With Sindy our nanny off for her midday break, the little ones fed and watered. I now hear the patter of little footsteps in the bedrooms upstairs. I’ll give it fifteen minutes to investigate. It might just be worth waiting until they either tire and settle or there’s been an event! One can only wait to find out the magnitude.
I gave in to the dogs whining for their dinner. I simply wasn’t in the frame of mind to listen to the constant whines of Remus and Grace for another hour plus. They are now settled in front of daytime TV. I put it on for them as if they are in a quiet room, they bark at the slightest sound.
The voices upstairs have escalated and Caleb is crying ‘Aaliyah’, so I had better go up and investigate… Well, they were all crashed onto Thor’s bed with Aaliyah’s light globe illuminating little stars all around them. Caleb seemed rather discombobulated, ‘Where’s my book Dadda, my book’? He had left his library book from preschool on the kitchen table downstairs. I told him he could have it later when he came back down. ‘Everybody to bed’ I said in an assertive manner. Aaliyah started to run back to her room only to be stopped by Thor. ‘Don’t forget your light globe’ he says, she totters back and grabs it, then turns to go back to bed. Thor shouts ‘you didn’t say thank you’, she returns and says ‘Thank You Thor’. Thor is happy and I come back downstairs. All is quiet upstairs once again for now, that is.
The girls started back to school yesterday and today it’s the little ones turn to rejoin their preschool term. It will be a quiet morning though at present I am having a coffee in the kitchen and waiting on Sindy to arrive. Thor has been chatting to himself upstairs for some half an hour and now I am hearing Amritsar and Tara’s voices along side his. There’s no major screaming going on, so I guess Aaliyah and Caleb are still sleeping. Remus has started his whining. He starts it fairly quietly, but over the next twenty minutes it will slowly up its volume and by the time there is the pitter patter of footsteps on the stairs, he would have reached his crescendo of whines, interspersed with yelps. Added to this will be the scratching sound of Gracie’s paws, clawing frantically at the closed living room door. Sindy has just arrived and ascended the stairs. The chatter up there has become more audible as they all fight to tell Sindy about this and that. Now, they’re all good talkers, even Caleb has joined the ranks. He was the quieter of the bunch until recently. He has been the slower developer out of the five. Even being a twin with Aaliyah, she crawled six months before him, though he managed to drag himself using just his arms for quite some time, before finally getting up to speed with a real crawl, raising his bum and using his knees. There’s nothing wrong with being a late developer. Because once you have caught up, you might just even surpass the rest! Well at least that’s what we’re hoping. He walked six months after Aaliyah as well. But when he did get up and do three steps in a row – the sense of achievement on that little boys face. It was magical. So talking is Caleb’s final hurdle to being a regular little boy. Not so long before all three of the little ones start at the girls junior school. Next September is not that far off. Hopefully Caleb’s speech will be up to scratch before then. A lot of his words are legible now. Also, he is making sentences that are appropriate to the situation. Just six months ago, quite the opposite. I found myself straining to understand and mostly just nodded in agreement and smiled. He has had a couple of meetings now with a speech therapist. She is helping, but just having four siblings to debate with helps a lot also. Big sister Tara always tried to finish sentences for him (given their special friendship) which didn’t actually help as it made him a bit lazy with his own assertions. This doesn’t happen so much now, which is great as his communication skills are progressing steadily.
Breakfast now at an end, just one small altercation with Aaliyah as she screamed at me having a naughty cigarette on the terrace, ‘My shoes Dadda, my shoes’, waving her big girl, buckle up shoes at the back door. Sindy intervened and buckled them up for her. I came back into the living room and the shoes had been removed and with no screams she asked ‘My shoes Dadda, my shoes’. We put them back on, along with Caleb’s and Thor’s. All is now well and they are being snugly adorned with hats and gloves as it’s cold outside and time to fill up the Shogun in preparation for the school run. Five sets of ‘Kiss and hugs’ later and the house falls silent, just Remus and Gracie staring up at me. Now free until 11.30am so I feel one of ‘Dadda’s Jams’ mornings coming on.
Are pictures a good idea? Well I have just uploaded a couple. Obviously being new to blogging, I am still treading with care. On Facebook I only used to post photos on high days and holidays. I seldom actually wrote anything but the mean basics. But blogging isn’t just an account of the occasional day out or Birthday, is it? From being a fairly private individual, I realise that this blog has thrown caution to the wind, not to mention exposure to ‘the third person’ and their potential reactions to what I have to say. Well, as a writer, one needs an audience and being a moderate, reasonable man (I like to think), I have decided that pictures have to be part of this experience. I know that Worldpress have made creating your website relatively easy, with various templates and the customise options etc. So I have vowed that I will get there in the end. I will try to insert a gallery next time and see where that leads me. I wont be publishing recent pics, but I don’t see any harm in the occasional use of images as we are very real people and have very real lives that we are embracing. Hoping that all made sense. More to follow later.
Did I mention the bit that Aaliyah and Caleb were born in Nepal, just post the devastating earthquake of 2015 in which nearly 9000 people lost their lives! A terrible tragedy that the world should not forget. We certainly will not!
