Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So thankful.....

Most of you, though not all of you are aware that Zain developed jaundice a few days after his birth. At first I wasn't worried about it at all, since Yasmine had jaundice and the dr's in Canada never even tested her levels, they just told me to feed her constantly and that she would get rid of it through her urine and stools. So I never thought much of it until we went to our 4 day after birth dr's appointment. The dr seemed pretty concerned and wanted to take Zain's blood. He told me to be prepared to have Zain admitted to the hospital for 3 days to undergo photo therapy. I still wasn't worried, but I guess that is my own ignorance of jaundice and how it works.

We received a phone call about 2 hours later stating that Zain's levels were high and that we should admit him. The dr. isn't the one who phoned, it was the lab technician and she didn't say it was an emergency. We called a few friends who have been through this here and Junayd and I decided to bring Zain in the morning, and that I would continue nursing him frequently and put him in sunlight in the morning.

What Junayd and I weren't told, was that jaundice can take on a more serious case in second born babies whose blood type matches the mothers. Zain and I were both A+, and apparently it's a physiological reaction. This was NOT specified to us nor were we told it was urgent to take him in that night.

When we finally were admitted, they took blood from Zain again and his levels had risen 4 points over night. He had to be fitted with an IV and start 24/7 photo therapy. It was heartwrenching. I was already experiencing mild postpartum depression (just crying at the drop of a hat), which I never experienced after Yasmine's birth, even with the death of my mother.  Zain was such a trooper and the nurses made me leave when they inserted the IV. I guess mothers can get a little frantic seeing that, and I know I would have probably freaked out. I had an iv for both Yasmine's and Zain's birth and it was painful and uncomfortable. I could hear him crying, and I sat with Yasmine  on the other side of the room, I had to try and remain stoic for her, because I didn't want to freak her out.  She was with us the whole day, as both my in-laws were working. And Junayd and I didn't want her to get scared seeing us both so worried.

Finally we were brought to our private room and waiting for us there was this cold, hard table, that my baby had to lay on in a diaper, all alone. The bottom was glass and there was a light underneath and a light over top. The kicker, was when they fitted Zain with baby cotton goggles that he had to wear the whole time as to not hurt his eyes. When they put him in this bed, he cried so hard and I couldn't do much to soothe him other than sing to him and hold his hand. Seeing him in this "bed" made my knees buckle and I had to go to the bathroom and cry so that Yasmine wouldn't be worried. It was hard to control my emotions.

The worst news was yet to come when the dr. came by to our room and told us if Zain't levels didn't go down 4 points he would need a blood transfusion. This was when all hell broke loose and I could not even control my tears at this point. What kind of blood would they get for my child? I was in a developing country where I didn't know their practices and principles on blood testing. The dr.s told us if we wanted a friend to donate we would need to be prepared for the worst and have the blood ready to go in the 3 hours we had until the test would be retaken. After crying and freaking out and literally getting on my knees to pray, Junayd and I went into action. I got on the phone and called my bestest girlfriend here in Hyderabad Tracy. I needed someone to coordinate stuff at the hospital, and get on the phone to our friends to find a+ candidates who could donate blood for Zain. We were told no relatives could donate due to some reason with jaundice. Junayd's manager from him work came over as soon as he heard the news from Junayd and both of them were on the phone to friends. Tracy was the the hospital almost minutes after I told her the news.

When I moved to India I had no idea the group of friends I would make here and how importnat they would all become at this very moment. 2 of my friends, Helen and Robyn and one of their husband's, Terrence rushed to the blood bank who were a+ to get screened and tested and 2 of Junayd's friends were on their way to the blood bank as well. In the meantime, Junayd and his friend Navneet rushed to the blood bank to coordinate the possible candidates there. Tracy pretty much took control at the hospital and frantically was the middle man between Junayd and the dr's and nurses at the hospital making sure all the info was given to the blood bank and also was on the phone with friends searching for a+ blood.

