Tuesday, December 27, 2011

They've Been Really Nice

So, they both got a big visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.




(a big thanks to the Drs. F. for being our boys' first Santa and Mrs. C.)

What's A Day With Twins Like?



Cedric and Ezra are asleep in their pack and play, so I figured I'd take a moment to write about what a typical day in our household is like. I'll start at the beginning of the day. But, here's a spoiler alert: it's hard to determine exactly when the beginning of the day is because our days seem to keep rolling into each other.

For our six-week old twins, the days are broken up into three-hour cycles: 12, 3, 6 and 9AM and 12, 3, 6,   and 9 PM. I think that Cedric is ready to move to a four-hour cycle, but Ezra is not, so we are intentionally keeping them on the same schedule to maximize our sanity.

During the day we try to feed the kids and then have "awake time' right after the feeding. That means we'll do stretches, tummy time, diaper changes and staring at interesting things right after they eat. This works about 3 out of 4 feedings. The kids are getting more consistent with eating and then staying up to play as they grow. Ezra was born at a low birth weight, so feeding him regularly is the most important thing.

During nap times, we wash bottles, put in a load of laundry, stuff our wonderful g-diapers, or try to get other household chores done. Before I get much more into the play by play action, let me tell you a bit about our situation, so that you don't try to compare apples to oranges. As the subtitle of our blog says, we are a two-dad family. We live in India and work at a world-class school. Chad has been home with the twins since they were born, and in January he goes back to work. I get to stay home from January through the beginning of February. And, yes, we have full-time help (a nanny and a cook) who work during the days 6-days per week. So, we are able to get quite a bit done during the day, because there are usually three sets of hands at home at all times.

After the 6:00 feeding, we do a bath about every 3rd day. Then we put the babies in their cribs for the night at about 7:45PM. We have found that if we put them down after this that we miss the "window." and they have a hard time getting settled down. When they go down at 7:45, they sleep until 9 and go right back to sleep after. If they miss the window, they typically stay up until 9, and then are don't get settled until 10:30 or 11!

For the feedings during the day, we usually feed them at the same time, and then for the feedings during the night we feed them one-at-a-time so that only one of us has to get up. And for the night feeds we try not to keep them as calm as possible, and then put them right back to bed. This works most of the time. Every now and then we end up with fussy babies in the middle of the night, but not very often.

I can't stress to you how this schedule has saved our sanity for the first month of their lives! Our kids have thrived on their three-hour cycles and are typically very happy babies. Knowing that they need to eat at 12, 3, 6, and 9 twice a day has allowed us to physically and psychologically prepare for what needs to be done. For example, I know that I can go to bed right at 9:30PM, and then wake up for the 12AM feeding, get to bed at 1AM and then wake up and do the 6AM feeding before heading to work. This allows Chad to sleep until 3AM, and then sleep in until the kids need to eat again at 9AM. So, we're both tired, but we're not exhausted.

I hope that this doesn't seem too mechanical or robotic. Really, these last 6 weeks have been magical. Our routines have allowed us to get as much sleep as possible and have as much energy as we can to take care of each other and our babies. When people ask how we're going, I always say that we are having a great time because it is the honest truth! We love parenting our twins.

Happy Holidays,
Douglas 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

This time last year we were lounging on the beaches of Bali thinking about starting the process of having children. I can't believe how much has changed since then. Thank you Bali for clearing our minds and sending us in this direction.

We have had a little something under our sleeves for about a month now. We couldn't discuss this on the blog or Facebook which has been really hard... until now. We are in America! We booked tickets right after the boys were born in hopes that we would have everything squared away in time. We went down to the wire, but we were able to fly home to surprise our families for the holidays. Everyone is totally shocked and happy that we came.

It turns out that Cedric and Ezra are made for travel. They were perfect little angels for the 15 hr flight, 2 hr layover, and another 2 hr flight. It was nice to have several of our friends/colleagues on our long flight and we were able to pass the boys around a little. The flight crew on Continental was amazing and made sure that we had everything we needed. They even washed our bottles mid-flight!

We are both really excited to be home for the holidays. It has been five years since we have been with family for Christmas. We will be splitting our time between my family in Indiana and Doug's family in Ohio. We also have plans to meet up with our friends for New Years.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Chad

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Official Timeline

Here is an idea of how long you might have to spend in Delhi. Keeping in mind that DNA testing is not required for all cases and we got official passports and not temporary ones.

Nov. 13: Cedric and Ezra make their debut
Nov. 17: Indian birth certificates picked up
Nov. 18: US Embassy appointment & DNA testing done
Nov. 21: Embassy shipped DNA test to USA
Nov. 23: DNA test received in USA
Nov. 28: DNA test results received
Nov. 29: Passport applications submitted to Washington
Dec.   7: Passports received in Delhi
Dec.   9: Approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs
Dec. 13: Approval from the Foreign Regional Registration Office

Chad

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Forty Weeks

Today would be the day our surrogate would be at forty weeks. The doctors would never have let her go that long, but it is interesting to think about. I definitely would have pulled my hair out waiting for today. I can't remember what life was like without children. I know that sounds crazy since it has only been a few weeks, but it is how I truly feel.

Last night the lack of sleep and double melt down at three am was my test. It was the twins opportunity to complain about everything. We are hungry, you are too slow, our formula is getting cold, we are wet, we don't want you to change our diapers, we are cold, we are hot, give us pacifiers, we don't want that pacifier, Cedric wants to lay on his stomach, Ezra wants to be swaddled, we need to burp, you are doing it all wrong. You get the picture.

I gave it my three am best, and the babies are not holding a grudge today.

I only have two arms. Twins: 1 Papa: 0.

Chad

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family of Four


The passports have arrived! They were processed/printed in the states and arrived in Delhi six days later. So happy to have those in hand. The boys will have some embarrassing moments in passport control with these mug shots. Next stop MHA/FRRO.

