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Update: Week 33, Day 5

2 May

As Matt mentioned, our surrogate was in the hospital for a while, first with low blood pressure, and then to see to a few other more minor ailments (a headache, etc.).

Our surrogate was released from the hospital, but then returned a few days later, this time with high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be a very real concern during pregnancy (those of you watched the latest season of Downton Abbey know all about that), so Matt and I were relieved to get an e-mail update from Dr. Bhat this morning.

“Your surrogate’s blood pressure is stable at present. The babies’ best interests are in prolonging the pregnancy. However, it is possible that at some point the doctors at the hospital may feel that the best interests of the babies and the surrogate are in delivering. This point is not predictable. I wanted to ensure that your travel plans are in place.”

We let Dr. Bhat know that our travel plans are indeed in place–we can travel at any time, using United Airlines buddy passes–so we’ve asked her to let us know the very moment they can tell that things are moving along. When that happens, we’ll immediately fly my mother-in-law, Ellen, up to New York from Wilmington, NC, and then all three of us will try and get on the next possible flight to Mumbai.

That e-mail gave us a little more peace of mind, and we’re happy to know that she’s being well taken care of and carefully attended to as we enter the final days of the pregnancy.

–Josh

Week 33: Nurseries & Nesting

30 Apr

Now that our twins have reached Week 33, we’re very aware that it could be “go time” pretty much anytime.

It’s handy, then, that a pretty significant nesting instinct kicked in for both of us in recent days.  Our friends and family gave us a ton of excellent presents at our baby shower, but we still had a few things to go out and buy before the big day. (We’ve done more shopping in the last several days than we’ve probably done in our whole marriage.)

We took a two-session twin-specific infant parenting class (with the fabulous Natalie Diaz), and in the class it was recommended we eschew the $1,100 cribs out there and hit IKEA for the $100 ones.

“They’ll get poo and pee and vomit and all kinds of things all over them,” we heard in class. “Get a cheap and sturdy one for now, and when it’s time, toss the crib out and spend the money on a real big girl or big boy bed.”

It seemed like sound advice, so we did just that. We hit IKEA, bought the cribs, a Poang rocker, a great dresser, and a changing table.

photo_2Building it all wasn’t easy. Matt was especially key in getting the furniture together, but I think Butter would appreciate us mentioning that he oversaw the effort with a keen and careful eye. 😉

I helped with the furniture, but also simultaneously undertook the task of washing and folding six or seven packed loads of infant clothes, blankets, towels, onesies, burp pads, and all manner of other baby paraphernalia. We wanted to make sure everything was fresh, clean, and ready to go for its first use.

photo_4When all the furniture was built, and the laundry put away in the new dresser, we had this amazing moment where we stood and looked around us at our welcoming, cozy, fully-realized baby nursery. We had the windows open, with a breeze coming in–spring finally made its way to New York City–and Butter trotted around checking everything out. Matt and I kind of stood there with stupid grins, looking around at the room we’d put together for our kids. It was a little bit mind-blowing, just standing there and soaking it all in.

photo_3Butter remains very interested in the nursery. During the day, the room has become his new favorite spot to curl up and catch a pocket of sunshine. He’s given me a few quizzical looks when we’ve been in the nursery together, seeming to say, “So, Dad, what’s up with these cribs and blankets and everything?”

Soon enough, he’ll understand. He’ll be great with the kids. He’s so sweet and patient with small children, and I can only imagine it’ll be the same–probably with an added air of protectiveness–when we bring the twins home.

In the evenings, when we’re all ready to tuck in for the night, I’ve developed a new habit of walking to the nursery, flipping the light on, and looking in.

I can’t tell you what it does to my heart just to look into that room.

To say that we can’t wait for our little arrivals is an understatement. We’re so excited. But, we’d also love for them to have all the extra days possible in the womb, growing and getting stronger and preparing to come into the world and meet their dads, and their new four-legged, furry protector, who’s sure to be curled up on the floor by their cribs at all hours of the day and night.

Our family of three is about to become a family of five.

–Josh

For more photos from our nursery, and our daily life, feel free to follow us on Instagram @joshcentral.

Hospital Bills

29 Apr

Our surrogate spent a total of 15 days in the hospital for treatment of pregnancy-induced-hypertension (PIH) and pre-term labor.  Hiranandani Hospital was amazing when I asked for updates from Dr. Soni, the OBGYN who will oversee the birth.  I occasionally requested a copy of the most recent bill, and it was provided typically within 24 hours as a pdf.  The 15 day stay included the bed, consultation fees, medication, and supplies.  We have used about 3/4 of the initial deposit, so we will most likely have to either top off the account via wire transfer or pay the balance when we arrive in Mumbai.  Josh and I anticipated this scenario, so we budgeted appropriately and are anticipating a total hospital expense of roughly $4,000 including the birth, NICU time, and the surrogate’s pre-birth stay.  (On a side note, if I stayed in the hospital for 15 days in NYC as a cash paying patient, my bill would probably approach six figures, so getting a bill for approximately $1,400 was almost enjoyable.)hiranandani_hospital_600x450

