Friday, March 30, 2012

A Rich Man's Family

On the day we announced the birth of our boy/girl twins, one of our family members commented that we had been blessed with "a rich man's family." The phrase is a nod to the fact that with one of each sex, there is no sharing, hence, you must be rich to raise them.

I will say that from the start these two have lived up to their name. From their four year debut to their most recent decision to book an extended stay at Hotel Delhi New Born, these babies are clearly under the impression that they were born into "a rich man's family." (Mommy will be having a little chat with them about this small "misunderstanding" when she arrives.)

Nevertheless, I could not agree more that we are indeed, one of the "richest" families ever. The support we have received from our friends, our local family, our Indian family, our coworkers and of course, our worldwide infertility family has been overwhelming.


Indeed, we are a very rich family.

and now for the update...

Scarlett is continuing to progress, still breathing on her own and increasing her feeds to 10ml every 2 hours. Please keep the prayers and well wishes coming for our Hayden. He is still on the ventilator and attempts to extubate him have been unsuccessful. An echo has revealed no heart abnormalities and an in-depth skull ultrasound will be performed soon. He is taking an 11ml feed every 3 hours. We love our little guy so much and and cannot wait for him to recover. Come on little buddy... you can do it!






Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Better Than Words

Our precocious little Scarlett. Learning to read before she even learns to eat!

I really hate when they interrupt my morning paper with a photo shoot!

The answer is yes, I worked out in utero.

Somebody wake me when my mom gets here!


I cannot begin to express how much your comments and prayers and emails and messages have meant to us this week. They have given us the strength we need to be the parents we need to be as our little ones recover.

We are absolutely bursting with pride to be a part of this worldwide community. 

Today, someone asked me what the heck I'm going to do in India for 2 months. In my head I thought, well for starters, I am going to respond to each and every one of the messages we have received and tell everyone individually just how much their words have meant to us.

In the meantime, I'd like to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU--I CANNOT WAIT TO SHARE WITH OUR CHILDREN SOMEDAY THE STORY OF WORLDWIDE LOVE THAT GAVE THEM THE STRENGTH TO RECOVER!

We know our little ones are feeling the effects of your well wishes, as our Scarlett is now breathing on her own! Now come on Hayden-- you can do it!



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Don't Think Too Hard

This has been my survival technique for the last few days. 

And apparently it was working better than I thought.

I saw the title of this post this afternoon... only it never dawned on me that our babies were two of those ten... until I read it again tonight. 

I feel like a failure.

Why am I too scared to crack open the champagne? Why when I tell people about the birth of our twins, do I feel it necessary to follow up with-- but they're in a Level V NICU? Why when people tell me I'm a mom, do I discreetly dig my fingernails into my palms, and think in my head, please let this be true?

I am trying like crazy not to think too hard.

Because when I do, it just hurts.

Scarlett has moved to oxygen under the hood, but Hayden seems content on his vent.

I'm thrilled for all the progress that they've made, but wish someone could promise me that they will both be alright.

I know in my head that this will be true... so long as I don't think too hard.




Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Most FAQ

When are we going to India???

Here's the deal. Remember that coveted pre-baby pick-up hair appointment I was able to secure with less than two months notice?

Unfortunately...it's not until this weekend.

So there's that, plus the fact that none of our doctors seem to want my germ-infested adult presence around our intubated preemies, lest they catch some type of infection and it hinder their progress.

Welcome to the fast lane of parenthood. What's best for mommy is unfortunately, not always what's best for the babies. 

So hard as it may be, I will do my best to hang out for another week and a half or so and then head over, when hopefully, both Scarlett and Hayden will have gotten the hang of this whole breathing thing. Daddy will arrive in May, when hopefully, babies will be released, and we can finally start on Operation Exit India!

We have a new routine now. Every morning at 8:30 a.m. I call Dr. Gupta. It's around 6 p.m. in New Delhi, so he is able to give me a full day's report. Just for fun, I rang and told him this was "Bernadette calling to see how her babies Scarlett and Hayden were doing."

Crickets.

Ok, fine, I'll play by the rules. "I'm calling from the U.S. to see how the boy-girl twins born on Friday morning are doing."