Chad

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Eat, Poop, Sleep

Most of you probably do not know that I was in a movie with Julia Roberts.

Alright, that might be overstating my role a bit. But, it is true. When the cast and crew of Eat, Pray, Love was in India filming for the Indian portion of the book, some of the teachers at my school were recruited to join in as extras for the crowd scenes. So, during the Connecticut wedding scene in the movie (which was, oddly enough, filmed in Delhi), you can see me for a few brief seconds.

Tomorrow, Cedric and Ezra will be three weeks old and life has been as great as a movie. Although, it is a movie of a different title all together.  Do you see where this is going? So, without writing a novel, I will give you a bit of a description about the three most important things in our boys lives right now. Eat, poop and sleep!

Eat: The biggest thing in our lives right now is bottle feeding. With late-term preemies (ours were born at 36w3d), being on a feeding schedule is mandatory. When they first came home from the hospital, Ezra was on a two-hour feeding cycle, which did NOT work for him at all. He was so tired after his 30 minute feeds that he would not be able to eat for the next feed and his intake kept getting lower and lower. So, we changed him over to a three hour cycle and he started consuming more formula at every bottle. Cedric is our little alarm clock. He usually wakes up hungry within 10 minutes (before, or after if we're running a bit late) of the three hour mark. He is quite prodigious at letting the world know when he is hungry.

Poop: As soon as our boys got home from the hospital, we switched to cloth diapers. Our reasons for doing this are economical, medical and environmental. Economically, diapers are quite expensive here in India, and diapers for small babies (4-8 lbs) are not available. So, when were in the US in the summer, we stocked up on G-Diapers, which is an initial investment of about $250. But, they will probably paid for themselves by the time our boys are 8 weeks old. The environmental impact of using diapers is huge, and especially in India, where proper waste disposal doesn't happen, we wanted to live our beliefs about the environment. Using cloth diapers has been a lot of fun (yep, I said fun), and it has worked REALLY well for our boys. We also have been using this recipe to make our own wipes with the hypo-allergenic baby soap we use for bath time. You won't be finding any trace of diaper rash on our C or E's little bums!

Sleep: Being on a three-hour feeding cycle really dictates the sleeping schedule. Our boys eat at 3-6-9-12 AM/PM.  During the daytime hours, we change nappies and enjoy finding things to stare at and do stretches and try to stay awake for as long as possible after feedings during the day. Then, the boys fall asleep until the next feeding. At night, both boys are bout 85% at eating and then going right back to sleep. Having this kind of schedule has been such a major help to us as parents. We know when we're going to need to get up in the night and we can make a plan (Douglas at 12 AM and 6 AM, Chad at 3 AM, or vice-versa). The schedule has made our babies very happy, and has made me be able to go back to work this week and not feel like a walking zombie!

Beyond all the eating, pooping and sleeping, there is a whole lot of love going on at our house. We love cuddling and playing with the boys (as much as they can "play"). Also, our friends and colleagues have surrounded us with a big blanket of love and we feel so supported as new parents. We are so thankful for these last 20 days.

Much love to everyone!
Douglas 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Hundred Excuses

I have been a bad blogger, and I blame it on "baby brain". I have sat down to write a handful of times, but only manage to get a few sentences down before I end up on the other side of the house doing something else. So here is my best attempt.

The past two and a half weeks have been amazing. Aside from the erratic sleeping pattern I have developed everyone in our house is doing great.  Being a parent is by far my most rewarding experience. The boys are continuing to grow and changing every day. It is very exciting to watch.

Cedric is a big fan of food. He gets so excited he swings his arms and a few times has grabbed the bottle to pull it in closer. He is a great at burping, and will probably be invited to a frat house very soon! He loves being on his stomach and can already pick his head up and move it from side to side.

Ezra is getting a bigger appetite. He is still eating less than Cedric, but we are not surprised given their size difference. He went to the doctor last week and is gaining weight and is right on track. Per the doctors he is doing great. Ezra also likes tummy time, but prefers to be swaddled at night.

We had Tim Steadman over to our house to take some professional photos. We got some great snaps and now have to decide which ones we want to get printed. Our trip to the Embassy was super easy. The DNA test results arrived on Monday (due to Thanksgiving we lost 4 days). I am pleased to announce the boys are a match! Now we are waiting for our passports to arrive from the states. Since we live abroad we couldn't do the emergency passports that are issued in one day. We expect them by the middle of next week. Once we have those it is off to the MHA and FRRO for the Indian visas.

I hear babies... that means feeding time.

-Chad-

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And on the Seventh Day...

Things I've noticed since the arrival of Ezra and Cedric, some of them more profound than others:


Life is beautiful. Not that it wasn't ever beautiful, but these two lives that are now a part of us are already opening our eyes to the wonders of the world. This week has been nothing short of amazing.

G-diapers are great. I love that we are diapering our kids in a way that supports what we believe about the environment. From the moment our kids got home from the hospital this week, they have been in cloth diapers. Even the nasty post-birth meconium mess was contained by the g-diapers. Wow!

We have the sweetest labrador ever! She has been ignored, been stepped on, and had her space invaded by two crying infants, two busy daddys and lots of well-wishers, and she is still the sweetest dog ever.

I love the community we live in. We've had so many people stop by this week to meet the babies and wish us well. They have cooked for us, helped us with diapers, brought us stories of the outside world, and just been there for us to talk to. Thank you to our friends. I'm so glad that we get to start our parenting journey in this community.

Organization is essential. Chad, my wonderful husband, was remarkably organized this week and got us through checkout of the hospital with both twins and for our surrogate, collecting the birth certificates and the initial paperwork and DNA test at the consulate. He was superb throughout the whole week! Every document that needed to be handed in was filed, color-coded, and ready to go.

Organization is essential. This one is worth repeating. We spent most of the third trimester of our pregnancy getting the nursery ready for the babies, and I'm so glad we did. Now, I am really appreciating how detail oriented we were. Every little thing, down to the organization of clothes by size and the pre-stuffing of the diaper inserts has been appreciated.

