Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Project Out of India -- Complete!

Written Monday:

Well today was it!  We are done with Project Out of India, having secured Neve's exit visa this morning. Free to leave India, we have booked flights out on Friday.  The plan is to head to Singapore where we will hang out for the weekend with one of Hamish's best friends and his family (they too have a new baby - born on the same day as Neve!).  And then on to Australia on Monday where we plan to stay until roughly May 2.  We have been busily trying to find an apartment in Australia (at the last minute - in case anyone has any suggestions)!

All that is good. I would say great, but I'm feeling much less than great (even less than good) - yuck! So please do not mistake my lack of enthusiasm for jumping through the last bureaucratic hoop here in India as a lack of total excitement to be DONE!  I woke up this morning to nausea and a headache and other bad things and it has not gotten much better over the course of the day.  Looks like my daring foray into salad and fruit was NOT a great idea!  Delhi Baby's Momma has an official case of Delhi Belly!!

Not to linger on the disgusting, let's move on, shall we?!  I'll tell you a bit about how you go about getting a child born in India (but who is not an Indian citizen) out of India.  This might come in handy for you some day, so please feel free to take copious notes.  To review, once your baby has been granted citizenship and a passport, to actually leave India you need the elusive golden ticket -- an exit visa!  The exit visa process requires two trips (morning and afternoon) to two different Indian agencies (reasons unknown) and the patience of Gandhi (plus some extra cash)!

On Friday, we picked up Neve's passport from the very nice orderly Australian consulate and then headed to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (the MHA - the first agency on the path to an exit visa).  To help with this part of the process we hired an attorney in Delhi.  I have heard of people going it alone and to those crazy cowboys - I take my hat off to your kahunas! I assure you we would still be stuck in one of those buildings waiting for our turn (cause we do actually wait our turn in lines unlike the general population here) without a facilitator!!

We were met in the parking lot of the MHA by our attorney's assistant and he ushered us upstairs to the visa area within a large complex - mostly open air, fans going, babies crying.  This place is exactly what you might think of in your head as a typical bureaucratic agency in India - something right out of a movie.  Seemingly unorganized, tons of people everywhere, lines not being obeyed.  Inside the foreign visa area is a small seating area crowded with humanity (like the gate area in an airport) with little desks shoved into the corners - officials behind them and more humanity crowding in.  This place is like the United Nations!  People of all kinds from all over the world all descending to get visas to stay in India, to get visas to get out of India, to do what?!  I'm not really sure - but it was totally fascinating?!  There are instructions written on the walls (in English) - turns out that each of the desks represents different countries.  So, if you are American you go to desk 3 and if your Australian you go to desk 5, etc.

What become clear once we had a seat was that not many (or any) of our fellow visa seekers were native English speakers-- but ALL of the instructions and ALL of the forms for the visas are in English.  What then became clear very quickly to them is that we did speak and read English.  As our lawyer assistant went around from desk to desk butting in line and moving our case along, we held court in the gate answering questions for our brethren in the waiting seats about how to fill in the forms -- yes, you have to fill out two forms for each person (no copy machine I guess), yes, put your surname in the second spot, etc.  There was a young Russian woman with a chubby baby boy wearing only a diaper tossed over her shoulder.  A gorgeous family from Burma (we think) - dressed in colorful head scarfs, kids running around madly.  Japanese students traveling as a pack and men from the Congo who held a certain command in the room.

When it was our turn to go up to the desk, mr. assistant nodded to me to follow and up we went to the front of line (leaving the poor Japanese students to wait!) and the official started through our pile of documents.  He looked over each page with great care and then asked me - "what is your occupation?" to which I replied, "I am an attorney".  He then followed up with "who is going to take care of the baby when you get her home" to which I quickly responded - "I am!!".  I thought better of going into the gory details of maternity leave and nannies and just kept it simple.  Had I answered otherwise would he have preferred that Neve stay in India parentless?  Weird, but anyway, he accepted our papers and we left.

The next part of this strange system has me totally flummoxed.  Hamish had to go BACK to the same agency that afternoon to pick up a sealed envelope that we then had to take to another agency on Monday morning at 10am sharp - to be opened only by this agency 2 - the FRRO.  Mind you, these are BOTH agencies run by the Indian government so why on earth two different agencies had to be visited in the first place was let's just say "unnecessary" to keep things G rated - but to have to haul some sealed envelope from agency 1 to agency 2 for a grand unsealing?  We have truly entered crazy town (ie Delhi)!

So here's where we are catching up with the start of this blog.  We wake up on Monday morning and - you guessed it, that's when my Delhi illness had set in.  And - this is the only trip of the whole confounding process that requires the FULL FAMILY - me included.  Puking or not, I have to go along with Hamish and Neve to the FRRO! The mr. assistant meets us in the parking lot of agency 2 and he suggests that me and Neve wait in the car because we would be "more comfortable" and drags Hamish off into the building (which from the outside looks much worse than agency 1) before I can clear my head long enough to protest.

It's over 90 degrees so the driver pulls the car up under a tree next to a pile of construction and garbage with about 10,000 flies and some guys nearby smoking and cooking something on an open flame - and turns off the car and gets out to chat up some pals.  Charming.  I'm as sick as a dog and this just could NOT GET ANY WORSE!  I try to think cool, non-nauseated thoughts and consider storming agency 2 with fists full of money to ensure that we are done in the next 5 minutes.  Neve is totally pissed off (not really, she's sleeping, cause it's so hot she's basically gone into a coma) - but still, like her Mom, she would prefer not to be sitting in hell with flies I'm sure.

About an hour in Hamish and mr. assistant come back and say, ok, time for all of us to make an appearance at the FRRO.  I'm carrying Neve and Hamish and mr. assistant are bobbing and weaving through the hallways and through crowds of milling people - I'm sweating and gagging and thinking wow, Neve has put on weight!   Now the FRRO is worse than Agency 1 - clearly - but the visa room has a/c and seats and is a PALACE compared to our former digs by the garbage pile under the tree.  But . . . I am thankful to be almost through this process and instead of questioning the sanity of leaving me and Neve in the garbage heap "for our benefit" -- I choose to sit quietly, drink in the a/c and pray to god to let me crawl back in my bed!

We finish up (I don't think they even saw me, so why I had to go is still unclear!) and head home.  Again, Hamish has to go back that afternoon for the results and what do you know -- exit visa was granted!  It was an ordeal, it was surreal, it reminded me of many movies about courthouses in Turkey and other mob movies where money is paid under the table - but it's over and that's the best that can be said.  We paid our facilitation fees and we were facilitated!!

Break, break, break . . .

So, this post has taken DAYS to get done!  Very sorry, again!!

Written today:

Last night we were graciously invited to dinner by some new friends in Delhi!  They live over near the American Embassy in a really beautiful, charming apartment and they have an adorable lab.  It was picture perfect.  We had beef (yummy!) and wine (yummy!) and got to hear about what it's like to move from Indiana to Delhi.  We found each other over blog land - what a way to connect!  I could not tell my Mother in advance about this meeting as she has us on Neve kidnapping watch.  Rest assured they loved Neve, but did not try any funny stuff.  Blog love and good vibes to D & C! 

Today is the Pakistan vs. India cricket game in the Cricket World Cup.  It's the semi-finals, but I have been assured (by some guys in the parking lot while I was waiting for the car) that everyone considers this to be the "real finals" (sorry Sri Lanka!).  It's like the biggest deal ever in India!  Half of Delhi is shut down; there is very little traffic.  I went out to run "time to leave" errands and it was a total delight for a change.  In the M Block market they had set up a big tent with a tv screen and all the men (I have no idea where the women are in Delhi, cause it's seriously like 80% men always) -- were watching and cheering.  Hamish and I have Dellip and Mr. M all set up in our second bedroom with the game going on the flat screen and we just ordered Pizza Hut and on my shopping trip I bought some of those big tasty Kingfisher beers.  We're having a bit of Super Bowl party (Grand Finals for the Aussies) if you will, but this cricket thing requires stamina!  Starts at 2:30 pm and is still in full swing at 10pm!  Now that's a game!

Dellip's phone keeps ringing and his ring tone is this loud song that goes "we know how to party, let's go out and disco" or something like that.  We have a baby nurse over to help out for our last two nights and she's cooing to Neve and making bottles and clipping nails and rubbing lotion on Neve's scaly legs and watching cricket.  We are just like one big happy Indian/American/Australian family!!

PS - Pizza just arrived and they were out of "family" size and instead brought us double the order all in medium size.  It's literally raining pizza here!


G, H & N (and D, M and J)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Internet Outages, Death Marches and Sore Throats, OH MY!

Hello!  I have been working against some tough over the past couple days.   But it is Sunday here and we are having an enforced day of rest before what is going to a whirlwind of a week, so let's get you all up to speed.