She was released from the hospital last week, and a few days later, she was re-admitted because her blood pressure continues to be a concern.  Pre-eclampsia is a condition that women pregnant with multiples can encounter, and we believe that the hospital is a better place for her to wait than the surrogate housing.  Dr. Soni has indicated that she is doing very well, on a strict diet, and getting very close to her delivery date.  In anticipation of a last-minute flight to India, Josh and I spent the weekend in Richmond, VA, meeting my mother half way to her home in North Carolina in order to pass along our dog.  ‘Butter’ will stay with my brothers and my father in NC until we return from India to claim him.

Mom is all packed and can’t wait to get this party started.  On the day that Rotunda announces our birth (or if we make it to the scheduled C-section date), we will fly mom up to NYC and all 3 of us will hop on the 8:35 PM direct flight to Mumbai.  Obviously this could happen at any moment because the twins are already at 33 weeks, so it’s hard to focus on all of the small things that I have to take care of before we depart.  Oh, and I just got an email from our lawyer letting me know that one of her clients was just able to obtain the baby’s exit visa through the FRRO in Mumbai rather than having to schlep everyone to Delhi.  She believes that we will be able to do the same thing, saving us a rather large travel expense and a few wasted days.  Small blessings.  Thank you to Meg at Amani & Bob’s Indian Surrogacy for keeping tabs on the ever-changing FRRO regulations.  I’ve been glued to your blog since the day our pregnancy was confirmed.

-Matt

DNA swabbing

13 Apr

Before heading to work today, I took a trip to the DNA testing lab to have my portion of the process completed. As the company we decided to use is based in Arizona, they contract with local facilities to have samples shipped directly to them. This keeps the chain of custody secure and saves us an extra swabbing and shipping fee while we are in Mumbai.

My contact at Chromosomal Labs set up the appointment for 9:00 am in Woodside, Queens, a neighborhood barely 10 minutes away from my home by car. I arrived on time and was greeted with some seriously gross accommodations. The office was dirty, with grime and black marks covering the walls, and the rep contracted by the lab mistakenly (I doubt) arrived at 9:50 assuming a 10:00 am appointment. I showed her the PDF with the date and time of the appointment, scheduled less than 48 hours earlier, and she apologized, but at that point I was already angry. She also asked if I brought passport size photos of myself for the kit, which I was never made aware of. Because she was running late, she agreed to use the digital camera and printer sitting next to me on the counter to take the picture at no additional cost beyond the $30 she would pocket for the swabbing. The whole thing was so smarmy, but I guess they are used to doing drug tests and Maury Povich type testing, so I can’t blame them for trying to make a buck.

The swabbing was quick and easy. Two buccal swabs were swiped on each side of my mouth for 20 seconds, they were sealed in an envelope that was signed by both of us, and I was on my way. The lab should receive them via FedEx in a few days. I also got a confirmation number and a tracking number for the kit that was shipped to the US Consulate in Mumbai. Due to security screening, they suggest having the kit sent at least one month in advance of your immigration appointment, so we are right on track.

At the moment, I’m on a train from New York to Boston to visit a friend who recently moved away from Queens. This weekend may potentially be my last relaxing trip for a while, so I intend to enjoy every moment of it!

–Matt

Preparing For the Return to Mumbai

10 Apr

Today was filled with phone calls and emails with the US Consulate in Mumbai, the DNA processing lab in Arizona, and the Hiranandani Hospital in Powai.  It started with a 7:00 AM EST email from Rotunda Clinic letting me know that our surrogate had just been admitted to the hospital due to a blood pressure concern.  As she is at 30 weeks 4 days, any little concern needs to be thoroughly examined by a physician.  I called the hospital directly and was able to speak with Dr. Anita Soni, the OBGYN who will ultimately oversee the birth of the twins.  She reassured me that our surrogate is doing well and that she was admitted for observation and to provide nutrition and support.  We aren’t sure how long before she will be released, but I assume that it will not be longer than a day or two.   Our 100,000 INR deposit at Hiranandani was received months ago in anticipation of any complications, so treatment will be deducted from that balance.  Of course, I have no idea how much any of this will cost.

081009-dna-02Next, I reached out to the US Consulate to obtain information on the process for DNA verification of my genetic link to the babies.  Thankfully, the process has recently been streamlined (as of March 28, 2013) and we no longer have to scramble across the city to make a payment to the hospital for a doctor to perform the cheek swabs.  They can be paid with a direct bank draft available at any bank in the city.  The fee will be 1000 INR (about $20 USD) per cheek swab.  If any other potential parents need the specific details on the DNA process, please let me know via email or a comment.

