Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Birth Certificate and birth order and weights!

My insurance has to have a copy of the birth certificate within 30 days of birth, otherwise I have to wait for the next open enrollment period. I hear this is standard. I emailed Dr. Patel asking to get the birth certificate process started, and she emailed me a form with the following info, including who was born first and how much they weighed. My little girl was first, and she is barely over 2 lbs, and my boy is almost 2 1/2 lbs. That is actually a respectable weight for Indian twins at 28 weeks in the summer I'm told, even though it sure sounds scary. I hope we filled out the form correctly! Not sure what is the difference between age and running age. I just put our marriage date for marriage life.

Dear Emily,


Please fill up the birth certificate in capital later. In Gujarati form you only sign and write your address where X mark. form attached. Write your name which is in your passport.Also give me these details both husband and wife
Running age
Marriage life

Time : 3.33 PM
weight : 920 gms


Time : 3.40 pm
weight : 1125 gms.

Hearty Congratulations

So to record the welcoming of my children into the world for posterity in the minutest details so that I'll never forget the joy of these moments, here is the announcement postings on Facebook.

Then I post the pictures I recieved. Sure they are a little messy and right after birth, but they are the only pictures I have for now.

Many more Congratulations and questions ensue.... At first I am unable to answer many of the questions, but we later learn the birth weights and order.

Amended NICU packing list

So here is my amended packing list I've redone on the fly based on all the new plans and info I've obtained. If I come up with anything new I'll just amend this post.

Buy in Anand at Big Bazaar:
·         dish soap
·         washcloths
·         Pot for hot plate
·         Baby carriers (cheap ones to avoid  bringing our car seats and stroller)
·         Shampoo/conditioner
·         Hot plate
·         48 60 ml bottles, nipples
·         48 nipples, including some silicone ones since the rubber ones start to fail after a while
·         Nipple shields with mini-scissors  to trim them. This helps with nipple confusion if you will still attempt to breastfeed.
·         Lact-aid supplemental nursing system
·         Bandaids/first aid tape to hold down Lact-Aid tubes
·         Baby bullet steamer for sterilization
·         Burp cloths
·         Domperidone
·         Supplements for breastfeeding: Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Fennel seed, Alfalfa (I couldn't find Anise or Goat's Rue or some of the others, but these four are the most common. I just bought plain fenugreek and fennel seeds at the spice counter because it is three times cheaper and just involves some swallowing and chewing.)
·         Breast pump & attachments (I rented the top of the line Medela Symphony hospital grade pump)
·         Pacifiers (an assortment, but mostly the soothie type)
·         Inflateable My Breast Friend twin pillow
·         Beaba battery powered formula mixer (mixes in bottle to avoid shaking and creating bubbles/gas)
·         Washable nipple pads for leakage (silicone ones were better but expensive)
·         Medela quick clean wipes
·         Pacifier wipes
·         Formula container (tupperware container that has at least 4 compartments and pop open top that rotates)
·         Breastmilk storage bags

·      10 diapers per day per baby average (I bought 33 packs of Huggies and Pampers preemie to start with and will have family bring me more if needed) I also brought 1-2 wipes per diaper.
·         cloth diaper
·         portable changing pad
·         Travel baby lotion/shampoo/oil
·         Desitin & other samples of baby toiletries I got from the pediatrician's office
·         Diaper toss bags
·         Waterproof pads

·         Puj baby bathtub that folds out flat
·         Mosquito net crib featured in an earlier post. The mattress from the pack and play is now out of the question because it takes up too much space.
·         Dreft detergent-powder
·         clothesline
·         USB drive to port documents
·         Mult copies of all listed docs on VISA Process
·         Camera with SIM cards and USB and extra batteries
·        2 Moby wraps
·         Baby brush and nail clippers
·         Nasal aspirators
·         Thermometer
·         Medicine dropper syringes
·         Layettes (This means the pile of preemie clothes)
·         Mittens
·         Hats
·         Receiving blankets
·        Muslin swaddle blankets