Just about every afternoon here we have a little power outage.  Dellip rushes in and plays with fuses and generally it's all restored within 30 minutes.  Small blips reminding us that we are not in Kansas anymore!  I can deal with it.  Well day before yesterday we had more than a blip and lost our internet connection for about 24 hours!  Savage world!  Now that we could NOT deal with!! All of our lines of communication (and most of our entertainment other than Neve) crashed to a halt -- skype, vonage phone, use of computers (ie blogging or internet surfing), Hamish's work, etc. -- all GONE in an instant.

Dellip set to work making phone calls and fumbling around with the router, but it took a repairman the next day to get us back on line.  The previous day I had luckily downloaded the Eclipse movie (yes, from the Twilight series, I am not ashamed!) .  Note to non-computer people like me on downloading movies from i-tunes.  I sat down to download the movie just before I wanted to watch the movie, but turns out it does no work that way.  The thing took 8 hours to download!  WTH?? Not exactly solving my entertainment needs, but at least it was all stored up for the internet outage period.  Poor Hamish was doubly miserable because he had to take the night off of work but refused to watch Eclipse.  Instead I had my head phones on and he peered at the screen making comments that I could not hear (something about hating the fake wolf parts).  The headphones are a brilliant cure to Hamish tv commentary and will be instituted when we get back to NY!

Just as the internet was restored the next day, we set out on what was supposed to be about an hour errand running outing.  Then we realized that this is likely our last week in India and we started adding on little tasks.  First stop was the tailor (to make skirts our of the fabric I had bought before Neve was born).   She sat us down in her living room and gave us nice cold lime drinks and biscuits.  She called in the seamstress guy (guess she is more of a facilitator?) and we did our thing with the skirts, made nice small talk, admired her home (all mid century modern -- like something right out of Dwell Magazine!).  As we were leaving she asked where to next and we told her -- M Block Market - and she said, oh no, it's way to hot, you should go to the Mall instead.  She assured us we could get all that we needed at the Mall and have a much more pleasant experience and it was only five minutes away, and - well, we totally bought it.

Let me just stop here to point out a couple things.  Hamish and I have a way of setting out on one task and getting drawn into others until the outings become long, painful death marches that suck the life out of us.  We are aware of it, we joke about it, but we ALWAYS fall right into the same routine.  It's truly one of the reasons we ended up buying a weekend house  -- we just could not break the cycle on our own.  We still do death marches on weekends, but now we just call it "hiking" and somehow everyone feels a whole lot better about it!

Next thing to point out -- we were not intending to be gone long and had only brought along two bottles, which in a perfect world should have lasted us 6 hours (cause we fed Neve just before we left).  But with babies, there is no such thing a perfect world.

So off we go to the Mall.  Turns out the Mall is more like 30 minutes away and it's about 90 degrees out, so even with the a/c in the car, it's sort of hot and when you get out of the car with a baby strapped to your chest, it's REALLY hot!  The Mall is something right out of a mid-level mall in Florida, big, lots of stores, but even after walking the whole thing, it did not actually have half of what we were after.  Neve demanded bottle one about half way through the Mall experience.  I note that and feel a slight increase in blood pressure.

We get a quick lunch and at the end Neve rouses and -- DEMANDS BOTTLE NUMBER TWO.  Gulp!! At this point EPs would have realized that they were in trouble.  The sane thing to do would have been to abort the errands and head home immediately.  But no, we are newbies and it's a death march - so we soldier on.  We've got two hours more in our pocket --right??  We just have to keep moving!!

The traffic is a mess and the market we really should have gone to in the first place (and have to go to now) is full up because it's Saturday.  So I leap from the car and run to the two stores we need to hit while Hamish and Neve inch along in the car.  Ok, so some time made up.  Next to the SCI office to finish some paper work.  We arrive and everyone wants to talk and take photos with Neve and they have to send someone out to get copies and it will only take 10 minutes.   And I'm starting to freak out, cause I know we are bottleless and we are in the danger zone and we have to go -- NOW.  I'm big fake smiling and rushing us out the door and then it happens.  The dragon awakens.

When Neve is hungry she does a series of cat like cries that don't seem particularly alarming and if nothing happens within the next 5 minutes she lets you know that she is dead serious about being fed NOW and the cat sounds sound more like cat stuck in the fan belt type of territory.  Before we get in the car, the small cat cries start and by the time we are home, she is fully stuck in the fan belt.  By the time we get her a bottle, she had shattered out nerves, cried big real tears and let us know in no uncertain terms that we are total crap parents.  Nice!

Funny thing is after all that bad treatment, Neve actually smiled at me that night after the bottle.  I think she's trying a new tactic with us.  The "you people are terrible at this" treatment having not been successful, so she may be going with the "if they think I like them, maybe they will feed me" approach.  Either way, the smile was greatly appreciated and I certainly look forward to more to come!!

My final impediment has been coming down with a sore throat.  It's not terrible, it's not mild -- it's just the kind of sore throat that's sitting there waiting to decide whether it wants to totally take you out or just go away as quickly as it came.  Not great timing as we get to the end of our Delhi stay and move on to the travel portion of the journey - which is likely to take much more out of me.  So, other than the death march I have been lying low, napping, not exercising, eating oranges etc.  Throat, heal thyself or else!!

Last night we made some progress with the dinner menu.  We had been trying for a few days to get spinach paneer but kept getting tiki paneer.  Not a tragedy, but we wanted some dark greens - bad!  So Dellip asked us to write down "spinach" which we did and the next morning at breakfast he came back with a child like picture book of vegetables -- the page open to spinach!!  It was genius!!  He was so excited and we were so excited - we actually went through the rest of the book together commenting on what vegetables we like.  No, don't care for beet root, yes, we like cucumbers, no, we don't really eat okra, etc.  And the grand presentation of spinach paneer last night was something to behold.  We cleaned our plates and it was delicious.  I plan to incorporate spinach paneer into my regular menu back home to remind of Dellip and that vegi book and our precious time in Delhi!


G, H & N

Hamish and Dellip going over the vegetable book.

Neve loves tummy time and is getting really strong!

She also loves to wiggle herself into this strange position and pass out!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Quickie

Hello!  We had a very successful morning at the Australian consulate.  Neve's passport will be ready tomorrow morning and we go directly from there to the Ministry of Home Affairs to start the exit visa process.  This means, if all goes well, we will have our FRRO appointment on Monday and should be free to leave India sometime next week!

WOW -- that just seems totally crazy to me!  We've sort of settled in here in a way that feels more permanent than it should.  We have enjoyed our hood and saying goodbye to Dellip and Mr. M is going to be really, really hard.  But, alas we are also ready.

After the consulate appointment we went to the Imperial Hotel for a very nice brunch.  The Imperial is a 5 star hotel with like 6 restaurant/bars inside.  The architecture is sort of art deco meets the Taj and there's a big garden (although the lawn needs help!).  We sat out on the verandah and had our first lattes in weeks (mostly cause we are digging the tea, but still).  It was like walking off the streets of Delhi and into a fancy Miami hotel!  Such culture shock!  It would certainly be a very different (and I don't necessarily mean better) experience to stay somewhere like that in Delhi!

Neve enjoying her first brunch!

Photo shoot in the garden.  Note that the grass needs some work.

By the way for all of you Australians, you should be very proud of the High Commission in Delhi.  It's a lovely and well run facility with flowers and golf course green type grass.  They take away your cameras when you come through or I would have gotten a picture of these flowers they are growing that are as big as a human head! I kid you not!

We had a power outage this afternoon and took a family nap, so just a shorty post for today!

Lots of love,

G, H & N

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Forward Momentum

It feels like we've climbed a mountain in Delhi and are now starting down the other side towards the end of our stay here.  It will be at least a week (or more depending on the exit visa process), but events of the last couple days have propelled us ever forward.

Since Neve's birth we have been following up on how our Surromama is doing.  She had no complications from the c-section and was released from the hospital a few days after Neve and has been in her Delhi apartment with her family continuing her recovery over the past week or so.  With the c-section, Surromama was out of it when Neve was born and we wanted her - if she wanted to - to have the opportunity to meet the sweet baby girl that she gave life to.  We got the call yesterday that she was ready and bundled Neve up for the trip across town.

As with all things Surromama so far, it has been incredibly difficult to know exactly what to do, how to act, what is appropriate, etc.  The first time we all met I had this feeling that we were in a parallel universe -- standing squarely in the same office in Delhi but still worlds apart.  She had been carrying our little girl for nine months and we, from across the world, had been focused on that little girl for those same nine months.  Our thoughts and prayers and hers were inevitably aligned over that period - but still could not have felt more of sync.

We brought Neve into the agency office and greeted the familiar faces of the people we have befriended along the way in this process.  Dr. Shivani let us use her office and they called us in with Neve and, a few minutes later, called in Surromama and her husband (who was a very nice man).

