Thursday, January 31, 2013

Giant Chicken

Everyone has their own Giant Chicken, metaphorically speaking.

Joan Crawford was Bette Davis' Giant Chicken (or was that the other way around?).

Maggie Simpson vs. Gerald Samson...

...Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie...

...Seinfeld vs. Newman..

...Batman vs. The Joker...

...and Sarah Palin vs. intelligence...

...and for me, it is a dog in Kailash Colony.  Yes folks, the dog again.  You see, whilst on a pleasant stroll back from Dunkin' Donuts in M Block this morning, the same f**king dog tried to attack me...again.  Quite literally chasing me down the street.  It chose me, not John (who didn't want to take a tuk-tuk back home despite my warning of impending diarrhea): me--the animal lover.  I am now terrified of these Indian dogs so much, that I really don't want to walk the streets.  It's not Delhi-belly I'm afraid of, not malaria, not pickpockets, not somehow ending up in Indian jail from some elaborate unfortunate misunderstanding; it's this stupid, mangy, mongrel dog with a limp.  Let's hope this day gets better!


Hair Of The Dog That Bit You (or The Incident I Can Never Tell My Doctor) & Saket

The Incident
What up, bitch?
Mid-morning: John and I decided to walk to M Block to get the computer cables, a coffee (still no French press or "coffee plunger"), and a few other small things.  To preface, I'm an animal lover.  Animals love me, and my heart aches when I see the bajillions of dogs roaming Delhi and Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" plays on a continuous loop in my brain.  

I'm in a bad mood and I'm gonna take it out on you!
But halfway to M Block, as we're passing by the driveways of posh houses, a f**king dog bites my ankle! Thankfully no broken skin and it wasn't one of the feral mongrels your used to seeing (at least I don't think it was - I hope not); nonetheless, it clamped down hard and it hurt.  We had to stop and check to make sure. If there was even a scrape on my skin, I would go immediately to the hospital.  But I had long jeans and socks on and what probably really saved me from harm is that I (unfashionably) cuff my jeans.  Because kiddos, as you get older, you shrink; and while waist sizes go up and down, eventually the inseam slowly gets shorter as well.

The "Apple" store at M Block (called iStore) had every adapter but the HDMI, so we went to the other M Block in Greater Kailash II: This Time It's Personal!  No dice there either, but we had a very nice lunch at a restaurant called "Not Just Paranthas".  I can't recall the names of what we got, but the tomato/coriander soup is all kinds of awesome!  We took a tuk-tuk back home and called Rahul for a taxi to take us to Saket malls (Select Citywalk/Svelte, DLF Place, and Metropolitan).  His driver arrived literally within minutes and off we went.  

On the way John made dinner plans to meet some other SCI clients, so we had a lot of time to kill at the malls before dinner.  We found the HDMI adapter at the "Apple" store there (this one is called Imagine) at Select Citywalk and walked each mall at least twice.  No coffee press (and at this point I don't even want coffee, it's all about the hunt).  We got an email regarding our surrogate: that she and baby are doing fine and not actively experiencing any signs of labor.  Come on baby, be born!!!  We had a great dinner and great conversation with our new friends and had a really enjoyable evening together.

We realized we made the right decision not to stay at Svelte.  If you're staying in India, then by all means experience India.  We may be in the "posh" part of Delhi, but it's more real than the western malls.  M Block truly has all the baby items Mom & Me and Mothercare has and, in a lot of instances, much cheaper.  Also, we're learning about the land and culture that our baby comes from, so that is a plus.  There are downsides of course, and if either of us were traveling alone, we would probably be at Svelte. In Saket, a lot of the luxuries are readily available.  But if you're adventurous enough to embark on this journey, I cannot help but recommend staying within Delhi and being a bit more adventurous.  Saket was like the malls back home: loud, expensive, and artificial.

That's it for tonight!  Let's hope for a 1/31/13 baby.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future

Since arriving in Delhi, I've lost all track of time.  It not only seems like we've been here for a few days, but also weeks.  Hours, days, minutes - kind of all blur together.  I go to bed relatively early, and wake up at 3 or 4am, not fully rested but not tired enough to sleep.  I was worried I was getting Delhi-belly last night because I began retching around dinner time. Thankfully, it passed.  I blame Lays' delicious masala potato chips.