·         Sarees/cholis (I'm bringing thin silk ones for space and can buy some there if needed)
·         underwear
·         Rubberbands to hold my hair back
·         Makeup
·         Computer
·         Cell ph & chargers
·         Credit cards/ID/passport
·         Deodorant
·         Small shampoo/conditioner
·         Toothbrush/paste
·         Razor
·         Most essential Baby reference books/info sheets
·         Sleep meds to help me get on India time and sleep on the plane when I'm a bundle of nerves
·         Pepto & diahhrea meds
·         Sunglasses
·         Converters for plugs
·         Inflatable neck pillow
·         Malaria meds (but I'll stop when I am producing breastmilk for babies)
·         Earplugs
·         DVD player and P90X so I can work out my stress in my room (if I can fit it in the suitcase)
·        CASH (less than $10,000 or you have to declare it with customs)

Documents needed:
·         Proof of the parents' identity and citizenship, such as U.S. or other passports.
• Child's original birth certificate issued by the local authorities (including English translation, if applicable). The birth certificate must include the name of the child.
• Two (2) photo studio quality photographs of the child, 2" x 2" in size and taken against a light background. The child must be facing forward with his/her ears showing and eyes open
• Prenatal and hospital records (e.g., ultrasounds, prescriptions, evidence of pre-natal doctor visits, hospital discharge documents, vaccination card, etc.)  Can be provided by Dr. Patel/Dr. Hitesh, but print of all documentation you got over email and in case some of the document is not provided during baby pick-up
• The parents' marriage certificate, or other proof of their relationship prior to the child’s conception. (This is not required if the mother of the child is a U.S. citizen.).
·         Former passports
·        Proof of residency docs

Anand NICU Veteran's Advice

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!

Crash Course in NICU

So a lot has happened. Most significantly, I went down to Austin and visited my nieces for the first time. They are adorable!!!  I can't say just how incredibly helpful it was to me personally for so many reasons. There were several things it did for me aside from just the pure joy of being around two beautiful little babies and allowing my mother another day with her grandchildren:

1. I relaxed significantly with every passing hour. Seeing twins that are perfectly healthy and normal that were born at 28 weeks is very, very reassuring.

2. Baby care basics. I've been reading many books, a lot of the same ones my brother and sister in law did. But some of the concepts sound so much more complicated when you read them. However applying them seems much simpler. I relaxed about how to do parent directed "scheduled" feedings and logging everything, and getting them on the same schedule is not as complex as I thought. I was able to change diapers for really the first time, interpret their cues and crying without panicking, and for several periods of almost an hour handle two babies at once. Feeding time is more difficult though, but one person alone with two babies can be done. It's hard, but it is possible.

3. My breast pump. There is no goal of pressure/level to achieve. Do what works, and don't turn up the dial so high it hurts.

4. House setup. I realized my Eddie Bauer bassinet is just taking up space and will be relatively useless. I have a one story house and enough contraptions to hold babies in every room that this item that will hold two babies for a month or two tops is worthless. Out to the curb it went to someone who I'm sure was thrilled to have it. It was reassuring to see that though their house is much bigger and nicer, my setup will work just fine and is similar enough. I decided to do a system like they have on my kitchen counter tops with several plastic tubs to hold bottles and nipples and pacifiers in various stages of sterilization.