Having twins means you have two children who are different. Actually, I knew that already. But, I never expected for a minute that my two children would be SO different even from the minute they were born. Having Ezra in the hospital for 3 days more than Cedric was difficult, to say the least. It reminded me again, that they are two different people, and from the outset will have different needs.

Sleep is great. I'm not going to pretend that we're all zombied out and sleep deprived. Have we slept less in the last week than in a good while?  Oh yes! Are we walking around carrying pictures of our bed? No (at least not yet...). What I will say, however, is that waking up when you're sleep deprived is like trying to get out of quicksand. The first two minutes of awake time are the hardest.

And finally, and most importantly, I love my boys and my husband more than I could ever have imagined possible.

Today is the one-week anniversary of the birth of our twins. Today our family took a moment to rest and relax together. From the two pictures below, you can tell why I feel exceedingly blessed.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Everything in Circles

I am amazed this morning at the stunning, awesome, sometimes saddening, always awe-inspiring symmetry of life. This morning, 6 days after our boys were born, their Great-Grandma (on my side) passed away. She was 93 an had lived an exceptional life. I wish that Ezra and Cedric could have met her, and that we could go back for the services that will be this week. But, we will celebrate her life with the beginning of new life.

Everything in circles.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homecoming Part II

Today, our littlest man, Ezra got sprung from the hospital. After an agonizing 4-days apart, Ezra and Cedric have been reunited. We are beyond excited about having our whole family under one roof at last. Let the twinsanity begin!





Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Perspectives

As you can imagine, we are over the moon with our boys. At the same time, however, it is so emotional to have one baby at home and one still in the hospital. Here's an update on all four boys in our family:

Ezra is learning about bottles like a little pro! Last night he had a practice session with a pacifier to get his sucking reflex going. Then, this morning when we came for a feeding, his tube was removed and he drank 15 mL from the bottle. Since then, he's had four bottle feedings of between 15 and 20 mL. Otherwise, he's a great and healthy little guy with the deepest blue eyes, and the cutest little lips. We really want him to come home soon. Cedric misses his womb-mate!


Cedric is increasing his bottle feed quantities every day. He's our little gas pipe, so we make sure to give him a few extra burps with every feed so as to avoid any upset stomachs. He has slept at home for two nights now. The first night was a fussy night. He wasn't sure what to think about a quiet and dark house. He seems to prefer the voices of people and lots of light. He also has deep blue eyes, and the longest piano fingers you've ever seen.


Chad's paternal gene has kicked into high gear. He is already a pro at calming Cedric when he needs to. And (this deserves fanfare and trumpets), has changed his first poopy diaper!


Douglas is getting really good at driving back and forth between BLK hospital and the apartment. He is loving having Cedric at home and can't wait until Ezra is home (although, the nerves are starting to kick about parenting multiples).


Love and Peace to All!
Chad, Douglas, Ezra and Cedric

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homecoming Part I


What a change we've seen in Cedric and Ezra! Just over night, our boys grew up just a little bit. How is that possible? 

Cedric on the left and Ezra on the right

The biggest change was in Cedric. In all of the pictures from yesterday he was looking really round. But today, he lost a bit of his puffiness, and you can see a very noble profile from our oldest son. Cedric and I started bottle feeding last night, and he practiced a few times over night with the nurses. By the time that Chad and I got to the hospital this morning, he was ready for another go, and he is feeding like a champ! It was lovely to walk in this morning to see that the feeding tube that was taken out last night was still out. So, our big boy is coming home this afternoon. We'll take care of all the paperwork to spring him from the hospital right after lunch. We've got the car seat and we've practiced fastening it securely. This will most certainly be my most nervous driving experience in Delhi yet! Precious cargo will be in tow!

Ezra is looking good too. He is definitely our curious one. His eyes were open all morning, and he's taking the world in. He has the most beautiful dark blue eyes (I know, they'll probably change color, but they'll always be beautiful). He is continually trying to suck on his feeding tube. Actually, I don't think he likes the tube very much. The doctor says that he will be ready to try direct bottle feeds today. 

When we went in today, we saw that the nurses had put some of the onesies we'd left on both of the boys. Since our kids have to stay in a nursery from birth for the first several days of their lives, it was oddly comforting to see that they were wearing the clothes we bought for them. 

Another odd feeling is that we'll be taking Cedric home and not Ezra. I guess that this is the first tangible lesson in twin parenthood that they are, have been, and always will be different people with different needs. Cedric needs to be home right now, and Ezra needs to be in the nursery. It is, however, a little bit of a mental somersault for me to reconcile myself with separating them after they've been in such tight proximity for 36 weeks and 4 days. 

Meanwhile, we're waiting to do the paperwork for their birth certificates and I'm glad that BLK hospital actually has decent coffee (for India).  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday

9:15 AM

As I write this, we are sitting in the cafe at BLK hospital in Delhi, very anxiously awaiting the arrival of our twins. After a night of chemically-inspired sleep (thank you ambien), we woke up to a bright, sunny day in Delhi, and at about 7:45 this morning, we grabbed the bags that have been packed for weeks and headed to the hospital. 

Seema walked in about 10 minutes after we did. I am so impressed at her body. She has our twins inside of her and she looks incredible. She is smiling and so mobile. I'm thoroughly thankful that our doctor suggested her to be our surrogate. Her body type is perfect. 

Check in has been a breeze so far. The baby wing of the hospital doesn't seem to be very busy this morning. There are only two other patients as far as I can tell from snooping around. So, I expect that our babies will be receiving undivided attention. 

Chad and I have been texting almost constantly with our friends at work, some of whom are in a class on assessment this morning.  I feel sorry for their teacher, as I am sure we will cause a bit of a distraction today! 

