By: Kerrie Olejarz
Here we were with less than 100 days to go. It still felt like yesterday that we received the call we were pregnant. My mother in law was planning a shower for me, and what started as a gathering in our backyard ended up being coined “My Big Fat European Shower”. A hall had been rented and we were in the process of thinking about a menu, my sister and girlfriend had been recruited to manage all things shower, while MIL paid the hall bill. We worked on a guest list and ended up with 60 women to invite!
Surrogacy friends from out of the country arrived to stay for five weeks, as they have family locally. Having them here with the twins, who were born in India, was such a pleasure and a great distraction from the previous pre-term labor woes. On a Sunday afternoon I took my mother in law over to meet the twins and I think it was at this point that the reality of our baby coming soon hit her. She teared up as she talked about holding these “miracle babies”. She is the ultimate pessimist and our long journey to success surely didn’t encourage any positivity in her. She thoroughly enjoyed meeting the twins and their family and I think this was a turning point for her. She seemed to now show some enthusiasm and excitement for her upcoming grandchild. In order to keep her positive and minimize her worry, we opted to not share the upsets of our pregnancy –like pre-term labor –with her.
It was at this time that we started to look at accommodations and flights for our return to India for baby pick up. We were finally 28 weeks pregnant; who would have thought we would ever make it to this point? Viability was stronger every day so we felt confident that this was going to happen and we should start to plan our return. I booked a bed and breakfast in Greater Kailash in New Delhi. This is a surrogacy-friendly B&B and the owner helps supply necessities like kettles and cribs if wanted. Week 28 was so huge for us! We planned our return to India and actually started thinking about the baby’s room. It felt great to start feeling positive and excited about this baby!
We were due for scans and an update from India this week as well, and this was always an exciting and nerve wracking wait. We knew all would be ok, but deep inside we worried that the scan would show something wrong, or –god forbid –no heartbeat. On the other hand, we could not wait to see the usual six snapshots of the baby and the ultrasound report. It was a challenge to manage these mixed emotions but somehow we always did. A few days into Week 28 we received a parcel in the mail from Alaska. Along the way we had become pen pals with a couple from Alaska who also had a turbulent time in India but had finally had success with the birth of a baby girl six months back. We were just so thrilled for their success as they are truly a loving and deserving couple. The parcel contained a travel bassinet that they had used while in India and a load of clothes that their baby had outgrown. It was an incredibly generous gift from an amazing couple. We were so thankful and so excited to have a great bed/carrier for our soon to be born baby. Three days later our update from India arrived by email. Baby was perfect and our surrogate was doing well. We received the six pictures of the baby, but sadly no profile pics, just abdominal and head circumference, placental activity, and the blue screen measures grid. We loved to get profile pictures, but at this point we could not be disappointed at not receiving them as the most important thing was that baby was growing and doing just fine with a steady and strong heartbeat of 152bpm.
This same day we went to pick up our crib, which was purchased for us by good friends. When they offered to buy it, we said no as it was too much. But they insisted, saying it was a tradition in their culture, so we caved and let them. I will never know if the tradition story is true or not, but we are just very lucky and grateful to have such wonderful friends. We opted for a convertible crib in an espresso tone, absolutely gorgeous, and on sale! We are forever grateful for their generosity and support during our quest in India. My Big Fat European Shower was a month away and we were super excited to see so many rsvp’s. We were now finally 30 weeks pregnant…30 weeks! It was all very surreal for us. We painted the baby’s room a lovely silver grey color with espresso wood accents and crisp white curtains. The room feels relaxed, peaceful, and just so, so ready for a baby! We decided to wait on an accent color until after the baby was born, since we did not know the sex. The room felt complete and it was such a wonderful feeling to finally have a nursery in our house! Friends started dropping by with wonderful little presents for the baby and a girl at work gave us all her preemie clothes, just in case we needed them. The ongoing support and generosity was amazing. We felt so blessed to have so many people following and supporting our journey. We were relaxed, and could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We were in planning mode, shopping for the necessities and feeling so much love around us. Our marriage is so strong and this gift to come only made us stronger. We sometimes found it hard to contain our excitement in private moments together. We knew we had about seven weeks to go until we flew to India and every day seemed freakishly closer.
The following week the girls at work threw me a lunchtime shower. It was awesome and amazing of them to do this for us. We had a good lunch and they spoiled us with wonderful gifts. We received a car seat, lots of blankets, bath essentials for the baby, a play gym that would transition up to three years old, and on and on. It was a huge haul for us, and it completely filled up my car for the drive home that night. The countdown was on for my last day of work and my “BFE shower”. The shower was booked for the first Sunday after my last working day. I decided to take three weeks’ holiday before we headed to India, to tie up any loose ends and relax a bit before my life changed forever, for better.
Week 32 was approaching and this was the week we had to send our final payment into India. It was at this point that our surrogate would get the lump sum of money owing. As difficult as it was to transfer such a huge amount of money out of the bank, it was also easy, as we knew 75% of it went to Sumita. This is so important to us, making sure she received her compensation. Not only did we worry about the baby for the whole pregnancy, but we also worried about Sumita and really hoped the pregnancy would stay put so she could receive her full payment and fulfill her hopes and dreams.