Today I think we're going to look for a copier/printer for paperwork and documents, and a Mini-DP/HDMI cable adapter so we can watch movies on something other than a laptop.  I'm thinking the adapter may be an impossibility, since finding a french press is like finding a needle in a haystack.

We made an appointment to tour the SCI facilities tomorrow, barring the arrival of our lazy sea-monkey ;)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where's the baby?

We went to Agra on Sunday to see the Taj Mahal, and both of us agree that, while worth it, we would't bring a newborn baby all the way out here.  First off, it takes more than three hours just to get there (and if you're used to Delhi driving, that's a looong trip).  If you're from the UK and have to spend months here, it may be worth considering once the baby is older, if only for an awesome photo with your baby (or babies) in front of the monument.  Second, it's very busy, there are a lot of animals, and a lot of walking.  It was definitely worth it and our driver, Satish, did an excellent job.  Also, know how to haggle when getting souvenirs - you can get taken for a ride by some pretty charming salesmen!  And watch your pockets as they can get picked (we didn't, but we were sternly warned).

Here's another tip for travelers: while it's not hot in Delhi in January, it's still easy to get dehydrated, forget to eat, not sleep, etc.  Eat or snack often, drink bottled water whenever possible, and get as much sleep as you can.  By the end of the night I had to force myself to eat and drink.  Not a case of Delhi-belly, but over-stressing your body can make you feel absolutely awful.

Oh yeah, and where is this baby of ours?  It's very nice visiting with new friends and meeting their little ones, but also (for me anyway) very frustrating.  It's like every day here is the night before christmas, and you're waiting to open your presents--but for some reason christmas eve never ends!

Delhi has a way of playing with your mind.  We've been here 4 full days already, and it feels like much longer.  We've been to M-block only twice and feel like we've done it enough.  I can't seem to find real coffee here.  I've been looking for ground coffee and a french press and have come to the realization that I'm going to have to use instant Nescafe.  Dunkin' Donuts, Coffee Bean, and Gloria Jeans have the real thing, but they don't sell it like in the US.

When our friends threw us the baby shower, we all put in our guesses of the baby's gender, weight, and birthdate.  I also asked other friends and family to put their 2-cents in.  Two people have been wrong so far, but today is mine and John's day (and Patty's) - we picked the same day.  Here is the complete (and updated) list:

  1. 1/18 - B - 8lb. 8oz. - Jeff K.
  2. 1/26 - G - 6lb. 8oz. - Jill M.
  3. 1/29 - G - 6lb. 6oz. - Patty C.
  4. 1/29 - G - 6lb. 10oz. - Morgan
  5. 1/29 - B - 5lb. 9oz. - John
  6. 1/31 - B - 7lb. 6oz - Kelly H.
  7. 2/01 - G - 7lb. 4oz. - Steph K.
  8. 2/01 - G - 6lb. 0oz. - Tony D.
  9. 2/02 - B - 7lb. 9oz. - Michelle O.
  10. 2/02 - G - 7lb. 11oz. - Tracey F.
  11. 2/02 - G - 6lb. 8oz. - Auntie Dana
  12. 2/02 - G - 6lb 11oz. - "Gangy"
  13. 2/02 - G - 7lb. 2oz. - "Pop-pop"
  14. 2/05 - G - 6lb. 4oz. - Uncle Greg
  15. 2/06 - G - 6lb. 12oz. - Aunt Cathy
  16. 2/07 - G - 6lb. 2oz. - Kelli T.
  17. 2/07 - B - 7lb. 2oz. - Aunt Stacy
  18. 2/07 - G - 7lb. 8oz. - Brooke M.
  19. 2/07 - B - 7lb. 5oz. - Jolene H.
  20. 2/08 - G - 7lb. 3oz. - Allison Z.
  21. 2/09 - G - 6lb. 8oz. - Cousin Jessica
  22. 2/11 - B - 6lb. 12oz. - Grandma Lori
  23. 2/12 - G - 8lb. 5oz. - Jill S.
  24. 2/15 - B/G - 9lb. twins - Bob S. (Oh, Bob!

Let's cross our fingers that today is the day...
...and it wasn't.