She sat in a chair dressed in a lovely sari and we handed Neve to her.  She looked down at Neve and touched her cheek.  I don't know what I expected but I have to say that I vastly underestimated the emotional intensity of that moment for both her and for me. Surromama who up to this point had been somewhere in the distance of that other universe was overcome.  I broke down and probably broke some cultural protocols by going to her side to rub her back in support - the two of us staring down at Neve with tears flowing.  Culture and language still separated us, but loving and loss for a baby you carried and loving and hope for a baby miracle that has been given to you - we each understood.

We thanked her for the amazing gift she had given us and she said that she was sad but that she also felt happy that she had been able to do such a good thing for us.  With tears still flowing, I promised to give Neve the best life we possibly could and to be the best parents we could possibly be.  And I could tell from the look on her face that she understood my pledge to her before the interpreter explained my words. I had forgotten Hamish on the other side of the room and when I looked over he too was wiping away the tears and nodding in agreement.

We had brought gifts for her three children and had picked out a sari for her as a personal thank you.   And with that, we parted ways.  Our lives had crossed in the most unexpected and profound of ways and now they have uncrossed.  Except that we want to hold on to our Surromama as much for Neve's sake as for hers as the two are forever and inexplicably bound together and no one can deny that bond.    

Ok, that's that for now.  

The next thing of great importance that has happened is that Neve has been granted Australian citizenship!! She' now a little Aussie baby!  Big cheers heard in and around Melbourne!!  The MCG is busily readying for her welcome celebration!!  Children of surrogacy in India are born with no citizenship - so up till now she has been floating around in some no man's land - no country for the little baby!   And now she has been claimed by the first of two countries that she will ultimately call home.  Well done little Neve!!  Quite an achievement considering you can't even support the weight of your own head!

The citizenship happened remarkably quickly.  The dna test was done last week and shipped to Australia.  We got the results back this morning (she's a match!) and by this afternoon Neve's citizenship certificate had been issued.  Wham, bam, thank you little ma'm!  We will pick up the citizenship certification in the morning and at the same time lodge the application for her passport.  And then go to a fancy hotel for a celebratory brunch!! Assuming all goes well, we should have Neve's emergency passport early next week! Just need the exit visa before we can be on our way around the world!

On more mundane topics, it's raining fish here.  Since we arrived, we've eaten only chicken or vegetarian - but no other meat AT ALL!  So when we were at the M Block market the other day checking out an upscale new grocery store that had been recommended by our new friends John and Margarida, we were pretty much snooping around for MEAT!!  They had "lamb kebobs" which are in fact lamb sausages and we bought them.  They also had a lovely selection of chicken, but we've got that pretty well covered.

On the way home we debated what to do with the kebob/sausages.  The times we have cooked meals in ourselves have caused a stir on the home front.  Dellip runs around trying to help us boil water and put our food in proper serving bowls and Mr. M looks all deflated.  So, we decided to bring them into the fun and asked Mr. M to make them up for dinner the next night.  When we got home and presented the kebob/sausages to him, he looked skeptical and then said at them "for breakfast" and we said, "well dinner really or how about lunch?" and he nodded and chucked them in the freezer.  I was thinking that was strange given we were going to eat them in 24 hours, but who am I to question (the Lady of the Manor has to trust the chef)!!

It appears the message that the kebob/sausage sent to Dellip and Mr. Mohank was not that we wanted to have them cook up the kebob/sausage for a meal (the real message).  The message they got was - these people want fish!!   Next day, they go to the market and come back with fish.  And we had fish that night for dinner (no kebob/sausages).  Then fish for lunch the next day (still no kebob/sausages). I'm a little worried about a fillet of fish showing up for breakfast!!  You have to be careful what you do around here - what you might think is straight forward can end up meaning something else entirely!

Tonight we are ordering pizza in from Pizza Hut (can you believe that?).  I was looking through the take out menus and all this time we also could have been getting McDonald's delivered (that really grosses me out!)  With the coke thing and McDonald's we could have done our own documentary recreation of Super Size Me, New Delhi style!!  Imagine: Two people eating only McDonald's for every meal and drinking only coke try to take care of newborn.  Anyway, Dellip and Mr. Mohank are OVER THE TOP at the prospect of Pizza Hut.  I'm so, so and have asked for salad which they think is funny (but not as funny as they think the morning cardio blast sessions are - which they now freely walk through!)  I've also sorted out that I can get movies off of my i-tunes account (netflix and hulu are blocked).  It's going to be a good night!!

Take care!! We miss you all and thanks for following along!  We're almost there!!!!!


G, H & N

Neve's been destroying bottle after bottle and is packing on the weight.  
She's also got little blisters on her lips from all the sucking!! Ouch!!

Neve has also decided to stay awake a bit during the day which is fun and to open her eyes!  
We are still working on focusing, but you got to start somewhere!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Human or Gremlin? You decide!!

So, we are in India.  For the first time in LOTS of years I'm not working, I have a little infant to look after day and night, alcohol and desert have been all but nonexistent AND I am without television (which is likely playing in to my blogaholism!).  We do have the BBC (which is very good for news and I am happy for that because I have not embraced the Indian Financial Times as I should and Dellip has stopped bringing it to us) - but that's not the kind of mind numbing entertainment that I'm after!!

You see, I love myself some bad tv shows and at home I can safely tape them on the dvr and indulge before Hamish gets home or after he goes to bed.  Only if backed into a corner do I watch them just right there in front of him because well, he's pretty annoying to watch bad tv with - or as he calls it -- "crap tv".  Even though he claims not be interested and scoffs and mutters, he follows whatever I have on just closely enough to make vexing comments during all the good parts.  For example (and I would not even label this as "crap tv") he absolutely ruined the finale of Lost by making fun of all the sappy parts. Me and my sister Margi would be getting in to it - the tears starting to roll - when, boom -- Hamish would burst in with some crazy crack about how unrealistic it is.  I mean only someone with a black heart would find amusing the scene where Sun gets stuck on the sub as it's filling with water and after Jin tries with all his might to pull her to safety, he chooses to die on that darn sub with her - holding her hand as they drown with the sad Lost music playing at full volume in the background (now that is LOVE dude!).  It really makes you want to send Hamish out on an errand or something when he does stuff like that.

Anyway, here in Delhi, the only two channels I found with some promise are Animal Planet and HBO India.  Animal Planet is great, but the programming here is crazy repetitive and I've now seen the one where the leopard and the lion are great friends as young animals but, as they mature and have families of their own, their friendship can't survive the differences in their species.  Now that's a shocker!  And by the third time, it certainly wasn't.  I printed out the HBO India schedule (one of the admin tasks Hamish gave me to do) and seriously, not one of the movies is worth watching in the evening time slot when I want to watch.  HBO India's target audience must be BIG into war/fighter/sci fi/boy/horror movies - but me?  Not so much.  Give me The Bachelor any day of the week, but I'm really not interested in Final Destination 3.

Now all that being said, the other day Hamish turned on the HBO (this was pre-schedule) and when I heard the noises coming from the bedroom, I had to go running.  He was in there, mouth on the floor pointing at the screen.  The movie was Gremlins and - strangely - it has really helped to explain a lot about our daughter Neve.

You see, lately I have been having my doubts about whether Neve is really human.  I mean physically speaking she's got all the little human parts to grow into a larger real human - but something is not quite right.  First, she makes ALOT of distinctly NOT human like noises. There are times when she is quiet and "sleeps like a baby" but there are more examples where she snorts, makes high pitched squirrel like noises, chortles, makes tiny "uhs", squeals and does some noise that requires the combo of her nose and mouth that I can't really describe.  At least until Hamish turned on the HBO.  She sounds EXACTLY like the main character Gizmo from Gremlins!!!

Now this in and of itself is not going to be surprising for the EP audience as it seems the Gremlin noise is commonly affiliated with babies.  In fact, I think we can be pretty certain that Gizmo's language was actually modeled on that of a baby (not that babies are actually Gremlins).  But it was more than the similarity in language that caught my attention.  The whole plot had an eery familiarity and that got me wondering.

The plot goes something like this.  Dad buys teenage son a strange furry creature from an antique store in Chinatown for his birthday.  Dad is warned and Dad warns son - "don't expose it to bright light, don't get it wet and, whatever you do, DON'T FEED IT AFTER MIDNIGHT!!".  Of course all three occur and thus the movie revolves around the consequences.  When you expose them to bright light, they die (remember how Neve does not like bright light at all? See?).  When you get them wet, they reproduce (no reproduction but remember how Neve hates the bath? And when the good Gremlin does the reproducing thing, he gets really put out and seems sick -- just like Neve after the bath.  A bit of a stretch, but see?).  And, she has certainly been doing her fair share of eating after midnight!

