One year ago, my life changed forever, for the better. I am now the proud mother of the most amazing little person I have ever met, and I cannot believe I waited so long . . . but then if I had done it any differently, it wouldn't be her . . . so after all . . . everything makes sense.
A few years ago, I asked my doctor how much longer I had left to still safely try to conceive. Single and childless, I had never attempted pregnancy even though I always knew I wanted to be someone's mother. I had just turned 43 when I learned from the specialist my doctor referred me to that my follicle count was already too low and my FSH levels were too high. He advised me that I had perhaps a less than 3% chance of success if I used a sperm donor, and perhaps a 30% chance of success if I tried embryo adoption. But the first thing we needed to do was remove a 3 cm fibroid tumor growing inside my uterus - and make sure it was benign.
Like many people, I had never heard of "embryo adoption," before. After a successful surgical hysteroscopy removing a benign but annoying fibroid - which thankfully did not involve cutting the wall of the uterus - and a couple of months' recovery time - I was "ready" to try embryo adoption. After the requisite counseling session to determine whether I was emotionally and psychologically ready for such an undertaking, I was presented with detailed information packages and photos representing the three possible sets of donor parents.
I soon realized that while I was ready for the idea, I was not ready to know so much about the donor parents. It was especially disconcerting to see photographs of the donors as I was trying to think of the adopted embryos as potentially my own. In addition, while previously considering sperm donation, I had already selected an Indian donor and pictured my baby as Indian - yet none of the donor embryos available here were Indian. I decided to put my plan on hold.
A couple years later, nearly 45 and now even closer to menopause, I realized I was definitely ready, but I was not sure if it was still even possible, so I googled what I was looking for and found the Malpani website! I e-mailed the clinic describing my situation and medical details - and received a positive and nonjudgmental response right away! Evidently, my impressively irregular cycle would not likely have a detrimental effect on achieving and maintaining pregnancy in this way. I had never traveled so far away, but I knew this was the answer. A few weeks later I was on my way around the world to meet my destiny.
It took me between 36 and 48 hours to arrive in Mumbai, and shortly after arriving I was in the Malpani Clinic for my first appointment. I was hot, exhausted, and overwhelmed from all the build-up and the travel, but I was very happy to meet Dr. Aniruddha Malpani in person after having been in touch with him, daily, through e-mail. Throughout the process, he was very good about staying in-touch, answering questions daily and providing all the necessary instructions to help me achieve success.
As I sat in his office for the first time, I looked down at my now enormous ankles for the first time since I had arrived earlier that day, and I was horrified. He put me right at ease, explaining that this sometimes happens on long flights and that the way to prevent it in the future would be to get up and walk around the plane periodically during the flight. He also said, with a smile, that it was a good sign of pregnancy to come. He reassured me that the swelling should go away soon, and it did. I appreciated his gentle sense of humor. It helped me to relax - which was essential to both establishing and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Aniruddha and Anjali, and all of their nursing and support staff helped me and all the other patients around me feel quite at home in their clinic. The warmth of the staff made an enormous difference to me. I was also lucky enough to stay with Aniruddha's family, at his parents' clinic and nursing home, and this made a big difference because I would have been alone on this adventure otherwise. It also gave me a chance to experience Mumbai from the perspective of a local. For the three weeks I spent there, I felt almost like a temporary member of the family.
I believe my success was greatly enhanced by the diet and care I received at Narayan's nursing home, and meeting Aniruddha's wonderful aunts and other extended family and friends. It also helped to make friends with some of the other clients at Aniruddha and Anjali's clinic. One, in particular, who was on the same schedule as I, achieved an equally miraculous IVF pregnancy with her husband, and now has a beautiful baby girl the same age as my daughter. We have been in touch regularly, ever since, and I treasure our friendship.
