Love, babies and rights- obstacles in two cultures

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Ok, still tons to remember to write about and so little time!
I want to talk about the Certificate Saga and Settling In soon, but just now I am going to write retrospective note about our fertility treatment in Bangkok, seeing as I heard from one of the mamas I referred to Dr X yesterday. I have referred 4 other couples to this dr – mostly farang (or like us, a binational couple). This mama was refused treatment. I was shocked and sad for her, but I have been thinking about it, and have concluded that it could be for these reasons:
1) too upfront about two mummies. Even before the consultation- I know other couples who have actively said “we are doing this together!”, but not at that very first stage. Thais really, actually live and breathe ‘unspoken understanding’. He understood my relationship with AW perfectly, but none of us ever said it. Not till the girls were born.
2) this written down. Even if he accepts same-sex clients (he does!! (did?)), it is not officially allowed. Therefore, I think writing it down, and expecting an answer in black and white would yield disappointment.
3) the Gammy factor. AW believes that the couple who used a Thai surrogate, had twins, and refused the down-syndromes sibling is making it harder on ‘farang’ to gain access to this sort of fertility treatment. Thai women cannot have fertility treatment if unmarried, but for farang (foreigners) the rules are usually waived (and often, fees increased). If the Gammy news has caused an increased scepticism and reluctance to treat farang, then I think it is a shame. However, I see both perspectives, and if farang are given special privileges in Thailand (such as affordable surrogacy, for example), and behave that way, then perhaps Thai medical professionals ask themselves why they should treat them? Or perhaps it isn’t that; perhaps, as with visas lately, there has been pressure to actually enforce the rules which are in place. In any case, I feel sorry for the mama who asked for my help with this. Maybe the goalposts have moved.

Hopefully, if she were to enquire again, as a single foreign woman, then she would get somewhere.

Interestingly, we just went on a really fantastic pride parade here in Prague. Here, unlike in Thailand, same-sex unions have been passed into law (by a teeny margin). However, property rights are not akin to marriage, and fertility / parental / adoption rights seem to be very bad indeed; same-sex partners can’t adopt each other’s children or adopt as a couple. Etc.
I realised two things at pride. The first was that I miss it. I can’t believe Bangkok has barely ever had a pride. The municipality would sneer at locking down a street for the freaks, I think, as behind the liberal facade, you are dealing with an entrenched and deeply conservative society. The second thing was that unlike marching in London or Brighton, here in Eastern Europe there are still many reasons to march; many people had travelled a long way for today, to show solidarity for LGBT people. There were many people, for example , from Russia.

I wish that all the decisions we make, as adults, were sensible ones. I wish people who are in love had the freedom to love without interference. And I wish that people in love could bring children into their lives without obstacles beyond those facing them biologically and financially if they are a same-sex couple.

Love is love.

Are we there yet? Maybe.

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Gosh, where to start? I suppose we are finding our feet here. We have:
-entered the country
-been ill and recovered (from a hellish bout of hand foot mouth – what timing!!)
-found a (n amazing) place to live
-wandered the city and admired the view (any Bangkok friends will appreciate the pleasure which can be derived from that!!)
-got to know our local area
-made a trip to ikea
-not gone crazy looking after the girls without help
-visited our local monthly flea market
-bought all kinds of fresh goodies (including unbelievable bread!!!) from the farmers’ market at the end of our street
-found a Thai friend for AW (she seems to be the only one in the city!) with Thai speaking kids
-set up a bank account
-gone all over picking up second hand bargains like ironing boards etc
-bought an annual pass for the zoo (of COURSE…)

The internet was set up today. Thank goodness.  You can’t get unlimited 3G here, even on a mobile contract – in Thailand (and I’m guessing the UK?) it’s now standard and we have been accustomed to googling/ facebooking/ blogging/ whatsapping whenever we want. I also carry out a large number of transactions via Facebook groups (especially selling our Bangkok belongings and now in attempting to kit out a new place) and I’m finding it all very tricky (and expensive!) to keep up with. I’ve started lots of conversations and struggled to finish them as my limited data is gobbled. One of these conversations, ironically, is one about installing the internet itself.
But we are getting there.