One of my friends Kris, who has 2 of her own children rushed to the hospital with snacks and toys for Yasmine.  I had prepared nothing because I thought Junayd would just take Yasmine home. We did not anticipate this news. Kris had brought a portable dvd player with Dora, blocks for her to play with, yogurt and fruit and snacks for us in the hospital. Tracy had also rushed home and got diapers for Yasmine and Zain, her breast pump (in case he did get the transfusion) and toothbrushes and body wash for me, because I was not leaving that hospital for one second.
I just don't know what I would have done without these wonderful women. The ones who went to the blood bank and the ones who came to the hospital to help and hold my hand. It was overwhelming. I never thought I'd meet and make such great friends here, and it was in this time of need that I really saw how special these women are.
My mother-in-law was also there and sat by my side throughout this as well, and the next day she came with a whole slew of food for us for lunch and dinner. It was extremely thoughtful, but I also know that she suffered alongside us as well.

The hardest part was calling my family and telling them the news, because I knew they were aching for Junayd and I, and wanted to be here to help us through it. My dad remained calm and kept me calm and my sister cried with me and allowed me to feel the pain I was feeling.  I never thought I'd feel the way I felt when my mother died, but this was almost worse. Seeing your own child who was only 5 days old go through this pain, and possibly have a blood transfusion was agonizing.

The best news of the day came around 930pm, when we were told that Zain's levels went down 4 points and that he would not need the blood transfusion. It was the best news I could have heard.  I immediately called Junayd who was still at the blood bank and told him the great news! We were all so relieved.

Over the next day Zain's levels came down slowly and after 2 nights in the hospital his levels came down so much that we were released in 2 days instead of 3. Those days and nights in the hospital were long, but Junayd, who took yasmine home at night came and spent the day with me and brought Yasmine and we made it as bearable as possible. Junayd was a rock and really came through for me and took over with Yasmine so I could be there for Zain. The only time he could come out of the light was bed was when I was nursing him. It was so hard not to cuddle him for hours, but I knew it was best for him to get as much of the light as possible.  The doctor said most babies don't even sleep much for the treatments and she thought Zain was amazing, because he slept a lot of the time. But if you know my husband....a real sleeper!! I didn't get much sleep because after every nursing session it took me a while to console him once he was back in that bed. And I didn't blame him...it looked extremely uncomfortable.

I'm so thankful it's all over, and I have him home with us and he is doing fantastic. We took him to the dr's today and there is no more signs of jaundice.

I'm also so thankful to everyone who helped out, it meant the world to Junayd and I and made this whole terrifying ordeal so much easier to deal with. I am so lucky to have such great caring friends and family. Also I am thankful to the wonderful nurses and doctors at Rainbow hospital who did everything they could to make this easier on Junayd and I and who took great care of our son.

I know the saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger....but I have enough strength now for a lifetime..I don't need anymore.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

He's here!! And all the nitty gritty details...

Zain Samuel Ahmed has arrived!! A little earlier than expected, but healthy nonetheless. Born at 532pm, on September 30th, weighing 7.2 pounds and 21 inches long.

Here's how it all went down.....

I have been keeping track of my blood pressure at home throughout most of my pregnancy, due to white coat syndrome (higher numbers at doctor's office) we thought in order to get the most accurate readings was to do it myself.  I emailed my doctor once a week with the results taken morning and night. On my last visit to the dr's, which was on September 28th, I told her that I was noticing my BP slowly moving up. She still didn't seem worried, and told me she'd check my urine for protein and check my blood for liver function and uric acid. They found protein in the urine, and it's a sign of pre-eclampsia. She wanted to wait until getting the blood work done but she told me if my blood pressure reached 100 (the bottom number) to come in immediately.

The next morning, when I checked it was 150/104 and when I checked it again 5 minutes later, expecting it to go down as it usually does, it was 150/110. I quickly emailed her, woke up my husband and told him to get ready to go to the hospital. My dr. emailed back immediately and said, pack a bag, we're inducing you today. And that my blood pressure was going up too quickly.

