Friday, April 23, 2010

FRRO - Not as Scary as One Imagines

Noddy's passport has been printed, exit visa issued and we are ready for departure. We will fly Qantas out of Mumbai this Sunday the 25th April and arrive into Sydney early Monday morning. The tasks at hand always seem more manageable after a good nights sleep wouldn't you agree? Having yesterday afternoon at our hotel was just what our bodies needed and we awoke today refreshed for the FRRO! Now, up to this point in finalising everything for Noah's trip home we have been cool customers. Very relaxed and nothing daunted us. The FRRO or Foreigner Regional Registration Office in Mumbai however was the only aspect we were concerned with. Horror stories from other parents who have been there in the past had us believe it would be awful...really awful. The truth is that it is not. It's fine and there is nothing to concern yourself with provided you are prepared. Our driver met us at our hotel at 7.30am for the drive back to South Mumbai to collect Noah's passport. We arrived at 8.55am and were out and on our way to the FRRO by 9.10am. You could do what needs to be done there by yourself but it makes life more pleasant to have somebody there to guide you as we did. One and a half hours was all it took from the moment we entered the FRRO at 10am to the moment we left holding Noah's exit visa.

How fantastic is that!

Parenthood...Days 4 to 14 & Mumbai Madness

This post has been days in the making and I mean DAYS! Time is no longer our own and blogging has had to take a back seat I'm afraid to feeding, changing nappies, washing bottles and baby clothes & napping! Our days in Mumbai have been as busy or relaxed as we want them to be, yet still there are not enough hours in the day. We also have had to learn that we DO need to nap during the day when Noah does. This was made abundantly clear today on our way back to our hotel from the Australian Consulate General in South Mumbai when we fell asleep in the car. The past ten days or so have been amazing. No adjective will suffice in describing our time here so amazing will have to do. Our son has changed our lives and for the better, we both know this. He is perfection personified and so utterly beautiful. Our birth certificates took 7 days to arrive to us & this included a delay due to a public holiday. Dr Sudhir was great in arranging all the necessary paperwork and birth certificates for us to obtain Noah's citizenship by descent....that's right OBTAIN. Our boy is officially an Aussie as of yesterday and the turn around was super quick. Like we said, Dr Sudhir arranged for all the paperwork required to confirm Noah's citizenship by descent; letter from Hiranandani hospital confirming he was born there, signed and stamped letter from Dr Soni confirming she delivered him, letter from Dr Pai confirming he performed our IVF and finally a letter from SI confirming our status as IPs under their care. Along with our surrogacy contract and the fee of Rs5400 we visited Blue Dart couriers at Galleria in Hiranandani Gardens and sent our documents to New Delhi. We had confirmation the next day of their receipt and then we began the phone calls. We were given the standard 'this will take four weeks to process' and not disheartened we insisted on speaking with the team leader Varun Gupta who handles citizenship by descent applications. He is very familiar with surrogacy and what is involved so he asked we call back that afternoon after 2pm. In the mean time I emailed him directly (he was cc'd in the email to us from DNALABS in Sydney confirming Noah's parentage) advising we had our flights booked for Sunday and we needed citizenship processed ASAP to ensure time to have a passport and exit visa processed. Voila, 24 hours later we have a third Australian citizen in our hotel room and a passport to collect from the Consulate General tomorrow. It could not have been easier or smoother for us and for that we are thankful. The passport application process was straight forward too. Our original certificate of citizenship for Noah was couriered to us today from New Delhi and we requested a scanned copy of the original be emailed to the Consulate General to expedite our emergency passport application which was done without issue. Tomorrow we visit the FRRO after collecting Noah's passport at 9am. We have been fortunate to spend the past 13 days in Mumbai with some fantastic people and we have especially enjoyed sharing time with Greg, Rob & Addison. We have been shopping, eating and sightseeing our way around the city with the three of them plus the docs and it has been a blast. Last night in particular we visited a small complex around 50km outside of the city which showed what village is like in Rajasthan. It was great and we had a fantastic time with the guys, Dr Sudhir, Dr Yash & Ajit. There was traditional dancing, fire eaters, magicians, puppet shows, camel rides, bullock rides, fresh sugar cane and mango juice stalls, henna painting, pottery wheels to throw small vases, arcade attractions like an old fashioned fair...just fantastic. It was such a great way to spend time with the docs and share something really special that we will remember always. We had such a great time that by the time we got back to our hotel it was close to 1am! We then slept and fed Noah at 2.30am and again at 5am and had to be up and ready to leave our hotel at 8.30am for the 10am appointment at the Consulate General. Hence being so tired today. We were due to see Greg, Rob and Addy prior to their leaving and catch up for lunch in South Mumbai, but our passport could not be issued same day and subsequently we did not visit the FRRO today. That adventure awaits us tomorrow! We were so tired we ended up back at our hotel by 1pm and slept for four hours. Our hotel at Powai has been great and it is very convenient to Hiranandani Gardens and the stores, cafes, restaurants & banks there. An auto rickshaw into Hiranandani costs between Rs 30-40 depending on traffic compared to the Rs200 in an A/C cab. We would highly recommend to others coming back to Mumbai for baby pick up to stay at one of the hotels at Powai. Yes the VITS is popular and we too almost stayed there but are now so glad we're here. The hotel has some beautiful grounds and the pool area is to die for with a grassed area to relax in the shade! So what is left for us to do in Bombay? When we booked our flights here we anticipated a stay of just over two weeks and it has proven to be true. 16 nights is the total for us. We arrived on the 9th April and we leave Mumbai this Sunday the 25th April. A total of 16 days. Noddy's exit visa is issued tomorrow and two days later we will be on a plane back to Sydney. Now that the time has come we are sad. Sad to be leaving our hotel room we couldn't wait to leave, sad to be leaving the smog, heat and crowds we are so unaccustomed with. Sad to be saying bye to Dr Sudhir and Dr Yash, now friends for life. And sad to be leaving Bombay, the birth city of our son. We will however be back so goodbye is not forever!
For those of you reading this contemplating if surrogacy in India is right for you, just as we did...the proof is in our son. And you could do no better than to have Surrogacy India, Dr Sudhir and Dr Yash by your side.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Parenthood...Days Two & Three

