Saturday, August 29, 2009

Covenant (Warning: grab a tissue...)

Today is the day of Micah's bris, (ritual circumcision). Because Micah is not yet Jewish, being born of a non-Jewish mother, we had a little leway to schedule the bris at our convenience (as long as it was before he was two months old, according to the mohel, otherwise it would have to be done under anesthesia.) In talking about the bris to Adam's father, who came to meet his grandson, I got a little curious about what, exactly, the bible says about circumcision. I was amazed to see that our situation is addressed in Genesis:
And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male
throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money
of any foreigner, that is not of your seed. He that is born in your house,
and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Although I thing the original text was referring to slaves, not the children of surrogates, in mentioning he that is bought with money from a foreigner, it was pretty freaky to see our situation addressed here.

We had a wonderful, very special day. The house was filled with family and friends, good food, laughter, and adoring attention for Micah. As part of the ceremony, we spoke some words to Micah about his name, which I've included below for those of you who couldn't join us:

Dear Micah, before we tell you about your name, we want to tell you about the miraculous way you came to be here today.

You see, your daddy and I wanted to have a little boy so much that we flew across the world and enlisted the support of two amazing women. The first was a very beautiful Muslim woman named Neha, who gave us a tiny bit of herself to help us create you. The second was a small, determined Hindu woman named Rajeshree who carried you in her womb for us. We don’t know a lot about these women, but we admire their strength and we hope that we have helped improve the lives of their
families while they helped us create you.

Your mother,
Stephanie, also played a powerful role in your creation. Some women create a baby with their bodies, others use their brain to find a way to have a baby. Your mother’s persistence and her strong drive to have you kept us moving forward in the process of creating you. Some day, when you get bigger and ask me how babies are made, I am going to tell you that babies are made by e-mail, because you started out as a lot of e-mails flying back and forth between your mother’s computer and India.

We fell in love with you when you were just a tiny handful of cells, far away across the world. The fact that you are here today, growing like crazy and looking just like your daddy, is absolutely amazing. We take such joy in watching you grow and change each day

Now we want to tell you a little about your name. Your first name honors your grandma Myra, my mother. She was fiercely devoted to her family and loved her children unconditionally and without judgement. We hope that you grew up to view the world and its people with an open mind and open heart.

The M in your name also reminds us of your great-aunt Margie, who was Grandma Judy’s sister. We hope you are inspired by Margie’s creativity that you see around our house, and share her traits of empathy and warmth.

Your middle name, Gabriel, honors two women named Goldie. The first was my grandmother, your great-grandmother. She was a great lady endowed with an uncompromising sense of pride, a gentle spirit, and a resiliency for tough times. We hope that you walk with your head up high even when confronted with the biggest of obstacles On a side note… my grandmother made the best chopped liver in the world and I will be happily passing that recipe to you as well.

The second Goldie was my great-aunt Goldie. She was a vivacious and outgoing woman who was full of life. We hope your life is filled with the same spirit of joy that Goldie had.

And lastly, you will carry on my last name, Sacks. It is my father’s name and it carries the history of people that immigrated from Russia in 1905 They came to this country with big dreams and hopes of a better future. It is my final wish that you live your life – which could touch the 22nd century -- with even bigger dreams and even better future.

After we read this, I also read a poem I had written when Micah was just a few days old. Although this is a poem for Micah, I wrote it thinking that everyone needs to be reminded of how precious they were to their parents and families:

A poem for Micah

Never Forget

That there was a time when someone
Held your entire hiccuping body
In one hand, willing it to end

Anticipated your tiny darting tongue's
Search for milk and watched,
Ravenous with love
As you drained each drop

And studied how your whole face yawned

And never forget that your cheek was touched
-- oh so gently--with awe
And wonder at it softness

That no one had ever seen eyes
So intelligent
So silky
A mouth
o achingly bowed
Like rare seed pearls

And nevery forget that,
Bundled in flannel,
Your five pounds eleven ounces
Held boy, teenager, and man
Grandfather father son father grandfather
The last century and the next.

Micah was a trouper through the ceremony, crying only when he had to be naked, and enjoying the drops of Manashevtz wine he got to suck on afterwards. The baby Tylonal that he's one has him sleeping very comfortably, so I think he isn't in too much pain. Mommy and daddy are beat, though!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A pro's shots

Fun at home

Future babysitter Samantha R.

Sushi tries to figure out this strange new addition to the household -- not sure if he's more curious about the baby or the baby gym....

Adam steals one of Micah's recent gifts for himself

"Little tree frog" challah from Micah's first shabbat at home... this will be reprised at his bris.

