Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goodbye, Mumbai...hopefully just for now

Well, we are out of here.
We survived the trip.

No Delhi Belly.
Lots of gifts.
Enough memories to last a lifetime.

We fertilized eggs.
Created embyros.
And transfered five that hopefully will allow us to return next year.

Goodbye, Mumbai.
With some luck and help from the Hindu Gods Shiva, Rama, Ganesha and the others too many to mention here, we'll be back soon.

Doug, Bill and Kelsey

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kelsey's Bombay Bon Voyage!

Well Kelsey leaves tonight and she is nearly all packed and ready to go. I know she is super excited to hop on that plane and be in the comforts of home. To be honest, I'm a little jealous. LOL. We are so proud of her, and are so thankful that she worked so hard to produce so many eggs and embryos. The past few days she's been feeling a lot better, and we had a great pasta dinner last night at La Cucina in Bandra, with some wine and a tuk tuk ride to top it off. It was Kelsey's first ride in an electric rikshaw after almost being hit by one in Juhu...we all smashed in and laughed in the back seat!

Today was spent hanging by the pool and just relaxing. After two days in South Mumbai at some antique shops and cruising around Chorr's Bazaar, Bill and I were ready to chill...tomorrow we have a long journey to the Taj Mahal. I'll post photos when I return to the States because Kelsey is taking the camera cord to transfer pictures.

I forgot to mention that our pregnancy test is on October 5th - Kelsey's Birthday! Here's to hoping it's a nice present for all she's done.

Here are some photos from the past few days...

Chorr's Bazaar...

The mobile barber...

Hundreds of people washing clothes (I forget what this place is called...)

Kelsey relaxing in the pool...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

5 of Our Best, Ovaries the Size of Melons, Fainting in Front of a Tuk Tuk and Political Unrest

This morning after some intense conversations with Dr. Allahbadia and Goral, we decided to go for it and transfer five of our best embryos (3 A's and 2 B's) in to our surrogate, Ayesha. Last time we checked she had a 10.5 mm uterine lining, and between 8 and 13 is supposed to be good, depending on who you talk to. So we are smack dab in the middle, which we are very comfortable with. That leaves 1 B and 9 C's to be frozen. We know we could lose some of them when they thaw, but we felt like this could be our only chance with the Kelsey/Bill combo so we went for it. As John in NJ said, "all it takes is one!" And this first round is a bunch of really good "ones". Our hopes were up! Here's a shot of one of the A's...

So pray. Kneel. Bow. Do the hula. The Macarena. Or The Hustle. Or if you want, just visualize sticky embryos in a uterus over the next 12 days as we wait for the first pregnancy test on October 5th.

When we were at Rotunda we had Kelsey checked out as she had been uncomfortable the past few days since retrieval. She spent most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday in her hotel room, feeling bloated, with abdominal pain, and well, not very regular. Dr. Kadam did an ultrasound on her stomach and saw that her ovaries were the size of small melons, when they normally are the size of limes. While it was normal after the meds, it was uncomfortable for Kelsey. She felt better knowing this and was glad she came in with us, and then we decided to head out for some sightseeing.

We hadn't had much luck looking for gifts over the past few days but eventually found some great things in Juhu, across from the JW Marriott.

After some walking on Linking Road, a stop at Mickey D's (we had to do it), shopping under a really hot covered area in Juhu, we decided to call our driver. As we were crossing the very busy street amdist the "tuk tuk's" or two-stroke electric rikshaws, Kelsey was looking very white in the face and said, "I think I'm gonna faint"...

Bill grabbed her arm and literally helped her across the street to the sidewalk. The girl was pale as a ghost and I was feeling terrible for her. After sitting on the curb for a few minutes and taking in some water, she was feeling better -- but man, that was very scary. Recuperating in the comfort of our air-conditioned car, things were looking good. It was then, on a sidestreet off the main drag, that we stumbled upon a political protest. It all seemed very nice and civilized until they started punching the cardboard cut out of who ever they were protesting, and then lighting the cut out on fire.

The traffic started backing up and things were getting a little aggressive...and we were basically stuck for about five minutes. I have to say I was pretty tense but I tried not to show it. Our driver chuckled a bit but I don't think any of us in the car thought it was too funny. It probably was very tame and civilized under Indian standards, but I don't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I get older I start to realize that. My adventurous youth is a thing of the past. I'd rather have boring evenings with a baby (or two).

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

After Two Days of Incubation..