5. NICU advice. Hours and hours of it. They are sleep deprived parents of twins yet they stayed up until past 1am intensively coaching me on everything any of us could think of to prepare me for what to expect. This is after answering my almose ceaseless Q&A all day long! There is simply too much they told me to list here, but hopefully over the course of the blog I'll include most of it. Most of it was when they will be able to do what, such as kangaroo care or bottle feeding. They helped me understand that scary things will happen, but that eventually my baby stopping breathing or heart slowing down will be normal to me and I'll slap this tiny thing on the back rather hard to get it going again like it is no big deal. One step forward, two steps back will be the norm every time they try to wean them off oxygen or push them forward a stage. My existence will be a marathon of waiting and watching the heart rate, respiration rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure monitors. The pattern of these 4 numbers will be what my new world will revolve around. The babies will tell us when they are ready to do what. I figured that out fast enough to tell my father in law to back of off booking any plane tickets aside a one way ticket to India for me. A round trip ticket is just plain silly at this point.

6. Equipment. I was about to pack a half a suitcase with stuff I didn't need. The 4 oz Playtex drop ins....fuggedaboutit! The two bags of tiny slender 60ml mini-bottles they gave me will be plenty until we get them home and can use the larger ones. They gave me bags of rings and rubber nipples that were pre-sterilized tear-open bags. I got the same tear-open pacifiers and rubber nasal aspirators, as well as some medicine syringes and thermometers and hand and nail sterile sponge washers.  I likely won't need to bring newborn size clothes, so I bought up a bunch of preemie clothes instead. If they get bigger I'll have my mother bring in reinforcments the last 2 weeks. I even took advice from my hairdresser and went to the Build A Bear and bought doll clothes that I'm told will fit perfectly. 7 onesies per baby per week is plenty, by the way. Okay, okay....so I got more than that. Sue me. The clothes are friggin adorable!

7. Be grateful. Be really fucking grateful. 28 weeks and a 2 lb girl and almost 2 1/2lb boy is pretty damn good despite the risks and expenses involved.  My brother told me a story about a really bad day he had where he thought he was taking one baby girl home the next day only to have an episode while sitting in his lap that made sure she would spend a lot longer in NICU. In the elevator ride home he bumped into two people who each had twins in the NICU, but only one of each set had survived. The two parents were still grateful. So keep it in perspective and don't feel sorry for yourself. I've waited 8 long years and gone through so much pain for this, that I can't let myself forget that for a moment.

8. It's not about you. It's about them. You are not working hard. The nurses aren't the ones working so hard. Your little babies are the ones fighting hard to survive. They should still be in the womb, and our artificial one just isn't up to par. So remember whatever you are going through, they are going through so much more. They simply need a warm dark place to rest and grow with as little disruption as possible until they reach full term. So your need to hold them and touch them and see them without wires is irrelevant. For this reason initially a diaper change will be lightening fast to avoid any extra stimulation or heat loss.

9. You will look at parents of singletons born full term and laugh at them when they talk about how hard it is. You will be an old hand by the time your babies are out of NICU, and what overwhelms them will seem like nothing to you.

10. Not much will be different as far as NICU care. In the 1970's my babies would have roughly a 50/50 chance of survival. Now it is above 90%. But the thought lingers that these studies are based in U.S. based NICU's. What about India? We discussed that really the same things are done and are relatively simple to do. The same treatment protocols and medications. The level of hygeine and the newness of the equipment may be what differs the most. It is my hope that the NICU will be clean enough, and the appearance of less hygeine will relate more to how things look "old" but my hope is that I will find it is kept perfectly clean. We'll see. A tight level of control over sterilization and visitors and hand washing by the nurses may be the deciding factor. As far as equipment goes, older telemetry equipment make only differ by taking the same measurements every 15 seconds as opposed to every 5 seconds. We'll see what happens...

But for now we call Dr. Anita almost every night. Well every night that our washing machine drain hose doens't disconnect and spill 10 gallons of water all over our floor that is. Sigh. The conversations are always short. They are doing well. They are stable. They are being given surfactant therapy for their lungs (standard). Heart rates around 150 (normal).  She can't remember all the vitals and I'm vaguely familiar with the ranges but I should probably just wait until I get there to start getting these kinds of details.