Friday, January 25, 2013

There, And Back Again (Part I): The Daddies' Tale

Goodbye Boston!
Chapter One:  Boston, Massachusetts (late Wednesday evening)
So here we are.  Boarding time.  Or should I say bored-ing time?  Well wait, this would be boarding time, however the flight is delayed.  So we are in the AirFrance Lounge (quiet, complimentary food & drinks, lovely) and it's boring.  The magazines and newspapers are in French and "je comprends un peu le français"; which translates to knowing words and still not being able to put together anything coherent.  I picked up "Le Monde" and realized it was also a political article and not only lost interest, but lost interest in French.  Merde!

I slept about 40 minutes on the way to Switzerland, Xanax had no effect whatsoever.  I was so tired and uncomfortable; it was like 80*F inside the plane!  I rolled up my jeans into shorts.  Swiss Air doesn't have those little air vents like most planes that I've been on have.

Chapter Two: Zurich, Switzerland (mid-morning, Thursday)
Welcome to the land of chocolate!  Toblerones are aplenty!  We didn't leave the airport and unfortunately, it was so cold and cloudy/foggy it looked exactly like rural New England.  Nothing to see here except chocolate, and white crosses on red backgrounds on everything to can buy.  They're very proud here.

John noticed as we flew over Afghanistan that we were being escorted by some kind of jet - that was pretty unsettling, but at least this flight had the temperature right.

Chapter Three: New Delhi, India (after midnight, Friday)
Everybody warned me of the smell when you get off the plane.  I was preparing for the absolute worst: the smell of sewage and dirt.  I was actually pleasantly surprised that it smells like Los Angeles on it's worst smoggy day, sitting behind the exhaust pipe of a big truck.  Being a Southern California native, I really didn't mind this.  The really bad part was that you can literally see the smog inside the airport.  Our driver was very easy to spot and drove us to the apartment.  I was worried about the driving here, but once you've been to New York and Boston, it seemed the same.  But, we also arrived in the middle of the night, so I think we hit Delhi at it's quietest & slowest.

Chapter Four: Greater Kailash Apartment (Friday morning)
This is not your everyday spotless/sterile hotel.  It is a big apartment that is reasonably clean; not hotel clean, but clean enough and comfortable.  All the amenities of home.  For the most part it is quiet.  I woke up around 7:45 (Delhi time) and can hear traffic, shouting, dogs barking, pigeons, and some kind of portly, green bird that looks like a cross between a pigeon and a parrot.  We have not ventured out as of yet, so my opinions of everything may change.  I haven't seen the city in daylight other than off the balcony.  It's about 45*F (9*C) out and all I brought was a light sweatshirt: looks like someone's going to do some shopping!  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Top 20 Countdown: 20 Days Left!

Last (Friday) Night a D.J. Saved My Life: a non-baby related post

The past few days (as well as the next few ahead) have been hectic; housecleaning, preparing for the trip and the baby, saying goodbye...  Friday was my last day of work, and I think I'm too emotionally drained and excited to feel much about it.  I made some good friends there, and I'll miss spending 40 hours a week with these people.  Seriously, it feels like I just graduated from high school - except instead of a diploma, I'm getting a baby.

On my way to work in the morning, the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" played on the radio and on the way home from a surprise goodbye dinner my boss and co-workers threw me, Lindsey Ray's "Brand New Day" came on.  My car radio's shuffle is  pretty terrible (always repeating the same songs, despite having 3,000 of them loaded in there), but yesterday it was dead-on; very fitting.  It lifted my spirits as I made my way home.

So today, I leave you with a list of 20 songs (in no particular order, with no particular deep meaning) that just make me feel good.  They're mostly uplifting songs, which in my database is kind of a rarity.

