Saturday, September 25, 2010

Two Weeks

The boys are two weeks old today and they are growing and gaining weight!

We left Dallas three weeks ago and this is the longest period of time either of us have ever been away from home.  We are eager to get there, but not sure when that might be.  We've adapted our lives pretty well to this apartment and our surroundings, but there is no place like home.  We had hoped to leave early this coming week, but we had a little bad luck...and we aren't complaining because overall the experience with this pregnancy has been a dream...but, a bit of bad luck none the less.  Our DNA samples were randomly selected for inspection by US customs when the package arrived in NYC.  Customs sat on the package from Sunday to Thursday so we basically lost an entire week.  UGH!  The laboratory was great and they sent a letter to customs explaining the contents and assisting with its clearance.  The package was delivered to the lab on Friday and they are going to do their best to provide the results on Monday.  So, passports on Tuesday is our hope.  This means if the exit visa process and FRRO went perfectly, we could leave on Friday.  So, being the optimists we are, we booked a flight for Friday.  Fingers crossed.  Time will tell.  The Indian official who handles US visas has begun to challenge the surrogacy process a bit and has made the entire process of obtaining the exit visa a bit unpredictable.  This used to be a one-two day deal - done, fly home.  Now, there are more thorough processes being practiced - won't go into the details here and don't even know yet if they will apply to us. 

Good things this week...
  • I mastered the navigation of the grocery market and have become fairly proficient at preparing Indian dishes (cooking is one of my hobbies)
  • Steve and I have learned that I take care of the boys from dinner to 1am (and he naps) and then he takes them from 1am-6am (and I nap).  It works.  The boys do NOT sleep at night (yet - we are working on it, but it is a process and they are still so young).  
  • We had enough frequent flier miles to get us on the non-stop American Airlines flight into Chicago - in business class - this is now booked!
  • It stopped raining and the humidity level dropped to a comfortable level (sort of)
  • I finally found Coke Zero
  • The boys have started showing facial expressions and boy are they cute when they grin!

How cute are our kids!!!!!????!!!!!

Here is our Ajay - no doubt he is the sensitive one in the duo.  He has a four tiered cry - three shouts at progressively higher volume followed by the real deal - it goes something like this... ah, AH, AHHHH, AHHHHHHHHH!!!  I love that I can tell their cries apart and have even begun to know the difference between hungry, poop and indigestion.

Ajay looks alot like me in early baby pictures
Ajay is now on soy formula due to an apparent lack of tolerance for lactose.  Now if we just had a formula to cure drool!

And here is Jag - boy is he a piece of work!  He is a huge pig - always, always, always hungry!   I get a lot of laughs out of him. He has a big personality and I am in love with his hair!

Look at that frown!  We HATE baths!!
You know your baby is small when it fits comfortably into a kitchen pot!

I just got them both settled and Daddy Steve is snoring on the sofa so life is GREAT!  And now a moment of quiet and sanity (somewhat) - at least for 2-3 hours anyway - or until another diaper change or burping is needed.  Oh, who am I kidding...I can't rest until 1am when Steve takes over...

Goodnight to my boys - all three of them.  I love you guys so much.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Week

Happy one week birthday Jag and Ajay!  Your daddies are officially screwed.  Anything you ask for, you will likely get - a pony?  Sure.  You name it.  You have wrapped us around your little tiny fingers and we are forever here to take care of you and keep you safe.  We love you so much!

Lots has happened since the last post.  The boys were discharged on Tuesday so we have now had 4 nights alone with them.  It is a lot of work as we had been told but we opted for no nurse at the house - quite honestly, we love the privacy.  There are two of us and it is not brain surgery to figure this out, so we are managing just fine on our own - sleep deprived, but great all at once.  We are on a 3 hourly feeding schedule - we wake them if they do not wake themselves at or about 3 hours between.  If they wake themselves and seem hungry, then we feed them a bit ahead of schedule.  Jag is a much bigger eater so he may squeeze an extra feeding in, but for the most part they are quickly adjusting to the routine.  Each night is better than the last.  Jag is up to 3oz (90ml) on some feeds and Ajay is consistently taking 2oz (60ml) now.  A nice woman who we were visiting with yesterday at the US Embassy (more on that later) told us that they wake during the night because that is when the mother was sleeping and they were able to move about - they sleep during the day because that is when the mother was moving about and her movement rocked them to sleep. Makes sense.  So, we are slowly moving them into a sleep pattern that allows them to fall back to sleep at night, post feed.  Last night was much better - perhaps because Steve let me close the bedroom door and sleep - I love him.  He is sleeping now and I am on morning duty.