I just talked to Dr. Indira on the phone, and she is on her way to the hospital. She won't be the one delivering the babies, but she will be in the OR with Seema, and has promised to take pictures.

Meanwhile, Chad and I are sitting in the cafe. I am trying to stay "in the moment" but at this point, that is a pipe dream. At least I brought my computer to distract me from the wait. 

This is definitely the longest wait. 

3:24 PM

They're here! They're here! Our boys are here. 

Cedric Michael and Ezra Graham

I didn't tell anyone, but I had the sneakiest suspicion that we would have two sons. Hardly anyone guessed that we'd have two boys. When we told her the names, Dr. Indira,with her usual biting sense of humor, asked why we were giving them sentences instead of names. Chad asked me a little later if I thought their names would fit on the immigration cards that you get when you fly in and out of various countries. 

Ezra and Cedric are both resting right now in the NICU. The nurses and doctors here at BLK are doing an excellent job of monitoring their vitals. Both boys have feeding tubes, although Cedric hardly looks like he needs a feeding tube (he looks like he might be recruited to be linebacker for Ohio State: boy, wouldn't that make his grandma and grandpa proud?). Cedric was born at just over 6 lbs (2.8 KG) and Ezra weighed just under 4 lbs (1.8 KG). I have to say that both Chad and I were surprised by Ezra's weight, as the ultrasound technician had estimated that he weighed 4 lbs, 11 ozs, and that was at 34 weeks! So, having him show up at 36 weeks and 3 days and weigh less than 4 lbs was  a bit of a shock.  

The doctor says they are both doing fine. I think they both look absolutely beautiful. We've had two visits to the NICU, and now we are resting in the lounge, getting ready to go back for a third visit. We got to hold them for a few minutes a piece at about one hour after they were born. Then, we left the hospital and went to get something to eat, and then we came back and sat with them for a little longer. 

I asked the doctor what the next 24 hours will look like. He said that they will continue to be on the feeding tube, and that they will continue to monitor heart rate, breathing rate, and any "output" that they boys may have after their feedings. Then, tomorrow morning, we will try to give them their first bottles. I made sure that they understood that we wanted to be present for their first bottle feeding. Chad said that I wasn't being too much of a "stage parent." In spite of the low birth rate for Ezra, both babies are simply beautiful. 

The biggest thing in the next 24 hours will be to make sure they are getting the nutrients that they need. The doctor said that he didn't want to risk trying a bottle feeding today. OK. 

Chad and I are doing great. Actually, we're so far past excited that we're a little emotionally spent (at least I am). At about 2:00 a flood of tiredness washed over us. So, after we sat with the boys for a little while longer, we came down to the lounge and crashed in the most uncomfortable chairs I've sat in in a while. 

I can't wrap my head around their arrival. It's so amazing. 

4:30 PM

I hate my camera. The pictures I took of the Cedric and Ezra don't do them justice (plus, some of them are a tad bit out of focus). Thank goodness our friend Mary is coming to the rescue with a much better camera. 

9:28 PM

Exhaustion! 

We are home, and had a toast to the boys, as well as a little dinner. Now, I'm in the process of updating all of the people who need to be updated. And, taking care of updating the blog. Before I remove our fishbowl and our polls, let me say that we made it to 36 weeks and 3 days gestation, and that nobody expected us to have 2 boys (4 respondents out of 32). Only 10% of those surveyed thought that the boys would be born today (4 out of 36). 

Before we left the hospital for the evening, the nurses removed Cedric's feeding tube, and I tried to give him a bottle. I was only moderately successful, but the nurse did a much better job (she had to continually stimulate his chin and cheek in order to engage his sucking reflex). They are going to try another bottle tonight, and then we'll be back in the morning for his bottle at 8:00 AM. 

Let me just say that both of our sons are adorable. After I fed him, Cedric got the cutest case of the hiccups. Yep. It only took about 2 minutes before my kids officially became the cutest kids in the world. 

And with that thought, Chad and I are going to bed. We will probably have to chemically induce our sleep tonight because our minds are racing at about 1000 miles per second. 

We are both filled with wonder and amazement at the birth of our sons, and at the marvelous support that we have from family and friends. 

Life is magical!

Love and Peace,
Douglas 

Pictures...

... are worth 1,000 words.  But, don't worry; there are more than 1,000 words coming soon too!

Cedric Michael

Ezra Graham

Chad meets Cedric

Chad meets Ezra

Douglas and Cedric

Douglas and Ezra


Two Boys

A big warm welcome to Cedric Michael and Ezra Graham.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get Ready For The Babies!

Today we found out that Seema is having contractions quite regularly and that means we are having babies in the morning! We are checking into the hospital at 8am, and expect the babies around 9am India time. For those of you on Eastern USA time they will be making their debut around 11pm tonight.

We expect a sleepless night tonight. Cheers to healthy babies!

Chad & Douglas

Something's Coming

From the Department of Cryptic Messages: 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thirty-Six Weeks

We made it! How exciting to have reached this milestone. We have nothing new to report. Seema has an appointment on Saturday morning, and we (and by we I mean the doctors) will see how her body is progressing. If she is 50% effaced or more that will be our green light to have our babies this weekend. We don't want them born in a Delhi traffic jam so a scheduled c-section is a must.

The first pick in the baby pool is for today at 2:30pm. Lets hope if they decide to come on their own they will wait until tomorrow and have the coolest birth date ever (11-11-11).

Hats off to all of the healthy babies born in the past week!

Chad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting!

We'll, it's official. We're the hold outs. All of the twins due around the same time as us whose parents (or surrogates) write blogs we follow have been born. Big, big, big congratulations to Aleksandra, Stacey and Lee, and Jeni (and her IPs Fareed and George). We are so thrilled for the happy healthy babies who are the pride and joy of their parents. I guess that means it's our turn next.

