Friday, June 29, 2012

Normal x 2: Delhi Day 89

Well, aren't we on a roll this week?

Hayden had his bronchoscopy yesterday, and the results, once again... were Normal!

The day started much like the previous. I initially went in for a discussion of the MRI report. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Can we discuss the MRI results?

Doctor: Yes, they were normal.


Me: Ok, great.

Doctor: (Indian blank stare.)

Me: Well... how about the  bronchoscopy?

Doctor: We can do it.

Me: When?

Doctor: Sometime today.

Me: I'd like to be here.

Doctor: (Confused look.) Well that's fine. But you can't actually be here.

Me: (American eye roll.)

I decide to have a seat for the long haul. Hayden's C-Pap has just been removed and he is looking good.

The nurses start an IV on him and I ask for a timeframe for the procedure. If it's going to be in the evening, I'd like to go back and check on Scarlett.

"Timeframe?" the nurse responds. "Oh, no. No timeframe."

Got it.

Hayden's roomie E is getting ready for discharge and I'm able to chat with E's mommy. The hearing doctor comes in to perform E's hearing test. E's mommy is asked to leave. Mind you, my lawn chair is about 2 feet from E, but alas, I am allowed to stay.

Strangers are ok. Parents are not. Oh, India...

I'm able to survive about 1.47 hours in Hayden's room before I. Must. Get. Out. I do not know how to describe the heat in the NICU, except to say that if you were to add several heat lamps and phototherapy machines to a 110 degree un-airconditioned room packed full of people... it still would not be as hot as this NICU.

I walk out to the waiting room and there are people EVERYWHERE. Lying, sitting, standing, crouching. Ahhh... it's Thursday. No wonder. Thursday is ROP day. Which means that every child in all of India comes to the NICU to have their eyes checked.

Here's the funny thing. The NICU doctors insist that you show up no later than 11 a.m. For 14 Thursdays, I've heard the same instruction. Make sure you are here no later than 11 a.m. But apparently, the NICU doctors are the only ones unaware that the eye doctor is scheduled to show up no earlier than 1 p.m. Which is actually no earlier than 2 p.m. Indian time. (New parents don't say I didn't warn you-- because you will still show up no later than 11 a.m., else we wouldn't be able to refer to you as "new" parents.)

Anyways, I find E's mommy in the waiting room, and desperate to escape the confines of  the NICU, we decide to go for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.

See? Told you we were desperate. 

Feeling sufficiently cooled off, we return to the NICU where E's mommy is chastised by the doctor for leaving! No worries-- it was Bernadette's idea. Mmmm that would explain it.

Meanwhile, I flag down Dr. Singh and ask for an ETA on the bronchoscopy. He knows nothing about it. Excellent. Where's Dr. Gupta? Oh, he left. Even better. I resign myself to a lawn chair in a back corner room.

I chat with the locals. I chat with the foreigners. I chat with the staff and the drivers. Another 4 hours pass by until I am the very last person left in the waiting room.

Random picture of Scarlett because this post is getting way too long.
Finally, an unfamiliar man with the air of a doctor walks in. I watch him disappear into the nursery and shortly after, the nurse calls me back.

Initially, the unfamiliar man ignores my presence, which I am completely used to by now. Indeed, I'm so busy internally cheering that I've been invited into the nursery, I hardly seem to notice.

Suddenly, he turns to me, introduces himself, shakes my hand and starts explaining the procedure that he's about to perform-- including the fact that Hayden is going to be sedated with kitamine. I am in total shock. This has never happened before in India and I tell him how grateful I am. He tells me that I am entitled to this type of information. You mean I'd be entitled to this information if I were in America, right? He has a good laugh.

He then asks if I've signed a consent. Now it's my turn to laugh. Seriously?!?

He asks the NICU nurse about a consent and now she has a good laugh. At this point it's turning into one big comedy fest.

The specialist rips off a piece of notepad paper and handwrites: "The procedure has been explained and I understand that the baby could require oxygen or C-Pap." He hands it to me and I sign. 

The NICU doctor suddenly makes an appearance and I am told to leave for the procedure. Darn. I was so close. About 15 minutes later the doctors come out and the specialist explains that everything is fine. "Everything?" the NICU doctor asks. He looks completely perplexed.

"Everything," the specialist says. "Everything looks fine."

Hmmmm... Poor NICU doctor looks incredibly frustrated. I gently suggest that perhaps "we should just have patience" and for once, he too, has a laugh.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Normal: Delhi Day 87


Now there's a word that's rarely (if ever) made it into one of these posts.

