MicroblogMondays: Legal Stuff

It is tax return season, but we can’t file our taxes until we get one thing done, which is to get the babies’ social security numbers.  Normal people would automatically apply for their newborns’ numbers before their discharge from the hospital.  But we are not normal people.  I still haven’t written the second part of our birth story yet, but right after the babies were born, we had to attend to a bunch of paperwork on top of learning how to take care of newborn twins.  The nursing staff and the pediatricians were constantly in and out of the room.  Annie’s family and friends were visiting.  With the chaos, I am a bit cloudy on what exactly happened, but when we were asked if we would like to apply for the babies’ SSN, my first instinct was not yet.  The reason being, the birth certificates would only have Bob’s name on them as the father, but the mother’s name would be blank because I used donor eggs.  If we had filed for social security right after birth, the record at Social Security would also show that the mother’s name is blank.  Every state is different in terms of the laws.  For Annie’s home state, in order for my name to be on the birth certificate after using donor eggs, I have to file for “Step Parent Adoption” in California.  It is only after that then Vital Statistics department at Annie’s state would add my name.  In November, after the hazy first few weeks with twins, I finally emailed a few lawyers regarding this.  No one called or wrote me back.  That was when I realized that phone calls were probably going to be much faster in terms of getting a response.  The local law firm sounded very experienced with this type of filing, but the paralegal was moaning and groaning a bit on the phone when she learned that the surrogacy was done in Annie’s state.  The laws had changed recently.  An intended mother who used donor eggs used to be able to send in the CA court order to the Vital Statistics department in Annie’s state in order to get an amended birth certificate with her name on it.  It is no longer the case as Annie’s state’s court clerk does not honor the CA court clerk’s authority.  An extra step would be needed for the CA court clerk to get a signature from a CA judge before the court orders would be recognized by Annie’ state.  Bureaucracy is the name of the game.  After moaning and groaning for two minutes about Annie’s state, the paralegal quoted me a rate that was very reasonable.  It matched the ballpark figure I was told prior to the surrogacy process.  The email that same day from the same paralegal said that she quoted the wrong rate as she didn’t take into account for filing for twins, but the law firm would still honor the original rate.  Phew.  We “saved” $1500.  It took a few weeks for the paperwork to be done, and took another few days before Bob had the time to go to downtown San Francisco to sign the paperwork.  Everything was sent to our county clerk on December 5th.  The paperwork was received on December 8th.  Our paralegal told us that our county has a streamlined process and it usually only takes 4 to 6 weeks.  It happened around the holidays, so I was expecting things to be done by end of January to beginning of February.  Well, things took a lot longer than they should.  After some back and forth with the paralegal, she found out that it took a long time for the judge to sign, and then the county clerk was out of the office for training for a week.  We still haven’t received the orders yet.  We just want to file our taxes, but can’t claim the babies on our return until we have their social security numbers.  We decided to just apply for their numbers before the amended birth certificates are sent to us.  Bob took last Friday off and attended the babies’ 6-month check up.  After that, he waited at our local social security office for 2.5 hours.  He had to be the one doing it because his name is the only name shown on the birth certificates.  I settled the babies down at home then went to join him with lunch.  When it was finally time for our turn, the lady behind the counter was super nice, but was a bit apprehensive about what we were doing because probably not too many people would come to the office for an application for social security numbers for not just one but two 6-month-olds.  Right off the bat, she said that it would be a lengthy process to verify their births.  Luckily, after checking, she declared that Annie’s state is one of the states that has an online verification process for birth certificates.  We still waited for about 35 minutes before she could finish with the whole application (everything takes twice as long with twins).  So now we wait for two weeks before we receive their SSN in the  mail and can finally file the tax returns.  In the future, I can return to the social security office with the amended birth certificates so that my name can be added in the record as the babies’ mother officially.  If I had known how much work and how long it would be to get the step parent adoption done, I would have just turned in their social security application at the hospital.

