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July 19, 2018

Mum’s The Word: Schauna Chauhan Saluja Talks About Opting For Surrogacy

Text by Meghna Pant. Illustration By Dhruv Tyagi

To have someone else incubate your baby is an emotionally and financially draining endeavour and a gut-wrenching process, but nothing about the process deterred her

My Baby, Her Body

Schauna Chauhan Saluja, 41, CEO, Parle Agro

We live in a world where women dream of becoming mothers. They will go through anything to have their own child, whether it’s freezing embryos, performing IUI or IVF, doing uterine biopsies, realigning their uterine lining, or going through countless injections, medications, procedures and tests. The slushy sound of the baby’s heartbeat in a sonogram is the sweetest sound to their ears. Sadly, sometimes hope turns into always-hoping. This is a devastating experience. The grief of infertility can be a tsunami that sweeps away emotions wrung dry by hope. It’s difficult to imagine that in a coagulation of cells are so deeply entrenched hopes and desires and dreams, but ask that of an empty womb. “I remember how painful it was when I couldn’t get pregnant naturally,” confesses Schauna Chauhan Saluja, who is married to actor Bikram Saluja. But the failure of a woman’s body, or that of her partner’s, is not a failure of hope. “We were open to options like surrogacy. I did a lot of research on it. I also met with people who had done surrogacy. My family and husband were supportive of it. All this reconfirmed my decision that it was a good option.”

Schauna joined a small knot of Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan, Tusshar Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan to choose surrogacy. Today she is a mother to four-year-old Jahaan. Surrogacy is usually the last song one hears in the playlist of treatments and medications and tests. To have someone else incubate your baby is an emotionally and financially draining endeavour and a gut-wrenching process. There is also the sentimentality involved: a mother’s womb is the first country a child inhabits.

Yet nothing about the process deterred Schauna. “Surrogacy did not scare me. I believed that as long as the surrogate was looked after from a hygiene point of view, was in a stress-free environment, had good eating habits, and was taken care of as well as I would’ve been were I carrying the baby, it was okay.”

Borrowing someone’s womb means that you will be concerned about what the terms are. Many refrain from surrogacy because they think that by not carrying the child, they will lose out on the bond that a mother develops with a child. Schauna disagrees: “It’s your baby. Everything about that baby is you. The baby is going to look like you when he comes out and he’s going to grow up having traits of you. I’ve missed out on nothing,” says Schauna, before adding, “The day Jahaan was born, I got a call from my doctor saying it’s time. I rushed to the hospital with excitement and joy. After we announced his birth everyone was so happy for us. Friends mentioned that I saw you last week at a party and you didn’t seem pregnant. And we laughed. I feel it was a brave and right decision. I’m so happy we did it.”

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