Tuesday, October 7, 2014

12-month update

About 2-3 years ago when we were visiting my partner's family in Florida, I saw this TV commercial that I really liked! So when I explained it to my partner what the commercial was all about:
"You always went for tall, dark and handsome types, so who would have thought the love of your life would be short and bald! Having a baby changes everything"... He paused at first, gave me a look and said: "Who would have thought?!" lol - He likes to pick on my thinning hair and being short according to him - although I am 5'9" tall! :)

Anyway I cannot believe couple of years later, Anjali and Arian have become the love of our lives, and yes having a baby does change everything! We just celebrated their first birthday having a party with 40+ of our friends and family. The babies are too young to understand their first birthday, but I think for us it was celebrating a major milestone. Sharing a few pictures from the party and this summer below.

Babies each have 6 teeth. They now eat everything and have switched from formula to cow milk. Anjali is very close to walking - she holds the furniture while walking around, and Arian is crawling. Developmentally He is a little behind baby sister although he's 4 lbs heavier! :) 

Life has been good  but very busy with the babies. Although for a while I struggled with back pain and sciatica due to carrying/wearing the little ones. I have learned to be careful with my back and do my daily stretches / yoga. 

This past Spring / Summer, we took a few trips with the babies including a week in San Francisco, CA visiting my sister, then Boston, Lake George and Montreal. 
I haven't been that active on the blog land lately but happy to see SCI and Dr Shivani have expanded their business to Nepal giving other gays and singles the opportunity of becoming parents. These days we do think about a year ago when we were in Delhi for baby-pickup, and it brings back so much memory. I have to say we do miss New Delhi. Maybe in couple of years we will be ready for another baby!
Until next update, never give up on your dreams...

Babies having a great time at Coney Island on Labor Day
Anjali turning on TV to watch her cartoon!
Babies at 11 months
Arian playing in our Montreal apartment
Arian at 9.5 months
Arian enjoying the picnic in Lake George, NY at 10.5 months
Anjali being playful while Arian is serious by the lake in Lake George, NY

Sunday, March 23, 2014

6-month update

It has been a while since I last updated this blog. Today our twins turned 6 months old, so it's time for an update.

Anjali and Arian are doing very well. They are becoming mobile! Anjali has been turning over, and Arian is close - it could be because he is about 2 pounds bigger than baby sister! :) They are changing daily. We have their 6-month appointment with their pediatrician next week. Hopefully we can start them on solids soon.

Looking back, I must say the first 2-3 months was rough specially with the sleep deprivation. I read a very interesting metaphor in my "Juggling Twins" book:
"Looking after infant twins is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. That is, the bridge is so long that by the time the paint crew finishes painting it from end to end, they have to start again back at the beginning with the next coat. Similarly, in the first months of having twins, one cycles repeatedly through the changing, feeding, burping, swaddling, and putting to sleep of each baby, one to begin the process over and over and over again."

On top of that, we had to deal with acid reflux, colic / gas problems with Anjali. I have kept wondering how single parents of twins do it. I hope they have some help. Thank God things eventually improved! Now for the most part, the babies sleep through the night for 8-9 hours straight, and we haven't even sleep-trained them.

I have to say in past few months, I gained a greater appreciation for parents specially moms for what they go through to raise children. Despite all the hardship, we love being dads. When the babies smile at us, it really melts our hearts every single day.

I was able to stay home for the first 3 months, and since the new year we have hired a wonderful nanny who takes care of the babies during day. Hiring the nanny was quite eventful. We replied to a few recommendations from other parents in our neighborhood, Park Slope. When we tried to set up interviews, 2 nannies refused to interview as soon as they found out we are same-sex parents. As you can imagine, it was disheartening to hear those words, as we were not expecting homophobia in our neighborhood. Fortunately that incident has been really the only bigotry we have faced as new gay parents. Something tells us it won't be the last! For the most part though, everyone around us has been very supportive.

My parents adore their new grandchildren and are so happy for me. I still cannot believe last year I wasn't even out to them. I never thought I will get to see this day when I can share this with my parents.

This year we had a rough winter as we got record snow in the New York area. Thank God Spring is finally here so we can take the babies out regularly.

Here are some pictures of the babies since my last update:

Baby Arian at 3 monhts
Baby Anjali at 4 months
4-mo Arian
Arian has mastered the art of putting himself to sleep! He puts a blanket on his face to block the lights and keep himself warm like that!
Anjali at 5 months on her bouncy chair playing with her Russian doll
Anjali practices turning over at 5 months
Hope everyone in the blog land is doing well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Months!

