2014: Blog #4 – Crafty, like a Cartoon Cow!

29 07 2014

Me + my dad!

I suspect I’m aging myself.

How old does one have to be to remember the name, Gary Larson (The Far Side..)?

Car drives by cows in field…

Inside car: “Look”, exclaims mummy to her wide-eyed chubby toddler, safe within the confines of their snail-paced vehicle, “it’s a cow! Moooooo….” Kid smooshes his fat face against the glass, waiting for something exciting to happen. Window descends, out goes a fistful of peanuts: “Here little brown cow. Look, peanuts!” 

Cow continues to graze… languidly chewing its cud by the side of the road.

Inside car: Kid’s confused, thinking, “But mummy made it sound so fun – like when we have deep fried Mars bars and banana split for dessert…?!”

Kid returns to stare at the cow, craning his pudgy neck as the scene zips by.

Cow stares back. Blinks. Heavy-lidded eyes fix on the boy. Blink. Eyes avert. Bored. Back to eating. Chew. Chew. Chew. Slow, deliberate, methodical.

Kid sighs, pouts into his peanuts; mummy coos. Kid throws a hissy fit. What a waste of time THAT was!

Car – gone.

“Woohoo, that was a close call”, declares Charlie to his bovine buddy, “we almost didn’t see them coming”.

Supporting examples of Gary’s crafty cows: 


Relevance of this scenario? Rani’s the Cow.

Meant in a nice way.

Case in point: Each time we meet a new person, or say “hello again” to the same friendly face… mum and dad (aka: Mark and I) gently nudge little person to, “Say hello to the nice man/woman, Rani”.

What does little person do? Jump with joy at exchanging a few social pleasantries?

Fat freaking chance!

Instead – resultant scenario: Little person’s eyes swiftly swing south, fixing on the most fascinating floor-level formation, ever. OR, to make things REALLY interesting… eyes avert 180 degrees to an obscure point on the distant horizon — producing an Emmy Award winning vacant stare of glazed nothingness. Pure boredom. Smothered in a chocolate sauce of unadulterated apathy.

Mummy and daddy titter nervously — smiling gallantly to hide the (*slight*) mortification of the awkward moment — inside, feeling rather punched in the gut by a deluge of unhappy emotions, all because of a little person’s whim, thinking: “Not again – these pleasant people are only trying to engage our little peanut… that’s the 7th time this afternoon, ouch… she’s doing a pretty credible job of perfecting her wax museum performance. Bet they’re wondering if our daughter is a few fries short of a Happy Meal…”?

Back to reality – deal with situation. Words are murmured to affable individual that, “Rani is tired” <insert: hungry… shy…>  to explain her unbecoming behavior.

Can you say, embarrassed?

Person leaves. Polite smile, fading like ones breath on a cold winter morning…

Mummy and daddy, turn to their wonderful new charge: WTF??… a stifled sigh slowly seeping into the surrounding stratosphere.

“Woohoo” – intimates Rani, under her breath. Ok, it’s not exactly that word – but the sentiment is as close as dammit is to swearing!

Seconds after the intruder’s backside fades into oblivion, here’s what happens (I kid you not!): Her body relaxes… her eyes come back to life (twinkling with amusement) … her face lights up … a Cheshire grin stretches from ear to ear. Within 90 second, the complete-body-bounce-back occurs: loud, animated chit-chat… accompanied by enthusiastic pointing at inconsequential birds, ducks and dogs… followed by a series of “High Fives” all round with Mark and I. I’m serious – High Fives. I could write the script in my sleep by now. She’s no dummy. We’re the idiots – we fall for it every time!

She’s the cow.

She’s not interested in the peanuts being flung from the car window – all she wants is her peeps… the ones that make her feel safe and secure, that put food in her belly, that allow her to feel loved… and who also – incidentally – take her to five star hotels in Bhubaneswar, purchase funky pink plastic sunglasses, drive her around Delhi in a five-series BMW (courtesy of Percy, complete with driver), and who call her ‘Princess’.

Technically, the Princess idea’s a bit of a downgrade… given her name actually means Queen in Hindi. But right now, she’s none the wiser.

The orphanage staff warned us that she’s the “leader of the pack” – their words not mine – and that she’d soon be taking charge once she felt more comfortable.

All right, all ready – I think she’s feeling comfortable!

So, in summary, she’s an all right nearly-four year old kid.