But that's what the doctor told us when he spoke with the specialist after Hayden's MRI today.

The MRI results are Normal. 

And breathe.... (Literally, Hayden, start breathing!)

As I mentioned before, we don't do definite dates in India. So when I showed up at the NICU today and was told that the MRI would be done "sometime today," I was surprised but not surprised. 

Having arrived around 9:30 a.m., I spent a few good hours staring at Hayden 

at which point the doctors called me in to sit with them for some cool afternoon drinks served by one of the many "extra persons" I see at the NICU on a daily basis. I've yet decipher all the "extra person" jobs, but I know one of them consists of serving tea and cool drinks.

It's around 12:30 p.m. by now and after a few cell phone calls the MRI is scheduled for 2:00 or 3:00 (at least we've narrowed it down to two times). I sit in on a few more consultations with patients-- no, we do not do HIPAA here-- and am excited when Scarlett's former twin roomies show up with their mommy for vaccinations.  

I was thrilled to see their mommy, as I've had to cancel a reunion twice now. You'd think I was busy or something! Anyways, I'm hanging out with them as they're getting their shots, when our doctor receives a phone call. He then calls another extra person over and speaks to him in Hindi. Now I should tell you that I am failing miserably at learning the language one Bollywood film at a time, but I have figured out how to listen closely enough so that I can: (a) pick up a few words to know the general topic of conversation, and (b) know specifically when I am the topic of conversation-- as was the case this time.

I look to my mommy friend for the full interpretation. She tells me that they are discussing my heading to the clinic ahead of Hayden "to make sure there is nobody else in the machine." 

Right. Because surely a second body in the machine would really throw things off. The suggestion, however, has yet to make its way back to Hayden's entourage, when I see a baby on oxygen being wheeled by into an ambulance. 

Hey, wait a second, that's my baby! Runnnnnnnnnnn.

I hurry outside after the entourage and attempt to step foot into the ambulance, but am instead instructed to wait. Seconds later a driver in a shiny white SUV shows up out of nowhere. (I find out later that the doctor has arranged his driver and car for me. Duh. Shiny white SUVs do not frequent Pitampura.) 

I'm waved into the car and quickly driven off as I watch the ambulance disappear in the rear view mirror. 

The fact that I have just gotten into a random car with a random driver with no instruction whatsoever is not lost on me. But hey, I've been in India for 3 months now. If this sort of thing made me nervous, I would never have survived 

We arrive at the clinic 

and I am ushered into a corner back room with three men sitting/laying on 3 different couches-- Mr. Barefoot and Asleep, Mr. Shining My Motorbike Helmet, Mr. Busy on My Laptop. Mr. Shining My Motorbike Helmet gets up so that I can sit down. I hesitate. 

After 3 months in India, I know all about corner back rooms. Rule number one. Do not ever get comfortable. Ever. 

Because that's exactly what they want you to do. Put your feet up, have some tea and forget about your desire to be present during [insert important event] so that the abbreviated more fluffier version can be relayed to you by a third party at a later date, thereby decreasing the risk that you might actually ask questions about what went on.

Fortunately, before I have to make the decision, I hear a familiar wail. I swear, it's as if he just knew he had to send out some kind of signal. I escape the corner back room and slowly sneak behind the entourage into the scan room. 

The staff doctor who's accompanying Hayden from the NICU looks at me and asks if I plan on staying in the room. Um, yes, I am the mom. 

Ok, fine. You'll have to remove your "drops." She points to my earrings and I hand them to the driver to hold. 

Master Hayden is bundled up in a blanket with his oxygen mask on and hooked up to a puloxometer so that his vitals can still be monitored during the test. I'm handed cotton for my ears. Another funny moment. It's India for goodness sake. If the sound of an MRI machine is too loud for me, then again, I am in trouble. 

About midway through, the staff doctor sneaks out to talk to the MRI specialist. Hey, wait a second, can I come to? No, no you stay in with Hayden. Dammit. The plan backfires. 

Suddenly, the procedure is over and the nurse whisks Hayden away into the ambulance. The staff doctor follows. I chase after. I'm stopped at the front desk and asked to pay 6000 INR. I quickly hand over my credit card, anxiously watching the entourage prepare to drive off. Am I supposed to stay here? Go back to the clinic? Wait for a shiny white SUV to appear? Please, somebody, fill me in. I get the typical blank stare, and meanwhile, the SUV does appear. I opt to get in again and hope for the best. Minutes later we are back at the NICU.  