Sit back (or sing & dance along) and enjoy:

Home - Phillip Phillips
Wonderful (The Way I Feel) - My Morning Jacket
Firework - Kay Perry
We Are Young [Featuring Janelle Monáe] - fun.
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Edge Of Glory - Lady GaGa
Flashdance...What A Felling - Irene Cara
Rock Lobster - B-52's
F**k You [Explicit Version] - Lily Allen
You'll Never Walk Alone ["Carousel"] - Michael Ball
A Fifth Of Beethoven - Walter Murphy
Wonderwall - Oasis
No Matter What - Boyzone
Make Your Own Kind Of Music - Cass Elliot
Like A Prayer - Madonna
Invincible - Pat Benetar
Across The Universe [Naked Version]- The Beatles
Chiquitita - ABBA
My Favorite Things ["The Sound of Music"] - Julie Andrews
Feel Good Inc. [Featuring De La Soul] - Gorillaz


Friday, January 18, 2013

TGI Friday??

So rather eventful day.

Best news of course - baby is healthy and growing!

First, we got a belly pic very early this morning.  Morgan woke me with it.  :-)

Then an hour later, our scan arrived!

So it was a nice way to start the day!!!

Baby is measuring behind still - actually a little more behind (34 weeks 6 days, though we're tracking at 36 weeks 6 days).  Baby's up to 5 lbs. 5 oz. though - growing at about 1/2 lb. a week.  We're not concerned about the baby - just our travel plans.  :-)  But worse case, we'll have some relaxing (HA) time to explore India!

Also, today was my last day of work for 10 weeks.  I hardly take vacations beyond a sporadic 3 or 4 day weekend, so just that much time completely disconnected from my job (I took my work e-mail off all my devices and everything!!) is more than a bit unnerving.  (The whole BABY thing, well...)

And today was also Morgan's last day EVER!  (Well, not EVER, but for this job, and for a while.)  But he'll write more about that later himself.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let's Stay HERE. No, Let's Stay HERE. Or Here.

So, we changed our accommodations.  It took nearly a month to decide (or re-decide, I guess), but we're going to stay in an apartment in Kailash through Tulip House.

The Svelte is obviously a great hotel, and we know so many SCI clients just love it.  That's really the main reason we picked it originally - it seemed everyone goes there, and it almost represented a warm cocoon to keep your baby warm the first few weeks.

But it just didn't fit us.  We hate malls - and living in one for 3 weeks kinda makes me unnerved.  The space itself was big for a hotel room - and the separation of the bedroom is nice - but it's still very small for the three of us for three weeks (we actually had booked a larger suite just to have a little more space to accommodate).  And it's somewhat expensive (not break-the-bank, but certainly not economical).  This is especially true with the larger suite, and I can also imagine living (and eating and shopping) in a mall will just add to the expense.

But ultimately, a big part of me felt like we would be missing the experience of India if we were wrapped up in a Western hotel inside a giant Western mall complex.

So we started looking at other options last month - both from the list of recommendations by SCI and ones we could find on our own.  Ultimately, unless we were to choose a very reputable hotel, we felt we should stick to what SCI recommends (because they're actually THERE, get feedback from other clients, and can assist if an issue arises).

We kept going back and forth where we wanted to stay - in a hotel or apartment, near Greater Kailash or elsewhere - went back to just sticking with the Svelte, and then an apartment in Kailash Colony opened up, so we went for it.  It's a 2 bedroom with 2 bathrooms, kitchen, washer, and WiFi.  It's in a quiet neighborhood with a large park nearby.  And it's less than half the price we were going to pay at Svelte.  SOLD!

So I guess we'll see how it goes!

P.S.  I understand that Damani Money Changer in M Block offers very good exchange rates.  Does anyone know if they take Traveler's Cheques, or if it's cash only?  Thanks!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Similac Surprise!

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for, nor am I reimbursed by Abbott Nutrition in any way.

Okay, I love freebies and good deals -- so early-on when we registered at Babies 'R' Us, we got a free gift bag filled with coupons for various items (off the top of my head: a Desitin coupon, Dreft coupons , a free Similac SimplySmart bottle coupon, various samples, and a Similac "Trimester by Trimester" notebook/journal).

I slacked off in October...
Hard cover, great for notes.
The notebook is pretty nice, though specifically targeted for the pregnant mother, it has proven valuable for jotting down notes and such from SCI, Dr. Jolly's scans, etc.  It also has a ziplock pouch in the back where I keep all those baby-related coupons--kid's are expensive and this one hasn't even been born yet.

All the pamphlets and parent magazines we got (also free from the BRU gift bag) tell you to register at as well as other formula and diaper companies for free samples and coupons.