By the miracle of the internet and thanks to this blog and the online forum for Dr. Patel's patients, I will not be alone. I have two new friends who will be in Anand with me. The first is a gal who talked to me about going to Anand, and is there now at Madhuban resort doing an IVF attempt. The second is someone I've been corresponding with for months beforehand and is also expecting twins. We were thinking we would miss each other, but now she will be there a few days before me. Since her twins will likely need a short NICU stay, I've asked and am crossing my fingers and praying she is able to send me pictures when she arrives on the 3rd. I won't get there until the 8th so here is hoping!

Until then I have so much on my to do list and have ran so many errands it is ridiculous! But my best friend is coming to town to throw the shower and will be a day early and can help. I'm also paying someone to come in and help clean, which will be well worth it. Hopefully I'll remember to post some pics of my finished Shangrila in my rush to leave!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Birthday! I'm a Mommy!

So I guess I'll do this chronologically:

Yesterday I go on the biggest shopping blitz I've ever been on, and bought everything I knew we had to have for our babies. It calms me down significantly, and I got a good start on what we'll need to pack. Obscene amounts of diapers and wipes, and as of this morning our pediatrician hooked me up with two cases of Preemie formula for free by sweettalking the Enfamil and Similac sales reps!!!  I also had a mom of triplets from my Mothers of Multiples Club hooked me up with 30 coupons for formula. This way every day I can make two trips to two stores since there is one coupon per purchase and I'll save tons of money buying our formula gradually with coupons!

Over the course of the day the level headed and reasonable folks in my life calm me down and talk me into not running off to India as soon as I can book a ticket.

The emotional part of me wants to rip their heads off at even the thought of keeping me away from my babies for one instant. But my brain knows that waiting until the babies stabilize and until we are more prepared is the smart and rational thing to do. Damn. But as my brother pointed out, every mistake I make now affects two people.

The facts are that at 28 weeks I can't touch or hold them, and there is nothing that I can do for them that Dr. Anita Kothalia's NICU is not already doing for them. What I can do is make sure I have everything they need to bring with me, and that our home is ready for when they come back to the U.S. I can force myself to go back to work for one week to save up my paid leave time for when I can actually do something. Airfare before August 6th is nearly double the price, and with NICU fees not covered by insurance possibly we are on a tight budget. And as a bonus, I can also have my baby shower! 

The hubby will not travel with me. This journey will have to be alone for the first part, unfortunately. We both know I'm strong enough to handle it. As much as I would like to be surrounded by family, you won't hear me crying about anything not happening like I wanted it to. I have two babies that are alive and should be just fine. NOTHING else matters. I'm strongly considering slapping icing on my baby shower cake I was making and putting a picture of the frosted fantasy piece it would have been next to it. I have better ways to spend my time right now.

The fact is that my husband only has 1 month of paid leave, and he NEEDS to be there for the embassy appointment once they are released from NICU. So he may join me a month later...about a week or two from their NICU release date. He couldn't travel with me anyway due to a lack of foresight with his VISA, so he will reapply for another in my absence and do some final preparations like installing the car seats and such. 

So last night after making this decision we call Dr. Patel. It takes a few tries, but when we get her on the line for a very brief conversation she answers my 4 questions:

1. Is it a complete rupture or slow leak, and how much time does that give us? Almost complete rupture, and will deliver Sunday or Monday. She will check up on her today, but she was having some pain. (That tells me she is probably in labor which means delivery will be sooner)

2. Have they been given steroids and antibiotics already to prepare for birth? Yes. (Big duh because this is standard practice, but I needed to hear it to ease my mind. Thank you Dr. Patel for not sounding annoyed at my question.)

3. Can you make sure that my babies have breast milk? We will pay whatever we need to. Yes.

4. Is there anything else we need to know. Not really.

The conversation was over quickly after that.

