Last year during our first attempt, and wonderful couple named Jeff and Michelle befriended us. They were so helpful and reassuring, and gave us some of their leftover food in addition to great advice and reassurance before they left. I was pretty nervous about the egg extraction, but seeing her quick recovery helped me calm down. They wound up being successful on that first try and they had a daughter, who was born at 30 weeks. She found me on Facebook, and upon hearing about our early arrivals she sent me a huge email that eased my mind greatly and prepared me for the NICU in Anand. I have to share the highlights with the blogosphere in the hopes it helps someone else as well to know what to expect.
"We were there for 8 or 9 weeks, I can't remember now but it felt like forever. Hopefully your babies have gone to Dr. Anita's hospital. Hers is the best from what we heard. Dr. Anita is really good, she seemed to be the best Dr over there and her hospital is where you want preemies to go because she has the most experience. Her hospital is real close to the Rama. You can go see your babies at any time and we usually went over there about 3 times a day."
"The NICU is small and not the cleanest and I don't think it had air conditioning, they usually had fans on when we were there. They will make you wash your hands and then use this blue sterile cleansing stuff and then put on some blue or green scrubs to see the babies. The nurses will fuss at you if your hair is down, so make sure you pin it up or they give you grief."
"When your babies get a couple weeks old, tell Dr. Anita that you want to do 'Kangaroo Care' and the nurses will put the baby on your chest which is really good for bonding and it helps your baby hear your heartbeat and is really good for the babies. They are funny about men being in the NICU and they used to tell my husband that he had to go out in the hallway when the doctors came in to check on the babies....it's almost like they're back in the 1920's or something."
"There are 2 nurses that speak English....Sandia and Suvarna. Suvarna may still be only working part time but Sandia is full time. They can explain everything to you each day but most of the other nurses don't speak English. Dr. Anita speaks great English but there are 2 other Doctors and their English is very limited. Sandia was our favorite....she's a little nurse...really tiny. She lives right across from the Rama, so if you ever need her, she can come over to the Rama and help you out. She checked on our baby every day once we got her out of the NICU. "
"We would go see Dr. Anita everyday in her office to get updates on our daughter. The best time to meet her was at 7 pm because most of the crowd in the waiting room is gone then. If you go see her around 11 am, there's a massive crowd in the waiting room. Ask her tons of questions."
"I think my husband told me that it ended up costing us about $50/day for our daughter to be in the NICU... If your babies go to Dr. Burien's hospital, I've heard that he charges twice what Dr. Anita charges. Also...Dr. Burien was Dr. Anita's student. The hospital would ask for a deposit of about 20,000 rupees every couple of weeks...I think that was $400."
"If your surrogate is pumping milk for you, Hitesh told us that our surrogate would do it for a month (since our daughter was born so early) and that we'd just have to pay for the milk. Well, we later found out that you have to pay for the surrogate's room at Dr. Anita's hospital and that was pretty expensive. We had to pay $600 for the surrogate to stay at the hospital for a month plus I think it was $100 for the breast milk. We just weren't expecting the room that our surrogate stayed in to cost so much....Also, the surrogate will tell you that she wants extra food while she's there pumping milk. Ours wanted mangos and apples and some other fruit (can't remember) and walnuts. My husband had to look all over to find the apples since they're shipped in by truck so that was a pain. Some of the other Indian couples there told me that we 'had' to give our surrogate extra money each day and that we should give her at least $20 a week. This is not true, so don't believe anyone if they tell you this. Dr. Anita told us that certain fruit is good for milk production so we just got the fruit that she told us to get. We weren't expecting to have to go around and buy food....we wanted to concentrate on our baby....so it was a pain to find this out when we got over there. If you have any problems with your surrogate giving milk or refusing to....then tell Hitesh and he'll get it taken care of."
"Also, the nurses will expect a "tip" when you leave the hospital to come home."
"Uday is a huge help with getting around. If you have him pick you up from the hospital, ask him to bring you a sterilizer so that you won't have to buy one. He can also bring you a baby bed and a mosquito net, so ask him for one so you don't have to buy one. Uday also can do all the running around for the police report info."
"You will see LOTS of nannies in the Rama and they'll be watching you like hawks. They all will want you to hire them. From what we heard, Dieksha is the best. She has experience with preemies and she speaks English. Her sister is Gungha and she is much younger and doesn't really speak English but she's pretty good with preemies too. If you guys have to get a nanny, I'd probably try to get Dieksha because everyone seems to think she's the best. We didn't get a nanny because as soon as we got our daughter out of the NICU, we immediately flew to Mumbai and then back and were gone real fast."
"Uday made everything happen for us real quick. We didn't bring much cash with us for the trip over but my husband went to the ATM at least once a day and got cash out so that we'd have enough to pay everyone. There is an ATM right under the Rama on the first floor and it let us take out $200 a day, so we did that all the time."
"If you have a pediatrician picked out in Texas or a neonatologist in Texas, keep their email or phone # handy since you'll probably want to ask them questions. If you know anyone who is a Doctor in the states....keep their # handy. We had trouble getting US doctors to talk to us in India because they said it was 'too much of a liability' for them to give us advice while we were in India....so you may want to talk to a US doctor now before you leave and see what advice they can give you."
Thank you so much to Michelle for all her helpful advice and information!