Monday, June 27, 2011

Time Flies Like an Arrow ... Fruit Flies Like a Banana

Wow, does time fly!  The Twinkies were 5 months old last week.  Jeff went to drop off some items to friends who had a (BEAUTIFUL!) little girl in April and came back saying, "Our children were never that small!"  This despite the fact that their daughter was more than twice as big as Jenny was when Jenny was born.

Where to begin with an update?

First, the kids are happy and healthy and Daddies could not be happier (more rested, but not happier; in better shape, but not happier; less terrified, but not happier; richer, but not happier).

Second, they may be twins, but they are completely different people.  KK is a perfect angel.  Sweet and cuddly and thoughtful.  Plays and smiles all the time.  Drinks his bottle, burps, and then promptly falls asleep.  Jenny is also sweet and beautiful and smart, with a smile that lights up the room, and she's absolutely brazen.  From the moment she wakes up, until the moment she goes down, she's in charge.  As I said in the last post, there's a pecking order in our house.  I thought that I was in charge (or I thought that at least Jeff A. might be), but I'm not even close to the top.  For a while, Gloria (our baby nurse) thought that she was in charge, but she was also mistaken.  Jenny is ruler of everything that she sees (except Kaden).  Then comes Gloria, then Jeff A. and way, way, way down at the bottom is me.  Fortunately, she's a benevolent dictator.  (KK's lucky: he's totally exempt from Jenny's reign.  He's on his own schedule and does and gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.  "It's good to be the King.")

Third, although they are growing like weeds, I think that we have grown even more than them, in both obvious (waist line) and not so obvious ways (it's hard to worry about the house being clean when you can't even see the floors because of there is baby stuff e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!!).

Fourth, the babies had their Christening.  The church was great.  I don't know what religion (if any) the babies will choose when they are older, but the sentiment of the service was perfect.  The officiants spoke about the Christening as the beginning of the babies' spiritual journeys, regardless of which path they choose to take.  Since we're Christian (mixed with a little attention deficit disorder) and their egg donor was Hindu and their surrogate was Muslim, they have a full menu from which to choose.  But regardless of what choice they may ultimately make, they were adorable and well behaved during the service.  And (thanks to Vicki), they were beautiful.  Plus, Jenny spit her pacifier into the baptismal font, so now she has a holy binki.  (Seriously, it works.  Put that thing in and she immediately gets quiet.  Thank heavens for small miracles.)

The babies could not be luckier than to have such wonderful Godparents in their lives.  We're hoping that Steve can teach KK how to do guy stuff (as long as you don't count showing up at the gym about once a month and spending the whole time talking with friends as "guy stuff" 'cuz I already do that pretty well).



Fifth, they are both eating solids.  We started them on rice cereal and they are champs.  Although we were warned, I was still not ready for what comes out the other end.  Pheww!  Can't wait to start the fruits and veggies to really see what they can produce.

Sixth, they are rolling over.  Way to go, little ones!  They aren't quite sure what to do once they get to the other side, but they can do it.  Now we have to start baby-proofing the house.  Until we had kids, we didn't realize how much dangerous crap we accumulated over the years.  At least I finally have an excuse to get rid of the tchotchke.  And if a few things "accidentally" break, Jeff A. can't get upset with me.

Seventh, Jeff A. is a great Dad.  Not that it's a surprise, but he's really a great Dad.  And he does it his own way.  After I leave for work, when the kids are just getting up in the morning, Jeff goes into the nursery.  If Gloria is there, she takes a break and he gets the kids out of their cribs and spends the next hour or so feeding and playing with them (before they get their morning baths).  They have their own secret little games and I'm not allowed to know about them.

Eighth, there are a million and one other things to report from their first Pride (They insisted that they wanted to celebrate marriage equality in NY and who were we to stop them?  Plus, they got to march in the next Mayor's contingent.), to Jenny's efforts to stand and walk, to their first Easter outing, to the fact that KK melts hearts where ever he goes, to the fact that we still don't know what to have them call us ("Daddy 1 and Daddy 2"?  "Daddy and Papa"?  "Hey, you, dude with the bottle"?) or what to call them ("Thing 1 and Thing 2"?).

Oh, finally, it's probably not a surprise, but I smile whenever I think about them.  Just look at them; how could you not smile?




Sunday, February 27, 2011

The New Pecking Order ... Or Why I Love My Job

[Warning: this posting contains scatological references that may not be suitable for young readers (but will probably delight anyone who enjoys the idea of the Jeffs covered in it).]

Hi, gang, sorry for the long delay between postings.  We're slowly getting used to the new pecking order at home and the "adorable little angels" are just now giving us a break.

Before we get into the latest update, here are the vitals: the kids are growing like weeds!  Woo hoo!  In the first six days that they were home, Kaden gained a pound and Jenny gained 7 oz.  We were elated.  This week's results were even better: in seven days, Kaden gained another pound (a 7 pound behemoth) and, even more shocking, so did Jenny (all 5 lbs, 10 oz of her)!

Given that their reward for so much great work was a vaccination shot, I doubt that they will keep up this pace.  On the other hand, they don't really have a choice: every three hours, like clockwork, they get another bottle  Given how much we are feeding them, you would think that we were making goose liver pate.

So, here they are ... the new, bigger, and (if you can believe it!) even better Jenny Lynn and Kaden (no, they're not fighting ... at least not yet):


Just look at those adorable round little faces (and Alix, thanks for the outfits; the kids love 'em).

In other news, we've slowly come to understand the new pecking order around the house:

First, it's Jenny and Kaden.  No question.  They may only be a month old, but they are firmly in charge.  Despite my best efforts, they absolutely refuse to be properly potty trained, sleep through the night, or pick up after themselves.  And, as they taught us today, they make the rules around the house: we're still allowed to have dinner parties, but only if they start by 5:30 pm and end by 6:00.  "PM" that is.  Not like the old days when we could easily stretch a few (dozen) bottles of wine into the wee hours of the morning.  After Jeff and I tried a (small) repeat performance last night, the Twinkies decided to make it clear that they like their schedule just fine, thank you.  No deviations. No interruptions. Nothing fancy.  Just feeding, peeing, pooping, and sleeping (sometimes all at the same time).