She’s got the basics down. She sleeps 8-10 hours a night, only falls out of bed three or four times a sleep (she’s used to a crib/enclosed environment – the side-less bed is throwing her off), generally doesn’t wet her knickers (night time Pull-Ups to the rescue!), is learning to navigate spoon/fork logistics (she’s used to using her fingers), organizes and stacks everything she can get her hands on (she had so little, that “stuff”, stackable “stuff”, is at a premium), can almost use the toilet (most of the rural population squats; we’re continuing that interesting technique on top of the toilet seat until we get back to Canada, and can use a little person training seat – hard to find here – without it, she keeps falling in!), and is parroting new English words every day. Today, for example, we taught a preparatory return-to-Canada phrase: “Grandma and grandpa are awesome!”. She’s also got “I think, mummy is beautiful” and “Daddy is a buffoon”, down nicely!

Saturday, we arrived in Delhi. Yesterday we underwent Rani’s medical. Today we visited our friends at the Canadian High Commission to submit our last and (hopefully) final form.

And now we wait….. the ball’s in their court.

Will our submission be up to snuff, and will they issue Rani with a fancy Canadian visa in her Indian passport, so we can hop on a 24-hour flight back to Vancouver, to start Rani’s new life in her new country with her new parents?

Here’s to hoping, Yes!

Here’s (also) to hoping Rani will shed her bovine baggage once settled into the greener pastures of her new future 🙂

I'll tell you about the birds + the bees, kiddo...

I’ll tell you about the birds + the bees, kiddo…

Organizing daddy's home...

Organizing daddy’s home…

Day 3 of being in water, ever. Come in daddy. Daddy's not having any of it!

Day 3 of being in water, ever. Come in daddy. Daddy’s not having any of it!

All must be organized...

All must be organized in Rani’s world…

Including the cushions...

Including the cushions…

Where there's a will, there's a way...

Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Oops, fell out of bed - again!

Oops, fell out of bed – again!

An engineer in the making...

An engineer in the making…

Man, I'm cool!

Man, I’m cool!

5* treatment, for a 5* self-proclaimed Queen!

Me + dad, solving the problems of the world...

Me + dad, solving the problems of the world…

Breakfast buffet - expect this 5* stuff when we get home, yes?

Breakfast buffet – expect this 5* stuff when we get home, yes?

Olympics, 2020 - here I come!

Olympics, 2020 – here I come!



2014: Blog #3 – As the Tummy Turns. Meeting Rani, for the Very First Time

19 07 2014
A few giggles with her friends, before saying goodbye...

A few giggles with her friends, before saying goodbye…

Nerve-wracking business this adoption thing!

Yesterday was THE day. Little Rani said “good-bye” to her world… her peeps… her safety – for good.

The day before, was equally tense — for different reasons. That was the day we met.

Day 1: The Meet + Greet

The car and driver were scheduled to collect us at 10am. Just to be safe, we were downstairs, waiting, from 9.45. It was a big day, we didn’t want to be late.


The minutes rolled on: 10.05… 10.10…10.20… 10.30… 10.45. Bingo! Only 45 minutes late – bonus. Indian clocks tick to a special Bollywood beat. I should know by now, stupid me. Waiting, my brain registered the cultural norm; my body didn’t. Lurch. Gurgle. My tummy performed like a flying acrobat. I discovered nerves I never knew I had! They vibrated with expectancy, at a high-pitch frequency (… I’m rather surprised dogs didn’t come running, yelping… )

The compounded anticipation was killing me.

FINALLY, we set off.

The drive felt long – via a potholed “highway” complete with bullocks, cows, chickens, goats, dogs, and donkeys – but in reality, it was only 30 minutes. We got lost (of course) then had to phone the orphanage to come and meet us. We were guided in by escort.

We drew up to a large black metal gate. It swung open; we drove through. Our cars were swallowed up.

Nine years of waiting – it felt like a dream.

An excited crowd of children greeted us with glee! Little tykes, as small as 1, were jumping up and down… waiving their arms… having no clue why they were doing so… except that it’s what the bigger kids were doing!

Today was Meet + Greet Day.

Alighting from our battered car, we noticed certain little people had separated from the crowd. Arms open, bouncing with joy – they ran in our general direction. Whomp! – square into my belly. Arms around me. What fun – white faces, new people! My tummy somersaulted. I scanned the crowd for Rani. There she was… hidden in the back. Quiet, watchful, wary, guarded. Her eyes were big. Not a trace of a smile. Her face, deadpan.

Oh no. Very, oh no…

The orphanage head (Mr. Mohanty) nudged her forward: “Rani”, he said to her “here is your mummy and daddy” – in English, followed by the same sentiment in Oriya, her language. She just stood, staring at us. My eyes fixed on hers; my ears registered mayhem and noise, all around. We were in a bubble. It was like a slow motion picture, nothing else mattered except that moment. That scene. It was a bubble of stillness. No movement, just quiet anticipation – perhaps on both sides.

