How Far We Have Come With The Help of StrangersAfter an exhausting morning on the phone with Qantas (I could wring that airline's neck), we headed over to our new favorite N Block Market to pick out a lovely sari (actually two) for our surrogate mother. We had very much wanted to meet the twins' surromama personally. We tried before the twins were born (but she was in the hospital and we were not allowed to visit) and after, but we learned yesterday that she has already returned to her village outside of Delhi. It's a tricky thing and I understand that many people have a very different viewpoint on whether to meet or not to meet the surromama - but we have always been firmly in the camp of inclusion.
Maybe it's all the adoption books I read while we were trying to adopt and how much they pounded away about the loss complex of the mother and the baby and how important it is to be open and to let everyone acknowledge and grieve the loss because it's there whether you choose to look it in the eye or not. We wanted to help our surromama get closer to closure and celebration and away from any latent feelings of denial.
It barely scratches the surface to say that carrying a child (or two) for nine months and giving birth is bound to be an emotionally connected act of love - paid or unpaid. We wanted to acknowledge that act of love in person, to thank our surromama, to let her see that the parents she carried these beautiful babies for are good people who will raise them with hearts full of undying love . . . and mostly to let her see the babies she carried so amazingly, at least that one time. But that will not be our history or hers.
We owe this woman who we have only seen in a photograph something like the equivalent of a hundred million thank you's. She has given us more than we could ever have imagined. More than you can pay for. More than there are words to describe. Our twins are alive and healthy and are now "ours" because of this woman who we will never meet. A thank you note and a couple of saris will never be enough - the small miracles asleep in the baby suit, the one's that she carried for us because we could not - are utterly priceless. Thank you Chandana and god bless you always.
In the meeting department, we were successful on one count today! We spent some time with Dr. Shivani this afternoon - our doctor and partner through this crazy surrogacy process. We talked about everything from raising kids (she has a 3 year old herself, so understands our Wild Animal) to the stresses of Delhi, to surrogacy, to the nitty gritty of the hospital (she's opening/partnering with a baby hospital of her own which she will control and let me tell you, I am certain that when it opens it will be a way different experience from Paras and Phoenix). Dr. Shivani is a beautiful woman and is successful beyond belief because of her own drive and real passion to help others create a family. She is kind, but tough and practical and always has a smile on her face.
As we were sitting there it hit me that we could never meet again. This woman who has been the guiding force behind the creation of our family and has been a constant part of our lives for the past 2 + years - now that our family has been created we won't be popping over to Delhi quite so often (or maybe ever) and this meeting may have been our last. There have obviously been many people involved, and our children are the result of multiple acts of kindness by strangers - but Dr. Shivani has been there with us the whole way. As we were sitting there in the beautiful lounge of her new center, with great a/c, white leather couches, cold water for everyone and pictures galore of all of the babies she has created (including Neve) - it really hit me what a true odyssey this has been. It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day in Delhi and miss the big picture and I am sorry that I have been guilty of this.
I will never forget meeting Dr. Shivani for the first time in a tiny, hot, somewhat dirty meeting room at Phoenix hospital at around 9pm at night having just arrived in Delhi. We waited almost an hour for this first meeting because she was still attending to patients (something I came to appreciate more once we were actual patients!). We were hungry, jetlagged and still carrying our American lawyer personalities with us (traits we now somewhat try to check at the Delhi door!). I wondered to myself "what the hell are we doing? this is totally insane!! dear god we have lost it for sure this time!!". But after all of the other crazy attempts at family creation we had enthusiastically thrown ourselves into over the prior 6 years, this one seemed just crazy to enough to work - and a few months later it did!
I have had the opportunity to speak to many people who are interested in surrogacy in India and they always ask about control over the process and medical this or that - and I always say that you have to trust Dr. Shivani and her judgment. She is looking out for your family and she will make the quick and sometimes hard calls that are necessary to get you there. You can't micromanage her or anything in Delhi - so this is not the place for you if that's what you want. Take a deep breath, let go, trust her, come to Delhi be annoyed, be overjoyed, go home as a family.
When we left Dr. Shivani's office today, I hugged her neck and started to cry. This really came out of nowhere and I was surprised by my emotions. We would love for Dr. Shivani to come to New York and do lectures and catch up - but realistically she will never be a part of our lives the way she has been. And, what we have because of her is so immeasurable. It all just hit me and the tears would not be contained. Again, a thank you and a hug do not seem like enough. We love and thank you Dr. Shivani for keeping us strong and keeping us going and orchestrating the creation of our amazing family.
Ok, enough good byes and thanks for this one post!!
This may be a good spot to explain how surrogacy works here in India and in most places around the world. I have been surprised by how many people have asked me this question so I think it's important to get the facts out there. In a surrogacy situation, you would almost never use the eggs of the surrogate mother. You typically implant an embryo unrelated to the surrogate so that there is no biological connection between the surrogate and the baby she is carrying. This is done for obvious legal reasons and for emotional reasons as well. So, just to be clear, neither of our surromama's is biologically related to our children. That being said, we would never ever underestimate the emotional bond, the connection and the unbelievable love and physical toll that it take to carry a baby, much less twins to term. Ok - that's it for surrogacy 101!!
We have four full days left in India and we mean to make most of them!
More later -
G H & N R G
No denying that these two are twins.
Whatever we do, they nudge closer to each other!!
They are going to make a terrific synchronized swimming duo one day!
Some Wild Animal photos in the baby suite.
Anila getting in a tickle.
Jessica getting in a tickle!
Running on the bed - yikes!
Great idea in general and even better with marble floors!
If the wild animal escapes India without a concussion it will be a complete miracle.