After the kids comes Glorious Gloria.  If the kids don't rule the roost, she does.  "Jump!"  "How high?" I'm not embarrassed to admit it: if you can guarantee me six hours of sleep, I will do whatever you say, too.

Third, is Jeff.  Hee hee.  Okay, I had to put that in there, if only to humor him.

Then, at the bottom of the totem pole is me.  And this is why I love my job.  At least there, sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) my colleagues will pretend to listen to me.  Not at home.

The problems with being at the bottom of the heap are obvious.  If you've forgotten, just remember what they say about sh*t rolling downhill.  Kaden was kind enough to give Jeff and me a reminder.  Oh, and it doesn't so much "roll gently downhill" as "thoroughly coat everything in its path".

Last night, about 1:15 in the morning, after a nice dinner with family and friends, after getting full bottles into both kids, after burping and changing a sweet (read: "clean and quiet") Jenny, Jeff started to change Kaden only to discover that Kaden had a blow out of record proportions.  We finally know where all of the formula we've been stuffing into him over the last month went.  Everywhere.

As those of you who have been here before know, formula is a liquid with few, if any, binders, yet, when it comes out the other end, has this amazing viscosity that defies physics.  On one hand, it will flow from place to place like water.  On the other, it will stick to anything that it touches like superglue.  Kaden's onesie?  Yep.  Jumper?  Yep.  His entire clean change of clothes?  Yep.  Jeff S.?  Yep.  Jeff A.?  Double yep.  The half box of wipes that we plastered to him?  Yep.  The giant towel we used?  Yep.  The drop cloth that we almost threw over him in desperation?  Yep.  Just about the only thing that it did not adhere to was Kaden's diaper.

This all would have been an unpleasant and exhausting, but tolerable, pain if it had happened to Jenny.  She would have laid there getting progressively more annoyed, but probably would have kept the announcement of her displeasure to a level slightly below that of a low lying jet flying directly overhead.

But this was Kaden, who differs from Jenny in many respects, particularly in that he (1) goes from "off" to "full throated melt down" in microseconds (no gentle progression for our little boy) and (2) has a wail that makes a sonic boom sound mild in comparison.

So, while we were desperately trying to clean up his home-made superglue and stop it from spreading like a toxic ooze, he was letting our friends in southern California know that he was being tortured mercilessly and that they should send for help immediately.  Thankfully, one of our neighbors is fostering a stray dog with "separation anxiety" who started howling at the sound of Kaden's screaming and didn't stop until this morning.  It was so bad that the neighbors had to walk around the block dropping off apology notes on everyone's doorstep.  (On a side note, we're proud of our little boy for already learning the valuable lesson of "blaming it on the dog".)

Thankfully, 20 minutes, a full box of wipes, and two changes of clothes later (plus a detox shower for each of his Daddies), Kaden was clean and sound asleep, acting as if nothing had happened.

Nevertheless, kiddo, we could not be happier.  And, as Mary says with cake, "Welcome Home".


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Does this onesie make me look fat?

The twinkies had their 2nd weekly checkup with their pediatrician, Dr. Rostek, this morning.   Guess what two teeny tiny preemies increased their body weights by 10% and 20% in one week!


Jeannette was 4 pounds 3 ounces last week and today she tipped the scales at 4 pounds 10 ounces!









Kaden was 5.0 pounds one week ago.  Today he weighed in at exactly 6.0 pounds!  We've actually taken to calling him "butterball" in the last couple of days. ;-)






Everything else in the checkup went equally well and the doctor was visibly pleased with their progress...as was Gloria, our baby nurse, who is taking personal pride in every ounce.   This is as it should be since she long ago mastered the art of the double simultaneous feeding without assistance.


The twins also had one of their first in-home visitors here in SF.   Tim Greeff, who works with Jeff A at CEN, was in town for some meetings.  Jeff brought him over to the house after their last meeting so that he could meet the twinkies.   Being just an overgrown kid himself, he was naturally a bit hit with both kids and even got to help out with the 6 pm feeding!






Finally, as we previously mentioned, our good friend Jay took some time to decorate the nursery for us before we arrived home from India.  Here's a quick movie that showcases his handiwork!  Thanks again, Jay!




Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2nd try - Steve's Video of Baby Shower and Arrival

Ok, think that we finally figured out how to post videos to blogger.   So, here's the video that our friend Steve put together of our baby shower and our arrival at SFO with the twinkies!




Thanks, Steve!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Morning

One of my favorite memories as a kid was waking up early on a Sunday morning after my parents had friends over for dinner the previous night.  It was the only time that not every dish was immediately cleaned up and put away after a meal.  Among the leftovers, you could always find something (usually some dessert).  Plus, since everyone else slept in, I had the house to myself.

Last night, Meredith, Steve, and Nazly came over to see the babies (we dispensed long ago with the notion that anyone will ever want to come see us again; smart people).  Jenny and I got up early and snuck downstairs to raid the refrigerator.  Thankfully, there was some leftover strawberry-rhubarb pie, which I devoured while Jenny enjoyed her pacifier.  Seems like she got the raw end of the deal.

While that was a treat, it does not compare with how sweet it was watching Jeff dancing last night in the living room with Jenny in his arms while she waited for her midnight feeding.  No wonder I fell in love with him.  Wish I had a taken a picture so I could show it at her wedding while she dances with her Daddy.

