By: Kerrie Olejarz
The next day we were feeling refreshed after all the previous days’ excitement. It was now Thursday and Cailyn’s passport was not ready. It was a tad frustrating, but we had faith that all would continue on track, and we would be home in less than a week. Thursday evening we headed to the mall to meet up with some girls from Australia. We met Kim in December when we were in Delhi for IVF. She was there waiting for the birth of her first surrogacy baby. She was here again having had a second try at the process and had twins! Her twins came early and were in the Newborn Centre, gaining strength. She was fortunate to have two wonderful friends come with her, and also with her was the baby that was born last December, a gorgeous little red haired girl. The evening was a lot of fun and we enjoyed a great meal and company. Shortly after 9 pm we grabbed a cab and made our way back to the BnB. Cailyn was just so easy to socialize with and everyone enjoyed meeting her. We loved every every second of her, every little breath. We were anxious to get home, but really took this time away to enjoy being a family, unencumbered for just a short while. Our daily routine included the wonderful task of hand washing the day’s laundry and hanging it up to dry. We were so happy that we had brought muslin blankets for the baby as these dried in a snap and were always clean and fresh! That evening after the fun of laundry, we settled in and said a little prayer that our passport would be ready in the morning. Sweet dreams and an early rise meant a quick and early call to the High Commission. The news was great: our temporary passport was ready for pick up! We quickly called our immigration liason who was happy to hear that and managed to grab us an appointment at the MHA office for 10:30am. We now had to get into high gear and get this show on the road! As we entered the dining room for breakfast we were surprised to see it raining really hard outside –not just raining –flooding in the streets! Every one was outside walking in the rain, enjoying what could be the last of the monsoon rains. We expected our driver at any moment and were ready, waiting at the front door with baby bag packed and baby. Five minutes went by, ten minutes went by, fifteen! We called Rahul the driver service owner who said the car was on its way, hang tight. Finally, almost one hour later, our car arrived! We were stressed, knowing that we would be late, or possibly miss our Indian government appointment. Once loaded in the car, we got a slap of monsoon reality; the streets were knee deep with running water. Traffic was snarled, jammed beyond comprehension. Our driver made every effort to weave in between rickshaws, cars, and pedestrians. The streets were like rivers, water was flowing downhill at a fast pace, and the backsplash from the vehicles must have been ten feet high! Our stress and anxiety was gone, and we laughed at how late we were and how the rain and road conditions were not going to improve in the immediate future. Finally, after 2 hours, we arrived at the High Commission. We were officially two hours late for our Indian government appointment and made a quick call to our liaison who said “HURRY!”, and that we did. Security at the High Commission recognized us and we were speedily processed and quickly hustled in the rain to the main building. We were immediately passed the passport through the prison-style drawer in the bullet proof glass. Record time, in and out! We called our driver to come get us, and he arrived quickly. While we waited for him outside the High Commission grounds, the armed guards were standing with us, trying to stay dry. We asked if they would take a picture with us and one of the gents agreed. Mark first, holding Cailyn and her passport with the armed guard who took it upon himself to wrap his arms around Mark! When it was my turn, I told him how his machine gun or rifle, whatever it was, terrified me. He was kind and tucked it off to the side of his body and we took our picture together, sans touching. You see, men in India hold hands, walk arm in arm and are very public with their embraces of friendship. On our first trip to Mumbai we just assumed that there was a large gay population, but we were wrong. It made sense that the guard was comfortable to wrap his arm around Mark and not me. Our driver pulled up and we were off to the Green Park area of New Delhi to pick up our liaison. This area was either on higher grounds, or had a better sewage and drainage system, as the roads were clear –wet, but clear. We called our liaison and she made her way down to the car and we were off to the MHA! We were going to be almost three hours late and even though we worried it may be rescheduled, we had our girl with us who would do everything she could to get us into the appointment, better late than rescheduled!
