Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Citizen Gigi

Yesterday we had our consular visit and it all went off without a hitch.  No DNA requirement, all documents in order, a hearty congratulations from the very nice officer, a raising of the right hand and an "I swear," and she's a recognized citizen born abroad.  We'll go back to get the passport on Monday or Tuesday at the latest, and then off to the FRRO to get her an exit visa, and away we go.  The whole process is running much more smoothly than we had anticipated, which is great.  She continues to amaze us.  I can't stop kissing her.  Am I going to be one of those parents?  Probably.  We do have moments, Steve and I, where we look at each other and say, "Oh my God, she is going to say all the time, 'Dads, stop it.  You're embarrassing me!'"  We just can't help it.

From the Greenberg.  Other adventures:  We are coming to feel really comfortable here in Mumbai.  Apart from the easy kosher food (pure veg) we often feel that we are among our people.  On the way back from the consulate, we happpened upon a joyous festival with lots of men in beards in head coverings, big posters of a white bearded holy man who died but is still alive somehow and others depicting a white stone temple.  We hung out in the crowd for a bit and were told that our kippot were not quick large enough and that we would need to get a proper, more frum, head covering were we to stay.  But they were totally gentle and non-judgmental about it.   Actually, no this is not a Lubavitcher fabrengin but a Sikh celebration of the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

Goldstein back:  We also stopped at the clinic, Rotunda, to drop off a note and some extra cash for the surrogate, as a way of saying thanks, and to pick up the blessing that Steve asked for.  Everyone cooed appropriately, we took some pictures both with Goral Gandhi, the lab director, and Dr. Soumya Ramesh, the doctor in charge of all IVF stuff.  Of, course, in the waiting room, were lots of other couples just starting the process, filled with excitement and trepidation.  We did get the blessing.  It was simple, and written out in Urdu:  May Allah grant her every wish.

On another funny note, we had dinner at the main restaurant over at the Renaissance Hotel, which is attached to these corporate apartments.  It is one of the swankiest places we've been in.  The whole place smells good, like the best spa you can imagine.  Better than the Aveda store.  Anyway, the restaurant, which of course has a strict vegetarian option, cooked in a separate part of the kitchen, is staffed by the most beautiful young men and women you can imagine.  Actually, the few women are sort of greeters and all the wait staff are men.  But everyone is dressed in these beautiful northern Indian costumes, long gold paisley tunics with pants and pointy shoes for the men.  Gold dresses and brocade shoes for the women.  They are celebrating Lucknow month, so all northern food.  I'm sure they had basically a casting call for beautiful people when they went to staff the place.  The food actually was just fine, but the ambiance was phenomenal.  Some more pics!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

10 Rooms 6 Days

Ok, a quick post before I head off to bed.  I neglected to mention that I have been fulfilling my ethnic obligation and have had us move, I kid you not, into 4 different rooms at the last hotel over 3 nights, and here we've changed roms once since we moved in last Thursday.  You know, the regular complaints.  Mold, dampness, fumes, noise.  But we know have a great and fairly quiet room with a lake view.

Just wanted to say that we head off to the US Consulate first thing in the morning to interview for a US Citizen Birth Abroad certification and a passport.  So think good thoughts.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Pix and a Little Local Flavor