This one is for Elana.... comparison shot of Micah vs. the giant zucchini. Micah wins on length, but I think the zucchini outweighed him.
Coming up later today.... I will post photos from today's professional photo session. For two non-photogenic people, we took some nice shots, and Micah was surprisingly wide awake and calm through the whole thing, even allowing us to keep him naked for half an hour, though the photographer's backdrop paid the price for that one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

A bit more fussiness has set in, for both Micah and his parents. Some of it seems to be gas related -- we're mixing in a little human milk purchased from the Milk Bank with his formula, and that seems to be harder on his digestive system -- and some of it might be from more stimulation during the day (anything would be more stimulating than our 2 weeks in a hotel room!)

We've got a system that's working for us as far as sleep goes: I stay up with Micah through the 1:30 feeding, dozing in the guest room between the 10 pm feeding and the 1:30ish feeding, then sometime between 1:30 and 3:30, Adam and I switch places and he takes over until I wake up. Adam, who often has to wake up at 4 am during the school year, has a harder time going back to sleep once he's awake at 3 am, so he usually needs a mid-morning nap. Micah usually goes back to sleep after each feeding, but today he fussed quite a lot during Adam's shift. Right now, he's having his morning nap in my lap because he couldn't seem to get settled anywhere else, and Daddy is having his nap as well.

We're scheduled to go Target for some "oh, isn't he cute and dinky" photos, and I especially want a few ones of Naked Micah with Daddy's Big Muscles, but I wonder whether we're up for it. The Target photographer said to bring him even if he's sleeping, but she didn't say what to do if Daddy was sleeping too! He's much harder to carry into the store while sleeping.....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Better Late Than Never

It used to be that people would mail these things. Given how public our "announcements" about the baby have been, I figure posting it here is just as good.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Good Does It Feel to Be Home?

Complaints have been lodged with the management of Baby Masala that full due coverage has not been given to our homecoming. Therefore, I bring you these scenes of our happy airport greeting from Grandma Judy and Grandpa Ivan, taken by proud honorary-aunt Elana. Great Aunt Jackie, and cousins Rachel and Sarah were our first visitors at home, arriving about half an hour after we did. Cousin Rachel and Grandma Judy have been back several times to help babysit while we caught up on sleep we missed during our 40 hours of travel. We've also had visits from cousin Gloria, friends Mark and January with their little ones Matteo and Viviana. And, we've taken a few walks in the neighborhood where, it seems, baby attracts other babies: we've met three neighbors who all have had babies in the last 2-5 months.

Seriously, it is awesome to be home. We're loving the Colorado sunlight, dry air, and warm fall-feeling days, and luxuriating in our comfortable house and quiet green neighborhood. We're so grateful to have so many friends and family around us -- nearly 60 adults and a dozen kids have been invited to Micah's bris on August 30 (If you live in the Front Range and we've somehow missed sending you an invitation, please let me know -- you're invited!) Micah is loving his room, and sleeps alone in his crib without complaint. We've had one fussy night of gas pains followed by general "I'm too tired to sleep" crankiness, but otherwise he's just a doll.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Micah's Anne Geddes Moment

Are we having fun yet? You betcha!!!

Micah saw his doctor for the first time yesterday. He's gained a full pound in less than 3 weeks (that's like someone who weighs 150 lbs gaining 30 pounds in 3 weeks!!!) He weighs a little more than the humongous zucchinis we found in our back yard (forgot to tell the house-sitters to check the harvest.) We found out that he measures 20"long. All signs point to a very healthy baby!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th circles of Hell

Below is my promised post about our experience at the FRRO. This is out of chronological order, since we're all now safely back in Denver. Will post some photos of our arrival in Denver and first few days at home in the next day or so.......

August 13, 2009. Mr. Fahrenbach, I'm sorry I don't remember our 9th grade discussions of Dante's Inferno well enough to remember whether hell actually had so many circles.... if it did, it would feel a lot like our 8 hour stay at the FRRO office. As you'll all remember from my last post, the only flights out of the country that I was able to find were from Delhi, not Mumbai. I thought that all of my pain and suffering for this decision would be the hassle of the additional connection. WRONG!

We arrived at the FRRO office at 10 am when it opened, and our agent waited in the first line -- the one where you get a number to see an agent. He got to the front of that line and found out that he needed to make some photocopies before he could get another. There's another line to make photocopies. About 40 minutes had passed by this time; when he got to the front of the first line, the clerk took a look at our airplane reservations and said there was no way they could help us; we'd have to apply for an exit visa in Delhi. We were shocked. Cold sweat, trembling, the whole works. Even if we could have gotten to Delhi earlier in the day, tomorrow is a public holiday so the FRRO office was going to be closed.