I expect Mr. Mohanty felt embarrassed at her (lack of) response. Like many Asian countries, Face is important. He turned to us and explained that Rani was sad to leave her friends behind. That was why she was non-responsive. Apparently she’d been told she was to be taken away. My heart almost burst with hurt for her. WE knew she was going to a good home, but she had no idea. All she knew was that her world was changing. She was leaving behind her little play buddies; her familiar world. Frankly, I think he was half right about the sad-to-leave bit … but I also think she was scared, nervous, overwhelmed and unsure – about us. About everything.

I get that. I used to feel the same when leaving for summer camp – but I knew I was coming back. I also knew that my parents would be there… and my sisters… and my cat Bandit… and my Paddington Bear stuffy…

She had no such assurances.

We went inside, took tea (the universal, all-will-be-well-with-the-world panacea), and talked about Rani. We learned about her routine, food, toilet, and sleep habits. We learned that she loves food, drinks gallons of water a day, and is (apparently) easy going.

We also learned she has only one dislike, bordering on a phobia: cats. Are you kidding me?!? The fact we have three, well, that’s a whole different conversation…

During this exchange, Rani was with us in the room – physically there, but no sign off life. No interaction. Mr. Mohanty encouraged her to engage with us, but she was having none of it. She just stood back against the wall. Watching. Observing. No movement. No sound. She was scared out of her wits.

Ok, fast forward… after about an hour, she suddenly decided it was ok to detach from her spot of safety. She came to me. I drew her in… then I started tickling her. Everything changed.

The universal way to (involuntarily) elicit a bodily response, tickles!

She melted; soon the room was filled with laughter. She could see that it was fun. Funny. From then on, she was another little person. She decided that it was OK to warm to us. Just a little. The unbridled relief on Mr. Mohanty’s face was palpable. Poor fellow. So much pressure to find good homes for these little people – the last thing he needed was for the Meet + Greet to go sideways.

But everything was ok in the end — if it wasn’t ok, it wouldn’t have been the end…

We left, big grins on our faces.

The next day, Day 2, we returned to pick her up for good. This was it – on with the show, this was it!

Day 2: The Pick Up

On the whole, it went well – but was a little sad. Ok, a lot sad.

She was full of beans to see us again… they had prepped her well for this transition — so well that she proudly announced to all her little friends that, today, “mummy + daddy are coming to take me home”. They may be small, with little people brains, but they knew she was going… and they were staying.

She waved goodbye to her world. She was ok, as we drove away – a big smile, on her little face – but we saw tears in the eyes of her caregivers. They looked away, to the sky, as they waved goodbye…

After all, they’d been mummies to her for most of her life.

We rolled further and further away, it was then the realization hit. Rani went silent. Introspective. Something big was happening. She was leaving her community of 100+, for just two. Two rather OK substitutes – I’d like to think 🙂 – but nonetheless, just two. Change is change, and can be tough.

We put her to bed when we got back. She was whacked; she slept like a log – a log that needed rest… 12 hours of sleep!

TODAY, Day 3: We’ve had her ALL day. Yay!

All I can say is that it’s been amazing – rewarding (already) on so many levels… but rather hard work this parenting thing! Is there a magic energy pill I don’t know about? Could use one right about now…

Rani + her caregiver, Junnu

Rani + her caregiver, Junnu

Everybody's come to see what's going on...

Everybody’s come to see what’s going on…

Mark + matron

Mark + matron

Kids playing, with each other - no toys

Kids playing, with each other – no toys

And they are happy little people...

And they are happy little people…

Look, we're monkeys!

Look, we’re monkeys!




Time to say goodbye - we're not going to cry...

Time to say goodbye – we’re not going to cry…


2014: Blog #2 – The Art of Compartmentalizing (2 days + counting…)

15 07 2014

Indian OrphansI can’t compartmentalize to save my life — usually.

A stressful day melds into a restless night; a cantankerous exchange, grumps me out. Work… life… conflicts… emotions – all swirl into one. I find it terribly difficult to pull them apart and put them in their deserved spots. I let things affect me, for better or for worse.

This trip is different.

For the first time in my life, I’ve found myself completely removed from our imminent reality. We meet our new little girl in two days.

TWO days. Actually, it’s about 39 hours and 30 minutes – but who’s counting.

Here’s where I’m at: I don’t feel anything. Well, that’s not completely true. I “feel” a lot of things – it’s just that the emotions are wholly unrelated to the fact that I (we) are about to be parents.

Parenthood: that’s responsible; that’s heavy.

Maybe I’m in denial.

Have I compartmentalized it away?