Below, I wrote of the stuff we have been through in our journey between Thailand and the Czech Republic. You already know about HFM. You don’t know about our super-important-documents crisis, or our almost-missing-both-flights disaster (I’m 99% certain they were intimately related)… It has been high-octane and as you’ll read, there have been some pressure points. But it all feels in the past now, as our optimism increases. Thie issues bemoaned below are resolving themselves one by one, Mum and dad are here and we are all in good spirits. And my lovely friends over at babysearching.wordpress.com had their little boy! Love to them!

Here are the posts-I-couldn’t-post-coz-I-had-no-wifi:

July 27
Oh wow.

Warning- even though I have just moved to an unbelievably fantastic city, this post is not a happy one. We have been enjoying the Prague 4 countryside to such an extent that we are a little sad to leave the area for our new apartment today. Actually though, that’s not the reason.

We have had a lot to handle. Too much, perhaps. That is why I’m waiting for a bus after what was supposed to be the final move from the hotel to our beautiful new place.

We left two important bags there.

In a similar vein, we left some really important things on the plane or in Vienna airport.

There are a million new sagas.

Our new place has just been given a facelift. It is pretty great. But I have watched a few too many scary films about young innocent couples moving into old (haunted) tenement blocks and I am a little anxious about spending our first night there. I know that is silly, but I can’t help it. Secondly, after arriving, we realised we’d lost the two bags with our most valuable and expensive documents and items in. Thankfully we were able to stay calm enough to call the driver and the hotel, and located them without further ado.
Thirdly, everyone smokes here, and while I can get used to it out and about, I fear our apartment may have a neighbour somewhere who smokes so heavily, that they are making our place smell of fags. We can throw open all the windows for now, but in the winter when we need to close doors and windows… I’m worried about that.
Why didn’t we notice it before? Well, the (smoking, struggling-with-personal-hygiene-in-a-heatwave) workmen were in, and there were rather a lot of smells unrelated to the apartment to concern our noses with. I feel so bad exposing my daughters to such a stink; even if I were a smoker myself, I’d smoke outside and always away from them.
Boo

I promise that I’ll update you with more positivity soon. Like I said though, we have had rather a lot to handle. Things will calm down soon, and my parents will be here on the 5th. Can’t wait to see them.

30th
Ok. Things are looking up. We have come to the conclusion that the smokey smells in our apartment aren’t fresh smoke; the actual air is not smokey at all. Therefore, as foul as it is to think about it, the previous occupant smoked to such excess and with such abandon, that the walls reek of it, long after his/ her departure. My theory is strengthened by the yellowed woodwork and cigarette-end-shaped burns on the hallway radiators.

The searing heatwave which was in full swing in Prague has ended. The mornings are warm but fresh, and seem to bring rain (also in the vein of a Bangkok rainy season) at about 5pm. We have been stuck in it unprepared twice now. Clearly not quite have tried out a few new wraps.

The girls are not behaving very well around food. This is partly the way auntie fed them (Thai style, on the floor and/or running around after them all around the room. I never liked this, but I was not the one doing the feeding).  This is also I’m guessing partly to do with the changes of moving here and the toddleryness they’re now exhibiting. And being infected with HFM. Both girls are very clingy, and Ivy loves her dummy again, Olive as boob-obsessed as ever. Maybe more, as it is the hols and I’m around all day, along with my heated, cuddly milksacks.

We have been zooming about all over the city on its (amazing and cheap) public transport system, which has been largely easy, however carrying buggies up and down escalators and/or steps is very tiring. Although compared to Thai people the checks are not exactly of a sunny disposition, they are friendly and helpful. We have been offered help so many times that I can now recognise the phrase (lots of Czech think I’m Czech, which is a novelty after obviously no-one EVER thinking I were Thai).

