Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Contract

We received the contract today form India.  As we start looking it over some things stand out immediately.  It is longer than expected - 39 pages in total.  The paper itself has a bit of a purple hue to it - not quite the stark white office paper that we're used to.  Instead of a staple, paperclip or metal fastener the contract is instead held together by some sort of string tie.

We also see that our surrogate and her husband "signed" the contract via a thumbprint rather than by a signature.  They live in New Delhi and are 32 and 38.  Not too young, not too old.  I notice that our surrogate's thumbprint is about the size of mine - she has small hands like me.  I wonder what this surrogacy and money will mean to them.  Will they buy a house?  Put their kids through college?

We start reading through the details to make sure that everything looks correct.  We have already spent a significant amount of time educating ourselves on surrogacy and the terms of a surrogacy contract and everything is in line with our expectations. 

We then headed over to the bank to sign and get this notarized.  It is official - we have a surrogate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Because I don't already have ENOUGH stress in my life......

The red dot.  Your period.  Your Aunt Flo.  We all have our own special name for our favorite monthly visitor.  Mine decided to come today.....two days early.  That is a problem when you are normally every 28 days like clockwork and your have a lot riding on the expected date of this and your next two periods.  WTF?

This morning I ended up staying home from work and staying in bed because I was having horrible abdominal cramps.  I thought for sure that I ate something bad yesterday.  I go to the bathroom and have another surprise...blood.  There's not supposed to be blood.....not for another two days.  It's not quite like my normal period blood either.

Now that I am moving around I can tell that the pain is more localized on my right side - right in the ovary region.  SHIT!  Do I have a cyst again?  Is this really my period?  Things kind of stop for a while and then start to pick up more around noon.

I call my doctor and we think that today is day 1 and could very likely be triggered early from a cyst.  I get to reschedule all of those labs that I worked really hard yesterday to schedule.  I go in tomorrow for my Day 2 labs and ultrasound so stay tuned......

Now, for the best part.....I don't know what day to plan the India trip around anymore.  Will my next period be in 28 days and the next 28 days after that?  Who knows......

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Phone're it

So today I got to spend at least an hour and a half playing phone tag with the clinic to get my labs scheduled and playing liaison between the clinic and India.  The clinic can't get through to India's fax, India's emails are getting bounced to the clinic, we use different abbreviations for things in the US vs. India.  I expected some of this to happen at first until we got all of the kinks worked out.  I try to remember to breathe and exercise patience.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Labs, labs, labs

We got the list of test and labs that we need to get completed ASAP.  I am expecting my period to start on Friday August 1 making Saturday August 2 Day 2.  Awesome.  Nothing like a short time frame to get these done.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Deer Stand

For the last month or so, Mark has been building a deer stand in the backyard.  The goal is to eventually move this up to the hunting ground up north.  I made sure to get Archer in the picture so that you can start to get an idea of scale.  Hmmmm.....have I mentioned that I think this thing seriously weighs 500 pounds?  More to come.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Today we traveled to Northfield, MN for the Internment ceremony for Mark's Grandmother who passed away earlier this year.  His uncle had the most beautiful glass bowls created for each sibling as part of the ceremony and to keep.  It was very touching.  We went to his cousin's house for lunch afterwards and spent the afternoon chatting with his family.  Our India journey was a topic of conversation and everyone wished us the best of luck.

On the drive home I noticed the strangest thing.  I really enjoyed chatting with Mark's family.  I actually just feel pretty all-around good today.  I actually feel "happy" for the most part.  I honestly haven't felt really "happy" for a while now.  Maybe it's the blog, maybe it's the fact that things finally seem to be moving forward for us on the baby front.  Maybe it's a little of both.  Regardless, it's a nice change.

Friday, July 25, 2014

To Blog, or not to Blog: that is the question.

Every time I chat with someone regarding our journey they always tell me that I should have a blog.  I honestly had never considered blogging before.....I never thought anyone would find what I had to say all that interesting.  I had the evening to myself, and as I sipped on my glass of wine I thought - why not?  I have been helped by the blogs that I have read.   Maybe I would in turn help someone else.  Maybe no one ever reads my blog.  Who cares really?  This seems like a way for me to tell my story and my end up being quite cathartic.  Mark and I had already decided that we were going to be careful about who we shared our news with and that we were not going to share on Facebook at this could also be a great avenue to keep our close friends and family up to date on our journey.

