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2nd and 3rd beta HCG tests

14 Oct

Two days after our initial beta HCG test score of 581, another HCG test was run.  What they are looking for is roughly a 2x increase every 48 hours.  I’m happy to report that our second value was 1360, even higher than expected!  The 3rd blood test, taken 4 days later, reported a staggering 9340!

Now we can’t wait for the first ultrasound in 10 days because there is definitely a possibility of multiple pregnancies!  Thanks to everyone for your messages, your comments, and your phone calls over the past week. I’m definitely freaking out a little bit at the thought of what my life could be like by next summer (in a good way), and your support has meant the world to us.


Nothing to Report Yet

30 Sep

Just a few days left until we find out if this attempt was successful. Josh hasn’t been feeling well since he got home from a work trip last night. We spent the day at home watching DVDs of Homeland, doing laundry, and making some stir fry veggies and Thai chicken skewers for dinner.  Taking a mental break like this is just what I needed after a pretty crummy Q3 at work came to a close on Friday.

There is nothing exciting to report at this time, but I wanted to check in with everyone and let you know to expect the good or the bad by next weekend.  See you then!


The Embryos Are In!

22 Sep

It’s been quite a week for us on the surrogacy front.

Earlier this week we got the news from our clinic that our surrogate’s endomitrial lining didn’t appear to be optimally ready for an embryo transfer. The clinic  asked us to pick a new surrogate. (It feels like we’ve picked so many surrogates and egg donors at this point. Lordy.) They sent us two options, and one surrogate candidate stood out right away, both from her photos and her statistics. We e-mailed our selection back right away.

On Thursday we got the news that our egg donor had successfully made her donation. The eggs were fertilized with Matt’s sperm, and the fertilized embryo transfer was set for Saturday (today) in Mumbai, which is 9.5 hours ahead of New York time.

Last night, after midnight, as things were progressing in Mumbai on Saturday morning, Matt got a call on his cell phone from a number he didn’t immediately recognize.

It was the clinic.

Apparently the embryo fertilization process went very well. This time they had ten (ten!) fertilized embryos. They set aside four for implantation, but they were calling to find out if we wanted to freeze the other six embryos. That would give us the option to use them on another round of IVF if this one doesn’t work out. If this round does work out, it gives us the option to keep the embryos frozen for a number of years in case we want a sibling (or siblings) for our child(ren) that will be 100% genetically related.

Matt relayed this information to me as the call progressed.

“Give me just a minute,” Matt said into the phone and then covered the speaker. “It costs 60,000 rupees to do it. Do you think we should?”

(The quick math: 60,000 rupees is about $1,090.)

My brain tried to take in all this new information and make an informed decision.

There are so many decisions to make when it comes to surrogacy.

“Can we call you right back?” Matt asked.

We talked it over. We crunched numbers. It would save us money to freeze the embryos if a third round of IVF became necessary. And, hell, we were already set to spend more than a million rupees on the whole surrogacy process. What’s another 60,000 rupees at this point? On top of that, we really liked the egg donor and wanted to work with her genetic material again.

We breathed for a moment and then called back with our decision.

“We’ll do it,” Matt said.

At almost the same time that we made the decision to freeze the remaining embryos, we got the e-mail from the clinic with the embryo transfer results.

We have done the embryo transfer into your surrogate today. It was a smooth transfer procedure. Please find attached the cycle summary and the embryo pictures. The surrogate’s pregnancy test will be on 4 October 2012. The report of the b-HCG test [the pregnancy test] will be available by the next day. Our clinical team will keep you updated with the result.

So, we have an egg donor we’re excited about, a surrogate we feel good about, and ten fertilized embryos, with four implanted and six saved for later.

But, the bottom line? The embryos are in the womb!

Matt put things well on his Facebook wall: “The embryos have been implanted! Now begins the most stressful 15 days of my life before the first blood test to determine if we are pregnant. Kinda amazing that today is also the day that we had originally scheduled for our wedding… we may have a wedding night baby after all :-P”

Ah, yes. September 22, 2012. When we got engaged in June 2011, that was the original date we’d picked out for our wedding. Eventually we decided we wanted to be married sooner, and in a much smaller, more intimate wedding. We selected the third anniversary of the day we met, which just happened to be 11/11/11, and also happened to be a Saturday.

So, here we are on what would have been our wedding day, with the news that the embryos are in our surrogate’s womb, hopefully finding a nice, warm, quiet spot to latch and hang out for a good 40 weeks, potentially making us dads in June 2013.

The September 22 thing has to be a good omen, right?

We’re optimistic. We’re excited. We’re still being realistic, and are aware of the odds, but we still feel good about this round of IVF.

That photo above of the fertilized embryo may be the first-ever photo of our child. (Or children!)

Isn’t he/she cute? 😉


IVF Round Two: Dust Yourself Off & Try Again

6 Sep

As Matt wrote previously, while on our honeymoon in mid-August we found out that our first round of in vitro fertilization didn’t result in a pregnancy. We were bummed, of course, but going into this we knew that we had a little better than a coin toss’s odds of our first shot working out. (With a round of IVF there’s a 55-60% chance of pregnancy. The “old-fashioned way” yields about 4-6% chance of pregnancy, so IVF actually has pretty good odds, considering.) Still, when we got the bummer news we took a day off from touring around Northern Spain to not do much and just kind of sort through how we felt, etc.

