How it all went down (in gory detail feel free to move directly to the end):
I woke up at 3am this morning, mind racing, cursing my jet lag and trying not to wake up Hamish. Wanting off the ambien train (not a good time to pick up a drug addiction and all), I snuck/crashed out of bed (of course waking up Hamish) and headed for the couch. (By the way, we've actually only ever sat on 1 of the 4 couches here - must make a note to get out more.)
I called my mom in FL, checked some e-mails and started writing a depressing blog post about being stuck in baby purgatory. "How could this be happening to us, blah, blah, blah, self pity, etc." Hamish joined me soon enough and I got an e-mail from my friend Scott (now of NYC - yay!) suggesting that we check out the Honey Badger youtube video to kill some time. Well, what else is there to do at 4:30 am when you're waiting for the arrival of your baby through surrogacy in New Delhi?
That Honey Badger turned out to be one immensely pleasing video - combining humor, animals and grossness! I highly recommend it!! If that Honey Badger can sleep off cobra venom and wake up in time to rip the head off that snake, we can for sure be looked after like royalty in a magical and fascinating place while waiting for the arrival of the most important person in our lives -- right?? Inspired, spirits lifted, we fell back into bed at 5:30 am.
Well, it could have been jet lag but it also could have been my first instance of mother's intuition and my first instance of totally missing that intuition (so maybe that nullifies that it could have been intuition in first place?) Yikes -- confusing! Anyway, at about the time we crashed out, surromom started feeling contractions and went to the hospital to deliver! She was doing well at the start but at some point the baby's heart rate dropped dangerously low and - boom -- next thing you know - cessarian section - and our beautiful baby girl was born!
Hospital tries desperately to get ahold of us on our now dead cell phone and land line (ring, ring, ring -- where are those people??) But because we had both fellen back into a coma like sleep after the Honey Badger -- we missed the initial call To Get Thee to the Hospital! Nice, right? We wait and wait, all prepared in our little cocoon with baby supplies galore and full office set up featuring communications of every sort imaginable and and totally miss THE ONE CALL WE ACTUALLY CAME ALL THIS WAY TO GET!!!
Well, Hamish drags himself out of bed at about 8am and a few minutes later - phone rings (hospital still trying desperately to reach us), Hamish answers and I bold upright in bed. This is it I think (not realizing I've already slept through "it"! Hamish is still so tired that, at first, he does not recognize this as "the call". He thinks it's Bhawna calling about our weekend trip (yes, we decided to go away for the weekend was - going to be awesome, take a look - www.neemranahotels.com - Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan). Anyway, I'm not sure how that did not register a bit sooner, I mean when someone calls and says your baby has been born and you've been sitting in Delhi for a few days waiting for a baby to be born, seems like you would not confuse that with travel arrangements but so be it.
Bottom line, we missed the call to be there and missed the fist feeding of our little girl. Darn it and much worse words!?! Starting with a parental deficit already!! Neve, I promise not to sleep through any other of the important events in your life. You have my word.
Now here is the part where I have to admit that all this time I have been pretty sure that this baby was going to be a BOY. When I heard Hamish on the phone and rushed out of bed with my night gown on (hope D and Mr. M aren't in yet!) and heard the tale end of the conversation I said - "the baby has been born and it's a boy?" And he said, "the baby has been born and it's a girl and the nurses say she's particularly beautiful". A girl? A girl. A girl! A BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL!!!!!!!!
As you know, Hamish's materials dictated the gender result. He is one of three boys and has 4 nephews and 1 niece - so odds were with a boy - or so I thought. Instead, baby Neve joins the Sharp side of the gender battle where, with her addition, we log in at 4 Sharp daughters, 5 granddaughters and 1 grandson between us. My personal apologies to Torin (the sole Sharp grandson) and my happiest congratulations to Eloise (prior to Neve, the sole Berry granddaughter)! I was also looking forward to making jokes about how Hamish's Tiger Blood and Adonis DNA produced an exceptional male specimen. But oh well! (Note to parents, this is a Charlie Sheen joke, don't worry about it if it makes no sense to you.)