Yesterday morning, after two days of incubation, our 15 embryos were graded by Goral Gandhi as 3A's, 3B's and 9 C's. I've been mulling these number over in my head ever since we found out. I'm understanding that these grades could change, after talking to Dr. Kadam, but we are concerned that if we use all the best graded embryos on the first attempt, we will lose the remaining frozen ones once we thaw. It's common that embryos go down a grade when put through the thawing process, so you can do the math -- basically we lose the 9 C's if we don't use them now or if they stay C's and haven't grown more in the last 24 hours, the B's may go to C's and the A's to B's. Goral is grading them again this morning. Someone give me a Xanax.

Transfer is at 9 am, which is in about two hours. At that time we'll have about 15 minutes to decide when we consult with Goral and Kadam. We haven't come all this way for not, GOSH DARNIT (I'm holding back can you tell?)!!

Think good thoughts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today is Report Card Day

You know that feeling when you know your report card is coming from school and you fantasized that you were going to get all A's? Well this is one of those times as we wait for the grading of our embryos, which should come in today.

The latest update from the embryologist was yesterday, that out of 27 mature eggs that were injected with sperm, 15 of them fertilized. I know we had a huge number of eggs retrieved from Kelsey so even 15 fertilized eggs is very good. If half of them are graded A then we are in excellent shape for multiple attempts if we don't get pregnant the first time (but we WILL, darnit!). As we are contemplating all of this I go in to research mode and look at everyone's blogs who has come to India, how many embryos they ended up with, how they were graded, and how many were transfered. I know tomorrow morning we are going to have to make the blindest decision of our lives -- how many to transfer in to our surrogate. So I wanted to be armed with as much info as I can get.

As I've said before, nothing is certain. We are hugely optimistic and have heard from so many of you who have said we are blessed to be in this situation. But we know it's a crap shoot, with great odds, I might add! So...hope for the best and I'll post the report card once it's in. I am hoping we get a first glimpse at what these little guys look like, too. So I'll post that if we get it.

In the meantime, more photos from our sightseeing yesterday.

Kelsey shopping in South Mumbai

At the Gate of India

The Taj Hotel Palace and Towers, site of the terrorist bombings last November (that's Parashar from Your Man In India -- he IS THE MAN!)

At the Gate of India

Finally, I had to post a photo of Kelsey after the procedure. She's glowing! Such the ROCKSTAR!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Big Day!

Yesterday went amazingly well. We retrieved 35 eggs of which 27 were mature and the embryologist could use to perform ICSI on, where they inject Bill's sperm in to each egg, one at a time. So today we find out how many actually fertilized. And then tomorrow we get the grading of our embryos, which will determine how many we actually transfer. After the procedure, which was performed by the clinic's founder, Dr. Allahbadia (wonderful man!), I went in to see Kelsey. I've mentioned before she was scared and nervous beforehand, so I was so anxious for this part to be over for her. I sat next to her bed in the recovery room and she opened her eyes. The first thing she said was "did you get everything you needed? I want to make sure you and Bill have everything you need..." How selfless that she was thinking of us before herself! We both cried and I hugged her and kissed her on the forehead. She was super groggy and I could tell she was uncomfortable, but she still managed to worry about us. When she heard she had 35 eggs in there her eyes got really big and said something I can't type here..."no wonder I was so bloated and full all the time"'s understandable since she was carrying almost three dozen eggs!!!

Well our little egg-producing Olympian was done with her job, putting us in very good shape for freezing embryos if the first attempt didn't work this Thursday. Things are happening so's exciting!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Egg Retrieval Day

Sunset shots from our hotel room

It's about 6 am on egg retrieval day. Kelsey's procedure is at 9 am and I am confident things will go well. As I said, there were a lot of eggs shown in the ultrasound, some of them measuring 20 mm, so I would imagine that would be uncomfortable. We are going to try to bring Kelsey back to the hotel after she comes around (the procedure is about 20-30 minutes under general anesthesia), this was Kelsey's request as it's a bit cramped at Rotunda and there is a nice, comfy hotel room waiting for her. She's been watching the first season of "Lost" on this trip so I think she's also anxious to continue the saga.

I'll keep everyone posted on how things go with the procedure. Think good thoughts...In the meantime, her are some photos that we took yesterday.


At the ITC Sheraton in Juhu Beach

At the Afghani restaurant. No napkins, just aprons. Huh?!

