Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Photos - India Day 3 - A trip to Lilavati

Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai

Aerial view of Lilavati Hospital (pic swiped from the net)

The welcoming committee (pic from Lilavati website)

Deluxe room (pic from Lilavati website)

Day three and it was back to business. "The business" - you guessed it - "Boy Business." Agit collected us for the ride to Lilivati Hospital. Used to the crazy mumbai traffic by now, we were calm and relaxed (well I was, as I didn't have a performance ahead of me) as we drove through Bandra, a suburb where more wealthier Mumbaikers live. I was literally hanging out the window taking everything in. I really wanted to see the hospital and what the drive to the hospital would be like. I felt very responsible for being instrumental in bringing over EDs from South Africa, and I needed to see things first-hand, and not just report to our Agency all things good based on other people's experiences.

I kept waiting to get to Bandra, but it seemed we were already there. It was hardly Beverley Hills, despite being the place where many politicians and actors reside. But it was Mumbai, a developing city, housing more than 21 million people. Again, I was amazed at the dust all over the buildings and on the trees. I wanted to get a fire hose and wash it all away, because hiding behind the grime were street upon street of historic buildings, with gorgeous architecture that had, sadly, lost their beauty under a layer of dirt and time. I asked Agit if the dust was washed away during monsoon season. Had monsoon rains recently fallen on the city, but missed Bandra?

Yes, Agit told me, the dust is washed away during November monsoon, but it quickly regathers. He said there was so much dust because the streets were paved, not concreted, which causes traffic to throw dust up into the air from between the paved bricks. There were quite a few construction crews on the streets, ripping out the old paved roads and replacing them with concrete. Ongoing construction had added to the shabby look of the buildings, though it was obvious the problem was only temporary and that the place would soon be dust and dirt free.

Bob told me parts of Mumbai, including Bandra, had been colonised by the Portuguese. That explained the ornate architecture and Catholic churches, missions and schools in Bandra. I so wanted to paint those buildings, they were so deserving of being restored, as many of them were being brought back to their former glory. Mothers, fathers and children lined the streets, on their way to school. These children lived a life far superior to the children we met on the streets. India's caste system became quite noticeable, these children were like any others we see on their way to school here in Australia. Still, there was pverty and slums, and I hoped our SA EDs could see past this and feel secure we were not sending them to some third-world hospital to suck out their eggs for our own selfish purposes. We didn't see the whole of Bandra, as I suspect Agit was taking us on the shortest route to the hospital, dodging traffic, people and cows, on our way to to our destination. There are pockets of modern development, shopping malls, office buildings, and amenities one would find in a developed country. It is so very obvious Mumbai is on the move.

We arrived at the hospital and were greeted by very tight security. A metal detector had been set up, and all bags were searched, and bodies scanned for explosives. While Lilivati is not under direct threat, its security was typical of most of Mumbai post the attacks on 26 November.

Dr S had told us not to bring a camera to the hospital. Oops. We planned to sightsee and take photos after our visit to the hospitalk and had both the video camcorder and still camera in our backpack. Despite the search at the hospital entrance, Bob and the bag containing $3000 of new photographic equipment, were allowed through. Once inside we faced further security. There were officers searching bodies and bags before anyone was allowed into a lift. That's where our grand plan to photograph the hospital layout and provide the images to foreign terrorists came unstuck. Bob's bag was searched, the camera detected and we were suddenly being ushered by two security officers down a long hall on our way to goodness knows where.

That's when Bob lost it a bit. "Bugger this, this is crap. I'm going home," he spat. He was stressed for the first time.
"It's okay, they just want to keep the cameras in security," I tried to calm him. Shit, the father of my soon-to-be conceived children couldn't flake out on me now!
"We'll never get it back. There's $3000 gone."
"We will get it back, and if we don't, we have travel insurance," I told him. Smart Bon was thinking of the photos, i was thinking of the cost of the cameras, and not the photos. Smart Bob took the memory cards from the cameras, signed them in to security and we went back to the long queues at the lifts, where Mansi from SI got us to the front of the line, into the lifts and up to the cafe.