Two weeks ago, we got the call to say: It’s a go. I felt elated. The time — arrived — beckoning us to shift from our nine-year place of inertia. Movement. I was over-the-moon happy.

How did I feel about the idea of parenthood? Well, of that, I did a brilliant job evading. I physically packed for our pending pursuit; I mentally side-stepped the life-altering implications of this more-than-substantial subject.

The subsequent week found us in London.

Noise, lights, shiny objects … cheerful distractions from life’s weighty ruminations. I certainly felt in London too, but the feelings were of the turistico type. I felt grand, strolling up Regent Street towards Oxford Circus; marvellous, lingering over lunch with old friends near Covent Garden; splendid, catching classical English theatre steps from Trafalgar Square’s National Gallery; energized, tripping through Hampstead Heath’s dewy fescue, on an early morning run. London – how I love thee. I felt alive!


Regent Street

Regent Street

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

Wikipedia tells us that compartmentalization is apparently meant to be a defense mechanism to shield us from “mental discomfort”. Oh no, it also claims those with borderline personality disorders use it with frequency and panache! Phew, think I’ve dodged that bullet – this compartmentalization business is a one-time deal for me. But, it’s a big deal.

If I were to have an out-of-body experience and observe myself from on high, I’d find this insulated denial-cocoon, rather bizarre (frankly, if I were to have an out of body experience, I might be forced to revisit the applicability of the personality disorder stated above, too…).

My point is: I think of what’s to come… in passing. But something inhibits a committed emotional visit, guns ablaze. Perhaps it has something to do with The Wait, to date? So many twists and turns to have made it to where we are – maybe its safer to turtle in my familiar shell, than venture down the it’s-really-really-happening road… just in case there’s another hiccup to derail the train.

Or maybe I’m frightened to go there, in case I want to stop the train mid-station. Mind the Gap.

Our world is about to change. I get that – conceptually.

I thought by now I’d be nervous, scared, anxious, uneasy — possibly apprehensive, flustered, restless or … terror-stricken?! Isn’t this what new parents usually feel? I know life’s not a comparison game – my wise friend Louise rightly reminds me so! – but I feel none of those complex, scary emotions. On the flip side, I feel serene. Sure.

When I DO think about little Rani, a million questions flutter through my cortex:

  • What will it be like to meet, the very first time?
  • Will she like us; will we like her?
  • Will she have mental/health issues coming from an orphanage environment?
  • Will she be traumatized leaving what she knows?
  • How will we communicate, speaking two different languages?
  • Practically, tactically… will she ever have worn shoes… will she ever have cleaned her teeth… will she ever have used a toilet… will she ever have been in a car… or, for that matter, on a plane (we know the answer to that)?

Maybe that’s why I’m in this self-preserving place of peace, because I can’t answer these questions.

In aggregate they overwhelm; individually, they boggle the mind.

What I DO know is that we fly to Bhubaneswar tomorrow; Thursday, we meet our daughter for the very first time.

39 hours, 30 minutes.

The train has left the station… all aboard?!?

Horton the Elephant - For Rani

Horton the Elephant – For Rani

Blogging away...

Blogging away…

What to bring?

What to bring?

Gifts for the orphanage kids.. tshirts, stickers, pencils, mini globes + my favourite.. neon-squishy balls

Gifts for the orphanage kids.. tshirts, stickers, pencils, mini globes + my favourite.. neon-squishy balls

2014: Blog #1 – India-bound (again), Adoption’s a Go!

3 07 2014

Where to begin?

How many times have we heard a modified version of the statement, “I didn’t mean to get pregnant, it just happened”? Nice!

For those of us on the other side of the baby-making fence, we’d (nearly) give our first born — so to speak — for those words to languidly roll off our collective tongues.

Our journey was different.

If you joined us during our mighty attempt at surrogacy, you might remember our 2010 India blog documenting our rocky roller coaster ride, including: substitute surrogates, agonizing injections, operating room mishaps, and rogue kitty sitters…. the last of which invited her homeless ‘binner’ boyfriend, Paul, to overnight at ours, polishing off every bottle of Scotch, Whiskey, Gin, and Vodka in sight.

We’re hopeful this auspicious trip will be more positive. It certainly won’t include needles, fertility hospitals, or action-packed narratives of Mark’s semen collection experience… (see, “And Out of Chaos Came…”). Is nothing sacred?