Everything is so complicated with surrogacy…


MicroblogMondays: Double Stroller

We have been using this frame stroller with the twins since they were born.  It is super convenient in terms of not having to take the babies out of the car seats to put them in a separate stroller.  The car seats just snap on.  The four cup holders and the big storage basket at the bottom are convenient  There are always pros and cons about everything.  The one thing that I don’t like about the frame stroller is that it is big and clunky to lift in and out of the car.  It extends super long and the front baby/car seat feels like a mile away.  Because the wheels don’t maneuver as well as I would like, they bump into door frames in and out of stores all the time.  Currently it has been kept in the back of our mini-van most of the time.  Because of the weight to lift it in and out of the van, and the time it takes to strap the babies in the car seats and to move them in the frame stroller, I find myself resisting going out for a walk because of the trouble I have to go through to do all of that.

We never put a full double stroller on the baby registry as I felt we didn’t need one until much later.  There were already ten thousand things to read up on and consider for the registry.  I didn’t need to add one on the list, especially when it wasn’t needed immediately.  Recently, I finally felt the need to purchase one so that I would be more motivated to go out with the babies.  I started reading reviews and  found that twin families rave about this double stroller.  A few times I almost ordered it online when it was on sale.  I hesitated because I just had a nagging feeling that I would need to try this one before purchasing it.  Local big chain baby stores didn’t carry too many double strollers.  Recently, a new chain baby store opened in our neighborhood and we finally got to try out the popular double stroller I mentioned above.  I am so glad we did, because I really dislike this thing!  It was heavy and folded with the seats on the outside so they could potentially get dusty in storage.  The canopies were clunky and the basket at the bottom was small.  So the answer was No.

After reading reviews, doing research, and watching online videos, I finally decided on another double stroller.  Unfortunately this brand is not as well known so I couldn’t find a store that carries it.  But I was still willing to order it to try it out without seeing it first.  It shows you how much I like all the things I read/watched online.  And this denim blue double stroller didn’t disappoint.  It is the lightest all terrain double stroller on the market right now.  The folding keeps the seats inside so they don’t get dirty.  The stroller stands up when folded.  Each seat has a belly bar.  The canopies are huge with great coverage.  The seats can be pulled down to almost flat for easy napping.  The fabric looks and feels fabulous.  The stroller is so amazing to push.  You can literally push it with one hand and it goes super smoothly.  This new stroller has made outings a lot easier for all of us.  The babies have sat it in three times already since we got it last Tuesday.  It goes through store front doors like a breeze.  I am so pleased with this purchase.

This was us grocery shopping yesterday.  It was so easy to push that Bob had our fussy baby boy in one arm and pushed our baby girl in the stroller with the other hand.

It goes to tell you that it doesn’t matter how many positive reviews something has, it means nothing to you if it doesn’t match your personal needs.  I am so glad I picked this stroller rather than the widely popular one.  Now I need to buy a cup holder for it (it didn’t come with one) so I can enjoy being out and about with my coffee strolling with the babies.

MicroblogMondays: Marriage While Parenting Twins

This is a huge topic, but I am not going to go in depth about it.  Let’s just say that marriage while parenting twins is not easy.

After many years of infertility, Bob and I have a solid foundation in our marriage as we journeyed through the winding path of trying for a baby together.  But raising twins has brought the challenges to a whole new level.  The presence of the babies and our new priority of taking care of them means that sometimes our needs as an individual and as a couple are pushed to the side.  Bob’s long commute means he only gets a glimpse of the babies if they wake up late, and he gets to spend about 20 minutes with the babies when he comes home before their bed time.  During the day even with my mom’s help, I am pulled in all sorts of directions by the increasing demands of the babies as their wake time is getting longer and Okra, our baby boy, is going through a phase and has been increasingly whiny.  By the time we sit down at night after the twins have gone to bed, Bob is exhausted from his long day at work and I am exhausted from my long day with the babies.  Despite wanting to have some time together, we often find ourselves on our own smart phone doing our own things.  On the weekend, we try to do something as a family, and as a result, the babies get inconsistent naps and are often overly tired.  If one goes down for a nap, the other one may not.  We find ourselves sometimes running around like headless chickens trying to take care of the babies as best as we could.  I honestly sometimes feel inadequate as a parent.  Did I read enough with them?  Sing enough with them?  Let them have enough tummy time? Talk and play enough with them?  Have enough outside activities with them?  Sometimes I wonder if Bob and I are not paying enough attention to our own needs and each other’s needs because it just takes a lot of time to take care of twins.

