The Madness in Mumbai

By now, many of you have seen the news and heard about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay), India that occurred around 9pm our time last evening. Matt has been working diligently with his colleagues here in Chennai as well as with the other Consulates/Embassies in India. He was on the phone, e-mail, and watching the news until 3am last night, and then back awake at 6am when the phones and e-mails started coming in again. I won't lie... it's a scary situation here as the Indian authorities were not prepared for such a well orchestrated attack.

I have already received countless e-mails and messages asking if we're okay, how close we are, and if we're in any danger. Thank you all for your concern... we're doing fine, albeit quite a bit tired.

We are approximately 1000 kilometers from Mumbai ~ about a 2 hour flight away. While the chaos does not directly affect us now, the magnitude of the attacks will be felt throughout the entire country as hotels begin beefing up their security, Consulates/Embassies take an even stronger stance on screening, and people become acutely aware of their surroundings. Our quiet post of India is quickly moving more towards the threat levels that we saw in Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately, our Thanksgiving dinner was directly affected as our host left early this morning for Mumbai... the unfortunate nature of the business. We will still celebrate with his family later today. During this holiday season we give thanks for many things... right now the most important being our close-knit community and our friends which have become our family.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours... with love from afar.

As you can see Mumbai is on the western coast,
and Chennai is on the south eastern coast



I've been MIA again this past week, though I do have a great excuse... Riley brought home a horrible head cold that hit our house like a ton of bricks. She got the hacking cough and runny nose, while I got the cough and lost my voice. We've been battling this for almost a week, though it hit it's peak over the weekend and kept us house-bound the entire day Saturday and half of Sunday. I won't complain too much, as it was relaxing just laying on the couch and watching movie after movie. The only bummer is that I can't take anything for my cold!

Speaking of pregnancy, let me tell you a little bit about what it's like to be pregnant here in India. How can I put this delicately? Um... it's not fun. Let me rephrase that. If you've never been pregnant in the United States or in any other country that practices 1st world medicine, than you may not be as disappointed as I am. However, I had two very positive, clean, above-par experiences both in New Jersey with Riley and in Muscat, Oman with Sheridan, and here I cringe every time I have to go to the doctor.

The Consulate recommended an OB/GYN who does have experience training in the United States, but after my very first appointment it was obvious that she has little experience with high risk ladies. What do I mean by high risk? Thyroid issues, several miscarriages, several surgeries/procedures, complications from one of the surgeries that affected fertility, vein issues, advanced maternal age (yup that's what they call me) and a bevy of medications to maintain the pregnancy, all of which are documented with the never-ending amount of blood work that I've had done over the past year, along with the protocol from the OB/GYN I saw this past summer.

On my first visit to see her, I presented her with copies of everything, and explained my previous two years drama. Before even examining me she told me that I should stop taking all of my medication, and that everything is "fine." Really? She hadn't even done as much as take my blood pressure, and she know that I'm fine? With an entire waiting room outside filled with ladies who are concerned that they need to eat saffron to ensure that their babies are light skinned, she's now a clairvoyant who can look at me and tell I'm just "fine." With a population of over 1 billion people, an abundance of freaky disabilities, a high infant mortality rate, malnutrition, and her entire idea of prenatal care is to tell me "relax" and I'm "fine." Clearly we're not starting out on the right foot.

In my 8 or so appointments I've had with her or her staff members, they have yet to follow any of the ACOG (American College of OB/GYN's). No blood work has been done, none of the obligatory blood pressure or urine tests, no baseline exams. While the waiting room is relatively clean, you don't even want me to begin explaining what the bathrooms are like - or how I had to roll up my pants today when I had to go. Or better yet, how they use one plastic sheet on the table for everyone in the ultrasound room. They don't change them - or even flip them over! Or the smells... and how there's no air conditioning... and the pregnant nose is an overly sensitive nose. I'm always on the verge of gagging on the odors. On my last visit I got so upset that I had several choice words for her, the incompetence, the way she runs her practice, and then stormed out of the office... though not before noticing this sign and snapping a photo (thankfully I had my camera with me). It was all too fitting for that moment.

In a city of over 7 million people, I'm sure there has to be at least one other doctor who I can trust. We'll see... In the meantime, it's a good thing that we didn't want to find out the sex of the baby. Obviously they wouldn't even tell me if we wanted to know!


The Weight Has Now Shifted From My Shoulders To My Abdomen

Wow, what an overwhelming response I received from our latest news. Thank you to all who commented and sent me a personal note. My inbox is overflowing, so please understand that it may take me awhile to get back to everyone. Not surprisingly, almost everyone correctly identified the little alien (except my uncle who thought it was a puppy... wink wink). It sure feels great including everyone in on our little secret, though I've been so tight lipped about it that it feels weird to finally let the cat out of the bag. As most of you know, this has been a long road to get here, so we're cautiously optimistic that everything will continue to go smoothly.