The DNA testing kits have to be sent about a month in advance of the birth to account for travel time and potential early labor.  I will be completing my cheek swab here in New York on Friday, and the two sealed testing kits will be shipped directly from Chromosomal Labs in Phoenix, Arizona.  Melissa at Chromosomal Labs has been absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend her as your DNA lab provider.  The lab must be an AABB accredited center and they should be familiar with the required paperwork and processes when you call for a quote.

Once the babies are born and released from the NICU, we will schedule an appointment at the US Consulate to complete an application for a CBRA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad).  This document will be used to process the passport application for the newborns after the DNA test confirms their citizenship through my genetic link.  The cheeks will be swabbed, the kits will be mailed back to Arizona, and the results will be available 2-3 days after they are received.  The results will be emailed to the consulate, and HOPEFULLY, I will match!  Once a link is established, the passports are issued and the last step is the exit visa.

I have spent hours putting together a plastic binder full of documents that I may potentially need to complete the applications for CBRA, passport, social security card, and exit visas.  While photocopies are pretty easy to obtain in Mumbai, I’ve made multiple copies of everything.  This includes documents to prove my time in the US, including tax returns, college transcripts, utility bills, old passports, and a list of every date and time that I have ever left the US.  While it seems overwhelming at first, the process is actually keeping me focused on my checklist and allowing me to briefly stop stressing about all of the uncertainties ahead.

I can’t believe that I will be a daddy in about 5-6 weeks.   I’m already so in love with our babies.

–Matt

Week 29: Hello, Baby Shower Gifts!

31 Mar

One of the facts of having children through gestational surrogacy is that you don’t get to see the day-to-day changes in a growing pregnancy belly. You don’t get to see or feel babies moving, and unfortunately we aren’t able to be a part of all the doctor visits, etc.

But one way Matt and I are experiencing the growth and changes in the third trimester of our surrogate pregnancy is the growth and change in the number of gifts that have arrived for our twins in the past few weeks. It started with a trickle–a few boxes here and there–and culminated in a full-on deluge of colorful, thoughtful, adorable presents at the baby shower our friends and family recently threw for us.

twin baby shower gifts gay dads gayby

Matt’s mom, Ellen, and several of our very good friends put together quite a team effort to pull off our baby shower, and it ended up being one of the most relaxed, fun, easy, celebratory afternoons I can remember. Everyone had champagne, people had a chance to talk and mingle and hang out, and we all got to toast to the pending arrival of our twins.

surrogate pregnancy belly week 26 twins 26 weeksI was on Instagram today, looking at some of the photos posted under the #surrogacy hashtag, and saw this photo of a surrogate carrying twins at Week 26. I looked at that belly and wondered what our surrogate’s own belly must look like now at Week 29. We’re thinking about her and the babies today, and hoping everybody is comfortable and happy and in good health.

We’re looking forward to the day, about six weeks from now, when we get to be with all of them.

–Josh

Week 28: First Photo of Our Surrogate’s Baby Bump

24 Mar

Last week, while on a work trip in Austin, TX, Matt called just moments after I woke up.

“Have you seen your e-mail yet?” he asked.

“No,” I asked. “Why?”

“You’ll want to check it.”

Lo and behold, there was the very first photo we’d seen of our surrogate’s belly, looking very pregnant with our twins.

surrogate belly bump pregnant week 27

Ta da!

I can’t even describe how cool it’s been to see the sonograms, then the 3D sonogram, and now our surrogate’s belly, too. At every step it all feels even more real, and even more exciting.

Now at Week 28, there are only about seven more weeks to go. So crazy!

–Josh

Our Twins’ Week 25 3D Sonogram

23 Mar

I landed in Omaha on a Monday night, there for the week for work. I got in my rental car, heading for the hotel, when my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Guess what we got?” It was Matt.

“What?”

“Our 3D sonogram.”

Shut up! I thought we weren’t supposed to get that until Week 28!”

“I’m watching it right now. Get to your hotel and log onto YouTube. I’m uploading the video for you now.”

Minutes later I was in my hotel room, watching our 42-minute (!) 3D sonogram. Using my iPhone, I shot about a minute of footage of some of the highlights and then put it online for our friends and family. Here’s that (amazing! awesome!) footage.

I can’t believe this technology. So cool.

So, there you have it: the first peek at our twins.

–Josh

Week 26: Third Trimester Begins!

9 Mar

Today’s an exciting day for us. At twenty-six weeks along, we’re now officially into the third trimester. As of today, if the twins happened to be born now (in an emergency, etc.) they would have an 80-90% chance of survival. Every week from here those odds only improve.

Obviously we hope the babies stay right where they are until mid-May, but it’s a relief knowing that if something happened and they came early, our kids have a much better chance of thriving than they did even a week ago. Definitely a happy milestone.

third trimester twins 26 weeks pregnany twins

Our surrogate’s belly must be getting pretty big at this point! Our clinic tells us that she’s resting at the clinic’s surrogate housing in Mumbai, with her young son at her side, and getting seen daily by a nurse and weekly by our doctor.

Just about two months to go!

–Josh