When toddlers attack

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I've been having issues with Blogspot rotating my photos on the blog -- even worse, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.  I've been trying to figure it out for days, so I can post some of the photos I've taken of Delhi and the girls.  Finally, I just gave up -- only one photo uploaded right-side-up.  So here's what I wrote last Wednesday:

"Asereje" is playing in the plaza downstairs outside the hotel, adjoining a mall that could be anywhere in California.  If the jetlag weren't disorienting enough, the homogenization of what we all wear and how we shop and what we listen to makes me forget where I am from moment to moment.  But as I type this, sprawled on the bed at Svelte, the sky outside my window is gradually growing dark, outlining cell phone towers, rooftops and a lone minaret at a nearby mosque that adds the only graceful touch to an otherwise bleak skyline.  And most importantly, from time to time, I hear a coo from one of my daughters, both of whom are napping in a crib in the next room.

We arrived in Delhi early Sunday morning, though this is the first day I've actually been able to connect with a day of the week.  Wednesday.  Is today Wednesday?  Yes, today is Wednesday.   Right?   I've meant to blog before this, but my time has been hijacked by the daily crosstown trip to Delhi Newborn Centre, and by passing out from jetlag and the overpowering heat at around four in the afternoon for a few hours.

We arrived in Delhi early Sunday morning, our last day a blur of last minute preparations for our last minute flight -- our friend Ana driving us to the airport, all on surface streets because every freeway in the city seemed to harbor its own traffic jam; our friend Myles meeting us at the airport for a champagne toast; then, a blur of airport lounges -- "Asian" beef stew and more champagne at LAX; beer, pretzels, cold cuts and a delicious shower in Munich; finally, dumping our bags at Svelte and heading to Delhi Newborn.

When all you have are photos of babies, with nothing to indicate relative size, it's hard to put a physical dimension to the figures we received every night from Dr. Singh:  "her weight today is 1.765 kg" or "she's gained 50 grams."  We knew they were small -- it was just hard to picture how small.  The answer was tiny.  Tiny, but perfect.  Clara looks like a bald marmoset.  Olivia would fit in my briefcase three times over.

"This baby is doing well," Dr. Singh told us Sunday morning, about Olivia.  "This baby, well, one more day and she can go home.  The first baby, Baby Clara, a few more days."  Even after three weeks, Clara is still known as the First Baby.  Dr. Singh is like a movie special effect, seemingly managing to fill all spaces at Delhi Newborn at once -- simultaneously speaking with parents in the front office, vaccinating babies back for their check-ups, checking in new patients, some of them desperately ill.  He's young and -- as several of us have remarked over the breakfast buffet at Svelte -- not unhot.

So Monday we arrived with Cocoon in tow to -- improbably -- take our daughter back to our hotel with us.  On some level, I was dumbfounded they'd let her go with us.  But no -- the wonderful nurses dressed her in the onesie we'd brought with us, handed us her medical file, and off we went.  We arrived home, changed one diaper on our own, and Adrián promptly ordered round the clock ayas to help us.

The ayas are amazing -- quiet South Indian women with limited English skills, but who magically soothe fussy infants, educate clueless parents, and ward off sleepless nights for all involved.  "Are you Christian?" one of our favorites, Alfonsa, asked Adrián.  He thought about telling her he was an atheist, decided it wasn't worth delving into the issue with her, and mumbled "yes."  Then she surprised him:  "what about your partner?" she asked.  He wasn't expecting that sort of recognition of our relationship -- another of the nurses referred to Todd and Dan, our upstairs neighbors and new fathers of Colton, as brothers.  That gave us a good laugh -- Bernadette suspects that besides being experts in feeding reluctant preemies, the ayas are also very proficient in denial.

And two days later, Dr. Singh was as good as his word.  Over the course of the week, we've gotten to know the trajectory between Svelte and DNC pretty well -- the two intersections where heartbreaking street children come knock on the windows of your car -- the mango vendors -- the billboard for "the first 'fairness' product that keeps you dry!" -- the quarter-mile strip of businesses selling and working nothing but marble -- the gigantic statue of Shiva with his trident -- and everywhere, cars, tuk-tuks, heat and honking horns.  We brought Clara home yesterday and reunited her with her sister in an enormous crib provided by the hotel.  It makes the two of them look even more miniscule. 

We also paid our almost-but-probably-not-quite-final bill at SCI.  They still haven't received the final bill for Clara's stay at DNC, but we paid what is probably most of it in advance.  Before I started hyperventilating at what felt like a humongous charge on my credit card, Adrián reminded me that in the States, our bill for a stay in the NICU would have been $70,000.  We headed back to the hotel and our daughters with our paperwork for our dated with the American Embassy in hand, feeling both poorer and richer at the same time.


  1. TOTALLY thrilled both your wonderful daughters are with you. They are amazing miracles of love and modern medicine. I keep my fingers crossed that their generation will reflect the family value of loving parents and desired children. All four of you have been in my thoughts constantly. So glad you were able to post and shall be hoping for pictures over the next days. Your children are part of a wonderful gift of love to our world. May your joys only increase and your legal world reflect only love.

  2. I always laugh when i read your posts. always so well written with that seriousness and humour. your girls are super cute too.

  3. Hi guys! While it's a shame that the pics won't work for the blog, sounds like everything else is flowing smoothly. So glad to hear that the girls are small and perfect! I'm sure that both of you are doing a fantastic job! See you all soon! Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead!

  4. I've grown extremely impatient waiting for this post. But now I am satiated. Thank you! Looks like you guys are doing well, despite the heat, jetlag, and charges on your credit card. The most important thing is that you're a family! There was something so extremely special about those first few days with our daughter,...relish this crazy time, in a foreign city, with hot NICU doctors, doting ayas, and cooing daughters. It will make a wonderful story to tell the girls one day.

    And now we impatiently wait for photos...do you need me to call Google and set things straight? I seriously don't mind tilting my head to one side (despite the crick in my neck from trying to burp our two-week-old).

    D, B and C

  5. We need baby photos, even if they are upside down! See you in Delhi soon!!! xxx

  6. So wonderful that you are finally all together.

  7. So happy to hear that your family is all in one place now and the girls are getting bigger and healthier.