Meanwhile, this is a link to a GREAT post that I just read about talking with strangers you meet about being same sex parents. This has been on my mind lately, because I have been talking to my students about my upcoming absence from school, and the fact that my family is growing by two. My students have been great, and so happy for me and Chad. Mostly they just want to know if the twins are going to be boys or girls, but a few students have asked if I have a wife. To that, I reply that I don't have a wife, I have a partner.

At this point, I want to stop and say something about my beliefs about freedom. I believe that people should have freedom to make judgements for themselves. But, too often, people spend too much time trying to put labels on things that don't need to be labeled. So, when I talk about my family, I remove all judgement from the way I present the information. This includes not saying things like it is OK, or "good" (and obviously not saying it's "bad"). I find that applying the label "good" or "bad" or any similar vocabulary just perpetuates the either/or, good/bad dichotomy, which is in my opinion, most often a false dichotomy, or even inapplicable.

So, I just say the way that it is. And, guess what. My students are completely unshaken by this. They take the information in and go on with their day (and hopefully, discuss it with their parents if they have questions). I hope that the way I talk about my family with my students perpetuates a climate of peace. There is a basic wisdom that resides within children. They know that all families are different. My family is two partners. Some families are only a mom. Some are only a dad. In India, some families are a aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas. We are all different. Kids get it.

Cheers and Peace,
Douglas 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baby Brunch

Douglas started the day playing ultimate frisbee out in Gurgaon, and I enjoyed a nice Sunday morning in bed. Once Jyoti and I decided to accept the daylight we started down in the garden planting peppers and transplanting tomatoes. We finally got all of our plants re-potted on our balcony.

Some of our best friends/colleagues/most amazing people in the world organized a brunch today. If you didn't know Sunday brunch in Delhi is really something. It is better than all the monuments and craziness combined. They gave us the most thoughtful gift one could want... a photo session with a professional photographer. We love our Delhi family, and couldn't imagine a better community to live in.

We are eagerly waiting for the safe arrival of Stacy & Lee's twins in the morning!

Chad

Twin Names We're Not Using

Feel free to steal any of the following, because we're not using them:

1. Marco and Polo - for the twins who seem to be lost all the time
2. Hops and Barley - for the twins whose parents enjoy twelve-step programs
3. Lakshmi and Lakshman - for the children who need to constantly be reminded of their Indian roots.
4. Anna and Belle - When you like one really popular name, but have two kids.
5. Fabian and Fabrizio - When you really want your kids to grow up and be supermodels (seriously, I really liked these names, but they totally got vetoed by Chad).

Happy Naming,

Douglas

p.s. These kids need to arrive ASAP because I'm starting to go stir crazy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ultrasound Brief

I just got back from Seema's ultrasound appointment. She was looking great, but she is tired and ready for those babies to be evicted. The babies are getting big and looking great. Twin A was doing barrel rolls trying to get away from the photo session. Twin B was jumping around trying to get away from Twin A. Seema is at the gynecologist appointment right now... I decided I should not sit in on that one. Once we get that report we will have an idea of when those babies are coming.

Here are a few stats until we get the official report.

Twin A:
Weight: 5 lbs 11 oz
Heart Rate: 153 bpm
Position: Head up

Twin B:
Weight: 4 lbs 11 oz
Heart Rate: 135 bpm
Position: Head down

Ready or not... Babies, Babies, Babies!

Chad

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thirty-Five Weeks

We have reached another milestone! According to the report we received yesterday Seema and the babies are doing great. All tests have come back as normal; hemoglobin and sugar test are also perfect. The good news is Seema's weight gain didn't skyrocket again and is increasing normally. We have our Doppler ultrasound on Saturday. We will have more baby stats after that.

Waiting for the babies is like waiting for summer vacation. I couldn't imagine what we would be doing if we were not working to keep ourselves occupied. Our friends have started a baby pool at work. A prize (which has yet to be determined) will be given to the closest date, time, and gender guesser. 

Everyone can play along in the guessing. Let us know what you think on the right side of the screen.

Chad

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Every Time My Phone Rings

I jump a little!

There are several sets of twins in blogger-land that are about make their debut. Anxiously I keep checking  for updates every ten minutes.

Two Babies on the Way
Dreams Come True in India
Love Makes A Family

We are a maximum of nineteen days away from the big show at our house.

It is getting real in here.

Chad

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today Is the Seven Billion Day

Just not our seven billion day! So, no, neither twin will be the seven billionth inhabitant of planet earth. But, that doesn't make me any less excited. Far from it! I'm becoming nearly non-functional with excitement.

But, just to tide you over while our twins take their time to arrive, here are some interesting seven billion statistics:
  • It is estimated that the population of the world reached one billion for the first time in 1805. 
  • Right now only two countries, China and India, have populations over one billion. 
  • Because of higher population and longer lifespans, humanity's absolute numbers continue to rise, even though the number of children per woman has halved since 1950. 
  • The world's richest 500 million people produce half of the world's carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change; whereas, the poorest three billion are responsible for only seven percent of emissions. 
  • Although it's an odd fact for a surrogacy blog, at least 150 million couples in the world want, but don't have, access to reproductive health services. 
  • There will be 125 million births this year! 
  • And, finally, this interesting estimation from the BBC about yours truly (based on my birth date):

According to the same website, twins A and B will be approximately 7,001,277,363rd and 7,001,277,364th (if they make it all the way to 37 weeks).  But, Just Two Out Of 7,001,277,364 doesn't quite have the same ring to it. I think we'll stick with our current blog title for now!

Cheers, 
Douglas 

Sources:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's in the Bag!

So, we're still getting ready. And just when I think we've bought the last thing that we need before the babies arrive, I walk through the nursery, and I immediately think of at least four more things that we have to have.

This weekend, we've been doing our final loads of laundry. Washing everything with natural cleaners (mostly a mild solution of vinegar and water), and packing the diaper bag to take to the hospital whenever we get the call. I know that some of the following things won't be needed. But, I figure it's nice to start practicing packing the bag for what we will need on days when we go out for a few hours.