All of the prior evidence (ie noises, reaction to light and water) is really nothing compared to what happens when you feed a Gremlin after midnight and what happens to Neve after that midnight feeding.  Like Neve, they at first go into a cocoon (or, in her case, a sound sleep in a swaddle).  Then, after some time period (in Neve's case about an hour) they turn into menacing reptilian like creatures with sharp claws and they go about town terrorizing everyone.  Neve is losing her baby skin and thus looks a little reptilian right now.  She has those hands always at the ready in a boxing position near her face and almost daily grows lengthy claws out of those little precious fingers.  And finally, the terrorizing.  Neve can't walk so we are really the only people she can terrorize - which after midnight has become her forte!

Neve, at 11 days old, is starting to exert some serious attitude.  If she's not fed exactly when she wants to be, she goes into a crazed starvation mode.  And, after midnight when we are sleeping and don't anticipate her hunger - she wakes us in an amped up state of irritation.  She angrily tries to get everything within reach in her mouth - hands, clothes, burp cloth, me - all while turning shades of dark red and purple and periodically letting out high pitched "wahs" between a constant frantic chatter.  By the time you get the bottle prepared, she can be over the edge and will fight you to get everything else out of her mouth so that you can get the bottle in her mouth.  You remove one hand and the burp cloth goes in, you get that out and she does a neck thrust maneuver to suction onto your arm or neck.  Sometimes it takes two of us to restrain her enough to pop the bottle in her tiny mouth.  It's classic bad Gremlin behavior if I've ever seen it (which I just did on HBO India)!

I'll keep you posted on how the Gremlin thing turns out.  We had a big strategy session this morning on  how to mount a counter attack but these creatures are sick smart and I already realize we are really no match for Neve.  By the way, Hamish did do the 3am feed last night and it was total bliss for me!! Not only did I get to sleep almost solidly from 1:30am to almost 6:00am, she decided to do her BIG poopy diaper on his watch!! She may regularly pee on me, but I'll take that over the alternative any day!!

A side note.  I have been sitting in the living room blogging this morning after breakfast.  Dellip has been in a big cleaning mode since Holi and he's right now mopping the floor around me.  I had to put down the computer and watch.  Not because I've never seen mopping or that I'm taking pleasure in having someone mopping for me - geez guys!  It was because of his mop.  It looks more like a wide broom (so a long handle that goes to the floor and meets a perpendicular piece of wood)  - and he's using the mop apparatus to move around a thick towel thing wet with cleaning fluids.  I think our modern mops must have derived from this simple device, but in my opinion, it was not an improvement.  Instead of stringing mop with attached grey tentacles or a sponge like flat surface that falls apart after a few uses, with this mop, the cloth part isn't attached and can be properly washed and easily replaced. Seems like a much better way to mop to me.  We are definitely tossing the mop when we get back to NYC!!

All our best!! And Namaste!!

G, H & N

Draining a bottle at midnight.  She's got one eye open planning for the night assault!

This is how it all begins!! Run for the bottle - NOW!

Such a junkie!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Comings & Goings

The last few days have been spent mostly around home.  We had the Holi celebration on Sunday and, to be honest, I am at a loss for where the time has gone.  I feel like I'm doing nothing but still can't get anything done; like I'm always busy but have nothing concrete to show for it; like everyday is a run on sentence with no clear beginning and no clear end (much like this one!).  It's a strange vortex that I've fallen into -- I think they call it Motherhood!!

Neve has been home with us going on 8 nights and the 7 prior I have handled solo.  Hamish is working, blah, blah, blah - I want to bond with the baby, blah, blah, blah - so it's just worked out that way.  We have not even run across the Staton Island Bridge yet (NYC Marathon reference for those of you not following me) - but I'm starting to understand the wearing nature of the joy that is parenting.  EP's are shouting "you have no idea newby, NO IDEA"!

It's not just surviving one night or one bath, but being able to go the distance every night and every bath.  I admit that I might just need more than 2 hours of continuous sleep at least once per week to cheerfully pump Neve full of bottles 24/7.  That's why I am planning to take half of this night off!!  We are putting Hamish in the rotation for a night feeding and we'll see how he goes.  Will provide a detailed report and critique tomorrow when my razor sharp focus is back!!

Anyway, on Saturday we had two fun outings.  First we marched ourselves down as a family to the local barber shop to get Hamish's hair cut.  The general fashion for men's hair here is short on the sides and back and puffy with product on the top.  Hamish's usually style is the all around buzz cut with the number 3 (ie short all the way around).   Needless to say, there were stylistic differences. The Sukhdev Vihar stylist - in his two chair set up - was not about to hack that wonderful manliness atop Hamish's head!  Sides short? Fine. Back short? Good. Top short? No can do!  Poor guy - he kept pronouncing the cut part over and Hamish kept saying "shorter on top please" and the guy would survey things and do some combing and take off a few slices and again declare it done.  Hamish finally gave up moved on to the shaving part of the treatment!

At this point I thought we were about 5 minutes out.  I was getting hot, Neve had finished up reading the paper and having her coffee but the shave part kept going and going and then seemed to be turning into a facial.  We took off for home just as the peel was going on and apparently missed the hot oil rub with the vibrating machine that followed.  So Hamish did not get the exact cut he wanted but he got the full spa treatment and came home with glowing skin and a bad boy look with LOTS of product!!

Lots of combing but not much cutting for the top!

After getting properly beautified we went out to meet an Australian couple who are also currently in India  picking up their twins!  They invited us over for dinner and it was really lovely.  Neve received her first gift post-birth!! Thank you!! And, having read my blog and learned of my coke problem, they also brought me a whole case of diet coke!  How awesome is that?!  It was a treat to get out and to have nice non-Indian food (I LOVE the stuff but variety is the spice of life) and we were greatly appreciable of their hospitality.  See the three peas in a pod below.

We decided to give Neve her second bath in honor of her first social invitation.  We tried a more calm, easing manner with a bit warmer water - soft spoken voices, white robes, scented candles and the relaxing tones of wind chimes.  She tolerated parts of it, I'm happy to say, but was maniacal for most.  For someone who just spent 9 months naked in fluids she sure has an aversion to all things naked and all things water.  Go figure!

Believe it or not, this is a calm part.  
That "you're abusing me" look is really coming along!

Hope everyone is doing well!!  

All our love,

G, H & N


Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Festival of Colors!! Happy Holi!!

Today Delhi is awash in color as the Hindu festival Holi is being celebrated!  Also called The Festival of Colors, Holi marks the coming of spring.  So happy Holi everyone!!

The lead up to Holi started the day we picked up Neve from the hospital.  As we were leaving the apartment I went to toss some baby gadget wrapper in the garbage and noticed that Dellip was at the sink making up a supply of water balloons.  That's odd, I thought, but I had my mind on springing Neve and did not press it.  As we were driving out of the neighborhood the kids were running wild, chasing each other, with what?  You guessed it, water balloons!  Oh, we think -- tossing water balloons must be a "fun game" for the kids in our hood and Dellip must be playing along.  How sweet is that guy!!??

Barely missing a balloon missile as we launch over a speed bump, our driver calls back to us - "It's Holi".  And we nodded and smiled (as you do when you have no idea what someone is telling you in a foreign language).  "Holi?" we say. "Yes", he says, "it's the first day of the Festival of Colors".  Oh, ok - it's starting to come together for us that this balloon activity relates to some sort of festival that is "holy" and has something to do with "colors" (but we don't know much more than that).  The driver leaves us with one final thought - "by next Sunday, EVERYONE will be covered in colors" and well, at least in my case, he was dead on!!

Happy Holi!!

After things settled down with Neve at home, I set about doing some research on this Festival of Colors thing.  It was clear with the activity outside our gates that it was a significant holiday no be overlooked - more Thanksgiving than President's Day, if you know what I mean.  With each passing day, the neighborhood was becoming more and more exuberant and more and more dangerous (mostly for Hamish) thanks to Holi.  Our street is lined on both sides by 3 story home/apartments, all with large balconies facing the street.  The kids (and I suspect the adults are in on it as well!) have been using these balconies as bunkers for the launching of water balloons at innocent passerbys. There has also been an increase in maurading groups of water balloon throwers who do battle with each other and the balcony tossers in elaborate commando water balloon raids.  Luckily for me, the cultural barrier of my gender (and perhaps my lack of color!) has protected me from being a major ballon target - but Hamish has not been so lucky.  For the past week, each time he's gone out to the park, he's had to duck and dodge down the street to keep from getting splattered!  Tagging Hamish seems to be a great prize in the hood and as a result, Neve and I have refused to go out in public with him (at least until this whole thing is over)!!
So what is this Holi all about you ask?  Good question! Over the course of the week we had been chatting up Dellip and Mr. Mohank (and others) about the festival trying to understand what it was we were celebrating.  Everyone was BEYOND happy to discuss the color part -- but no one could really explain to me the origin of the festival and why colors and water balloons were a part.  So I took to Google to see what I could find out and the story goes something like this:

There was this bad king of the demons guy who had been granted a boon (blessing/favor) by the Brahma making it very difficult to kill him.   Once he had the boon he stopped worshipping the Hindu gods and wanted folks to bow down to him instead.  Demon king's son - much to his dismay - turned into a big time devotee of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu.  So, bad demon king decides to kill devoted son and tries a number of times but devoted son is being protected by Vishnu.  In the last such attempt, the demon king orders his son on to a pyre that is on the lap of his demoness sister Holika (not sure how this works) - who can't be killed by fire (or so everyone thought).  Devoted son is also an obedient son, so agrees to sit on the pyre and prays to Vishnu to save him.  Vishnu comes through and instead of devoted son dying, demoness sister Holika goes up in flames!  The burning of bad demoness sister is celebrated as Holi!  Apparently, pretty soon after this, someone comes down and takes out demon king as well - which seems like a good idea given he's an attempted son killer and a demon king.
The official portion of the celebration of Holi spans over two days - the festivities begin with public bonfires (in honor of Holi getting burned up instead of devoted son) and continues the following day with the throwing of colored powders and liquid on your pals and neighbors.  When the powdered colors are mixed with water (like when you get hit by a water balloon or one of the neighborhood kid's hose, the powder becomes a thick paint like substance that clings to every pore of your skin.  It runs all over you and literally saturates your skin with color mixing with more color.  Now I never sorted out what the color throwing has to do with Holi (I did limited research) but it seems this festival is as much about religion as it is about welcoming spring and love and mischief.  I sort of think the colors might be like the Christmas tree -- a big part of it if you're looking from the outside, but no relation to the actual origin.

The tossing of powdered colors and water balloons not exactly providing a safe environment for the baby - we clearly could not experience Holi as a family.  We decided that Hamish would go out with Dellip with the video camera and capture it all on film and I would stay in with Neve.  Easy!  After breakfast, Dellip pulled out some of his colors and gave me and Hamish and little color for our cheeks and foreheads -- just a gentle amount to put us in a festive mood.  Thinking that the festivities would get going later in the day (like most thing here), we gave Dellip and Mr. Mohank the night off and decided to make dinner in for ourselves.

Hamish is working so I say I will wander down to the veg stand around the corner and secure some provisions for dinner. It's just after breakfast, so we are thinking the coast will be clear.  As I'm leaving the apartment, someone comes up to me, says "Happy Holi" and smears my face with green powder stuff.  This happens a few more times and then at the veg stand -- more powdered stuff being smeared on my face.  Can't really be impolite, so I just say "Happy Holi" back and accept more powder stuff on my face.  That was all good and fine - no water ballon assaults and healthy amount of powder on the face.  Then I rounded the corner and was at the edge of our apartment.  There was a family of about 10 in our driveway.  More Happy Holis and each of them gave me big smears of different color powders -- now on my neck, arms, hair, more on face -- and then one of them added water a little water and -- well, you know, cause I showed you the picture already.  I'm covered head to toe in COLOR!!

I came down to the apartment and Dellip and Mr. Mohank were totally killing themselves laughing at me.  I was made to go out the deck for a photo shoot and was then told to take a shower.  Turns out, the powder part of the festival happens in the morning (ie when I went out) and is over by noon!  It was sort of the feel of mardi gras (but much less crowded, sub in powdered color for beads and women keep their clothes all on!) -- a celebratory crowd of all ages passing on blessings of spring and love by sharing a little colored powder with each other!

A total trip -- I'm glad I ran into in, even if on accident.  Now that being said, the removal of the powder was one of the worst things I've ever had to do!  Those neighbors really got me good!! Took about 2 hours of scrubbing to make a dent.  Once the non wet powder got wet it dripped down to the other parts of my body so that in the middle of the cleaning, my entire body was striped in a deep blue green color that was running off my face and arms.  It may take a few more days to get back to my normal color, but so be it.  I'm glad we were here to welcome spring and that I got to receive the blessing of Holi from our neighbors!

So, welcome spring and welcome love and may everyone have a lot more color in their lives!!

Namaste -

G, H & N

Dellip giving Hamish some color after breakfast!

Hamish's Festival of Color outfit.

Fruit & veg guys.

Happy Holi!

Marauding family who totally got me!!

Not even the stray dogs were safe from the color!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Bit Heavy

It is getting hotter in Delhi as we pass mid-March.  And with the heat comes an increase in pollution and dust -- and the smoke hangs heavy in the air.  I went out for a run this morning and thought it was just a bit overcast until it struck me that my lungs were struggling a bit.  Only the hard core locals were out walking the park this morning (they now nod at me and smile - almost like I belong!!).  The back of my throat was burning and post-run my lungs decided to spend some time ridding themselves of the pollutants (ie I was coughing up sludge)!  Ouch!!  Sticking to cardio-blast until things clear up around here!

I am happy that this was a planned day inside because I doubt this heavy air is good for newborn baby lungs.  I've been told that this gets much, much worse in Delhi as the heat really sets in in June and July.  I guess people treat if more like Jan/Feb in NY and stay in as much as they can.  Not pleasant and I feel for you locals.

Neve had her one week birthday this morning.  We celebrated with a bottle of milk and reminisced about the days before we knew each other, about how we fell in love at first sight and about how our love has really grown.  I remarked on how her new double chin and round tummy really suit her and she said the same about me (thanks Coke addiction)!  I agreed that she could have her own cake when she reached the one year mark and persuaded her that she was a bit young yet for a champagne toast!!  She just laughed, burped and went back to sleep!

Neve had two big firsts last night.  First, she lost the beef jerky thing that has until now been attached to her belly button.  Some medical experts might refer to it as the "umbilical cord" - but around here it's been Neve's beef jerky.  It was not a momentous occasion as she did not seem to even notice - but it makes diaper changing much easier (and it looked really gross) so I'm happy it's gone (sort of).

I say "sort of" because Hamish thinks the Neve jerky is a good momento and is keeping it on his bedside table!  He says it's sort of like how my Dad kept my little sister Margi's hair after her first haircut.  Margi had the most beautiful, thick long brown hair as a little girl - down to her waist - and my parents forbid her to cut it (which made her want to cut it).  And when Margi finally won out, my Dad insisted on keeping her hair as a reminder of when she was his beautiful baby girl.  That is a touching story and the hair is still beautiful and you can just see little Margi with that long hair as a child.

But the Neve jerky?  That is not, in my opinion, something that we will look at in 20 years time (not that it could last that long - even jerky rots at some point) and have a good walk down memory lane about back when that disgusting thing was attached to Neve's stomach.  I think this baby thing is starting to fry Hamish's brain.  Although if he adores her Neve jerky just think how much he must adore the overall package! So it's gross but still sweet, in a way, I guess.   I photographed the Neve jerky but it is so outrageously nasty, that in the interest of those of you who might be enjoying a nice cup of coffee or a sandwich, I have chosen to omit it from the blog. I'm sure Hamish will show it to you in person if you are really interested!

The other first was her first real bath with us.  She had a bath in the hospital, but since the Neve jerky was still attached we were mostly spot cleaning until the thing fell off.  And, honestly, the bathing thing really intimidated me.  We watched the nurse give Neve her first bath and it look highly hazardous to me.  Think trying to hold on to a wriggling, slippery 6 pound fish with no gloves - that has been covered in soap.  Like I said, intimidating. But, it was really passed time.

The night before while I was feeding Neve, I leaned down to give her a sweet little kiss on her cheek  an chirp to her about how she was my sweet little baby girl and got a whiff of this nasty spoiled milk smell.  I thought it was the burp cloth or her clothes or blanket and immediately changed everything.  In the morning when Hamish took over he confirmed what I had suspected the night before -- it's Neve, not her stuff, that smells like an alley way.

So with the cord off and the smell on, we set a time to attempt the bath that evening.  We boiled water in preparation (not wanting to run the risk with the tap water here), readied the plastic bath thing, set out all the clothes and soaps and towels, and turned on the shower to hot in the bathroom so that the air temperature would not bother her little baby body.  There was major prep work done but alas -- SHE HATED IT!  Cried her head off, thrashed around and really put on a good show.  I had a consultation with an EP after the event to calm myself and she suggested we might have let the water get too cold.  We are going to work on making the bath a more pleasing experience for Neve, but either way, she's getting baths every day from here on out.  Can't have her going around smelling like the garbage can at the milk bar up the street!!