Obviously I've received a bevy of questions, so let me try to answer a few of them.

  • I just started my 2nd trimester and am due in mid-May.
  • I had and still have morning sickness, which is actually all-day sickness. I have been nauseous, tired, hormonal, and anxiety stricken for the past 3 months. Luckily, Matt has taken the girls every Saturday and Sunday so I could lay on the couch and rest. He's also been great at showing up to events without me, always coming up with a great excuse as to why I wasn't there. We really haven't had a single date night or outing in over 2 months on the weekends ~ and when we have gone out, we've gone home early as I'm so crocked that I need to crash out. Notice my updates have slowed down... now you know why.
  • We waited to tell the girls and our parents until we received the results from my 1st trimester screening (which we finally picked up last Saturday). We told the girls on Saturday night... and their response was priceless. Matt asked them if they wanted a brother or a sister - to which Riley responded quickly, "a brother!!!". Sheridan followed up by saying, "I want 2 brothers." We then told them that mommy has a baby in her tummy. Riley came over, lifted my shirt and wanted a good look. Sheridan just looked over and seriously asked us if it's a girl, if we could put it back.... and would we please turn the TV back on.
  • We will NOT be finding out the sex of the baby. We didn't know with either of the girls ~ we love the surprise. We'll be happy with whatever we get... we just hope for a healthy baby.
  • I will be delivering the baby in Newport Beach, California. The maternity care here in India is just "at par"... and while I'm well aware that this country delivers babies every-single-minute of every-single day, I won't be joining in. I am too high risk and already clash with the OB/GYN and her unfamiliarity with how to handle a high risk pregnancy (which I will detail in a later post).

In subsequent updates I'll detail what it's been like to be pregnant in a 3rd world country. Some of the things I've heard and information I've seen here has been mind boggling. For now, I need to go. The ice cream is calling.


I've Had an India Week

I'm still surprised that it took this long to have my first India week... which in plain English means a pretty frustrating week. Make that Frustrating with a capital "F". It was a real doozy of one and I'm so glad it's over. Thank goodness it's Friday... with a capital TGIF.

The quick recap of the week...

* Maintenance came by to let us know that we're FINALLY (another 'F' word) getting the breakfast bar put in the kitchen. Only 3 months after the fact. But whatever... it's getting done right? They've already had the contractor come out to measure at least twice, with me there adding my 10 Rupees to make sure it's made to my correct specs. Well the contractor came by again on Monday to take the final measurements to start getting the granite cut and the stainless steel legs sized correctly. So when they came out yesterday to start chopping, cutting, gutting, and making a total mess of my kitchen, I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised that the frame for the breakfast bar was 8 inches too high. The kids would have had to eat at the table while standing on their booster chairs. It took a lot of explaining, loud mutterings under my breath, my maid who speaks Tamil, and several phone calls to the maintenance department to get the contractor to cut the legs down and re-size everything. I was gone all day and came home after my cooking class to a newly re-sized table, already cemented into the new granite floor, still several inches to high. I lost my energy to fight this battle. The kids are just going to have to sit up really straight and hope that they can eat off this new table.

* The maintenance department also has to replace our bathtub as there's a large hole in the floor and it's leaking who-knows-where. I asked that if while they're at it, they would get us one more plastic stopper for one of the sinks in the master bathroom, as its just a gaping hole with an open drain. They told me that they've looked everywhere for one, that they just can't find one, so instead of ordering one from the States, they're just going to give us two new sinks. HUH??? Two new sinks? I just need one little $1 stopper so that I don't have to worry that anything will fall down the hole into never-never land. I don't need a new sink, or even two. Their rationale? They need to make the bathroom consistent, so they'll replace both sinks which will have built-in stoppers, thus reducing my problem of needing one large, plastic stopper. Oh, and while they're replacing the sink, they're going to replace the granite counter tops too. Because that's not a total waste of money... and time... not to mention the incredible mess and inconvenience that I'll have in my bathroom. And since the bathroom is so small, they won't be able to do both the bath tub and the sink at the same time.

* I received an e-mail from our internet company yesterday telling me that I owed money. Really? Because I prepaid four months in advanced, and by my calculations and installation notice, I shouldn't owe a Rupee until December 1st. This debacle escalated when I received a phone call today telling me my internet would be shut off on the 16th. Oh no it won't... I mean, it probably will just because it ALWAYS goes out on Sunday just because it's India... and it can. After many phone calls, e-mails, and extreme frustration as I spent several hours researching where the mistake was made, the situation was resolved at 4:30 pm today. Of course, this was after a another small handful of hair turned gray and my blood pressure rose after I was transferred from customer service person to customer service person, all telling me that I was wrong. Not the right choice of words for them to use with a woman already on the edge.