So over several glasses of wine I start to write my story and the story of Mark and Teri.  Some parts were painful.  It was tough reliving my pregnancy losses and being told that I would never have my own children at such a young age.  Some parts were fun, I still chuckle when I think about our Sake Bombs on our first date.

On and on I began to write and start filling in the story.  Cheers to Death and Taxes!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


We found a clinic!  As you may have read in our previous posts, we were having some heartburn due to our IVF clinic not seeming very inclined to want to help us out with our India journey.  Luckily the clinic that our friend recommended agreed to help us today.  Hallelujah!  Everyone there was so nice!  I don't think they even realize what a huge relief this is for us.  I just sent them a thank you gift basket......

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

39 for the first time

Today is my 39th birthday.  I open my card (with check) from my parents - it is really sweet that they still do that.  I read the novel that Mark's parents wrote in their card for me - it is really sweet that they do that.  I read my texts and emails from friends and co-workers and my Facebook posts.  I sat down and reflected on life, what's happened in the past year, and what the next year looks like.

It was a tough year.  One failed IVF cycle and one less than stellar IVF cycle.  A big disappointment with our intended gestational carrier.  My cat of 14 years (and substitute child) passed away.  I got Salmonella poisoning.  A lot of big projects and a lean department to complete them with at work.  And.....the house is just one big continuous project.

But it was also a good year.  We got Archer in the fall.  Mark and I went deer hunting for the first time together in the fall.  We had a few really great trips.  I got to see my sister marry her soul mate.  And......we have started a new length on our journey to become parents......and this one looks pretty promising.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Birthday Dinner

To celebrate my birthday (a little early) we headed to my FAVORITE restaurant - The Bachelor Farmer.  Monday night is Chop Night  They buy and butcher the pig on Friday, brine the meat all weekend, and then sell the chops on Monday night until they sell out (and they often do!).  Each week the preparation (sauce / sides) is different.  It was AMAZING!!!

Every time we go to TBF we are constantly amazed at the fantastic service, delicious wine and cocktails and delicious food.  You do not know the meaning of good and and good service until you come here......

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

Every year I plant a vegetable garden and every year it tends to get forgotten about.  This year I feel like I have more of a valid excuse......but still I should be paying more attention to it.  Today I went out and spent a couple of hours weeding the garden.  I am happy to report that now you can actually tell that there are individual plants rather than one big green mass of "stuff".

Now that the garden is in decent shape I should also start paying more attention to the rest of the yard.  Since we moved in almost 5 years ago I have been talking about sprucing up the landscaping.  Luckily the front yard was mostly done and just needs some extra plants and a trellis or two.  We are also lucky that the yard is mostly in back and you can't see much of it from the street (it's a mess).

Part of the reason I have been putting off the landscaping is that I quite frankly have no idea what I am doing.  Vegetables are pretty easy - you plant them, you water them, you give them some plant food, and for the most part they grow.  You need to plant them every year so there's really only a one year commitment to the garden at any time.  Vegetables are also fairly inexpensive so if you kill them you aren't out that much money.

Perennials on the other hand are a whole other ball game.  They run from not inexpensive to very expensive depending on what you are looking at.  They can last years and sometimes a lifetime so you better like what you planted because you are going to be living with it for quite a while (unless you move and then you just start all over again with different problems).  Since they are so expensive you also better know what will in will not work in your zone and the level of sunlight where you want to plant them.

So much work!  Well, maybe next year I will start on the landscaping.....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Maybe It's Time For A Change of Scenery

We decided to try and call our clinic today to see if their was any way that we could get our appointment with our doctor moved up.  We were hoping that maybe we could get prioritized since we have somewhat of a timing issue with the upcoming India trip.  No luck there. 

We then thought that maybe we could talk to our nurse again and have her talk to our doctor to get a feel for whether or not he would be willing to be a prescribing doctor for us and therefore cut a few days off of our trip.  No such luck there either.  Our nurse said that he wouldn't weigh in without seeing up and talking to our India doctor......but again, her intuition was telling her that our doctor would not be willing to do it.