Our adoption journey began December 27, 2010, the same day we received the ill-fated words from our Indian fertility doctor, “I am sorry, but …”. Since then, 3 ½ years has passed… and Oh, the adventures we have had! Just a tiny glimpse into that period:

  • January 2011 – started adoption process; filled out endless India-specific forms
  • July 2011 – 6 months passed, process completed; paperwork done! Ready to submit… crap, India ‘temporarily’ closed its doors to international adoption. We were told a month. Nine months later…
  • February 2012 – doors opened; paperwork was accepted. Yay!
  • April 2012 – allocated an orphanage. Double Yay! Things were starting to move…
  • June 2012 – oops, orphanage lost its license to operate. We were told that it should take a month. Nine months later, again (hmm) …
  • February 2013 – back on track. Phew.
  • March 2013 – BY CHANCE, learnt that after all the waiting, orphanage only had older kids (8-12 years). Oh, and wasn’t allowed to move to a different orphanage. Too bad so sad, that’s the way the system rolls…
  • March –June 2013 – cried. Gave up on India. Started process for Haiti. Spent 4 months gathering paperwork. Submitted. Yay!!
    Subsequently … learned Haiti had a stupid bureaucratic adoption rule: Thou shall not be eligible to adopt from Haiti unless you’re married 10 years. We’d only been married seven.
    Dream – crushed.
  • June 2013 – cried again. Doubled back to India… this time, with a secret weapon on our side: our Indian saint of a friend, Percy Billimoria — he who makes unimaginable miracles possible. Nothing was to get in the way of his perseverance to help us. Nothing!
    Within months: we were allocated a different orphanage (housing younger children), our application was accepted, a child was “proposed” (the orphanage chose the little person), and paperwork, was – done!

Without Percy, we wouldn’t be adopting. It’s that simple.

But we are – three cheers!. We leave in less than a week. So many mixed emotions: excitement… nervousness… hope… uncertainty… wonder… anticipation…

We meet 4-year old Rani on July 17. We’re about to be instant parents. I know I know the answer, and know that most new parents must ask the same thing… but I have to put it out there: are we ready for this?

Absolutely! She says with (a little bit of) forced confidence… 🙂

2010: Blog #9 – Back in Canada / a Progress Update…

18 12 2010

It’s good to be home.

Home, where my thought’s escaping..

Home, where my music’s playing..

Home, where my love lies waiting..

Silently for me

Simon & Garfunkel (and Dorothy, for that matter) were on to something when they sang about Home. Life on the road is an adventure, and India was a series of experiences… but there’s no place like home…

Our kitties were glad to see us!  So were my parents – not only because we made it home in one piece – which is always a bonus – but because they kicked out the kitty sitter, Leigh, long before our return.  In her absence, Mum assumed double duty by twice daily visiting our place to feed our furry friends and make sure they were alive and meowing. Little did we know that our kitty sitter had gone AWOL the week before our return…

Before I launch into Leigh the Liability… first an update on our pregnancy situation.

We’re waiting.

Like the Twelve Days of Christmas (WATCH THIS – it’s funny… Indian-style Christmas Cheer), our new job is to wait twelve loooooong days from when they implanted the four little M & B embryos into lucky Surrogate #3, Leena.  We’re on about Day 9…. We should know on Tuesday or so (Dec 21), depending how long it takes them to do the blood test and get results. It’s India – we expect a delay.

Back to Leigh.

Mum kicked her out. Why? Because one day she came down to water the plants – that was her ‘cover job’, to keep an eye on our place … something didn’t feel right about Leigh before we left, but we couldn’t put our collective finger on it – and had to step over a person lying prostrate at the front entrance, fumbling through her bag for a key. Mum shook her head, asked if she was ok and continued on to our place. She’d pre-arranged to meet Leigh, so Leigh was expecting her. Mum knocked, no answer, knocked again – she finally let herself in. All the lights were on, TV blaring, fire on.. Leigh was nowhere to be seen. Ten minutes later, in stumbles Leigh – Sidewalk Exhibit A – with a fellow that mum could only describe as a “very credible Jesus look-alike” (long beard, long hair, loose baggy clothes) … you get the picture.

Leigh was plastered – stoned and/or drunk.

Mum doesn’t see Red often, but that night twelve shades of it exploded like a bomb..

She was SO kicked out. For the record, it wasn’t just that one incident, there had been others – but this was the icing on the Kitty Sitting cake.

FAST FORWARD –  Three days ago.

I was in the back alleyway behind our townhouse, about to take the garbage out. En route to the bins I stopped to fixed the wonky Christmas lights on our back fence.  Along came a street guy, pushing an old rickety bicycle, complete with a two-wheel cart.  The contraption was overflowing with bottles, pop cans, bags and stuff he kept as his “home”.

“Nice lights”, he said.

“Thanks very much”, I replied.

“I think you have a beautiful place”, he said.

“Oh… thank you”, I replied.