This our newest favourite photo of Noah, aged five days in our hotel room at the Renaissance Hotel with his teddy from Aunty Nadyne. Every time we look at our little boy our hearts fill with overwhelming love for this little person. He is so utterly perfect and we can't stop with the kisses! Life without him in our lives is now unimaginable. Strange how a child can have such an affect us it's parents in only a matter of mere moments. Our baby boy is here for life and we are so in awe of him. We have done a little of the required paperwork and formalities to arrange Noddy's return to Australia but more is to be done. For those of you out there doing surrogacy in Mumbai, we'll include a little bit of info you may find helpful & some cute pics included!

We have almost all of our paperwork to send Noddy's citizenship application off to New Delhi. We are going to use Blue Dart couriers located at the galleria at Hiranandani Gardens. Other couples have used their courier service and they are both reasonably priced and reliable. We visited the ICICI bank branch also at the galleria at Hiranandani Gardens and obtained the bank demand draft to send along with the citizenship application. The fee charged by the bank to do this was Rs110 & we double checked the exchange rate at a cyber cafe across from ICICI bank. Dr Sudhir has arranged our signed and notarised affidavit and we have met with Pratik who reviewed our surrogacy contract. He was kind enough to come to our hotel to do this for us and this was covered in his standard fee. We also learnt from another Aussie couple in our hotel that the High Commission are also asking for a letter from our hotel stating that Noah is staying here with us until further notice, thanks Ken and Mike.

Last night was especially exciting as SI had seven babies attend their first combined 'baby party' at a fantastic restaurant in Powai, Saffron Spice. Parents and babies from Australia, the USA, Israel and Belgium attended this wonderful extravaganza and the entire SI team were there to celebrate with us. Drs Sudhir and Yash went to so much effort and it was an amazing night with memories to last our lifetime. It was great to meet so many new parents of surrogate babies and again to see Greg, Rob and their little girl. It was also an opportunity for some secret kisses between Noah and Addison watched over by the ever caring Dr Yash. Noah also received a beautiful outfit from the docs which both Darren and I adore. This should fit him in time for his 1st birthday. All the parents chose to give their babies and Indian name and the 'naming ceremony' was lovely and heartfelt. Noah's Indian name is...Ansh which means a part of me or oneself. We left the restaurant around 10.30pm and were unabe to get a taxi so Noddy had his first auto rickshaw ride back to our hotel. Both Darren and I were laughing at how no one would dream of doing this is Australia. Here we were weaving in and out of mad traffic and Noddy on our laps in his travel bassinett.
There is a public holiday in Mumbai this Wednesday so hopefully we will have Noah's birth certificate Thursday or Friday at the latest. When can then courier his documentation to the High Commission to process his citizenship application. It is then a matter of waiting and then applying for his passport and finally an exit visa from the FRRO office. The latest we have heard from Aussie couples is that the FRRO really is not as bad as expected. Yes it is very busy and hot but exit visas have been issued in a matter of hours with the help of Parashaar (My Man in India). This blog entry would have been posted much earlier but time is no longer our own. Noddy is sleeping well, anywhere between two and a half to four hours at a time and feeding from 50ml to 100ml each time. He is so good to his daddy and papa & we love him so.