Our favorite nurse (sister as they are called).  She has quite a little attitude so she snapped us right into shape!
She was so happy to have her picture taken - she grabbed her iPhone and had another sister snap a few of us for her as well.
Jag right before discharge from Phoenix Hospital.
Ajay - 3 days old. In the midst of a diaper swap!
Last moments in the Phoenix Hospital nursery.
With Dr Deepak in his office - along with two of the Phoenix sisters.  Dr Deepak operates Phoenix Hospital along with his wife.  Last stop before discharge - first round of vaccines in his office.  We had oral Polio and the first Hepatitis B injection - and yes, babies screamed and daddy cried.

So, it was at or about one hour after these photos that Daddy Terry had a mini-meltdown amidst all the joy!  You see, I am an insanely organized, meticulous person and I have a low level of tolerance for inconsistency, tardiness and anything related to either of these.  I call this episode 'a bitter dose of this is not Kansas'.  After a series of appointments that were scheduled only to have the other party arrive 1-3 hours late and an 'issue' with our birth certificate that apparently came about on Monday but wasn't communicated until late on Tuesday, I had a momentary, mostly internalized, freak out session.  The learning from this (clear headed now and four days later) is that surviving the Indian surrogacy process is reliant on one's ability to spin the negative into a positive!  So, this is my new game that I play - and I play it several times daily depending upon which in our surrogacy 'cast of characters' is involved in that day's events.  For example, if you meet with an attorney's representative (an attorney that you have paid a large sum of money) on Saturday to fill out your birth certificate forms and this representative tells you that you will have the birth certificates on Tuesday evening (and you question this because it seems too soon, and they assure you, 'yes, Tuesday evening') and you move into your 'planning mode' and then you receive an email on Tuesday at 11:30am that says 'URGENT - COME TO SCI OFFICE ASAP' and you email back 'be there in half an hour' and you show up and are told 'no, I asked you to come at 7pm' and you received no such email and you are told that the birth certificate forms have to be redone (3 days later) because there was an 'error'...[inhale]...I now find the positive in all of it!  In this case, the 'error' turned out to be no error but an uptight officer at the hospital who insisted that the forms have the surrogate's home address on them and then, later, insisted that I redo all the forms.  In order to keep our US Embassy appointment that I had scheduled for Friday morning, we had to have the birth certificates by Thurs evening - it is now Tuesday evening.  Hmmmm.  We had been told at the beginning that 5 days was 'best case scenario' so we had little hope.  But, Mr Chawla's representative arrived at our apartment at 6pm on Thursday evening with the birth certificates in hand.  The positive in it all - it all works out in the end - always works out, one way or the other.  

Attitude adjusted - all better.

Key takeaway - yes, pay Mr Chawla for his services in obtaining a birth certificate - you do not want to go this one alone.