Later today, when everyone else is up, Kaden and I will take pictures of the new nursery.  Adorable.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Remembrances

Last time, we mentioned that our friend Steve surprised us at the airport.  What we did not mention is that he has been a producer for multiple national news programs.  Here's what I consider his best work:


{technical difficulties posting - see new post above for embedded video!]


Thank you, Steve!

Out of India

Well, we made it home.  So, here's the scoop that we did not want to discuss until we were safely home with the Twinkies.  We had great legal advisors, worked with very helpful government officials at the US Embassy, and got very lucky.  This is why it took only three business days to get our paper work done.

Over the last 6-9 months, the exit process got progressively longer.  When we started working on surrogacy in India, the exit process was taking ~2-3 weeks from hospital discharge.  Then, we started hearing horror stories of it taking 6 weeks to 3 months for some families to return home.  After not requiring DNA testing for awhile, the US Embassy began requiring testing again (which took 10-14 days without an expedited process, plus extra time for the passports themselves).  And the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Regional Registry Office (which jointly are responsible for issuing exit visas) started "inquiries" for children born through surrogacy.  Initially, this added another 14-21 days to the process.

Fortunately, after the initial implementation of these new procedures, the time for completing the process started dropping again, with DNA testing available on an expedited basis and the inquiries more streamlined.  As a result, we expected it to take 2-3 weeks from discharge.

But, then, we got very lucky.  The US Embassy exercised its discretion not to require DNA testing where there was sufficient evidence of paternity, which our clinic provided in volumes.  And, our lawyers were able to work with the Indian government to provide a report in lieu of an inquiry (same information, but supplied by the lawyers with documentary evidence, rather than having the government having to gather the information on its own).  The result?  A three day exit process.  We hope that other new parents are equally lucky.

Other than two last minute surprises and two very long flights, the physical process of getting home was easier than expected.  We got to the airport early and breezed through the check-in process (having new born babies in tow helps grease the skids a bit).

And then we went through security where we got more stamps on more documents.  Sadly, however, of the eight airline tickets (four each for the Delhi-Munich flight and the Munich-SFO flight), the stamped the wrong ticket for Jeff A.

So, while he held the babies and all of our carry-on luggage (not insubstantial when you are carrying 18 sterilized baby bottles, baby clothes, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, formula, changing pads, documents, etc., etc., etc.), I went back through security to get his ticket re-stamped.  Unfortunately, the person who initially did the stamp was on break, so I had to explain the whole process to someone entirely new.  I'll be nice and leave it at that.  He eventually stamped the right ticket for Jeff A. and I worked my way back through security again.  Only to find out that they had also stamped my ticket incorrectly.

So, back through security all over again and back to yet another official to explain the mix up.  By this time, they were over me and just stamped it and told me to go.  So, for a third time, I worked my way back through security (where they patted me down a third time) only to have one of the guards (all with large guns) tell me that I would need new Munich-SFO tickets for Jeff A. and me, since those were accidentally stamped when they should not have been.  At this point, the senior guard, who was watching the whole process, came over, looked at all eight tickets, and told us to go.  My guess is that he figured it was Germany's issue, not his; plus, he was probably taking pity on me since the entire process made me start to sweat from head to toe.  Basically, I got to begin our long trip home soaked to the skin.

After some time in the airport lounge (where we got to change the babies on a changing pad on the floor since there were no changing tables in any of the bathrooms; thankfully, they were just wet), we boarded the plane.  I know that the large airlines get bad raps, many times well deserved.  United is generally very helpful to Jeff and me as travelers, but this time they screwed up over and over again.  But, thankfully, Lufthansa came to our rescue.  On both flights, they gave us the entire bulkhead row (six business class seats across) with two bassinets.  Granted, the flights were empty, but Lufthansa got extra credit across the board with wonderful flight attendants who did everything that they could to help us, including washing the babies' bottles.

You see, that was the second surprise.  I still can't figure out how it happened, but on our eight hour flight from Delhi to Munich, the babies managed to eat almost all of their formula and went through 15 of their 18 bottles.  Give it to babies (especially Jenny who was a fussy eater until the flight) to wait until the the most inopportune time to get cravings.

In addition to having only three bottles left for the layover and entire flight from Germany home, we were quickly running out of formula.  You have to understand that, up to this point, there are only two times when the babies cry: first, when they are naked (they really hate being cold) and, second, when they are hungry.  If we miss a feeding by only a few short minutes, Kaden goes from sweet, adorable baby to the devil child.  No warning, just sudden screaming.  The idea of running out of formula (notwithstanding Daddies' secret stash) had me breaking out in a sweat all over again (this, of course, is on top of the sweating fit I had in the plane bathroom while trying to change a screaming, squirming, naked Kaden's poopy diaper while not letting him touch anything -- quite a feat, I might add).  As a result, with the boarding announcement for our Munich-SFO flight and a very, very long trek to the gate, I had to take a detour throughout the airport to try to find formula.

Thankfully, albeit in the complete opposite direction of our gate, there was a pharmacy and, even more thankfully, they had ready-to-feed formula.  At this point, I would have gladly served the kids raw steak if they would have eaten it.  So, with new formula in hand and laden down with babies and bags (which multiplied exponentially as we collected empty bottles and dirty clothes), we trudged to our gate.

I can tell that the babies are not very discerning yet (or at least their noses are not fully functioning), because on this flight, they wanted to be held almost the whole time. While I loved every minute, I have no idea how they tolerated being near me.  I offended myself.

Eventually, however, we made it home and zipped through immigration and customs to find our friend Steve waiting with camera in hand.  It was a great treat seeing him.  And the bottle of Fernet was equally appreciated.

Jay and Eric also met us with the car and car seats. Thank you, Jay; we could not have made it without your help!  An even bigger surprise was coming home to a completely redecorated nursery.  Again, Jay (and Neil) out did themselves.  Thank you, guys.