We start trying to pull solutions out of our hats. At some point Adam suggested that we show them a copy of our original itinerary, which showed us leaving Mumbai on 28th August. To do this, I left the building with Dilip, our "Your Man In India" concierge, to trot around the neighborhood for a half-hour tour to locate an internet cafe, then an ATM in case lubricating cash was required. All told, we were probably running around the neighborhood for an hour and a half, all the while on the phones with our friend Amit to research other travel options, and other people who were familiar with the FRRO operation. We get back to the FRRO office with this print-out showing our prior ticket, but discovered after another wait that this wasn't going to be helpful -- that the exit visas are port-specific, and getting an exit visa from Mumbai wouldn't help us in Delhi. Over and over, people told us that we'd just need to change our airplane reservations to leave from Mumbai, but in truth that would have required staying through the middle of next week and either buying new tickets at a cost of $2100 or changing our tickets on continental again for a cost of around $2000 plus many additional days of hotel stays and meals.

By this point it is around 12:30, and Adam has another brilliant idea, to contact the American Embassy. We contact the vice consule, Marissa, who has come to know us pretty well over the last few days. She agrees to try to call the "superboss" -- the Deputy Police Commissioner - at the FRRO and see what she can do. We feel pretty good at this point, sure that it is just a matter of time. We tell the clerk at the front that the American Embassy is going to call her boss, and she agrees that we can see him after the call comes. By 1:30 we're still sitting around waiting; the FRRO tells us that the embassy never called. We try calling the embassy staff, but they're now at lunch. By 2 pm, we speak to Marissa again and she tells us she's tried to call, but hasn't the secretary hasn't put through.

At this point, we plead to speak to the Deputy Policy Commisioner even if he doesn't speak to the embassy, and we're ushered into his private waiting room - smaller, with just an overhead fan going and the sound of chickens clucking on the street below. We haven't eaten anything since breakfast, and we're starting to get very drowsy and dizzy. There are 2 other people in line to speak to the DPC; we all sit there unmoving for over an hour. At a few minutes after 3, we're finally invited to speak to the DPC, whose office is chillingly air conditioned. I would have sold him Micah at that point if he let me continue to sit in his office and take a nap. He immediately told us that there's nothing he can do for us, that he's explained this to the embassy already, and that we must change our reservations to leave from Mumbai or get the exit visa in Delhi. Finally he makes a few calls and tells us that if we'd like to put our request in writing, he'd consider sending it to his colleage in Delhi when he gets back from a meeting at 4:30. He alluringly tells us that we're free to leave the building and come back at 4:30. Later, I wonder if this is a trick for him to see whether we're really committed.

So we go back to his waiting room to compose our letter. No one seems quite clear on what we're supposed to do with this letter once we're done; do we wait for the DPC to return, ask his admin to fax it to Delhi, or what. As we wait, Adam and Dilip try to convince me that we should go get lunch and come back, but I refuse to leave, and send them to pick up something for me at McDonalds instead. Keep in mind that all this while, from 10:00 through 4 pm, Micah has been either in his sling, or dozing on a couch, fussing a bit because his diaper wasn't getting changed frequently enough, but otherwise fairly peaceful. He really needed to be fed before we saw the DPC, but I suggested that the DPC would be more eager to help us out if our baby was a little unhappy.

Finally, at 4:30, as we were wondering whether the DPC was really going to come back from his meeting, or whether his counterpart in Delhi would be there on the eve of a 3-day weekend, one of the interview clerks called us into his cube. Jon of Bonjour Parenthood, you'll love this: It was Mr. Ireni. Anyway, basically he said "I've seen you sitting here all day with an infant, I'm going to help you. This is something we never, never do in any situation, to issue an exit visa from Delhi. Go fill out the application; the servers will be turned off at 5 pm." So with trembling fingers I filled out the application, then came back and gave a different clerk all of my documents, one by one, which she shuffled, stapled, and then sent me back to the waiting room to pay for the visa ($80 US, in Rupees), then back to her office to give her the receipt showing that I paid, then back to the waiting room for another half hour while they put a stamp in Micah's passport and filled out an elaborate form giving us permission to leave via Delhi -- sort of a fancy "hall pass" complete with Micah's photo, an embossed stamp, and someone official's signature. (Later, at the airport, two different people examine this note, reading every word of it. The immigration official kept the form, and we tried to explain that we wanted it as a souvenier, but he kept insisting that it was only good for one day and therefore we couldn't have it back. I wish I'd taken a photo of it before we had to surrender it!)

