Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 8: A Turning Point

This morning was our first attempt at eating out of the hotel room and in an actual restaurant setting. With Grammy Jill's help we thought we would attempt public eating and headed for the buffet breakfast in the hotel. :) And it went fabulous. The girls both scarfed down pancakes, eggs, and milk for breakfast.

Oh and FYI, the Ergo isn't just for leaving the hotel room either. It's miraculous at just calming the girls down throughout the day. Several times this week I've wished I could hug and kiss the inventor of the amazing Ergo. It has made all the difference for us.

Today was the girls' medical appointments to mainly get their TB screening so we can finalize the visa we can head home!
And uh, shots are no fun.

I also had the doctor check Roxie's ear for an infection and sure enough it was an earache. We left the office with an antibiotic prescription for her earache and viral medication medication for both the girls' coughs and a nasal spray for their noses. The chemist in the medical building didn't have all the meds we needed so we headed to a local pharmacy before returning to the hotel. 

While we were at the doctor torturing the girls, Jude was having ice cream with Grammy...

Today was a remarkable day. I'm not sure why, but today on our 5th full day with just us and the girls, they turned a corner. As I mentioned yesterday, they had not walked since being with us, and had only stood up twice. But today Simone decided to shimmy her way off the bed on her tummy, and stood up. She was actually in the other room with Brett and he told her to walk in the other room to see Mommy. And lo and behold there she comes waddling precariously into my room. It was one of the cutest sights my eyes have ever seen. She was so happy and so aware of her accomplishment and bravery. Just a minute later Roxie decided to stand on the floor too.
And then right before our eyes the girls just changed from babies into toddlers.
They were walking all over the room. Then they were getting into toys and suitcases.
Then all of sudden they were warming up to Brett like never before. Roxie, especially, has barely even let Brett get close to her, much less hold her. But in a matter of minutes something clicked in their little hearts and minds this afternoon.
All of a sudden we were a whole new kind of family.
Our room was loud and full of giggles and cheers and our hearts were bursting and we were just in shock at what we were witnessing.

Jude gave the girls horsey rides on his back. And I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt.

And then all of sudden Simone decided to give Grammy a hug!

After lots of giggles and new accomplishments, all the kiddos squirmed their way into Daddy's lap for snacks. This was huge for little Roxie! She had been so leery of Brett, but all of sudden Daddy is no longer scary but a comfy place for a snack.

I'm curious if tomorrow morning will be like starting from scratch, or if we'll just pick up where we left off today. Regardless, this afternoon was dreamy.
Really, as I sat here and watched the girls reach their arms up to their Daddy for the first time, and as I watched their skinny little legs waddle around the room, I thought, "How in the world did I get the two most beautiful little girls in all of India?"

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 7: Delhi and Embassy

Today was our first full day in Delhi. And I miss Kerala. Delhi is definitely a very different place. Kerala really did feel like our second home, and we were able to do so much walking and strolling and wandering. And Delhi, so far, just kinda reminds me of a much dirtier, poorer, and extremely smoggy NYC. I hope to have more of an appreciation by the time we leave, but that's still my feeling 24 hours in.

It is much cooler in the North and a nice change to the intense tropical heat from South India. Have I mentioned that Kerala is beautiful? And have I mentioned that I pretty much got no pictures of Kerala? I already can't wait to go back so we can really play the tourist role there.
The major perk about Delhi is that Grammy Jill was here waiting for us in our hotel room! We have adjoining rooms and Jude is relishing in all the attention and spoilage going on. :) She is just what we needed after a long day of flights and a new city.

We had to wake up early for our Embassy appointment today. That meant we didn't get much sleep, and we had to wake the girls up before they were ready. So, the girls were groggy and not comfortable and really would have preferred to stay in the room all day. The girls had a few little meltdowns at the Embassy, and we had to go outside to get them calmed down. Just a lot of pitiful crying, no tantrums yet. Oh and the girls have been so kind to only cry one at a time. :) No dual crying just yet.
We were at the Embassy for an hour and then headed back to the hotel relieved that we could just mellow out.

Snack time, pre-nap:

Brett snapped this during nap time. Roxie hasn't been feeling good, and I'm pretty sure it's an earache. We have our medical appointments tomorrow, so I'm hoping I can get that diagnosed and get a prescription before flying out next week.

I've had a lot of good questions come up from family and friends via email so I thought I'd give you a few fun facts about the girlies:

We were told they were potty-trained before traveling. Upon picking the girls up tho, they are in fact not potty-trained. We will deal with those shenanigans many months from now. So we've purchased diapers and are rolling with it.

Roxie cries more than Simone. ;) But I think that might be due to an earache.

The girls are wearing 12 months clothes for their tops, but for pants and leggings, 12 months are too big. I think 9 months leggings might fit better, but I didn't bring any that small.

Speaking of sizes. The girls are tiny. Itty-bitty, we gotta get some chub on them.