But more about that and Glorious Gloria when we return.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We're Going Home

It's official: the babies are heading home.  We were able to complete the necessary paperwork, so now we are working to get home.  By the end of the week, the babies should be firmly on American soil (and, after the 26 hour trip home, they will not leave again until they can buy their own damn tickets!)

We were able to complete the paperwork in three business days, a process that, even when expedited, normally takes two to three weeks.  Jeff A. says that it's the first time that my anal compulsive nature has paid off.  Frankly, we got lucky and worked with some great folks.

Before we completed everything, we were able to spend some special time in Delhi with friends.  Saturday night, our friend Aimee (who was in Delhi for a sustainable development conference) came by on her way to the airport.  We got to introduce the Twinkies to her and then had a nice dinner out (the babies stayed at home).  Here's a picture of Aimee with Kaden:


As I mentioned in the last posting, we were also able to spend time with Manali and other friends on Sunday.  And then last night, Saurabh and Nico were kind enough to invite us over to their house for dinner with Manali.  Again, we ate way too much wonderful Indian food.  We're trying to convince Saurabh and Nico to have babies or at least a puppy.

Here's a shot of Manali with the babies from this morning (on the way home from their Doctor's appointment, we stopped by to see her and her puppy, Ladoo).  The babies are wrapped tight in the beautiful receiving blankets that Manali gave them; she's also promised to show Jenny how to tie a proper sari, when Jenny''s old enough.



And here's a shot of Liyi (a new friend and the babies' night nanny), Jeff, and Kaden; don't they make a good looking family?




 Finally, to close out the post, here's a shot of Jenny Lynn being burped by Jeff (that's his neck you see).  She continues to grow (2.0 kg at this morning's check up), but she's still a tiny little squirt.  And a fussy eater.  Hopefully, that's just a passing phase.  But you can see what a sweet, sweet angel she is:



Monday, February 7, 2011

Bigger and Bigger

We can't wait for tomorrow's check-up.  They kids are both getting big and we want to see how much they weight.  Plus, neither is scheduled for any shots, so it should be an uneventful visit.  We like those kind of visits.  So do the babies.

The Twinkies continue to be complete joys.  And with all that she's been eating, Jeannette is finally filling out (although she's still a fussy eater, taking almost as long feeding as sleeping afterward).  In fact, today, I turned around quickly to talk with the day nurse (who was holding one of the babies) and confused Jeannette with Kaden.  Her face is really filling out.  Makes us so happy.  Unfortunately, even after the forced weight loss program this last week, Papa is also filling out.  Gotta lose this "baby weight".

Last night, we went to a friend's house for dinner.  It was a great evening.  Jeff met Manali in March in Delhi at a set of Cleantech meetings that she and another friend, Shalani, organized.  At that time, we were just beginning to think about surrogacy in India.  When we came in June, we were able to spend time with them and their families and friends.  So, it was a fun reunion when we got to see Manali and part of the same group again last night.

We were going to bring the babies to dinner to meet everyone, but, with the hope that we might be able to return to the US earlier than expected, we decided leave the babies at home with their night nurse to avoid the risk of infection.  Plus, driving in Delhi with them terrifies me.

In other news, it looks like we will be coming home this week!  We were expecting to fly home on the 21st, but we are way ahead of schedule on the paperwork side, so we are going to get home early.

Now, for the scary part: flying for 26 hours with 17 day old twins.  In a strange way, we are looking forward to it.  Although we'll be packed into a plane with 350 of our closest friends, it will be the first time that we will be alone with the kids.  With a day nurse and a night nurse, we have been surrounded by help.  It's tremendously appreciated, but we're going to have to figure it all out on our own at some point.  What better way than when we are crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder on a half-way-round-the-world, never-ending flight.  Are we stupid or what?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Check Up with Doc

If yesterday was eventful for us, today was eventful for the Twinkies (well, for Jeannette a bit more than Kaden).  They got to go for their first check-up since discharge on Wednesday.  And I got to learn first hand what it must have taken to storm Omaha Beach.

When people said that nothing would ever be the same, I heard them, but I didn't understand them until this morning.  Two babies, two nurses, two daddies, multiple feedings (kids and adults), the de rigueur morning coffee (no such luck; cranky daddies), multiple diaper changes, packing the diaper bag, and trying to marshal everyone out the door for a 1 km drive down the street to the hospital for our doctor's appointment.  What normally would have been a simple two minute stroll down the block became a massive two hour assault.  And, even with all of this, we were still 20 minutes late.

The kids would have been perfectly happy had we missed the whole thing.  First, their weigh ins (both have done great and are gaining weight like crazy: Jenny Lyn's now 1.95 kg and our little tiger is 2.5 kg, gaining a full 25% of his body weight in three days!).  Another jaundice test of each of them (ouch!) and then poor Jenny Lyn got her first Hep-B vaccine.  Maybe she thought that if she didn't gain enough, we would forget.  Sorry, little girl.  But, that was one case where it really did hurt us more than it hurt you.  You forgot it in a few seconds, but I can still hear your cries in my ears.

So, here is a shot taken from this morning just before the assault began:


And here's a shot of our apartment building (and, yes, that is a doughnut shop on the first floor; remember, it's important to support your local merchants):


Next Stop

The babies are continuing their whirlwind tour of government agencies with their first visit to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  Up early, packed the old apartment, went to the Ministry, moved to the new apartment (where we stay until the 21st), and then back to the Ministry later today to pick up our magic envelope.

On Monday, we take the envelope to the FRRO where we find out how much longer it will be before we get to bring the babies home.  For the uninitiated, although the babies are ours and they are US citizens, they can't leave the country without an exit visa.

So, here's a picture of Jeff and Mariamma (the babies' day nurse) waiting patiently with the babies at the Ministry of Home Affairs:


Subsequent update: so we went back to Home Affairs Friday evening and had a tiny bit of a scare.  We arrived early (silly Americans) and waited patently along with two rooms full of other foreigners picking up their magic envelops.  Then, they announced the Australians.  After a wait, the Pakistanis.  Another wait, and the rest of Asia.  Wait, then the African countries.  Wait, then Europe.  Wait, then Latin America.  And, finally, it just the Americans left (not sure what ever happened to the Canadians; probably got lumped in with Europe.  Must be magic in those little maple leaf flags sewn onto all of their backpacks.)

Then they called one of our compatriots.  And another, and another, and another.  On through the list.  One after another.  I was right up front so I got to call out to folks when their envelope hit the top of the stack.  And the stack got smaller and smaller and smaller.  Finally, there was only one left.  And two of us standing there.  It was for them.  "No soup for you."

I looked around and there was no one else left (except for Jeff A.; the Twimkies got to stay home).  As the official packed up to leave for the night, we stopped him and asked where our envelope was.  He rolled his eyes and motioned for us to follow him.  Back through corridor after corridor and room after room.  While walking, we casually passed another official, who told us to follow him (I must have missed the secret hand-off).  We went to a random desk in the next hall and he gave us our envelope.  Like much in India, just when you think that things could not possibly come together, they somehow do.

So, now we wait until Monday to take our envelope to the FRRO to find out what it says.  Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here is an early Friday morning shot of the Twinkies with their night nurse, Lee:



Thursday, February 3, 2011

American Soil

Today was the first time that the squirts were on American soil.  (Sorry, but just about everything is a "first" for them, so even trivial things get lots of ink.)  Yep, we took a short family trip to the US Embassy.  Just going there made me miss home.  Notwithstanding how much we miss America, we were ecstatic at how short the trip was.  We arrived early for our 10 am appointment, were met early, and, even after a detailed review of all of our documents, we were out the door by 11.  The best part, we picked up the Twinkies' passports at 2:30 pm the same day.

First, a big thanks to the folks at the Embassy, especially to Nancy Hamilton.  If any of you are going through the same process in Delhi, please contact the Embassy early and keep them up to speed on your baby's (or babies') progress.  Nancy, in particular, was a great resource, helping to ensure that we knew what documents we needed and had everything ready before we arrived.  It was the kids' first trip since they left the hospital and her help keeping it to a minimum was much appreciated.

Fortunately, the kids were both great all day.  They only woke up for a few seconds each.  After a 30 minute effort yesterday to wake them up for their passport photos with them closing their eyes just when the picture was about to be taken, we got to the Embassy to find out that the photos were the wrong size.  They have a photographer at the Embassy (we should have just used him in the first place) and the babies each work up perfectly on cue and them promptly fell back to sleep.  Maybe they do have a future in film.

So, for anyone who's keeping tally, we have the birth certificates, we have the passports, and now we need to exit visas.  In the past, that has taken up to two weeks.  Hopefully, however, we will benefit from the work of folks who have gone before us and the process will be a bit faster.  Fingers crossed.  Then the kids can see more American soil.

Oh, and in other good news, they have both doubled their food intake with each feeding, we've shortened the time between feedings a bit, and they are still usually hungry when feeding time comes around.  Granted, they tend to get very sleepy for the second half of their feedings, but they are definitely eating more.  Can't wait for their checkup on Saturday to see if they've continued to gain weight.  Jenny's probably not quite as excited, since she will have to start her Hep B vaccine if she breaks 1.85-1.90 kg.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hopsital Prison Break

Yeah!  The babies are free.  After meeting with their pediatrician (Dr. Deepak, who is wonderful), the kids were successfully discharged from the hospital this morning (a ten day stay).  Both were exactly back to their birth weights (1.73 kg for Jenny and 2.06 kg for Kaden).   Both also received oral polio meds (not too bad) and had another jaundice test just to be sure all is functioning well (two very unhappy babies during the procedure).  For poor Kaden, it didn't stop there as he also started his Hep-B vaccines (Jenny is still a bit too tiny).  He was not a happy camper at all when he got the shot.  Poor  baby.  But, fortunately, he quickly forgot.

We wove through Delhi's chaotic traffic back to the B&B for a late feeding.  (Aside: seriously, how do they make 5 lanes out of 3 with motorcycles flying past like an army of gnats and not get into more accidents?  I'll probably have a heart attack driving from appointment to appointment with the kids in the car.)  After all of the commotion this morning and the physical examination, Kaden was ready for his bottle and sucked it down right away.  Jenny, on the other hand, was perfectly content just sleeping away in her new cocoon.  It took about 5 minutes to wake her up for her feeding.

Okay, so enough of the blather, here is their first post-hospital picture:


Okay, not the best, but after all of today's excitement, we just wanted to let them sleep.

And here are some pics from yesterday afternoon.  First, Kaden with his mittens (Bong: this shot is for you and Lori):


And another one of Jenny in her burrito wrap:


Of everything that has happened so far (other than their birth), what has been my favorite memory?  Easy; watching either of them fall asleep in Jeff A's arms after a feeding.  Compared to them, he's a giant ... a very loving, nurturing giant.  They're lucky to have him watching over them and we are both so blessed to be able to care for them.

Now the real excitement starts.  Over the next couple of weeks, in addition to navigating Delhi traffic, we get to navigate two government administrations.  Our next step is at the US Embassy for their emergency passports.  The Embassy personnel have been great.  The individual who heads up the American Services section, Nancy Hamilton, has been nothing short of terrific, answering multiple emails, setting up appointments, and allaying our concerns.  We have an appointment tomorrow morning and, if we have all of our paperwork in order, we will be able to pick up our emergency passports the same day (only good for a one-way trip back to the States; no international travel for awhile for you, kiddos).  We have our fingers crossed that it works as well as the Indian birth certificate process.  Then, with their passports in hand, we move on to the Ministry of Home Affairs and FRRO.  More on that later.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

The little squirts are real people!  Until yesterday, they slept all the time.  Good for them.  But yesterday, when we arrived, they both were wide awake looking at everything.  It's amazing how much the can change in just one day with their personalities starting to come out.  Here's Kaden:


And Jenny (the nurses insisted that we go out and buy her something pink and frilly to wear):


Here she is wrapped up as a little burrito (she must be boiling in there):


And, finally, Kaden in his mittens (as you can see, the Twinkies are still really tiny):


Unfortunately, I've caught a stomach bug, so Jeff spent the afternoon with them (and even got Jenny to burp.  Yeah!).  She's eating like a champ.  Kaden can make it through about 2/3rds of his bottle, before he stops and we have to feed him with a ladle/cup.  But he's getting there.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our Little Champ

Today was a big day for the kiddos.  First, they got to meet their Daddy.  Take a look.  Here's Jeff with Jenny Lynn:


And with Kaden (Jeff's the sliver of green to the right.  So much for trying to multi-task by holding a baby and taking a self portrait):


They were both angels for their first meeting with Daddy, sleeping peacefully throughout.  I think that they are laying low, biding their time for a major crying jag just as soon as we get them out of the hospital.

Second, it was a big day because they each tired a bottle for the first time.  Jenny took to the bottle right away.  Yeah!  And our little champ decided to make everyone work for it: "Why go through all the extra effort when I can just lie here and let you feed me through a tube?  Peel me another grape, please."

But the nurses were having none of that nonsense.  After indulging him at 7, 10, and 1, by 4 they decided enough was enough.  And after a little "persuasion", he did it!!  (I won't tell you how they got him to take to his bottle; it may violate the Geneva Convention.)  Good job, buddy!  After about 1-1/2 oz, he promptly fell asleep.  Sucking down that much formula is tough work for a little guy.  While today was a success with the nurses, my guess is that tomorrow he's going to make his Daddies suffer trying to get him to eat.

And just before all of this, the babies and their Daddies got a surprise visit from their IVF guru, Dr. Shivani.

Here she is with Kaden:


And with Jenny Lynn and Jeff:


We are very thankful to Dr. Shivani and her team at SCI for making our dreams of being parents come true (twice over).

And, as I tell Jeff a bit too frequently, she's got many more of our frozen embryos just waiting for a word from either of us, so don't p*ss me off.  ;-)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Jenny Lynn's Namesakes

First, a photo (since, fortunately, that's all anyone really cares about):


Jenny Lynn is named after two wonderful people.  Jeannette, my maternal Grandmother, and Marilyn, Jeff's Mom.  And she seems to be taking after both of them.

Her Great Grandmother Jeannette was a tiny little spitfire.  Smart as a whip, starting college at the age of 16, at a time when few women even went to college.  As a young Mother, she drove a pink Thunderbird convertible (call it the original "push gift").  She was one of the sweetest people that I have ever met and I loved her with all of my heart.  I still miss her.

While Jeff is better positioned to tell you about his Mom, I can tell you that Marilyn was wonderful and loving and accepting.  She immediately took me into her heart and family and I had the honor of having her call me her son.  Among her many talents, Marilyn was an accomplished Opera singer.  We converted a number of her performances to digital recordings so we could preserve them for the kids.

Today was a good example of how Jenny Lynn takes after her namesakes.  First, although her brother slept almost all day, she would have none of it.  I held her for about 30 minutes this morning and, other than during the occasional yawn, her eyes were wide open looking at everything.  (By the way, her eyes are the most amazing color I've ever seen.  I'm sure they will eventually turn brown, but right now they are this unique mix of blue and brown.  I've never seen it before.  Kaden's are the same.)  Finally, I put her back into her crib and she refused to lie still, even when she was sound asleep.  Instead, she squirmed and squirmed and scooted herself all over her crib.  The nurses and I made a game of deciding whose turn it was to reposition her back into the middle of her crib, under the heat lamps.  Makes me wonder how she's going to react when we start swaddling her.  Probably just like her Great Grandmother would have reacted if anyone had tried to tell her what to do.

At the same time, Jenny Lynn kept making these sweet little chirps, punctuated by an occasional full-throated aria.  I may not be an expert, but even her cries sound like music to me.

Jenny Lynn would be a very lucky girl to grow up to be like her namesakes.

So, other baby news.  Again, let's start with another photo; this time of our little sleeping frog, Kaden:


Today was the first day that I did not hold him.  He slept the entire time I was there, both in the morning and then again this afternoon.  He was so peaceful, I did not have the heart to pick him up (although I did get to stroke his skin and give him kisses).

But we're going to make up for it tomorrow.  First, Jeff A. lands late tonight.  And, second, we're going to try to start bottle feeding him.  Since it's likely to take a long time to get 2 oz of formula into him, we'll get to hold him for a long time.

Don't Underestimate India

The rap on India is that it has a lot of potential, if it can only get out of it's own way.  In yesterday's paper, there was an article stating that India leads the rest of the world in bureaucratic red tape.  Well, if today is at all indicative of India's "slow" bureaucracy, the US is in trouble.

After spending most of the morning with the Twinkies, we applied for their birth certificates at around 11:00 am, expecting that it would take a few days to get them, even using an expedited service.  While I was heading back to the hospital (after moving us to the B&B where we will stay when the kids are discharged), I received a call to come pick up the birth certificates!  Even Shilpi, who coordinated the entire process for us, was surprised.

Fifty percent of India's population is under 25 and they are hungry for something better.  Hopefully, since the Twinkies are half Indian and half American, they will be able to live with one foot in each camp, taking advantage of all of benefits that the US has to offer and using those to help make the whole world a better place.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poor Little Squirts

I feel so sorry for the Twinkies.  Almost every time they wake up, they have this Big Giant Head staring at them.  (Extra points for the reference.)  Either that or a camera stuck in their faces.  Here are a few of the results.  First, Jenny Lynn:


 And, then, Kaden (sucks to be born second, Tiger; we'll make it up to you):


So, today was a fun day with the little ones.  In the morning, I got to hold Kaden for about 45 minutes before Jenny Lynn decided it was her turn.  It's amazing how much they change in even just one day.  I swear, they really do look bigger and healthier.

