When toddlers attack

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Surrogacy in India isn't for everyone.  Control freaks: it will make your head explode.  Compulsive worriers:  it will send you into cardiac arrest.  See, here's the deal:  you sign a contract in a foreign country on the other side of the world with a complete stranger to bear your child.  You have no contact with the surrogate; no day-to-day conversations about how her belly is swelling or how the little one is beginning to kick.  You wire thousands of dollars over the course of nine months in the blind faith that everything is going as it should.  And, miraculously, most of the time, it does.

But sometimes, it doesn't. 

Bernadette and Duane's twins, Scarlett and Hayden were due two weeks before Clara and Olivia.  Instead, they were born five weeks before -- and ours were born seven weeks early.  Bernadette didn't think twice -- she flew alone to Delhi, and she's been there for 128 days as Hayden lingers in the NICU.

Sometimes you wonder where people find the strength to endure life's most trying situations -- how would each of us fare?  Would we fall apart?  How would we meet the challenge?

In Bernadette's case, she makes it look, if not easy, at least not a trial.  She writes flawlessly about her more than three months of tribulations in India like a seasoned travel writer -- with grace, humor, self-deprecation and an obvious affection for India, its culture and the people she's met, in spite of the difficulties she's faced.

I was in awe of Bernadette even before we met her.   When Clara and Olivia came nearly two months early, she snapped some of our first photos of them without us even having to ask her.  She was a few doors down from us at Svelte, and invited us in for a glass of Indian wine ... all she had, it was part of the minibar ... a few minutes after our arrival.  At the time, I thought it was surprisingly good.  Later, cracking open the bottle in our room, I noticed it was -- flat, with notes of rubber tire and old socks.  Maybe it was the jetlag the first time.  Or maybe good company makes bad wine drinkable.

Our twins' three weeks in the NICU had us breaking out the credit card and breaking into a cold sweat.  While we had banked on the cost of the surrogacy itself and a little extra, we just weren't prepared for that kind of extra expense -- so imagine what Bernadette and Duane are facing, especially now that they're trying to get Hayden home.  A collection has been taken up on PayPal:  https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/send-money-online with payments made directly to Bernadette and Duane:bmhunton@gmail.com .  I urge all of you to help out as much as you can.

One morning at breakfast, I found myself worrying out loud to Bernadette about Clara's possible vision problems.  I stopped myself, and apologized for sticking my foot in my mouth.  After all, we'd been so lucky:  no apparent problems.  Worrying was something I could do because I had that luxury.  "That's okay," said Bernadette.  She said she felt lucky too.  After all, she had two beautiful children she loves.  And her bravery, persistence and optimism are an example to any parent.
Our month in India was obviously an emotionally charged time we'll remember for the rest of our lives.  Bernadette is an intricate part of those memories.  We feel lucky to know her.  Even though she did get a silk rug for less than my stupid camel hair rug.


  1. Well written! I have followed her journey and have nothing but admiration and respect for her.

    I am starting my own surrogacy journey and am a little anxious after hearing about all the premature babies. I understand that in addition to the emotional stress, the financial burden is enormous as well. If you could share what the actual cost of stay at NICU can be, that would be very helpful to IP's like myself. Thanks for the paypal info. I am happy to support a worthy cause like this.

  2. She's a Wonder Woman! I commented on her blog, just yesterday, how strong she is.
    You're are right, India would not be for me. I couldn't make it one single day without exploding.

  3. Thank-you so much Jason&Adrian. Thanks for creating a way we can help B&D get their children home. Sr x

  4. You have captured our thoughts perfectly and if I can include the link to this post in my next blog I will - I hope this is ok? Bernadette has been the guiding light for so many - and although we haven't met - I'm in absolute awe of her spirit and gumption ....... Love, humor, dedication ..... The list goes on! Thank you for summing it all up so well! xx

  5. @ Victor: Keep in mind that your risk of premature birth increases with multiples. For two babies three weeks in the NICU, I think it ran us $7000.

    @ Shakti: We didn't create the account -- we're just publicizing it! Spread the word! :)

    @Jacaranda: Here, here! And of course you can. :)