Maybe we have to make time for each other despite how tired we are in the evening.  We need to figure something out.

MicroblogMondays: Sleeping Through the Night

The babies are almost 5.5 months old and officially slept through the night for the first time on Saturday!

Prior to that, this was the schedule: bed time at 8pm, dream feed at 10ish pm, and waking up at 6:30 to 7am.  They had been consistently waking up after 6am without crying much.  On the days without night time help, I would wait until about 10:15 to 10:30 before feeding them.  Our night nanny made the suggestion to try to wean them off the 10pm feed.  I was initially hesitant because Bunny was drinking majority of her calories (6 oz) during her dream feed.  She is already smaller and gains weight more slowly to begin with.  I was nervous about not feeding her at night and for her to lose weight.  Our night nanny was not worried.  She had confident that Bunny would regulate herself during the day to load up her calories for the rest of the night.  So we were brave and made a decision to try on Friday.  That night, without the 10pm feed, Okra woke up crying at 5:35am.  We stalled their feed until 6:30am.  I would consider that a very good start.  Then on Saturday, the babies had their last meal at 7:30pm, went to bed at 8pm, and slept all the way until almost 7am!  And what is interesting and quite a relief is that the babies started to up their intake of formula during the day to get ready for sleeping through the night!  The human body is amazing and knows what to do.  I hope that this is not a one-off but a consistent schedule.  I already find it very freeing to not have to worry about feeding them at 10 something and I can actually go to bed early.

What a milestone to accomplish for the babies!  (And it makes our life a lot easier.)

MicroblogMondays: Birthday Wish

Bob turned 40 on Friday.

He loves pecan pies.  I am not much of a baker.  In fact, I had never baked any cookies, cakes, pies, or pastries in my life.  I wanted to do something special for him especially that his dream of vacationing in sunny and warm Hawaii for his 40th birthday was replaced by a day at work.  We couldn’t possibly travel to Hawaii with the twins at this age and still have a decent time.  It also happened to be Chinese New Year on that day.  My dad came to visit the grandkids and spend Chinese New Year with us.  All in all, it was a special day.  The babies’ first CNY and Bob’s first birthday with them around.  I decided to take a chance and bake him a pie.

My boss has this chocolate pecan pie recipe.  I had tasted the pie and liked it a lot.  She told me that it was extremely easy to make.  I took one look at the recipe and thought that it would be manageable.  I didn’t have any of the equipment or ingredients.  It tells you how often I bake (never).  I had to look it up online about the kind of pie crust to get and learned that a glass pie plate might be better with the refrigerated pie dough.  (Excuse me for not making the pie crust from scratch.  It still counts as a home-made pie.)  After a huge mess on the counter and spilling chocolate on myself, I successfully lay the pie crust on the glass plate and poured the filling inside.  I didn’t understand what it meant by letting the pie “set”, so I had to look it up.  I jiggled the finished product and felt semi-confident that it was done.  The pie turned out to be beautiful.

Bob left work early and we had an early dinner at a Burmese restaurant with the babies and my parents.  When we returned home and before the babies started their night time routines, we sang happy birthday with a candle that said “40” on the pecan chocolate pie.  Bob had both babies in his arms.  When it came time to make a wish, he paused for a moment and went on to blow the candle.  He loved the pie and the fact that this year’s celebration included the babies.

For many years, Bob’s only birthday wish was for us to finally have a baby. He told me that when it came time for him to make a wish this time, he looked up and saw me, Bunny, and Okra.  He did not feel the need to make a wish.  He thought for a second and just blew out the candle.  There are many things in life that we complain about, but when it comes to birthday wishes, those other things don’t feel important or matter anymore.  The one wish has now been fulfilled.  A new wish is not necessary for him.