Now, our visit to the US Embassy.  This was remarkably painless.  Our appointment was at 9:30am yesterday and we arrived at 8:30am - and waited until 9:30 for our appointment - the first appointment was at 9am.  The Consular interview is pretty simple.  When you arrive at ACS (American Citizen Services) you will find a clean, modern room with four glass 'teller' windows - much like a bank.  Three are to take appointments and one is to collect payment for fees - both boys' passports and CRBA's (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) were $205 each, $410 total.  There is a flat screen tv on the wall and it has all the major channels - we turned it on, adjusted the channels and the volume - otherwise it would have been off the whole time I suppose.  The interview is really not an interview if your paperwork is in order.  I spent 5 minutes at the window with a nice woman providing the requested documents and then about 1 hour later Nancy, the Consular officer, called me up (from a different window) and asked me to take an oath swearing that everything was accurate to the best of my knowledge and that was it!  Emergency passports will be issued on the same day as the DNA results come back - hopefully within one week. As long as you exchange the emergency passports for the real thing within one year of arriving back in the US, there is no additional charge for this.  Passport pickup is between 2-4pm each day.  The points here are primarily for US citizens, so everyone else...scroll.  Here are my points of advice...
  • Email Nancy Hamilton at the US Embassy in advance and introduce yourself ndacs@state.gov.  She told us that so few people do this, she is learning about the process herself, and it really helps if she connects with you in advance.  She is super nice.  She is the Consular officer who approved our file yesterday and I had been in touch with her in advance so this was great.  You can also call her direct line 11 2419 8000 ext 4306.  We called her after the birth and she arranged for our DNA testing to happen at the same time as our appointment for obtaining the CRBA's and the Passports.  This means only one trip to the embassy with the baby(ies).  The DNA collection is a simple mouth swab - 2 samples taken from each individual.  The babies didn't even cry.  This happened in a room right next door to ACS.
  • Forms to take for Consular interview - only take originals - no need to take a bunch of copies.  If using an egg donor, the birth certificate should say 'surrogate' under 'mother' - nothing more.  
    • Original birth certificates.  
    • When using an egg donor, the US citizen father has to prove 5 years of US residency.  Instead of taking all my tax returns, I took my previous passport and 5 years of social security earnings statements.  
    • Dr Shivani will give you a file with all your medical reports, ultrasounds, etc - take that as it is.  
    • Two passport photos of each child.  
    • Original copies of surrogacy contracts.  
    • Print your confirmation of your appointment at the embassy - you will need to show this outside the embassy to get in.
    • If you take your cell phone, they will ask you to walk down the way to a different entrance and 'check it' - they will give you a number to claim it at exit. You cannot take any type of electronics into the embassy.
  • Forms to take for DNA collection.
    • 2 passport photos of the US citizen parent(s).  
    • 2 passport photos of each child.
    • Copy of US citizen parent passport photo page and copy of Indian visa page.
    • 1 copy of each birth certificate.
    • A bank draft (cashier's check) for Rs 1600 for each test kit (for us it was three - me, Jag and Ajay).  Also, we couldn't find a bank that would issue these because we didn't have an account.  Fortunately our landlord arranged them for us. For Rs 300 (about $7 USD) someone came to the house and returned with them in about 2 hours.  Someone will call you, in advance of your appointment, to confirm the date and time of your DNA collection and will give you the details for the payee on these bank drafts.
  • A thermos with hot water for making up bottles.
  • Two bottles for each baby (we were there until 1pm).
  • Change of clothes - there is a changing table in the restrooms outside of ACS.  
Our DNA collection was to happen at 11am and the testers did not arrive on time and it backed up all appointments so ours was at 12:30pm.  There is a vendor that sells sandwiches and drinks which saved us from starvation.  We ended up needing 2 feedings for the babies so it was great that we had 2 bottles for each.  We had the dry formula pre-measured in the empty bottles and then just needed to add water from the thermos.

We have opted to not use baby carriers.  This was really Meg's advice (of Amani and Bob blog fame).  The babies are so small that you really want to hold them.  We have only been out 2 times - once from the hospital to the house  and from the house to the embassy round trip.  I swaddle them and cover their heads and we hold them.  It was a little tiring holding them for 5 hours yesterday from the house to the embassy and back, but it was fine.

Sleeping.  Shilpi, the concierge at SCI, got us these great little baby beds - basically a pillow top pad with a mosquito net that is attached - they are compact and perfect!  You lay them on the pad and pull the net over - the net is on a wire frame so it opens and closes like a canopy.

Sterilizer. Shilpi got us this also - ours is electric and it handles four bottles at a time - the cycle is 10 minutes.  We are working with 8 bottles which is plenty.

Lastly, a big thank you to Meg for all her support as our SCI case manager.  She has been our voice in India all these months and she has been so wonderful at juggling both the needs of SCI and the needs of us, the client.  She has been placed in some tough spots and she has risen to the occasion.  She even jumped in on Tuesday and talked me off the ledge. The great thing about Meg is that she has a heart of gold.  She is passionate and that comes across as all sorts of things in written communications, but the intention is always good and I love her to death...would not be where we are without her and that is the truth!

Here are some more photos to close...this is why we are here after all!  I should note that it is very hard to get little babies to open their eyes - they blink with flash photography and don't like light.  This made passport photos a challenge!  We hired a photographer from a store at M Block market to come over and take them.  No extra charge and they were done in five minutes.  In order for me to get photos with their eyes open I have to turn off the flash which lowers the resolution.  So, these are a little blurry but at least you can see them awake!

Jag
Ajay

Me and Ajay

Steve and Jag

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Big Appetites!

We were able to feed the boys this morning.  Ajay is definitely the screamer in the duo - Jag the quiet one.  When we arrived at the nursery at Phoenix Hospital this morning, Ajay was wailing but after I picked him up and held him, he fell fast asleep and then we ate, and then back to sleep.  The nurses say he cries unless he is held - Uh Oh!  I am a sucker so this will be interesting.  I can't stand to watch him cry.  They are both so small, but there are 6 other babies in the nursery - 2 sets of twins - and they are so very tiny - their birth weights were all just over 1 kg - I think 1.4 kg is the largest one.  That is half of what Jag weighed at birth.  The good news is they are all growing and maturing every day.

