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. 



  1. Wonderful details! LOVE your journey. You are doing brilliantly...both of you! The best advice we were given before we became parents was to listen to every bit of advice offered, read as many books as you can, take classes, and then throw it all to the wind and use your gut!
    Keep on keeping on....!

  2. Love reading your story. My partner and I are US expats living in Delhi. We just fertilized our eggs yesterday. We live only minutes away from the Australian high commission, and we've been here for 3 years. Let me know if there's anything I can help you with.

  3. You guys look like you are doing great! I am happy you were able to "spring" Neve from the hospital and settle into life as a family. Four appointments in one week sounds chaotic, I hope you can head to Australia soon. It was great meeting and visiting with you on Sunday. We got a positive on Tuesday!!

    Your updates are great!

  4. I have finally figured out that you are updating this just not the photo at the top. Put it down to fatigue ...

    Right I am now in the game again. Have just put in the application for Angus' Australian Citizenship and they tell me it will be 5 days. Lets see. Passport application may well be held up by too much white out (that old fatigue thing again) and the fact that James has to go to HK early next week. Stay tuned.