“I like your little kitties… hmmm.. what are their names… oh, Pogo and Penguin. Penguin can scratch, though..”

Pause, on my side. I stopped and turned to look at him full-on, “Oh, you know our cats?”

Big toothy smile on his face, genuine.. “Oh yes, I’ve come to visit them quite a bit. You’ve been away, in India I think it was – right?”

No words. Brain quickly scanned 40-years of word inventory for a response – no results found.

Pregnant pause.  I looked at this man… mid-forties, dressed in grubby jeans, soiled sneakers and a very old, well-worn blue Taiga jacket, “How do you know our cats..? What do you mean you ‘came to visit’?!”

“Oh yes”, he exclaimed with glee. “You see, I know your cat sitter… what’s her name… (“Leigh?” I whispered).. That’s right, Leigh.   Yes, I’m her boyfriend”.

Ok, we’ll end that episode there. Suffice it to say, I had to pick myself off the ground.

Apparently, Paul the Binner had been a regular house guest in our absence.

The good news is that the cats are fine… the bad news is that Leigh and Paul drank every bottle of Scotch, Whiskey, Gin, Vodka and Frangelico we had in our cupboards – averaging 1 bottle every 4.2 days – costing us about $300 on top of the $600 we already pre-paid Leigh for her ‘services’.

She also went through a lot of cat food.

Over a month, the cats should have had maybe 3 or 4 cans of the wet stuff. Nearly 2 dozen disappeared. Either the cats were mistakenly given WAY too much – or, we really hope the alternative isn’t true – they were consumed by humans..?

We’ve come to expect a little drama… but didn’t expect it to follow us from India..?!

It’s good to be home!

Our tree is up, the hearth is decorated, the presents are bought, and I’m getting more than my fill of my favourite Starbucks reduced-fat decaf eggnog lattes…

We never expect to hear from Leigh the Liability again…. and in the meantime, we patiently await the good news we KNOW is just around the corner…. 🙂

2010: #8 – The Final Cut (musings from the Operating Room) – A Fond Farewell to India!

7 12 2010

We leave India today.

What an amazing experience!

I would be remiss, and my blog would be incomplete, if I didn’t comment on the surgery. Having said that, it was a rather troublesome, raw experience…. So heed this warning now: if you’d prefer to retain a warm and fuzzy image of both India and myself, don’t read on.

It’s kind of like my “Massage” blog from Kerala last January – raw, slippery insight into the naked side of Ayurvedic treatment…

You’re about to be introduced to a visual of my private parts that you probably didn’t expect (nor want!).  But like Mark’s experience in the clinic’s famous “Semen Collection Room” – of which you’ll hear more today, if you read his latest entry – this is my reality.

So hang on to your hat if you’re interested in my ride…

Surgery is done.

I felt like a roasted, puffed marshmallow the days that followed, with a distended stomach and tender burnt bits. I’ve undergone a number of IVF procedures throughout the years –1 laparoscopy, 3 surgeries, 4 general anesthetics and a few dozen ultrasounds – to poke and prod my inner bits.  Each time I gain new respect for the pain and indignity women endure to give birth…

True to form, the procedure was as disorganized and chaotic as we’d anticipated.

To be honest, even though I’d been through it before, I was a bit nervous.  Why? Mainly because I felt alone, in a foreign land, where relatively few hospital support staff spoke English.  I had no idea what was going on.  ‘Bed side manner’ is an important byproduct of hospital care – ie: the time and attention nurses and doctors take to communicate, explain, and reassure patients throughout a procedure.  In this instance, it was painfully absent.

I cringed on arrival.

As usual, reception/treatment rooms were teeming with people.. at one point, Mark calculated about 100 – in a 600 square foot space.

I was shoved into a room with 3 other beds, told to sit on one and take off my clothes.

Before I could do so, a pink-clad nurse came along and pointed to my crotch.  I had no idea what she was asking. Then, because I didn’t get it, she bent down, opened the draw string of my pants, inserted a long skinny brown finger in the space between my tummy and the elastic of my Lululemon underwear, and pulled out the front.  She peered down into my hair.  I knew something was wrong when she wagged her head in disapproval and summoned two nearby nurses.  They came bounding over and peered down.

Who knew my bits were so interesting?

A scene from Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas flashed through my mind.. perched on his snow-capped mountain, high above Whoville, the nasty green Grinch peered down expectantly.. anxiously waiting to hear the happy little Whos cry Boo Hoo once they saw their Christmas was gone…

Ok, so these nurses weren’t expecting a response from down below – but you get the visual.

