Thursday, May 31, 2012

And on the 60th Day, I Cried

It started Tuesday with a sore throat and stuffy nose. By yesterday morning, I was miserable.

Two extraordinarily long nights of blow nose, wash hands, sanitize with antibacterial gel, feed baby, repeat. Scarlett was lacking food, I was lacking sleep and we were both lacking our usual cheerful demeanors.

No baby nurses were available.

Me and my 2 month old preemie sat in a one bedroom apartment.

She was out of her usual formula. After braving the 111 degree heat in a tuk tuk to travel to 5 different pharmacies, I came to realize that all of India was out of her usual formula.

We'll have to use the kind that causes gas.

endless crying

I called the hotel doctor. I'm sick. Sure he'll come. Give him money.

I need prescriptions. More money.

Can you send someone? I'm alone with a baby and I can't go near her. Absolutely, just pay money.

Here are your medicines. Five pills. Not five days worth, like instructed. It's ok, just send someone else tomorrow. And by the way, pay more money. 

I really need a baby nurse.

Ok, we'll send someone. Someone Scarlett has never met. Wait, where is the nurse who has taken care of her for the past 2 months?

I'm sick. I need sleep. She needs sleep. And that's not going to happen with someone she doesn't know.

Oh, we had to put her with the new babies who are using her all the time. You are nice. Your baby is good. She can have someone else.

No, NO, NO!

Send me Scarlett's nurse. Send her every day if that's what you need to do. And yes, of course, I will pay you more money.

I need to see Hayden. Through the window. Because I'm sick. My Hayden. On oxygen.

I'll sleep in the car. It's close to two a hour drive midday.

114 degrees 

Good, there's my car. Air conditioned, comfortable seats. Precious sleep.

No wait, madam, that is for a new client. You have the other one. Playboy sticker, pleather bench that only reaches mid-back. It's as hot as the pavement outside.

My god, just get me an air conditioned car. I don't care, if I have to I WILL PAY YOU MORE MONEY!

I arrive at the NICU. Seeing my expression, the doctor waves me in.

I sit in the swivel.

60 days together. 

He knows.

Today is our "3 week" talk. Can we go home by mid-June? Can my children meet their father before their 3 month birthday? Before father's day? And my job? My leave will be up.

60 days together.

I know.

"I'm sorry," he shakes his head, struggling for words. "I know that by now it is just too hot. "

And I slowly nod my head as the tears stream down my face.

Too. hot.

I will sit in this chair 22 days from now.

92 days in the NICU. How many more?

I want to tell him that we can fix this.

It's India.

I want to tell him that I will just pay him more money.

Only I can't.

Because I realize.

There is none.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Escape from Delhi: Rishikesh Days 1 & 2

We-- Stranded in Delhi Mommy #1 and Stranded in Delhi Mommy #2-- had had enough.

The frustrations, the delays, the endless excuses and the indescribable oppressive heat that prevents one from walking outside for so much as to acquire an ice cream cone had pushed us to our limit.

After 2 months in Delhi, we were ready to get the heck out! 

Unfortunately, because of various immigration technicalities and a son who seems to really be enjoying his stay at Hotel Delhi New Born, our options were limited to adventures.... in India.

Little did we know, however, that just a "few" hours north of Delhi lies a place that could only be described as heaven. 

Because it would be futile to attempt to depict it in words, I will share a few quick details for anyone wishing to embark on a similar adventure, and then I will leave you with some truly magnificent photographs.
  • We hired one of Rahul's drivers. Not only did he get "us"-- 2 mommies, 2 babies (plus all their accompaniments) and 2 nurses to the mountains in one piece, he guided/accompanied/supervised 2 (sometimes) overly adventurous women during their travels around town.
  • We brought our 2 favorite baby nurses. Despite developing a bit of a Super Mom Complex after two months alone in Delhi, like anywhere in India, the crowds are unreal, the hygiene is lackluster and the bugs are rampant (at least at night).  While the babies enjoyed their first breaths of fresh air from the balcony, anywhere else would have been unsuitable for their tiny immune systems.
  • We stayed at Laxman Jhula Divine Resort. Clean, convenient and directly on the Ganges River, the pictures should convince you that there is no other place to stay.
For those who can't see the video...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Going with the Flow: Delhi Day 52

