Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our First Two Weeks at Home - The Pictures

Just arrived at San Francisco airport.

Our little carry-on luggage.

Cornelia's  arrival at 70 Potomac.

A bouquet from the office.  Gorgeous!

A drink for daddy and a drink for baby.


Lounging by the fireplace in the country.

Little toes

Saturday night dinner in the country.

Snow on Sunday morning, May 15!

Ken's vegetable garden, planted the day before, under the snow. 

"Please, enough with the pictures!"

"Really?  I come all the way from India to watch reality TV?"

A picnic in the park

"More pictures?  Really?"

First Two Weeks at Home

We've been home from India for two weeks and time has passed by quickly.  I haven't posted an update since our return and I hope the following makes up for it.

Our trip home was relatively uneventful.  We managed to get bulkhead seats and a bassinette from the airline which made the 14.5 hour flight from India to Chicago relatively painless -- or as painless as such a long flight can be.  Cornelia slept most of the way and we got pretty good at changing diapers in an airplane bathroom.

The only interesting note about our return trip home was the continued "Where's the mother?" theme.  The first question we were asked about Cornelia by anyone in India (with the exception of the hospital staff who knew us) was "Where's the mother?"  Everyone asked it, whether it was the clerk in the drugstore, the barista at the French bakery or the attendant in the hotel lobby.  And, interestingly, it never felt like the question was about two men with a baby or in any way homophobic.  I don't think it occured to anyone that we were two gay men with a baby.  The question was really about the mysteriously missing mother.  It seemed incomprehensible to anyone in India that an infant could be apart from the woman who birthed her. 

In the airport we were asked this question at the entrance to the terminal (where everyone has to present a ticket just to enter), at two different check-in counters, and again at security.  (We weren't asked at the gate since the people at the gate were the same people from the check-in counter.)  The folks at the check-in counter were very nice about it (as they summoned their supervisor to "okay" two men leaving the country with an infant).  They apologized and quite honestly said that they meant no offense but just had not encountered two men and a surrogacy situation before.  We had to present not only her US passport but also her birth certificate.  However, Ken was ready to throttle the women at the security check point who not only asked for the whereabouts of the mother but then when Ken said "No mother, two fathers" they started giving us a bit of attitude and told us the baby should have been wrapped better.  ("Oh, no, you didn't!")  Fortunately I was able to hussle Ken away from the security point before he decided to give these snotty girls a piece of his mind.

In contrast when we boarded the plane (an American Airlines plane) the flight attendants didn't bat an eyelash about two men and an infant.  They simply gushed, cooed at Cornelia, and congratulated us.  The two gay flight attendants made a bee-line to us to see the baby.  One said, "Oh, word travels fast."  We hadn't been on the plane for more than ten minutes.  It was great to be back in the States although we had not yet left India.         

Cornelia continues to do well after her two weeks at home.  We visited her pediatrician on Thursday for her second check-up.  She weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds, 11 ounces - up from her 5 pounds, eight ounces at birth.  She continues to slurp down her bottles every few hours - although in the past week she has started to fool us, going through the motions and making the noises of drinking her bottle but not really swallowing anything.  I think this is just another ruse to be held, rocked, swayed and cooed at while she checks out the ceiling and whatever else she discovers above her.  It's all very entertaining to her (I'm sure she'd be smiling if she knew how to smile at this point), although it can stretch her meals to an hour at times.

She is definitely alert and checking out the world around her more and more.  She has grown accustomed to the constant presence of Big Face Number One (Ken) and Big Face Number Two (Mike).  She knows they usually appear and make nice things happen - like change her diaper, give her a bottle, make noises and faces at her, or just carry her around a bit.  She is sleeping in her crib now rather than in our room.  A few days after coming home Ken insisted we move her to the nursery at night.  I thought she was too young to be so far away (nearly a dozen steps!), but it turned out to be a good decision.  She seems to be happy in her own room.  The lighting is low, the heat is high and her nights are filled with the tunes of Dionne Warwick and Karen Carpenter from Ken's iPod.  It has a very retro lounge feel to it.  What's not to like?  And we have a video baby monitor to make sure she is okay throughout the night. 