Apparently I was supposed to have shaved my bits. Nobody told me?!  They mimed for me to undress, and out came the long, 3-inch barber shop razer. I kid you not, between the three of them, they pried open my legs, inserted the Business Section of the Hindustani Times newspaper under my backside, and shaved the entire area from top to bottom – front, under, inside – all dry, with no soap and water.

Through my disbelief, I tried to ask Why? Infection, I was told.

No such belief in North America. All bits were status quo, before and after my previous operations. Perhaps these Indian hospitals and clinics see their fair share of creepy crawly bugs and lice in local bits, especially from the poor, or those who live off the streets.  Fair enough, it’s a precaution – but would have been nice to know!

As the razor repeatedly scraped the raw, parched surface, imagine the sound… nails, drawn down a chalkboard… REPEAT… nails, drawn down a chalkboard… REPEAT…

That bit hurt as much – on my ears and skin – as the operation to follow…

Once naked, I was given a horrid green gown, an ill-fitting cap and a hospital bed sheet (to wrap around me). I was marched through the lobby – for all to see – towards the elevator. Next to it was Mark, sitting on a high-backed chair, looking a little worse for wear. In passing, I leaned down to quickly whisper of my bruised and battered Brazilian Beetle Bonnet; he countered that he was as light as a feather… his “donation” was made.  My, what an adventure he’d had ..

On that note, all will be revealed in Mark’s next episode of As the Door Knob Turns..

The rest of my procedure was just as entertaining … including wheeling me up to O.R., only for staff to forget I was there.  Saline drip hooked to the horridly painful IV needle in my hand, I waited.. thinking they’d be back any minute to start. 10 mins, 20, 30.. 1 hour, 1 hour 30 mins – the clock on the wall ticked on.  My sheet gave cover – but I shivered. I was both nervous and cold.  No heat, the room was about 12 degrees.  Bad Bollywood music blasted from an iPod in the nearby “Embryologist” room. How they focus on accurately mixing and monitoring the all-sacred egg and sperm concoction, with that racket blaring in the background, is anybody’s guess. Unbelievable!

After the procedure, it was deja vu – all over again – from my Blog #7.

Remember the woman who was wheeled into reception.. half drugged, while everybody stared and attendants didn’t know what to do with her?  Couldn’t believe it, it happened to me as well… !  That’s karma nipping me in the ass – should have kept my mouth shut after witnessing the bullfrog’s grand guerney entrance.

It’s been 2 and a half days since surgery…

They bagged 14 of the little guys.. 10 made it after 1 day, with 8 surviving by today (2.5 days later) – pretty good so far!  Perhaps they’re grooving away to Bollywood tunes and having a grand old time …!  We’re hoping at least six make India’s Got Talent’s Final Cut.

Only one drama left – the good Dr.Banerjee is sick. Really sick. She hasn’t been able to speak, text or email us since Saturday… so we’re really hoping it passes quickly, or she’s got a terrific #2 Designate, because the next surgery is slated for tomorrow.  The Best of the Bunch (top 4 embryo candidates) will be chomping at the bit to settle in to Leena’s welcoming womb.

Tonight is our long flight back – a 24-hour journey via Shanghai. We’ve had a colourful experience and fully expect, with anticipation, to being back for Round Two in nine months time!

A fond farewell to India… Namaste.


2010: Blog #7 – A Trip to the Zoo.. (I mean Clinic)

2 12 2010

One of my favourite lines from a Jewel song: “There’s a big man wearing a white suit and patent leather shoes.. he wants to take his monkeys to see the kids at the zoo..”

Reversal of roles – monkeys, entertained by human foibles.

In this case, we felt like monkeys, watching a crazy scene unfold.

Today is Day 13 of treatment, we’re at the tail-end – 2 days left – with surgery slated for Saturday (10 days behind schedule.. but who’s counting..?)

For the past few days, our daily ass-jabs have been paired with a complementary tummy poke… we’re now onto two needles a day.. culminating in today’s delightful hat trick of three teeth-gnashing injections.  Tomorrow at 7am, la pièce de résistance: the paramount “Trigger Shot”. It’s the final one – woohoo! – meant to cease this hormonal madness coursing through my raging system and prepare my body for Saturday’s “egg extraction”. They expect 15 or so eggs.. an inflated bakers dozen.  Can you say battery chicken?

But I digress, back to the monkey-business.

We arrived at Adiva (the clinic) for our normal evening appointment. As usual, the place was utter mayhem. Masses of bodies.. standing, sitting and squatting in every conceivable spot.  Fluttering saris, flowing robes and tightly-wound turbans mingled harmoniously with designer jeans and Gucci bags.