This morning I wake up to an email that says:

Dear Emily,



Manju delivered a baby Boy and a Baby Girl. Normal delivey.  Both Manju and babies are fine. Babies with Neonatal Unit. Neonatologist Dr. Anita  cell no +91 982240 27897
Dr. Anita email a_kothiala@yahoo.co.in

Picture attached

My feelings upon reading the email were shock and joy and amazement. Then more shock. I actually missed that there were pictures at first. I have a boy. I have a girl. A son and a daughter. One of each. Everything I ever dreamed of. Tara Shakti and Vivek Arjun! I am so full of happiness, but definitely still in a state of shock. I guess you always picture the moment going differently when you find out this information, but I am about living in the moment and enjoying what it is rather than putting conventional expectations on such an extreme situation.

When I go to wake my very groggy husband, he is so sleepy he has a sense of deja vu that I woke him up last night and already told him they were born. That never happened. I help him wake up and then blurt out he has a son and daughter. He looks overwhelmed and doesn't say much. I show him pictures, and then have to leave to get to my Dr. appt to get my travel immunizations.  He had some time to absorb before he called his parents. I called my parents on the way to the Dr appt.

As far as the pictures go, I stare at them endlessly. I just can't get over those huge mouths and perfect, perfect lips! My children appear to be in ziploc baggies, which initially alarms me. I just found out from my sister in law that this is normal and keeps them warm and helps prevent their nervous systems from reaction to touching.

They are quite messy and a little smushed from delivery, but I can see through all of that and they are the most beautiful things I have ever seen!

So the plan for today is to finish more home preparations, and tomorrow my mother and I are taking my brother up on his offer to return to Austin and meet my nieces. My mother will get more time with her grandchildren, and I will get books and invaluable advice on the NICU.

Monday through Sunday I will go back to work. Blah. But in my off time I will frantically finish preparations! The nursery is only half painted, and I only have boy clothes and two girl outfits!

In the meantime I've made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of emails, posted pics and the announcement on Facebook, and coordinated the news with my workplace.Announcements and pics are sent out on my baby shower Evite too! I emailed the babies names to Dr. Patel and asked for birth weights, and to please start the birth certificate process.

I plan as much as possible to continue this blog and paint a picture for the many who will be making journeys to the NICU long after I am gone. I sure wish I knew what to expect, but at least maybe I can help others.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Leaking Liquor

I wake up this morning to this email.

Dear Emily,

Manju have leaking per vaginal today. Liquor from one baby is drain out. We will have to deliver her soon. Scan report attached.

I don't yet know if soon is the 24-48 hrs from a complete sac rupture, or a slow leak that we can pump in steroids and postpone a week.  But apparently one of my babies has a drinking problem and is already on the hard stuff.
I would be freaking out 10 times more than I already am if my brother and sister in law had not given birth to twins at the exact same time frame. I have some clue what to expect thanks to her blog.
I called my Mom to turn around and come back from Austin, where she arrived last night to visit my brother's twins. I was watching my stepdad for her, who has late stage Alzheimer's. My good friend who is helping throw my now postponed baby shower came over to watch him so I could go buy out the baby store.
I came up with a list of everything I need to get and do to go to India, and it is daunting but with very little sleep it is doable. My father has helped with the sudden expenses since this will be far more than we planned for.
I literally bought EVERY preemie diaper they had. 33 cases. I have to figure out formula, but our pediatrician will call us in the morning. As for the rest, hopefully all my lists and preparation will help me through it. So much to do, but at 27 1/2 weeks hopefully they will be alive and healthy and nothing else matters. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bad Mommy dreams

I have always had vivid dreams. They are not more so now, but take on new themes. They are about two things:

1. The excitement of meeting my children and finally becoming a mother
2. What a horrible and ill prepared mother I am

I've been calling them "bad Mommy" dreams.

The wierd thing is I feel confident during the day that I will be a wonderful mother and think that I am more prepared that most. So why do I keep having these dreams? I don't really mind because of the first theme makes the dream enjoyable no matter what.

