Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mississippi Is A River

When my voice teacher taught me how to bow, she said that I should relax my neck muscles, bend at the waist and say "Mississippi is a river" in my head.

"Why are you bowing?", you might ask.

Because we've received a most prestigious award! The Liebster award. This award is for blogs with fewer than 200 followers who deserve more recognition.

The Award comes with a few rules. You’re supposed to:
  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them
  • Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  • Post the award on your blog
  • Bask in the love from the most supportive people in the blogosphere – other bloggers
  • Hope your recipients pass the award to their 5 favorite blogs to keep the love flowing
"From whom did you receive this most-prestigious award?" you inquire.

From Love Makes a Family, a blog about a surrogate, two great fathers and how their twins came into the world through a community of love.

"Now that you've won this award, what will you do now?"you want to know.

Now, we'll give out our own Liebster Awards to the bloggers we love!

1. Allton-Nee Three: First off a hat tip and Liebster to our fellow world travelers. Read the story about the birth of Beau and find out about these Dads' infinite levels of patience when getting their kid out of India.

2. Pride in Life: I'm not sure if Ryan has fewer than 200 followers. Even if he has more, you should be reading his blog, which features beautiful photography, great stories about his son, Bean.

3. Mark and Kerrie's Journey: If you are unfamiliar with Mark and Kerrie's story, please go back and read their whole blog. Their experiences dealing with infertility, IVF, shipping disasters, surrogacy and finally, success and the birth of Cailyn should be required reading for anyone journeying into the world of ART.

4. Alotabi Triplets: Just because I don't know how she has three children at once and manages to update a blog!!

5. Two Babies on the Way: The Khan family is on a similar journey to ours. Our kids were born within a month of each other, and we love reading up on what Brady and Rooney are doing. Go check their blog out too!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Our Favorite Things: Travel Edition

This post is a continuation of travel-related posts stemming from our trip from India to the US and back during winter vacation 2011/2012. To read the other posts, go here, here, or here.

I'll do this Letterman-style, and save our greatest travel product for last.

#5 Pacifier Bag: I'd tell you who manufactures this, so you could get one for yourself, but there is no brand name stitched anywhere on the bag. Hmm. The reason this is so nice is that it is small enough to fit into one of the diaper bag pockets, and it holds two pacifiers AND it hold special sanitary wipes to sterilize pacifiers that have fallen to the ground (I tested it by putting one wipe in my mouth and there aren't any chemical tastes or harsh odors). I can't tell you how many times one of our pacifiers was dropped/spit out and touched something on the plane that was, well, icky. This pacifier bag was surprisingly convenient.

#4 Bose Headphones: After doing the Delhi-Chicago flight two times, I stopped using the stupid little Apple in-ear headphones and invested in a pair of big-boy headphones. I've never regretted the $140 they cost. If you are taking a flight over 4 hours long buy a pair--trust me

 #3 Camel Thermos: This seemed common-sense to me, but you'd be surprised at how many parents look at me all big-eyed and surprised when I whip out my thermos of boiling water and stick a bottle in it to heat it up. It's easy to find bottled water (for the formula) and extra-hot boiling water (for heating up the bottled water) on planes. Don't risk burning yourself by having the flight attendant put your hot water in a disposable cup, or, (yikes) directly in the bottle. We had the flight attendants fill up the camel thermos with extra-hot water and then we put the lid on it and it was good-to-go for bottle heating for the next 3-4 hours.

#2 Formula Dispensers: This is a must have, especially if you are flying with twins. No need to scoop, scoop, scoop. Just pre-load the dispenser when you are on stable ground and then pour the contents of each pre-measured compartment into the bottle. Who knows exactly how much time/frustration/clean up this little contraption saved us (twin note: we have two, one for each kid, and they still don't take up too much room in our diaper bag).

#1 Moby Wrap: For 2 out of our 3 international flights so far, we haven't been able to get a bassinet. I just cannot tell you how these wraps saved our sanity, especially when we were rerouted on the way back to Delhi and our 22-hour trip turned into a 30-hour trip. First off, being wrapped up like a little tree-frog is every infant's dream. So, for long stretches of time our kids didn't make a peep on the 13-hour flight because they were so comfortable wrapped to their daddies. Second, it helps conserve your physical stamina to have your hands free.

I highly suggest that you take any/all of these products on the plane with you for your next trip, especially if your next trip is more than 5 hours long.

Been Busy?

So, we dropped off of the face of the earth for about a week. My apologies to all of our faithful readers! The long and the short of our absence is that I had a few free-lance projects that were due last week, and Chad returned to work, so we've both been really busy.

I still want to post about three more things about our December/January trip to the US, and we need to send a shout out back to Jeni, and I have some wonderful photographs to share with you from two really talented photographers; so, I'll get right on that after this upcoming bottle feeding and the playtime that follows.

Meanwhile, read this if you are an IP and are planning a trip to India for the birth of your baby. Many thanks to Kerrie for her continued contributions to our community!