A reaction! 

Here goes: Both have three issues. Breathing, blood pressure and passing urine. Scarlett is our champion breather, and we are hoping she will be off the vent soon and onto a C-Pap. She needs to work on her blood pressure and passing urine (although she is improving).

Hayden seems to be content on his vent, although the pressure has been decreased a bit. He is receiving 45% oxygen. He gets a gold star in the blood pressure department for the day though, and will hopefully be off treatment shortly. He, too, is having the urine problem.

I insisted on badgering Dr. Gupta to tell me that they will be ok again but he remains non-committal. Typical male. In return, I made him feel completely uncomfortable as I told him how incredibly grateful we are to him and the centre staff, how amazing they are, how they are real-life angels, how we just LOVE them for doing such an incredible job of looking after our babies, etc., etc., etc.

Perhaps I should start tomorrow by introducing myself as "that crazy American woman."

 ... betcha he'll know who I am then!






Saturday, March 24, 2012

A birth story... as told by the doctor

After finally deciding on names last night, we gave sleep our best attempt. Fortunately, it came for an hour or two before I woke up in a panic and reached for my smartphone-- back to my old ways, I am. It was around 4 a.m. and there was a health status email from SCI. It read as follows:

1. Both the babies are on ventilator with high ventilation require.
2. One dose of survanta given.
2. Both the babies are on N.P.O (Nothing by Mouth)
3. Both the babies are on IV Fluid.
4. Both the babies are sick.

I wish I could say that I handled this with strength and grace. I wish I could say I used the laugh when all you can do is cry technique I seemed to master throughout our infertility journey. I wish I could say I did not crumple up at the bottom of the stairs, sobbing to nobody in particular, pleading out loud for my babies to be healthy, piercing the air with my cries that I NEED these babies to be ok.

But I can't. 

I called SCI's office and had a run around conversation regarding the "sick" part. Me trying to figure out if the babies had come down with some type of infection and SCI reassuring me that of course they are "sick" as they are needing breathing assistance due to their early arrival. Sometimes this happens when two different countries communicate by email. Ok. I am feeling a bit better. I already knew the breathing assistance part.

To follow up, I called the NICU hospital where Scarlett and Hayden are staying. After a brief who's who-- yes, we are parents of the babies born yesterday, 31 weeks? well more like 29... oh, ok 30 weeks? yes, yes, the baby girl and baby boy--- I received news that their ventilator levels were still high but they had been decreased from yesterday. Hooray for a bit of positive news! The doctor I spoke with suggested I speak with the pediatrician later in the day.

I called the pediatrician number. This time I introduced myself by identifying my surrogate. Bingo! Shaved a good five minutes off the conversation already. Lucky me, the doctor who answered had delivered Scarlett and Hayden. Before I could say anything he told me he would tell me about their birth:

Your surrogate, she began having abnormal very painful contractions and she was taken to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Contractions were very irregular. The baby girl came first at 6:42 p.m. At first she was ok, she almost cried, then she began to show signs of distress about 2 minutes later. She was intubated. She was about a 7,8,9 [I assume he means apgar scores] more of a 9 but then she has the distress.


Now, I will tell you about the boy. The boy, he was very very sick. He was born at 6:44 p.m. He was very very limp. Very limp and no reaction at all. His heartbeat was 20-30 beats. It should be 120. We started the IPPV with a mask. We gave him chest compression to increase circulations. About 45 seconds later he started crying. The baby boy, we resuscitated him. 

OUR baby boy, they saved his life. 





A Birth Story... as told by Mommy

To my literal children,

When I said I cannot wait to meet you, perhaps I should have added... in 8 weeks. A moot point now as you are here and we are in love. Sit back and enjoy as I tell you your birth story... from mommy's perspective.

Mommy was on her computer at work when she saw an email from Dr. Shivani. The email read "urgent number please I need to call." Mommy was so scared. She knows these emails are never good news. But then she remembered that she celebrated your 29 week birthday on Tuesday. And she remembered that 29 weeks is good. She remembered that she knew from that point on that you WOULD be the beautiful healthy babies she had dreamed of holding for so long. 