* On the positive side, Sheridan had a field trip this past Wednesday and my driver drove her and two other kids (who were belted in my car in car seats) to the nature reserve (Parents were NOT invited to attend.) Apparently after I made such a stink about Sheridan's car safety rules, the school didn't try to put any other kids in my car without car seats. However, my driver told me that every other car was stuffed with 6 or 7 people each... all with no car seats or seat belts.

* We're half-way through the cooking class. This week we made peanut butter cookies - with the easiest recipe known to man! 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg... Stir, roll into balls, roll in sugar, press with a fork, and then cook on 375 for 8 minutes. The kids loved them... and so did I!

* The week did end on somewhat of a high. I went to a ladies-only poker night, where we learned how to play Texas Holdem, and had an absolute ball. There were 10 of us who showed up, and the host made a big pot of chili for dinner while we all brought sides or desserts. We clapped and cheered the winner of each hand, and even tried to help each other whenever possible. We played until 10 pm, when most of us turned into pumpkins, and decided to call it a night.

* We're going to do a re-take of our holiday photo on Sunday. Our goal is to get Sheridan to smile nicely in just ONE photo... if that's even remotely possible. Wish us luck!

Getting the wall ready to cement in the granite. The finished product
(minus a few odds and ends that they need to fix on Monday)

My current sink... and a photo of the plastic stopper that I need for my side.
Can we say, "Home Depot" or "Lowe's"

Ladies Poker Night - I took the photo... which was perfect because I'm having a bad hair month!


The Cats Meow

I am DONE with Halloween. Seriously. If I could just convince Riley's school that having two parties .... two days in a row .... a week after Halloween .. is a bad idea....

Yesterday the kindergarten class put on a Halloween carnival, complete with games, food, treats, and vomit. Oh yes, Riley was in mid-sentence with the teacher when she proceeded to puke all over herself and the floor. It happened at the end of the day, and since I was at school for our cooking class, she stayed and managed to put on a brave face while making individual pizzas (which she did not eat). She was quite ill the entire drive home from school, and even held a plastic bag under her mouth just in case she got sick again. Luckily, we made it into the house before she did vomit one more time, though at this point, all she was concerned about was being well enough to dress up in her costume the next day. "We'll see," was all I was able to tell her.

She woke up late today, feeling much better, so we decided that I would drive her after I dropped Sheridan off at school. I had volunteered to come into her class today with Halloween shaped cookies that the kids could decorate with colored frosting. They had a great time picking out their designs and then painting them with sugar and sprinkles. What I thought would take just an hour to complete managed to take two, which unfortunately left me no time to go home, get lunch, and anything done before the afternoon elementary costume parade. Instead, I stopped by MacDonald's , ordered lunch for me and Sheridan, picked her up from school, and went back to Riley's school to help get her in her costume and ready to enjoy her final Halloween party. She decided she wanted to be a black kitty cat, complete with whiskers and cat ears. Of course, I left it until the very last minute and was up late last night sewing cat ears, while whining and griping to Matt. Thankfully the end result left Riley grinning from ear to ear - literally. Not my best work, but to a 5 year old whose entire idea of dressing as a cat consists of wearing black and white cat ears (however they stay on her head) it was perfect.

The parade was adorable. The elementary principle escorted the kids around the school for all of the parents and classes to see. Riley was 2nd in line, and one would think the entire parade revolved around her. She really thought she was the cats meow. I snapped several photos of her, and then promptly left. It had been a long day at school and I was ready to go home.

Until next year...

The finished cookies


Happy Halloween!

Yesterday we attended the Consulate's annual Halloween celebration, complete with children's games, trick or treating, and lots of candy. Riley and her friend Carter decided to both go as Superboy and Supergirl, while Sheridan couldn't decide between a ballerina or a princess. Thankfully both of their costumes were easy this year, though we're about done with the recycling (if you don't already know, Sheridan's princess dress was worn by Riley for the past 3 Halloween's... thus helping me get all of our money's worth out of it).

The children's games kept the girls occupied for over an hour and included coloring Halloween pictures, decorating pumpkins (well they were really papayas) and playing the well known game of "Pin the Bindi on the Witch". The kids then all lined up and went trick or treating around the Consulate, hauling in a good amount of candy. Lucky for us, we didn't need to go through each individual piece and see if it was okay... most of it was being taken directly out of the brand new boxes right in front of us.

We finished off the day with a fun dinner with friends and are finally recovering from the girls sugar high.

Shhhhh... don't tell the girls, but I totally pilfered through their bags after they went to bed and took out my favorite candies! I feel so much like my dad....

Barely getting a smile out of the girls... though they'll always laugh with friends

The Consulate kids ... Pin the Bindi on the Witch

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