Saturday, May 25, 2013

16-Week Scan

Earlier this week the much anticipated wait for the 16-week scan was over and we got the result. It was the first time we had to wait 4 weeks to get the update. Not knowing the exact date made us quite nervous and anxious, so finally decided to send Neha an email to get a status. We are happy to report the twins and the surrogate mom are all doing well. The next scan (20-weeks) is when we should get a 3-D image that everyone talks about. Looking forward to that around mid June. Here is a nice video about what to expect at this stage of pregnancy (Thanks to Meg).

We have gradually started telling our close friends about the news. Not ready to tell my boss and coworkers yet. I think I will wait until second trimester is over. 

Meanwhile we have been wanting to take one last international vacation before the babies arrive as we know traveling with babies gets tougher specially to foreign countries. So we decided to take a 9-day trip to Berlin and Prague and my in-laws (partner's parents) joined us for part of the trip. We have been to a few Western European countries, but this was my first time in East Europe. Prague is particularly a romantic city. We all had a great time. Berlin is much bigger than Prague but not as charming. It was definitely nice to get away from mundane life for few days and not think too much about the journey. However these days my mind and heart is in Delhi no matter where I'm physically.  On our flights I managed to watch two family/comedy movies which I definitely recommend: "This is 40" & "Parental Guidance". They were hilarious and something most IPs can relate to.

I recently found out two of my good female friends are pregnant, one at 20 weeks, and the other at 16. What a pleasant surprise. We have now so much more to talk about, and we are already planning play dates once the babies are here. In fact lately I'm noticing a lot of pregnant women in our neighborhood, which makes me wonder if their kids will go to same school as ours. I know I shouldn't plan too much in advance, but I cannot help it :) also the other day I was at Costco, and I noticed 4-5 sets of twins of different ages. I don't think I was seeing so many twins before, but a friend told me it's natural to notice them more now that we are expecting our own!

Wishing everyone a great memorial weekend, of course If you observe the holiday. And lastly, our thoughts and prayers are with our friends, Fred and Ben & Travis, whose surrogates have been in hospital for sometime. Hoping for a speedy recovery and happy ending for both families. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Living Life to the Fullest

I would like to keep our blogs focused on our pregnancy and not discuss other topics, but I thought I should share one of my biggest struggles in life as it relates to this journey. I decided to write this blog as recently there was so much hype in the US news about the historic day in pro sport as Jason Collins announced he's gay. I applaud his decision to be true to himself and pave the path for others who have been struggling with their sexual orientation.

For me, I have struggled with it for years, and I can write a book about it. Growing up in a conservative society where there is death penalty for gays, I learned to keep my feelings inside from a very young age and live a double life as I thought my family would never understand me if I tell them the truth. Sadly there was nothing in literature or news about gays, and I grew up with so much feeling of confusion, guilt, depression and shame. I kept wondering if I was going through a phase and my feelings will change. Not sure if you read the book or watched the movie "Gone with the Wind". Scarlet O'Hara's famous line had become my favorite line: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Not knowing what to do about my feelings, I focused my attention in school, and I tried not to think about my sexuality and the future.  Interestingly I had a couple of gay friends in school who were not out to their families either. Also I had known my grand uncle was gay as he never got married. He lived with his mom for years and once his mother passed away, he lived alone. I was told when he passed away, no relatives knew about his death until few days later when the neighbors reported to police about smell of dead body coming from his house. I was very sad and scared when I heard the news.