30 minutes after The Call we were in the car (stuck in traffic) eagerly awaiting the first sight of our little girl! Got to say, that is a nerve wracking experience. I'm pretty sure we did a terrible job of explaining to D and Mr. M why were rushing around like crazy people and why we ran out without eating the soft boiled eggs that the Lady of the Manor (that's me) ordered up last night from Dellip at the menu setting meeting! Sorry guys, we've got a baby to get to ASAP!!
We finally arrive at the hospital (which I should say, so that you get the sense, would likely be considered more of a "clinic" in size by US standards, so -- about 1/20th of Cornell soaking wet). We head up to the second floor nursery which has a glass front (but the blinds are closed, bummer) and eagerly make ourselves known to a nurse (not hard, we stand out a bit here).
Like magic the shades open to reveal numerous models of infant people!! OUR BABY GIRL IS ONE OF THESE ONES RIGHT IN THERE - SOMEWHERE!! Right in the front a nurse has just washed and is struggling to swaddle a wailing (I mean really upset and red in color from being so upset) baby with fantastic amounts of hair and I think, "that is our daughter . . . . . . and this is going to be challenging, please lord, give me strength."
Nurse #2 catches our attention and points in the direction of the peaceful, sleeping angel in the back row. Wow!! My heart jumped right out of my body and attached to that little nameless creature in less than an instant! It's hard to describe but I was truly overcome and I swear she was glowing (and no she was not under a jaundice light!). I felt in awe, blessed, and an intensity tempered by a sweet love. Not sure what H was feeling but it looked like we were right on the same page!! Even if (and when!!) our baby girl turns into the wailing child in the front row, we will always love her to pieces!!
So, at this point, we were down to "X" or Neve for a girl. [Not really "X" but Hamish read this much of the post before passing out and piped in that it was "not appropriate" to disclose on the blog the other girl name. Mind you, name X is not a family name or the name of anyone we know and many people know what X stands for (especially since my sister Jennifer suggested it at a large family dinner)! In short, this editorial request makes zero sense, but I will comply because (a) it's strange and (b) it SO makes NO sense that it's actually funny (at least to me). Now that the blog has gotten a bit "popular", Hamish is taking a new found interest in it -- but I can't have him micro-managing my version of our shared experience here (even if it's his experience too). Going to need some help from you folks to keep him otherwise occupied!!]
So, how did Neve become "Neve" and not baby "X" you ask with genuine curiosity?
Hamish remarks as we are leaving the apartment and heading to the hospital that, "it's a beautiful blue day and I think it's a sign that we should name the baby X". [Would make more sense if you knew what X stood for but sorry, I keep my promises]. I say -- really? Brain thinking, "this is not a compelling reason to name someone X but let's wait and see. Experienced Parents (hereafter known as "EPs") have said to us time and time again - "once you see your baby, you will know". Sorry EPs, but that one was a whopper (or at least it did not work in our case)!!
We were taken to the "parent meeting room" which is actually a 6 by 3 foot corridor between the nursery and the outside public hallway for our first encounter with our baby girl. In addition to doubling as the nurses closet, the bottle sterilization area and the place medicines are stored in a large fridge, the parent meeting room has a single red (sort of funky) chair. I was directed toward the chair and like magic -- a nurse wisked in with the baby and put her in my arms!! Wow -- she's tiny and breakable and she really IS a very, very pretty baby! No cone head or abrasions from birth, full ruby lips, long lashes and a cute little Hamish nose! A doll!! We did the photo thing, looked at each other with tears in our eyes and basically acted like shock victims.
Nurse comes back five minutes later with a piece of paper and a pen and asks us to write down the name of our baby. OK - moment of truth. What its going to be boy, Neve or X? NEVE OR X? Think it over, baby, baby, think it over. (That last part is meant to be sung to the tune of Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.) We told the nurse that we really weren't sure just yet, could we have a few more minutes? Nurse departs, more cooing to baby and then back to the task at hand.