Mommy talked to Dr. Shivani but she was so nervous that all she could do is cry and yell out into to hallway "They're here!" Only nobody was there. Where WAS everybody?!? We all had a good laugh about this. It is a rare moment that our office is silent. Mommy does remember asking whether you were boys or girls and she does remember being SO HAPPY that you were one of each! How lucky could we be?

After she got off the phone, Mommy received an email with your beautiful pictures. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that Mommy and Daddy have looked at your faces a thousand times since then. But there was a also a scary report attached that you were in severe distress and not crying. 

Mommy sat down in her friend's office who is a twin mommy to former 30 week year old preemies. Mommy knows that there is a reason she took this job and somehow wound up with an office next to her. Mommy's friend assured her that everything would be ok.

Meanwhile, Mommy was trying to call Daddy. Not surprisingly, Daddy was not answering his phone. So Mommy drove to Daddy's office. Again, Mommy yelled "They're here!" And again, nobody heard. (It should be noted, that Mommy did not yell at Daddy for not answering his phone. This would have been typical Mommy but she is learning.) Mommy showed Daddy your beautiful faces and he was so in love. We sat on the curb outside Daddy's office in awe. I told Daddy we needed to name you and Daddy said he couldn't even think of his own name at the moment!

Mommy decided she should return to her office so that everybody knew she was ok. Mommy agonizingly waited for the contact information for Delhi New Born Centre. (Note that Mommy is done worrying about being on the Crazy Patient List now. She may have sent just a few emails while she waited.) She finally got the phone number and Mommy's boss insisted that she make full use of the office phones for calling India from there on out. Sometimes Mommy really loves her job.

The next conversation will make you smile. 

Ring, ring, ring

Mommy: Hello? Is this doctor?

Dr. Gupta: Yes.

Mommy: I am calling to find out if they are ok?

Dr. Gupta: They are doing as would be expected. 

(Note that nobody has identified themselves, nor have we indicated which babies are ours.)

While Mommy really wanted Dr. Gupta to promise her that you would be ok, he was a bit noncommittal. She appreciates his honesty. Ok that's a lie. Tell me you will be ok!!!

Mommy and Daddy then met back at the house to decide on names. We put your pictures up on our computer screen and called out names to see what you thought. Carlos was no help, as he seemed to like all of them at first, and then promptly passed out at 10! At 1:00 a.m., we finally decided that you would be our beautiful Scarlett Rose and Hayden Michael. Welcome to the world babies!





After Six and a Half Hours of Deliberation...

Scarlett Rose (3.3 lbs/ 1.5kg)


Hayden Michael (3.7 lbs/ 1.7 kg)


Babies are on ventilators and receiving surfactant injections to help them breathe at Delhi New Born. Thank you to EVERYONE for your continued support and beautiful comments!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A BABY BOY AND BABY GIRL!!!

So much for the eloquent birth post I planned on writing!

Born today at 6:42 and 6:44 p.m. Delhi time (I still have not recalculated to ours), our little guy and gal arrived much earlier than expected! Please send your worldwide prayers and good thoughts to our very early babies!




Monday, March 19, 2012

29 Weeks



Wow. I thought this post needed some accompanying music... just in case the content wasn't tear-inducing enough.

I am in awe that we are here.


Twenty-nine weeks.

Just typing those words makes me cry.

Lately, I've been reflecting on whether I actually ever thought we would make it to this point. I recall a conversation Duane and I had after we failed with our first two surrogates in India. When would we stop? The Baby Fund was depleted, we had used egg donors, we had used gestational carriers, we had traveled across the world for goodness sake-- when exactly would we call it quits and decide to live the  glorious Child-free Life full of vacations and freedom and excess income that all the infertility books were telling us it was time to consider?

We decided we didn't want it. We decided that we would never give up. We decided that it may take time, but we would do ANYTHING to have a family, and that no obstacle, big or small, could stand in our way.

But this begs the question, did I ever think that we would actually achieve our goal?  Or did I simply make a commitment with Duane to give it our best shot, knowing in my heart that it would never happen?

I don't know.