Well, three children down and just the final two to go. As things were going in Thailand with the IVF clinic having closed its doors, we thought that our embryos stored in their cryo facility must have perished. Ausa was still in hiding and the email address we had for the clinic just bounced back all of our attempts to contact them. Our despair turned to delight however, when we finally heard from Nancy, the clinic receptionist and administrator. We heard that Ausa was fine, as was the cryo facility. The staff had managed to flee the premises with most of the client paperwork and essential equipment, including the cryo tank containing the frozen embryos. Our quandary was, what to do with our frozen embryos. How things played out as with Ausa, our surrogate and the birth of baby Thor, I mentioned in the last portion of this chapter, but with regards the remaining embryos – to cut a long story short, we heard that an Israeli agency (we knew of) was beginning a new venture based in Nepal and it was possible to preserve our embryos by flying them to Kathmandu. Seemingly, no paperwork was necessary for the import of human gametes into Nepal, well who’d have thought it! For a fee we were able to put the next chapter into motion, though with this option, we had to sign a brand new surrogacy agreement with the Israeli Fertility Clinic! One that would put the wheels in motion for another attempted surrogacy in Kathmandu. I didn’t mention earlier that we had a few failures when it came to ‘getting pregnant’. In all, three non starter pregnancies and two miscarriages. We obviously thought a first attempt at a new pregnancy was unlikely to take, so even before the birth of Thor, this new attempt at pregnancy seemed to us highly unlikely. We just imagined there would be a second attempt six months down the line. However, we were soon to be very surprised. With the embryos now in storage at the newly built hospital in Kathmandu, we surprisingly learnt that two of the embryos had been thawed and an attempt at pregnancy had occurred. There was a test for the pregnancy hormone and it had proved positive. We later found out that we were once again blessed with another twin pregnancy. On this occasion our children would be born at the top of the world, under the shadow of Mount Everest. We would soon enough become a family of two dads, two spotty dogs, two sets of beautiful twins and a little bolt of thunder who went by the name of Thor. That is the short version of the story of ‘How did we become to be’. Whatever the logistics, nature, within her blossom and beauty (with a little human intervention) has truely flourished…
It was some time before fortune blessed us with our next child, baby Thor. In fact he was conceived on or around the girls first birthday, but the girls would have to wait another nine months (and some) to receive the gift of a little brother. India was closed to us as an option regarding this pregnancy as the Indian government had earlier implemented rule changes that banned single people (essentially gay couples) from using surrogacy services. The new rules stipulated that only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of two years would be permitted to use the services of surrogacy in India. A moral crusade you might ask? Hooey – the moment the girls and I returned from our stay in India, the country re-criminalised being gay. How very twenty first century. I suppose their government, had to stop gay couples coming to India to use the services of surrogacy if they were about to reassert a Dickensian law banning homosexuality completely. I believe that the law has only just been repealed, once again decriminalising the re-criminalising of being gay in India. My heart does go out to the repressed peoples of all nations, not just to the people of India. Now I am starting to sound slightly political! I really don’t want that to be the case in this blog. Though I guess politics ultimately affects everything we do or don’t in life.
Politics were at play in India and indeed at play when Ausa, our surrogate in Thailand was pregnant with Thor. He was born in late December 2014. Thailand, just like India, had made international surrogacy illegal. Not an easy time for us. Remember the baby Gammy scandal? Many women working as surrogates, fearing retribution from the Thai Military Junta that had taken over the government in a coup simply went into hiding. Our IVF Clinic was closed by the authorities and our paediatrician at one point had gone into hiding. Yes, a very uneasy time for us. As a family we persevered and got through the ordeal. We were now a family of two dads, two dogs, two girls and a little bolt of thunder named Thor.
Part five of this chapter will just have to follow later as it is time to prepare dinner for five hungry mouths.
We chose to have our first surrogacy in India. We had to wait over a year for the ivf clinic to find two separate women who could prove that they were single. India is a world away from the one we know. There was no women’s liberation in the 1960’s. Very sadly women are second to men on the social scale, whatever cast they’re fortunate or unfortunate to be born into. There are very few single women in a country of over a billion people. Younger women are just in waiting for their marriage, the vast majority of women are married and a very, very small number of women, who might be widowed or divorced can prove it with the relevant paperwork that the U.K. government will accept. For the genetic father to have any rights as the father of a baby born through surrogacy, the surrogate needs to be unmarried. If she is married, her husband is regarded as the babies father in U.K. law. Anyhow, with our Sperm already on ice, embryos were produced and two separate pregnancies were attempted. One surrogate had the embryos created from Johns sperm and the other surrogate, embryos that were biologically mine. All of the embryos shared the same egg donors genetics. One pregnancy was a success and sadly the other pregnancy was not. An ironic twist added to the story was that the successful pregnancy was going to be a twin pregnancy. Of course, one of us was saddened that there was a significant failure, but as potential, committed parents, the genetics were not everything. We were both going to become Dads. And we learnt at this early stage, things seldom go as planned! Remember it was john and I who planned the family and to be the children’s sole parents. The egg donor wasn’t planning on being a mother to our children and as for the surrogate? She wasn’t doing this for us to be nice, remember we chose compensated surrogacy in India (not legal here in the U.K.) and she was very well paid to carry our babies to term. There was no genetic connection. Our children only have two parents and we both happen to be men! Thirty five weeks later, we were suddenly a family of two dads, two dogs and now, two little baby girls. The family was growing.
Okay it’s time for bed now so there will have to be a ‘part four’ of this chapter tomorrow. Upstairs the girls have all been shouting and running around, now two hours since going up to bed, they have finally just settled. I went up an hour ago and changed Aaliyah’s stinky nappy and finally things are quiet. Then the boys were fast asleep. As will I be very soon, Goodnight.