The latest one is very, very obvious in its meaning and I'm pretty sure I've had it multiple times. I have this wierd sense of deja vu that this may be a very old dream that I've had for some time. In the dream I am happily pregnant, but my belly isn't getting any bigger and I grow very concerned. In fact, it is barely rounded like it would be in month 4. But everyone is telling me I'm due very soon. I keep worrying that something is wrong because I'm so small, or that I'm really not pregnant and I made it all up or someone else is lying to me. Ultimately I think this dream symbolizes my desire to be a parent and my fear that it really isn't happening. That makes a lot of sense. But as we are in week 27 now I am relaxing more and more that it will happen...so we'll see if this dream goes away.

Lately I've had two more dreams and they involve cases of very bad packing. The one I recall most involved tremendous excitement because I was at the airport ready to go to India to get my babies. It was more like a baby shower because my entire family was there at the gate with me with balloons and streamers and signs wishing me well. For some reason hubby wasn't there and I was going all by myself. I was trying to bring very large toys with me instead of things I could actually use. I was struggling to bring as a carry on a huge, gangly, and of course very colorful Fisher Price light up toy that you are supposed to use when they are learning to stand up.

In another I arrive in India and open my suitcase to realize that for 6 weeks I only packed about 3 mismatched outfits. Even my sarees don't have matching cholis, or any choli to speak of. (The top part)  But I am mostly disappointed in myself because I have packed NOTHING for the babies. Tons of empty space but no formula or onesies or diapers or anything at all!

But perhaps the funniest part of the airport dream is when I decide to go to the ladies room before I get on my flight. When I walk in who do I see but Bobby Flay in the flesh grilling steaks over open flame. He has a very busy looking sous chef alongside him. Bobby offers me the biggest, juiciest porterhouse steak I have ever seen. It was so juicy it was dripping, and it already had a few slices cut to show me that it was cooked as perfectly as a steak could ever be cooked.

Airport bathroom or not, if Bobby Flay offers you a steak...you eat it. Right as I was about to take a bite, the phone rings. I woke up very angry because the fork was an inch from my mouth. It was my mother calling to chat, and she apologized for ruining my steak fantasy. I'm pretty sure the steak part has nothing to do with my children or being a mother, and just has to do with the fact that I'm from Texas and LOVE steak.

At my church women's group the other day several of the ladies were bragging on how wonderful their children were. I decided to brag on mine and tell everyone that they are now 2 lbs each and can suck their thumbs and blink their eyes. I'm so proud!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Belly pictures!

Well I humbly requested belly pictures of our surrogate, and I got them!!! It gave me a huge jolt of excitement, and it made things feel very real.  It is what I needed. I'm like a kid at Christmas and can't sleep! The pics included her face, but for her confidentiality I cut them out for this blog.
The pic seems to have stretched wide a bit somehow when I saved it. Overall she looks very healthy. It seems that the women there never smile for pictures, but that may be a cultural thing having to do with appearing demure. We are only at 26 weeks, so I can't imagine how much bigger she'll be full term! I feel so much more connected to her now after seeing her, and my thoughts turn more to her health and welfare as this has made her existence more concrete to me.

I attended a different La Leche League meeting yesterday, and they were very supportive and I liked it much better than the first one. I'm still not in full agreement on LLL perspective on some issues, but it was a good place for support and information. When I'm no longer working evenings starting Sept, I will switch to the evening meetings and will probably find more working women who I can identify with more than the stay at home gals. I feel more educated on mastitis, and have decided I need to fork over the money to rent a hospital pump because it truly is much more efficient and well worth the money. It will hopefully pay for itself by us not having to buy formula hardly at all.  There was some intense discussion on how a woman slipping out her nips in public without a cover is normal and natural and should be accepted without discomfort and staring. I get it, but can't see myself being a breastfeeding crusader that is going to whip them out no matter who is watching. Plus, I have to do both at once and that makes being discreet a lot more difficult. I wish LLL had a list of places to rent breast pumps and a price list from having called around, so that everyone didn't have to do all their own research. I also wish they had a list of places to buy nursing bras. However I think I found two of the best places thanks to some dedicated time Googling.

