Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fertilization and Transfer Completed.

Egg fertilization and embryo transfer is now done. Our understanding is that the quality of the eggs was average and the fertilization rate was average. Now we wait two weeks to find out if we're pregnant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Egg Retrieval Completed.

Seventeen eggs were successfully retrieved from our donor on Saturday.  Seventeen is a very good number. Embryos will be transferred to the surrogates today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Waiting Game: Phase One

So, some of our readers are clamoring for an update. The egg retrieval was scheduled for yesterday, Monday, August 9. However, our donor's eggs are developing a little bit more slowly than expected so the egg retrieval has been delayed until this Saturday (August 14). Slower than expected development is not a problem; it merely reflects that eggs develop at different rates for different people. Mike is disappointed that we will have to wait another week for any new developments. Ken ("Mr. Glass Half-Full") points out that this improves the chances of a Taurus baby. No offense to our Aries brothers Kevin and Scott, but Aries kids are a bit of a handful . . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

India - "It really is about the baby"

So we realize that so far this blog seems to be more of a travel journal than a journal about our efforts to have a baby.   And some of you visiting our blog may not be familiar with our baby plans.  A bit of background might be helpful.

We started talking about having kids nearly from the minute we met - literally.  Those of you who have heard the story of our meeting know that we ticked off a number of questions for one another within the first ten minutes of conversation.  One of those questions was whether both of wanted children.  We both did.  Mike had begun researching adoption programs in Seattle and then again in San Francisco after moving there in 2006.  Ken had been researching surrogacy for some time. 

In the spring of 2008 we started researching and interviewing surrogacy agencies.  We met with two, selected one, and paid a deposit.  Our plan was to start the process in late 2008.  Then, however, the economy crumbled and our surrogacy plans were put on hold indefinitely. 

This year, after getting married in 2008, followed by our wedding in 2009, and in light of our advancing ages, we decided it was time to start and finish the process.  At about that time, our friend Eddie mentioned to Ken that two of his friends - Rob and Dave - were planning to pursue surrogacy in India.  Ken - intrigued - immediately launched into his research mode.  He contacted Rob and Dave, met them for lunch, searched for articles and information on the Internet, researched surrogacy centers in India, met with Rob and Dave again, shared all the information with Mike and - Ta-da! - a decision was made.  We would do surrogacy in India. 

There are a number of advantages to surrogacy in India as compared to the United States.  The agencies are well established and have been functioning for years.  The medical tourism industry in India is growing and is expected to outpace the technology industry in the near future.  The surrogacy process is focused on meeting the needs of the intended parents and the legal risks (vis-a-vis the surrogate) are minimal.  Also, the surrogates remain in the care of the surrogacy center during the entire period of their pregancy, under the supervision of doctors, nutritionists, etc.  The financial reward for the surrogates is significant; it can pay for their children's education (all surrogates are married with children of their own), pay for a daughter's dowry, or even pay for a new home for the entire family.

In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is never the egg donor.   She has no biological relationship with the baby.  This reduces if not eliminates entirely any claim the surrogate could have to the baby.  This is true in the United States as well as in India.

In the U.S. it is common for a surrogate to carry twins and - when carrying babies for gay dads - often one baby is the child of one father and the other is the child of the other father.  In India a surrogate is not allowed to carry babies from two different fathers.  Therefore we have elected to have one egg donor but two surrogates.  Having two surrogates will increase the likelihood we will conceive a child on the first attempt.  We may or may not meet our two surrogates.  We did not meet them on this trip so the only other opportunity will be when we return for the birth(s), if all goes well.  We know basic information about them only: age, years married, number of children, age and occupation her husband, etc.

This trip to India was for the purpose of making our donation to the process.  The eggs from the egg donor we selected are expected to be ready on Monday (August 9).  They will then be fertilized and implanted in the surrogates on Wednesday or Thursday (August 11 or 12).  In about two weeks we will know if the transfers were successful.  If any of them are successful, like any other expectant parents we will have to wait for a few months to know if they survive the first trimester.

If all goes well we will return to India in April and stay for about a month.  We will be here for the birth(s) and then stay for an additional two weeks or so until the baby/ies have passport and can travel.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

India - Day Four (Saturday) "It's all about Delhi today"

Today we spent the day exploring a bit of Delhi.  After an early morning breakfast at the hotel (have we mentioned how much we love staying at this hotel?) we ventured out into the heat of the city.  We decided to forego a cab and instead to use the newly opened subway system.  It was terrific; new, clean, organized.  But for the men with automatic weapons standing behind stacks of sandbags inside the station, it seemed like any other Western subway system.