Noah, Addison & Dr Yash (LEFT)
Drs Sudhir & Yash & the SI 7 (RIGHT)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Parenthood...The First 24 hours

We finally have our boy at the hotel with us. Our first 24 hours as parents has been more than we could have ever dreamed of. The love that we have for our son is overwhelming and all consuming. He is our angel and we are so blessed. We were lucky enough that Dr Sanjeev Ahuja (Noah's pediatrician at L H Hiranandani Hospital) agreed to discharge him last night instead of tonight. The sisters in NICU basically said to us that since he had such a good birth weight and was eating and pooping well, there was nothing they were doing that we could not do in our hotel. Yesterday afternoon we met with Dr Anita Soni (the OBGYN) who delivers for all the surrogates at LHH and had her sign some paperwork required for Noddy's citizenship and we chatted about our surrogate and of course baby Noah.

We feel it needs to be said that Dr Soni is fabulous. She really does an excellent job in caring for the surrogates under her care and every Tuesday that our clinics surrogates visit her, Dr Yash has results back from her & is onto any issue or problem..stat. Like the medico lingo? She is so approachable & down to earth and takes no crap from nobody. Thank you Dr Soni.

We finished the discharge process in around an hour and a half and Dr Sudhir and Dr Yash met us for the final stages to expedite Noah and us leaving the hospital. We then travelled to Juhu Beach and met Greg, Rob and their beautiful little girl Addison and had dinner at their hotel. Rob's mum is over the from the US and together with the docs, the nine of us had a delicious Italian dinner and Noah and Addison their first date. Now I now there's a certain young man in Arizona that seems to think he has already been betrothed to Miss Blosser but you know these young Aussie boys!

Anyway, we had a wonderful night and it was great to finally meet the guys we had been chatting with online for so long now. Thanks to Drs Sudhir and Yash for their wonderful hospitality and time spent with us all. We ended up back at our hotel quite late as the drive from Juhu to Powai is not that close, especially on a Saturday night. Our first night was....I'm not sure. We had no expectations on how it would be, so lets just say we woke up tired. Noah was a little restless and I think we managed a total of around three to four hours max. When we had finished Noah's early morning feed around 6am and had him settled, the three of us went back to bed and slept for three hours until just after 9. We fed little Noddy again and the had some time by the pool for a little morning sun as he was a wee bit jaundiced. Today our son has been nothing other than perfect. He has been taking around 45-50ml of formula every three hours without issue and burping well and then sleeping another three hours until his next feed. Our decision not to warm his feeds, rather give them to him at room temperature seems to be a non issue which is great. He is feeding fantastically.

We met another Australian couple staying at our hotel today too and their little boy who is simply beautiful. We chatted about their time in India and the are expecting to leave this week, maybe Wednesday. They have been here for around two weeks and have had two public holidays during that time so hopefully the quick turnaround continues for our family too!

Tomorrow morning we will head into Hiranandani Gardens to the ICICI bank to arrange the bank demand draft for Noah's citizenship application and in the afternoon we head to South Mumbai to meet Dr Jayant Rele who will perform the DNA test required again for citizenship. We are expecting our birth certificate copies this week and we shall then courier these documents to New Delhi...One step closer to returning home!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Introducing.....Noah Robert

Well, here it is folks. Our grande finale. Our son, Noah Robert was born in Mumbai on the 8th April at 4:51pm local time weighing in at 3.57kg.

Darren and I are both over the moon with the excitement at having our little boy in our lives, albeit currently across Lake Powai as he is still in Hiranandani Hospital and we're in our hotel room at the Renaisseance. Not too shabby let me tell you. We would have like to blogged earlier but what a day we have had!

