Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year!

A belated Happy New Year to all of you, and an almost 8 week happy birthday to Sam & Jenna! Today is four weeks since we got home, and apart from an occasional thought of our month in India we are now very much settled and used to our new life in Atlanta.

Most importantly Jenna and Sam are doing great! We went to the pediatrician about 10 days ago for a weight check and Jenna was 7 pounds 2 ounces, Sam was closing the gap at 6 pounds 11 ounces. A very impressive jump from their birth weights of around 4 pounds 3 ounces! Each day they feel heavier for sure.

As you can tell, they are eating well and continue to be so good natured and easy going. We've had about 2 weeks of 6 hour sleeps for both at night (at the same time) so we really can't complain. Plus we've had a few milestones already - Sam is smiling which can melt your heart, and Jenna is not far behind. Both are more awake each day and definitely more alert, it's so fun to watch. And another major life event happened this week when two newborn size outfits didn't fit either one of them... a sure sign they're growing well! (I'm spending this weekend reorganizing their closets and washing all their 3 month clothes -  crazy!).

Other than that we've been very busy. I (Alan) am back in the office full time, Andrew has been working full time from home for now. We've had a lot of visitors and are so grateful for all the gifts, food, messages, and love from all of you. Andrew's brother Greg was with us for a week and was a huge help, and Andrew's parents were here for a week as well and also helped a lot around the house and with the kids. Between them all and my parents we've had a few breaks from feeding and just a 'mental nap' every now and again which was great.

Our next exciting time will be this evening when Michelle, our Au Pair, arrives. We are ready to welcome her into our family and she is excited to meet us too.

So next up is getting into a routine with Michelle here, life at work full time, and twin 2-month-olds... no shortage of fun to keep us busy!

For now, a few photos to help you enjoy your weekends. Love from us all.

Jenna enjoying an afternoon nap

Both looking very relaxed!

Sam in the bath

Jenna in her new, comfy chair
Sam's chair

Monday, December 24, 2012

The New Normal

Jenna and Sam celebrated five weeks on earth yesterday, and in some ways it feels like years and in other ways we find ourselves asking each other: 'wait, when did this happen?!?'

We are doing very well back home and slowly getting into a good routine. Our timing worked out so well with the holiday season, which means work is quiet and we can really spend a lot of time at home settling down.

Last week Andrew's parents were here for 3 days and they had a great time with us. This weekend we've had a few visitors, and other than that we're getting our house back in order and filling time between feeds with naps (for all of us!) and Eddie time.

J & S continue to do well. Both are now over 6 pounds, in fact Jenna is closing in on 7 pounds which is great. They eat relatively well, sleep well, and we remind ourselves every day how lucky we are that they're relatively easy and low maintenance. I'm sure their teenage years will more than make up for that!

Next week we have Andrew's brother Greg coming in town for a few days, and then Andrew's parents will come back on their way to Florida. And then right after that our Au Pair arrives which will really help establish our new family life.

Again, a huge thanks for all the calls, emails, gifts, food, and non stop love and support from all of you. What a fun time of our lives and we can't wait to see what the next few days/weeks/months/years bring.

We'll probably post blog updates every now and again on our family, but for now we wish you all Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year. 2012 was our best one yet... hope 2013 is just as good for all of us.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We are home, safe and sound, and absolutely loving every minute!

Door to door it was a 28 hour trip, and it certainly felt like it many times but we survived just fine. Sam and Jenna were superstars. Barely cried, ate well, slept well, and were just easy. Our biggest problem was not being able to get the bassinet seats on either flight so we had to hold them the entire trip, but there are worse things in life than holding a cute baby :) They were the hit of the plane with flight attendants and passengers who could not stop telling us how adorable they were.

The start of the trip was a mess - the airport in Mumbai was chaos, we had problems with our tickets, so it took us over 2 hours from arriving at the airport to the gate. Not a great beginning but thankfully after that it was smooth sailing. 10 hours to Amsterdam, a 3 hour layover, and then 9 hours home. We had my (Alan's) parents, sister, and brother in law waiting at the airport and coming around that corner and seeing them was such a sight! We came home, unpacked, and basically crashed for the night.