So this is a post dedicated to Tamar Poupko Smith, who took us shopping at Target, set us all up with clothes and strollers and car seats and bouncy seats.  You name it, she gave it.  This is a bit of an admission to her as well.  You see, Tamar is a very organized individual, and I, in my imperfect OCD complex, strive to be as good as her.  I had the baby's suitcase packed in New York the week before we left.  Well, not actually packed but everything gathered.  I boiled the n.i.p.p.l.e.s. (Our dear friend Arna, Tamar's mom, can't say the word.  So that's in honor of her.), washed the clothes, made my lists.  And then came The Night Before We Left, and we were running around try to find everything and make sure it all fit.  Plus I decided we needed two more n.i.p.p.l.e.s. and some liquid formula so I knew that we had to stop at Target again on the way out.  Tamar also convinced us we HAD to use the Playtex Drop-In line of bottles, with their pre-sterilized inserts.  My cousin Barbara, (who had divined we were having a girl from the start), a smart cookie and seasoned mom herself, told me we HAD to use Avent or Dr. Browns.  We almost switched, but decided to stick with our first purchase.  Anyway, there we are at the hospital, Gigi is born and we're ready to bring her up to the room.  They ask us to bring down a set of clothes, and a diaper.  I go to the wardrobe in the hospital room where I had set out all the baby clothes, and I realize I didn't bring any of the side snap undershirts, of which I have no less than 50 I guess sitting on the floor upstairs in the nursery in Cincinnati.  How could I have just neglected to do that?  I did have two long-sleeved ones, but all the short-sleeved one were missing.  And I didn't want to put anything over her umbilical cord stump.  Total failure.  Then the nurses kept asking about my strange bottles, wanted me to have something else. They also kept sterilizing everything for me, including the outside plastic "bottle" that holds the inserts.  I told them I could just wash that but the were insistent.  At one of the feedings, the sister (they call nurses "sisters" here) hands me back my insert holder and it is melted into an unusable shape.  Sort of like a Shrinky-Dink, for you boomers out there.  Down to one bottle, and they still kept trying to take the other away to sterilize.  I kept the misshapen one to show them why they couldn't have it.  In the end, I've been praising Tamar for insisting on the inserts.  Here in the hotel room, it would have been impossible to sterilize bottles, and the inserts have been a godsend.  The nips we wash and pour let sit in boiling water from our in room boiler, in our coffee cups, and do this a couple times each cleaning.  Then there was the poop and vomit episode for which I called Dr. Tamar Poupko Smith in the wee hours here.  Baby Gigi has been getting the hiccups a lot, which then cause her to spit up a portion of her meal.  Last night it was particularly bad.  Added to the fact the she hadn't pooped in 3 days.  This all lead to Gigi being out of sorts.  Tamar told us to do a little thermometer intervention, and low and behold today, poop.  Twice.

So we thank Tamar for all her wisdom, her phone appointments, and general good cheer.  Check out the bottle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gidget? Ganesh? Google?

Since landing on the nickname of GG, or Gigi, it seems it might stick around for a bit.  Not really as a name, but just as a cute reference to her dads.  A nick name that those who were there from the beginning will know.  We're waiting to be discharged from the hospital, and head to one hotel or the other.  It turns out that the lovely Lakeside Chalet doesn't have anything available until Thursday, so we have to go to a place in Juhu, another part of town, far away from Powai, but luckily where the Italian restaurant is located.  (Move over, palak paneer.).

First try with the pacifier.  Like crack for babies.
View out the window.
Ok, I'm coming back to this post after a long day, the title of which should be "The Really Awful Terrible Horrible Day".  It began rather innocuously, Gigi was up sort of early, comfortably hung out with her for a bit.  They came and said they would do one test today and then send us home.  The test was an ultrasound of her kidneys as she has a small skin tab near her right ear, and there seems to be some sort of concurrence between tabs and kidney problems.  (There's no problem, not to worry.)  Also, I received a call from Nisha in the PR (patient relations) office to tell me that the photographer that takes pictures of the babies for their passports would be showing up at around 11.  It then began.  Steve went to take her down for the sonogram at 9:45 while I did a couple of things in the room and came back saying it was terrible for her, a cold instrument being put to her, and she came back all upset.  So we fed her and she fell asleep, just in time for the photographer to come in and demand that she be awake with both eyes open and looking straight ahead while a bright flash kept going off.  It was impossible to wake her, we tried everything short of torture, and the photographer's bedside manner was making me crazy.  Plus he had the wrong lens on, I'm sure, so that her portrait had that wide angle effect and you couldn't see the requisite ears.  Finally that was done, and they brought in a urine collecting bag so that they could do the metabolic screening I asked for.  So they tape the plastic thing around her privates, sort of folded it up in and under, and then put diaper on top of that.  When she finally peed, (I tried everything to make it go faster, even resorting to putting her hands in warm water.), they came up to do the other part of the screening, the heel test.  So this doctor comes in and sticks her heel with a needle, few times, to get enough blood, and to make it worse, as she's screaming her head off, he kept snapping his fingers in front of her and saying, "Baby. Baby.  Stop Crying.  It's Over.  Baby....", when it clearly wasn't over.  This was the absolute worse for me.  It upset me to no end.  All I have to say is thank God she's not a boy, as I don't think I would survive a bris.

The checkout procedure took forever, and we finally were whisked away to our place in Juhu by our charioteer, Moinideen.  But it's a little shocking being out of the cocoon of the hospital and back in the real world.  Our hotel in Juhu is pretty mediocre, though it's costing us more than the lush apartment.  The staff's been very nice to try accommodate us, but it's just a mediocre place.  We are using Mary's travel bed for the first time (Thanks, Mary!) and Tamar's car seat (Thanks, Tamar!) and the great blanket from Claire (Thans, Claire!).

Also, we are so blown away by all your lovely comments, I wish we could respond to them all.  Know that we loved reading every one of them, and are quite moved by the show of love and support.  Can't wait for everyone to meet her.

