Monday, December 22, 2008

Photos Day 2 - Meeting the Docs and the SI crew.

Dr Sudhir with his new Aussie cricket shirt. Thanks to Tigerlilycat Nik for the suggestion. Dr S has promised me he will go to the next match between India and Australia, and stay in the India section wearing his Aussie cricket shirt, and barrack for the Aussies. Unfortunately Dr Yash would not allow me to photograph her in the lingerie set we bought for her ... and Dr S wouldn't not model his Aussie-flag g-string. Just joking. We carted a big box of Australian scented candles and tea lights from Aus to India for Dr Y ... though now I am wondering what an Australian scent actually is. Meat pies? Vegemite? Lamingtons?

Yippee, I just got permission to post pics of the docs and the SI crew. I also have a load of pics of our surrogate and her husband, Mrs C and Mr S, and their son. Their daughter wasn't at the meeting, but we sent a lovely gift for her via her parents. I would love you all to see our new surrogate family in India, but obviously can't post their pics to respect their privacy. All I can say is that they are just lovely photos, and we treasure them. I have attached a couple of pics of us with the docs, and Mr S , but have photo shopped him out. He was such a funny guy. I know everyone loves the surrogate they choose, but I have to say, we really struck lucky. Mr S is a real estate agent. He speaks some English, so we could communicate a little. He was so darn out-there that his head has popped up in nearly every pic we took. Talk about "Where's Wally!"

Here are the beautiful doctors Yash and Sudhir, and the not-so-beautiful jet-lagged Amani and Bob. I've edited out Mr S, for privacy reasons, but wanted to show you how happy we all were, and also how much good-feeling lerve was flowing in the SI office that day. You can see Dr S has his arm around Dr Y, nothing unusual there, he is such a huggy man. My hand is on Mr S' hand, and his arm and my arm are around Bob's shoulders and we are holding hands, actually, we were like long lost buddies and were gripping each other's hand. His other arm is around my shoulder and I am hanging on to his hand for dear life. That's how close we all felt. It was a truly beautiful moment, one I didn't expect, but was gifted with to my delight.

We were woken by Dr S on Day two telling us Agit would soon be along to pick us up and take us to the SI clinic. Yay, finally meeting the docs. And the SI lawyer, and the SI staff, and our surrogate, and her husband, and their son. Woah ... so much to digest all at once. It is all such a blur to me now. We really hit the ground running. I actually cannot recall the first time I laid eyes on Dr S, whether it was at the clinic, or before then ... we were in such a blur. All the planning and hoping and organising over, we were there for the real stuff. I vividly recall meeting Dr S. His bright smiley face lit up and went straight in for the cuddle! I also remember how long we held each other, how white were his teeth, and that after my cuddle, Bob was in his arms. Now, I've never seen my husband hug another man. I have seen him being very uncomfortable with displays of affection by men, and shake himself out of friendly hugs as quick as he could. But I reckon he and Dr S had a good ten seconds of close male-bonding.

I had been told that men and women do not display affection in India, and that it was inappropriate for Bob to offer his hand to a female, and inappropriate for me to offer my hand to a male, and certainly not touch each other in an affectionate way. Well, that advice very quickly flew out the window. It was arms and hands and pressing of chests all round in a rather surreal game of "happy to meet you Twister".

Our nervousness, trepidation and shyness banished completely, Bob and I were ushered into the SI office where we met the SI lawyer, whose name currently escapes me. We sat down to talk contracts, but the excitement level was way too high for business, so we all got side tracked and started yabbering on about anything and everything. The surprising and wonderful breakthrough for me was that Bob had suddenly come alive ... and so so happy. Up until this point he has kept his feelings about surrogacy to himself. While he has always supported what I wanted to achieve, he has had the same share of questions and doubts I guess a lot of expectant IFs experience. The moment he met the docs you could literally see in his face that he suddenly "got it". Not only did he "get it" he loved it, and from that time on he spent our whole trip telling me, sometimes at the most odd moments, "I am so happy. We are doing the right thing. Are you happy? I'm happy". Here is happy Bob.

Happy Bob grinning like the Cheshire Cat while Dr S is trying to convince me that I really should let him come back to our room.

This is Dr Yash ... working while we were all bucketing on. My first impression of Dr Y was ... "Oh wow, she is so pretty." I expected her to be dressed in a sari or salawar kameez, not jeans, but heck she looked hot. Like everyone who meets her says, she is so softly spoken (compared to me, and the larger-than-life American couples I met while in Mumbai ... no, not you O and J, J and K and C know who you are.) Soft yes, but also very strong. She gave me a sense of peace and I knew we could completely and utterly trust her to make the best decisions about the surrogates she selects for the SI, the EDs and all the medical things, though I've never been concerned about her medical experience. I'm pretty sure Bob felt the same, cause he kept on smiling.

A some stage we managed to be serious and get down to business. Dr Y guided us into the waiting room and said, "Your surrogate and her husband are here." Oh My God! That time had arrived. I was nervous, and had become increasingly nervous as our trip got closer. There is nothing in life than can prepare a woman to meet the woman who will carry her baby. Woah. To this day I am still gobsmacked that women will do this for other women. I can understand a sister, or a cousin, or a close friend carrying a baby, or someone who you know well, and who knows you well, and knows what you've been through with all the pain infertility can slap you with. But aren't I the one who is meant to carry our babies? Of all the things I have achieved in my life, carrying a full-term pregnancy is something that I cannot achieve. Yet this woman, I was about to meet, could do that for me.