One of the most difficult things about IVF, I’d say, is the lack of control involved in surrogacy for what many like to call the “intended parents” (or IPs—Matt and me in this case). Getting pregnant the “old-fashioned way” you have a clear idea of what’s going on, with whom, and when, and there are usually few people involved. In our case, however, we show up at a clinic, do lots of paperwork, send lots of money, give a genetic sample, and the rest is out of our hands. It’s all trust from there on out. We have to trust the egg donor and surrogate are preparing well, that the eggs are being collected from the correct egg donor, that a good surrogate has been selected, and that the surrogate was implanted with the best embryos, etc.

For all intended parents know, a clinic could use any egg donor they like, or a clinic could even say they’ve finished a cycle of IVF and report that it was unsuccessful, and then they can ask for thousands more dollars to do another cycle, even if they never attempted a cycle in reality. How would the intended parents know? It can be disconcerting and frustrating to have to trust so much. You trust, and you send more money. At some point you want to take a trust booster shot just to renew your trusting abilities.

Yes, our clinic is in India, half a world away, but we’d be relying on trust just as much if our clinic was in California, or Ohio, or even in New York City, where we live. You just have to trust that a lot of people in a long sequence of events are doing the right thing all along the way, and with your best interests at heart. We can’t be there for every step of the process, no matter where the clinic is located.

Matt and I do feel good about working with the Rotunda Clinic. We like Dr. K, and the clinic is well known (it’s been in documentaries, it’s been cited positively in the press, there are many surrogacy blogs written by parents who’ve had babies through the clinic, etc.). The clinic has had more than 300 births, many of them for same-sex couples like us.

So, what do we do? We breathe. Breathe and trust. (And send more money.)

Here’s where we are now in the surrogacy process:

We’ve selected a new egg donor. She’s currently going through the bodily preparations to be able to donate. (More details on egg donor prep here.) At this point she should be able to donate two weeks from now. We’ve also selected a new surrogate, and she will be undergoing hormonal preparations as well for the upcoming embryo transfer once the eggs are donated and fertilized and selected for quality.

Why did we switch up the egg donor and surrogate from Round One? We did so on advice from Rotunda,  after a simple enough explanation. They advise changing all the variables in a new round of IVF (except the sperm donor, obviously), because it’s not easy to discern if perhaps there was a minor problem with the eggs donated, or with the surrogate’s womb, etc., that may have tripped things up in the previous try. Since it’s difficult to isolate an exact potential issue, the best thing to do is to switch up the variables and try again.

As 90s pop songstress Aaliyah (rest her soul) perhaps put it best: if at first you don’t succeed / dust yourself off and try again / you can dust it off and try again.

So, here we go. Dusting it off. Trying again.

Round Two begins.


The Second Attempt

25 Aug

I took a trip to Capital One today to send two wire transfers off to Mumbai to begin our second attempt at surrogacy.  After quite a few emails back and forth with the clinic, all of our questions were answered about what to expect during a second try.  Unfortunately (and I know this is going to sound awful), we have no way of ever knowing what happened with the first attempt or if an attempt was even made.  After freezing two sperm samples, Josh and I left the country, so for all we know, the first attempt was never completed and this is a way to squeeze a little more money out of us.  I did receive copies of the hormone test results from the clinic, but a document like that is very easy to replicate and without having seen the actual implantation of the embryos, it’s a large leap of faith to simply send another round of cash out into the world.

If I hadn’t gone to the clinic in person and met with the surrogate, the lawyer, and the doctor, I would be extremely nervous about this.  I absolutely trust that Rotunda has our best interests in mind, which is why we agreed to follow their protocols and work with a new surrogate as well as a new egg donor.  The rationale behind this is that either of those factors could have been what prevented the first pregnancy, so the best odds are keeping the sperm the same and changing up all other variables.

Surrogacy abroad is not for those who can’t handle stress.  This transfer has put our total spend over 20k so far including travel, legal fees, passport visa fees, and two attempts.  In the US, we would have clear guidelines to follow and our money would not be tracked via email with rounded international conversions treated as full payment.  In the US, if our deposit was a penny short, the computer would freeze things and we would have to resolve the issue.  Everything is negotiable in India, and we have tried to get used to the more laid back culture when conducting business.

I’m trying to think good thoughts as we begin the second cycle.  It’s very difficult when you can’t see any of the physical manifestations of your payment, but we just have to trust that Rotunda and our new surrogate will have a more favorable outcome this time around.  That, and I need to fly back to Mumbai at least one more time to secure my newfound mayorship of Rotunda – The Center for Human Reproduction. 🙂


We’re Still Here…

21 Aug

Hey everyone!  So sorry for the sparse postings lately.  We have just returned from our beautiful honeymoon and are scrambling to readjust to the real world once again.  Josh flew out to Texas for work this afternoon and my work week is insane, but we will try to push out a post or two by the end of the week.

The reader’s digest version is this: we are basically starting from scratch with the same clinic.  Thankfully, I left enough sperm samples in Mumbai that we don’t have to return to the clinic, but we do have to recruit a new egg donor as well as a new surrogate.  The clinic would like to change up all of the possible scenarios that caused the failed pregnancy, but honestly, it’s a coin toss even with different eggs and a different uterus.  The other consideration is the cost… a second cycle costs just as much as the first one did, which is roughly $8,000.  We definitely did not budget for multiple attempts, and we are in the process of altering our budget to accommodate a much larger overall cost.  Of course, any amount of money is worth attaining the one thing you truly want, but I kinda wish that we lived in a city where our money would stretch a bit further.

Anyway, that’s where we stand.  We are going to post a bunch of our honeymoon pics in the next few days, followed by a detailed description of the conversations between Dr. Patel and I about our options moving forward.  Night!