Outside, as we waited for our cab, we were absolutely wrung out and surprised. We did not think we'd be successful. Why did someone finally take pity on us when all day we were told that nothing can be done? We don't know. Was it our tenacious stupidity in staying there all day? Was it the calls that were made on our behalf by our embassy, or the hotel's security officer? We actually think the latter may have done the trick. Aparently when a foreigner checks into a hotel in India, each day that you stay there, the hotel's security officer has to send a copy of your passport to the FRRO, so they know that office very well.

After that, all it took was a 2 hour cab ride to our hotel to finish up the day. We made good use of the hotel's dinner buffet, since we barely ate between 7:30 am and 7:30 pm. If you know Adam, that, as much as anything, will tell you what a stressful day it was.

Dear reader, if you are in the midst of pursuing surrogacy in India, do NOT attempt this trick. Plan to leave India from the same city where your exit visa will be issued.

So, as we hopefully wind down our trip, we have to say that parenting isn't very hard yet, but we are exhausted, spent, wrung out, mystified by India, and very very much looking forward to getting home. However, this adventure could continue: It wasn't until we were in the cab that I read the visa Micah received more carefully and saw that he only has until the end of the day on the 14th to leave the country. In other words, if our 10:50 pm flight is delayed at all, we could run into trouble (Jon, why didn't I read your comments earlier????) Let's assume that, since everything is going wrong for us, that this will go wrong too, and that my next post will cover our adventures with the FRRO office in Delhi.....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home Sweet Home

4 airports + 3 planes + 1 shuttle bus -30 hours without sleep + not much food + 1 happy greeting at airport = 3 very happy (+ tired) campers!

P.S. See below for post about our FRRO experience.... coming in the next few days: our own version of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Midnight's Children

It has been some time since I read this Salmon Rushdie book about the partition of India and Pakistan. The title (If I'm remembering correctly) refers to families on opposite sides of the border who were separated from each other by the imposition of partition and the subsequent hostilities between the two countries. I'm finding it ironic but hopefully not significant that under the terms of Micah's exit visa, we have until midnight tonight, the anniversary of that date, to get our baby out of the country. Please pray for us that we're not separated from our family and home by some arbitrary beaurocrtic act tonight.......

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Farewell to all that

We're heading home!!!! If all goes according to plan -- and I have no reason to believe it will, after everything we've been through this week -- we'll be home at 9 am on Sat. At breakfast this morning, we estimated that we've spent 22 hours in government waiting rooms in the last week, not to mention the 4 days sitting in our hospital room without moving. The upcoming day is going to be interesting, as we travel through 4 airports with 4 suitcases, 3 carry-on bags, and a baby. Packing our carry ons to make sure we have enough baby supplies for the trip is a challenge; since we've never done this before.
I have a very long post about our experience at the FRRO, but I'll wait to post it until we're home. In the mean time, I leave you with this picture of Micah's friends here at the VITS hotel. They have been very very interested in him, because in India, its customary that a baby doesn't leave the house for the first 45 days of its life, so the idea of a infant in a restaurant is quite the novelty. I think the VITS staff better get used to seeing it though; there's a lot of surrogacy babies in the pipeline!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guess Who's a US Citizen!!!

Another day, another trip to a government agency.... and today's trip had a very happy result!!!! After paying our DNA lab an additional $250 to expedite our request, we received the results that confirm that there's a 99.998% chance that Adam is Micah's father. (Just look at their toes, eyebrows, or mouth if you want to remove the existing .002% worry from your mind.) The embassy called us at 10:30 to say that if we could bring them Micah's birth certificate today (the product of yesterday's visits to government agencies), they'd do what they could to process his passport in 24 hours. When I arrive after a 1 hour cab ride, they surprised me by saying that they'd turn the passport around in an hour if I cared to wait. Did I ever!!!!

We just have one more agency to visit, the FRRO office when Micah needs to receive an exit visa (since he carelessly didn't obtain an entry visa prior to his arrive in India). I can only hope that this process is like childbirth in that we'll forget about most of these excruciating details as soon as we walk in our front door...

Anyone who is going to be insulted by any quantification of our trip home, or who is going to accuse me of being ungrateful to the 1 billion people of India should just stop reading right here.

When we planned this trip, I was advised by the airline that I couldn't make a one-way booking to India because of the visa requirements, so I booked a round trip ticket with plenty of time in case Micah arrived closer to his actual due date. And I chose Continental to book my ticket because they offered one-stop travel from Denver-Mumbai. So this afternoon, with passport in my happy hands, I called Continental to re-schedule our flights, only to find that every seat on Continental to the US was filled through the end of August. Must be lots of families from the US who come to India for the summer months to visit their families and need to be back in the US for the school year. For a few hours, Adam tried to convince me that we should take this time to travel in India, see the Taj Mahal, or go to a beach and hang out and relax. I tried to open my mind to this idea, I really did, but the idea of bringing Micah through train stations, airports, and crowded places when he's less than one month old, in a country that's being griped by swine flu panic, not to mention the usual monsoon season illnesses, just made it hard for me. I really would like to see the beautiful places in my son's birthland, but we're just tired of being strangers in what is for even seasoned travellers like us, a strange and confusing land.