Phew. Potential disaster over.

We met Dr S and Dr Y at the cafe, as well as another SI couple who were there for transfer. Our new best-friends from the night before, Joy and Kelly, were also there. It was lovely to see them and we had some food and coffee and Bob calmed down. How could he not calm down. here were a bunch of people with the same problems as us, who had run the gamut of trying to concceive from attamepoting it "the natural way", to undergoing a series of increasingly more invasive fertility treatments to no avail, and arrived where were: attempting to create our much-wanted children through the equivalent of Custer's Last Stand, surrogacy. We extremely at ease. I have always been comofrtable with the diea of surrogacy,, having devoted my life to researching, questioning the process, others, myself, and generally being helped and helping fellow travellers for the past 18 months. Bob has not been that involved, until that point having never met another surrogacy-bound couple, online or in person. I could see him sizing the other couples up. Where were the selfish, self-serving couples exploiting impoversihed women from a third-world country in the desperate pursuit of having children that we are often accused of being? Where were the irresponsbile doctors hell-bent on lining their own pockets at the expense of their clients and the surrogates they employed? All we met were people, the same as us, with the same desires, the same hopes, and the same incredible appreciation of and gratitude to the doctors and women who were willing to go to such lengths to help us. Monetary reward was not the aimm of the doctors, and it was quite apparent that their primary motivation for helping us was because they could and they desperately wanted us to fulfil our dreams.

Conversation quickly turned to personal issues as we all delved into the most deep and private aspects of each other's pain. But there was also much levity, led by Dr S, the funny bugger that he is. The men at the table teased poor Bob about his "job at hand", while preparing him for "the room". Apparently "the room" is not so nice. But then what room required for doing what my poor husband was required to do, with the knowledge of all at that cafe table, could possibly be welcoming?

At our IVF clinic in Perth, one enters "the room" via a hospital corridor packed with singles and couples seeking iVF treatment. there is no other "room" to go through to get to "the room", therefore everyone in the corridor knows that any man going through "that door" is if off to have a personal party for one. Ugh. There is usually a wife or partner waiting in the corridor, who whisks their beloved quickly away once "the job" is done. The men that exit "the door" and leave by themselves are quickly identified as sperm donors, followed by dzoens of pairs of eyes and the surreptitous scrutiny of couples possibly sizing them up, just incase.

Mansi came to get Bob when "the time" to do "the deed" arrived. He departed for Lilavati's "room" to the encouragement of all at the table, and special advice from Dr S, "Don't take less than eight seconds." Oh God, my poor husband. The men think the women go through so much with cycling and egg pick up, anaesthesia, nausea, hormonal fluctuations, invasive explorations - which they do - but the women don't have to diddle themsleves as their part of the process. I don't know which is worth, all I knew is that I sent my husband a silent message of "take as long a time or as short a time as you like, think of whoever or whatever takes your fancy, where that be me, Angelina Jolie, or the lady down the street, just get it done and over with ... I love you."

Job done, he returned to applause from his table of cheerleaders. More than eight seconds, but not too long. Phew!

"That room is bloody awful," he declared, but did not elaborate. And can you believe, he later told me who he thought of, but that is our secret.

We were very impressed with the hospital. It is as fresh and modern as any private hospital I have attended in Australia, and much nicer than many of our government hospitals. I felt assured our ED angel would not only feel comfortable, but safe in the good care of the hospital staff, Dr Y and Mansi.

We were privileged to share the transfer of another couple. No, not directly in the room, no-one but Dr Y is allowed to witness that, but once completed , Dr Y reported back to the IM that all went well. Ans she cried, so I cried, then Dr S started to cry, and I declared: "Congratulations, you are technically pregnant until told otherwise". Bob said there and then, "We are coming backfor our transfer in February. I don't want to miss out on any of this". No way. While we don't have to be there for transfer, who would want to miss out on such a momentous occasion if they had means to be there. In Bob's words: "I would really like to at least be in the same country as our children when they are conceived."

1 comment:

Surrogacy said...

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