At the Hare Krishna Temple. The God Vishnya

Waiting for Parashar at the Taj Lands End

The breakfast buffet at the Taj is AMAZING! And it's INCLUDED. Double amazing!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We've arrived!

After a long journey we finally arrived last night at 9 pm. This morning we all went to Rotunda for Kelsey's second ultrasound and to have a consultation with Dr. Kadam. The scan showed what the first one did, that there were a lot of eggs (high 20s, low 30s) and they were big buggers (Kelsey kept mentioning how bloated and swollen she felt). So Kadam scheduled Kelsey for her trigger shot tonight, and the retrieval on Monday morning. This caught us a bit by surprise because everything was moved up three days. This was good news, I just think Kelsey realized that everything was happening in a couple days, and it made her a bit nervous. And while the clinic was great and the staff was very helpful, it was different than what Kelsey had experienced at home with fertility clinics (in L.A. and San Francisco). It's all just a little scary for her...we tried to comfort her but I think the hormones were in full swing! There were a few tears and hugs afterwards, and long talks about how she was feeling, and how appreciative we were!, and then she felt better. The good thing is that Kelsey just had one shot left (which she just took from a staff nurse who came to the hotel at 10:30 pm), to release the eggs from her ovaries over the next 36 hours, and then they'd be ready for retrieval.

After the procedure Dr. Kadam called and said that our surrogate had some bleeding, which caught us by surprise again...but we had no control over this and had to just deal with it. So she sent us a few back up surrogate profiles in case our first choice wasn't a good candidate any more. We chose one and stayed positive. The fact is we've got a lot going for us. This will happen.

While Kelsey stayed in the hotel, Bill and I walked around the Bandra area where our hotel is located. It's festival season and the streets are packed. I really enjoyed immersing ourselves in the culture though it was nice to get back to the hotel. Here's some video:

Right now it's time for bed. We've got an early appointment tomorrow for some blood tests and then off to some temples and shopping. Should be a full day. Until tomorrow...

P.S. I forgot to add a shot of the public restrooms that we came upon as we were walking. And yes, they were open for use.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bill is enjoying his seat

Gotta love the little umbrella!

Kelsey arrived in Newark

Off to Mumbai! Ready for our 15 hour+ flight...thought this was a
great photo of Kelsey. Who's the old guy???

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Goodbye Honolulu! Mumbai here we come!

Well we are off! As evident by the jetway pulling away from the plane in Honolulu...on to Newark for a nine hour layover, meet Kelsey and then the three musketeeers are off to Mumbai...reminiscent of "Slumdog"! Thanks John, for the reference. Hoping we are just as
lucky in Mumbai! Peace out...

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Found Billy Looking at Strollers in Target

I had to snap this shot the other day at Target.  We were running around picking things up for the upcoming India trip and I couldn't seemed to find Bill...turned the corner and there he was hanging with the strollers...  :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pump Up The Volume

Well Kelsey is on Day Two of the fertility meds to pump up her hormones and get her to, as our embryologist appropriately put it, “makes lots of eggs!” She gave us a bit of a scare yesterday when she thought that she didn’t have enough of the Lupron to last for two weeks, but apparently there was some math translation that needed to take place, milligrams to milliliters or something like that. Not sure if it was an India to U.S. prescription thing or not, but I guess it was just another foreign territory to cover. Being 2,500 miles away during her pre-trip prep has made it challenging, but Kelsey is managing VERY WELL. If I had my way I’d like to be there to translate since it’s confusing, as she is receiving instructions via Mumbai, Los Angeles and Honolulu, but we are doing pretty good so far. Last night her first shots were administered by a friend who takes insulin, so I was very happy to hear she had an injection veteran there to help out. When we all meet in Newark next week Thursday I think I’m going to have to give her a shot since our travel time is about 35 hours. Hopefully she can guide me as she'll have a week under her belt. And anyone who has traveled with fertility medications before, please let me know what your experience has been going through airport security. As you know, the Lupron and Gonal-F have to be refrigerated so I’m not sure exactly how to do this without causing a panic with TSA. I’ve sent an email to the airlines to inquire. I’ll let you know what I hear.