We finally were able to find seats on a flight from Delhi to Denver this Friday, costing us an extra $1100 above the $3000 we already paid for these tickets as well as $150 for Micah's ticket. AND we also had to book a separate $200's worth of tickets from Mumbai to Delhi. AND it doesn't seem like we'll be able to get the bassinet seat, so we'll have to hold Micah on our laps for the entire 26 hour flight. Did I mention that we've now paid $4450 for these tickets? Did I mention that domestic and international airports are separate in India, which means that we'll have to check our bags in Mumbai, re-claim them in Delhi, transfer to the International airport, re-check them, and then get on our international flight. This is not optimal even without an infant, but we'll do what we need to do to get home -- where we'll be by Sat. morning at 9 AM!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Waiting for Godot

As preface to this post, I have to mention again that I have a sweet gorgous baby -- he's easygoing, healthy, and only complains when he has to have his clothing changed. Poor little guy doesn't like to be naked yet, although if he takes after daddy, that will soon change. Caring for him has been easy, and Adam and I have developed a routine that lets both of us sleep for 5 or 6 hours, so neither of us feels too sleep deprived.

And, I should also say that it isn't like we're in a 3x3 cell. We have two TVs, a kitchen, room service, laundry service, free internet, a gym, and a restaurant that delivers to our hotel. We've had contact with other IPs and feel very lucky to have Amit as not just our travel advisor but also a friend.

I'm reading a wonderful book, What is the What, by Dave Eggers, based on the real-life story of one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan after suffering horrible deprivations for 10 years in Africa. It certainly puts things into perspective and I realize that we're not suffering. (it is also extremely well written and I highly recommend it just for the way the story is told.) I also know that there are millions of people just beyond my window who have lives that they would trade in an instant if they could hang out in this hotel apartment instead of us. I know that in a week or so, we'll be back in our beautiful, sun-filled home in Denver with this gorgous baby and our friends and family around us, and we'll probably miss being able to call room service to make up our room, wash the floor, bring us fluffy towels, and change the sheets on our bed.

But, this waiting is really hard psychologically. I woke up feeling quite depressed with my stomach in knots; it feels like we're in some Groundhog Day-like dream (sorry to mix my literary and pop culture references) where it is a new day every day that's exactly like the one before. Some phone calls to good friends Elana and Cynthia helped a bit, and I'm sure I'll feel better once I get to the gym after Adam comes back.

I just gave Micah his first real bath (all by myself!), and it made me feel very competant that I didn't drown my kid. He liked the warm water, and I can't wait to try out the Baby Bucket bathtub from friends Bonnie and David. Now he's all snuggled up in a fleece snugglie that's on loan from friends Jill and Joel and grunting softly in his bassinet as he tries to fall asleep for the late-mid-morning nap (or is this the early-afternnon nap?) So many people are with us on this journey, whether by phone, comments on the blog, e-mails, etc. Please know that we really value your notes and encouragement; it really means the world to us right now.

Postscript #1: Adam continues to lobby to change Micah's middle name. I think Gobi, Ghandi, and Ganja have been suggested. I might have to lobby for Godot ....

Postscript #2: Our birth certificate apparently is ready to be picked up tomorrow. Next steps are to get the DNA results, then the US embassy needs 24 hours to make a passport, then we have to go to an Indian government office called the FRRO with our passport & plane tickets. It is beginning to sound like we won't be able to go until Monday, but still, the end is in sight.....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Little tree frog

From our trip to the mall the other day. Adam wants to know when we get our 50% refund.
And a shot from today of our little tree frog.
Important lesson of the day: be careful what you ask for when your baby is constipated. 'Nuf said, I think!


.... that Micah's the author of the last post! Of course, the mittens over his hands make it a little tough, which is why he needs help from Daddy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

From Micah

Oooh, loud noises again. That must be Daddy watching that flat box on the wall again. Sounds like it's a Bruce Lee movie; he's also shown me The Matrix and a bunch of other violent movies. Mommy doesn't like me being exposed to those movies, but Daddy tells her I don't understand them yet. What, does he think that just because my eyes don't open for very long that I can't tell a bad movie when I hear one?

I think I'll practice making squinty faces for a while. Maybe I'll use every muscle in my face to yawn. Mommy and daddy seem to enjoy watching me make faces, even when I'm having what Mommy calls a party in my pants. Can they give a guy a little privacy, maybe a New Yorker to read while I'm doing that? I hate it when they have to unwrap me to clean up after the party, too -- I'm kind of embarassed at how skinny my legs are, and they get cold quickly.