The first photo is of Noddy in the NICU this morning; 17 hours old and perfection personified. We managed to feed our little boy once today and change his nappy, cuddle him and whisper little songs into his ears. He is so wonderfully beautiful and perfect we are overwhelmed with the love we feel for this little person...our Noddy. Since our first visit to Hiranandani last July there has been an additional NICU room attached for those babies not requiring critical care so that parents can feed and spend time with their children prior to being discharged. The standard time in NICU post birth is 72 hours apparently. So like a child on Christmas morning we are waiting with baited breath for Sunday to arrive.

The second photo to the left is of Papa and little Noddy in the NICU. Now, the nursing staff assure us the room is kept at an ambient 21 degrees celcius but when you're wearing a hair net a-la-KFC and a face mask with zero ventilation and a floor length gown it's more like 121 degrees...We both arrived at the hospital at 8:45am after 4 hours sleep after what seemed like the longest possible flight to India. We met Dr Sudhir who led us to the NICU and it was then we met our angel. We were planning for a much more relaxed return to India but little Noah had other ideas for his daddies. After speaking with Dr Yash very early on Thursday morning we decided to fly out that afternoon and thank goodness we did. On arrival into Singapore we phoned India and Dr Yash gave us the news that after a long labour, our surrogate was admitted for a c-section and our son was born very shortly after. Dr Sudhir emailed us some photos without the news on whether or not we had a boy or girl. We wanted to wait until we arrived at the hospital to find this out.

This morning we spent an hour or so with Noddy and then the remainder of the morning at Hiranandani Gardens; shopping and having lunch. We went back to the hospital for Noddy's scheduled 12:30 feed only to be told he had already been fed...We still spent time with our boy singing to him and cuddling while sneaking in a few photos.

The last photo in this post is of Noddy and his daddy who is so in love with his little boy it is beautiful to see. We already have experienced such love and a wonderful bond with our son it is hard to put into words. We just want him here with us now.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing and we mean AMAZING support of Dr Sudhir and Dr Yash of Surrogacy India, Dr Pai who performed our transfer, Dr Soni and our surrogate.
Words will never be able to convey the deep gratitude we have for such an amazing woman and the gift she has given us.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Change of Plans.....We are Leaving for Mumbai!!!


We have been on the phone with Dr Yash as our surrogate has gone into labour and is now at Hiranandani. Dr Soni confirms that we are in the early stages of labour and it can not be delayed. We have just spent the past two hours changing flights and hotel and frantically finishing packing. We arrive into Mumbai around 2am on Friday morning and will have an update then.

This is not a drill, we repeat...this is not a drill.

Our life is about to change and we can't wait!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

7 Day Countdown

This time next week we will be en-route to Sydney International Airport and exactly 38 weeks pregnant. Darren is cool, calm and very collected and I am too to a certain degree. My head is still spinning wildly like you wouldn't believe but maybe that's due to the washer being on spin cycle at the moment.

First of all, congratulations have to go out to Greg and Rob Blosser and their wonderfully, beautiful little girl Addison Claire. One of three babys born to SI IPs this week. We are so looking forward to meeting the three of them when we return to India next week.

Next week, 7 days! Gosh the time has come by quickly, thankfully we have a four day weekend at the moment to try and get things into some kind of order before we leave home. We're both working right up to the day prior to us leaving, so Monday will be spent packing our bags and making sure we have everything that we need and don't take the silly, fluffy stuff we do not. We chatted with our beautiful surrogate again this week and she is SO BIG! Dr Soni is very happy with Noddy's growth and weight gain that a planned c-section has been arranged on the day of our arrival into Mumbai or the following day which means that provided nature doesn't decide to introduce Noddy to the world any sooner, our darling will be born at either 38 weeks 1 day or 38 weeks 2 days. She seems very happy still albeit very tired and probably glad to be seeing the end of our pregnancy. We are amazed at the truly wonderful gift that she has made possible for us.

Drs Sudhir and Yash also said that it appears Noddy may be SI's biggest baby born to date......Not sure if this is a good or bad thing? Any opinions of this? Noddy is just over 3kg according to Dr Soni as of last Tuesday. We are planning to chat with our surrogate again tonight Saturday and will again next week before we leave for India.

Our last week as a childless couple. How will it be spent; date nights, romantic dinners? Probably not. Darren is working long, long hours in the last week before his time off work and we still have to prepare for the possibility of dropping everything and trying to find a flight to Mumbai.
Fetal size: crown-rump 35cm (14 inches), crown-toe: 47cm (18.5 inches). Fetal weight 3kg (6.5 pounds). The average size of a healthy full term baby in Australia is 3.5kg. There are many variations on this figure and the size of your baby is linked both parents birth weight and their adult height.