Hauz Khaus market area was beautiful, lush, green and quiet. We enjoyed our time there; we ate bagels and cream cheese and peeked in the beautiful vintage shops. We were not there to shop, just enjoy the day as a family. The outside of the market area contained the tombs of a ruler from the 1300’s, and these were a beautiful sight, so rich in history. On the weekend we headed to Select Citywalk Mall. This is a ginormous western style mall with high end stores like Rayban, Mac Cosmetics and Crocs. Mark was desperate for a hair cut, and decided to avoid the barbers at the side of the road with rusty razors and try out a proper salon at the mall. He ended up with a great haircut for less than six bucks! We cruised the mall and had some coffee, enjoying the air-conditioning and keeping busy. Monday we were booked to have family photos taken at Lodi Gardens, but, being that it was monsoon season, we ended up postponing until Tuesday with hopes the skies would clear. Since it was raining on Monday, we decided to grab a rickshaw and head to McDonalds for breakfast. It was barely raining and was quite fun to strap Cailyn into the Blue Celery sling and boot out for breakfast. McDonalds in India is very similar to what we know in North America. The obvious difference is the absence of beef, and all beef is replaced by chicken or a vegetarian alternative. We had the pancake breakfast and Egg McMuffins, coffee and juice. The cost for breakfast was nominal, and the end result is the food tasted the same, and sadly, settled into our bellies the same as it would at home! We spent the rest of the day at the BnB, enjoying our baby girl and relaxing. That evening we spent some time with Rahul from Western Taxi Services. He was in the process of creating a business website and wanted our help to ensure his English wording was understandable. Rahul stayed a short time and then it was time for wine! Our Irish neighbours brought their baby boy out to the living room and we cracked open a bottle of Australian wine and enjoyed the babies and the company. This continues to be a very fond memory of ours, spending time with this family, and enjoying conversation. We checked the weather and it looked like Tuesday would pan out nicely for out photo shoot. We were super excited to do this and had bought Cailyn a very adorable dress at Monnalisa in the mall. After the wine I pulled out my sewing kit and shortened the little shoulder straps on the dress so that it fit Cailyn perfectly for our pictures. Since this was Labour Day at home, we were able to have some Skype time with friends and family to catch up on all that had been going on both in India and at home. Tuesday we awoke to a nice day and firmed up with our photographer that we were still on and set our meet time for around 10:00am. Rahul’s driver got us to the correct entrance gate at Lodi Gardens and met up with Tim the photographer. As we entered the park we were taken aback at how beautiful it was, how lush and green and the historic tombs and monuments standing tall in historic glory. We ended up taking most of our pictures with the monuments in the back ground. It was so muggy that day, I would think the humidity was at 90%! It was a task to hold Cailyn and pose for the pictures as we were all very dewy and sweaty from the humidity and heat. Tim was so great to work with, he was patient with us as we juggled a sweaty baby, and also aware that we were limited for time due to having a baby out in this heat. We ended up getting a good 50 pictures in the gardens and then Tim suggested that we head back to his home to do some individual shots of Cailyn. At Tim’s house we had such a wonderful time watching our very alert little girl pose for pictures. In between some shots we gave her a feed and a diaper change and eventually she was just tuckered out and needed her sleep. As we departed for the day it started to rain, which made for a lengthy car ride back to the bed and breakfast. When we finally made it back we received a call from the Canadian High Commission asking for some further detail on Mark’s employment. We were optimistic that we would get Cailyn’s passport on Thursday morning as we had an appointment scheduled with one of the Indian government offices. Later in the evening, Tim sent us a few samples of the day’s pictures and we were more than impressed. We now had four beautiful pictures to share on our blog and with family. Baby Cailyn looked so gorgeous in the pictures and they just melted our hearts. Wednesday morning we awoke to the awful news that there had been a terrorist attack in New Delhi, outside the Delhi High Court. All the TV channels were engaged in the activity with speculation of what had happened and who was responsible. We were fortunate that we were about twenty minutes away from this location, but it still was unnerving to know this had happened so close to our current home. We immediately contacted everyone at home to let them know we were ok and not affected at all by this attack. It was surreal to be in New Delhi as this played out. It certainly put a small reminder in our heads that despite as comfortable as we felt, we should hike up our awareness when out and about, especially at the local markets and larger shopping complexes. As if this day was not anxiety-ridden enough, late in the evening we had an earthquake! All of us at the bed and breakfast immediately jumped out of bed and rushed into the common area. Hariz the cook went outside to look around and we all assumed it was an earthquake, and sure enough, by the time we returned to our rooms it was all over the news, that New Delhi had felt a 6.1 quake on the Richter scale! That was enough excitement for one day, and we were sure tomorrow would bring us a new, fresh, and less stressful day.