Ugh.  Now what were we supposed to do?

I decided to try my friend's clinic.  I figured that worst case they would say no and then we were no further back than we were before.  I called and was actually able to get an appointment next week (what?  Our clinic it takes at least a month to get in).  I spoke some with fertility coordinator and she said that they do monitoring for other clinics often, they haven't worked with a foreign clinic before but that shouldn't be a problem.  She said that I would need to speak with the doctor to see what he would and would not be willing to do for us as far as monitoring and prescribing but she thought that most likely he would be willing to help us.

I am trying not to get my hopes up right now, but this sounds promising......

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First Acupuncture Treatment

I had my first acupuncture treatment today.  I was a little bit nervous going in since I have never had acupuncture before.  My practitioner was nice enough to give me a practice needle last week at my consultation, but that was one needle and there are going to be several.

I first sat down with my practitioner and we talked about how I was feeling.  She also looked at my tongue.  Based on my condition that day plus our overall goal of increasing my fertility she decided on which points she was going to "attack".

The first needle was on top of my head, which sent a tingle down the back of my neck - not bad, but in a nice relaxing way.  She then put a few needles in each ear.  I could feel the stress flowing out of my neck and shoulders gradually with each needle.  She then put a needle in each wrist, above my knees, my shins and my heels.  By the time she got to my legs I was so relaxed that I felt like I almost couldn't talk anymore.  She assured me that was normal for a lot of hear patients.

She then put a warming light over my belly and a heater by my feet.  She darkened the room and left me to chill out to some Enya for about 25 minutes.  It was FANTASTIC, I almost can't remember the last time I felt that relaxed.  She came back in and slowly removed the needles in the order that she had put them in and gave me a couple of minutes to come back to reality.  I did, but still a little foggy.  She suggested not really doing much tonight and just planning on a relaxing night after my treatments.  I was really glad that I booked my treatments at the end of the day.

As I was leaving I remembered the last time I felt this relaxed.  It was the same feeling I would get after a really hard yoga session and spending the full 5 minutes at the end relaxing.  This was awesome.  I have already decided that after India I am going to continue coming in once a month or so for regular treatments :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

With a Little Help From My Friends

I had happy hour today with a few of my girlfriends.  It was really nice.  In our group the guys get together nearly every Thursday evening for a late night happy hour.  The problem is that it is hard for most of the ladies to go since it tends to be late, or if both people want to go out you need to get a baby sitter.  I decided to pick a different day and much earlier (say right after work) for the ladies to try to start getting together.

Our first happy hour was a smashing success, each one of us talked about what was going on, frustrations with their husbands, kids, work, families etc.  I was giving the update on India and told the girls how frustrated I am with our clinic.  I explained the current situation and that they just did not seem inclined to help us.

One of my girlfriends asked if I had to go to our clinic or if I could go to any clinic that treats infertility.  I said that I believe I could go to any clinic, but how am I going to find one with so little time to spare.  She suggested her clinic and gave me her doctor's contact info.  I think I am going to check them out.

Having great girlfriends can benefit you in so many unexpected ways......

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Infertility Sometimes Makes You a Terrible Person

I wake up today and I just feel "off".  I am moody and very crabby today.  Mark stops me and asks me what is wrong with me today.  I say that I don't know, but when I stop to think about it I do know. 
I had brunch with a friend of mine yesterday.  We have know each other for 10 years now.  We met in graduate school and have seen each other through a lot - marriages, divorces, new jobs, leaving jobs, new houses, old houses, new pets, pets passing away....and babies.

She is currently very pregnant with her second child.  Luckily she and her husband have been very blessed with not having fertility problems.  Their second was basically an "oops" in that they thought it would take them a while to get pregnant and instead it happened right away.

I am very happy for her.  Her daughter is adorable and I can't wait to meet their little boy when he arrives.  It's just that no matter who it is, sometimes when I see a pregnant woman it is hard to not stare longingly at her growing belly, to notice the rosy glow in her cheeks, to see how she lovingly rests her hands on her belly or smiles when the baby kicks.....and know that I will never have those same experiences.  I am sad and jealous and depressed and longing all at once.