What I do know, is for a very long time we rode the lift up the mountain. We could never see the top of the mountain, and yet, we made a commitment that we would never jump off, that we would keep on riding until we got there... whether or not "there" actually existed.

When we finally reached the top, I was too scared to look and take it all in. I tightly shut my eyes and began the descent, praying that we would make it to the bottom unscathed.

To my babies, I am sorry that I was too fearful to look. I know that as a result, I have failed to record many important details of this journey.

But I was just so scared.

As we crossed that First Trimester Line, I began to let go of that fear... only the moment I opened my eyes for a peek, we fell hard once again.

I'm sorry you will never actually see the words "We're pregnant!" or "Best Day of My Whole Life!" throughout your story. I was coy about sharing our news. 

Sharing it in ways that allowed me to acknowledge what was happening without actually seeing. But read between the lines babies, and you can see what was in my heart.

I want you to know that I will never forget what I was doing at 10:08 a.m. on September 26, 2011. I want you to know that despite your existence as a numerical value on a piece of paper, I was already madly, deeply in love.

Most importantly babies, I want you to know that now, I can see you.

As I wash your tiny hats, as I drive the Momobile, as I sit in your soon to be nursery... I see you in everything I do.

And whether it be through this blog, or the journal I started in India, or through my words to others as I excitedly share your story, I promise that I will make up for all that I was too scared to acknowledge.

Because I promise, that from here on out, I will go forward with my eyes wide open.

Happy 29 weeks babies. I cannot wait to meet you.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Momobile

Remember a few weeks ago when I was so frustrated because I didn't feel like a mom?

Well, after four weeks of endless searching, travel to three different states, some skillful negotiating and a (handful) of (minor) disagreements with the hubs, I finally found the perfect, deal of the century, 7 passenger seating, full-efficient, warranty covered, top of the line safety rated, DVD playing (for trips to Disney World of course) MOMOBILE, that is everything my old car was not.

And you know what? I love it!

Because I finally feel like a mom. 




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Not as Fun



So I decided I was having way too much fun with the purchasing portion of this trimester and that as a result, I should temper my giddiness with some not-so-fun stuff.

Like getting our rickshaws in a row for Operation Exit India. 

As most have done, I emailed Nancy Hamilton (hamiltonnl@state.gov) at the US Embassy for a status update.

According to her, its most important that we are familiar with the citizenship transmission requirements. Because we've used an egg donor,  it's all on Duane to prove his current citizenship as well as five years physical presence in the U.S. This can be done through passports, bank statements, educational documents and social security statements. Also, when filling out the passport, CRBA and Social Security applications, we've been instructed to include information that pertains to Duane only and to leave the other spaces blank.

In other words, I believe Nancy was trying to make it clear that at this point in the process I will be assuming the role of Executive Director of Baby Entertainment and Spousal Moral Support only.

As a consolation prize, however, my name will go on the birth certificate.

Now the news I was really less than thrilled to hear is that DNA testing is expected in all cases. I'm not sure if this is just Nancy's boilerplate email response, given the fact that the most recent batch of SCI US IPs have not had to undergo the testing, or whether the Embassy is back to requiring it in all cases, as it seems they used to in the past.

Because we are having twins, we would need to order 3 kits-- one for each baby and one for Duane. (Yes, I'm totally fine with sitting this one out too. Really.) And the way it works is we order the kits from the U.S., kits are sent to India so that those eligible (i.e. not me) can swab while in Delhi, kits are sent back to the U.S. for testing, results are sent back to Delhi, and finally, the Embassy confirms that we have a match! Which means our options are as follows:


1. Order kits ahead of time so that kits are waiting for us at the Embassy when we arrive. This option saves time, however, if we don't need to test, we lose out on the money we spent ordering the kits.

2. Chance it and wait until we get to Delhi. If we don't have to test, we win. No money spent and no extended stay in Delhi. If we do have to test, however, we lose big time. Not only do we still have to spend the money ordering the kits, but Operation Exit India gets extended by a significant number of days.

So I'm thinking we're going to go with Option No. 1... (However, recent U.S. IP input is very welcome).

For those behind us in the process, below are some additional links forwarded to us by Nancy.