They've been eating great. Eating is tricky tho. We have language barriers and food issues just tend to kinda be an issue coming from life in an orphanage. They don't reach out for food or drinks and will only take anything if it's put right in their face, then they'll gulp it down. So it's kind of a guessing game when they're sometimes whiney.

They've only stood up twice since we've had them. We know they can walk because they were walking all over the orphanage the day we visited them. But now that they're here and experiencing so many changes, they want to be held and carried everywhere. I think partly because being put down on the ground in a new place is quite possibly terrifying, but also it's pretty normal for kids to do a bit of regressing when it come to things like this. So right now they feel comfortable being carried everywhere and we're all going to soak this up and make up for lost time. The "experts" think this is okay, and we think it's really okay and are lovin' it.

They are liking all the pureed baby/toddler squeezer foods we've brought. My goal was to start pumping their little bellies with nutrition on day one. We figured out they prefer them cold, so we're keeping the little squeezers in the hotel mini-fridge.

They weren't given milk at the orphanage, but we've been giving it to them every morning and evening, and they LOVE it. They gulp it down like it's chocolate.

They suck their thumbs to go to sleep.

We've been doing little sponge bathes in the hotel sinks for the girls. However, we attempted a bath in the tub tonight (our Kerala hotel just had a shower). I had them on my lap, sitting on the edge of the tub, and Simone was super precious and super brave as she stretched one little leg so that just her toes touched the bubbles. We sat there for a few minutes as Simone just dipped her toes. Jude got in, then Simone put her whole foot, then she stood. She stood for quite awhile and played with the bath toys. Roxie was not having any of it. So eventually I just plopped myself in the tub with Roxie in my lap, clothes and all. I hadn't planned on getting in the tub or I would have put on my swimsuit. So there I was sitting in the tub, bathing my girls with my clothes on. Just loving my life....while Grammy took pictures. Hee hee. Roxie screamed nearly the whole time.

The girls have absolutely no concept of sharing. It is every girly for herself here. Doing things like reading books together or doing a puzzle together, they just won't do it. One of them has to be holding and hoarding the toy. Oh boy we're going to have to work on that. Lots of screaming and pushing and yanking and hugging toys very tightly.

Other than Roxie's possible earache, we're all doing great. There are the coughs and some runny noses, but that's nothing new to us. Jude is especially doing much better.

Hopefully for the next post we will have photos of Delhi: we left our cameras and phones at the hotel today because the embassy doesn't allow them inside. More adventures tomorrow.

Day 6: Flying to Delhi

This is Brett writing again.
This was our Thanksgiving Day. It was a day mostly in transit. We had to say our final goodbyes to Kerala and left for New Delhi.

Here's a little a glimpse of the little girls jabbering and playing each morning on the big bed.

The Gateway Hotel was wonderful and will always be associated with our first nights getting to know our girls. All the staff from room service to the pool guy to the guards at the front gate were extremely warm and hospitable. The restaurant was consistently fantastic. And in the hotel's defense, we made a crack in an earlier post about the pool being strangely 'emerald' in color. That's just because the floor is painted green not blue. So, if anyone is planning a trip to India just to explore, you have to visit Kerala (beautiful, tropical, relaxing), and you have to stay at the Gateway in Calicut.

At the Kozhikode/Calicut airport with our coordinator Minal saving us from drowning in kids and luggage. The airport experiences were mostly effortless. There are a couple more screenings and checkpoints at Indian airports, but it still takes less time and is less frustrating than the TSA.

Jude was pretty excited about a tractor hauling around baggage carts in Calicut.

First selfie with Simone. We only condone suckers for babies when we're afraid of little ears tightening up on airplane rides.

Roxie digging in on Harv's airplane junk food. Don't worry we mostly swapped out the Pringles for locally fried banana chips (a Kerala specialty).

 Fuzzy and exhausted kind of characterized our Thanksgiving afternoon and evening.

We were met right outside baggage claim at Delhi airport by our hotel driver and greeted very officially by two guys in suits from the Delhi airport authority. They welcomed us and referred to the Hilton driver as their "colleague." We aren't really sure what all that was about; we think it's a way the hotel reassures arriving Westerners that the chauffeur is legit.

Grammy Jill was here at the hotel waiting, refreshed and ready to play with Harv.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 5: Last full day in Kerala

Today we got to take it easy again, and the girls slept a lot. We've been told and read much about children coping with such a monumental change, and it seems sleeping is a common coping strategy. Our girls slept about 13 hours last night, then after being awake for just about 3 hours, they slept for  another 2.5 hours of nap.

We gave them bananas after waking up this morning, but they just held them for a very long time during cuddles...

Daddy was taking pictures of the girls, and Jude said he wanted to be in the picture too...

Okay so we have a bit of a throwing problem. The girlies love to throw toys. And little Roxie makes this little face after she's thrown a toy and Mommy says "no no." It's really cute, but ahem, we can't throw our toys...We'll work on that, but bystanders may be injured by flying objects in the mean time.

