Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A glimpse of the realities of surrogacy in India

The 19w1d scan went off wonderfully. My baby is a cheeky monkey...he/she kept alternately yawning and sticking its tongue out at me. No issues were spotted, the bloodflow to the placenta (as measured by the doppler) was great, and the cervix was closed at 3.4 cm. All good news.

Now, J and I have had a rather closer relationship than what is recommended between a surrogate and the mother. Everybody (lawyers, doctors) encourage you to keep a contact to a minimum. The reason behind this is that India's surrogates are women from lower socio-economic strata, and the mothers appear vastly wealthy to them. Hence, the theory is that if they can extract money out of you, they will. This is an extremely ugly equation, and I've tried my best to sidestep it entirely. I don't care if the surrogate takes money from me. I had always planned to give her far more than the amount she had been promised, and indeed, I have been giving money to her every  time I see her. My gynecologist called me a bleeding heart...to her, these are greedy grasping women who see this as a business. 

I don't see it in this way...the way I see it it is these are women who are trying to make a better life for their families, and they have never had the luxury of being honorable and principled. It is hard to be that way when you have so little. So if my surrogate tells me small lies to increase my sympathy for her and get some money out of me, I honestly don't give a damn.

But on the day of the ultrasound, J may have upped her game. She told me that she was being evicted from her home, and was forced to go live with her sister in a place on the outskirts of Mumbai. Bleeding heart me was immediately horrified and I started thinking...how can I fix this? How can I get her housing?
She claimed she needed a hefty deposit for a new place. At this point, even my sort of unworldly mom was like well, she is playing you. The only person who can corroborate whether this is indeed real  is the handler, and she is a woman from the same community...she will lie for her if necessary, and yes, she did claim that J had to move in with her sister the very next day. 

I want to find out if this is true or not, but I have no way of doing so: the handler is not taking my calls, and I have no way of corroborating anything.

I also realized what an uphill struggle everything is when I want something out of the ordinary. J's delivery the last time was at the same hospital, with the same doctor. When I first asked her, she told me she had given birth at full term. Recently I asked her what week it was, and she said 32 weeks.  The way she tells it, she was induced: I was horrified: why would you induce at 32 weeks? She claims the baby was a very high weight (like nearly 8 pounds), which does not add up for a 32-week delivery. Hearing all this, I just wanted to get the medical summary. Easy right? Nope. I ran into one unexpected wall, when the doctor who had managed the last pregnancy told me she could not get this information, because it was medically unethical for me to see it. I then asked, well, can you just get the information and sum up the scenario? She said "nope, ask the surrogate." The surrogate claims she has no paperwork. Trying to get her to access her own medical records from the hospital will be, well, Sisyphean.

Right now, there is no point in pushing. I just have to pray that everything goes well, because the simple things that you can influence in other places cannot be managed here.  If  J turns out to have gestational diabetes (which may explain the induction and the large baby), she is not going to do anything to control it. I have to beg her to take her vitamins, and for the last two ultrasounds, I literally had to bribe her to show up. And despite what it sounds like, she is sort of a decent person...just unmotivated and wants to hang out at home while she gestates the baby, and not be bothered by pesky blood tests because she truly does not get what any of this is all about.

I should add...a lot of what I am going through here may be avoided if you go via an agency like Surrogacy India. They provide housing (for the surrogate and her children apparently), transport, and all in all may do much more. I'll be profiling them, and one other agency.

Writing all this out was cathartic. Everybody around me is telling me to just stop thinking about all this, and that is what I'm going to try to do for a while and see how the cards play out.

10 comments:

  1. Ugh, that sounds stressful! Was J able to tell you anything about the health of the baby after birth? That might be more telling than relying on her recall of the gestational age. (Assuming she was given this info.)

    Congrats on the baby looking so good! Did you get percentiles as far as age? If s/he is appropriately sized, that would be reassuring. Even though I know it's early yet for judging all that.

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    1. Yes, the mass (in grams) is very slightly ahead of the average mass for age, but looks great.

      But now is when weight gain starts to happen.

      And yes, J did rave about the health of the baby, and both were discharged from the hospital after 3 days. Don't know what the average stay is for 32 weeks, but I assume it would be more than that.

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  2. Congrats on the great scan! Sounds like a super difficult situation to have so little control over things. You seem to be doing a good job just managing what you can.

    Tara K.

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  3. Let's hope she was counting 32 weeks from the positive pregnancy test which would make her 36 weeks or so. I had GD controlled by diet and at 34 weeks E was born at 5 lbs.

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  4. I'm sorry there continues to be so many challenges around bringing your baby into this world. Hopefully the next 20 or so weeks will pass more quickly than the last 19 have. When will J's next ultrasound be? I had GD that was diagnosed at 27 weeks. We had weekly ultrasounds (even before the diagnosis), if I remember correctly, the ultrasound tech said babies who are gaining weight due to GD tend to gain it in the abdomen, so the abdominal growth increases at a greater rate than the other measurements (head, legs, etc.). Miss A was growing proportionately, so they kept an eye on it but weren't concerned. She wound up being born at 7 lb. 12 oz. at 38w0d, although I think some of her weight was due to all the IV fluids they pumped into me in the couple of hours before she arrived.

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  5. OK, let's make sure I understand this. Your doctor can get your story splattered all over the newspaper, but you can't even find out details about your surrogate's last pregnancy & delivery? That is so screwed up.
    I've noticed that you have kept a close involvement with J throughout this. It would be hard to not be involved. You are there and she is gestating your child. You're not thousands of miles away. You are right there and it would be hard not to feel for her and worry about her and your baby. I think you are handling a sifficult situation with a lot of grace.
    Congrats on a healthy baby!!!

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  6. So glad to hear baby is still doing well. It's rough that you have this extra layer of worry & stress on top of just thinking of your babe. Bleeding heart or not, it's hard not to want to do all you can for a women you have this close a relationship. Hang in & take care.

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  7. I can only imagine the stress of this. Congrats on the scan. A sweet, healthy baby scijay, is going to make the details in between less memorable (I hope).

    I hope that the surrogate is not pulling you on this one. Having a roof over her head is insanely important. Holding you hostage is more than unfair.

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  8. Sorry I've been such a terrible commenter. I'm thrilled that the baby looks great!

    I hope you don't mind me being blunt here. Give her the money. Give it with an open heart. It doesn't matter if she's scamming you. You're halfway there. Give her what she wants and/or needs, within your means, while she carries your child. Then it's you and this kid. Your kid!

    Think of it as a blessing to give to her. Who knows how it might change her life.

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  9. Oh wow.. what a different perspective they have... I hope you get some answers!

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