December 26, 2014

India Update {part 1}

Hey, Everybody!

{warning:super long post!} So, we're in India. It's hard to believe that we started our trip a week ago! I wanted to drop in to say hi and also to keep track of what we are doing here! Our brains have pretty much turned into mush after the amount of stimulation and information we've taken in over the last few days. If I don't write it down, I'm afraid I'll forget something!

Thankfully, our flights went very smoothly. We connected in Paris and had enough time to stretch our legs, grab a croissant and cafe au lait, and jump on our flight to Mumbai. We did sit on the runway for two hours before leaving, so that made a long flight feel even longer. We arrived in Mumbai around 1:00 am. The airport is very nice and clean and we had no idea what was going to happen when we walked outside. Luckily, we saw our driver in a massive crowd of people holding up signs with our name on it. He took us to our hotel, where we finally arrived after 2:30 am. We fell asleep around 4 am and knew we had the next day to get ourselves situated before things got hectic. We've been really pleased with how comfortable our hotel is and the people we've met have all be lovely.

Day 1: We only let ourselves sleep until 9:30, but we could have gone all day. We had breakfast at the hotel then decided to wander around 'our' neighborhood. We are staying in Powai, which is basically a suburb of Mumbai. It's safe and there are a lot of nice restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries around.  Without much hesitation, we took ourselves to a Starbucks across the street and did some people watching while trying to gather our bearings. We then walked around the neighborhood, stopping in markets and little shops.

Our late lunch ended up being a buffet at Yellow Chili and it was delicious. Aside from the fact that we had little idea what we were doing or eating, it was quite an experience. Buffets are not usually our favorite thing, but this was a Sunday brunch style and we didn't have a choice, so we went with it.

I began to hit a wall around 4 pm and just wanted to go to bed, we went back to the hotel for a rest but tried not to sleep. We received flowers from our doctors, which was the sweetest thing. We face timed with my parents and then went to a Christmas Festival in town. .

We decided to have a low key dinner at our hotel and then went to bed shortly after. It was quite a day!

Day 2: We were rested and up and at 'em early to head to the hospital. It's within walking distance of the hotel, so we headed there to meet someone from the agency and have the first ultrasound to check and see how I was responding to the meds. We had a good first impression of the hospital itself, and it is similar to what we might find at home, which is a good thing, of course.

We later went to the agency for the first time, and met our doctors and team. Everyone is wonderful and we went through some more paperwork and prepared FRRO documents, which is where we will go to register our stay with the government. We also met a couple from Colorado who is on our similar time frame. It was nice to be able to chat with them and compare experiences so far.

We spent the day afterwards driving through different parts of the city, where we saw a little more of what we imagined when we thought of Mumbai.
Our driver, Ajit, is so sweet and had planned itineraries for each day. Today, he took us shopping for some traditional Indian clothing. We went to a shop that was totally unique and the experience was, too. We were sat down and shown anything and everything we wanted to see, and then some. I was looking for some tunics I could wear here and also at home, but ended up trying some beautiful sarees that were for fancier occasions. The colors were just stunning and I felt like a princess, but we just didn't think I would get the use out of such an ensemble. We did end up buying a {less fancy} saree that I can wear here and use the fabric for something else at home later. I love all of the beautiful colors and fabrics here.

Day 3: On Tuesday, we headed to FRRO, which is further south in Mumbai. While that was a little intimidating, we made it through the process smoothly. After, we drove around through some other parts of town and did a little pashmina shopping. 