Mostly, I followed this list for things to include in a diaper bag.

 First off, doesn't our diaper bag look sleek and masculine?  It does, right?  RIGHT? Obviously, we're both highly concerned with that.  Here is the list of what actually made it into the bag:

  • Four Dr. Brown small size bottles
  • Extra nipples with different flow
  • Two formula dispensers
  • Two receiving blankets
  • Four Carter's preemie size onesies
  • Four Gerber's newborn size onesies 
  • 8 tiny diaper
  • 2 full body suits
  • 4 burp cloths
  • 2 pacifiers
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Baby-safe insect repellent wipes
  • Re-usable bag for soiled cloth diapers
  • Plastic bags for disposable diapers
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Extra washable bag for soiled outfits
  • Hand sanitizer
Yet to be purchased and added:
  • Thermos for bottle water
  • Formula
Alright, expert parents (especially parents of multiples), what did I forget? What do you include in your diaper bags? Please add your comment below.

Cheers, 
Douglas 



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sharing is Caring, Right?

It happens to everyone. For me, it was my recent trip to Belgium, when I met several people from places I'd never been to who--it turns out--know all of the same people I know. In one instance, a teacher in The Netherlands had gone to college with the person who, twenty years later, gave me my first job as a pianist. You already know that I believe we are all connected to each other. But, it's experiences like this, the ones that happen half a world away from home, that leave you either wanting to hum It's A Small World After All, or the theme to The Twilight Zone.
Landry art? 

But, our interconnectedness makes me wonder about the nature of information sharing, and specifically blogging. Last night, I was spending time on Facebook. One of my college friends who is now pregnant was asking for advice on strollers. So, I sent her the link to our stroller. A little while later, I went and checked to see what other people had said. I was amazed to find there were 27 different comments. Some comments offered diverging viewpoints, some agreed. By the end of the whole thing, I am pretty sure that my poor friend was even more confused about her situation than she was before she asked her question. Situations like this beg the question: shouldn't we just sit down and shut up?

In the age of interconnectivity and way too much information, why contribute to a greater cloud of noise? Well, for me, and for this blog, our contribution to cyberspace's cacophony is to shed light on a path that might be misunderstood. Our journey with surrogacy has been our chosen path to get to the goal of a family of our own. Everyone takes a path, and everyone has a journey. And even if you are the typical opposite-sex couple, and you have the wedding, then the house in the burbs with the white picket fence, and perfectly-behaved labrador, and you are exactly like so many other couples in the world (or at least in North America), even then,  your journey to grow a family will be your own. It will not be the same as anyone else. There are many, many ways to make a family. Surrogacy is one way that people grow their families.

Here's my point: our surrogacy experience is our path. In blogging about it, we demystify the smaller curves and corners, and we shed light  on how all of our paths are similar and different. I know that when I've read the blogs of others who have walked their paths before me, I saw new possibilities for myself and my family. I learned that everyone has choices; that everyone makes decisions about families; that our decisions are our own; that the judgements of others are not important; that there were supportive communities for families of all types; that all families are different; that all families are the same.

Through blogging, I also hope to make connections with people who are on a similar path because I think it will be important for our kids so, they can know other kids who have similar backgrounds. In doing this, they can feel a sense of belonging. I believe that everyone has a need to belong, just like everyone has a need to be independent, free and different!

I'm not sure what will happen to this blog after our twins are born. Already, I've noticed that not many parents of multiples maintain blogs (ha!). And, although I think it'd be very interesting to write about parenting, I've already noticed that even in talking with close friends about parenting, everyone has opinions, and it's hard to remove judgement from conversations. It's possibly worse than discussing religion, sex, or politics. Maybe, this blog will turn into a place for family and friends who live far away to check out how our kids are doing and how much they've grown. Who knows? The future is full of possibilities. Meanwhile, stay tuned, because the next few weeks are bound to be very interesting!

Cheers,
Douglas

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Clean


Yesterday we made our way through the market and the mall to get a few new things. After seeing how much Labrador hair our housekeeper swept up on Monday we decided to get a vacuum cleaner. We are now the proud owners of a fuchsia colored vacuum. We also picked up some baskets and containers to keep the baby necessities organized. We will see how well we organize our organizer.

Douglas is in bed and under the weather. It never fails that on the loudest day of the year someone gets sick. It is Diwali today. Which is the equivalent of New Years, Christmas, and the Fourth of July rolled up into a bunch of noise. Definitely not our favorite holiday. Nonetheless Happy Diwali.

I opened and washed everything today. All of our bottles and pacifiers are squeaky clean. I clicked this picture while everything was drying. Then I did the math for a twenty hour journey to Indianapolis and realized that everything on the counter would be required. Luckily we also snagged a new set of wine glasses while we were out!

Chad

Monday, October 24, 2011

Waiting

Our DNA test kits have been shipped. They should arrive in Delhi in a couple days. I have to say I am ready to get this show on the road. I know the babies are still growing, but I am so ready to get my arms around them. I have already completed all of the paperwork to make them into US citizens (I am a little crazy: I filled out four forms one for each of the four names we have chosen--two boys, two girls--you get the idea).

We had a meeting with Dr. Indira on Saturday. The first thing she said was "Seema is mad at you!" Turns out Seema has been packing on the pounds since we last saw her. Thirteen pounds in three weeks. Since it is Diwali season here she has been getting several visitors at her house and is a little embarrassed by her weight gain. Leaving the house and getting to the appointments has become quite the challenge, and so the doctor has provided a car and driver to get from place to place. For the comfort of everyone we decided not to have Seema trek across town to our fancy ultrasound clinic to get the 3D images and video. The great news is that everything is healthy with the babies and Seema.

The next ultrasound will be on Nov. 5. They will be doing a doppler to check that blood flow is reaching both babies equally. After that the babies can come anytime. However if they don't come before Nov. 17 they will induce her on Nov. 19 or 20!

