So now I’m going to try to remember everything that took place at the hospital in detail… here we go.
We arrived before 9 am, and the first step was to meet with the social worker who would verify my identity, review the surrogacy contract documents, and make photocopies of these records for their own purposes. For those who are following in our footsteps, I will try to provide locations. The social worker’s office is located on the ground floor, directly behind the welcome desk. If you walk to the right of the welcome desk and pass the Hindi statues on your right, look to your left for a small door. The social worker got in around 9:15 am and immediately began to review our documents. There was a small concern over my middle name being omitted from the surrogacy contract when compared to my passport, but it should not be a problem as long as the birth certificates match my passport name exactly. A few minutes later, I was taken up to the 9th floor where the nursery was keeping our babies warm and cozy.
The 9th floor of the hospital contains the nursery, a few private ‘hotel’ rooms, and the snack bar. A row of chairs in the nursery waiting room is where Josh and my mom spent most of the day waiting to see the babies. I spent 20 minutes sitting there before they allowed me access into the tiny nursery. Eight babies were in individual carts and ours were in the two closest to the door. Julianne was born first and barely weighed 4 lbs. She was under a blue-ish lamp due to slight jaundice and she had eye covers to protect her baby blues. Henry was just laying there, staring up at the ceiling. I couldn’t breathe because I was so happy. The nurses asked me to put on a mask, a hairnet, and some scrubs in order to hold the babies. A series of forms had to be signed, giving permission for the photo light therapy, the formula feeding, etc. I was able to hold each of them for just a few minutes before heading back down to the ground floor to meet with a friend who brought a local SIM card for my blackberry. At this point, mom and Josh had been sitting patiently downstairs, waiting for any word. They clearly were anxious to meet the babies, so I was able to convince the social worker to allow all of us up to the 9th floor waiting area until a private room could be made available. About five hours in, we were finally given our room, just a few doors down from the nursery. We spent the next hour waiting for the babies to be wheeled into the room. If you’ve seen the video, you know how amazing that moment was for us. Josh was speechless and mom did not want to let them go once they were in her arms.
The nursing staff came in with bottles, formula, and hand sanitizer and gave us a brief lesson in feeding schedules, burping, and swaddling. While the doctors can communicate in English pretty well, the nurses struggle to understand some more complicated requests. Nevertheless, we were able to keep the babies in our room until discharge the next afternoon without any further medical intervention.
While Josh and mom were feeding the twins, I was able to pop down to the 2nd floor, where the NICU and the birthing suites reside. I found a nurse in the NICU and requested two copies of the form that needs to be filled out to begin the birth certificate process. These forms need to be filled out perfectly, making sure that the names are spelled correctly, the location of birth explicitly stated as Dr. L H Hiranandani Hospital (you would assume that they would just do that part for you, but most of the babies born in the area are born at home and only brought to the NICU if needed). I was then asked if I had changed the baby names from I and II in their computer system to their actual names. Since I had never been told to do this, I had to return to the welcome desk on the ground floor and fill out two ‘information change’ forms that were immediately received and updated by the representative. Once the babies were named in the computer system, I returned to the NICU with proof of the name change and the previously mentioned forms were filed. Finally, I took the elevator down to the basement to find the records room. One of the records room employees stated that it was too early to see if the birth certificate forms had been properly submitted and suggested that I return the following day.
At this point, I returned to the 9th floor to our room. Josh and mom decided to return to the hotel for the night, with a stop at a baby store to check out the availability of portable bassinets. I spent the rest of the night feeding, burping, and sleeping. I think the babies did that too.
At 9 pm the pediatrician, Dr. Ahuja, popped in to check on the twins. He listened to their hearts, checked their jaundice, and told me that we would most likely be discharged by Friday afternoon (2 days later). The next morning, mom and Josh returned and we waited for a few hours for the morning rounds to speak with the doctor again. When he did not show, I called down to the clinic where he treats patients and asked to be discharged. He readily agreed, which makes me think that we would probably still be sitting there if I hadn’t been more demanding. Clearly, the babies were healthy, feeding well, and needed no extra care that a hospital would provide. He asked the nurse to wheel the babies down to his clinic to weigh them one last time. I joined this caravan from the 9th floor to the ground floor, smiling happily as all of the other patients and staff stared at the two carts, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. Both babies had lost a little weight, which is normal after they transition from placenta feeding to bottle feeding. Dr. Ahuja explained that we should allow the babies to be in direct sunlight for a small amount of time each day to help with the jaundice and asked us to return this coming Friday for a checkup. I popped back down to the records room and the clerk informed me that the paperwork was in place and that the certificates would be available in a week.
From there, I returned back to our room, signed a bunch of discharge forms, and we got the babies wrapped up for their first road trip. Finally, I had to settle the hospital bill for the babies as well as our surrogate. The billing office is also on the 9th floor, right next to the elevators. The billing manager spoke with the nursing station on the 5th floor where our surrogate had been recovering from her c-section. Our surrogate was also being discharged, so her final bill was settled pretty quickly. One note about costs: every single item brought to your hospital room is charged to your account. While in our parenting classes, we were told to stock up on free diapers, wipes, formula, etc., but I guess that things work differently in US hospitals. I requested wipes and was told that I would have to go downstairs to the convenience store to purchase them. Every diaper was billed to our account.
We plan on writing an entry about the total costs of surrogacy, but for now, I’ll just provide the hospital expenses. After an initial wired deposit of 102,000 rupees (about US $1800), the final bill was for another 158,000 rupees, for a grand total of 260,000 rupees (US $4800). While this is a lot of money, it included a full 4 weeks of admission for our surrogate prior to the birth, the entire delivery of the twins, the anesthesia and follow-up care, the accommodations, all consumables, all drugs, the daily consultations, and all of the lab tests.
Now the babies are back at the hotel with us. We have fallen into a pretty routine schedule of feedings, and we couldn’t be happier.