Yesterday Anjali and Arian turned 2 months old. Our lives have definitely changed in past two months. It has been more than a month since we are back home and it has taken me this long to update the blog. I used to wonder why some parents (specially of twins) don't update their blogs after the babies birth, and now I understand why! And those of you who used to warn me about not being able to sleep once the babies come, you were not kidding! LOL.
We left Delhi on Sunday October 20th taking direct flight on United to Newark, NJ. We had a pretty smooth flight. The United Airlines crew and passengers were all accommodating and helpful. I definitely recommend that direct flight to other parents. Overall it was a pleasant experience despite the long flight, and we were so relieved once we made it home.

Since then it has been challenging first few weeks, but we are adjusting to our new life as best as we can. My mom stays with us about 4 days a week and helps during day which is very helpful, and we take care of the babies at night and weekends. My mom is not very healthy so we cannot fully rely on her, but just having her around and relying on her expertise is priceless. Babies have been doing well and adjusting to their new life here in Brooklyn. The weather has got cold, but we have been taking them out for a walk at least once a week. Our daughter has been having problem with gas and has a tendency to spit up and we have to make an effort to feed her while sitting up right and also pause a few times during the feed. As a result she hasn't gained as much weight as her baby brother. Last Tuesday they had their 8-week visit to their pediatrician. Anjali was 8 lbs 5 oz (3.8 kg) and Arian was 9 lbs 6 oz (4.3 kg). The doctor seems to be happy with their progress. Despite all the hardship of the past 8 weeks, I have to admit I love being a father and it was all worth the trouble to bring them to this world. Every day I have to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream!

Here are some pictures of the babies taken professionally in past few weeks:

Arian (left) and Anjali (right) at 3 weeks in Delhi
Arian and Anjali - 3 weeks old in New Delhi
Babies at 3 weeks
Baby Arian whispering something to baby sister! - week 5 at home (Brooklyn)
Baby Anjali yawning! week 5
I highly recommend our wonderful photographers, The Creative Lens in Delhi and our dear friend, Nany, here in New York.

Also I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank a few people here.
• First of all we are forever thankful to Dr Shivani and her wonderful staff at SCI. There were many doctors and nurses and staff involved to make this happen.
• Our beautiful surrogate, Shabana, for carrying our babies for over 34 weeks and going through everything. She's an angel that we will forever be thankful for her sacrifices. In our last week in Delhi, we got to meet her and personally thanked her for everything she has done for us. She briefly held the babies in her arms, and we all took pictures together. It was an emotional moment that we will never forget.
• Our beautiful donor - even though we never got to meet her, without her contribution we couldn't have these babies.
• Meg and Margarida for all their efforts and support specially at the beginning. Those two women were simply amazing.
• Our supportive family for being there as we struggled to find a way to have a family. We are forever thankful for that. I still cannot believe a year ago I wasn't out to my parents. And now they are so happy for us and love their grand children.
• Our dear friend, Stacey (also an SCI parent) who held our hands from the beginning and helped us so much throughout the journey. She's even so helpful now with her advice. She is like a sister to me! 
• My good friend, Marion, for showing me the rope and encouraging me to pursue this journey to fatherhood despite the challenges.
• My amazing coworkers specially Debbie who used to listen to me 10 years ago when we used to work together in Dallas. Also Sherry at my current job in past 3-4 years encouraging me not to give up.
• Our wonderful friends who have always been supportive of us (food team, tennis friends, theater community, etc).
• And last but not the least, the surrogacy community specially all the SCI intended parents of August - October time frame. We all held each other's hands as we were reaching the finish line.
This has been an amazing journey, where we got to meet so many wonderful people that I hope to keep in touch and meet up as our children have something special in common: how they came to this world.

The journey to bring Anjali and Arian to this world had a happy ending, and now the journey to raise them to the best of our ability has started. I would like to keep this blog alive and update everyone with their progress / pictures as they reach milestones. Not sure how frequently I will update it though. And maybe in few years if we are lucky and once India figures out its surrogacy laws, we will go back for a sibling project! Thanks for sharing this amazing journey with us, and may all your dreams come true.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dengue Fever?!

So we have had an interesting stay in Delhi in past 2-3 weeks, which is coming to an end. At times it feels like we have been to hell and back!  :) String of our recent misfortunes continued. As my partner was recovering from his cold, I started having fever and headache, and shortly after he started showing the same symptoms. I was convinced our emotional and physical stress was taking its toll out of our bodies! After a visit to Phoenix hospital and some tests, it turned out we both had Dengue Fever. It was frightening at first not knowing how bad things will get. We knew it is not contagious for the babies, as only a mosquito can transfer the virus from an infected person to another.

We checked our platelet counts every other day at ISIS clinic under Dr Shivani's supervision, and our numbers went as low as 50,000 (normal range being above 150,000). The main advice that doctors gave us was to rest for a few days, drink plenty of fluid (including the juice from Papaya leaves), and we managed to get nurses to take care of the babies while we were recovering. Thankfully our platelet counts improved and I want to say everything is back to normal this week.