I didn't know whether I would feel jealous, or off, or happy, or sad, or scared, or angry - at myself or at fate ... I just didn't know what I would feel, nor how I would react. I had been fearful that it would just be all too much for me and I would freeze up and flee the room. Although I had been told by other IMs who had met their surrogates that I would be just fine, I was sure I would not feel emotional, and certainly not cry. I wasn't full of hormones like many IMs at the time of meeting their a surrogate, so, no tears for me.

When she first entered the room I just stared at her. How could I not? She wore a beautiful sari, and had a lovely deep red bindi painted on her forehead. Her eyes were shining and her smile was shy behind her hand. She was not only physically attractive, she had a kind of aura around her, that perhaps only I could sense - it's hard to explain - without sounding like a New-Age weirdo ... but this woman was my saviour, the woman who would carry our children ... and in an instant I was flooded with pure relief and gratitude.

In my broken, poorly pronounced Hindi I greeted her with a small bow which is a customary sign of respect, and with palms together, I said "Namaste". Mrs C returned my greeting, smiled so sweetly and prettily, then giggled behind her hand. We then sat, and that was where my ten prepared words of Hindi departed my brain.

I was very aware I was staring at her, so I tried to drag my eyes away from her so she did not feel uncomfortable or scrutinised. I was kind of aware Bob was snapping pics from the corner, and Mr S fluffing around practising his English on us all, while attempting to jump into all the photos. Dr Y asked me if I wanted to ask Mrs C anything, or say anything to her. And that was when my diligently prepared questions went the way of my Hindi linguistic skills, my heart opened into my throat and the tears started. Yep, I was gonna bawl. Here is the pic.

Who's the Cheshire Cat now? This is me grinning from ear-to-ear with the happiest smile I have ever seen on my face. While I should have done my hair, it reminds me of the pics my parents snapped of me when I was a happy, carefree little five-year-old. My mum's going to love this one.

I remember wanting Dr Y to ask Mrs C one thing only: Are you happy to do this for us? But I was side-tracked by Bob and his camera, and Dr S fluffing about, so happy he had made yet another woman cry. Dr S really gets off on the emotion of the beautiful meetings between surrogate families and IPs that he and Dr Y co-create. I remember thinking: Yes Tigerlilycat, you were right, you told me I was going to cry. Then I said out loud "Sorry, I didn't think I would cry", and I sucked up the tears for later. By then Mrs C was answering my question and Dr Y translated for me: "She says she is very happy to help you have your children." Then the tears started again, my questions returned and I managed to have a fairly decent conversation with Mrs C about how she felt, was she sure, did she want to change her mind. I learned about her children - a son aged 6 and a daughter aged 9. I wanted to keep on asking questions, I wanted to touch her, I found myself clasping her hand, but I didn't want to be too over-the-top nor make her feel uncomfortable. She was very shy, but just lovely, and giggled her way through our "conversation" her pretty hand over her mouth.

I don't recall the order of things as they happened. I know we gave gifts. I know we ended up in the docs' office and signed the contracts, Bob, me and Mr S in English, Mrs C in Hindi. I didn't read the contract, I left that to Bob, I was just too happy and blown away and my brain was mush ... and Mr S kept popping around the place, fixing his hair and insisting on more photos. Bob read the contract, asked a few questions of the SI lawyer ... I still don't recall his name. We took more photos. Mr S with the lawyer, with Mrs C, with their son, with the docs, with me and Bob ... if there was a photo to be snapped, he was in it. I wish I could share the other photos I have of our surro family so you can see what a lark this man was, and how comfortable he made us feel. At one stage Bob said something smart and I pulled his ear, which made Mrs C break into fits of giggling ... so I told her (through Dr Yash) that in Australia if a husband is naughty the wife can pull his ear. She found my irreverence hilarious. Perhaps women across the word can find a bond through knowing the necessity of being able to pull one's husband's ear.

We met Mrs C's little six-year old son, who shook our hands and said in very good English, "Thank you very much". He was so darned cute dressed in his red and yellow checkered school uniform, with red bow tie. He reminded me of my step-son, who also has dark complexion, and was the same age when I first met him.

Mrs C and her family left to collect their daughter and Manasi, the docs' left and right hands, showed me through the rest of the clinic. I met three surrogates who had just had transfer, relaxing in bed, watching TV or resting. They were also shy and smiley. I think that's what people mean when they talk about liking the people of Mumbai - they are all so ready with a smile.

Our business over, we left and I promptly slipped on some dust and fell down the office stairs, landing belly down on the tiled floor. How dignified. Then it was back into the crazy Mumbai traffic heading for dinner with the docs, and a couple of IPs who had arrived in Mumabi a few days earlier.


Michaela said...

shoot--lost my comment!

(love it when people precursor things with "no offense but...." ... grrr)

great smile! love it!

the wonderful thing about living o/s, as jackie said, is the cultural diversity. it's a shame, despite australia's push for 'multiculturalism' it really is a bit shallow when it comes to that.

can't wait to see more photo's of your journey, more smiles, more fun, more're right.. this is all a wonderful draft for that book!!

Eskimo said...

LOVE the pics!!

Intended Parents said...

Amani and Cheryl(Bob),

Looks like you had a fantastic time! Dr. Yash is beautiful. Love that you got to sit in the doctors seat!! You are too funny.


Amani said...

Michaela, yes, Australia's multiculturalism comes in ethnic pockets of closedness (is that a word?)