Right after high school, I decided to leave Iran, not because of being gay, but mainly because of religious persecution. So I came to the US as a refugee back in 1990. I have been forever thankful for having a new life and the freedom to be who I am. In past few years, I have come out of closet selectively to people that I trusted. I gradually came out to my siblings, but I always knew I could never come out to my parents. First of all, they lived back in Iran. Secondly they are quite traditional and may not be able to understand me. Also health-wise they are not in great shape and I didn't want to add to their stress and affect their well-being. My mother had stroke when she was 49. The few relatives who knew the news advised me not to tell my parents as they will never understand, and their health might deteriorate. Sadly, one of the reasons I postponed parenthood was my parents. I always thought I cannot have kids while they are alive. I was convinced my parents might have a heart-attack if they find out. How would I explain to them where the babies came from and my own sexual orientation? It was a painful thing in my life that I had to wait for the passage of two of the most precious people in my life (my parents) to welcome the soon-to-be precious entities (my children). I do not wish that feeling on anybody.

Meanwhile my goal was to be a father by age 40. In 2008, we decided to sponsor my parents and bring them over to the US. They met my partner and liked him a lot, but I could not come to terms to tell them the truth. Since they moved here, I have taken care of their medical needs, taking them to all sorts of specialists and regular check ups. My mother's diabetes is now better managed, and I think overall they are healthier than before. Meanwhile my parents have been pressuring me to get married and have children. I have heard my parents specially my mom saying "You have been helping us in our old age. Who is going to help you when you get old?" or "Don't you want to leave a memory behind?!" Even though I don't exactly agree with my mom's suggestion that I should bring a child to this world to help me during my old age, I do understand her point and her desire for me to be a parent....

So as I was becoming determined to have kids, I told myself I have to be truthful to my parents about this and face the consequences. In December shortly after registering with SCI, I had one of those conversations with my mom about my life. I finally had the courage to tell her the truth and break the news about the plan to pursue surrogacy in India. Her reaction really surprised me. She seemed very supportive of me and in a way sad for what I had gone through all my life and not having the courage to be truthful with her. Her only question since that day was if I ever got professional help as I was struggling with being gay. This was one huge weight coming off my shoulder, but I knew coming out to my father will be the toughest.

Interestingly few weeks ago I found out my mom couldn't keep the news to herself and decided to share it with my father! In one way, I was disappointed she couldn't keep the secret. On the other hand, I'm relieved she took care of this humongous task that I was supposed to do before the babies' arrival! I heard even though my father was disappointed of the news, he seems happy he will have couple of more grand children on the way! I should have a discussion with him in upcoming months. Anyway, I couldn't believe I had to wait so many years to finally come out to my parents. I feel so relieved that finally my two worlds are merging, and I don't have to live this double life, at least to my close family. Clearly I had under-estimated my parents and their reaction to my news. You should never underestimate a parent's love and understanding for their children. I'm confident I will even be closer to them once the babies are in the picture. I really don't know how many years my parents have left in this world, but I do intent to share this dream with them. My sweet mom is already excited about the twins, and she's offering to help caring for them once they arrive.

I have always been reluctant telling others about my personal life. However I understand how important it is for LGBT community to be open with others as much as possible if we are going to change hearts and make it easier for the future generation. That seems to be what's moving the needle on marriage equality so quickly in recent years here in the US. And I am aware that by staying in closet, I am not helping the community. So I still have a lot of work to do to get there.

I am a strong believer that God has a plan for all of us. We all face unique challenges in this life - some more than others. We just have to make the most of the cards we are dealt. I have always been determined to live my life to the fullest despite the challenges. I wanted to live a normal life, fall in love, form a family and have kids. Looking back, I really don't know what could have happened to me had I stayed in Iran. Would I have given up to the pressure of society and got married and ruined a woman's life to form a family? Or would I have followed my grand uncle's footstep and had a lonely life? Would I have remained silent to the discrimination in that society? I would never know the answer, but I am happy for becoming an American and having this opportunity to pursue the dream. Yet feeling sad for the previous generation of LGBT community (like my grand uncle) for what they had to go through and the sacrifices they had to make to pave the path I'm taking. And I know the next generation will have a better life...

In closing, I would like to share a beautiful excerpt I heard this week from one of my favorite American presidents, Bill Clinton: "I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned."