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):

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, breathe.  "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.