And, not to leave you without any twin cuteness, here's a picture:

"Why has it taken you so long to update the blog!??!?"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Worth 1,000 Words?

I'd say it's worth a million!

Our boys turned 2-months old this weekend. Naturally, we tortured them by making the pose for pictures.

Love and Peace,

I'll have "Things I Never Thought I'd Hear from Chad's Mouth" for 600, Alex

So, driving today with our good friend Dean, his luggage, and our twins, we checked out a minivan from the school fleet of cars. We've never driven a minivan before because up until today I thought that we weren't "minivan people."

And then Chad said what I was thinking in the back of my head.

"Wow! This is great. We should get one of these."

Yikes. Are we those parents, already!?!?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are You Seeing Double?

Most IPs are well aware that transferring multiple embryos means that you'll have a greater chance of conceiving twins.

However, did you know this:

But there are other factors at work as well. The increase rate of twins may be one of the best examples of how food choices can affect you hormonally. In 2006, a study demonstrated that women who ate two or more servings of non-organic dairy per day were five times more likely to have twins as women who ate no dairy at all. Other studies have shown that the growth hormones given to dairy cows can stimulate a woman’s ovaries to release more eggs at the time of ovulation. In fact, Britain banned the use of these growth hormones in their dairy farms. British women are about half as likely to have twins as women in the U.S.

Here's the link to the rest of the article. It's scary how the body responds to the environment!!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Kind of Week Has it Been?

Well, to answer that question, this is what I was researching today:

Tips for Babies and Jetlag (from http://www.deliciousbaby.com)
  • Breastfed babies may take a little longer to adjust as mom's body is manufacturing milk on the home-schedule and may need some time to adjust to the new schedule. Jetlag and dehydration from a long flight can also impact mom's milk supply, so make sure to keep yourself well hydrated.
  • Young babies rely on routines to help them understand their day. Try to keep your naptime and bedtime rituals similar to the routines you use at home, this will help your baby adjust.
  • It's ok to play with a baby who wakes up at night (for the first few nights) but try to keep the activity fairly quiet and phase it out gradually. After a few nights, keep the room darkened, offer milk, and try to soothe your child back to sleep.
  • Don't worry that a time change will cause a permanent regression in baby's nighttime sleep. Sleep training is a long, ongoing effort with frequent setbacks when baby is teething, learning a new skill, or not feeling well. Travel is just another temporary setback.
  • The return back home is often a more difficult adjustment for babies than the transition to a new time zone.
  • Try to gradually help baby get used to taking most of their food or milk during daytime hours (but don't refuse to feed them if they are hungry)

Anybody else have any advise/tips for infantile jet lag?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

While we were in Ohio visiting my family, the whole bunch of us went out to one of our favorite local pizza places - you know, the kind of restaurant that still doesn't take credit card but is so good that no one seems to care. The pizza was awesome and it was a lot of fun being together as an extended family of fifteen!
A picture from the road in Indiana traveling to see my family. 
While we were there, my nephew Josiah (just 2 months older than our twins)  had a major diaper blowout. For some inexplicable reason, my sister hadn't put an extra change of clothes in her diaper bag (I had to work hard to turn of the voice of judgement in my head because I KNOW that at one time or another I will forget the spare clothes as well), and our kids' clothes were much too small for Jojo's prodigious girth. So, she took him to the bathroom to remove the offending diaper and clothes and to wrap a now-naked infant in a towel.

After returning to the table and having a good laugh about her son's wardrobe malfunction, we continued eating. About five minutes later a stranger who had been in the bathroom when my sister was changing J's clothes came up to our table with a shopping bag with two brand new outfits. She had immediately exited the bathroom and gone to the grocery store to get an out fit for a stranger's child in distress. Since she didn't know Josiah's exact size, she bought two outfits.

This good samaritan wouldn't take any compensation for doing something that J's family members hadn't even thought to do (who knew you could get infant clothing in a grocery store?). I imagine that she did it as an expression of her belief in caring or generosity and only asked that when Josiah was done with the clothes that my sister donate them to someone else who needed them.

After my post yesterday about some uncomfortable run-ins with strangers, I think that putting those interactions in a larger context helps keep things in perspective. During our recent trip to the US, we encountered so many people who showed kindness to us in many ways. I want to make it my practice to take time to reflect on those acts of generosity and model similar acts for my children.

What is the Intent?

Sometimes people do things that make me feel uncomfortable.

I have a very close friend in Delhi who always reminds me to think about the intention behind the action. Most of the time, even if the action itself was abrasive, the intention behind the action was not.

On our recent trip to the US we often encountered people who reacted in an abrasive or intrusive way when they saw our family, two dads and twin infant boys. In retrospect, I have to say that I was not mentally as prepared as I would have liked to have been for all of the questions and stares as we traveled, especially during our departure from India.

