Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Immune Testing is Done

The Immune Testing
These are the tests that we had done: Natural Killer Cell Assay (White Blood Cells) , Th1/Th2 Cytokine Assay (T Cells), Reproductive Immunophenotype (Lymphocyte Cells), DQ Alpha/HLA Antigen (Genotype Match between male and female partners). It is believed that when you have these types of immune issues your body can look at your embryo as a foreign object and reject the preganancy. These tests are costly and are not covered by insurance. There are some RE's who believe in immune testing and some who don't. My RE does believe in immune testing. Although I was not happy about the price of the tests, I can say that I have peace of mind. On a positive note, all of our Immune Test results came back NORMAL .

What's Next
Our RE wants us to try a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer). The Frozen cycle is covered by our insurance so we have no problem trying. I am waiting on AF so I can go on BCP's. I feel much more relaxed for this upcoming cycle and I am happy that Frozen cycles are not as stressful on the body and mimic natural cycles more closely because your body is not being pumped with a whole bunch of injectable meds. I am thankful we do have frozen embryos and I have decided to Let go and Let God... If this cycle works great if not it's okay we are still saving our money and researching about Gestational Surrogacy in India.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why India?

U.S.= Only for the Wealthy?
In the U.S. the cost of Gestational Surrogacy can be daunting. In the U.S. Intended Parents must cover the costs of a Agency Fess (unless they use an Independent Surrogate or are blessed enough to have a family member or friend carry for them) Surrogate Fees, Fresh IVF cycle or Frozen Embryo Transfer, Medical Expenses, Travel Expenses, Legal Fees, Maternity Clothing and have extra money in escrow in case there are any complications that arise from the birth. Total Price Tag: Anywhere upwards of $70,000 +

My grandparents are from Panama and I have Panamanian blood, so naturally when I found out that Panama was joining the commercial Surrogacy route through Planet Hospital I was excited to do some research. The Planet Hospital program in Panama is through Dr. Mario Vega who is the Medical Director of the Punta Pacifica Reproductive Center. Pros: I am part Panamanian, I speak Spanish, Panama is only a 2 hour flight from the U.S., Dr. Vega is highly educated and did a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship in New York. Cons: The Surrogacy program in Panama is brand spanking new and I am not feeling being anybodies guinea pig, and finally the cost through Planet Hospital is $36, 500 for me since I am using my own eggs.

Thailand is currently trying to give India a run for it's money in the world of commercial Surrogacy. The prices seem comparable to that of India so I thought it was worth doing some research as any consumer should do to become informed. Pros: Thailand is a beautiful country, plane tickets are slightly cheaper than flying to India, Surrogates in Thailand tend to be very healthy because of their diet. Cons: Surrogacy in Thailand is not that established, the legal issues of Surrogates are not that clear, many potential Intended Parents in forums I came across have complained about agencies/brokers trying to take advantage of them, I could only find information on one doctor with great reviews for IVF and two hospitals that are known for specializing in Surrogacy.

The Ever Growing World of Pro Surrogacy in India
Commercial Gestational Surrogacy became legalized in India in 2002. The cost comes to about $25,000, roughly a third of the typical price in the United States. That includes the medical procedures; payment to the surrogate mother, which is often, but not always, done through the clinic; plus air tickets and hotels for two trips to India (one for the fertilization and a second to collect the baby). Pros: India is known for having skilled medical professionals. The Indian clinics are making it even more convenient for International Intended Parents knowing that at times the lifestyles of other cultures can be quite hectic. You can start your IVF cycles in the U.S. with your own fertility doctor so your stay in India is minimal. If your husband can't be there you can ship or carry his sperm to India or if you guys have frozen embryos you can ship those to India as well. Surrogacy Law is governed by contracts and under guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, surrogate mothers sign away their rights to any children. A surrogate’s name is not even on the birth certificate. Surrogates help foreign couples achieve the possibility of having a child biologically related to both or one of the Intended Parents and the Surrogates are able to earn an income to provide a better way of life for their families. Cons: Once the baby or babies are born, the process to bring them back to the United States in our case and getting their U.S. can be quite overwhelming. On top of getting a Passport and an Exit Visa for your baby you have to fill out various forms at the U.S. Consulate and this process can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Biblical Aspects of Surrogacy