I promise.  That's my happy look.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baby G G

She's up in our room now, doing great.  We are in awe.  We spent a lovely shabbat, sleeping and feeding, and our two and half hours of completely awake presence.  It's amazing to see the changes she's going through, even though she's less than 48 hours old.  But here she is, totally beautiful, and already willful!

As for a name, people have been asking.  But we Jews are nuts.  We are going to wait to introduce her formally to the community in a naming, hopefully in NY at the beginning of December, and then she will be know as...(Don't worry, we're not going to hyphenate our last names.  That would be cruel.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Enter, Stage Right

So at 11:34 PM, on November 11, 2010, there was born to Steve and Steve a baby girl.  Close to 8 lbs, all healthy.  They came and woke us up at 2AM and took us in to see her for about 10 minutes.  We'll go down to see her again in about 2 hours.  We are amazed and speechless, and excited beyond belief.
Love to all our friends.  We can't wait to bring her home.
Steven and Steve
(Pix to follow.  Internet is really bad in the hospital.)

Hurry Up and Wait

Ok, so while we wait a bit for the delivery to actually happen, I thought I'd fill everyone in on our first few days.  Arrived without a hitch.  Moinideen, our driver...wait, did we tell you about the luck we fell into?  Steve spent the three day Rosh Hashanah holiday in Jerusalem and seated behind him at Shira Hadashah was a very vivacious and guy, the brother of the rabbi of Ikkar in LA, Rabbi Sharon Brous.  They reconnected in LA a few weeks ago and when the subject of our impending India trek came up Michael said that he had a wonderful friend and associate named Div who had made it big in IT at a young age here in Mumbai and would probably offer to help us in some way.  Well it turns out Div has supplied us with a driver to ferry us to and fro whenever we need him, anytime and all day.  Plus two mobile phones, and two wi-fi sticks for the macs.  So we arrive and Moinideen is waiting for us and us we get in the car, he hands us a bag with our phones preprogrammed with each other's numbers (Steve Nokia and Steve BB), his number, Div's number, Div's assistant's number, a call center to ask random info for Mumbai, and ourwi-fi sticks for our computers.....and away we go to the hotel.  The heavenly connection between Jerusalem, LA and Mumbai is proof of a single all powerful deity or an amazing coordination of demiurgic angels.

Powai, and Hiranandani Gardens in particular, is a middle class to posh area.  Amid boulevards and business complexes, shops and restaurants there are shanties and slums, meaning that it looks like the rest of Mumbai, just a lot less traffic.  Still, the sidewalks are non existent in places, and there are no traffic lights, and it's still being formed at all places all the time.  But the hotel is very nice, simple and nice.  Tuesday morning, we join Will and Michael of Baby WAM for breakfast and have a very nice and fun time comparing notes on our experiences.  They are a lovely couple from Brisbane (A shout out to you, Daniel!), who were due to give birth the day before us.  There was a very exciting moment when we thought we actually might have the same egg donor, therefore knowledge of biological half sibling half way around the world!  But it turns out not.  Of course, we had looked at the same donor profiles, and picked one in the end that they had used on the first failed go round.  Before we checked, we all decided that it would actually be very nice to know, to be able to maybe one day introduce our little orthodox kid with two dads to his/her biological Aussie (not Jewish!) half sib.  After breakfast, we traveled over to Bandra, to the clinic, to pick up our introduction letter and original contract copy, which we had to furnish to the hospital so that when the surrogate gives birth, the nurses will hand us over the baby.  We also meet Dr. Soumya Ramesh, the doctor in charge at the clinic who took over after we were here last year, and Goral Gandhi, the woman in charge of the lab.  They are both so extremely lovely and it was a real pleasure to finally put faces to the voices that we had been talking to for so long.  Steve asked Goral for something very moving.  She asked if there's anything more she can do for us while we wait, Steve asked if she would ask the surrogate to write or dictate a blessing for the baby, to send him/her off with.  So we'll hopefully have that for the little one, to put in the file.

So we get the paper work, then head out to our favorite restaurant, Little Italy, (a vegetarian Italian place) for pizza.  It's pretty easy to eat here for us, as they take vegetarianism religiously, so there are all these Pure Veg places, that even cater to the Jain population that not only doesn't eat meat, but doesn't eat root vegetables either.  So even in the vegetarian places, you can order a Jain meal.  We've been told that the Jains are very involved in the diamond trade so in Antwerp the chassidim will eat in the Jains' homes.  After lunch (driving, by the way, takes us over an hour to get to the clinic, and then 45 minutes to get to lunch, and then an hour to get back to Powai), we go to the hospital, meet Mrs. Mariamma the social worker, and Nisha the woman in charge of PR, patent relations.  Tuesday night, we go out for Indian vegetarian food at the local food court and I proceed to dump an entire plate of palak paneer, rice and something curry and red, all down the front of me.  Oh, there was a gym visit in there somewhere as well.