Chad

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thirty-Three Weeks

Our babies and surro-mama are resting comfortably at home. Everything has been quite, and we hope it stays that way for a few more weeks. The babies should be around four pounds each now. Lets hope that baby A is letting baby B catch up since our last scan. Their lungs should be functional by now and they should be gaining about a 1/2 lb each week now. We will have another ultrasound next week. We hope to get some great 3-D images to post this time.

We went over to the embassy yesterday to get an idea of what will go down in the coming weeks. Only one thing caught us by surprise. Apparently you have to order your DNA testing kits from the States, and have them delivered to the embassy PRIOR to having your interview. I didn't get that memo from reading their website. So we are very glad that we went over for a briefing before the babies come. Now we have to decide which company to use, and which type of tests to order. Does anyone have a recommendation and the test type? "At home private" or "Legal"? Does the cost of the test kit include the analysis and results?

We are meeting with Dr. Indira on Saturday to go over the delivery logistics. It is hard to believe it is almost time. We will be running around Delhi enjoying ourselves next week. We have the entire week off for fall break. It will be our last free week for awhile.

Chad

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Where's Waldo?

As I write, the music students with whom I am traveling are reflecting on their week: the things they've heard, seen, experienced and thought. So, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on this impromptu trip to Brussels, and coming back to Europe. Ever since living in France for a year when I was 15, I've often contemplated where I wanted to live in the world, never coming to any firm conclusions, and certainly never thinking that living in India would be a possibility. Maybe I'm destined to be a world wanderer. I sure hope Chad doesn't mind!

Now that we are so close to having our own children with us, I think about it even more. Is India the place where we want to stay? We live in such a great community, have wonderful friends, have an excellent support system, live more comfortably than we would almost anywhere else in the world. But, the flip side to that list has many detractors that make me want to pack up our babies and go. Traveling to Europe always makes me want to move there... that is until I talk to the music teacher from Luxembourg, who told me that a one-bedroom apartment there costs upwards of $300,000. Yikes!

Then, there is the difficulty of being so far from our families. That weighs into the decision about where to live as well.

But, as I think about this very worldly group of students, and their experiences living all over the world, I think of the immense learning opportunities they've had, and also how they must have had to depend on their families throughout every move, adjustment and transition. On Wednesday evening, when I left Delhi, I was staying with 16 juniors and seniors in high school who were saying goodbye to their parents. I have to say that the affection they showed their parents was surprising. More than a few 17-year-old boys unabashedly initiated public displays of affection with their moms and dads. You can tell that among many expat families, the bond between parent and child is strong. And, the child ends up having a strong sense of independence and self. 

So, now, I'm going to put my teacher hat on and have us play a familial game of Where's Waldo. If work and money were no option, where would you choose to raise your children? Why? 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thirty-Two Weeks

Let me hear a hooray! Everything is quite on the baby front. Surro-mama and babies are resting comfortably at home. At this point their little lungs should be close to functional and ready to scream "feed me" in the middle of the night. The majority of the next few weeks is dedicated to fat building. Genetically speaking they should be good at that thinking back to our summer in the states. We hope they stay put for a few weeks longer. We want healthy and fat babies to bring home. It is hard to believe we are about five weeks out!

Douglas left for Belgium last night. Kinda jealous of the Europe trip, but he will be too busy supervising HS students to have much fun. I took full advantage this morning and may or may not have hit snooze several times, and I may or may not have given Jyoti proper exercise. Although every time he leaves I get a good story like I did this morning...

It was very quite around the house this morning until I went outside to water my vegetables. I was surprised/terrified to see a pigeon had made his way inside the bird netting and couldn't find his way out. I startled him and he flew into the net, the door, and the window. I solicited a solution from our neighbor and she recommended I call the emergency school number and have someone else deal with it. I thought about it... but envisioned ten men standing on each other's shoulders shaking sticks and eventually knocking all my plants over and the bird would still be on the balcony in the end. I decided to go to work and let the bird calm down. About an hour later I ran back home and from the kitchen window was able to detach one side of the netting. Then I scared the bird into flying that direction and when he hit the net he broke free! That will be the last time he tries to peep in on us. I deserve a medal or something: "Bird Eradicator Extraordinaire".

Chad

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's A Race!

and I won!

Who can make the crib the fastest?

Ready... Set... Go: flitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket, sheep, and panda.

I beat Douglas by a panda, a sheep, AND half the blanket!

All smiles tonight.

Chad

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laundry

We're starting to launder all of the twins' clothes (basically, a lot of onesies). Is this the last time that their whites will actually be white? I'm thinking yes.


Meanwhile, it's still very green in Delhi (as you can tell from the view on our balcony). The temperature has started to fall. The temperature is still climbing into the 90s every day, but the mornings and evenings are lovely, with very little humidity.

The weather, the laundry, the vivid dreams, the baby shopping trips -- all of these things are reminding me that we are so close to having our babies with us. The excitement continues to grow!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Detailed Report

We received the official report from last weekends ultrasound. It provided a lot more detail than what we could see by looking at the babies jumping around on the screen. Yesterday I round up some tailor's measuring tape so I could visualize the baby size on my desk.

A big thank you to Dr. Google for translating all of the medical terms.

BPD: bi-parietal diameter; transverse of head temple to temple
FL: femur length
HC: head circumference
AC: abdominal circumference
EFW: estimated fetal weight

Twin A:
BPD: 79.1 mm (3.1 in)
FL: 57.7 mm (2.27 in)
HC: 274.2 mm (10.8 in)
AC: 267 mm (10.5 in)
EFW: 1605 gms +/- 240 gms (3.5 lbs)

Twin B:
BPD: 77.7 mm (3.05 in)
FL: 54.6 mm (2.14 in)
HC: 284.5 mm (11.2 in)
AC: 232 mm (9.13 in)
EFW: 1248 gms +/- 187 gms (2.75 lbs)

Placenta is on the upper anterior segment. No placenta previa. Amniotic fluid is adequate. No focal defect seen. No fetal deformity seen.

