It’s the middle of the night in Mumbai. Behind me my husband is sleeping like a baby (let’s hope that particular trait is passed on to our progeny) and I’m sitting here at my laptop at the desk in our hotel room.
For the past three nights here in India my body has decided to sleep almost exactly four hours each night and then wake up for the day. And we’re not talking just casually awake. We’re talking wide awake. Fully rested. My body apparently had no interest in making the New York/Mumbai time change.
I’m sitting here and I can’t help thinking about all that’s happened in the last 36 hours. Let’s rewind and review.
Day Two, Part Two
As Matt explained, finding the fertility clinic for our first visit was a bit of a project since street names and house and building numbers are almost non-existent here. The neighborhood, called Bandra, is known for its higher-end shopping. It was bizarre, though, because luxury jewelers, a Montblanc store, and a Tom Ford boutique, for example, sat mixed among open-air restaurants with fully visible, dirty kitchens, people sleeping on the streets, and cabs belching exhaust as they passed. How was a Tom Ford boutique amongst all this? Were people really coming here to buy a $1,500 Montblanc pen, or a $15,000 diamond necklace, while a man in filthy clothes slept directly outside the gates?
Like much of India that we’ve experienced, it was a big mix of high and low, inseparably and simultaneously right on top of each other.
When we found what we believed to be the right building, the security guard outside the building’s gate cocked his head and looked confused when we said we were looking for Rotunda Clinic. We spotted a small plaque with the correct address behind the security guard, though, so we felt like we must have found the right place. The building’s front entrance seemed to be under construction, so we had to walk around to the back of the multistory building where our clinic was supposedly (hopefully) located.
As we crossed to the back of the building, we saw a half-demolished fence revealing a gaping, torn up pit with active construction going on. As we entered the building and started walking up the stairs, we saw the entire first floor was under construction. The second floor was, too. There were torn up rooms and walls, dirt and dust everywhere.
A cold, creeping horror crept up my neck as we walked around, looking for our clinic.
What was going on? What had we gotten ourselves into?
But then we made it up to the floor where our clinic was supposed to be located and saw a glass door at the end of the hall that we figured had to be our clinic.
And with that, everything changed.
We stepped into a neat, beautiful medical office. It was nicer than some doctor’s offices we’ve been to in New York City. The heavy, stale air disappeared behind us as we walked into a wall of cooled air. The floors below us were made of marble, a flat-screen TV hung in the corner playing Indian pop music videos, and a helpful staff behind the professionally-lit reception desk checked us in for our appointment. Behind the front desk hung an artful, burnished silver sculpture of musical instruments. Medical staff in pastel scrubs, looking busy and purposeful, crossed through the lobby and corridors of Rotunda.
It’s hard to explain our relief upon actually finding our clinic, and finding it to be so nice.
It got even better as we met Dr. K., who heads up the clinic’s gestational fertility practice. We liked her right away and felt reassured in her presence and comfortable working with her.
We came with an entire page of questions. She answered many of them before we even asked them, but we got to ask more detailed questions about things like genetic testing and neonatal screening for abnormalities during the pregnancy (yes, they do them at about 11 and 18 weeks to make sure everything is normal, and there are options from there if things aren’t normal, etc.).
Dr. K told us about the surrogate housing where Rotunda’s surrogates live and eat together, when determined necessary by the Rotunda team, along with any of the surrogates’ children that are age five or younger. (Other family members are allowed to visit, of course, but only the surrogate and her youngest children would live in the actual Rotunda housing itself.) A nurse visits the surrogates daily at the clinic’s housing, checking vitals and overseeing nutrition and dispensation of vitamins, etc., between doctor’s appointments and check-ups. The surrogate also stays in Rotunda’s housing and care for up to six weeks after the birth to monitor and take care of her post-birth.
Dr. K told us that our egg donor would be coming in that afternoon for egg collection. The highest-grade embryos, comprised of the donor’s eggs and Matt’s genetic material, would be implanted in our surrogate’s womb on Saturday.
Finally, we asked when we’d have confirmation of our pregnancy’s success. (See how I phrased that in the positive there? ;)) It sounds like sometime between August 11-15 we’ll know if we have a pregnancy. That happens to be the same time we’ll be on our honeymoon in Spain, so that would be a really wonderful time to hear the news that we have a pregnancy under way. (Start crossing those fingers and toes, please.)
As required, Matt left a genetic sample after our meeting with Dr. K and then we were finished. Altogether we were at the clinic for just under an hour.
And Then We Got An E-mail
Matt’s iPhone chimed shortly after we returned to our hotel, signaling a new e-mail. It was from Dr. K.
“We have done the scan of your chosen egg donor,” it read. “I’m afraid that she has a poor response and it is not advisable to go ahead with her. Please find attached an egg donor who would be ready for egg collection on Friday. If you approve, we can go ahead with the cycle. Otherwise we will send you a list of immediately available donors to choose from and start the cycle.”
The egg donor we’d chosen, whom we’d affectionately nicknamed Yearbook Pose (as we don’t know her name and never will, and needed a way to refer to her based on her egg donor profile picture), apparently wasn’t going to work out.
We weren’t crazy about the donor profile we’d been forwarded as an immediately replacement. We sent Dr. K an e-mail and asked if we could see the other currently available egg donors, knowing that choosing someone other than the immediate replacement would delay our process for weeks. We were still considering the immediately available donor, but we wanted to see what other options were available.
That night, after near-constant refreshing of Matt’s e-mail inbox, we received 16 potential egg donor profiles to review. One woman became our favorite right away and became The Girl Next Door in our profile nickname vernacular. She looked sweet, wholesome, and subtly pretty.
She was our winner.
Day Three and Another E-mail
We decided to take it easy on our third day in Mumbai. We had a lazy breakfast and spent time on Skype and FaceTime with our families. We also wanted to hang around the hotel a bit to see if Dr. K would e-mail back a confirmation of our new donor and any instructions on how we would proceed. We were uncertain of all the ramifications (timing, financial, etc.) that might result from the egg donor changes.
Later that afternoon, once we started to get a little stir crazy at the hotel, and before we were about to head out to a movie, Matt’s iPhone chimed as another e-mail from Dr. K popped into his inbox.
“Kindly find attached a new egg donor profile, whose eggs have resulted in a previous pregnancy, and whose eggs would be ready for pick-up in a day or two,” the e-mail read. “You can choose to proceed with your cycle with her if you like her profile. Kindly let me know as soon as possible, enabling me to proceed with your cycle accordingly.”
Apparently the time lag required for The Girl Next Door to get synched up with hormonal injections, as well as our surrogate’s cycle, would be an obstacle we could quickly overcome if we liked this third donor.
We opened the profile Dr. K. had attached.
“Are you okay with this donor?” Matt asked me.
I thought for a bit. I had really liked Girl Next Door. I liked this donor, too, though, and liked the idea of staying on our currently scheduled cycle.
“I am,” I said. “Are you?”
The moment felt big. There was a pause before we did anything.
Then Matt tapped out an e-mail to Dr. K to confirm that we were ready to go with this third donor.
We don’t have a cutesy referential nickname for this photo. This one we’ll simply call Our Egg Donor.