We arrived at the hospital, and they set me up and check my blood pressure, it had gone up to 160/120, so they put an iv in my hand and I was introduced  me to the anesthesiologist, who was WONDERFUL. She never stressed me out and she was extremely vigilant with a terrific bed side manner. I was worried but she constantly told me they would do everything possible to make sure they stabilized my BP. The drugs they gave me in the iv worked for about 30 minutes, then it shot back up again, and it took almost 4 hours to stabilize me. They even called in another anesthesiologist for a consultation. I was given magnesium sulphate which had the weirdest side effect. It made the entire inside of my body feel like it was on fire. It was the oddest feeling but went away quickly. Finally, my BP was stable and it stayed that way until I delivered Zain. But it was quite scary, and I could sense the tension from the anesthesiologists and my OB.

Meanwhile, my OB had started inserting some kind of tablet into my cervix to start the dilation process and to soften the cervix. So my labor started around 4pm on the 29th with minor contractions. They would check every 4 hours and keep re-inserting this tablet. After about 12 hours, and still only at a 1, feeling completely deflated I asked her about other means. My OB said this was the most natural way to induce me without giving me a harsher drug like pitocin. So I trusted her and let her continue to do what she thought was best.

Finally, around 11am on the 30th, I started to go into active labour and quickly dilated to a 4 in about an hour. I hadn't eaten anything since the day before at 2pm, so i was weak and tired. I was only allowed water and some fruit juice. By about 330pm I had reached 10cm, but this time I didn't have that urge to push like with Yasmine. But I started pushing anyway, and the OB (my actual OB was stuck at another part of town and couldn't get to the hospital because of political protests and agitations on the streets), told me that the baby hadn't come down and that I would need to really push to bring him down. After pushing for an hour, I was ready to faint. I was exhausted and the baby hadn't moved down. And I was in excruciating pain. I opted not to have the epidural, so I felt it ALL.  Another OB was asked to come help who had been in constant communication with my OB, and they told me they would give me a mild dose of pitocin to help bring the baby down. They needed to hurry to get him out because his heart rate was going down. I was freaking out. The thought of even 10 more minutes of contractions or pushing was putting me completely over the edge and I just wanted my baby to come safely. Thankfully Junayd was a great coach and motivator and really helped me focus and get through it.  I was exhausted, and I wanted to pain to be over. After about 15 minutes I had that urge to push that I remember having with Yasmine, and in about 3 pushes I finally delivered our baby. I didn't have to have an episiotomy nor did I tear, so no stitches at all!!

They quietly put the baby on my stomach, and Junayd and I looked at our baby and then looked at each other and said, "It's a boy." What a wonderful surprise.

All in all, it was a difficult and painful delivery, but absolutely rewarding. My first thoughts after the delivery was, thank God I do not have to do this again and thank God this is over!!  It was the most difficult thing i have ever done in my life and I am thankful for getting the chance to experience giving birth twice.

Here is a picture of our little prince. We are just so in love with him, and his big sister can't stop kissing him. My family is complete.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raising a child in India

Raising a child with a partner that is from a different culture and living in their culture is definitely not easy. It takes so much communication and the things he thinks are really important, are minor to me and vice versa.
I think Junayd and I are doing a relatively good job at meeting int he middle, but it's some of the small things that make it really difficult to parent. Admittedly, I am doing the parenting about 70% of the time, mostly because he works and he is gone for 10 hours a day.

Junayd and I spoke about this the other day.  He feels,I raise Yasmine with day to day goals, like saying please and thank yous, eating her food, behaving, etc... but he has these long term ideas, which of course are super important but I feel are not worth dealing with right away. He is very very adamant about our children never living with a partner before they are married, and also he feels that our children marrying young is way more beneficial than waiting until they are older.  In his mind they are less likely to be promiscuous if they get married early. It's quite an Indian attitude, that's for sure. Whereas, I'm very detached about stuff like that, I think it's mostly my western attitude, because, once they turn 18, I feel that a lot of stuff will be beyond my control. You can teach your children well, but these kinds of things are really hard to enforce when your child is 25 and telling you they will live with their boyfriend/girlfriend.  Believe me I have been there done that. My parents didn't like my choice, but they certainly didn't disown me. I would never force my children to marry young and I would never disown them for living with their partner before marriage.