Day 4: Christmas Eve. We had another scan at the hospital and met another doctor we'll be working with. We learned that I'm responding very well to the medications and that we can expect to have the retrieval probably on Monday. This is response is similar {seems to be, at least} to how I responded when we did our last IVF in Charlotte. Praying it keeps up and they have lots of quality options at the retrieval!
Ajit then took us to a temple, where we met the Baba (Holy Man) and received a blessing. It was amazing to see and learn more about Hinduism.
After, we went with Ajit to design a custom suit for TJ (textiles, textiles!) We then drove through a national park where we took a 'safari' to spot lions and tigers.
 We then drove through the largest slums in Mumbai, the ones the movie Slum Dog Millionaire is based on, and it was like nothing I've ever seen. There is such an extreme of wealth and poverty here. It's truly eye opening.
For dinner, we channeled our inner Christmas Story and went to a Chinese restaurant. It was pretty good, the waiters wore Santa hats and even Santa himself (with a not-so-flattering mask on) made his appearance.
Day 5: Christmas Day! We spent this day mainly resting, which was necessary after staying pretty busy the first few days! We spent the morning and early afternoon reading by the pool, then we went to lunch (pizza) and stopped at roof top restaurant/bar for some city views. Christmas dinner was spent at Le Pain Quotidien, which happens to be a restaurant found in NYC. It's right next to our hotel and we wanted something more on the traditional side, so this worked out well. We had a delicious meal and left with full bellies. We really did miss our family and friends and it was an adjustment not having a typical Christmas, but we reminded ourselves how blessed we are to be here in India together doing what we're here to do. We're truly thankful.
Day 6: Today we went back to the hospital for  a scan and to complete the "anesthesia fitness" in preparation for the egg retrieval. We scheduled the ET for Monday, so that's great. My last night of injections is tonight, then I will take the trigger shot tomorrow evening. We had high tea/lunch at the hotel and are heading to an Indian restaurant for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow is a big day because it's the day we meet our surrogate! It's already real, but meeting her tomorrow will take this thing to another level of real. We're feeling so hopeful and positive and thank you all so much for lifting us from afar with your positive thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement! We love ya'll!

December 11, 2014

8 Day Countdown to India

Well, words just cannot properly express how truly humbled and incredibly thankful I feel. Sharing the news about our adventure to India was scary, but I am so glad that I did. As I read through the outpouring of texts, messages on social media and email, tears just filled my eyes. Knowing that we are being lifted up in the thoughts and prayers of so many who love us and are cheering for us is absolutely amazing.

To top it off, we actually hit a sizeable road block on Thursday, the day I posted about our news. We weren't sure if I would be able to obtain my prescriptions in time for us to leave. This process is complicated, as you can imagine, and attempting to have IVF in India but begin the cycle here has not been the simplest thing to try and coordinate. Anyhow, I seriously panicked. I was so upset and worried that things would all fall apart here at the end. I went to acupuncture after school and cried some more. I was a mess the whole day. Then, I just told myself that I need to have faith in this process and have faith that these details would work out. I reminded myself (and through several pep talks with TJ) that we would figure this out, one way or another. It was going to be okay. God's got this.

So, through the kindness of a friend (and lots of other people) and a very caring doctor, we're going to be alright. Just like that, it worked out. I am just in awe of the ways people have gone out of their way to help us. I feel so undeserving, and so grateful. It's the biggest reminder for me to pay this kindness forward to others, because I really just felt helpless and didn't know what to do. We have the meds now, and we're going to India in 8 days!

I thought I'd do a little {it's turning into a long} post about some of the details and answer some questions that have been asked.
8 Random Things...

{8} We will leave for India on the 19th and come back on January 2nd. So, a different type of Christmas and New Years it will be!
{7} We will begin an IVF cycle here, and finish in India, where we will have the egg retrieval. Then, we pray and pray that we'll have a precious embryo or embryos that we {and by we I mean the doctors} will transfer to our surrogate, 3-5 days later. 
{6}We will communicate with our doctors and surrogate via phone, email and Skype throughout.
{5} I've never flown this far or for this long. Those who have, please give me tips for getting through it as comfortably as possible!
{4} Speaking of, I would love to load up the ipad with books and shows for the trip. What books do you love right now/recently? I have a few on my list but would love other suggestions. Shows that would be good to get into? We're all caught up with Scandal and Homeland, and are in the midst of Breaking Bad.
{3} It is going to be 91 degrees when we are there. Figuring out what to pack is down on the list of things to do somewhere!
{2} Thank you all so much for praying for us. We need and appreciate those prayers in a big way and feel better and stronger about taking steps into the unknown with a big team along side of us. It truly touches our hearts and we are ever grateful for all of your support along the way.