We emerged from the subway into Old Delhi, which of course is hot, crowded, noisy, dirty and raucus.  Just as it should be, right?  We made our way to the Red Fort, which is what it's name suggests - an old red fort, but large enough to include massive grounds, multiple palaces (no longer boasting their former splendor, unfortunately), a couple of museums. and a mosque or two.  Getting into the fort was the most exciting part of the morning.  It was just opening and the crowds were large, packed like sardines, disorganized and jostling for positions in line.  Fortunately, more men with automatic weapons were pretty effective at shoving the crowds around and getting them to behave - sort of.  (As Mike always says, "Don't argue with bouncers, bartenders and men with automatic weapons.")  As we waited to be moved and jostled through the crowd we watched as women were escorted to a separate gate without a line.  Although Mike was a bit miffed by the special treatment he had to admit that jostling in that crowd would not have been very safe for women, let alone very lady-like.  Ultimately we made it through the frisking by the men with automatic weapons and made our way to the ticket line (where we purchased our tickets at the "foreigner's tickets" window and paid 25 times the price of admissionn for Indians - although it was still only about $5) and then waited in yet another line to be frisked by more men with automatic weapons.  Finally, we arrived inside and strolled about the various palaces, museums and mosques.  All  in all it was a nice way to spend the morning.

Separate lines for men and women.

Ken considers a new vision for a new house in the country.
"Ken?  Really?  You want this in Boonville?"

How the Red Fort got red.

On the way out of the Red Fort we met a very nice and affable rickshaw driver (the term driver is not really accurate, since the rickshaws are bicycles).  Mike decided a ride through the market in a rickshaw would be our next adventure.  Our rickshaw ride turned out to be the highlight of the day.  Our guide peddled us through the narrow alleyways of the market, through the denim market, the jewelry market, the bridal market, the spice market, the book market and the paper market.  Ken, who has visited the market a few times before, noted that he had never been so deep into it or seen so much.  Our guide took us to a 1000 year old Jain temple tucked away down a deadend alley.  In the spice market he took us on a quick walking tour of the market, including up through a building to views overlooking the market and surrounding area.  Throughout the ride he manuevered his way through the narrow alleyways, throngs of shoppers on foot, other rickshaws, men with carts stacked high with myriad goods, and scooters.  Traffic jams were common but no one seemed to mind, confident that they would clear eventually.  Lest you think Mike and Ken must have been a heavy fare for this small Indian youth, note that other rickshaws were at times carting around four and five people.  While we were likely a heavy load, we were probably not the heaviest he had carried before.  Ultimately we made our way back to the Red Fort where our guide negotiated a tuk-tuk ride back to our hotel for us.  Our guide certainly earned a lot of Karma points for taking good care of us for the afternoon.

Private School Bus


" 'scuse me, pardon me . . . elephant passing on the left." 

I (Mike) should note here that while the ride was a great adventure we also saw close-up the poverty of India in the market.  While I won't dwell on that here and now, I think it's important to acknowledge it rather than disregard it.

After our ride through the market we returned to the hotel and lounged by the pool for a bit, which is spectacular.  Ken can't resist a good pool, and Mike (who is from the cool, gray and rainy environs of the Olympic Peninusula in northwest Washinton where 85 degrees is considered sweltering) finally had a chance to cool off after sweating nonstop for five hours.  We then dashed out to pick up Mike's newly tailored shirts and slacks, and visited a few of the local bars for cocktails.

All in all, a great day in India . . . .    


Friday, August 6, 2010

India - Day Three

Did we mention that this is a working trip too?  Ken spent the morning visiting showrooms for possible textile manufacturers (that's pillows and stuff for us laypeople). He found the factories that make pillows for William Sonoma Home and Bergdorf Goodman - all and all a good day for him.  Mike spent the morning in the hotel, caught up on email and feels pretty good about staying in touch with the office.  Ken returned to the hotel in the early afternoon to find Mike in the sunny courtyard, plopped in a large wicker chair, sipping an iced latte and musing over his email.  He insisted he had been working hard all morning.  As Ken quipped the other day, he could live in a 5 star Indian hotel for the rest of his life.

