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!!


  1. Lovely and detailed update! You are right on track - pun intended - to become an EP in no time at all!
    When I think back to bringing our premature babies home, one under 4 pounds, into the wild west of Delhi traffic while swaddled in a basket that looked like a duffel bag, I laugh at how I'd be locked up for poor parenting choices in the states!
    But alas, India is exceptional at not worrying about all the stuff we've become accustomed to worrying about at home. Lives...even the new and delicate ones...carry on, despite what we've trained ourselves to judge about each choice of the day!
    Enjoy your floral sanctuary of sleeplessness!

  2. The postings are SO WONDERFUL!!!! And it is clear you are thrilled and thriving. Can't
    wait to hear more!!! love and miss you - leah

  3. Love your blog, G. SOOOO happy for you guys and for beautiful Neve. xoxo

  4. Even tho I'm a month behind in reading, I'll just pretend I'm not. I too followed that schedule! Ruby was rooming in, and it's maybe the longest I've ever let her cry. I thought I had to wait until 2am because the paper said to! Never did that again!

    Loving these details you are recounting.