Today has been quiet.  Hamish is working and he's been giving me little admin jobs to do cause he thinks I need to be occupied or else I'll get on the blog and make fun of him!!  Mr. Mohank made us some really tasty chicken soup for lunch (which is really more like egg drop soup) and nice omelets for breakfast.  The food is really all too great!!  Last night at the Lady of the Manor meeting Dellip and Mr. Mohank sensed that I am running out of ideas.  When that happens they try to offer up American type food like pasta and garlic bread which seems totally WRONG to me.  I  love sampling all the Indian food they cook up, so I say why be saddled by the Lady of the Manor -- just make us whatever (within reason) you want!!  But alas, that is NOT going to happen so, yesterday, I got some recommendations from some friends back home (thanks guys and anyone else has any, it would a BIG help!) and did some internet research and I'm going to attempt to make some new requests tonight at the meeting.  Wish me luck!!

So with my heavy lungs (and heavy heart - some bad news state side), I am signing off for today.  Sending out healing thoughts of love and comfort that I hope eases it just a bit.

All our love,

G, H & N

Daddy & Neve having some tummy time!  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

4 Days and 4 Appointment Later

Today was SUPPOSED to be a day of rest for me and Neve (or at least for me because every day is a day of rest for Neve!).  On each of the prior 3 days, a car has picked us up at 10:00 am to whisk us off to Doctor's appointments (days 1 & 2) and then to the all exciting DNA test (day 3).  All kidding aside, these trips were no picnic for Neve.  She has either been shot up with vaccines or pricked in the heal for the DNA test and frankly, she was OVER IT ALL.  And, frankly, I WAS REALLY OVER IT ALL!

It's stressful to go out on the Delhi roads (in what appears to be a constant rush hour) with a 4 day old baby strapped to your body in a carrier.  Trying to soften the bumps and turns that jostle baby's fragile little neck.  Trying to make sense of the outright poverty and unbearable living conditions in the make shift "homes" built on the sidewalks along the roads here; children begging from the cars in line after line of traffic.  In comparison, Neve is a princess and we are living a life of the utmost privilege here.  The juxtaposition is more than unnerving - and it's hard to wrap your mind around this type of existence for some and our kind of existence for others.  All kidding aside, this is a tough place to come to grips with on many levels.

So, when Hamish offered that he would tackle the Australian High Commission appointment today alone, I gladly accepted.  A day in the sanctuary of our apartment seemed like an amazing treat.  After our morning skype with the US, Neve and I were lingering in bed talking about what we were going to get up to today (she was like, "I think I'll sleep some, then eat some, then sleep a bit more, then eat a bit more . . . ").  I was considering my options, cardio blast, yogalates, give dance cardio another try (I had to quit dance cardio after a few minutes because of all the dancing -- I know, I know, that's the point of it, but I found it amazingly annoying after 5 minutes.)

Hamish joined us and started rooting through the various documents required for the AHC appointment.  We were working through the checklist - using our best lawyer skills, just treating the process as if it were a closing - each required document going into a closing folder.  Original birth certificate? Check.  Bank draft (a HUGE pain to get - took Hamish hours at the bank and 2 trips and he would still be there had our driver not intervened to "grease" the wheels)? Check.  Marriage certificate?  Check.  Passports? Check.  Statutory Declaration? Have the form, but it's not signed yet and CRAP - WE EACH HAVE TO FILL ONE OUT AND IT HAS TO BE WITNESSED BY AN OFFICIAL!!!! No, No, NO!!

Hamish says "well, ok then, you have to come with me" (and Neve too cause she's not quite able to make up her own bottles just yet).  And I say, "that's just not going to be possible" (cause I DO NOT WANT TO GO), followed up by "I guess we'll just have to go tomorrow" (all said in not so nice tone - if you know what I mean).  Hamish responds all voice of reason and fatherly, "well, if that's what YOU want, but we'll be delaying the process and who knows when we'll get out of India if we don't at least start the process today given the weekend."  Two things go through my mind (a) I'm not in a big hurry to get out of here, I'm in a big hurry to stop driving all over the place during the heat of the day with a baby and (b) my laziness can't be the reason we delay moving on from India to Australia, so I better get my butt up and in gear and get Ms. Neve's butt cleaned up and ready to go!!

So a flurry overtakes the apartment.  We have to leave in 30 minutes. . . . lots of documents need to be copied by hand and completed (we weren't quite as on top of it as I had thought!), we need showers, Dellip and Mr. Mohank are waiting for us to sit down to breakfast anxious about when to put in the toast,  Neve needs to be fed, changed, burped, bottles need to be made (sterilization & boiling required).  The entire apartment (other than Neve) was is in a total tizzy.  Dellip and Mr. Mohank don't really know what's going on but they can see it's something "not good" and follow us around trying to be helpful - they must think we are total lunatics!

Mishra, our new favorite driver, picks us up (we have him on special request as I won't get in the car with the others who have no respect for Neve's dilemma with her neck being so unstable and stuff).   He navigates us over to the embassy side of Delhi, which is lovely, with wide streets and big trees and we cruised through the AHC appointment.  The AHC case workers were exceptionally nice and so accommodating (we were actually missing two additional documents - bad lawyers! - but they are allowing us to scan the missing docs to them).  I can't help but thinking how strange it is that they are SO helpful seeing as Australia has laws against commercial surrogacy, but I'm not going to question the logic and just be thankful.  (Australia is not alone in it's anti-surrogacy laws, just so as you know -- it's pretty common.)

So, with the day 4 appointment completed, we have now officially lodged our application for Neve to become a little Australian!  For those keeping track, Neve will become an Australian citizen first and a US citizen once we get back to NYC.  Before we can leave India (that's with Neve and that's the only option!), we have to (i) get Neve's original birth certificate with apostile (which we now have), (ii) get Australian citizenship for Neve from the Australian High Commission based on Hamish's and Neve's DNA matching (ie dna test done yesterday in far off doctors office where little Neve suffered the great injustice of having her little heal pricked with a machine and her sweet little baby blood blotted on a dna test kit - not our finest moment), (iii) get Neve an Australian passport from the Australian consulate and, once we have achieved ALL that, (iv) get an Indian exit visa (which is the most unpredictable part of this process, as far as I can tell, and if you continue to read this blog, I am sure you will hear more on this one).

When we got home from the AHC appointment (safe and sound thanks to Mishra), Dellip and Mr. Mohank served us up tasty chicken salad sandwiches with the crust cut off - which were delicious -- and we each had a Berrocca (Australian vitamin B type tablets) for energy.  I am heading for a nap now.  Neve is already sound asleep.  Hamish is doing Hamish stuff on the computer and phone.  We have made some serious progress with project "Out of India" and all is well with the universe.  And, it's almost the weekend which equals -- you guessed it  - NO APPOINTMENTS!!!!!!!  Yay!!!!!!

Some random musings (and Neve update) that I'm too tired to pull together in any cohesive fashion:

Neve update: I am happy to report that Neve is doing great! Dr. Deepak (lovely pediatrician/host of the hospital) had us come back the day after Neve was sprung and then the next day for shots.  Coincidence or checking up on the newbies!?  She hated the shots, but got a clean bill of health and has regained her birth weight plus a bit already!!

Her personality is sweet and calm and she only cries if you poke her with a needle or don' feed her when she's given you 15 minutes of signals that she's ready.  She has made it a habit to projectile pee on us, herself and the bed at diaper changes (which I thought only boys did).  Got to figure out how to compensate for that or I'm afraid Dellip is NOT going to be so happy to have her around anymore with all the sheet and towel cleaning the peeing everywhere is requiring.  She makes lots of little strange animal noises sort of like a gremlin or  a piglet, which takes getting used to when you are sleeping next to her bassinet, but which are totally charming!  She is opening her eyes regularly and tracking voices.  She likes to skype because the screen is fascinating and the voices behind it are always loud and excited.

Hamish keeps asking me things like, "when will she be able to hold her head up" or "how old will she be when takes a full 6 oz bottle" and I keep saying, "how should I know, why don't you check the six pound baby book we brought with us called "What to Expect in the First Year""?  And he doesn't, so these questions linger out there as if they are my responsibility to track down - but I refuse to go down that path.  I am happy to be the mother, but this is not the 50s dude! If you want to know, look it up yourself!

This morning at 6:30am Hamish woke me up all panicked about making up a bottle "because Neve had not eaten since the night before".  Well yes, I think not eating for 6 or 7 hours would constitute an issue for a 6 day old baby but seeing as she had TWO feedings between 11pm and 6:30am, I think she's going to live for god's sake!  In Hamish's defense, he's working while we are in India and I'm taking nights, but to not notice 2 night feedings at all when we are all sleeping in the same room??  Guess I should just be happy that at least when he's awake, his mind is on Neve's well being!

Vices:  Since we arrived in Delhi, I've managed to pick up a nasty coke habit. Ya'll!! Not that kind!! When we were doing our original shop to stock up the apartment we ended up in a sort of western style grocery store (what I would call a deli) and I spotted a big liter bottle of coke (not diet cause it's not available for some reason).  I really don't drink much soda at all, but that liter of coke just stared me down from across the store and I had to have it.  And once we got it home, I devoured it  -- drinking coke at all hours of the day and night with abandon!

