Last night I finished reading The Sacred Thread. It's a book I discovered from another blog, and it does give the journey of surrogacy a positive light. One of the things that the author talks about over and over is that the money a woman receives from surrogacy has the power to change her life, and the lives of her family members. Another point that the author brings up subtly is that Indian women are sort of on the cusp of a revolution - similar to that feminist empowerment movement American women went thru in the last century. While traditions are still honored, things are starting to change and the women growing up as children and young adults in India now may be given opportunities that their mothers and grandmothers had never imagined. Overall, it was a good book and I enjoyed being able to hear the author's story, and share in her ending. We all are trying to find our children the way we feel most comfortable with in this harrowing journey of infertility.
The things that struck me the most in the book were the contrasts between my experience with SCI, and the author's experiences with the clinic in Akanksha. There were lots of things going for one or the other, but I'll just mention a couple because we all compare, don't we? One thing that was very different was the amount of communication, duration of conversation, and access to the doctor at any time. One of the things I continue to be thankful for when we went for treatment was that moment when Dr. Shivani gave us her cell number and told us to call if we had any problems or any questions that came up after we left her office that first day. That's just simply unheard of in the USA, and I imagine other parts of the world. Then, when we did have a question later, followed by a non-medical problem after that, we used the number and she answered - like herself, not an assistant or a nurse! WOW! She took her time and made sure that we understood what she was telling us, and didn't once admonish us for calling her. She and her husband later served as our advocates in a tricky housing situation and that was tremendously appreciated. I've never had a doctor that really did more than treat the condition I came to them for. That alone gave us such peace about our decision. It's also one of the things I am reminding myself of as I prepare to go back in June.
Additionally, I tremendously appreciated having a 21st century facility that was not only well served by trained staff, but also sparkling clean, air-conditioned, and furnished in contemporary (but easy to wipe down and sanitize) chairs and couches. Yes, I know it's petty to talk about the decor, but honestly, we were so impressed by the standard to which she keeps her hospital! At no time did I feel like I was in danger (and keep in mind I went thru a post-surgical-anesthesia-still-wearing-off power failure), and at every turn Dr. Shivani did what she could to help accommodate my needs including sending me to Dr. Modi (who I would have smuggled home in my suitcase if I could've) to handle my blood draws from ridiculously thin & rolling veins.
The last comparison I'll mention is the relationship between the surrogate and the mom-in-waiting. In Akanksha, several of the moms-in-waiting chose to stay with their surrogates during the pregnancy and visit them on a daily basis. They went to many appointments with them and the author spent hours braiding her surrogates' hair, bringing and sharing treats with her, providing entertainment in the surrogate house, and talking (as best she could) with her. It was very interesting to read about the relationship that formed there and I've wondered about how that will continue in the future. I haven't been lucky enough to have a surrogate get pregnant (yet), but I wonder if my feelings about the relationship will change once that time comes. For the author, that time seemed essential, and there didn't seem to be any problem with the amount of time she spent with her. Harris and I don't (think that we) have that desire to cultivate a relationship with our surrogate. We have had so many heartbreaks along the way that we feel it is crucial we keep everything very "business-only" if you will. Reading the story of the author's time with her surrogate didn't change my mind about my position, but it did give me insight about how we all are different in the choices we make with this journey. Again, it reaffirms that we each have to make decisions that give us the best feeling, most peace, and hope without regard to what anyone else thinks.
I'm glad I read the book, and I hope that more like it follow soon. Clearly, the kids we're having with this process (and I hope to add at least one to that count very soon) will one day be curious about how they got here. Even before that, family and friends will benefit from having positive perspectives about surrogacy rather than having to read about surrogacy as a "rent a womb" scenario. Am I the only one who finds that term utterly repulsive and offensive? Until then, keep writing everyone! Thru blogging, in some small ways, we're documenting our legacies.