Other than that, I'm doing pretty good. My big news today was that my umbilical cord fell off! I'm pretty excited, although now mommy is threatening to make me start doing tummy time, which I heard is bad. Daddy is already trying to get me to work on my triceps, though, so I guess I'd better get started training.

These folks feed me pretty regularly, and I'm drinking about 13 ounces a day now. I can tell that mommy has a harder time getting the bottle in at 2:30 when I wake up for my snack -- I keep telling her she needs to open her eyes, but she doesn't listen to me. Mommy usually stays on the couch with me until that feeding, then Daddy takes over while mommy gets some sleep.

Tonight, Mommy and Daddy discovered a restaurant that will deliver food to our hotel, so they're very well fed as well!

When they're both awake, Mommy and Daddy spend a lot of time looking at me. I must say that I'm looking pretty good, even though I still have a shiner and some other bruises on my face from the delivery, but I've been having pretty good hair days lately. I wish Daddy would stop poking at my ears, hoping that they don't pop away from my skull, and that mommy would stop fussing over the big bump on my nose. They told me a joke about a mommy and a daddy who both had their noses fixed and were surprised to have a baby with a big nose, but I don't get it. Daddy has started calling me "Hawk" and Mommy sometimes calls me "Little Bird," particularly when I'm in the sling and starting to root for food.

I thought I'd show you some pictues of the room I'm staying in, including my bed (thanks, Ilona!), Daddy reading near my changing table, me modeling a cute outfit that my cousins Rachel and Sarah wore when they were little, and the kitchen where my bottles get sterilized. I've also included a funny picture that Mommy and Daddy took when they were trying to get me to pose for my passport photo.
Gotta go for now; I think it is time for another long nap!

Two strikes we're out.....

Today it was back to the embassy for passport pictures and then to a nearby hospital to get our DNA test. The DNA process is quite complicated: two witnesses from the embassy have to come and watch the sealed envelope be opened; there was also an official who documented all the details of the test, a very kind and elegant doctor who did the actual swabbing, and a nurse or assistant of some sort. The whole thing is quite a ritual. The doctor was nice enough to do this for us today; usually DNA tests are only conducted on Thursday and we missed our appointment. The DNA test is now sitting in its little FedEx envelope, waiting to fly to the US for processing. I don't want to jinx our luck by speculating about our departure, but it will take at least 2 business days to get the test to the US, and 2 days to process it, so we're cutting it pretty close to get out of here by next Sat.

Anyway, it was a long morning, and we arrived back at our hotel hungry for lunch. We decided to be adventurous and -- gasp-- cross the street in front of our hotel to go to a restaurant for lunch. Now, crossing the street is an adventure in itself; it is a three lane road in each direction, but with no lane markings and construction in the middle where train tracks are being built. Nobody pays any attention to lanes, though, and everyone is weaving through traffic; also, the motorized rickshaws are only half a car wide, so you could potentially have 6 vehicles coming at you at any moment. Getting across the street is like playing Frogger, and was pretty terrifying with a baby because you just have to step out into traffic and hope they don't want to hit you.

So we finally got to the other side; there are two restaurants there. The first ushered us up a very steep set of stairs to their "fine dining" section, which was extremely dark, hot, and heavy with the scent of incense. We turned around and headed to the other restaurant, which looked brighter and cooler, but alas, we arrived just as they were lighting their incense and this heavy, perfumed smoke was billowing visably through the restaurant. We're pretty smoke sensitive ourselves, but exposing our little guy's lungs to that seemed unnecessary. So two strikes and we headed back to the hotel room for some peanut butter and mango jam sandwiches on stale bread with lentil soup. Thank goodness I stoked up on energy bars and whey protein shakes for Adam; if we really get desperate, we'll start drinking formula I think. I've got to get over to the grocery store for some more supplies later today.

LATER: I just found out that next Sat. is India's independence day and the Friday before is a long weekend here.... if the magic FRRO office is closed on Friday, as I assume it will be, it looks like we could have to stay here through another weekend and would make my mistake with the DNA test yesterday a very costly one. I've already sent two very pleading e-mails to my contact at the DNA lab, hoping that she'll take pity on us and try to arrange expedited service for us. I have no idea how long DNA analysis takes, though, so there may be some physical reason why it can't be expedited. I don't even know how I"m going to break this one to Adam....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In which someone cries like a baby and it isn't Micah

Perhaps the name of this post is enough to tell you that we're not going to be home as soon as we'd hoped. Today was our embassy day: a day I've been preparing for by reading other peoples blogs, downloading forms, and obtaining documents for months. The embassy was about an hour away; our day got off to a bad start when I told our drive that we were going to the US embassy and he hadn't the faintest clue where it was... turns out that here it is always referred to as the American Embassy, and he didn't equate the two. But we finally arrived, right on time at 8:30, and we were only 2nd in the queue. Without going into too many details, the end result was that we sat in the waiting room (dimensions: 6" x 12"), with only a quick trip to a restaurant for lunch, until after 4 pm, long after all their other customers had left, and left without having provided them with the evidence they needed to forego the DNA test.