And then, like magic, another one showed up in the fridge just as the original was losing its fizz.  Dellip noticed my obsession (hard too  miss!) and he aims to please, so in addition to oranges every day, we now have a fridge stocked full of coke!

At first I feel great, but a few liters in I notice that my stomach feels bloated and crappy (and it's not Delhi belly), that I'm tired but totally wired (and it's not Neve) and that there is always a lingering thick, sweet and sticky taste in my mouth (similar to how it would feel if you sat down and ate 2 cups of sugar straight - which is essentially what I was doing!).  In 5 short days, I had developed a hard core coke addition!  Yesterday I tried to go cold turkey but I am ashamed to say that I just couldn't do it.  So I'm allowing myself one per day (that's one glass, not one liter) - we'll see how it goes!

 Good advice from premium EPs.  Before we left for India I started having panic attacks about taking care of the baby.  I think this is probably pretty normal, but it struck me hard that we had gone through all these amazing difficulties to have a child and -- in just a few weeks time -- this child would be placed in our care.  But we had not gone through any amazing preparations on how to care for said child.

I have given EPs (Experienced Parents for those just starting with us) a bit of a tease in this blog so far - but let me tell it to you straight - the EPs may toss out advice a little to easily, but they really do know what they are doing.  For example my favorite NY EP - a long time friend with two little girls herself (let's call her J.Mo), came over to my place just before we were leaving NY to assess Neve's wardrobe and baby stuff.  In addition to lots of good tips and some confidence building, she flat out said, you don't have enough of the long sleeved, long legged one piece things (she called them rompers, but that did not mean anything to me at the time).  I had tons of t-shirts and short sleeved things and she was like "are you taking this child to a sweat hut?  If not your baby is going to get cold easily and you need layers and more romper things." She was dead on and I'm SOOOO happy (and Neve is SOOOOO happy) that we doubled down on those romper things thanks to EP J.Mo!!

Another EP I have come to rely on is my friend Julianne originally of Windermere, FL (we were those inseparable child hood friends from age six and even though are lives have gone in very different directions and we are on opposite coasts, nothing has changed).  Julianne has 3 little boys, the last just 2 months ago.  You all probably know Julianne from her days as the Swamp Girl on Days of Our Lives (

Julianne's advice, which I have taken great solace in was "use your common sense - how would you want to be treated if you were a baby" and to relax and enjoy it.  She said that the baby will sense your tension, so try not to get too wrapped up in "doing it all right" and just do what feels right and works for you.  Schedules, nope!  Books, nope!  Just listening to and loving your baby.  Great advice!!  I can do that!!

And now that we are in it, I am feeling more relaxed than I probably have a right to -- and just enjoying the heck out of all the beautiful moments that make up each day now that Neve is a part of them.

Thanks EPs!!

Lots of love to all -

G, H & N

Neve in car.  She's the one in the Ergo with her face covered from the light!

Evidence of pain caused to Neve by various appointments (prick to little baby heel for dna test).

Neve surveying the massive documentation required for project "Out of India".  
Yikes, you guys better get organized!!

Out front of the AHC appointment. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Lost Post

 I was babying and blogging this evening and as I was trying to delete some unwanted photos that had drifted in without my permission, I MANAGED TO DELETE ALL THAT HAD BEEN WRITTEN TODAY!!!  All I can say is oh crap, oh double crap!  Tired, defeated, giving up!

Have a quiet day tomorrow and will pull myself back together!  Hard to be mad about much when you have such a sweet ball of love by your side!  She REALLY puts the small things in perspective.

Baby Neve is happy and thriving -- eating and sleeping her heart out and even tracking our voices with fuzzy unfocused eyes.  Very sweet!

Below, some of the offending photos.  They wanted to get on and so they will be seen!!!!

Our big night out before we brought Neve home.
Hamish fell asleep after the salad course - whoo hoo do we know how to party!

Hard to see, but elephant on the highway on the way home from big night out.

Girls napping and blogging!

I could not agree more!

Love to all,

G, H & N

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Springing Neve

It's about 4:30 am on Neve's first night at home with us!! I just finished a successful feeding and Neve is sleeping right here next to me -- all peaceful and beautiful saying "thanks Mom, you're no nurse at the hospital, but that's improved from earlier and will do, thanks."  At this ungodly innapropriate time to be awake, my sister Jen's words are whispering in my ears - "sleep when the baby sleeps." But on this first full night with baby Neve, sleep is as an elusive a creature as this tiny sleeping baby by my side.

When Neve sleeps, she (like most babies I suspect) makes little animal grunting and snorting noises.  They are irregular - sometimes constant and sometimes not happening for long periods.  Admission:  this is actually my first night EVER being responsible for a baby (basically alone because Hamish has crashed out).  Gasps of horror from the crowd at the child abuse that must be occurring in Delhi!! I can hear the pitter patter of grandmothers hurriedly packing bags and whizzing to the airport!! Now, calm yourselves and step away from the Expedia!  BY THE TIME YOU GET HERE WE WILL HAVE IT ALL SORTED!!

My reaction to Neve's night noises this first night has been to pop up out of bed to check that said noise wasn't meant as a tiny "help me" clue that she's taking her last breath (and thus would really appreciate my help. . . NOW!).  Yikes - somewhat irrational, I know, as she has been breathing without my guidance for a couple days now, but that's where my brain is right now!  EPs (which is what I call Experienced Parents) are laughing and nodding and saying, "yes, newby parent (that's what EPs call me and Hamish) we all go through that, and we all GET OVER IT.  This is not original material. Move on to something more interesting than baby care 101.  Next are you going to give us a drawn out explanation of how you sterilize your bottles?? Yawn!!"

Sorry EPs, if you're going to read, you're going to be drawn back to the days when you too were newbys and all the "crazy" was going through your minds and you found it all fascinating and worthy of lengthy discussion!! The next few weeks will be a steep learning curve for us as we get to know and recognize the clues that Neve is sending us and get comfortable with how to handle our little faberge egg.

Ok, so let's get down to what's been happening over the past couple days and how we sprung Neve from the hospital.  Neve is cramping my blogging, so apologies for the delay on getting this out.  I mean, can you imagine the nerve of her demanding my real time attention and getting in the way of me making new postings on a blog that was created to celebrate how much we want her?  Someone needs to get their priorities straight (not sure if that's me or her)!!

While Neve was in the hospital we were only permitted visitation with her for two feedings per day -- 9am and 6pm.  The day Neve was born, which was March 11, 2011 (not the 10th for all of you confused Americans -  what counts is the date in the time zone where the baby is born (ie India), not the date in America - now stop being so stereotypical!).  Where was I, right, so, on Neve's first day on the planet the pediatrician pronounced her healthy and said that we could take her home the next day.  We said wow, ok then - this thing is really on!!

Enter first excited conversation with my sister Jen after Neve's birth.  I gush -- "they are going to let us take her home tomorrow - can you believe it!!!!!"  Silence on the line -- then a sweet but disapproving "really?"  Then a line of questioning about Hep B vaccines and Apgar tests and metabolic screenings and jaundice that might present 48 hours after birth, etc., etc.  Then the declaration - "babies should be monitored for at least 48 hours after birth (translation: not by you newby, but by someone who knows the front end from the back end of a baby - you have never commanded a star ship before!!). Ok, point taken.  Although I want my play toy NOW, I will do the right thing by my baby girl and let her stay under professional care another day longer.  Geez!!

Let me just take a step back and introduce a couple people form team Neve - which has some incredible members.  First, Dr. Lauri Hochberg of Tampa, Florida.  Lauri is not only one of my besties from college (a fiercely loyal friend who will always tell it to you straight!) she was also top of her med school class and is now a fine NY, Mt. Sinai trained obgyn.  Lauri has been working pro bono on project Neve since she was just some cells on a scan and we can't thank her watchful eye enough.  We would get scans from India with updates on the baby's progress (from a few cells, to shrimp size, to spider monkey) and I would send them to Dr. H and each time she would pronounce that "the baby looks great" (big sigh of relief) and explain some of the medical mumbo jumbo (like what's with the description of the adequate fluid and low cervix, etc).  After the first scan Dr. H even declared "wow, this is a pretty modern looking scan."  Good to know from someone who would have NO trouble telling us otherwise!  Thanks Dr. H!!!

After the birth, Dr. H passed the ball (now know as Neve) to team Neve's personal pediatrician -- my sister Jennifer.  So if Jen sounds bossy and like she asks a lot of questions, it's because she's looking at this not just from the standpoint of a new aunt, but also from the standpoint of Neve's first line of medical defense.  Now let me just say - I am thrilled to have Jen on the team.  She is a great pediatrician and I have witnessed her save the lives of two of her good friend's kids by being (a) diligent in following up on things (ie bossy in her own way), (b) having a natural intuition about kids (which I hope is translatable on Skype!) and (c) trusting parents when they say they think something is wrong but the "what" part is incredibly not obvious but incredibly deadly.