But some of the smaller things are what really frustrate me. This business of letting kids do what they want, when they want, is just ridiculous to me. Yasmine is almost 2 years old, and just because she wants chocolate doesn't mean she gets it. I am having the hardest time fighting with my own husband about stuff like this.
Kids stay up until all hours of the night here, and people expect me to do the same with Yasmine. I make compromises, but I don't feel like a 2 year old should be up until 10pm. I was at my in-laws the other day and it was 830, already late, and I told my mil that Yasmine had to get to bed. And she said "so early?"  I was like, she is normally sleeping by now!!

Also this business of feeding her crap is getting to me as well.  Last night, as an example, I was at my in-laws and we were cooking chicken and a few other things.  I told Junayd to make sure Yasmine didn't eat anything before dinner because she wouldn't eat.  I turned around 5 minutes later and she had this cake in her hand. I was like who gave her this?? My fil was like I did, she asked for it, so I gave it to her.  I was so livid. I turned to Junayd and I said, this is why our daughter is NOT eating her meals. He just shrugged and was like, grandparents are supposed to spoil the grand kids.  So of course I took away the cake and she cried bloody murder, and I am once again the bad guy. And this has happened so many times I can't even count. This is where I need the support from Junayd.

My MIL gave Yasmine some coke at like 7pm at night when I specifically said no, and right before my eyes I see her giving Yasmine coke, and before I could take it away, Yasmine had drank half a glass.  Guess who was awake until 1130pm???  I mean who the hell is the parent here?  Every time we go over, she gets chocolate, and during Ramazan we were there 4 times a week so she got chocolate every time. There's only so many times you can fight with them.
My in-laws are terrific people, and they love Yasmine, and I know that's how they show their affection, but I need to draw the line somewhere. If it means less visits over there then so be it.  But what I really need is support from Junayd with this stuff, he needs to tell his parents to stop. But again, he just doesn't see this stuff as major issues. But to me it's still all part in raising a healthy unspoiled child, and because she gets whatever she wants at her grandparents, she expects the same at home too. It's more battle than I care to deal with.

It will just take more work and communication and I know I have to let a lot of this stuff go, because some of it is not worth stressing about. But I hate always being the bad guy in this situations, and Junayd needs to step in and discipline as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Awful customer service

This posting is just an continuation of my facebook status message that I posted about being completely stressed about shopping here in India and dealing with bad customer service. My friend Amy, who has been to India put it aptly, that it is complete indifference. Customers are treated like they are a dime a dozen, and I guess in a country with a population of a billion people there will always be customers coming, but really is that a way to do business?
I have worked in customer service most of my life and I know how customers should be treated and how important it is to the company to maintain it's customers. Just ask my sister what kind of deals Bell Canada threw at her when she threatened to change cell phone providers.

Here are 3 recent scenarios that have happened to me and my husband, that can try and explain the customer service. There have been many many more, but these are fresh in my memory.