Hamish does actually fittingly break out into song at this point, singing to our unnamed baby girl a rendition of What's Your Name Little Girl?! Alas, not response! Our unnamed baby girl was not revealing her "inner name" despite the EP predictions. Go figure!! First we would say, yes, let's go with X and then we would say, no it's Neve, no X, no Neve, no X, no Neve -- you get the point. Nurse comes back again, we rebuff her, again. Nurse comes back a third time, we rebuff her the third time. She's starting to get irritated and I'm starting to sweat from the pressure (and from the heat of the baby corridor and from the 5 pound heater on my lap)!! This is not going well EPs!
At this point a stranger walks into the baby corridor and I say "we are having trouble naming our child - what do you think between X and Neve?" I can feel Hamish staring at the back of my head in astonishment. We don't consult our parents, but you're asking a STRANGER??? Very nice stranger says, X is a popular boys name in India. What?? No way!! Yes, he says, and we get the distinct impression that it is way not cool to name your sweet baby girl a "boys" name in India (like it is in the US and elsewhere). Ok then, Neve it is!! So, that's how Neve became Neve instead of X -- the divine intervention of a stranger!! He popped in at the right time, touched our lives and popped right back out! Thanks stranger!!
So how did Neve make it to the top two you ask, now bubbling over with curiosity?
Well, Neve is a Gaelic name that means brightness and radiance. My name is Gaelic and of, course we like lights?? No really, when we put Neve on the shortlist, we were simply instinctually drawn to the name just because we liked it. We wanted something different (Gaelyn & Hamish cannot have a Mary) and Hamish was adamant about spellability. When I did some research and found out that Neve had a connection to my name and that the meaning was one of radiance and light (which we knew our baby would be and add to our lives) - Hamish actually said "perfect, Neve is at the top of the list along with X."
And so, our beautiful baby girl's name is Neve (just described in gory detail) McCollough (my grandmother's maiden name) Berry (you should know where that comes from or should probably not be reading this blog!! Joking - stop!!).
After the naming and a feeding, we wizzed around town picking up baby items (formula, bottle sterilizer, something/anything pink to even out the wardrobe), did the paper work for the birth certificate and, of course, had a celebratory lunch at a Chinese restaurant!! Isn't that how everyone celebrates the arrival of new baby??
Next up, causing Neve great discomfort for the first time in her tiny life. Most of the forms that are required to get Neve citizenship and a passport require photographs (like as in passport photographs). You don't take her to the FedEx store, but instead hire a photographer to come to the hospital. These photos require the baby to open it's eyes and not to touch it's face. Well good friggin luck with that! She's a less than day old baby!!
We have only known Neve for a day, but so far, she is not super crazy about doing much other than sleeping peacefully in someone's arms. A very lovely quality in a baby, but not so good for the photographer. So the nurse holding Neve tries to jiggle her awake and people are snapping and making loud noises and tickling her neck and touching her cheeks. She managed to get the left eye open just enough to sort out that whatever we are up to, she wants no part of. And so, Neve breaks down in tears, the nurse gives up in disgust (really at the photographer who I can tell she does not approve of) and hands Neve to me. Did I mention it's like 1000 degrees in the baby corridor and I'm sweating?
I try to do the eye opening thing but am not willing to go the distance in terms of the necessary jostling so a different nurse comes back, grabs Neve, jostle, jostle, jostle -- both eyes open ever so much and - click. The nurse then takes the camera from the photographer (I swear) and declares the photo good enough, shoos the photographer out, sits me down with Neve and fetches a bottle. I was hoping she was also going to fetch me a whiskey (or even better, a really cold G&T), but no such luck!