I hate this.  You never know when it is going to affect you.  You can go days, weeks sometimes even months at a time and feel fine for the most part.  Not really notice babies, children and pregnant women.  And then, when you least expect it, you see them and you feel like a dagger has just been shoved through your heart.  It doesn't matter who it is - a complete stranger or your closest friend or even your own sister.  That horrible feeling starts welling up inside of you from deep in your belly and into your heart.  Infertility sometimes makes you a horrible person.

Friday, July 11, 2014

It IS Possible to Get Money Into India!

Success at last!  The third payment went through.  It is showing up on my credit card statement and the clinic confirmed they have received the payment.

We now know the secret - call the fraud department and pre-authorize the payment.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why is it so ?#%* Difficult to Get Money Into India?

I have now attempted to make our down payment using my credit card and twice so far it has not gone through and I have not received any sort of notification from the card company.  After the second attempt I call the credit card company.  Luckily I got someone who was smart enough to transfer me to the fraud department.  I think that was part of the issue with Mark's attempts is that he only talked to the regular customer service people and not the fraud department.

I find out from the fraud department why I hadn't even received notification.  Because this payment looked so suspect to them, they just automatically assumed it wasn't a "real" payment.  I explained that it was real and that we would like one of the payments to got through. 

I waited and noticed that the payment did not seem to be showing up on my card activity statement.  I called the card company again.  The fraud department then explained that once a payment has been declined it cannot be re-authorized.  I then "pre-authorized" a payment for $1,000 to the India clinic and was told to make the payment yet again.

Here's Hoping............

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It is Really Difficult Getting Money Into India

Mark has tried three times to make our down payment and so far none of the attempts have worked.  The payments are not even showing up on his card, and he has not gotten any sort of denial notifications from the company.  He has tried calling the card company and they told him that it should go through......but they don't.

I suggest trying my card as I have used it in Canada and Mexico without problem.  We have officially given up on Mark's card and are trying mine.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Acupuncture Consult

In an effort to try and do everything possible that I can to boost my fertility and try to have a as good of quality and as many eggs that I can for our upcoming IVF cycle in India I decide to check out acupuncture.  I have never had acupuncture, but know a couple people who have, people who have had friends who have, and read several anecdotes of those who have on the fertility boards in relations to fertility treatments.  Maybe you only hear about the good stories, but all have heard about are those who have gone on to have success after having acupuncture.
I choose a practitioner based on location, their being certified, and their focus on infertility treatment.  It seems like every chiropractor now also does acupuncture and is not necessarily certified or trained for it.  Having treatments done by someone who isn't necessarily trained for it is like going to a podiatrist to have a tooth pulled.  Plus, treatment for infertility is a different focus than for other ailments - for the greatest chance of success go to someone who's done it before.
I sat down with the practitioner and we talked about my health history and why I was seeking treatment.  I thought that she was very thorough which I liked. She also struck me as genuinely personable which I also liked.  She also did a "test" needle for me so that I could get a feel for what the treatment would be like.  I was sold.  I scheduled weekly treatments until we leave for India.

Monday, July 7, 2014

It is Difficult Getting Money Into India

Now that we have selected the clinic, we need to send a $1,000 down payment to start the process.  This essentially will cover the surrogate selection process and the legal costs for the surrogate contract.  The clinic in India has an online payment site that accepts credit card payments.  They do charge a 2% fee per transaction to cover their credit card fees so we decide to look into doing a wire transfer.

I used to work for a bank, doing a wire transfer is pretty easy.  You just need to make sure that you have the correct wiring instructions for the receiving parties bank.  Well, as we are finding out about a lot of things, when working with a foreign country - especially India - things are never as simple as they should be.

First, the wire transfer fees are significantly higher for a foreign vs. domestic wire transfer.  It will cost us $45 per wire transfer and we are looking at approximately 7-8 throughout this process.  Second, you can run into issues with currency translation rates.  Because there is usually a 1-2 delay from when the funds are sent and when they are received and the translation rates can fluctuate daily, you often run into issues with either over-paying or short-paying in the local currency.  Luckily the clinic accepts payments in USD so we will not have the translation issue.  Third, and really most importantly, the Indian Government gets involved in all transfers to and from the country.  The India Government reviews all payments and only allows them to go though when and if they deem the payments to be acceptable.  For these reasons the credit card payment is looking more and more attractive.