Micah was an absolute trooper through all of this, sleeping quietly in his pouch almost all day, except for 2 bottles. Thank God he's an angel baby so far. He showed his displeasure by offering the embassy his two messiest diapers to date. Mommy didn't have that option at her disposal, and by about 3:30, she was crying hysterically in the now-empty office. The situation was so frustrating; it really felt like we were suspended in the 9th circle of pergatory. Making it worse was my realization that this was a VACATION day for me. So not. Adam was a real trooper, too, despite the fact that we didn't bring along quite enough calories to sustain him all day.

Although DNA tests are usually only collected on Thursdays, the embassy was able to finagle an appointment for us tomorrow morning. The DNA test needs to be fedexed to the US for processing and an e-mail response sent back. If we're REALLY lucky, we'll have everything we need by the end of next week, but if any link in the chain takes longer than it should, it may mean staying through the following weekend. Right now we're debating whether we have the chutzpah to take Micah to the Taj Mahal while we wait. It would be making the best of a bad situation as far as we're concerned, but we're not sure about all of the logistics of it from the baby perspective. We're going to talk with Amit tonight to see if we can figure out something to make the time pass more easily.

On the plus side, we did get to meet Rob, who was there to collect his twins' passports, and we'll definitely look him and Tricia up if we ever get to Singapore again. Right now, the idea of another exotic wandering vacation isn't sounding very appealing, though, and we're starting to have fantasies about renting a cabana on a beach somewhere and spending our days building sand castles. We're also eagerly awaiting word from Nik, who is camped out at the Ramada waiting for the birth of his twins. His wife Lisa is due to arrive on Sunday night, and we just hope the twins wait for her to arrive.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes; we'll certainly need you to keep hoping and praying that things happen more smoothly and the time passes quickly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In which I submit my membership application for the bad mommy club

Desperately needing a change of scenery from our hotel room, we've been talking for several days about going to a local mall. Now, anyone who knows us knows that we're not mall people. We've been known to attract the attention of security while trying to use unauthorized exit doors of Ikea, and Adam breaks out in a sweat at the mere mention of the word "mall." So that tells you how desperate we were, and how few places there are to walk around.

So we took a cab to an upscale (read: noisy, bright, overstimulating) mall, where we enjoyed an inexpensive food court dinner, went to a bookstore, looked at an Indian clothing store to see if something would fit me (nope, anything big enough to fit me looked like a shapeless housedress), and then headed back to the food court to feed Micah. When I reached in the diaper bag and discovered that I had included the bottles, but not the baggie with the nipples in it. Aaaaagh! Next thing you know I'm going to be one of those parents who leaves their kid on the roof of the car and drives off? Luckily, this American-syle mall had an American baby store, where I paid American prices for a new bottle, then asked the fellows at a coffee shop (a rarety here in a tea-drinking land) to run some hot water over it for me. Micah didn't really like this different style of bottle, but at least we got some formula in him.

We decided we had had enough and went downstairs to hail a cab.... only to find that for some reason, cabs didn't frequent this mall's "zone" and that the only way to get back to our hotel was a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw, which seemed both unsafe and highly polluting to baby's lungs. (These auto-rickshaws are pretty funny and a great hoot to drive in without a baby, but you breath in a lot of exhaust and it feels like you're in a video game each time you get in one.)

The mall's security chief called a cab company, and patiently (more patiently than me) waited on hold for 25 minutes just to speak to someone, and then found out the cab couldn't come for an hour and a half. He simultaniously had someone outside trying to find us a cab. Finally, just as we were about to give in to the idea of the rickshaw, one of the guards was able to get a regular city cab, not the fancier aircon'd cabs most tourists use. Even though the driver had never heard of our hotel before and didn't speak English, he got us back to our hotel for only 150 rupees, as opposed to the 320 that the hotel's cab had charged us. Our quiet hotel room never looked so inviting!

We're all resting up now for our big outing to the Embassy tomorrow, where our fate (having to stay here until early next week or through the end of the week) will be decided....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 6: So this baby walks into a bar....