Nurses kicked us out of the baby corridor (they don't even allow for kisses and long goodbyes) and said we could come back for a 6pm feeding. When we arrived back, the hallway next to the baby corridor was chock full of a tense family standing in front of the nursery area. As we waited our turn for Neve, we heard behind the doors near the nursery in a high pitched loud voice, "push, push, push." The family was waiting for their son, grandson, etc. to be born and you could actually hear it all happening from the baby corridor!! As we sat down in the red chair to feed Neve we heard a loud yell (a woman) followed by whaaaaaaaaaaaaa -- the sound of a newborn taking it's first breath and announcing to the world that breathing air sucks!
The family broke out in cheers and I felt like we were part of the celebration. As we sat with Neve, they brought the new little one into the nursery all crying like crazy, calmed him down and took him out into the hallway to meet his new family. They cried and hugged and we were delighted to be witnesses to the occasion. Their baby was riled up, eyes open and ready to go! Had me feeling jealous about the photographer and Neve's performance. Now that kid could get one heck of a passport photo taken!!
Anyway, suffice to say that we feel extremely (and that's the understatement of the century) blessed to have Neve as our own. And we will love and cherish her forever. Witnessing the miracle of life and the love of that family as their little boy was born was just icing. Watching that family with their baby was like looking in a mirror. Their faces reflected the joy we were feeling and ours reflected it right back at them!
OK, long blog, not so funny cause I'm very tired (and soon to be more tired) and because there is nothing funny about having the most peaceful, beautiful little girl land in your lap like a dream come true!! It's just pure bliss!!
Special shout outs:
(a) To our family, friends and strangers from around the world (who are you in Hong Kong, Austria and Indonesia anway?) who have literally drowned us in love and well wishes today and in the days and years leading up to Neve's birth. You all are the best [insert friend, family, stranger here] that we could ever hope to have. Many of you have been with us from day one, pulling for us to keep trying, encouraging us, trying to cover up pregnancies!! We love you and thank you and would not trade you for all the honking in Delhi -- and that's that!
(b) We want to thank Dr. Shivani and the team at SCI for making this miracle come true and for guiding us through what is NOT an easy process with grace and strength and incredible modern medicine. Thank you so much!
(c) A few thoughts on our surromom who I credit for Neve's peaceful and loving disposition (she loves to nestle right in the crook of your arm or neck, it's stunningly amazing stuff!!). It is clear that Neve was made to feel safe and secure under her watchful care and for that and for so much more, we cannot thank her enough. Tonight, with my heart filled up with joy, I also feel a little heart broken for our surromom as she is made to let's go of the little radiant light that she so carefully carried for the last nine months. That's got to be painful and I want to recognize that and honor her here as she is the quiet but critical person in all of this miraculousness.
(d) To Hamish I would like to say simply say that I love you more than you'll ever know. Seeing you become a father today was an incredible event to witness. You will be Neve's rock - teaching her to eat cheerios regularly, to work hard, to be loving, honest and kind and most of all to be herself. Because if she just stays true to that, she will be a great success in whatever path her life takes her and you know that best, because you live it.
(e) And, to my baby girl Neve. Welcome to the world. You have forever changed mine.
Ok, I'm going to stop with the Oscar speech as I am now sitting in my bed, tears running down my face. Have been blogging so long that Hamish slept for a few hours and is now up doing work again! Sometimes it takes the emotional self a bit to catch up with the physical self, but we have clearly worked our way back into sync tonight and are firing on all cylinders!!
All our love and thanks for coming along for the ride,
PS. One of Hamish's best friends from Oz and his wife welcomed their 4th child to the world today and the two will share a birthday. This friend is the reason Hamish came to NY in the first place (which is the reason we met at all) and holds a special place in our hearts!!! Congrats James and Kath and baby Angus!!
The star of the show!
Angelina Jolie has nothing on those lips!
Having a snack.
With Moma at the end of the day!
And with Daddy at the end of the day.
Learning to eat.
Baby corridor and red chair.
Our new favorite place!!