Wednesday, we meet up with Michael and Will again and ask them to join us for the day doing a little sightseeing.  First stop was the Haji Ali Dargah, a tomb of a sufi saint, that is sort of the Mumbai equivalent of Mont San Michel in France.  It's out in the water and inaccessible at high tide.  We all trundle out there, Moinideen who is Muslim, makes an offering at the tomb and then we head off to Mani Bhavan, the home of Gandhi.  This Steve and I find very moving.  I asked about Obama's visit and the guard at the door smiles broadly and proudly pulls out the register with the president and first lady's entry, already laminated. this is Greenberg taking over the blogspot for a bit.  Goldstein feels queasy and needs to lie down.  The Gandhi House was inspiring, but the Prince of Wales Museum (now renamed an almost impossible to pronounce Hindi name) was interesting and moving in other ways.   All four of us got headphone guides and listened attentively to the learned descriptions of the sculpture, art, and religious iconography that depicted Hindu, Jain, Christian and Muslim traditions in the country.   There were four floors and after an hour plus three of us had reached the fourth floor but Steve (Goldstein that is) was nowhere.  Will's phone rings..."where are you guys?"   Steve climbs up somewhat breathless and says, "We got to go...our surrogate was just admitted into the hospital!"  The aussies were eccstatic, smiling and excited for us.   To me it felt like an electric jolt, an existential shiver.  Steve and I looked at each other and said..." God...its really happening!"

OK...Goldstein's back.  I'm rallying.  The museum might be named an impossible to pronounce Hindi name but it's the name that everything is called by here--Chatrapati Shivaji, an Indian statesman.  There's the aforementioned Chatrapati Shivaji Museum, the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal (old Victoria Station, called CST for short), Chatrapati Shivaji Park.  You get the idea.  We should have mentioned earlier that Will and Michael, the boys for short, have been nervously awaiting their call, and Will in particular has been bothering Dr. Ramesh so much that she is refusing to take his calls.  And when she does, by his retelling, she answers with, "What now, Will."  Anyway, I run up, barely get out the news, Will says "Oh, then we must go," and we call the faithful Moinideen who as quickly as he can gets us back up to Powai.  We quickly pack an overnight bag, grab the baby's stuff, and run over to the hospital to be finally told by the very commanding Dr. Soni that Mrs. Shameem (that's our surrogate) isn't in labor but will be induced on Thursday.  So we head back to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening finalizing the name!  We're still working on it.

Today, we packed up at the hotel fully, came to hospital to do the paper work and get checked into a room.  The room here is great.  Very big, very new, very clean, sort of luxury to be honest, with a very calm and attentive nursing staff, called sisters here.  We also ran out to look at an apartment for our after hospital stay.  Saw a couple that were just fine, but then decided to look at the Marriot Lakeside Chalet just in case, though it's much more expensive.  Big mistake.  The Marriot is heavenly.  In lush gardens, quiet, good vegetarian restaurants right on premises, plus the ability to cook if we want.  Tennis lessons.  We're staying there.

It's now 6PM, still no baby.  But I'm sending this off as I feel it's going to happen any minute.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big News

We're at the Prince of Wales Museum and I receive a text from Dr. Ramesh:  Call Now!
Our surrogate was admitted to the hospital this evening, birth will probably be tomorrow.
Will fill in details and pix soon.
Here we go...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


So finally we're very close to having our kitchen completely done. I know we should be posting pictures of the baby's room, but we're trying to be a little low key with that, so I'll post pix of our kitchen instead. I really should have taken pictures before and after,so you could really see the difference, but this room is going to be so great I may want to move my bed done there, next to our very fancy dishwasher. The anxiety is ratcheting up. Up to this point I've been excited and scared, but happy excited none the less. For some reason today, I got sad. More worried than excited, and very grumpy. Those of you who have known me for a long time are probably saying, "But Steven, Grumpy is your middle name." So maybe it's about time I've hit this stage. I'm kinda thinking it's pre-post-partum depression. Though there'll be no partum for us. We've got the baby suitcase almost packed, still need a couple of items. Also, still unclear about what kind of formula they use in India. I've been asking, to see what may be available to buy. We also want to keep the baby on the same formula he/she started with, so I think I want to bring it into the hospital. So trying to figure that out as well.

Truly can't believe we're leaving on Sunday. Steve and I keep looking at each other and saying, "What have we done???"