Greetings from the VITS hotel. We're settling in here, anxiously awaiting our embassy appointment on Thursday. We're in a really lovely 2-room apartment, with a king-size bed and desk in one room, sitting area and mini-kitchen with a breakfast bar in the other. The hotel price includes a fabulous buffet breakfast and the best gym I've ever seen in a hotel, with personal trainers just waiting there to make you work. We've been enjoying hanging out with Nik, and Kerrie and Mark; last night for Mark and Kerrie's farewell evening, we all met up with them in the bar downstairs for a drink. (Lest anyone be tempted to call social services, the bar actually wouldn't let us in with Micah, so we drank our beers in the restaurant instead.) We're very sad that Mark and Kerrie are returning home today -- we will miss them!

Today we went back to the hospital to collect our paperwork that we need for the embassy. This was our first trip outside the hotel since we arrived on Sat. night. While there, we also got to introduce Micah to three couples who are here to get their party started -- two couples from Australia, and a couple from Hungary. We enjoyed showing off the baby and helping these couples see what the prize is at the end of this process. While we were chatting with these couples, three Indian women were also admiring the baby, and asked a few questions about how old the baby was and whether a boy or girl. They held him for a minute, and we later realized that they were the foreign couples' surrogates. We hope that they'll figure out that Micah was Rajeshree's, and let her know what a beatiful, healthy baby she helped to create. We hope that it gives her some comfort to know that.

Other than that, my big event of the day was getting my phone's sim card re-charged. This was a big understaking requiring three trips to the hotel lobby and two trips outside the hotel. The first trip was unescorted, and I couldn't find the shop I was being directed to. The second trip, with one of the hotel valets, required stops and three different, tiny stores that specialize in selling mobile phone cards, and included crossing the very busy 6 lane road in front of our hotel in rush hour traffic. Once we had purchased the recharge, my escore consulted with about a dozen different people to try to figure out how to check whether the recharge had gone through. In India, many people purchase their phone time on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than a monthly plan, so this whole effort netted me a rechare for the equivalent of $2.00. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts; I'd rather not go through this again!

Outside this fairly elegant 4-star hotel is well-ordered chaos. There are small shanty dwellings tucked together with stalls selling all sorts of things, from chickens to fresh sugar cane juice to haircuts and mobile phones, the streets bustling like Manhattan at rush hour, but with small children in neat school uniforms, women in beautiful saris, men on ancient bikes balancing 3-foot high boxes on the back. Mark and Kerrie's room had a view of some of the twellings, and we spent some time watching the comings and goings of people, and were impressed with how hardworking and clean the people were, and what a marvelous it was that children were being taken care of by the whole community rather than just their immediate relatives. The people of India are so much more industrious than we're used to -- Amit explained that it is because there are no social safety nets here, so if you don't work hard, there's no unemployment check, health care, school for your children, or place to live. We're also impressed with how hospitable people are here. There's a much stronger service ethic here, underlined by the sanskrit saying, "Guest is God." We wish we could get out of Mumbai to exlore the parts of India with more natural beautify, but ti doesn't seem to fit into this trip......

Saturday, August 1, 2009

For Rachel

Dear Cousin Rachel,

You asked to see some pix of my fingers and toes. Luckily, my mamma was inspired to take some close-ups of me yesterday while she was waiting for the hospital to let us leave! I know your birthday is coming up, so I'm sending these as a present to you. I wish I could be there for your birthday, but right now it looks unlikely. I can't wait to meet you!


Cousin Micah

Our first visitors

Today Micah was delighted to welcome his first visitors -- Nik from Australia, who is expecting twins in the next few weeks (Lisa, get here soon!), and Kerrie and Mark from Canada. It is really wonderful to meet all these people whose stories I've been following for the last year, ever since we first started this surrogacy adventure. We're also hoping to meet several other intended parents and new parents who are scattered at other hotels in Mumbai.
Micah continues to grow and change before our eyes. The swelling across the bridge of his nose is going down a little bit and his eyes are getting more alert and focused. Yesterday when we put him under the warming bed naked, his flailing hands surprised him, today he seems to have more confidence. His neck and back muscles are getting stronger by the minute, and he'll be ready to go to the hotel gym at the VITS with Daddy. Meanwhile, mommy and daddy are becoming sluggish, deconditioned, and dehydrated from spending 4 days in our rooms!
We're also seeing more and more resembolence to Adam, to the point where the other day, we joked that we should get a DNA test to find out if we actually had an Indian ED!
If and when the pediatrician shows up this afternoon, we're planning to essentially discharge ourselves and get the heck out of here. Next stop: a real bed!
Pictured above: Nik (top), Mark, Kerrie and me, our improved solution to the UV protection problem, and an opened-eyed photo of Micah.