I am told that the preliminary results look normal, and that "my presence is expected tomorrow" to review the full report. Oh man, I totally had plans for the pool. Kidding. 

I call Rahul and ask him to come get me, as I had arrived that morning with a another couple who had already left. Meanwhile, Dr. Singh gets a phone call confirming that the results are "normal." Excellent. 

I then ask exactly what this means. If there is no underlying neurological cause, it means it's strictly a respiratory problem... making the million dollar question, how much time will it take for his respiratory system to develop?

"Let's not talk about time," the doctor responds. "Just have patience."

Got it. Patience. 4 months of p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e. 4 years of p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e. I let him know that we are really really good at having p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.

I go back to the hotel and cancel our flight home. 

I am asked if I would like to rebook for a future date. 

Not at this time, Ma'am. We don't have a future date. For now, I will just have patience... 

Monday, June 25, 2012

All About Hayden: Delhi Day 85

94 days in the NICU.
He's starting to resemble...

one of my all time favorite movie characters.

Hayden has  been on the C-Pap the last 2 days at 30% oxygen.

Poor guy can't ever seem to keep his helmet on straight with those cheeks...

Unfortunately, this means that our feeding initiatives have ceased and that he is also back on the feeding tube.

Funny, but I'm starting to get the impression that somebody thinks he has been "rewarded" with extra wires for playing...

I spoke with Dr. Singh a/k/a India's very own McDreamy...

Dr. Singh (with Scarlett)
 and he said that we would go for an MRI "in the neighborhood"...
The neighborhood.
sometime this week.

India does not do definite dates.

Hayden will have a bronchoscopy done on this yet-to-be-revealed date as well, to investigate any evidence of tracheomalacia. [Yep, I just linked to Wikipedia.]

Sincerely hoping we can see this face soon...

so that he can be reunited with this one...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

3 Months Old... And Still in Delhi

But rather than dwell on that fact, let's just be thankful for how incredibly far they've come! Aren't my kids amazing?

March 26, 2012
Ever since Dr. Singh told Scarlett she's in the 90th percentile for height (adjusted age), she's been practicing her beach model pose. 
March 26, 2012
Master Hayden asks the nurses to score him a bit of extra oxygen today, you know, since it's his birthday and all.

Promise to be back with the blogging next week because yes, we'll still be in Delhi. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

If You Book It, He Will Come: Delhi Day 74

I wasn't sure else what to do. As Hayden marked his 80th day in the NICU, I decided it was time for drastic measures.

So I did it. I booked a return flight to the states.

That's right, I booked a flight HOME for a yet to be disclosed date a few weeks from now... and then I told Hayden.

"Look buddy," I said to him, "either you're with us or you're not."

 And he looked at me with his huge navy blue eyes, as if to say, "Mom... I'm going to have to think about this one."

Really, buddy?!?

He explained to me that for 80 + days, his nurses have been telling him all about THEIR home in Kerala, a real life paradise on the Arabian Sea replete with coconut trees and year round 80 degree temperatures. Seeing as he loves these nurses so much, and you know, it's only a 3 day train ride, he was curious to know what this place I speak of called Maryland has to offer?

Well for one thing, I explained, it has a DAD!

Apparently, this was more than enough, as Hayden is finally, finally, finally stabilizing without his meds!!! 

It has been a GREAT week.

In other random news...
  • I learned the Hindi word for "ticket" the other day. After 75 + rides in an Indian taxi this past year, it was my first. Or rather, my driver's first. Unfortunately, it was totally my fault. Amidst helmetless babies, cars whizzing by at 100 + mph, pedestrians weaving in and out of vehicles parked/abandoned in the middle of the freeway and debris flying off the back of the endless stream of uncovered people carriers, I spotted a street woman with her baby on the side of the road. I didn't have any food or money, but I did have some bottled water and formula. I asked the driver to pull over so I could give it to her. Guess who got the ticket?
  • In anticipation of all the beautiful women (nanas & aunts & cousins & friends) waiting to get their hands on him when he arrives home, Hayden has started working out. I had asked our NICU doctor to examine Hayden's arms because I noticed that he cannot fully extend them. Fortunately, an occupational therapist was on site the same day, and she taught the nurses how to "spot" him for mandatory hourly bicep curls and arm extensions. He really hates them and screams the whole time, but he does them nonetheless, as looking good for the ladies has always been a priority for him.