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD. Psalms 113:9

The ideology and practice of Surrogacy is not something new. Surrogacy dates back to ancient Biblical times. Today parents who desire a child but for whatever reason can't carry a pregnancy to term have the option of using a Gestational Carrier/Surrogate. In Gestational Surrogacy the eggs from another woman, the Intended Mother are implanted in the Surrogate along with the Intended Father's sperm. Gestational Surrogacy requires the use of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) but it gives couples the opportunity to both have a genetic link to their child. Of course during Biblical times and before God gave man the know how to invent IVF Traditional Surrogacy was the norm and the Surrogate would use her own eggs in conjunction with the sperm of the Intended Father.

One of the oldest examples of Surrogacy in the Bible can be seen in the book of Genisis with Abraham, who fathered a child by the servant woman Hagar. Genesis 16 talks about how it was his wife Sarah's idea because she was not able to bear children, and quotes her as telling Abraham “And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.” (Gen 16:2, KJV). Of course we know the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar was not without trials and tribulations. Sarah became jealous of Hagar and Hagar did not want to give baby Ishmael to Sarah to raise with Abraham. Ironically these are some of the issues seen in Traditional surrogacy today.

Another example of Surrogacy in the Bible comes from Jacob and his wives Rachel and Leah. After Leah had given birth to four sons, Rachel remained barren. She became jealous of Leah and gave Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah, to be a surrogate mother for her. "she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her." (Gen 30:3, KJV)Bilhah gave birth to two sons: Dan and Naphtali. Of course we know that story had its trials and tribulations also.

Another Biblical precedent for Surrogacy can be seen where Mosaic Law provided for levirate marriage, where a man would impregnate his dead brother’s widow and bear children on his behalf (Deuteronomy 25:5 ff.; prefigured in Genesis 38, and God punished Onan for his refusal to do so; valid in Christ’s day (Mark 12:19)). Ruth was a surrogate mother for Naomi in a sense, because Ruth gave birth to Obed (fathered by Ruth’s husband Boaz) who was called ‘a son born to Naomi’.

The most magnificent example of Surrogacy in the Bible, and one that did turn out well, is Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that Jesus was born of a virgin, fathered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35). That scenario clearly puts Mary in the role of being a surrogate mother for Jesus.

The struggle for many Christian couples who are infertile is what does God's Laws say about reproductive technology and Surrogacy? Many pastors are against Traditional Surrogacy because they consider it adulterous. However, Modern or Gestational Surrogacy would not be adulterous for Biblical purposes because the intention of the infertile couple would be to use their own egg and sperm and the Surrogate would just be the carrier.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who are CocoaMasla?

We are just a couple of colour in love from New York City and have been together over 6 years. Through that time we have tried to create the gift of life but it seems that after three years of suffering from multiple miscarriages, chemical pregnancies and failed IVF due to PCOS and Immune issues it was not God's appointed time. I believe God answers prayer and when it seems like one door closes another door opens....

We are blessed to have IVF insurance coverage and we currently have Frozen Embryos. We seem to make good Embryos, but my uterus just does not want to cooperate and carry them. Currently we are undergoing Immune testing before our next IVF cycle just so we can have peace of mind knowing we left no stone unturned in our quest to experience childbirth firsthand. After many years of tears and fears, I have peace of mind that it is okay if I can't carry my own child. I realize that the end result is the most important part of becoming a parent.

There were nights that I cried and cried afraid that there would never be another way for me to have a biological child if I could not carry and then God opened my eyes to the world of Gestational Surrogacy. Initially I looked at Gestational Surrogacy in the US and saw how many celebrities used Gestational Surrogates to conceive. I also saw the price tag and became totally dismayed. Then I came across an article about Surrogacy in India and I talked to Brian about it and we both agreed that we should do some extensive research and penny pinching, and that if I needed a Gestational Carrier that this would be a great option.

So, this is our journey to find out as much as we can about Gestational Surrogacy. We are sure we will run into some inspirational stories along the way and with God's help we will fulfill our dream of becoming parents one way or another...