So Dr. Jen Hen wins and at the morning feeding we tell the nurses that they get to keep Neve for another day.  I swear I hear cheers from behind the locked nursery door!! When we arrive for the night feeding, we peer through the glass at the little babies in the nursery - craning our necks to identify Neve from a distance by her clothes or her name tag on an incubator/baby container.  But nothing.  No Neve.  I guess in normal Mom land, this is where panic should have set in -- has she been whisked away to ICU (OMG!), has she been stolen out from under us (OMG)???

But the nurses are all smiling and waving and seeming so calm that none of that enters my mind.  Hamish says -- "look at those sweet twins in the corner sleeping together in the incubator thing."  Well, problem solved.  One of the "twins" was our little Neve!! There was an influx of births and not enough room in the inn, so the healthy babies agreed to pitch in and share.  By the way, Dr. Jen was HORRIFIED by this when we recounted it to her!  Babies sharing?  It's just NOT DONE!!  Well, Dr. Jen, you should have just let me take Neve home where she has her own private room with queen sized bed, attached marble bathroom and flat screen tv then!!! I kid, I kid.  We highly value Dr. Jen's advice and would be lost without her guidance.  So, thanks Dr. Jen!!!

At the 48 hour mark and no signs of problems, the pediatrician says that we can take her home after the next feeding and we begin the preparation for Neve's arrival.  I was so excited that I insisted on buying out the flower guy on the corner by the hospital from practically all of his stock!!  The flower guy was psyched and Hamish, the driver and Dellip (when we got home) were pretty shocked but I was so glowing with happiness that no one could tell me no!!  New babies need flowers and my Neve will NOT be deprived!!

We had decided to use the Ergo baby carrier with infant insert for car travel in India -- including to bring Neve home.  There are really no car seats in Delhi (I know EPs, calm yourselves), mostly, as far as  can tell, because there are limited (ie basically no) seat belts in cars here.  It is extremey common in Delhi to see couples riding on a single motor bike together, man in front with helmet, woman with no helmut in sari sitting side saddle on the back holding an infant.  If there are more kids -- they straddle up front of the man or go between the couple.  In comparison, the Ergo is like bringing home Neve in an armored car (or so I've told myself)!  When in Rome you gotta go with it and so we are.

Ergo contraption in hand (which we had tried out around the house with the formula tins that are about Neve's weight) we walked into the nursery and told the nurse on duty that we wanted to take Neve home, NOW, please.  She asked if we had gotten the Dr.'s permission (and then double checked to make sure we weren't big fat liers which I think is probably a good thing), then wrapped Neve up like a mummy (including a cloth diaper around her head and tied tight under her chin) and handed her to us to be on our way.  No paper work, no disclaimers to sign, no newby testing requirements to be complied with -- really more the hassle equivalent of say buying a 6 pound gourd at the Chelsea Market.  We were in and out of the hospital in under 15 minutes.  This place is a hoot!!

We loaded Neve up in the Ergo and headed for the car.  This is where things start to turn from bliss to oh crap! The pediatrician is at the door and we start to small talk while Hamish goes outside to locate the car and he starts to dole out sage advice.  The last thing he says as I'm heading out the door is "never leave the baby near fresh flowers."   I nod and say, right, of course, thank you, no flowers, everyone knows that one duh -- and don't let on that the apartment is FULL of fresh flowers.  Yikes, I'm calling Dr. Jen for a second opinion!

So we depart the hospital, get in the car and the driver (who we had before and liked) is driving like a maniac.  Shooting over speed bumps and through pot holes, pulling moves that are aggressive even by Delhi standards.  And I'm thinking, "really, with a baby, really?" Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating, he literally misses the turn to our neighborhood by 1/4 mile and instead of making a u turn or some other reasonable form of getting back, he just starts backing up -- in rush hour, with 5 lines of traffic coming at us - cars, rickshaws, buses etc. and dogs, fruit carts and people crowding the shoulder!!

Needless to say, there was some "tension" by the time we got Neve home!  Dellip and Mr. Mohank oohed and awed over little Neve (I think they do really like her!) and we took her to her new private room to get her out of the Ergo.  At this point, little Neve starts to cry.  Oh poor sad little baby!! This is the first time Neve has cried in our presence other than during her flash photography session for the passport photo on day one - so although we of course intellectually understood that this (the crying baby thing) was going to happen as some point (and potentially with great frequency) -- we were somehow caught flat footed!  We rushed about trying to swaddle her (very unsuccessful given all the flailing), checking diapers, adding more clothes because she had gone from a hot little thing to ice cold (insisting on a car with A/C was a bad, bad idea) -- but no luck.

"It can't be because she's hungry", I say, because the nurse just fed her and told us she would not eat again until 9pm as per the schedule (which of course after 2 days she knows pefectly!!).  But her little mouth is doing the open and close thing and her little head is rooting from side to side and all the signs of hunger were there  -- but we were following the instructions and the instructions were 1 oz every 3 hours and this was too early so it MUST be something else.

Neve thus far had not been real crazy about opening her eyes.  Light (I mean ANY light) equals pain to Neve.  But, as she's lying on our make shift changing table (ie towel on the bed) she opens those little eyes wide, furrows her brow, stops crying and shoots us the most offended/disgusted look she could muster.  Translation:  "Is this what you call "taking care of me"?  If you newbies don't pull it together soon, I'm calling a car myself and heading back to the hospital.  What I need is written all over my face!!"  The look was so powerful and pointed there was no mistaking the message.  Hamish and I first fell silent (up till then there had been a fevered trouble shooting dialogue between us designed to STOP THE CRYING) --- and next fell on the floor dying laughing! I could see teenaged Neve making that same face and insisting that we do not know what we are doing and she should be allowed to go to the concert . . . on a school night . . . . with her boyfriend . . . . on an overnight trip.  Try again little lady -- your birth has changed Daddy's views on gun control laws!!

Tossing the instructions out the window we listened to the clear signs Neve was giving us and popped a bottle in that little mouth.  A sigh of relief from Neve that we were finally listening - and then she turned back into the sweet baby girl we met at the hospital!!  The rest of the first night was spent feeding and soothing Neve and watching for signs of life.  Hamish changed his first diaper -- EVER!! And even though the diapers we bought are meant for a model larger than Neve - and practically come up to her face - he did a very good job!  (Yes EP's that means we were not able to roll those big ole diapers down below the cord.  Don't freak!! Tomorrow we will secure Neve sized diapers and get that on track too!)  I took the nightshift sans Hamish and by morning got to boss him around about how to do everything (a sort of revenge-light for getting no sleep).

Hamish took over with Neve and I went out to the park for a run. I felt as calm and confident as I had in my life and the neighborhood was particularly vibrant and teeming with life. (This was probably a hallucinatory perception issue brought on by sleep deprivation, but it seemed poignant anyway given we had survived the night!!)

I had done my first 3 laps heading in a counter clockwise direction, as we had done in previous sessions - passing the locals out for their morning walks mostly head-on on the narrow path.  It seemed as though they were all going clockwise while I was going counter clockwise (and it seemed as though they were all super annoyed with me because I was running them off the path every few minutes and because as an American, I was sticking to the right, while they were sticking to the left.  So, I stop, right there mid run, and think, "I have not been listening to this place either!" and turn myself right around to join the clockwise traffic.  Carrying forth, feeling I've turned a corner with both Neve and reading signs and being a Mom and with India in terms of heading into the flow instead of against it - people start coming at me head-on again!! WHAT??? Not possible!! You people were just going the other way I swear!

Then I notice it.  People aren't just traveling on the outside path of the park, but sometimes crossing north/south, sometimes east/west, sometimes around in a figure eight, sometimes choosing small half loops.  Ok, now my brain starts to get it and feeling freed by not having to run around in circles anymore I revel in the choices laying before me.  There is no pressure of right or wrong, just flowing with my own rhythm and forging my own path as I jog, jog, jog along.  I always run to music or podcasts but suddenly find the distraction annoying.

I want to be here, in the present - staying up all night with my baby, feeling, seeing and experiencing the world around me in real time - paying attention to what is going on and finding my own flow with Neve and the mysterious place of her birth.

Namaste and love to all,

G, H and N

PS -- Locals in the park (who I thought I was annoying) stopped me mid-run to introduce themselves.  They live in a very nice house right on the park and invited me and Neve over for tea when she's up for it!  I'm getting very busy hear!!

Buying flowers for the homecoming.
Sorry Dr. Deepak but Dr. Jen said it was ok!!

Neve's room, prepped and ready for the arrival of the little princess!!

Neve's first time in the Nest bassinet!

Hamish taking over in the a.m.

Loving her giraffe swaddle blanket!!