  • "Your credit card has been declined" is code for "Our banks are too busy to process a payment right now." First, I should explain what weekends are like here at my house. As I've mentioned before, I live in a mall. While it is busy 24/7, on the weekends it gets downright insane. Imagine an elevator packed with wall to wall people. Now imagine squeezing 3x as many additional people into it. That's what it's like. So I go to use my credit card Saturday night at one of the baby stores because Scarlett has decided to graduate to the 9 oz. bottles. The cashier tells me it is "Declined." She tries again and again and tells me, "Nope, definitely Declined." Now seeing as I am using my credit card all over India, I've been keeping close tabs on the balance online. I know it's sufficient for the purchase. Nevertheless, I go back to my room and and decide to try again the next day. I do, and again another store tells me it's "Declined." I call my credit card company, yelling, crying, explaining the situation-- single woman alone in India with two babies completely out of money and more than anything in the world needs a working credit card. While extremely sympathetic-- to the point that they actually put a $50 credit on the card-- the supervisor tells me that unfortunately, he cannot risk mailing a new card to India. Right. The company also assures me that there is absolutely no reason it shouldn't be working. Go try one more time. I go back to the first store. Wouldn't you know it? The cashier has a credit card slip printed out for the bottle purchase from the night before. Wait, how did that happen? You said my card was declined. The cashier leans forward and  let's me in on a little secret... "You see," he says, "eventhough we tell you it's declined, it's actually just that that banks are too busy on the weekends. That is why the credit cards don't work." Un-be-lievable.
  • Farex formula has nuts in it. Who puts nuts in baby formula?!? Do not ever underestimate India. So yes, we have switched... again. With Duane having a fatal nut allergy, it was the first thing I thought of when Scarlett started developing a rash after we had switched back to the Farex-- she was on it in the NICU and we had switched to the Nan when India ran out of the Farex. This week, we were ready to ditch the Low Birth Weight Formula and graduate to the Big Girl Stuff. I decided to go back to the Farex, as Scarlett had done well on it, it's easy to locate at any chemist, and it's relatively inexpensive. Suffice to say, none of this matters, and we are now back on the Nan. Seeing as "groundnut" was the only differing ingredient between the two, and Scarlett's rash instantly cleared up, I'm concluding that Scarlett has inherited the nut allergy. 

Still undecided as to how she feels about bathtime. 

Sleepover at Scarlett's "crib."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Iron Stomach No More: Delhi Day 67

So Duane and I always joke that I am the only person to spend 3 months in Delhi and not have so much as a hint of Delhi Belly.

Sadly, my record came to an end around 11:30 p.m. last night. Quite sure that I: (a) had been poisoned, and/or (b) was going to die, I spent the night on the bathroom floor violently ill.

My first reaction was to ring my next door neighbor... until I realized that she was gone. Yes, it's a new low when the British (given their extensive immigration processes) manage to escape before you. Just that morning Scarlett & I had packed our best mates off for the U.K. We had managed to cope all day, however, at that moment, on the bathroom floor, I seriously considered whether it would be too forward to ring her and ask her to hop back on a plane to India.
Last night in India at our clinic's new parent party. 
Next I called my mom. (Obviously.)

And then I emailed our clinic doctor, who at 12 a.m., got right back to me with a list of meds. My biggest concern was dehydration, as I've known a decent amount of people coming over for surrogacy to spend an unexpected stint in the hospital.

In my head I arranged that Scarlett's nurse would move in and that I'd enlist another couple who's here for surrogacy to go to Pitampura and check on Hayden. Being a mom is fascinating-- the only thing you worry about is your kids. Who cares if I'm throwing up in a state that would rival that of any novice drinker the morning after his 21st birthday? All that mattered was that my kids would be ok.

So the beauty of India is that you don't actually need a prescription to get medicine. And that medicine can be obtained at all hours of the day. As a result, I rang the concierge, jotted down the recommended meds and arranged for a car to get to the chemist.

He returned shortly, and it's then that the absurdity of the situation hit me. I couldn't so much as swallow a drop of water, let alone keep down a handful pills. Fortunately, I managed to fall asleep around 5ish and though I've woken up feeling as if I've been run over by a people carrier no less than a hundred times, it's a vast improvement from last night.

On a much more positive note, Hayden has now had his feeding tube out for 48 hours, and boy does he look handsome! I must say, it really brings out his cheeks! (Annoyed, of course, that I've had to cancel visiting him today.)
The nurses at Delhi New Born as well as the private staff nurses are all very religious. The nurses have commented on what a "good mom" I am for bringing in the rosary Scarlett's nurse got him, and meanwhile, Hayden is enjoying his new VIP status as The Christian Baby.
We've also attempted to stop all meds for the second time. We'll know his reaction in about 4/5 days when everything has left his system. We are praying, praying, praying that this time is it, and that come July, we will find ourselves on one giant commercial plane headed westward.