Similac offered a free take-home gift from the hospital when you registered with them.  I contacted them to say my child would be born overseas, so would I still qualify for the gift?  The customer service representative was all kinds of awesome.  She wasn't all business, she was like talking to a friend.  She told me she would get something out to me in a few weeks.  A few days later, it showed up at our door!  The gift was a simple organizer, but I've already found it quite useful.  Then they told me to expect some coupons in the mail closer to the due date.

Well, today we received a box o' goodies (worth about $75) from Similac!

  • Full-sized canister of Similac Advance Powder (1.45 lb)
  • Full-sized canister of Similac Sensitive Powder (12.6 oz)
  • Information about the Baby Journal app for iPhone & iPad
  • Comprehensive feeding guide booklet
  • SimplySmart 4 oz. bottle
  • $4 coupon off SimplySmart bottle double-pack
  • Four $5 off coupons off of any kind of Similac formulas

I know babies can have reactions, be finicky, and not tolerate certain formulas well; so I'm not blind to the fact that our little chap or lass gestating in India may not like Similac formulas.  But I just really like this company, they really seem to care.  Their customer-service representatives were very down-to-earth, pleasant, and helpful when I spoke to them on the phone (and they know how to advertise).

Thank you Abbott Nutrition for making my day and giving me a head-start on things!

SIDE NOTE: When I contacted another, competing formula company regarding a similar gift-offer, I was basically told "tough-luck".  They were also kind of rude to me on the phone and through email.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Packing (Part 1 of 2)

It's been about two weeks since we've posted, but there's been no news on the baby-front; everything seems to be going well.

Thankfully we're almost finished with renovations to the house and only have a few small projects to complete before we start cleaning up the dust from our rather large mess.  John simply amazes me with what he's capable of: installing flooring, electrical, plumbing - the list goes on.

Clothes, blankets, burp cloths...
180 Newborn diapers
Most of the baby's packing is done, however we need to get some new luggage.  The suitcases we bought over a decade ago are beginning to fall apart.  One sleepless night when John was out of town, I decided to begin packing baby clothes, blankets diapers (pretty much everything).  I simply could not make it all fit in a pretty large suitcase.  Diapers (even newborn sized) and blankets take up a ton of room.  My solution, my kitchen food-saver vacuum sealer.  I shrank everything in them into stiff inch-thick boards that fit perfectly into the Phil & Ted's cocoon.  The diapers take up about 1/3 of their original size.  I did a few tests and they puff back up.  Although, the longer they're compressed, the longer it takes to get puffy again.
P&T Coccoon: Love the green apple color!
We pretty much copied Ryan & Ruben's (of "India Calling") packing list - dividing it in half of course. Thanks guys!
The only items we're skimping on from their list are the wipes, bottles, and electric sterilizer. We're bringing 7 small-sized bottles and some extra nipples. Electric sterilizers seemed too bulky to pack so I bought these microwave sterilizer bags you can use up to 20 times each. I've also heard of the electric sterilizers breaking or shorting out in international electrical outlets. We're bringing only a pack or two of wipes (also bulky and heavy), as the malls under and around the Svelte should carry them.

Lastly, the medicine bag:

  • Cipro (a last-resort antibiotic our travel doctor gave us)
  • Mefloquine (Malaria pills - I've heard they give people terrible nightmares, and I'm already prone to night terrors AND we have to start them a week before we leave! Fun times...)
  • Gas relief drops
  • Desitin
  • Johnson & Johnson travel kit (shampoo, lotion, powder, and body wash - probably won't use these, but better safe than sorry)
  • Wet Ones & a LOT of hand sanitizer!
  • Anti-diarrheal & bismuth tablets (the doctor said, "it's going to happen")

We're getting excited and everything is lining up well, although I'm losing sleep and waiting for a call from Dr. Shivani saying it's coming early.  To keep myself occupied, I've been looking at all the websites I can to familiarize myself with Saket.  I was born and raised in  Southern California, so to me Saket looks like home, then again SoCal stood-in for Korea in M*A*S*H, so SoCal can look like anywhere and everywhere.

Here are some websites you may find useful:

It's interesting to see how different and similar these famous menus can be:

If you know or come across any other sites, post them in the comments.