The school I will work in is in the outskirts of the city near where our hotel was. We imagined we would get a place to live out around there but have ended up right in the middle. We are glad as I think it makes things much better for mummy AW as she tries to make friends and travel with the monkeys anywhere while I’m at work. I will have a commute to navigate though.

We are really excited- Prague looks set to be a really exciting city for us. I’m missing Bangkok friends; especially those for whom travel is just a pipe dream. It was hard to leave them behind. And of course, we miss Auntie and even AW’s mum!

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Hand, foot & mouth disease: the fiery pits of toddler hell

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Roxxroxx:

Hey gang, Prague itself is great, but I thought it funny that this post came up in my blog feed… This is us (but not QUITE that bad as we are getting some sleep). Fevers and bitchy, needly spots are just what you need. They make an intercontinental move with twins under two really easy.
YUP.

Originally posted on :

Over the past 3 nights, I’ve mayyyyybe gotten about 7 hours of sleep in total. That’s a generous over-estimation. Want to know why? Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. 

Evelyn was diagnosed with it yesterday, but the symptoms (misery) started a couple days ago. I thought it was just teeth. She is cutting molars, after all. But then, daycare called me to tell me she had a rash on her bum, a few spots on her chin, behind her knees, and a few on her feet. A few in her mouth, too. Which means she’s not eating anything at all, and it hurts her to nurse.  They suspected it was hand, foot and mouth since it’s been running rampant through the daycare. Sure enough, it is.

The doctor says Evelyn has a mild case. If this is mild, I don’t want to think about a serious case.

Rocking your crying baby…

View original 186 more words

PRAGUE

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Funny things that have happened:
1) police at suwanabumi airport whisked us off and asked a million questions, and we had to tell our family’s story about 10 times. Of course, we were the first two-mummy/ binational case they had seen. Superiors were called, just for the freak show
2) we were on the same flight as, and exchanged pleasantries with, the Czech consulate staff member who had processed our Schengen application. He remembered us, as we were the first ‘case’ they’d had at the embassy in Bangkok.
3) we had almost zero immigration control because our double buggy would not fit down the corridor and we were VERY late for our connection and crying/ carrying 10 bags and two kids etc (we were prepared for an interrogation)
4) it is almost as hot as Bangkok.
5) we have seen loads of bees.

Squinty eye time

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I had loads to say and no battery yesterday so here is a slightly unorthodox post. Not sure you’ll be able to stand it, but to follow are photographs of my hand written blog thoughts. No way you can do it on a phone, so wait till later perhaps; sit down comfortably, near a large screen and get a telescope.

Enjoy, and first one to the end wins a free, erm, peck on the cheek next time we meet. That’s not much motivation, I know.
:/
Xxx

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Ok, so those are normal pictures. Here is something for you to read:

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20140710-140702-50822623.jpg(Super squint required to read this page, in particular)

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Ok, masses of love, and sorry this post was a bit different. Good different, I hope.

Packing schmacking

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Ooh, well school’s out and it was pretty emotional for me.

It was not exactly a smooth run because the only kid out of 1500 who didn’t know we finished early was in my class. So everyone else was closing up their room, and I was calling a mother who didn’t pick up. Then Ivy got a bit ill (and had acquired a huge blister on her toe) and so we rushed to the hospital and had to wait an age, with her yowling the whole time.

I needed a bit of time to process it after the charming afternoon. I had some lovely messages and hugs from the parents, one of whom cried, so I know I’ll be missed. When we got back from the hospital we had to redress Ivy’s toe (she pulled the dressing off immediately, of course!), and auntie was prattling (OMG, non-stop!) so I needed to get out.

A couple or watermelon mojitos and loads of tears later, I felt a bit better. (Thank god for auntie, even if she prattles ).

However, today:

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Shippers are coming. >.<

So, no relaxing yet.

But things are happening.

X

18 months!

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I feel I must do an 18 months post although I have very little energy to write.

I thought this might amuse:

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Ivy is only using her dummies when very sleepy. This is what she reckons the rest of the time.