Now that we're home we're adjusting to our new life pretty well. We had a night nurse for the last three nights which has helped us get some sleep and get caught up. I'm up to about 8 loads of laundry so far and am pretty much done!

Jenna napping in her boppy

Sam enjoying the new swing
Big brother protecting Jenna

Yesterday (Monday) we had Sam's bris (circumcision). It went well, over in no time and he seems to have bounced back quite well. We had a very small crowd (about 10 people), nice and low key.

Alan's mom bringing Sam in

Alan's Dad holding Sam for the bris

Reciting a prayer for our son

The final blessing for the children
Andrew's parents arrived last night and are loving their time with their first grandchildren. They are here for three nights and will be back in a couple of weeks.

Today we're off to the pediatrician for their first US check up, and then slowly life will get back to normal I'm sure. I'm going back to work for a few hours a day until after New Years, and between now and when our Au Pair arrives (January 14th) we'll have a mix of us, family, and friends helping out.

Atlanta people, you're welcome to come by anytime from this weekend on. Just call ahead and we'll see you soon hopefully!

Until the next update soon...

Thursday, December 13, 2012


We are so, so happy... what a crazy week of getting everything organized but it all paid off and we are making it out of India in record timing!

We got notification on Tuesday that Andrew's paternity was confirmed (phew!), at which point we made a request to the US consulate for rushed passports for Jenna and Sam. This usually takes about a week but they did it in one day which was incredible. So this morning we went back there to pick them up, and then to the Indian foreign affairs office for the interview for an exit visa. This was not a given and required tons of patience, a million forms and documents, and 4 1/2 hours in a crowded waiting room. But worth every second when Jenna & Sam got their visas approved, so we're all set!

We moved up our return flights by exactly one week and land in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. We will spend the next 24 hours packing and resting for what we're sure will be a long trip back. But as Andrew said, every minute in the air is a minute closer to home.

The plan for our first few days home is sleep, sleep, and more sleep. Plus plenty of time with family and friends (Atlanta people, give us a couple of days to come back down to earth and then you're welcome anytime).

We promise once things get settled back home we'll post another update and share new photos of our reunited family (can't forget about Eddie).


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Update, and Proving Ourselves to Uncle Sam!

Happy Sunday from Mumbai.  Andrew here - it has been a while since I wrote a post!  We started the day on Skype so that Jenna and Sam could get better acquainted with their Uncle Greg.  We've come to the realization that we will (all) go out of our minds if we stay cloistered in our hotel room for the duration of our stay in India, so we've decided to do at least one "activity" each day.  After we all had some breakfast, the four of us ventured out to R City Mall to walk around for a couple of hours and for some lunch.  We also bought a few new gender-specific clothes for Jenna and Sam - their first of many for sure!  Even though it was just a short outing, we're happy that we did it, and now everyone is relaxing for the rest of the afternoon.

Many of you have asked us questions about our 'exit process' - specifically, what we need to do in order to establish US citizenship for Jenna and Sam and secure their passports so that we can come home.  As you saw in our post earlier this week, we spent a fair amount of time at the US Consulate on Wednesday/Thursday to get that process rolling - so here are some more specific details about what we did!  If you feel up to speed on all of this, feel free to stop reading now   :)

Wednesday - Consular Report of Birth Abroad Interview and Passport Application

Since Jenna and Sam were born outside of the US, we need to obtain a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" (CRBA) for each of them.  These documents are equivalent to the birth certificates that are issued by the states.  In order to get CRBAs for Jenna and Sam, we needed to schedule an interview with an officer at the US Consulate - so we were up bright and early on Wednesday morning to make our way there.  The US Consulate in Mumbai handles these services for several different Indian states and only schedules two appointments per day, so we were going to make it to the appointments even if we had to walk there!

The US Consulate has its own separate compound in a huge business park, and is like Fort Knox.  There are US marines and Indian military stationed all around the perimeter, high fences, and guard towers!  US citizens have their own entrance apart from the general area, so we were able to get through security in just a few minutes.  In contrast, there was a line of at least 200 Indians waiting to get in for their US visa interviews, and that was just counting the people who were still waiting OUTSIDE the consulate gates - just another reason for us to be grateful to hold the blue passport books!

