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Monday, September 14, 2009

What We Bought, Brought...... And Forgot!!

As promised, I thought that while we have some time (Blaze is sleeping) I would like to reflect back on our preparations to travel to Mumbai for the birth of our baby, and especially what we thought was important to bring along with us.  Many IP's who came before us have generously compiled lists of items that they have brought, which has been of great benefit to us and others.  This list is by no means is an end-all of lists.  It is our list and what we thought was important.  As new parents it becomes sort of a trial and error process, unless you know exactly what you need or have used a particular item in the past.  For us in the US, there are numerous large department stores that cater solely to your beautiful baby.  They are designed so that when you walk in, you are immediately overwhelmed at how much there is available to take care of your precious little angel.  And rest assured, the sales people want to convince you that each and every item is not just a requirement, it is a necessity and without it, you will surely be putting your child in harms way, which we all know is so untrue.

The exact time that you decide to start to go shopping for your baby, varies greatly between IP's and their individual comfort levels.  For us, Rhonda wanted to wait until we reached the end of the first trimester before she started looking and purchasing any baby items.  This was due largely to the fact that in the past we suffered a miscarriage at 7 and 1/2 weeks and she wanted to get past this hurdle that was in her heart.  I definitely understood her, since I too suffered right alongside her with our loss...BUT,  for me, the moment that we found out that we were pregnant this time, I was so ecstatic, that I began to go and look at the countless baby items that were available.  I enjoy shopping (sorry ladies, I'm taken!) and have a fantastic work schedule which allows me a lot of time off.  So on many of my days off I would go and look and research what was good and what was not so good.  As a guy, we tend to want to see and touch everything before we commit to buying it, so that's what I did.  Remember that Rhonda was still waiting, so I had to be a bit secretive and hide my purchases.  I purchased clothes, toys, bottles, a child seat, baby books and countless other items for our little angel's nursery.  Luckily enough that we have a large home and I can hide stuff without her finding out and even had to resort to putting the larger items out in our garage and in a storage shed that I have on the side of the house.

Once we reached that glorious milestone, the end of the first trimester, Rhonda's comfort level began to increase, not anywhere close to 100%, but increasing.  So now was the time that we both could look and purchase.  It was so funny, that on one occasion while we were browsing in Babies R Us, Rhonda was looking at various items and would say to me "I think that this would be good" and my response to most of the items that she wanted was "honey, I already picked that up!" When we got home, I had to come clean and bring out all of the items that I had purchased over the passing weeks while she was waiting. How could you be mad at me? I was excited!!!

As IP's pursuing surrogacy in India, we are aware right from the start that in India it is the law that the sex of the child can not and will not be disclosed prior to the birth. Well this sucks! For those of us that want to know if it is a boy or a girl so that we can buy all of those nice gender specific outfits that we see on sale and to decorate the baby's nursery in colors and patterns that will announce to everyone what sex your child is.  But, we are left to buy all of the gender neutral clothes, which coincidentally are hard to find, and to also resort to the same gender neutral decorating in our little one's nursery.  Can we just have a bit of a hint? PLEASE!!

So with this, shopping for the trip to Mumbai, is not as easy as one thinks.  With the updates that you receive from the clinic from the scans that the surrogate gets routinely, you can guesstimate on what size clothing you will need, and remember it is gender neutral so you are probably going to wait to buy all of the real nice outfits once you actually get home from India and know what sex specific clothing to look for.  With sizing for the clothing, that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. I thought when looking at newborn clothing that it was very small and wouldn't fit for long or even not fit our baby at all.  Boy was I surprised! Newborn baby's are tiny.