Scarlett, meanwhile, has suddenly turned into a real baby. No more preemie look for her! The only positive to her best guy Hari leaving was that he donated all of his grown-up accessories to her. A crib, a bouncy chair and all sorts of blankets, as well as some fab stuff for Mommy. Also, a huge thanks to Kya for her Swaddlers donation before she left. (Are you sensing a theme? Everyone seems to be leaving except us.)
So thrilled for Hari that he gets to go home!

Scarlett explains to Hari that she's pretty sure Delhi is her home.
I love this picture. There's a painting on the wall that both found hypnotizing. Whenever we put them on the bed, their eyes would go right to it.
Scarlett spends an hour eyeing up the selection.

Finally, she goes for the green one.
First night in the crib. No, I am not a bad mom. There is a great blanket/pillow debate between the Western parents and the Indian nurses. Clearly, our nurse was in residence last night-- and given the night's events, we were very thankful!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And I'm Back: Delhi Day 64

A huge thank you to everyone for all the lovely emails, comments and messages. I took a blogging/email hiatus this weekend, but I promise to be responding shortly as they mean the world to me!

I've been reflecting on my mini/mega meltdown last week, and I think this sign does an excellent job of summing up the events that precipitated it:

Not just double, triple, or even quadruple... but EIGHT times the amount an Indian resident would pay. Problem is, it ain't just the elephant safari...

For example, the other week as I was leaving M Block Market, the parking attendant-- obviously spotting my blonde hair-- told my driver it would be 20 RS for parking. My driver looks at me, expecting me to hand over 20 RS. 

Now, unbeknowst to anyone else involved in this conversation, I have been doing my shopping here approximately 2 times a week times 2 plus months in Delhi. 

Which means that little do they know that I know that parking is a "set" 10 RS on weekdays. I explain to them as much, and the parking attendant has the gall to start yelling at my driver, arms flailing, etc... insisting that I hand over 20 RS. I yell back, pointing to the sign around the corner that says 10 RS. The yelling and flailing escalate, and just as I am about to back down out of sheer exhaustion (and concern for my safety) the attendant agrees to accept the 10 RS. 

Now imagine this same incident every time I go to pay any bill-- some far more costly than 10 RS-- and you can hopefully "get" the exhaustion, frustration and disgust that resulted in Last Week

Thankfully, it is a new week, and the H family Indian residents have (almost) thoroughly regrouped. My cure all Indian antibiotic-- for headaches, sore throat and gonorrhea-- has done wonders for my sinus infection. Hayden continues to hang out off of oxygen (but on caffeine) with "ok" (according to the doctor) saturations. And Ms. Scarlett (despite the inevitable stuffy/runny nose that accompanies living in a hotel during the Delhi summer) continues to thrive and is now tipping the scales at 3.1 kg-- double her birth weight!

We have solved the nurse problem by agreeing to pay "Scarlett's" nurse whenever she wants to work. The result is that we have a nurse slightly more than needed, but that I can guarantee she will be available when I need to leave Scarlett to go visit Hayden. Knowing that Scarlett is with someone I can trust-- and who truly loves her-- is worth its weight in gold, and as an added bonus, my new roomie and I have become quite good friends.

And speaking of new friends, I've recently had the pleasure of meeting many of the 16+ other couples who are here in Delhi picking up their babies. Living at the hotel, at the moment, feels a lot like going to sleep away camp when I was younger-- only with big people (as well as some very tiny ones). We stay up all night, we gather for meals and we support each other when the homesickness takes over.

I would like to ask this phenomenal community to keep one particular couple in their prayers. John and Michael, my fellow Americans, have two very special children at Delhi New Born. Please send strength and good thoughts their way. They are an amazing family and a true inspiration to both Duane and I. Their story has certainly put things in perspective for us and has made us realize that a few months in Delhi with two relatively healthy children is nothing to complain about.

And finally, if you've actually taken the time to read this unusually long update-- or more smartly skipped right to the pics, here they are...

New friends gather for a fantastic dinner at Karims in Old Delhi.

Hayden sports the rosary Scarlett's nurse bought from him her church.
Please tell me you are not going to allow my mother to take me out in this ridiculous bow.

Scarlett & Mommy pose for their millionth photo shoot. Mind you, there's not always a whole lot to do around here.  

Hayden looking good off oxygen!

Scarlett's Ladies in Waiting.

Scarlett's newest hobby-- smiling! I just love it!