Saturday, 29 October 2011
Beau is 14 weeks old on Sunday, and we finally made it home after 12 weeks! The last 2 weeks at home have been amazing. As we haven't blogged for ages, I've uploaded a random selection of photo's from the last couple of weeks.
After 10-11 weeks, I received an email to say that Beau's passport had been printed in the UK and was finally on its way to Delhi. By 12 weeks it still hadn't arrived, when I got a call to say please come to the British High Commission. When I arrived, I was told that the passport had be found, in PAKISTAN!!!!!! They sent it from the UK to the wrong country!!!! I could do nothing but laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. Because the diplomatic postal service all has to go via London, I was told it would take at least 2 weeks to get the passport redirected to Delhi, so they issued beau an emergency travel document on the Tuesday. Adam had left the week before to set up the new flat in Venice, so it was so exciting to know that we were a matter of days away from being together as a family again.
I used the Wednesday to prepare all my paperwork for the MHA/FRRO exit visa, visited the MHA Thursday and the FRRO Friday. The senior gentleman on the 'In Charge' desk in the FRRO looked at all the paperwork and said they was happy all my documents were in order and they would not be doing an investigation (which was clearly a relief as this can be another 10 days), but as far as I understand, some senior director at the MHA now has to sign all exit visas involving surrogacy (not the guy at the In Charge desk as before). However, he was out for the day, and 'might' be back at 4pm. Given that this was a Friday, I had a flight booked for that evening, it was a real worry that he wouldn't come back to work at that time on a Friday and I would have to wait until Monday, but PRAISE BE, he decided to come back to his office, sign the exit visa and we was all ready to do our last minute packing and head home!!!!!
On reflection, it wasn't quite so bad as it felt at the time, but between getting the exit visa and sitting on the plane, it felt like the scene in the Truman Show where Jim Carey was trying to leave town and everyone around him was trying to stop him! On check-out, my credit card wouldn't work, and I spent ages arranging my sister to pay the bill from the UK. When all was in order, they suddenly decided to add about US$50 worth of minibar charges to the bill that had already been paid. This took about an hour and plenty of shouting to resolve. When I got to the airport, I was told that there was a problem with Beau's ticket and Imight have to buy a new one (another hour at the ticket desk arguing, eventually resulting in Swiss Air realizing the ticket was actually fine.) By that time the bassinet seats had been taken.
The queue for immigration was now huge, and although I was dreading the passport inspection, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. The guy behind the desk obviously asked where the mother was, to which I replied that my son was born through a surrogacy arrangement. He asked if I had any court orders, which I explained that court papers were not necessary. I gave him the signed 'No Objection' document from the SM, and he went off to check this with a senior customs/immigration official who I noticed gave it a quick skim read and said everything was ok. I am presuming that every immigration inspector at the desk might not quite understand surrogacy, but clearly their managers do, so even if they do go off to make some inquiries, it's not such a big deal, they are only doing their jobs and the reality of the situation will soon become clear...
My final 'just laugh' situation was when it was time to board the plane, a member of Swiss Air staff offered to help carry my many cabin baggage items to the plane. On the way, she asked where the mother was and I kindly advised her that I have been asked that question every 10 minutes for the last 12 weeks, so hopefully she won't be offended if I really can't be bothered to explain. She then offered to 'tell all cabin staff that we have a passenger on board traveling without a child's mother, so female staff might need to help feed and change the baby.' I declined her offer, and she looked very worried, asking me 'But what if he cries, what if he needs feeding, what if he needs a nappy changing?' She was extremely surprised to hear me say that I could actually manage all of those situations and will manage just fine. As frustrating as I find this presumption, I can only put it down to cultural difference and she was actually trying to be as helpful as possible.
But we were by now finally on the plane, I wouldn't have cared if we had to stand the whole way home! Beau was amazing on the flight, he cried once for about 30 seconds, but as it was an 8 hour flight leaving at 01:15AM, he sept for nearly all of it, waking to feed then go straight back to sleep. We had a quick 1.5 hour layover in Zurich, then a short 1 hour flight to Venice. Adam met e at the airport which was fantastic, and a 30 minute boat ride and we were home!!!!!!
Living in Venice is not the easiest place to have a baby, such as taking the pushchair out in a city with 409 bridges, but definitely has it's benefits with children as it's completely car fee, extremely safe, and the air is very fresh and clean. Venetians make me smile as the don't like to make a big deal about things, and its very impressive to see a mother with 3 or 4 kids and a pushchair laden with 4 or 5 bag of shopping on the back of her babies' stroller single handedly crossing an extremely steep bridge with small steps on the 'school run' declining all help from passers by. It's just the way it is here, you just deal with it without complaining, and it's just a small price to pay to live somewhere so beautiful. We have been using the Baby Bjorn carrier far more than the stroller, but we have been out for 'bridge crossing practice' on the realization that he's getting heavy and we're going to have to use the pushchair far more fairly soon. He's so happy here, he just loves being outside taking in all the crowds and scenery, and he revels in all the attention people give him as Venice is very much a baby-loving city.
Huge aplogies to all those who haven't hard from us for a while, looking forward to catching up on everyone else's blogs. At times we felt we would never get home, but of course we did and as hard as it sometimes was, we are already thinking about when we might do this all again in Delhi. We are hoping that SCI will do an new egg cycle with our same ED, and freeze the embryos so that Beau has genetically related siblings for our future family expansion. In the mean time we just adore our life with him, his smile, his squeeky noises that will soon be laughter, and his beautiful eyes that stare at you all the time.