So our recommendations for baby related items would be as follows:
  • Be prepared for at least 2 to 3 clothing changes each day, more if your child spits up frequently or dribbles milk excessively while feeding.
  • We brought an assortment of clothes with us.  Long/Short sleeve onsies, sleepers, t-shirts, one-piece outfits (jumpers). We chose to bring mostly NB (newborn) and some 0 - 3 months.
  • NB socks.
  • NB caps. 
  • Lots and lots of bibs and burp cloths (if you think you have enough, throw in a few more) (Chaya, Rhonda wanted me to thank you for this suggestion).
  • Small face cloths (also handy for wiping up milk dribbles) and a few hooded towels.
  • Huggies disposable wash cloths for bath-time.
  • A small portable Eddie Bauer Travel bed that is the perfect size for baby to sleep. (Thank you Danielle and Jay, this has been a life saver).
  • A small sleep positioner to eliminate the rolling up of towels or blankets to keep baby in position.
  • Several light weight blankets.
  • A Munchkin inflatable bath cradle.
  • Infant first aid kit complete with nail files (we have not used mitts, we just ensure his nails are filed since he enjoys sucking on his fingers to self-sooth).
  • Several Kiddopotamus swaddlers since we keep him swaddled most of the time, and while he is swaddled he sleeps like a baby (pardon the pun!).  We found these very easy to use and they stay nice and tight.
  • Diapers (we chose Pamper Sensitive, based solely on research.  Various brands are available in Mumbai, but we wanted to ensure that we had the brand we wanted and the correct size, and we just love these since he has had no blowouts and no diaper rash). We did try Huggies newborn diapers and we found that they leak on the sides and at the top (at least on little boys)
  • Formula (we chose Similac Advance with DHA and ARA, based solely on research and haven't seen it available in Mumbai, but it may be in select stores. The hospital uses Nestle formula which we successfully switched over from after Blaze's short stay in the NICU).
  • A lighted/musical Baby Einstein toy for activity time, Blaze is mesmorized by this thing.
  • A & D Original Ointment and A & D Zinc Oxide Cream for baby's bum, Aveeno Baby SPF 55 Sunblock Lotion, Neutragena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 60+ for face and ears, Little Tummy's Gripe Water for hiccups and colic, Q-tips, Small Cotton Pads for wiping baby's face, alcohol swabs to clean around the cord, then some antibiotic ointment (Neosporin or Bacitracin are fine) once it falls off.  We also purchased from the pharmacy in Hiranandani hospital, Colimex Drops to help with Colic and Gas and Crocin Drops which are similar to Tylenol and are a mild pain reliever (used after Blaze's circumcision).
  • Bottles (we brought 10, and chose the Avent 4oz with size 1 nipples, based solely on research, these are available at the small store in Hiranandani hospital) also a whisk to stir the formula up with, we chose the Lionheart electric whisk which was very inexpensive but has been invaluable.
  • Disposable Bottle Liners (we originally purchased the Avent Tempo Bottle and Disposable Liners in the US to use during the return trip home on the plane) But we have used them several times so far and give it a big thumbs up!
  • A bottle brush (we waited and purchased a small bottle of dish detergent once we were in Mumbai).
  • An Eddie Bauer Sling (it allows Blaze to lay relatively flat and allows both of your hands free to move about) We love it, very comfortable!
  • Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes (several brands are available in Mumbai, but we haven't seen this particular brand, again they are personal choice).  We brought along 3 packages of 250 wipes.
  • A diaper bag (I chose to bring along a manly diaper bag which I purchased online from Diaper Dude.  I thought that if I was going to be carrying it, I at least wanted it to not look girly, check them out).
  • You definitely need a bag to carry items to your various appointments.  We used a large zippered beach bag which has an open top.  It has come in real handy to carry all of the extra items that don't fit in the diaper bag including all of the paperwork that is required for the Consulate and the FRRO, and is also great to stash snacks in when you are staying in the hospital and need to bring them from the store to your room undetected, trust me you will want to!
  • We brought along a set of small portable speakers and an IPOD to play soothing baby music.
  • Bottle Sterilizer/Bottle Warmer (as we mentioned in an earlier post, we brought with us an Avent bottle Sterilizer and an Avent Bottle Warmer which are 2 excellent products, but unfortunately even with a electrical converter they draw too much electricity and require a ground plug and therefore will not function properly.  Luckily enough we were able to purchase a combination unit at the store in Hiranandani hospital.  (Which has a huge array of baby items from clothes, to diapers to wipes, to bottles, to carriers to vibrating chairs. The store owner will gladly give you a pamphlet of ALL the items they carry at fairly reasonable prices) I am certain that you will be able to locate either an electric or microwaveable unit at one of the various baby stores in the city. To me this is a definite must have.
We are staying at the VITS hotel and speaking as someone who has spent 65 days at this hotel during the course of 4 trips to Mumbai, I definitely recommend it hands down.  The 1 bedroom suite, for the money is an excellent value and you will definitely appreciate the space when your new addition comes along.  As we mentioned earlier, they have also given us along with the room, free high-speed internet which can be very expensive if you have to pay for it, free breakfast and supper which helps alleviate the strain of going and carting your little one around each day in search of a meal,  now here is an important plus, they also have an excellent in-house laundry and give you each day 3 pieces of laundry free, and for baby clothes they have a flat rate of RS 25 per piece.  If you have ever been to Mumbai you will know that it is almost next to impossible to dry a piece of clothing in your hotel room due to the humidity.  They also have microwaves, hot plates and cribs available upon request which they will happily bring to your room (and when I say happily, I mean at no extra charge)

One very important piece of equipment that any new parent should not do without is a good digital camera with at least a 2GB memory for all of those pictures of your new beautiful baby.  Cameras are permitted at Hiranandani, so you will want to have it on hand to capture every memory possible.  The only place they frowned upon taking pictures was in the NICU, but I managed to get some shots through the glass windows in the doors.  We found an awesome photo studio to get prints made at right near the hospital, in an area called Hiranandani Gardens.  We are even in the process of getting several beautiful, custom made baby books made by them and at such an unbelievable price, we just couldn't resist. 

On the forgotten side, both Rhonda and I let it slip our minds when we were packing for our trip, that the time frame that we are in Mumbai is during Monsoon Season.  Coming from almost always hot, sunny and dry Arizona, you tend to forget that the weather isn't this beautiful everywhere.  So once we arrived in Mumbai to very heavy rains at times, we realized....OOOPS! guess what we forgot.  So a word to the wise, if your are travelling to Mumbai or India in general during Monsoon Season, don't forget to pack a light-weight waterproof jacket and a small compact umbrella or 2, you will definitely appreciate them on a rainy day.

So with this post, I hope in some way that it will help those of you that are venturing to India in the near future.  And to finish, a few more random pictures of cuteness.