Yesterday, Kaden was the active one, crying a bit and fussing a bit.  But sweet as pie.  Settled down right away when he was held (oh, please, please continue to do that, big guy, until you're at least 18 or so, okay?).  Jenny, on the other hand, was the quiet one, with only little tiny bird chirps.

Today, however, Jenny Lynn was wide awake for a big part of the morning time (okay, maybe a total of 15-20 minutes, but every minute was pure joy).  And a squirmy little girl.  She was quiet when held, falling asleep in Papa's arms, but she kept trying to escape from her blankets.

In the afternoon, I spoke with Dr. Anuj who said that they are both doing fine and can probably be discharged between Saturday and Monday.  But first, we have to get them to start feeding from a bottle.  That's our big task for tomorrow.

Oh, and more good news: both Kaden and Jenny Lynn are almost back up to their birth weights.  Kaden is 1.99 kg (up from yesterday and only down a bit from 2.06 at birth) and Jenny Lynn is 1.69 (also up from yesterday and also only down a bit from 1.73 at birth).  And, although this is about the time that they would typically show jaundice, I did not see any (the Dr., however, says that they have a little, but not to worry).

Today was also filled with errands.  Picked up a local cell phone, went to check out the B&B where we move next, and then met with the lawyers who are navigating our family through the legal system.  It seems that with each passing month, everyone involved in the process gets more knowledgeable and comfortable.  After a few fits and starts (described in detail on other blogs), the legal arrangements around surrogacy birth, citizenship, and exit visa seem to be a bit more clear.  There are still plenty of places where governments exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis (Will we need DNA tests?  Will we be selected for an investigation by FRRO?  Etc.) and these add uncertainty to timing, but with the number of folks going through the process from around the world, it seems as if some of the kinks have been worked out.  Famous last words, huh?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our First Day Together

I'm in love.  And the little squirts are ganging up on me.  First, Jenny Lynn stole a huge part of my heart:


Then, Kaden took took everything that was left:


And, yes, they really are that tiny.  When they are by themselves, they look small (see below), but not as tiny as when they are next to someone.

Here's another picture of Jenny Lynn:


And one of Kaden Alexander:


But, thankfully, all is good with them.  They are both off oxygen and meds.  They are still feeding through tubes (they suck at sucking), but their weight has not fallen much (Jenny's 1.60 kg and Kaden's 1.97 kg, each down just a little bit from birth, as expected).  All they need to do now is grow, grow, grow.

After a long set of flights anxious to get to Delhi and then a few hours of sleep, I got to spend the morning with them.  And, although it's a holiday in India (Republic Day), their pediatrician (Dr. Deepak) came to the hospital to meet with me.  He and the staff are taking very good care of the babies and we are very appreciative.

Importantly, their Daddy will be able to leave from DC soon to come join the rest of the family in Delhi.  The babies whispered to me that they can't wait to meet him in person.  They're very excited.

So, while the babies (and I) catch a few hours of sleep before I can go back to see them this afternoon, here's the first movie staring the Twinkies (thanks, Peter and Soonmee):


video

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Baby Pics

With sincere thanks to the wonderful Shilpi, here are the first pics of the babies.

First, our little peanut, Jenny Lynn:


We are so proud of her.  She's small, but very scrappy.  She's already off of the lung medicines and on a feeding tube.  Keep growing, little Angel; we can't wait to hold you.  And then stand back in amazement as you make your own, unique mark in the world.  But, no matter what, we'll always be here for you.

And, our course, our little bruiser, weighting in at a "chart topping" (it's all relative) four and a half pounds, Kaden Alexander:


Sasha, we love you, little guy.  He's doing great as well, but has decided to let his big sister catch up a bit.  Assuming that everything continues to go well, the doctors expect him to be off the lung meds tomorrow.

Okay, kids, get some rest and we'll see you soon.

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane

After the longest 10 minutes of our lives (between calls from India, first telling us that Janki had gone into labor and then hearing that our babies were born), these have been the longest 36 hours.

Walt Disney was wrong!  It's not a small world after all.  Delhi is a freaking long way away.  (I probably just condemned the Twinkies to a life of purgatory in Epcot after criticizing Walt Disney.  Seriously, Epcot?  Really?  What are you supposed to do there?!)

But my flight leaves this morning and I'll get to see the babies soon.  Prepare them for when their Daddy arrives on Friday.  Jeff's *stuck* at a conference he's organizing in DC.  If you tune into C-Span, you might even see him.  I guess that someone has to save the world.

By the way, we have to give the Twinkies credit.  Their timing is absolutely impeccable.  For an entire year on the calendar in both directions, there were only three days that Jeff could not change his schedule.  And, of course, the babies pick the start of that time to be born.  We assume that it's a sign of things to come.

In fact, I just realized that their timing is even better than I imagined.  I arrive at 1:15 am the morning of Republic Day in India, a national holiday.  So, everyone has the day off work and none of the government offices will be open.  Truly, truly devious little tykes.

The 37.5 Hour Day

Our babies are special: their days are 37.5-hours long.

See, we got the call just before midnight SF-time.  But because Delhi is 13.5 hours ahead (what's with the "0.5"?), the babies' first day was 37.5 hours long (at least by my counting).

In my book, that makes them pretty special.  But I may be a little biased.  Just a little.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Best Saturday Night Ever

So, last night, San Francisco time, I was sitting at home, quietly, with a glass of wine, doing some work.  (Just one glass; don't worry.)  I grabbed my blackberry to get an address and noticed that I had missed a call.  "Funny, I didn't hear the phone ring.  Strange number, too; too many digits.  Oh, well."