Reception was overrun by loud speaking, attention-seeking patients wishing to check in, collect medicine or pay bills in cash – he who spoke the loudest, was heard. Large wads of rupees deftly changed hands.  Plenty of smartly dressed pink-uniformed staff stood idling about in the aforementioned (Blog #6) door frames, chatting companionably, occasionally dipping into the recently-filled sweetie bowl, surely intended for customers.. ?! It was a feast for the eyes!

Then came the drama.

Patient X – a large woman, possibly 300 pounds – was wheeled into reception.

Dressed in the requisite puke-green hospital-issued gown, escaping strands of hair haphazardly tucked under her ill-fitting green-mesh cap, Patient X was confused and dazed.  Recent anesthesia was slow to subside. CRACK!! The guerney groaned and buckled under her sizeable weight.

Oh My! Having little or no contact with amphibious creatures, I’m afraid this poor specimen of a green-clad women reminded me of the pickled toad I dissected in Grade 12 Biology…

Accompanied by 4 or 5 able-bodied hospital staff, they stopped in the middle of Reception. Confounded by the over-flowing Recovery Room nearby – where she was meant to be wheeled – they weren’t sure how to proceed.  They stopped, scratched their collective noggins – and frankly, some, their crotch.. it’s done here, who am I to say?! – and stood there.. thinking, searching for inspiration.

Curious reception onlookers watched. Nobody moved.

How many Indian staff does it take to transfer a post-op patient? Apparently, five aren’t enough.  Perhaps they should try screwing in a light bulb, might have more success…

Seconds morphed into minutes; Patient X realized her predicament. Haze began to fade.  She started yelling at her baffled Boys in Green: WHAT AM I DOING IN RECEPTION..? GET ME OUT OF HERE!!… then burst into tears.  Oh my. I sat there watching in disbelief – thinking ‘Poor soul’…  closely followed by a reality-check idea … ‘This had better not happen to me!’

What does Mark do?  Of course, he pulls out his iPhone to record the unhappy incident… Nice!!

Eventually they realize the trauma they have on their hands.  In care-giving concert, they move towards the recovery room, then back to the lift, then back to the recuperation room – like a bad version of an ER/Old Spice ad – then opt for the escape lift. Whisked skyward, we could hear her croaking, plaintive wail..

Ok, this is where I provide the disclaimer.

Medically-speaking, both Dr. B and the clinic are excellent!  Administratively, it’s a different story.  One senses that internal operations closely resemble the chaotic nature of the world lurking beyond this up-market, highly polished clinic’s neatly-stenciled sliding glass doors.

India: diverse, rich, varied, vibrant, colourful and complex. Efficiency, an occasional yet reluctant by-product of the infernal disarray.  The country is disorganized and fragmented, but somehow it works.

Speaking of administrative mayhem and clerical mishaps, I think we’ll know if the Embryologist confuses my bits with those from the woman’s on the stretcher…

Ribbit … ribbit ..

The baby will come out singing Kermit’s Muppet Movie theme song: “Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side…” Have a listen 🙂

On a completely unrelated non-fertile note, we’ve had an amazing time in Delhi – thanks in no small part to Percy’s unbridled hospitality! We’ve been wined and dined at one of Delhi’s most recent “it” spots, Shiro:

Invited to a chi-chi launch party – and entertained by colourful stories of infidelity by one of Europe’s foremost ambassador’s to India:

Adopted a damaged, but beautiful abandoned dog from one of Delhi’s many Animal Rescue Shelters:

Escaped to one of India’s oldest heritage resorts – built in 1464 – surrounded by a picturesque Rajasthani village full of colourfully-clad sari-wearing women:

We’ve also dealt with a shoddy lawyer who insisted on knowing English better than Mark…. and more infuriatingly, after Mark spent hours reading, reviewing and redrafting said lawyer’s grammatically inept agreement to a basic, acceptable standard… asked us to cover fees for his pompous, shabby effort.  You’ve got to be kidding?  He even insisted we sign the contracts with a thumb print, a process usually reserved for the illiterate – WTF?  From under which rock did this man crawl? Perhaps his turban was on too tight, causing restrictive reasoning and impaired judgment…?

If nothing else, it adds to our idiosyncratic, multi-layered, multi-coloured and often-wacky experience called India.

So, with four days remaining in India, our treatment is nearly done.  Surrogate Leena’s ready to roll – she’ll be removing the shingle from her rental womb in a week’s time.

The pregnancy test: December 21st….  Here’s to hoping we receive happy news and an early Christmas present from St.Nick!

If all goes according to plan, we’ll have further zoo trips in our future. Next time, however, we’ll be out to see Lions and Tigers and Bears, not prostrate gurgling bullfrogs.

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