Mark goes ahead and makes the payment on his card and we send the clinic the acceptance number.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Picking A Winner

We have been researching and corresponding with clinics for about a week now.  We had narrowed our choices down to five clinics - two in Mumbai, one in Anand, and two in New Delhi.  After more researching and finding some not so positive reviews on two of the clinics we were down to three.  We then find out that the top 3 clinics in Mumbai were being investigated due to visa fraud (allowing procedures to be done with people visiting on a tourist vs. a medical visa)....and then there were two.

We were now down to the clinic in Anand and one in New Delhi.  The clinic in Anand had been featured on a popular daytime TV show in the US and was featured in a few notable news articles.  This clinic was about $10K more expensive than the New Delhi clinic and was really the only thing in Anand which is not a major metropolitan area.  Going into our clinic research we had assumed that this would be our top choice due to the fact that is was probably the best known clinic.

The clinic in New Delhi was not featured in as many articles, but was close to if not evenly rated with the clinic in Anand.  I was able to find a few recommendations for this clinic based not only on their surrogacy success but also on their abilities as an IVF clinic.  This piqued my interest.  Unlike a lot of couples that were looking to pursue surrogacy in India, we are looking to use my eggs (instead of donor eggs).  This makes the clinic's IVF success equally if not more important to us.  This, the cost difference and the fact that we would have more to do and see in New Delhi the choice for us started to become clear.......we were going to New Delhi come September.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Born on the 4th of July

We are lucky enough to have some great friends who invited us to celebrate the 4th of July weekend with them at their lake cabin in Crosslake.  We went out on the boat, watched fireworks, did some fireworks, and had an all-around great time.

One of the funniest parts of the weekend was taking the dogs for a swim.  Penny is a natural - she jumps right in and starts paddling around.  She spends most of the weekend stalking the ducks that keep landing on the neighbor's dock and taunting her.  Archer doesn't quite seem to get it.  He keeps paddling his front legs only and his butt just sinks.  At one point he found a sandbar.  He is tall enough that he was standing on his back legs and "paddling" the air with his front paws.

Our friends had lots of questions for us about India and how our selecting a clinic was going.  They just want to see us have our own baby so badly.   They also brought up an interesting point - next Fourth of July our family might be a little bigger.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Trouble With Our Clinic


Even though we are looking undergoing IVF in India in order to increase our chances with more embryos available to transfer, there is a lot of tests and pre-work that we need to complete here before our trip.  This means that we will need to get our clinic here looped in to coordinate these tests with us before our trip.  We also find that if I was to start the stim meds here than we could shave 5 days off of the trip.  Five days could be a lot.

The difficulty in starting stim meds here is that a clinic here would have to be willing to prescribe the medication - unfortunately the medications cannot be shipped over from India.  Also, the medications cannot be obtained without a doctor's prescription so we will need to have a clinic on board.

We called our clinic to let them know about our plans about going to India, that we would like their help with tests and pre-work for the cycle, and that we would like to start the stim meds here.  We have gotten information from the clinics regarding the drug protocols they would use and they are similar to (if not the exact same) that we did with our clinic the last time.

Unfortunately we cannot get in to see our doctor until next month - not uncommon for our clinic unfortunately.  That is part of the gig when working with one of the top clinics in the Twin Cities.  Our nurse is able to weigh in on the situation in the mean time though.  They have only done "monitoring" for another clinic occasionally and an international clinic only a couple of times, and it was minimal at best.  She is pretty certain that our doctor will not feel comfortable being the prescribing doctor for us.

We are admittedly surprised by this answer.  The anticipated protocol is exactly (or very close to) the same as the one that we did last time with the clinic.  Our doctor said that if we were to do another cycle (which they were recommending to try to get better egg quality) that the protocol would not change.  Were they worried about me getting OHSS - I was borderline with the last cycle?  If that was the case than wouldn't they propose changing my next cycle since wouldn't the exact same protocol mean a possibility of OHSS here?

No, we think that the answer may not actually be related to a health issue for me.  As IVF is a numbers game, we think the answer itself lies in the numbers.  If we start a cycle with the clinic and finish it elsewhere, it shows up us a cancelled cycle in the stats.  In the end, we suspect that it is really about the stats.