{1}  If I'm being honest, holidays are hard. When we put up our Christmas tree I shed tears as I take out special ornaments and remember the ones we love who are not physically with us. Part of me still prepares for Christmas and loves to get in the spirit, and another part of me is quietly relieved when I've 'made it through' another holiday. All of this to say that Christmas this year will be very different since it won't be spent with our families or in any sort of traditional way. However, I am excited for the new beginning it represents, and the hope we have in our hearts for our family. And the prayer that next Christmas we finally have our bundle of joy in our arms.

December 4, 2014

But Wait, There's Hope

I mentioned that God's timing blew me away when we found out we were pregnant. If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that we had decided to take a big rest from all the treatments, hormones, clinics, trying, etc. We just hit a wall and needed to take a break. This was back in January or so.

Since then, we've been searching our hearts about what would be best for our family. Every family is different, and ours is no exception. What works for some may not be the best for others. Anyhow, we really wanted to do it right, so we researched all of our options and weighed the pros and cons of each. Sometimes we would talk about an option, and let it sit for weeks or even months. When we were ready, we'd talk about it again. We made it a no-pressure, everyone should feel good about this, sort of thing. Mostly we went with our hearts, which is a pretty good place to start when making big decisions that impact your entire lives.

Well, our hearts led us to surrogacy.

From the beginning, I didn't want to feel like I was "waving the white flag" on carrying a child. We've been fighting for so long and couldn't possibly let go of that dream. It was simply viewed as another avenue which we haven't tried and really might make sense for us at this time. Then, we lost our sweet miracle baby boy in September, months after we had begun our surrogacy journey. Of course I still don't know if carrying a baby to term is in my future, but this is where are now. We just want our baby(ies) in our arms, and if this is how we get them there, what a gift that will be.

While we felt like surrogacy was the right choice for us, we suddenly became completely overwhelmed with the cost. Financially, it seemed out of reach. We decided we would need to save for at least 2 years to have the $100,000+ we would need. We could take the equity from our house, but that didn't feel responsible and we had to think about the future. We didn't want to act emotionally or impulsively with such a huge decision. We didn't want to rush it, but also didn't want to wait, if that makes any sense. This led us to look into other options, talk to people who have gone through surrogacy, and lots and lots of research.

All of that led us to India.

Why India? There were lots of reasons. The financial aspect definitely impacted our decision, but it's not what we solely based it on. The doctors, technology and medical community are highly advanced, respected and developed, all things that are important to us! Then there's the knowledge that the income provided to the gestational carrier will help provide opportunities her family might not otherwise have, like buying a home or saving for college. International surrogacy is growing fast there, and we have found a wonderful and established agency. We also spoke with several families from the US who had gone through a successful surrogacy with the agency we chose, which helped ease our minds.

Oh, and we're going there in 15 days.

Typing that last sentence just made this all feel incredibly real.
Which I suppose it should, as we are going there in 15 days.

I don't think the reality of what we're doing will hit until we step off the airplane in Mumbai. Even then, it may not. We're very excited,very nervous and most importantly, we're hopeful.

It was important for me to share this journey on our blog. I will update with specifics from now on, for us to remember, and for those who have been so supportive of our journey so far. It would mean everything to us if you would please pray for us throughout this process. The more people praying and thinking positive thoughts with us, the better. We know we aren't alone on this journey, we know that, and we're very grateful for that fact.

Thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement. It's given me the courage to keep sharing and the strength to keep my chin up on tough days. We have faith, we are hopeful and we are chasin' our dreams. All the way to India. :)

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