So by the looks of these measurements... twin A has the big stomach and twin B has the big head! I had a very casual conversation with Dr. Indira on Monday while I was shopping at Khan Market. I came around the corner and there she was. She is happy with the reports and doesn't see any reason why we won't sail through this month.

Chad

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Even though I am kinda freaked out by twins who wear the same clothes beyond age 8, I have to say that this is pretty cool!




Happy Tuesday,
Douglas 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Nursery Reveal!

After months of anticipation, we finally completed all of the major work in putting our nursery together. We are really pleased with the results, and can't wait to introduce our kids into their space.

There were two big challenges in designing this space. First, not knowing whether we're having boys, girls, or one of each. So, the colors needed to be more-or-less gender non-specific. Second, our nursery is not very big. Fitting two cribs, a changing table and a love seat into one space took a lot of trial and error.

Our nursery has been a work in progress for about a month now. Actually, the germinal idea for our nursery came from two baby blankets purchased way back in the spring by Mary, one of our greatest friends here in Delhi. The blankets, in delicate crimson and grey, were block printed with beautiful designs. Something just seemed to click with both of us about the colors and the design (both of my parents are Ohio State grads, so it's possible I was conditioned to love those colors from a very young age).

The baby blankets came from Anoukhi in Khan Market, a store that sells beautiful textiles of all types.Next came a beautiful Indian rug, brought to us by Lordson's Carpet. If you are in Delhi and are looking to purchase your next family heirloom, you should look up Mr. Lordson.


'






Then we added in two natural wood cribs and a changing table from Mothercare. While we were hunting for cribs and carseats we found four paintings of common modes of transportation in India: bus, rickshaw, bicycle and taxi. Up close, you can see that each of the paintings is a group of small word typically associated with mass transit in India.

Next, we spent a ridiculous amount of time hunting for the right fabric to match the crimson in our carpet (which matched the crimson in the baby blanket). We finally found the right texture, color and pattern at Lal Furnishings in Sarojini Nagar Market. This really fun market has been transformed over the years since we've been in Delhi into a great one-stop place for all you could possibly need in India. Prices are still lower at this market than many of the other markets in Delhi.

We owe my boss, Susan a big thanks as well for helping us Feng Shui the placement of the art in our nursery.







Then we added some fun, soft things. I got the sleep sheep in the US, and Chad got the pandas on his recent trip to China (Yes, we know, you're not supposed to put stuffed animals in cribs... but they're fine for now. And, they're super cute!)


Finally, we added four soft pillows from my new favorite store in India, Maspar. The blue, off-white and the green bring out the non-red colors in the rug, and soften up the room quite a bit. We we're also lucky to acquire a love seat from one of our co-workers whose family has outgrown it.  It will be perfect for those late-night feeds when we just can't make it back to our own bed.

So, finally, after all of the tailors, carpet sellers, carpenters, delivery people and painters have come an gone, this is the end result. And we are really pleased with how everything came together.  But, now, we are SO ready to have our kids here with us that it's hardly bearable!

Ultrasound Brief

We just got back from the ultrasound. Our surrogate is looking great. We were definitely impressed by her mobility. We will get the detailed report later, but this is what we can remember from looking across the ultrasound tech's shoulder.

Twin A:
Head down
Heart rate: 146 bpm
Weight 3 lbs 9 oz.

Twin B:
Head up
Heart rate: 133 bpm
Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz.

Stay tuned for pictures and more details.

Everything is healthy and normal, and the doctor couldn't be more pleased. I will have to consult Dr. Google to see how normal it is to have twin A stealing all of twin B's food though.

Chad

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Heavy On The Emotions

Fear, joy, pressure, sympathy, and stress all come to mind. We are getting closer by the minute to having a house full of babies, and I am having elevated levels of everything. I am fearful I won't be the parent I want to be. I feel pressure to get things done before the babies come, and I am not sure I have enough time. I feel sympathy for our surrogate who must be struggling to move. There is a virtual whirlwind flashing before my eyes. It will all fall into place. I am confident my husband and I will make it happen.

We have our thirty week ultrasound tomorrow morning at 11am. We also plan to take a tour of the baby unit at the hospital. We have been to this hospital before and were super impressed by the facilities. They have all the latest and greatest bells and whistles, as well as private parenting suites that are nicer than some of the hotels we have stayed in. It is also the first hospital in India to be paperless. Go digital and go green!

Amritsar was an awesome trip. We took the express train from Delhi and reached our hotel around lunch time. The food in Punjab is amazing. It was so full of flavor, but it was not overly spicy. The India-Pakistan border ceremony is a sight to see. If you have extra time in India you can't miss it. You can YouTube it... search Waggah Border. The Golden Temple, the Sikh's holiest place, is a sight also. You should visit there at night and during the day to get the full perspective. We had dinner at a dive of a place on the side of the road before our train back to Delhi. I was concerned by the look of the place, but the food turned out to be amazing. Tandoori everything... love Punjab.

The monsoon has officially ended in Delhi. The weather is very nice with cool mornings and pleasant temperatures. If you are planning a trip to Delhi soon bring a few long sleeves because the mornings are chilly. Bring your bug spray though because it is now Dengue season and the last thing you need is to get that and a newborn!

Happy October... where did September go?

Chad

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Did You Notice?

We have been hitting many milestones lately. We just passed 29 weeks last week. This coming week we will cross the big 30 week threshold (ah... that will feel so good!). I had a birthday yesterday. And our blog passed 10,000 views this last week (OK, yes, I admit that I hit refresh several times over in order to be the 10,000th page view; but, it still counts)!


We are off in a few minutes to visit Pakistan. Yep. We're going to the border. I don't think we'll be crossing into Pakistan (actually, I know we won't be doing that). but we'll be coming close. 

Cheers, 
Douglas