Our nighttime experiences right now are a bit mixed.  Ken does the middle of the night bottle which can be anytime between midnight and 3:00 a.m., and I do the early morning bottle which can be anytime between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m.  Ken has more success with "low impact" nighttime bottles.  He can tiptoe into the room, deliver a bottle and even change a diaper without a big commotion, so Cornelia can slip back to sleep more easily.  For some reason, my nighttime encounters seem to be a bigger production and often result in a fully awake baby who does not want to go back to sleep.  More than one night I have spent a few hours trying to get her to go back to sleep.  She's happy to sleep while being held, so several times I have slept in the nursery while holding her so we can both get some sleep. 

I can't help but wonder if she has already figured out who will be the strict daddy (Ken) and who will be the soft touch (me).  She has already figured out that if she makes any noise at all Big Face Number Two appears instantly and rocks her back to sleep.  That's a habit I'll have to curb.

Cornelia has had a lot of visitors during her first two weeks in San Francisco.  Jeff and Eric dropped by with dinner early on; Bob, Donald and Kevin dropped by for Sunday afternoon cocktails; Mike Marshall came by for dinner and Glee; and most recently Jeff, Eric and Mark came by for another round of Sunday afternoon cocktails.  John, Stefan, Dennis, Chris and Doug all came by for dinner last Saturnday night in the country as well..  Last night she finally met Matthew and Shelley.  Tonight she's off  to a dinner party at John's.  We'll need a set of flash cards so she can learn all of her uncles' names.

Her first trip to the country last weekend was a success.  It was her first long trip in the car and in her car seat.  All signs are good that she will sleep during those trips.  Her stroller served as a crib for the weekend, which worked fine.  The weather is still cold up north (we even woke up to snow on Sunday morning) so she very much enjoyed dozing in front of the fireplace, which is pasttime she'll share with her grandpa Roy.  We're back in the country again this weekend.
Ken has been back to work for the past two weeks and I spend most of the day looking after Cornelia so Ken can work, although Ken looks after her for a few hours during the day as well.  We are both wondering how all of this is going to work when I go back to work in two weeks.  I'm less worried about it now as I've watched Ken handle her so well in the office - which is already equipped with a rocking cradle and a vibrating, music-making "baby papasan" chair (it tends to put Cornelia to sleep almost instantly).  Also, Ken's business manager John has a lot of experience with babies and is happy to look after Cornelia in the office as well. 

I am more worried about my return to work with limited and unpredictable sleep.  And Ken and I both know he will be handing Cornelia off to me as soon as I walk in the door at the end of the day.  We'll just have to wait and see how that goes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Girl Travels in Style!

We've changed our flight home so that we can come home more than a week early.  We had scheduled three weeks in India to complete the entire process, allowing time in case Cornelia was not born right away or if she had any complications or in case the passport and visa process took longer than expected.  Fortunately we finished the entire process in a week so we're leaving India tonight (Wednesday night) just after midnight and we'll land in San Francisco on Thursday morning at about 10:00 a.m.  But don't let the times fool you; we'll be traveling for about 24 hours.
Of course now that we are traveling with an infant the entire planning and packing process has changed.  Cornelia is traveling in style, with her own roll-on bag packed with several outfit changes, twelve pre-loaded bottles, and more than a dozen diapers, as well as her diaper bag and her traveling bassinette and two footmen (uh, that’d be us).  Ken and I have limited ourselves to one bag to share for laptops, magazines and books, etc.  And right now we are trying to manipulate Cornelia's naps and bottles so that she will have a bottle just before we leave for the airport and possibly sleep while we move through the check-in and security process.  Wish us luck!