Scenario 1
A few days ago, I went to buy a toy for Yasmine from us for Eid (the end of Ramazan celebration). I walked into the shop and she instantly fell in love with a riding toy. She started riding it around the shop and having a good time. When she got off the toy, I noticed a small crack on the seat. Nothing huge, but enough to warrant a discount. I'd still buy it, since it was not that big of a deal. I didn't feel like running to many different stores as Yasmine was running all over the place and at 33 weeks pregnant running after was not an option. When I showed the sales associate the crack, he said he had another one to replace it, which was fine with me. But then I realized he wanted to sell me another colour completely, which was pink. I didn't want to buy pink since i don't know the sex of this baby and it will most likely be passed to him/her. I wanted the yellow one. I told him as much. He pointed me to the counter and I thought they would give me a discount. Then when I went to the counter, they told me they would give me a phone number to call. What?? I didn't want to deal with more bad customer service, I just wanted a discount. They refused to give me one, and didn't even try to keep my business.  So i told them I would go to the store across the hall and buy from them. And they didn't seem to have any issues with that.  I went to the next store, found the exact same replica of the riding toy without any damage and bought that one, and was even given 5% off the toy because I had some discount card.  After I bought it I made sure to walk by the other store and show them that they lost a sale.  But I'm sure they just didn't even care.

Scenario 2

Junayd and I have been with the cell phone provider Vodafone for a couple of years now, we haven't had any issues with them so have never really had to deal with their customer service until recently.  I used to have blackberry service, but passed that phone on to my hubby once I got the Iphone. So Junayd called vodafone in June to cancel the blackberry service on my phone and transfer it to his phone. Easy enough. Well low and behold they did not cancel the plan which is 600 rps a month ($12, on top of our regular plan) and so they have charged us for 2 blackberry plans. So when we got our bill it was almost double the price it normally was. So Junayd called customer service (at the end of July)!  They gave him such a hard time about this. They kept passing the buck and telling him  it would get resolved in 24 or 48 hours. He escalated it to management, who all they did was make excuses. But not once were we told that we would be credited the amount (2 months at 1200 rupees). It is now September and nothing has been resolved. Junayd keeps getting passed to every Tom, Dick and Harry, and has even been given an email address to make the complaint, after 5 weeks of already making formal complaints! We were told that we would get a response in 48 hours, and that has long passed now, and now Vodafone has barred our services. We can only get incoming calls and messages. We are so ANGRY and we refuse to pay the bill until this is settled. What I don't understand is, Vodafone is more worried about 599 rupees than keeping Junayd and I as customers for the long term. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Why can't the customer ever be right in this country?  I was sitting right next to Junayd when he cancelled the Blackberry service, so I know it was done! We ARE right!

So now since we have no use of our phones, and with me being 33 weeks pregnant, I need to be able to call someone if I need to. Luckily we have a land line at home, but what if I am out and something happens. I have no access to my cell phone! So now Vodafone is forcing us to go with another service provider and we will have to change our phone numbers!!  It really sucks. They have been so unhelpful. I know many people would say, just pay the bill..but we refuse to pay for something we didn't use. It's about principal at this point.

Scenario 3

Junayd bought me some headphones for Christmas as one of my gifts. When I opened them to try them out, the left side was not working. So we took it back to the store. Junayd was told he would not be able to return the headset, even for an exchange, because he bought it more than 12 hours earlier!!! He actually had bought them like 48 hours earlier. We weren't bringing it back because we didn't like them (although we should be able to do that if we wanted to). The damn headset wasn't working! Junayd argued and shouted with the sales people and manager for over 40 minutes until finally they exchanged the headset. I mean are you kidding me???  It's not just me that is flabbergasted by customer service here, my husband and many other Indians are just as annoyed.

You can never ever get your money back when you buy something here, it is exchange only, and that also depends on the mood of the manager that day. My friend has bought shoes for her daughter that didn't fit and just decided to forget about even trying to return them because, the stress and effort far exceeded the price of the shoes.

I just don't think the concept of customer service is taught here, and there is a reason why foreigners are being brought in to teach Indians how to deal with westerners and customer serivce. But sadly the Indian customer service (call centers) provided to foreigners is much better than the customer service Indians give to their own people. It's truly sad.

Friday, August 26, 2011

31 weeks pregnant...