By: Kerrie Olejarz
Knowing the DNA test results would take about a week, and then an additional 3-4 days for Cailyn’s passport, we knew we were in for a long 10 days ahead of us. A couple days after the DNA test, a local couple invited us for lunch at the “Embassy”. We were really stoked to get out of the B&B and meet Chad and Doug. We were not quite sure what they meant by the Embassy so we asked, and yep, the US Embassy in New Delhi! We had to bring our passports and Cailyn’s local birth certificate to be granted “friends of the US” entrance. We packed up Cailyn and all her supplies and headed to the US Embassy for lunch. Doug met us out front and escorted us in. After we passed security, we were hit with a scene similar to a vacation resort. We passed a pool, with lots of families swimming and enjoying the afternoon. Tunes were cranked, and it felt very surreal to witness this in India! We walked into the main building where we passed a bowling alley, a small shop and then entered into the dining room. Ah, such luxury! We were seated and had a wonderful meal and exceptional conversation with Chad and Doug. The commonality that brought us together was babies, and surrogacy. These guys live and work in New Delhi, and were expecting twins via Indian surrogacy. It was really great to hang out with them and share our week’s worth of parenting knowledge! We were very excited to follow their journey as their twins were due in November, and we were all anticipating boy or girl combos. Mark enjoyed an all-beef burger and Cailyn was an angel during our lunch. The guys invited us back to their home for tea which was just a short walk. They live in paradise. A gated Embassy property with lush gardens and gorgeous landscaping. We enjoyed tea, seeing the soon-to-be-finished nursery for the twins, and meeting their yellow lab. This is such a fond memory for us, making new friends on a wonderful day out with our daughter. Tuesday we heard from the DNA Company in Canada that our samples had been received and they were working on processing them! This was great news, one step almost completed, one day closer to going home. Cailyn had been showing some signs of gas, fussiness, colic -who knew- so we decided to take her into the doctor for a quick checkup. Dr. T could hear the gas in her, and also noted that her nose was a bit stuffy. He told us what to buy at the hospital pharmacy: a bottle of saline nose drops, and an eye dropper bottle of colic remedy made of fennel and dill. The whopping bill for these two items was less than two dollars! When we returned to the B&B, the family from Ireland whose baby was born two days after Cailyn, had also purchased the same saline drops for their little boy’s blocked tear ducts. It was really nice having them stay at the B&B and swapping baby tips and commiserating on the whole going-home process. Also staying at the B&B was a wonderful woman of Nigerian descent, relocated to the UK. She was in the midst of IVF stimulation and waiting on her husband to arrive in the next week. Despite us all having our stuff to do, we managed to spend time together, and sometimes, enjoy a glass of wine! Late in the evening we received the DNA test results. We never doubted what the results would be, and as expected, Mark was allegedly Cailyn’s father at a probability of 99.996789%! This was a great relief, to receive the results so quickly, which now meant we could finalize our baby’s passport! My sister joked that she was going to get Mark a t-shirt made that said “Cailyn’s alleged father”. This was Thursday, and the coming Monday was a Canadian holiday, so we knew there was a chance of a delay in processing the passport. We opted to make plans to busy ourselves over the next 5 days so that we would not be sitting around going stir crazy! Monday we were set to have a photo shoot, weather permitting, at Lodi Gardens, and Friday we were going to head to a beautiful market area called Haus Khaz as recommended by Chad and Doug. It was the first of September and it was still very surreal that we were in India…with our daughter!