CRBA and Passport Instructions

Surrogacy Information

DNA Kit Ordering Instructions

Phewwww.

And now, I am officially returning to the fun stuff. Marc Jacobs diaper bag, anyone?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More Stuff

Not surprisingly, I've mastered the whole "buying stuff" phase pre-tty quickly. Guess some things just come more naturally than others! Here's a brief rundown of "the purchases and preparations" so far:

1. The Wego Twin. With great fanfare I present to my very first major baby purchase, the:


From the online description, it seems to be the perfect hands-free-tote-twin-babies-around-to-Embassy-appointments-in-Delhi contraption (how useful it will be beyond this stage is questionable). Nevertheless, babies can be as small as 3 lbs. (which clearly, I no longer need to worry about) and it adjusts for parents from 5 ft. 2 in. to 6 ft. 3. (Hilariously I still fall outside the lower parameters and Duane still falls outside the upper parameters, but heck, it's the closest we're going to get to a one size fits all contraption.)

Of course, while it only took me 6 months to work up the courage to click the "submit order" button, it took the company less than 5 minutes to email me that its out of stock at the moment. Of course it is. Luckily, the company is expecting a shipment this coming week. For those curious, I'll give a full review upon its arrival.

2. Diapers. Anybody wanna know what a box of 700 diapers looks like?


I ordered from diapers.com on a Saturday afternoon, received it Monday morning AND got a fantastic discount. THIS may be my new favorite store!

3. Did My First Load of "Baby" Laundry. So I happened to do a little bit of shopping these last few days.



Into the washer it all went. Quite sure that the novelty of this activity will wear off much quicker than the whole purchasing part.



Forcing Carlos to try on a hooded towel for size. His look says it all.



Swiping a baby toy when I wasn't looking. Let's just say this dog is going to need some major therapy come May.


4. Booked a Pediatrician Appointment.  This one made me nervous. Oddly enough, while friends, family, coworkers, gymmates, the UPS guy at our office,  etc...have been nothing short of thrilled for us, we've tended to get a mixed reaction from people in the medical community. We are hoping that this provider (who came highly recommended by friends) is fully supportive of our most unique family.

So I called and asked about scheduling a consultation because "we are expecting twins with a surrogate in India." After an awkwardly long silence, the best the receptionist could muster up was "Well... is she on bed rest?" Really?!? How about starting with a simple "Could I have your name please?" It's ok. I'm used to it.

Of course, when she asked the question I was too amused to be annoyed, as an image of my surrogate in India getting up at 5 a.m. to grab her Starbucks latte before heading to a spinning class followed by a 12 hour day at the office flashed through my head. I decided that for this receptionist's purposes (who frankly, had no business asking) the answer was yes, she's on bedrest.



Friday, March 2, 2012

EXCITED!!!


Hey-ho look at us-- we surpassed our Week 26 milemarker!!!


!Un-B-lievable!

Got our 26 week scan-- of our lil linebackers-- and we could not be happier!

Twin I is measuring 28 weeks (2 1/2 lbs) and Twin II is measuring 29 1/2 weeks (3 lbs)! Seriously what are they feeding them over there?!? Duane's children for sure. (Fortunately no sign of GD, but it will continue to be retested, and only "mildly excessive liquor"-- as you know, I would not be one to pass judgment on the latter-- everything in moderation babies!)

So for the past six months, every time we've received a scan, I've sworn that the next scan, I promise I will allow myself to get excited. Well, guess what?

This is it! I AM EXCITED! I mean REALLY, REALLY, REALLY EXCITED!

And to add to the excitement I've started making real live bona fide baby preparations! As if these babies are really going to be coming! As if I AM REALLY GOING TO BE A MOM!

AS IF IT IS FINALLY "SAFE" TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS AND PUNCTUATE IN EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! LOOK AT ME-- FEARLESS MOM TO BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I asked Dr. S for her best estimate of when we should arrive in Delhi. She suggested arrival in Delhi May 4/5 with a possible due date of May 9.

Which means that I will likely be spending my very first Mother's Day... in Delhi. With Babies. As a Mom. Let the tears commence....