'When they shake their heads, Evelyn, they don't mean no, they mean yes.'
'Well, not quite,' said her husband. 'They mean yes if that's what you want it to be.'
'You can't ask a straight question, like how long is something going to take,' said Jean. 'It'll take as long as you want it to take-'
'And if you get rattled it only makes it worse,' Douglas shouted over his wife's head.  'you just have to go with the flow-'

Thanks to a good friend for recommending I get my hands on a copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I'd imagine that anyone who has "gone with the flow" before, is currently "going with the flow," has a friend or relative "flowing across the world," or is anxiously preparing themselves to "flow for the first time" would enjoy it just as much as I have.

I've opted to go the book route first. The hotel has promised to get me a DVD player next week (I think at this point in time I could ask for a pink elephant and they would happily provide), so I'll let you know my preference after reviewing both.

Meanwhile, we are flowing away in Delhi. As we patiently (er, not so patiently) wait for Master Hayden to get with the program, I am doing my best to ensure that  we have all of our medical records in order for the Great Insurance Debate when we return.

I had asked for a few clarifications from our main contact doctor at the centre, but I quickly caught on that he was MIA this week-- you know, when a different doctor started answering his cell phone. Curious, I followed up with an on premises doctor and asked when he would be returning. The response? "I don't know." Wait, what?

I tried again this morning with a third doctor-- the one who's been answering the phone. Again, no response as to when the other doctor would be returning, but thankfully, this doctor told me he would take care of everything... tomorrow.

Flowing... Flowing... Flowing

In other news, I got the scale in my bathroom to start working, which means I can record semi-accurate daily weigh-ins (by holding Scarlett and subtracting my own weight) for my not so little peanut.

The good news? Little peanut is approximately 5 1/2 lbs! The great news? Mommy has lost 4 of her own!

Hayden, meanwhile, is on the C-Pap at 30% oxygen. He is off antibiotics and no sign of infection.

Looking forward to dinner and some "flowing" drinks with the latest installment of SCIers tonight, including my good friend Kate who I could not be happier for!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2 Months Old: Delhi Day 51

Happy 2 month birthday to our Scarlett Rose and Hayden Michael!

Poor Hayden is still on the C-Pap at 30% oxygen.

My little peanut.
Hari, Avey and Scarlett's favorite nurse celebrate her birthday with a delicious chocolate cake!
Angry Scarlett wants to know why she can't have cake. It is her birthday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rendezvous at Sunrise: Delhi Day 50

So it seems my Scarlett is taking this "recapture the magic" theme pretty seriously. With it being her 2 month birthday tomorrow, I told her we could do whatever she wanted on "her" day, today. (Since Scarlett can't visit the NICU I have to alternate between "Scarlett" and "Hayden" days.)

I'm thinking she's going to suggest pool then mall, or maybe mall then pool-- now that would really shake things up a bit-- but no, instead she says to me, "Mummy (remember, she thinks she's British), I think I'd fancy seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise."

Wait, what? Now the museum in a mall isn't even good enough? This girl wants to visit the Taj Mahal? At sunrise?

Truthfully, I'm a bit wary of what she's going to ask for once it comes time to start celebrating her life in years.

And because I know what spoiling a child can do to their psyche, I say to my girl, in my best stern no-nonsense parent voice, "Scarlett, beautiful... you can have whatever you want. What time would you like to leave?"

So it was settled. I consulted with our driver, Rahul, regarding the best time to leave, and meanwhile, the nurses began preparing the World's Naughtiest Mummy Award to give to me upon my return. First a party and now the Taj? Next thing you know, I'll be putting the babies on an 18 hour international flight. Crazy American lady.

So Rahul asked if I thought I could be up and ready by 3 a.m. Really?!? Up and ready at 3 a.m.? It's what new mommies do best! Heck, make it 2:45!

Which we did. We met up with Gaelyn's friend who was making the trip with us, and we all piled into Rahul's massive well air conditioned new-parent mobile, making it to the Taj in a record 3 hours. A real feat, given the amount of excess luggage Scarlett insisted on bringing.

The view as we arrived just shy of 6 a.m. was breathtaking. (Look closely, and you can see the outline of the Taj on the horizon.)