I wanted to say how I want to put the breaks on our girls’ development and keep them little a bit longer. They amaze me. I could write loads and loads but I’ll say how they really are getting to be a handful now- they can climb up and reach everything it seems. It’s tiring, but great!

Notes about the girls:

April 26
This month Ivy has said “maew” about everything that is an animal
Olive says “buuh” for birds
Once, very clear with a telephone last Saturday (19th April) Ivy said “hello”
Yesterday (20th April) once, Olive did a runny poo, pointed to her nappy and said “poo”

May 23
Definitely talking about poo (or ‘ooh’ in Ivy’s case).
Ivy said .”Rma” and “mummy” crystal clear last Saturday (16th?) and now shouts it when she wants to get our of the bath.
Olive started to say “mama” and “boobie” (for my boobies) this week
Both have been saying baby /beebee for a long time, but without a consistent association.
Olive saying ‘shoe’ and ‘cat’

May 30th Olive said ‘gentle’ and ‘share’

Jun 3 Olive said ‘Mae’ to arty and kissed her sister goodnight, stroking her hair and saying “gentle”
Both are really into shoes.

Jun 7
Olive: Jump! ( When wanting to jump in pool)

Jun 8
Ivy when asked “where’s your sister?!” walked around my back to show that she was on my back (the last place she’d been!). So sharp!

Jun 12
Ivy: ‘Mai ow’ , ‘jump’ in pool
both: no, up (when playing) nam (for a drink)
Olive: “shhhh!” (With finger)

June 15
Olive shape sorting independently
Ivy Can hold up a finger for ‘1’
“Sky (Kai)” for anything up above them
“Up” for going up e.g. For aeroplane game.
Olive “reading”, saying “s’ok!” “Stop”

Ivy “weewee”
Removed her top by herself
15th
Ivy:
Mummy,mama (mama was while looking out of window), happy, weewee
Olive: weewee

21.6
Ivy “mummy ja!” “Mummy art”
Both: nod head for yes, say “jap”to touch (Thai)
Ivy dunking herself under water in pool and using mum’s (motorbike) keys to try to unlock the door

Our move

Argh!
So soon.
In talks with estate agent (realtor, I think, US ladies?) about places to rent.

Have had my suit made and my dresses are being seen up (5 years in Bangkok and I never had anything made until now). I went and chose some great dress fabric and asked a tailor – he really took the piss. I realise in hindsight that it could have been out of his comfort zone, and didn’t seem to get what I wanted. Anyway he wanted B4500 (£90+) PER DRESS. And I brought the fabric to the shop.
I went across the road to the Thai *dressmaker* (I’m super frazzled, or I would’ve thought of her before). She sketched what I wanted in minutes and said B1700 per dress. And it takes a while, and her workforce are not slaves working through the night. I know because they’re all there, working in her workshop.

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Following the flight saga, we had the luggage/ shipping saga. It is suuuuuuper dull but went on for ages. We are now decided we are taking only our free baggage quota (4x23kg) on the plane, and we are shipping the rest TO PRAGUE. We think it’s way easier than 8 bags and two babies, and it doesn’t cost that much more. That is a massive relief, that decision.

I am so sleepy. What else?

AW is awesome. She hates big parties and yet she came to my end of year party where I sang a few songs and ran around though the table legs after twins in 30Degree heat.

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AW was approached by my (unreadable) boss who wished us luck with the move and then told her that if we come back to Thailand she must tell me I’d be welcome to work at my current school. That was a really great thing to hear as I swear to god you have no idea what management think of you from behind their smokescreens at my work. I’m not certain about now, but I have had very satisfied parents before who wrote to him to tell him so (they told me they’d done so, he didn’t). And in a school where PR is hugely important, I suppose that could be why the school likes me. Of course, also because I’m good! (I think…?)

AW’s mum is really struggling now about our impending departure. You can see she’s getting moodier. :/

I wish we could please everyone, but this is our path. We have to make it and decide what we think is best.

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Good night, and thank you for reading!