I never thought I would post a picture of my baby belly, but why the heck not?  Junayd took this last week when I was 31 weeks pregnant. I told him not to get my face in the pic....I think it was probably because I was sweaty and hot, which I always am these days. Being pregnant is like being a human furnace, especially when you live in a country that is hot to warm most days. With the monsoon it has been so humid. Today finally, the humidity broke and it has actually been cool (or what Junayd calls freezing). The temp was probably around 22-23c today with no sun. Glorious for me!! I have less than 8 weeks left in my pregnancy, but with any luck, I'll go into labour early like I did with Yasmine and pop this sucker out in 5 weeks or so.  I am so grateful and blessed for being able to carry a life inside me, but I just want my body back, along with it, my energy, patience and the ability to see my feet. Two kids and my family will be complete. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is that what they call it???

My Mother-in-law said something really strange, but funny (in my opinion) to me today, and it's just something like this that makes living here so news worthy.  Here is a back story before I share with you a text message between my MIL and I.
I am having a baby in October, yes old news. But I am pretty much alone, obviously, I don't have my mom to come here like all my other expat friends (yes I'm extremely envious and emotional about the whole thing). I am happy that my husband has taken 3 weeks off for around that time and my mother-in-law has suggested she'd take "some" time off to help. Great!

Anyway, my mother-in-law is not feeling well, she has a fever and a cold. I messaged her this morning asking how she was feeling and if she took a day off from work at the College (she's a professor there).

This was her reply..word for word. I want to see if you spot what I am thinking of...
"the fever's still there. Feeling rundown. Haven't been able to go (to College). Was saving these leaves for your confinement."

I'll give you a second.......

OK....CONFINEMENT???? What the hell?!

I know what she means, she means after the baby, I am supposed to stay confined to the house for 40 days while my body recovers. I have just never ever heard it called that before, and I know she means well, but it just made me feel like I would be jailed after I have this baby. TOO FUNNY!

Hate to break it to her, but after about a week or so I will most likely be out and about. I won't be running a marathon, but I certainly won't be confined to my house. After Yasmine was born I was taking short walks after a week, plus being cooped up is the last thing I want.
I didn't know the days after having my baby had an actual name...now I know ;)

I just love the difference in culture, it really keeps me on my toes here, and gives me things to write about in my blog. HA!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is almost embarrassing...

It's just been so long since I last posted, I think almost 7 months, and I know it's not for a lack of content. As there is always something interesting going on in my life, or just living in India. I think maybe I have just been un-inspired.

I've decided I'm not going to re-cap the last 6 months, because that would be boring and pointless, and I think from this point forward I am going to just move forward.

The biggest news, that most people know, but not all who are strangers who read this, and I know there are a few, is that I am pregnant again and almost 31 weeks pregnant. We're having this baby mid-October and once again the sex will be a surprise! It's almost a bit of a deja-vu moment for me, and a little emotional because I am only 2 weeks off the timeline of my first pregnancy, and 2 years ago on August 20th, my birthday, I found out my mom had terminal cancer, and I had to fly home at 34 weeks pregnant to see my mom before she died.
So, this time around, I am trying to enjoy this pregnancy without the weight of something so tragic happening in my life, and I want this time to focus on me and our baby.

Giving birth in India, in no way scares me, and I have a GREAT dr. whom I am very happy with. She did her MD in the UK and worked in Michigan for a few years and now she is the head of the gynecology department at a good neonatal hospital. The best part is, I have had 3 friends JUST give birth at this same hospital, 2 of them in May and one of them 3 weeks ago. Two of them had the same dr. as me and all had healthy, natural births. Plus there have been a number of friends who have given birth there in the last year or two.

Anyway, so moving forward, I hope to write a few times a week so I can keep people informed back home, and also I think it's a good avenue for stress relief and just sharing my life in India, because yes there will be lots of interesting stories to come out of living here.

But life is good...I'm happy and fulfilled and now just awaiting for the birth of our second baby so that my family will be complete and I can close that chapter in my life (being pregnant). I'm ready to lose the baby weight, move forward raising happy healthy children and focusing on what comes next.

So stay tuned..I promise there won't be a 6 month gap this time.