Here are pics of me getting Ajay to quiet down and then me feeding Ajay and Steve feeding Jag.  Every time Steve looks at me holding the boys, he sees that my eyes are full of tears

'...are you crying again?' 

'Yep.'

I am so in love with them I can't even begin to relate it to anything else in my life thus far. 

And, yes, they polished off their bottles like champions!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Whole House Full of Boys!


Jag Stephen, 2.6kg (5.7lbs), 6:20am, September 11, 2010
Ajay William, 2.24kg (4.9lbs), 6:21am, September 11, 2010

After hearing yesterday from Dr S that we were scheduled for a c-section next Wednesday, we both retired for the evening feeling like the next four days might be the longest yet.  So, how surprised we were to be awoken with news that they had decided today was the day - their day!  Both arrived via c-section and were about 2 hours old in these photos.

I had very mixed emotions about them coming on 9/11 - I even mentioned this to a couple of people yesterday - 'what if they come this weekend, what if they come on 9/11'.  A close co-worker said that she had seen a book recently at the doctor's office - about babies born on 9/11 - the title was 'Faces of Hope'.  I can't think of a more fitting sentiment.  My dear Nanny and Papa (mom's parents) were married on September 11 (long before 2001 mind you) and God how I loved them so.  A girl would have been named after her but I think honoring their 50+ year, loving marriage is the perfect way to connect their lives.  They would have loved to have seen me have children - I know they are proud even though I can't see their reaction in this world.  

We saw our beautiful surrogate in recovery - she placed her hands together and whispered 'namaste' and smiled at us from ear to ear when we walked in.  We both welled up with tears.

The boys are beautiful.  I have never felt what I felt upon seeing them and touching them.  Our little miracles are perfect, simply perfect.  They have no breathing tubes, no lamps, no incubator - just swaddled in little blankets and absolute perfection.  

What a blessing. Thank you God for trusting us with these two little souls.  We won't disappoint you.
video

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And now we wait some more...

Well, after 9000 miles and 44 hours of travel time (we stopped in Europe for the night to break up the trip), we arrived in Delhi last night around midnight local time.  I managed to get us business class seats at the last minute and thank God for that.  The apartment we rented is in Greater Kailash which is ten minutes from the ultrasound facilities, the hospital and Dr Shivani's office - so, very convenient.  We have daily housekeeping and anything we want is a text message away.  Steve is thrilled that we can have a massage therapist here at a moment's notice for about $12 an hour.  Everything from DVD's to fresh meat from the butcher shop - all delivered - the service here is such a treat for so little money.  There is an open air market across the street that has everything from pharmacies to clothing to groceries to Pizza Hut.  So, we are set there.

Now, onto Steve's reaction to Delhi and what you endure for all these treats at such a modest price.  As all of us who have been to India know - that first flirt with reality here is a bitter dose.  He is having that experience today.  While I have been here twice, this is his first trip.  He is simply speechless at the level of poverty and unsanitary conditions - and we are in 'posh' Greater Kailash!  I am somewhat less affected this time - which is disturbing in and of itself.  How quickly we condition ourselves.

All in all, we are comfortable and as the title suggests - now we wait.  We had the wonderful experience today of visiting Dr Shivani and Dr Jolly (the sonologist) at Dr Jolly's office - there we met our (incredibly shy) surrogate for a routine scan.  Having the experience of watching your children on ultrasound, hearing the heartbeats - simply amazing.  I never thought we would make it here in time, but we did - and it looks like with time to spare.  We are 36 weeks 1 day and Dr Shivani says she will not schedule a c-section before 37 weeks 2 days - so we have potentially 8 days of additional waiting.  Both babies are approximately 5.5 lbs (2.5kg) as of today's scan - so, likely we are going to have 6 lb twins!  I don't know of another set of Indian surrogacy twins that have gone to 37 weeks - someone correct me if I am wrong.  This is such great news...nice, big, healthy babies.  We are convinced more now than ever that at least one baby is a boy - have thought so all along, but almost certain of it now.  Just saying...noone disclosed a thing...just a gut feeling.  The only person who knows the sex of the babies is the sonologist, Dr Jolly - Dr Shivani doesn't even know...all against Indian law...I know this is driving several of our friends nuts.

So, that is it for now - stay tuned...

Terry & Steve