund we can get, based on the minimal amount of work that was done here.

Hubby is the best, he has said all the right things to me, cuddled me, talked with me, been my usual rock. I am so thankful I have this man at my side for this journey, he makes me feel so much better just being in my space, as always.

Please don’t feel bad for us, this was always a major possibility, maybe even a probability, and we will just move forward from here.

To those of you that are having success, please don’t stop telling me about it, as I will be happy for you and it won’t make me feel bad. I am still interested and pleased to hear other stories.

For those about to embark, you are not me, your bodies are different than mine, and this should not make you worried. We all have different risks that have brought us here, and so our outcomes will all be different based on our particular bodies. Best of luck and my good vibes are headed your way.

Our journey isn’t over by a long shot, so stay tuned! There’s even still some time left in India for me to tell you about!

Blood work

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So we had our first blood work here this morning and it was somewhat different than in Canada. For one, the woman didn’t know how to use a butterfly, which is generally the only way anyone can draw blood from me (in the back of my hand) as I am big and also my veins roll away from the needles. Luckily, the anesthesiologist was sitting right there and he knew how to do it. Second they had a much better setup for tourniquets, it was velcro, so not a rubber tied off thinger, so it found it more effective. Third, they draw all your blood into one syringe, then insert the syringe into the vials to fill them, rather than attaching the vials to the syringe directly. Therefore, there was a bit of stray blood on the floor and desk. I have seen stray blood in Canada too, so no big deal. Other than that, they still used clean procedures, and we felt safe, and they got it on the first try, which is always important to me as I despise getting my blood drawn or IVs.

I spoke to the anesthesiologist about my previous intubation issues (past troubles during surgeries) just so he is aware, and he says I won’t need to be intubated unless there is an emergency, which is highly unlikely, as the procedure is very short. He was very reassuring. I like to be in contact with the various folks on the medical team, so they are aware of any of my concerns. Communication is key, so make sure you let them know if you have ever had any medical problems.

Another nice breakfast at the hotel (breakfast buffet included every day) and now we are relaxing for awhile. We are probably going on an ethical tour of the slums today, where 80% goes to improvement and services for those who live there and then later this week a market tour. Also, going to go see World War Z when it’s released, and maybe Monster University later this week.

mumbai weather

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the forecast for the next five days is rain, rain, lightening, lightening, lightening!  i am so freaking excited about this (just so long as we can fly in).

I LOVE EXTREME WEATHER!!!!!

i found this picture of lightening over the Mumbai skyline on a National Geographic website; it was part of a photo contest in 2012 and taken by Shannon Ellsworth.  hopefully they won’t mind that i borrowed it to emphasize the beauty i am looking forward to!!

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feeling much better

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so, in reality, i wasn’t even close to being better at last post, my body faked me out and i thought i felt better, but i wasn’t.  now i am feeling quite a bit better and am going to be able to start doing what needs to be done to get ready for the trip.  i can’t believe we fly out in 2.5 days, it’s come up so fast!!!

our first appointment with the clinic is booked for the first day we arrive, so i can get the first ultrasound and i would imagine the first shots.

we are very excited and nervous; i guess this visit to India is going to finally answer whether we can have a baby or not…. so the next few weeks are key.

good luck to all the other couples out there who are going through the same thing at the same time.  i know of at least four others on very similar timing, and whether we ever meet any of you or not, it’s nice to know there are others in a similar boat, on a similar journey.  if you are reading this in the future and are about to go through this journey, i would recommend you do whatever you can to talk to others who are going through it to, it’s just comforting is all.

anyways, lots of preparation work to do, so signing off for now.

sick, sick, sick

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i have been sooooo sick the last 48 hours or so, i guess i had some sort of a stomach bug, and it’s been so bad i haven’t been able to read, watch tv, do anything much on the computer (the screen movement makes me nauseated).  doing simple tasks has made me so weak i have actually laid down on the floor… pathetic i tell you!!!

i think i have turned a corner though, i am feeling a bit better, though still really weak, as i didn’t eat anything that whole time except two bananas and some gatorade.  i think i will try some chicken noodle soup today, get my strength back.

i cannot tell you how happy i am that this happened now instead of on travel day, because i can honestly tell you that i was so sick i would have cancelled the trip; there is NO WAY i could have traveled that way.  none, zero, zippo, zilch.  ok, maybe if they had a bed on the plane that was right next to the bathroom… but even that would have been pushing it.

oh well, moving forward! five days til we are in the air.  let’s just cross our fingers that hubby doesn’t get it… send those vibes again for him folks, they seem to have been very successful so far whenever i have asked!