I had been wondering about that.  I too made every birthday wish in the last few years to be about having a baby.  Now that we have the twins, I wonder what I will wish for this year.

MicroblogMondays: Parents of Multiples

We belong to our local parents of multiples club.  I love being a part of it.

Having twins is expensive.  As a member of this club, we have access to the FB page.  Many parents post free stuff on it.  If you are fast enough, you can score a lot of things.  Even before our babies came home, we already received a jogging stroller and two rock n plays that turn out to be something we use daily.  If you don’t mind hand-me-down items, this is definitely a great way to save some money.

About a month ago I picked up some sleepsacks that these other twins outgrew.  The same mom recently posted free size 2 diapers and a few sleepsacks for transitioning the babies to be unswaddled.  I was fast enough to respond and went to pick up the items on the same day.  The husband greeted me in the garage and gave me the items.  We chatted for a few minutes and he showed me the Bumbo chair in the garage.  I happened to have researched for it the day before because the babies are soon going to be able to sit.  He said that one of his babies outgrew it and that’s why the chair was sitting in the garage.  He told me to connect with his wife again as he suspected that they’d soon upgrade both babies to highchairs.  I messaged her and she told me yesterday that we could pick up the chairs any time.  And we did!  I am just so grateful for parents who are willing to pass on items to the next parents.  We will for sure do the same when our babies outgrow their gear.

Other than getting free things, anyone can post questions, ask for recommendations, and ask for advice on the FB page.  I have done it plenty of time and often get many responses.  It helps to feel that you are not alone on this journey, especially when it comes to a baby who doesn’t like to eat much.  I like how instant the FB platform is vs. the old way of posting questions and responding on an online forum.  Things move along so much faster that way, and members can connect via private messaging if they so desire.

This club also hosts meetings for new and expectant parents twice a month.  I went to one in the evening and one in the middle of the day.  It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other parents and to learn from their experience as well as to offer what you have learned so far.  I enjoyed my time there tremendously, although it was still a bit weird.  As my babies’ mom, I didn’t give birth to them.  So whenever someone asked about the birth experience, I had to explain about the surrogacy.  It was all fine but I sometimes do feel like I am missing out on the pregnancy, the birth, and the breastfeeding part especially when I hear the other moms talk about their experience.  But because this was the only way for us to have these babies, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  One expectant mom has booked my night nanny in a few months upon my recommendation.  She also wants to hang out with me and the babies.  I look forward to making new friends this way.

Being parents of twins has its unique challenges.  But with the help of these parents who have walked the same path, it makes it feel like it is much easier to navigate this messiness with their advice and guidance.  The membership fee is the best $40 I have ever spent.

MicroblogMonday: Two Sick Babies

One person in the house gets sick.  Everybody gets sick.

We are all taking turns being sick.  It was my mother first.  And then my husband.  Okra was the next one to catch whatever germs that made him cough and have a stuffy nose.  This has been lasting for almost two weeks now.  Shortly after he got sick, I caught his cold and have been quite miserable with a cough and stuffy nose as well.  Poor boy hadn’t been eating too well and lost a bit of chubbiness on his cheeks.  Bunny looked as lively as ever while brother was sick.  I was secretly and not so secretly hoping that she could be immune from all the illness.  No such luck.  As brother became better and better, baby girl started sneezing a bit and coughing once in a while.  These past two days she started to have a runny nose and a more serious cough.  She is still mostly in a good mood, but is crankier and clingier than usual.  Yesterday she threw up three times during her feeds.  She started coughing after taking in about 3.5 oz of formula.  According to an advice nurse with whom I spoke, her cough might have triggered her gag reflex that made her throw up.  It was quite scary to see her throw up so much.  I also don’t want her to be dehydrated.  It pains me to see the babies suffer, but I guess it is part of having kids.  They get sick and there is no avoiding it regardless of how careful we are with hand washing.  I just hope that this passes quickly so we can all be healthy again and can get out of the house again.