By: Kerrie Olejarz
When we returned to the B&B from the High Commission, we were optimistic that our DNA test would be scheduled over the next few days. I quickly sent off the scanned documents to the DNA company, which of course included all of my big fat Visa card digits. The sooner we had the DNA test, the sooner we could apply for a passport and go home. The next big thing was to work out when we were going home, and make sure our flights were ok, or switch them. It was mandatory that we have a confirmed return ticket to Toronto for Cailyn when requesting the passport, so we spent the rest of the day working this timeline out with our immigration liaison.
Once we had this sorted we made contact with our travel agent to switch our flights, and yep, we were leaving India earlier than expected! It took a while, but we finally found flights home for the three of us, and once again, I handed over all the digits on my Visa card. This day cost us $2200.00, just a drop in the bucket! We also were feeling cash strapped as the bank machines would only sometimes give us cash. We were allowed to take out 10000 INR per day, per card, and Mark spent a lot of days walking from machine to machine, hoping that this would be the one to give us cash. That evening he had luck and we were back in a comfortable position, finally having some emergency cash on hand. We knew that we could apply for Cailyn’s passport the same day as our DNA test, but we would need about 8000 INR ready to hand over to the High Commission to pay all the fees.
When we awoke the next morning, there was an email from the DNA company to the High Commission requesting the DNA test be completed as per our application. I immediately hit “reply all” and let the High Commission know we were ready and gave them our phone number. Within minutes of sending the email, the High Commission called to schedule the appointment for Thursday, and reminded us that none of us could eat or drink for one hour prior to our DNA swab. The appointment was at 1 pm, two days away.
We decided to spend the day at home, just relaxing and enjoying our baby girl. She was so sweet, so easy going. All the dashing around for citizenship appointments, shopping and doctors’ visits did not faze her. We had become fairly comfortable in our routine of boiling water, sterilizing nipples, and hand washing clothes and blankets. The following day we had a scheduled follow up appointment with the paediatrician and the visit was great! Dr T did a thorough exam of Cailyn and reviewed all her blood work results with us. He claimed her 100% medically perfect! We were very pleased with our visit and paid our doctor bill of $20.00 and headed back to the B&B. That evening we double and triple checked all of our passport application paperwork to minimize how much time we would need to spend at the High Commission the next day.
In the evening we were pleasantly surprised to see that Cailyn’s umbilical stump had fallen off and were very excited to give her the first proper bath! We bathed her in the bathroom sink and she seemed to really enjoy it. It was both scary and exciting – dealing with a slippery baby sure is scary the first time, but oh what fun it was to finally have this moment! Of course we snapped lots of pictures of her having her first bath.
Thursday was DNA testing day! We were so looking forward to getting this taken care of, knowing the wait on the results was about a week. We were not concerned about the actual results, just the waiting. Cailyn got all dressed up in a blue and pink outfit ready to head to the Canadian High Commission for her DNA test. Nothing to drink/eat for one hour prior is not an easy task for a baby. We tried very hard to encourage a feed before the cut-off time but no luck, so of course en route to the Commission we started to have a fussy baby. By the time we got in for the swab she was not a happy camper! She took the mouth swab fine, but the thumb print was a whole other story! This was the first time we saw a tear come out of her eye…she was just so upset. The nurse was sympathetic but the task at hand had to be completed. Once she was done, she really enjoyed her bottle. The delay in feeding sure had a ripple effect for the rest of the day with constipation and absolute fussiness. I guess there is a good reason why we try to keep these little ones on a schedule.
We now had to wait about a week for the DNA results and then for the High Commission to start the passport process. We had hoped to have the passport by September 7th, fingers crossed! That evening my buddy Nilesh came over and we had a meal together. I worked with Nilesh in Canada and we have remained in contact since. He is from Hyderabad but his head office is in Gurgon, close to the airport. He brought some beautiful pink girlie gifts for Cailyn which was so generous and sweet. We enjoyed his visit, and were more than ready for some rest after the long day we had just had.