While Kelsey “pumps up” her ovaries, Bill and I are using this last weekend to do the same to our list of "things to do" before we leave Wednesday. In the midst of a wedding and two dinner parties, it will be a crazy weekend. Bill keeps agreeing to all these get-togethers and I keep looking at him like he's a masochist! We actually booked a day trip to the Taj Mahal and are using the infamous Parashar with Your Man In India for our car transfers and general needs. He’s been very responsive to my emails and it will be nice to meet him next week. We understand that the trip to the Taj will be a journey, but we can’t go all this way and not see something so amazing. It’s a two-hour flight from Mumbai to Delhi, and then a 3 hour+ car ride to Agra, where we will spend about five hours at the Taj Mahal and then turn around and drive back to the Delhi airport. I’m hoping all goes smoothly and we make our 9 pm return flight, my career as a travel agent is riding on this one! I also made a connection with a friend of a friend who lives in Pune, about 100km outside Mumbai. He’s going to suggest some sights to see, restaurants, etc. He, like many, warned us about the shock value of the city, the poverty, the contrasts and contradictions. I think no matter how well we prepare it will never be enough. I’m guessing with everything we are about to embark upon, you just have to experience it.

Ok, so yesterday I had another one of those overwhelming moments that caught me by surprise. Kelsey texted me that “George had arrived with his bags”. George being her period, I was happy to know that the birth control was doing such a fine job and the fertility meds would begin soon so we could really start our engines on this baby race. Soon after I also heard from the genetics counselor that Kelsey's Cystic Fibrosis testing came back very good (though we didn’t have a doubt that it wouldn’t, we mostly did this to be more definite). When I sent her the results her reply was, “I know, yay! I really am the perfect donor.” I chuckled and thought “how cute”. And then I cried. This was a vision, I might add. It was the classic shot people have in their minds of a 6’4” grown man crying at work – kinda goofy-looking and a bit pathetic. I sat there, hunched over at my desk, tears literally falling on my iPhone, trying to go unnoticed in my cubicle. While I have never been one who is embarrassed to cry, I can honestly say I was startled by how quickly my tears came. My reply to her was as heartfelt as a text could get – I thanked her, as we had been doing for months. I told her how much it meant to us, which was also starting to sound like a broken record. And finally, something I hadn’t fully realized before because it was literally happening before my eyes, I told her how happy I was that we had become so much closer because of this. With all the gifts that she was giving us, this was the most unexpected. I am so thankful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Surrogate: APPROVED

At the end of August Bill and I received an email from Rotunda titled "Surrogate Profile" and I took a moment to pause and reflect on this journey we've been on since January.  I thought about how long we’ve waited for these milestones to arrive -- having my niece agree to be our egg donor, determining viability for both Kelsey and Bill, and such crazy things as regulating a period, for goodness sake! As I paused I recognized that bringing everyone to the table has been a long process for all three of us, one that I would easily do over again, but long and involved nonetheless. In a way, the arrival of this email was another baby “stake” to place in the sand and say, "we made it this far" and then keep moving forward.  I remember reading through the one-page document that included a photo, age, number of children, marital status and other health information and thinking that I had to share this with Bill and Kelsey...since this was the woman that in just a few weeks time would be attempting to get pregnant with KK's egg fertilized by Bill's sperm.  Gotta love science.

As some background to the whole surrogate selection thing, I had heard from a few other IPs that Indian women on average are petite, and that getting a bigger surrogate was sometimes difficult. One couple had chosen a surro and then at the last minute had to go with another because of a complication. The new one was under 90 lbs so that made me kinda nervous, mostly because we have a chance of twins (and my mother was an identical twin) AND my family and Bill's are both big and tall. I asked Dr. Kadam at Rotunda if we could ask for a surro that was over 100 lbs and she said that she would be able to accommodate that request -- good news.

So after a few questions and discussion, Bill and I decided we would go with the surrogate selected by Rotunda.   She is 5'3" and 150 lbs (which is great since I had been hearing so much about petite women).  She's married, 23 years old and has had two children. From the photo we received she looks like a nice woman, and while I understand that IPs don't usually get to have a relationship with their surrogate, Bill and I want to bring her something as our token of thanks. But then again, what do you give someone who is giving you the opportunity of a child? -- it's just crazy to think about what gift could possibly thank this person – I doubt a box of chocolates is going to suffice.

So as we made the decision to go with our surrogate and this milestone was becoming a thing of the past, I get an email from Goral Gandhi who is the embryologist at Rotunda:  “So we are all set!"...and then she said something that made me chuckle and twitch nervously at the same time: "let's hope Kelsey makes lots of eggs!" She even put a smiley face next to her statement.  
Time to start that fertility dance :-)