I had, essentially, been waiting 30 years to have a baby. I knew when I was 15 that I wanted to have a baby, but I also believed I should wait until I got married. If I had met the right man by now, I would have done this with him, but I haven't met him yet, and time has caught up with me. I knew that my destiny included children of my own, and it was time to do something about it. I also believed that if I tried this and it worked, then it was meant to be . . . and my instincts were good.
So I followed all the suggestions, treatment instructions, and precautions. I focused all my energy on "project baby." I did not travel unnecessarily. I was very careful about what I ate and drank. I took all the medicine, vitamins, and injections. I rested a lot, and I made my baby, my priority.
The night of her introduction to me (called "embryo transfer" in the clinic), was the first day the monsoon decided to get serious. It had been raining most of the day, and picking up volume as the evening approached. I got to the clinic around 4PM, full of anticipation and belief that it was all going to work out. Four very strong-appearing embryos were transferred, and I was given photographs of them. The procedure went smoothly and easily. Given my family history, we knew I had a good chance of getting twins, so the thought that I might get triplets or quadruplets had me busy wondering what was in store . . . yet given the statistics with this procedure in this clinic, transferring four was my best chance for achieving success with at least one embryo. I rationalized that what was meant to be, would be, and everything would work out.
I actually hoped for twins since this would be a way for my children to share genes. As I rode back to the nursing home in a taxi later that evening, the monsoon water was rising and the rain continued in torrents. There were soaking lively people everywhere in the streets as the night lights bounced off the flood waters and my driver weaved through the chaos to get me safely home. As I made it up several flights to my destination (the elevator was temporarily out of order), I ran into Narayan and his staff who had been worried about me and were quite relieved to find that I was home and safe. Their concern made me feel truly cared for and safe - and it was another sign that everything would be fine.
When I returned home to my very small town, and made an appointment with a local obstetrician, I was happily surprised to discover when I met him that he was Indian! (His last name does not sound Indian - and although I should have recognized his first name as Indian - I somehow missed it until the day of my first appointment. Imagine how wonderful that was, for both him and for me, in a place with few Indians, to meet each other under these circumstances? He was excited for me too . . . and took great care of me throughout the pregnancy.
My HCG scores were very high, indicating a multiple pregnancy, and on the low-tech ultrasound apparatus we were able to see two sacs at around five weeks. However, I miscarried one baby between five and six weeks, while maintaining the pregnancy. We all determined that I had a "disappearing twin," and that most likely, for some reason the sac was just empty and the baby had failed to develop. I was sad to have lost this baby, but I reasoned that the remaining baby would now have a better chance. I am glad that this happened very early in the pregnancy, but I still sometimes wonder about the little person who did not come.
I was lucky throughout my pregnancy. I only gained 30 pounds. When I had somewhat borderline blood sugar in the last trimester, I modified my diet and took more walks to manage it. It was not serious and did not require insulin. I carried past term, and was scheduled for induction at 40 weeks and 4 days. The labor was intense, but only lasted 13 hours, with most of the progress happening very quickly in the final 30 minutes. I did not need a caesarean!
I cried righteously, and the pain of delivery stopped instantly, as she appeared. She was so beautiful and so immediately alert - looking all around the room at her new surroundings in amazement. Within the first hour, she had latched on, and my hope for being a 100% breastfeeding mommy was easily fulfilled. My doctor and the two nurses who delivered her were very impressed with her, as were the rest of the staff at the hospital during my three-day stay. My mother and my brother arrived the morning after she was born - from far away. I was ecstatic and all the people around me could feel it - and were happy for us. She is now 2 1/2 months old and we are fully bonded. She is making excellent progress in her development and we are growing closer every day.
This has been the best experience of my life . . . and my life has started over in many ways now that she is with me. I have never had a second thought about any of this, and as I've told parts of this story to many people along the way, I've had time to think about it a lot. Embryo adoption helps many people - and is a very positive choice for everyone involved - donor parents, embryos waiting, infertile mothers-to-be, and doctors who want to help their patients. I think many people will choose this path as they learn about its possibility. Let our case be a happy example for anyone considering it.