Last Tuesday, we went to the US embassy for both DNA test and ACS interviews. Everything went smoothly. Although the counselor gave me a little bit of difficult time for wanting to hyphenate the babies last names mainly because Indian birth certificates don't allow hyphens. Anyway with some back and forth, they did approve "Mazidi-Pillai" for their last names!

Meanwhile we haven't been happy with our apartment, Tulip House (B-40 GK1), from the day we moved in. We originally had reserved apartment E-253, but since the babies showed up early that apartment was not available and we had to settle down with B-40. The apartment was not very clean. The staff were helpful but there was always a communication gap. There was also a rat and a small mouse in the kitchen that prompted us to leave. Also still not sure where we got the Dengue Fever. We do not want to blame the apartment for that, but we have seen Mosquitos in the apartment. Anyway my intention for this post is not to bash Tulip House. I am sure their other apartments would have been better options for us but they were not available when we arrived in Delhi. Sandeep in fact was very sympathetic to our problems and offered to let us leave to take care of our health and the babies.

So last Sunday we moved to Apartment 18 (GK1 Enclave), and we have been very happy here. We missed the cook we had at Tulip House, but in so many other ways, this place feels like home.

This week there are many holidays here. Monday was Columbus day and the US embassy was closed. And then Wednesday and Friday is Indian holiday and the FRRO is closed. So I was hoping we can get the babies US passports from the embassy on Tuesday and go to FRRO the same day, but the passports were not ready until 4pm. So this morning we took the babies to FRRO at 9am. It was a crazy place the exact way other bloggers had described it in their blogs. Happy to report by noon, we were able to get our exit visas and leave. It was very straight forward for us. No major question or headache. I was elated once we had the exit visas in our hands!

Technically we could leave tonight if we wanted to, but we decided not to rush and try to enjoy our last few days in Delhi and also to avoid the crowded flights over the weekend. So we have bought our direct ticket from Delhi to Newark leaving Delhi Sunday night.

We used Poonam Jain for all the paperwork, and I highly recommend her. Although I must admit if you have the time and your babies don't show up early, you can do the paperwork yourself, but Poonam and her team definitely took the headache out of the whole process and we are thankful for that.

Despite being sick, we have managed to meet up with Magnus, David (from Australia) multiple times and Lynn and Raja last night. It has been a pleasure knowing these folks and sharing our journey with them.

The babies are doing well and growing well. We will take them to the pediatrician, Dr Anuj, one last time on Saturday before we leave. My next blog should be from Brooklyn! Wishing the best for other IPs getting ready for their turn. My advice: pack mosquito repellent (like OFF) with you. There is definitely a pandemic of this virus in the tropical countries, and you don't want to be the next victim!

Our babies have been growing despite the parents not being well!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Anjali & Arian

Greetings from New Delhi!

Just posting a quick note about our status. So last week we bought our one-way ticket on Air India. We had a direct flight from JFK to Delhi that left on Friday at 3pm and arrived Delhi Saturday afternoon 3pm local time. There was a mix up with our arrival date and SCI thought we are arriving on Sunday, but as soon as we called Rahul, he sent his driver and within one hour, we left the airport and went directly to Eden hospital to see the babies. We arrived after visiting hours, but the nurses allowed us to spend 10-15 minutes with the babies. It was an unforgettable experience.

Couple of unfortunate things happened last week. First my partner got a cold right before the trip and hasn't been feeling well ever since. Secondly, my mother-in-law who was going to come to Delhi to stay with us twisted and fractured her ankle on Friday and had to have a surgery. It was heart-breaking for all of us as I know she was looking forward to seeing her new grand kids, and we were looking forward to spending time with her and get help from her and specially with her expertise with newborns. She is recovering well at the moment. But these things are out of everyone's hands.

We are staying at Tulip House (B-40) two bedroom apartment. Things are going well so far with the apartment. On Sunday we went back to Eden Hospital during visiting hours and met with Dr Anuj. Our babies were discharged on that date and we brought them home. The first few hours, I was fine with both and was so happy holding them despite the jetlag and lack of sleep. The difficulty was my partner was unable to get too close to the babies because of his cold and per advice from Dr Anuj. Sunday night was pretty overwelming as I was up until 6am. At that point we called the nursing services and they send Alice, this wonderful nurse who took over taking care of kids on Monday.

Yesterday we went to SCI, met with wonderful Dr Shivani and all the staff. The birth certificate process has started and we should get them in couple of days. Then met with Poonam and went through the paper work, US embassy interview and FRRO exit process. Hoping we can have our interview with US embassy and the DNA testing done next week. I was able to get some sleep last night (thanks to Alice).

The names for babies are confirmed:
Baby girl: Anjali Nina
Baby boy: Arian Millan

I will leave you with their pictures I took last night:

Our baby girl Anjali - 8 days old
Our baby boy Arian - 8 days old
 Hope everyone is doing well.