Here's my best attempt to look beyond the action and focus on the intent:

"Where's the mother?" This question was one we heard at least 10 times as we left India and was exclusively asked by Indians. This is definitely a culturally loaded question because In India, men don't take care of children. So, the intent is really to make sure someone is caring for the children. It's hard for me to get past the fact that, first, the response is nobody's business but our own and, second, men are equally capable of taking care of children regardless of whether or not the man in question is part of a same-sex or an opposite-sex couple.

"Did you adopt?" I was really surprised by how many people asked this question. As opposed to the first question, this question was almost exclusively asked by Westerners. I think that the intent here is actually to be supportive of us and our less-than-traditional family. I think the motivation for asking this question is part curiosity. People are genuinely interested in our story. I wish, however, that people would temper their curiosity with a bit of deference. It's probably better to ask this question to someone who is not a complete and total stranger. But by the third or fourth time I got this question, I figured out my one-sentence response: "No, they aren't adopted: they were delivered by a surrogate." This response seemed to satisfy people's curiosity. And then in some cases, I think that this question is motivated by a desire to be supportive -- as if in asking the question the questioner is saying, "I understand adoption, and I support you if this is what you did." To this, I say "thank you, but maybe you could find a slightly less invasive way to be supportive."

"Are they test-tube babies?" Yikes. When the Continental Airline representative asked me that, I believe I turned red and said something to the effect of "That is a really offensive question, and you shouldn't ask that to anyone, ever!" While I'm sure my blood pressure spiked, I remained calm and did not yell.  I'm not sure what the intent was here, but I think that this may be a more offensive version of the adoption question in that it was motivated by curiosity.

"Since there is no woman with you, are the children going to be OK?" Again, this is a question that comes directly from the cultural situation in India. Men don't take care of babies. So, the questioner really wanted ensure the safety of our children. If I'd have had about 10 seconds more to think about a response, I would have said something like, "We were planning on letting them ride on the wings, but I guess we shouldn't do that."

"I'm very curious about how these children will grow up without a mother, can I have your phone number so I can call you sometime to see how the babies are getting on?" This little gem of a question came from the immigration official as she stamped our passports, giving our departure the Indian governmental seal of approval. I'm really not sure her intent was to ensure the safety of our children. I'm not sure exactly what her intent was. I know that this question was so far out there that all Chad and I could do was pick up our passports and laugh as we proceeded to the terminal.

So  yes, most of the time the questions came from people whose intentions were in the interest of the safety of our children. For future excursions, the trick will be to try to recognize that intent in the moment, and keep calm, which is not always easy to do!

Peace and Happy Travels,

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Twin Flying List

So, since coming to the US was intended to be a surprise for our friends and family, we couldn't blog about our myriad preparations for coming to the US. Now that our vacation and family time is over, I'm looking forward to blogging about several aspects of our trip (not all in one post, though).

First off, I spent a fair bit of time researching lists for flying with twins. Almost all of the lists I've found are obviously not intended for really long international flights. This is our packing list for our trip from Delhi to the US and then from the US back to Delhi. Our travel time to the US was about 22 hours door-to-door. Our travel time coming back to Delhi was 30 hours due to a delay, a missed flight, and a rerouting through Frankfurt. Even with the additional 8 unanticipated hours, we had more than enough formula/diapers/outfits to make it to our destination.

I thought it'd be interesting to compare the list that we used going to the US and then the list that we used coming back to India (the quantities are listed as totals for both children: i.e., 32 diapers total, not 32 diapers per child):

Diaper Bag List (In the Cabin With Us)
First Trip
Return Trip
1 travel pack
1 regular size pack
Receiving blankets
Fleece blankets
Footed Pajamas
2 cans
1 can
Formula dispensers
Travel size dish soap
Thermos for cold water
Thermos for hot water
Gas drops
Bag for dirty diaper
Bag for dirty clothes
Burp cloths
Extra nipples and bottle parts
Pacifier covers
Pacifier bag
Facial tissues
Hand sanitizer
Extra Dad clothes

You can see a few small changes between our first trip and our second trip. On the whole, we took way too many things for the first trip, and too many things for the second trip. I'm glad that we had everything that we took, but on the return trip we didn't use a third of the diapers, 2 of the blankets, half of the onesies, half of the socks, any of the dish soap, any of the extra bottle parts, the extra dad clothes, or the decitin. Maybe for our next trip across the ocean I'll be even more daring and cut down on our items even further. On second though, probably not! Our return trip list worked quite well.

I'm going to write more about the overall experience of our travel adventures, but let me say straight off that the cabin crews on the trans-Atlantic flights were phenomenal. Big kudos to Continental. They really took care of us by cleaning bottles, fetching hot water, carrying bags, and the occasionally refilling our wine glasses when we didn't even ask for it.

All in all, the trip was wonderful. There were many moments of bliss (and a few moments that were less blissful). I'm looking forward to telling the story of our trip over the next few posts.

Happy travels to all,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

We cannot intimate just how life altering 2011 was. It is with deepest anticipation and profound gratefulness that we look forward to the next year of parenthood, family and friendship.

From our family to yours, happy New Year!

Love and Peace!
Chad, Douglas, Cedric and Ezra