We went back to the orphanage to pick up papers and let the caretakers have a proper goodbye. This really isn't typical, and we were kinda dreading it...not really sure how the girls were going to react and we expected a long evening of recovery from the trauma of taking them from the people they love (again.) It has been so very clear the nuns have lavished love and affection on our girls the last 2 years...It just makes for hard goodbyes. So we put the twins in baby carriers, and they did really well considering. They saw each of their caretakers and neither of the girls reached out to them, or squirmed to get out of the carrier (like we anticipated) but each had their little moment of crying (Roxie the most.) One caretaker in particular, a woman in her 50s named Mary, had a really loving relationship with them. It was most difficult for the girls to see her. She only stuck around for maybe a minute because it seemed much more difficult for her than the girls to say goodbye. It was hard. Mary is an answer to much of my sleepless nights and most of all my prayers. I am indebted to her beyond words or thank you's.
Overall, we stayed about an hour and got a little tour of the facility. Jude was extremely frustrated by all the women and nuns touching his face and hair. He finally got happy when we spent time with the other kids at the little playground.

There was a group of university students there during our visit. Through some broken English we were told they were there to "learn." They all wanted their picture taken with Brett, so we did the same and took their picture...(and a cute little photo bomber at the bottom of the picture.)

Our girls leaving the orphanage for the very last time...

Have I mentioned it's HOT here? After Brett took off the baby carrier, there was a little outline of Simone on his shirt. Hee hee...

After returning to the hotel from the orphanage a sweaty mess, the boys went for a dip in the pool, while the girls cleaned up and watched the sunset over the ocean. It was an unexpectedly beautiful, calming evening.

The kiddoes are sleeping soundly now.
Roxie has her arm draped over Jude's face. Such a great big brother...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 4: A Day Just For Us

Today we had no appointments or obligations. It was just hanging out in the hotel room, playing, and enjoying the snuggles and giggles. 

The girls' cheerios snack turned into sensory play with the stacking cups. The bed was covered in cheerios when it was all done. We were so okay with the mess, especially if we got to see a little glimpse into their little brains and creativity. 

We played mostly on the bed and the girls tended to scoot backwards and lean against the pillows. I think they liked the view from there. 

The girls are just 2 years old but they have the Indian head bob down and it is the cutest thing you've ever seen. ...and I think they know I think it's the cutest because they do it to get smooches now. :)

Around 3:00 we decided to take a walk. The beach is a 5 minute walk from the hotel so we thought that was a good goal. It was our first time getting out the door with 3 kiddoes. ;) It took us a while, but we made mental notes on how to improve and also insight into what the girls need.

We quickly realized the girls have to be attached to us when we leave our hotel room. If they're not attached to us, they are terrified. The look in their eyes as they scream and squirm is really sad. Just the walk from our room to the elevator sent them over the edge. We went back into the room, both of us put on the Ergo and they settled down instantly. Both girls are really scared/timid of men. I just think they were never around men, at all. So this was a great little outing for Simone to be attached to Brett. It was still scary for her, and not her ideal, but it was tremendously better than the stroller.

 The beach turned out to not be that fun. 1.) The HEAT. It is tropical and steamy...and we had babies attached to us. We were all a sweaty mess from head to toe and we were only out for about 45 minutes. 2.) We got stares before we had the girls with us around town. But now that the girls are with us, people are really confused and focused on us. Not only is it strange to have us walking down their streets, they are really interested in us now. So at the beach we truly had every single person stopped, facing our direction and pointing. Everyone. Every eyeball was on us. In no way was anyone nonchalant about the staring or pointing. It made us a little uncomfortable.

Brett snapped this picture tonight around 6:20. Everyone needed attention at the same time. Jude was cuddled up on my lap and both girls were crying. It was sad, but it was also funny. 

And this is the really funny thing, the picture below is of the kids at around 6:25 pm. We were all playing and doing our thing and talking about dinner, when from the picture above, I fell backwards and instantly they all fell asleep. It was weird and funny and we were like, "So what just happened?" "Are they asleep for the night?" "No one's in their pj's. We didn't do baths."

So we did what any sane parents would do. We ordered room service while the kiddoes slept. This going to sleep at 6:30 thing could mean cartoons or books at 3:00 am.
And um, we're kinda like addicts when it comes to Indian cuisine. Here we are in India, and every single meal is delicious and perfect. These are Vada pav, and they are actually typical Mumbai street food. And they are a great way to end a great day.

Tomorrow is another laid back day. We need to pick up some more documents at the orphanage and the caretakers didn't get a proper goodbye. (We pulled the girls out of the van late at night last night after the horrendous and long drive from Wayanad.)
Jude is still struggling with some kind of sickiness. It gets worse at night, and that's when his fever climbs. We're hoping the worst is behind us with his cold. But all the kids actually have coughs so we think all the germs will just pass amongst us all and we won't be clear of colds till spring. I suppose that's how it goes with 3 small kids under one roof though. ;)