We then hailed a cab (lucky for us it was the same Sikh driver we had on the first day) and we returned to the Phoenix hospital for our second appointment.  The receptionist and lab technician seemed a little disorganized this time, but got us in for our appointments.  At the hospital we met a very nice Slavic couple and their son who were doing the same rounds we were.  Both the man and woman were over six feet tall and blonde.  They seemed just as out of place as Mike did.  We were there about an hour and then Dr. Shivani's driver took us down the road to her office to meet with the attorney's assistant and sign the papers.  (Yes, Mom, we read them before signing!)  It was a relatively quick visit and everyone at the office was incredibly nice, informative and accomodating.  It made us very comfortable with the entire process.

All of that being done, our friendly driver drove us across town to the tailor where Mike had my first fitting.  Ken insisted on closely tailored shirts, which is a bit of change for Mike who likes his clothes loose, loose, loose!  Did we mention that the shirts are only $25?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

India - Day Two

On Thursday we traveled to (a city that starts with an M, and Ken's not here to remind me of the name or to spell it) to visit the factories that produce Ken's various designs.  It was quite an adventure. 

We  left the hotel at 6:30 a.m for the four-hour drive with our driver and two guys from the agency that represents Ken in India.  The highway travelled out of Dehli and through the countryside.  The road and traffic was complete choas.  The traffic included buses, cars of varying sizes and conditions (including a bazillion "took-tooks" which are not much more than upright go-carts), scooters, bikes and people on foot, and of course cows, horses, donkeys and goats from time to time.  Since it was the beginning of the day, everyone was on their way to work, school, market, or wherever else people might be going.  It was crowded and choatic to say the least.  It's like one huge game of pole position, chicken and bumber cars all at the same time.  Honking is encouraged.  In fact, if you're not honking you're not really participating.  At times the roads were paved and wide, and at other times they were narrow and not much more than rough dirt roads.  New York cab drivers have nothing on drivers in Dehli.  Then entire trip was a hoot.  And not once did anyone seem irritated by the ordeal. 

Coming home was an even bigger adventure since it was dark and traffic came to a standstill from time to time.  And, I just have to note, that even in the middle of all that choas I had five bars on my phone and was responding to email on my phone.  Technology is amazing.

At breakfast before we left, Ken told me that story of someone who visited San Francisco from India.  Ken gave him a tour of the San Francisco area including the Marin headlands.  In the headlands there is a one lane tunnel.  At either end of the tunnel is a traffic signal where you have to wait for the green light to be sure the tunnel is clear before driving through.  Of course, everyone waits for the light to turn green, patiently and in line.  The visitor from India found this to be the most astounding of all the sights in San Francisco that day - everyone waiting in their cars, in line, for the signal to change and not honking.  I now understand why that would be such a surprise. 

Visiting the factories was really interesting.  Of course, this is what Ken did constantly while he was at Pottery Barn, visiting all these factories, buying product, discussing some of his designs, and designing other products on the fly.  We visited four factories; two of them out in the countryside and two of them in the city.  All of them make beautiful products.  It was interesting to see two factories that produced a lot of items for Pottery Barn, all sitting in their showrooms on display.  I played the role of helpful assistant and photographer while Ken played big shot designer.    

Arrived back at the hotel around 11:00 p.m. after a very long day.  Cocktail in the bar, and then bed. 

India - Day One

Ah, thank goodness for coffee!

Arrived in India on Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m local time.  Our driver brought us to the Imperial Hotel, which is beautiful.  Brunch was followed by a nap for me.  Traveling for 24 hours, including more than 18 hours in coach with my knees jammed against the seat in front of me, was a bit much for me.  Call me spoiled, but I miss my First Class international flights.  Ken fits in those seats better and sleeps on cue.  Lucky for him.

Done in by the trip.
We visited the Phoenix hospital in the afternoon and met with Dr. Shivani for the first time.  After a couple of hours at the hospital (yes, in India just as in the US a five minute appointment with a doctor includes two hours in a waiting room cooling your heels) we then met with lawyer to review the legal documents.  All went smoothly and everyone was very helpful.  The hospital was quite busy, including Indians, Australians (two gay couples starting the surrogacy process as well), and others.

In the waiting room at the hospital.
After the hospital we went to a market to check out a tailor recommended by a friend.  I was fitted for tailored shirts and slacks.  Might as well be as productive as possible while we're here, right?  The evening concluded with cocktails and dinner at the hotel.
"Just pretend like I know what I'm doing . . . ."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Take off

Monday, August 2, 2010. At SFO waiting to fly to Munich and then on to India. And so the adventure begins. We've done nothing but gawk at kids so far. We do a lot of that these days. Several waving good-bye to their dads. One in tears as she did so. Another giggling. Oh, and we had margaritas of course.