Rahul stopped to pick up a guide who escorted us around the site. Normally, I'm not a fan of guides, however, seeing as we were two young women with a baby, it was certainly nice to have him along. Plus, he knew all the fun touristy photo spots and tricks.

The actual time spent on location wasn't long-- maybe an hour and a half at most. I declined to tour the inside, as it would have involved climbing steep, railing-less stairs in slippery shoe covers... with a baby. (Anyone familiar with my level of coordination is nodding yes, this was a good decision .)

Scarlett seems to have enjoyed it as well. Don't be fooled by the pictures, like a true Brit, she rarely expresses her enthusiasm.

On our way to the Taj

At the Taj

On our way home from the Taj
A few sites on the way home...

As I mentioned, tomorrow is the twins' 2 month birthday. I'll be going to see Master Hayden midday. As of yesterday, he had returned to C-Pap, but his CRP had decreased which means he is not suffering from an infection. Let's hope that tomorrow he gives us a reason to celebrate... then again just seeing him will be reason enough!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Recapturing the Magic: Delhi Days 47 & 48

So it hasn't been Master Hayden's best weekend. (I really love that they refer to him as "Master" Hayden. It makes him sound so distinguished. Think I'm going to keep the title.) 

His CRP (C-reactive protein which can indicate an infection) was 23 (this is high) as of yesterday. The doctors have done some blood cultures to see if he has a bacterial infection. We'll know the results tomorrow. In the meantime, he is back on high flow oxygen, Lasix (diuretic for his breathing), IV antibiotics, caffeine, feeding tube... you know, the usual spiel. 

As I've now spent a month and a half as a parent of two NICU residents, these "incidents" tend to evoke less of a reaction than previously; nevertheless, it is incredibly frustrating to think that we are right back where we were 3 whole weeks ago... 

Master Hayden:

Concerned about the effect of the lack of oxygen on his pallor, Hayden siphons some rays from his roommate's tanning bed.
A rare moment of rest for this guy. Perhaps he should try it more often, maybe then he would require less oxygen?!?
Meanwhile, Twin I and I were determined to start this week off on a different foot. Last week was downright depressing-- for both the "H" family members residing in Delhi, as well as those on the homefront. (Don't worry, Carlos, you still have a mom!)

The time apart was taking its toll, and I decided that it was time to regroup and channel that initial excitement that propelled us through April at what seemed like lightening speed.

I realized that after a month and a half in Delhi, I had become too comfortable. I was no longer appreciating the magic of this experience.

Need I remind myself that after four agonizing years, I am the mother of not one, but two beautiful children? And that we are truly privileged to be spending our first three months together in breathtaking India?

I should be sopping up every second of this time and enjoying it for what it is.

India is an incredibly spiritual place, and I decided that the only way to recapture this magic was to visit a holy place with my Scarlett.

Rather than go the obvious route and make a visit to a temple, I decided that I wanted to take Scarlett to a Christian church. As it turns out, it was the perfect choice.

I decided on the Cathedral Church of the Redemption. I had read online that the English service was at 8 a.m., so we headed out around 7:15. It was the first time I had been out in Delhi at this time of day. Delhi is a late riser, and I was stunned by the tranquil state of the streets. It was absolutely breathtaking. No horns, no beggars, no traffic... just peace.

As it turns out, the service times advertised were incorrect (no surprise, we're in India, right?), and the service when we arrived was being conducted in Malayalam, a language spoken in South India.

As a result, it was that much more beautiful. 

As I sat with my Scarlett in this austere building from the British reign, the sun rising against our backs, windmill fans humming above the pews, surrounded by our colorful Indian neighbors who were all too eager to have a peek at her, I once again felt the magic of this journey.

It is a feeling that I am determined not to let go of as I enjoy each and every one of my remaining days in Delhi.

A true child of India, my Scarlett is not an early riser. 

An early morning game of cricket.

Finding peace.

One for Hayden, one for Scarlett and one for our ever growing surro family.

Scarlett upped her feeds to 120 mls. I now know where it's all going.  

11 days home and Scarlett has become a total "poolie." 

Backyard photo shoot. (If you saw our front yard, you'd understand why.)

Scarlett stakes her claim. (The good ones tend to go quick.)