The invitations for the baby shower are out, and this morning I will transfer money to India for them to host a baby shower for Manju. The text of Dr. Patel's email is as below:

I want to ask you if you would like to do a baby shower ceremony over here. We do it at the surrogate house in the 7th months.
The whole event costs about 125 USD.
This is done according to Hindu ritual, where in a priest performs the ceremony & prays for the safe baby delivery for mother & child both. The inmates of Surrogate house will have a nice lunch & Manju & other surrogates receive gifts. This whole can be done in total 125 USD  if you agree to it let me know.

I did add a polite P.S. to the bottom of my response letting them know that "inmate" was not the best term to use, because it gives Americans the wrong idea. I don't want people criticizing Dr. Patel with the false assumption that the surrogates are like prisoners and have no freedom, because I know that is not the case.

Now a nap, then off to buy a nursing bra!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What's in a name?

I finally realized it is okay. It’s okay to not be happy and overwhelmed with excitement all the time. It is just too much for my psyche to sustain on a regular basis. I’ve been feeling so guilty that I’m not over the moon all the time, and at times am anxious about becoming a mother or frustrated that I’m so far away and the waiting feels endless. It is a lot of pressure when you’ve been glum and a drag to be around for so long due to infertility, that you’d better be really happy now gosh darn it! I am mostly, but just not all the time.

And when I finally got the latest scan report on the 4th of July and didn’t get the expected shot of ecstatic happiness, I felt like something was wrong with me. Don't get me wrong....I’m thrilled to know they are both still healthy. I just wish I could make out anything on the scans, but the bigger they get I can only make out indiscriminate body parts. Out of two pages of pictures I can only make out that one is a side profile of the head, and the rest are anybody’s guess.  My mother got me all excited by emailing me back when I sent her the report and saying “Is it true?! Are you really having two girls!?” I must have looked over the scans for an hour trying to see what she saw, but then I finally realized she saw where it listed the surrogate’s gender on two separate pages as female. Sigh.  I understand now the drive for women who do surrogacy in the US to have a close relationship with the surrogate. I don't think it is so much about having a relationship with the surrogate as forming a relationship with your baby and the surrogate helps facilitate that by involving you more closely in the pregnancy. If a close friendship also results, that is a wonderful bonus.

The invitation list for the baby shower is done, and will go out very soon. That has me very excited! I had a brilliant idea and made myself some very cute signs for the shower that have our selection of 6 names on them with the meanings. I realized that if I thought I was getting tired of explaining and spelling out names at some fun parties we went to recently, I would get REALLY tired of answering those questions at the baby shower twenty times over in a loud room.  It was surprisingly easy and only took less than an hour of discussion with the hubby to make up our minds. Of course I did many hours of research before hand on thousands of Indian names first to pick out ones I liked. I made index cards with every name I liked including the meaning of it and any nicknames it might spawn. I kept the toss pile so if our kid tells us later they don’t like their name I can show them some of the others so they’ll be grateful because it could be worse. One that was a definite toss pile was the girl name “Anala.” It sounded beautiful. But I took a second look. Think about it. 

I am slightly concerned that the boy name I picked if it is a boy and girl have initials that don’t exactly spell out something desirable, but I love the name so much I’m just going to pin my hopes on the kids on the playground not connecting those dots. Who thinks about what someone else’s initials anyway? I hope I don’t live to regret that statement.

So without further ado…here are our name selections!

I would add that I am impressed that my husband is secure enough in himself to not be threatened by the selection of the name "Arjun."  It is in the top 5 list of Indian names currently, and I love the correlation to mythology and the sound of it.  But I also have a mad crush on the Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal.

Monday, July 2, 2012