Once inside, we waited in a small room with five service windows (think DMV).  After about 30 minutes, I was called up to present all of our documentation to the consular officer and take an oath swearing that everything was legit.  Here is an abridged version of what we needed to provide:

  • My passport
  • Jenna and Sam's Indian birth certificates
  • Signed surrogacy agreement (original plus copy)
  • Letter from Tandon Hospital stating that we have no balance due to them
  • Completed CRBA and passport applications for both kids
  • Signed affidavit stating that we agree to provide for Jenna and Sam until they are 18 (we'll see how they behave)  !!
  • Proof of residency in the US - this included my old passports, Duke transcript, W2s from the past 3 years, and my most recent annual Social Security statement
All of our paperwork was in order (phew).  The consular officer advised that in surrogacy cases, DNA testing is required (which we knew) - once the results are received, the Consulate will process the CRBAs and passports.  Once that's completed, the last step is to secure exit visas from the Indian government for Jenna and Sam...more on that later this week.  We'd pre-ordered the DNA test kits from LabCorp right when the kids were born, so they were already at the Consulate - luckily, we were able to secure a DNA testing appointment for the next day (Thursday) - of course you can't do the CRBA interview and DNA testing on the same day - that would be too easy!

Thursday - DNA Testing

The DNA testing process involves providing DNA samples at the Consulate, which are then sent back to the testing lab in the US for analysis (in our case, the lab is in Burlington, NC). It takes 2-3 days for the samples to get back to the US, and then 2 business days for the lab to process the results. The lab will then send a HARD COPY of the results back to the US Consulate (that's right, a hard copy), which will then start the process of requesting passports for the kids. Most of the time, passports are printed in the US and then shipped to the Consulate. 

I was picked up by a cab at 7:15am so that I could make my way to a local hospital relatively close to the Consulate.  The DNA testing itself happens at the Consulate, but the doctor/nurses who collect the samples are from this particular hospital - so before we could get the DNA test done, we needed to actually go to the hospital and pay 300 rupees/person (about $6 each) at the hospital's cash counter.  Not only does this seem like a hassle, but of course the cash counter is only open from 8:30am - 10:00am.   I made the payment, collected a notarized receipt, dropped off a copy at the hospital's pathology department (purpose unknown), and headed back to the hotel to pick up Alan and the kids so that we could make a repeat visit to the Consulate. 

 Our DNA appointment was at 11:45am - we were called into the collection room at around 12:30pm, once the doctor/nurse from the hospital had arrived.  Jenna, Sam, and I were crammed into a tiny room along with 5 other people - the doctor, the nurse, a consular witness, someone who was filling out all of the collection forms, and a fifth person whose role is still unknown to me at this point.  The nurse collected four samples from me by swabbing the inside of my cheek, and then did the same thing to Jenna and Sam.  I was understandably nervous about how our kiddies would react to having someone scrape their cheeks, but they both handled it like champs.  For some unknown reason, we needed to provide our fingerprints, so I somehow managed to get Jenna and Sam's tiny thumbprints on the paper.  Their thumbprints were absolutely minute!  Forty-five minutes later, the samples were packaged up and sealed, and we were out of there.  The samples have already made it to Memphis and will be delivered to the lab on Monday. 

At this point, we're still planning on being home on Saturday, December 22.  It is subject to change, depending on how quickly or slowly the DNA results come back and passports printed, but we're cautiously optimistic that barring any unforeseen delays, we can still stick to this schedule! 

That's quite enough for now.  My apologies if this post is too long and boring - just want to make sure that those of you with a thirst for details are fully satisfied!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday update

Hi again,

Wanted to share an update on our last few days. We are actually getting into a pretty good routine with Jenna and Sam, both of whom are so easy and good natured. Apart from a few minutes a day of fussiness they eat well, sleep well, and are just adorable, so we truly can't complain.

Thursday we went back to the consulate for the DNA testing. In order to leave India, we need to prove that Andrew is the genetic father. That visit was endless and was such a testament to how crazy and intense this exit process is. Anyway, 2 hours later were on our way home.

Yesterday (Friday) was a great day because we didn't have much on the calendar. A nice relaxing day which included a few naps and some bonding time.