Holy crap!  That call was from India.  About 10 minutes ago.  Shit.  Dial, damn it; faster; stupid voice mail.  "Hello, Jeff.  This is Dr. Shivani.  Janki's water broke and she is in delivery.  I will call you again in about 15 minutes with news."

Okay, breath.  "How do you dial India again?  011-91 ... okay, got it."

"Hi, Dr. Shivani?  This is Jeff ..."

"About another 10 minutes; I'll call you back."

The longest 10 minutes of my life.

Then the call that made last night the Best Saturday Night Ever.  "Congratulations.  You are the proud parents of a baby girl and a baby boy."

Absolute, unmitigated joy.

Welcome Jenny Lynn and Kaden Alexander.

I'm not sure that it's possible to love anything or anyone more than we love you.  But we'll try our best.

Now, start growing squirts, so we can bust you out of hospital detention.

Dry Run

So, last weekend, after Jeff A. left town (always the best time to become obsessively organized), I decided that we had to put the finishing touches on our preparations for the baby pick-up.

Tickets?  Check.  Passport?  Check.  Cash?  Check.  Applications for citizenship?  Check.  Sleepers and onesies?  Check.  Swaddling blankets?  Check.  Formula?  Check.  Bottles?  Check.  Burping cloths?  Check.  Carriers?  Check.  Clippers, thermometer, pacifiers?  Check, check, and check.  Wipes?  Check.  Diaper bags?  Check.  Diapers?  Sh*t, I forgot the diapers.  Screw it; they MUST have diapers in India.

Thankfully, we were prepared when we received the message last Monday that our surrogate had gone into pre-term labor at 33 weeks.  And, of course, it had to be on a holiday.  After running around frantically trying to change airline tickets, we heard word that the doctors were able to delay delivery.  Phew!  Good for us and the babies; bad for our poor surrogate.  Grow, babies, grow.

But one nice aspect of the scare was that it provided clarity.  In one instant, it suddenly became all about the babies.  No distractions; no stopping at "Go".  Just get me to India as soon as possible.

The subsequent message that they had delayed labor threw everything into limbo.  Water torture.  Drip, drip, drip.  Is it today?  Drip, drip, drip.  Are we there yet?  Drip, drip, drip.  How about now?

This, however, is one case in which delayed gratification was better.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's still raining

Last Sunday, our dear friends Nazly, Meredith, Steve, Catherine, and Keith threw a baby shower for the Twinkies.  And my sister, Lisa, surprised all of us by flying out our Mom from Chicago for the event.  I must be hormonal because I got all weepy when I saw her.  The day was wonderful with family and friends helping us welcome the babies into the world.

Of course, if the Twinkies spend too much time with Nazly, they will be fat, fat, fat!  Food everywhere.  Thankfully, Meredith convinced Nazly to scale back a "bit". (Don't underestimate what that took until after you've tried telling a Persian woman what to do. Jeff and I gave up a long time ago and are just happy to be along for the ride.)  Even then, there was enough food to feed a small army.  And she made our favorite: "crunchy rice" with lamb (called "tadig" but I prefer "crunchy rice").  Think what happens when you cook rice in a tub of butter.  It's more like cooking butter after whispering "rice" over the top.  Yum!  Nazly should really have a cooking show of her own (although Catherine could give her a run for her money).

After everyone's tremendous generosity, the babies are well provisioned.  And, seriously, could baby clothes be more cute?  Yes, I'm gay ... and apparently becoming more so every time I some new baby item.  Either that or I'm just becoming more and more maternal.  We always thought that Jeff A was the maternal one (in fact, we used to say that he was so maternal that he was really just a giant breast).  But now it seems that I am becoming the maternal one.  On the other hand, he still loves "baby smell" more than anyone else I've ever met (yeah, just wait until after he's changed his 10,000th diaper and let's see how much he likes baby smell).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stop Me Before I Shop Again

I hate shopping.  I really do.  Guys buy; we don't shop.  I just want to get in, buy it, and get out.  I know, I know, I know.  That's gay sacrilege and I'm going to lose my membership card for saying it, but it's true.  Shopping sucks.

Plus, babies are really, really expensive.  I mean REALLY expensive.  I thought that the big expense would be having the babies and bringing them home.  After that, I thought that it would be a long, slow(er) drain on the finances until they went to college.  Who knew that just getting a household set up for kids would be a bankrupting experience (obviously, all of you who laughed at our naivete did)?  Cribs, dressing tables, car seats, strollers, diapers (!!), wipes, formula, clothes, and on and on and on.

On one hand, there is the expense and pain of shopping.  On the other hand, the outfits are sooo cute.  My sister and brother-in-law got the Twinkies the cutest pair of baby Uggs (TM) for Christmas.  They are so tiny and so adorable.

I am so head-over-heels in love with these babies that I would gladly spend an eternity in debtors' prison (the new House GOP is bringing this back, correct?), if it would make the babies happy.  Fortunately, a smart friend told us that all we really need to do is make sure that they have a safe place to sleep, have food, and are changed regularly.  Everything else is extra.  Plus, we all know that at the end of the day, they'll have more fun playing with the box than anything that we might put into it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing each and everyone of you a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year.

The babies continue to grow.  While allowing for fluctuations due to estimates, the Twinkies were 2 lbs, 9.5 oz and 3 lbs, 5.4 oz at their last scan at the end of 30 weeks.  And (knock wood) all seems well with them and their surrogate Mom.  We cannot express enough our appreciation for what she is doing for us and our family.  She will always be in our hearts.

Yesterday (just before the end of 2010), we finished the nursery, at least for the basics.  Since we don't know the genders, no powder blues or pastel pinks (I doubt that we would go that route even if we did know).  Just basics for now.  Jeff and I assembled the furniture together.  And, imagine that, we're still together!  A belated Christmas miracle.  It was kind of fun.