By: Kerrie Olejarz
Finally my estrogen reached optimal levels, my follicles were mature, and we were ready for a “trigger shot” –a large volume injection of HcG to purposely prepare the little eggs in each follicle for maturity and retrieval.
As we chronicled all of this on our blog, we received wonderful support from our international surrogacy friends. The excitement was felt in each email and blog comment. We were now part of a community that supported us, helped us, encouraged us, and were anxious to see us succeed.
Exactly 36 hours after the trigger shot we were lined up for egg retrieval. Prior to this day, Mark had to do his sperm analysis to ensure he did not have any issues that could cause poor fertilization. The day of his analysis was one we will not soon forget. In the waiting room at TCART, Mark looked nervous and spoke very little. I imagine he was anxious at the thought of having to do that act in a strange place with the potential scare of the collection room door opening unexpectedly.
Nurse Rhonda called his name and he jumped up and bolted to her. I saw her try to put him at ease as they walked down the corridor to THE room. I prepared for a lengthy wait and gathered a few magazines to help kill the time. My assumption at that time was that nerves would make the process take some time, so I needed to settle in for a long wait. I opened a magazine, flipped through a few pages, and all of a sudden Mark appeared. I looked at him –his face looking guilty and uncomfortable. As he sat beside me I asked if he was done, and he said yes. Wow, what a champion! I started to giggle a bit. We giggled together and shortly left for home. Of course, this task of speed went straight up on the blog. This was to be celebrated in my opinion, yet not so much in Mark’s opinion.
The day of egg retrieval, I was settled into the triage area, gown on, IV in, and ready to get this show on the road. Just a few minutes before they took me in to the operating room, they beckoned Mark to the collection room for a fresh sample. Off he went and I lay on the gurney for what felt like seconds and then, he was back. Again, in Superman fashion, he was done. How is this possible? He was slightly embarrassed about the appearance of his pants. After the deed, he washed his hands and of course splashed water all over himself. What a scene, exiting the collection room with a wet zipper area! After the joking, he put on his surgical mask, gown, and hairnet and it was show time. We entered the operating room together and I was settled onto the table, legs up in stirrups, and Mark seated at my head, holding my hands. The doctor entered and the nurses were busy getting all the supplied organized. Music was playing form the Bose radio and nurse Joan added a little cocktail to my intravenous line, explaining that this was a mild anesthetic and painkiller. The trans-vaginal wand and catheter were inserted and I witnessed the retrieval on the ultrasound monitor beside me. Because of my chicken-like production, the nurses were very busy with the collection and extraction of each follicle and running it to the lab window conveniently placed beside the operating table. I ended up with about 25 follicles, and shortly after the procedure was completed, the lab confirmed that they found a total of 18 eggs. The whole process was less than half an hour. Soon after, once I proved I could urinate, they let me go home. We went home knowing that it would be a few days before we knew the results of fertilization and how many embryos we could freeze. Since the retrieval was a success, we could now book our flights to India. Three days after egg retrieval we got the call that we had 12 embryos to freeze, and the majority of them were Grade A.
Over the next few weeks we sorted out our flights, accommodation, entry visas for India, and shipment of our embryos. We opened an ICICI bank account locally so that getting money in India was not going to be an issue. I traveled to downtown Toronto to meet Greg at Core Cryolab to initiate and understand the process of shipping human embryos across the world. The Core facility has a state-of-the-art cord blood lab and cryo storage facility. Greg gave me a tour and explained to me what a dry vapor shipper is, how it looks, and how he seals it for the best security. He spoke about he customs paperwork and costs and his added value service. After meeting him, it was a no-brainer; we were going to let him and his team handle the logistics of our precious cargo. A few short days later he sent a quote, contacted Surrogacy India, and we were organized to ship in the next few weeks. We decided to ship our embryos two weeks in advance of our trip.
India was ready for our shipment and we were now ready to choose our surrogate. We were given access to a secure online database of sorts, with profiles of each available surrogate. To make the process easier, we printed off all twelve profiles and read through each one. The feeling became a bit sickening…we were lining up these profiles to choose what we thought was the best. We started to feel uncomfortable about choosing a human, like you would a puppy at the pet shop. The task was not easy — each profile had some personal information, a few pictures of the surrogate, details about her religion, diet, pregnancy history, and medical testing results for both the surrogate and her husband. Included were a short series of questions about being a surrogate and the potential issues that could arise and how the surrogate would deal with them, also questions about their support network and children. Our decision came down to size. Most of the surrogates were petite –quite short with small frames. We thought about a big western baby and which surrogate’s frame, weight, and height would accommodate this best. Friends in the surrogacy world shared their selection views with us. Some chose based on the surrogate’s eyes, or smile –like looking into their soul. No one ever chose on physical beauty, or ever admitted that. The summation of making a choice is that you would like a surrogate who is happy and healthy. Since the health was already screened and the surrogate and husband had already been counseled, the decision became one of gut feel. We took a few hours and made choice number one and choice number two. The next day, we confirmed with each other our selection and then sent this off to Dr Sudhir. We were disappointed to hear our first choice was not available, but our second choice was…and we committed to her with great excitement.