This morning after breakfast we headed back to the NICU for a follow up visit with the pediatrician. I must admit we've enjoyed the last 6 days of not having to go all the way over there, and it brought back some not so fun memories but thankfully we were in and out in an hour.

The doctor was very happy with both our angels. As expected, both have gained good amounts of weight, although neither of us was prepared for Jenna's new scale reading of 5 pounds 7 ounces! Up from last Monday's 4 pounds 12 ounces, she is obviously doing well :) Even Sam is right on target and now is just under 5 pounds. He has increased his feeding amounts these last few days and now eats as much as his sister, so he'll be catching up quickly. Anyway, the doctor did a quick check and declared them both 'healthy and happy'. Then came the dreaded vaccinations which for a few minutes were bad, after which they both went back into their car seats and promptly fell asleep! They are such troopers and I think that bodes well for us.

We're now back in the room and have nothing on the calendar for a few days at least. We'll maybe go for a walk to the nearby lake tomorrow depending on the weather (it has been well into the nineties these last few days but should go down soon). We've also discovered a very nice, upscale mall a few minutes drive from here so maybe Monday or Tuesday we'll head there for a few hours. Trying to escape the monotony of our hotel room every now and again.

Some adorable photos to get you in a good weekend mood:

Jenna and Sam, a pre-nap rest

Sam, Dec 8

Jenna, Dec 8

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Consulate visit, new hotel, and sleep deprivation!

We are now in our new (preferred) hotel and what a difference that makes. A much bigger room, areas to walk outside (including a lake and a park), restaurants, stores... we are so excited. It was a major pain to move but well worth it.

Went to the US consulate this morning for step one in our return process, applying for passports for Jenna and Sam. The visit went well and now tomorrow Andrew and the kids have a DNA test (to prove paternity), and then we wait for those results.

Other than keeping busy with that, we have two relatively easy infants to still take care of! Both babies are adorable and all things considered they are pretty good. Sam is still adjusting being with us I think (and Jenna is getting used to having him back around!), and we're slowly but surely getting our act together. The last couple of nights have been rough but we're getting better every day.

Will post an update in a few days of our progress. Hope you're all having a good week.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sam is home!

Two weeks after they were born, we now have both our beautiful babies with us at 'home'!

We had a long day at the clinic getting Sam ready for discharge, along with eye tests for both (which they passed with flying colors) and a weight check (both are doing great at 4 pounds 12 ounces already!). 4 hours later, the moment we'd been waiting for since we got to India was there... leaving the NICU and headed to the hotel. Now they're safe and sound in their pack and play, fast asleep. Here are a few photos to mark this great day:

Leaving the NICU

Together again!


Next up is the beginning of the exit process. Wednesday we go to the US consulate, followed the next day by a DNA test, and then we wait for a short while while they process that. After that, a few more visits, some more paperwork (and bureaucracy), and a visa, and we will be headed back home. We're hoping to keep our original departure date of December 22nd... fingers crossed!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's the weekend!

Enjoying a relaxing couple of naps...

Jenna, 11/30/12
Our afternoon ritual - Jenna and Alan, 11/30/12


Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday update

Can't believe this is the end of our first full week already. Last night was our 11th night away from home, so strange. We had a good night with Jenna - she eats so well that we were able to adjust her feeding schedule and we all got a 4-hour stretch in there at some point!

This morning I went to see Sam. He is doing well - oxygen is thankfully not an issue anymore. He had developed a very slight edema (swelling) in his chin about 2 days ago which they are treating with some antibiotics, but this morning the doctor said it is better than yesterday which is a good sign. We are still hoping (as in desperately, desperately) to have him home on Monday but they can't commit just yet. We will get another update later and go see him tomorrow.

If all goes well with his discharge, next week is a big week. On Wednesday we'll take both kids to the consulate and complete the paperwork there, and then on Thursday Andrew and J&S need to have DNA tests done. Those then get processed and after the results come back we can begin the exit process. Everything from start to finish can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, we're hoping for a quick turnaround.

Other than that, not much news. We are definitely getting used to new parenthood - the lack of sleep, the weird schedules (naps at 10am and up, wide awake at 3am), but we are loving every minute of it.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend. We'll post another update soon.