Friday, October 24, 2014

Escaping Hurricane Gonzalo

In the four years we have lived in Bermuda, we've been lucky to avoid any major hurricanes.

Our luck ended last week when the island was hit by back to back storms.

First, Tropical Storm Fay - with wind gusts over 100 mph.


Then, while the island was still recovering, we watched Hurricane Gonzalo make its approach up the Atlantic Ocean.

Projections put Bermuda on a direct hit this time.  That is rare, but we weren't taking any chances. The possibility of going without power for weeks was enough motivation to purchase tickets to get the kids off the island. We figured we could manage without power, and the baby would be ok with me, but Jordan and Mina would be better off with Grandma back in the States.

We bought tickets Monday night, for a flight Friday morning. This was under the assumption that the storm would hit on Saturday.

As the week progressed, it became clear that the storm was moving faster then expected, and the Friday flight would be cancelled.  We resigned ourselves to bracing out the storm together, and hopefully getting a flight off the island when the airport re-opened.  It wasn't the storm itself we were worried about, you see.  Bermuda homes are built to withstand the hurricanes.

It was the subsequent loss of power that had us concerned.  Friends who survived Hurricane Fabian (the last big one to hit the island) warned us that power was out for almost a month!

Loss of power means not just lack of electricity.  It means no showers, toilets, refridgerated food, internet, phone, or most cooking.  Multiply those needs by two big kids stuck indoors, and there was our motivation.

We scrambled to get baby Theo a passport.

This was no easy task, as he still did not have a birth certficate.  (See earlier post about this nonsense.)  However, Jeff worked his magic and managed to convince someone at the Registrar to take pity on us and print one out.  We gathered all the important papers and made it to the American Consulate to attest to our citizenship and claim Theo's American status.

Voila!  Passport pictures obtained too!


Then we learned that the airlines would be bringing in additional flights Wednesday and Thursday morning. With the help of American Express Travel, a new service Jeff learned about (no, they are not paying me) we managed to change Jordan and. Mina's tickets to Thursday, AND get two more for Jeff and me.

Off we go.

Escaping Gonzalo

Fashionable travel wear.

Chilling in Miami.

No direct flights to NYC - so Theo enjoys his first layover in Miami.

Staring contest with the deer

It's ok.  We perservered and were rewarded with a beautiful fall trip.  Jordan admiring the foliage and fauna.


Baby passing with good friends while the big kids enjoyed a fall festival.


Best part - Theo got to meet the Grandparents!  Hi Grandma B.


And Grandma H, who hosted all of us at her home in PA.



We were also lucky to be in town while Uncle Osman was making his annual fall east coast visit.


Bonding, the techie-techie way.

As it turned out, the Category 3 hurricane found Bermuda well prepared. Our house withstood too much damage, and apart from a busted grill, we are ok. There is continued leaking in the basement, but what else is new.

For most people on the island, power was restored over the course of a few days. There are still some unlucky souls who do not have it back, and to date that means over 12+ days. They haven't had it restored since the first storm, so my heart really goes out to them!

I'm glad we had the unexpected trip back to the US. Fall is my favorite season of the year, and it's best appreciated in the northeast. The fall colors, the chill in the air, the mad frenzy of all things pumpkin - I love it.


Plus we had some good bonding too.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A temporary calm - Surviving Tropical Storm Fay and preparing for Hurricane Gonzalo.


This past weekend, the island got hit with Tropical Storm Fay. They keep calling it a storm, but the wind gusts of over 100+ miles an hour did some major damage. This storm caught most of us completely off guard.

These are just some scenes from my neighborhood.


Debris along our walking route.


Palmettos hanging dangerously from electical wires.


Tree branches scattered everywhere.


Our neighbor's Poinciana tree completely uprooted.


What neighbors do.

This tree landed across the road, and as soon as it was safe to be outside, neighbors came out with buzzsaws and hacked it up. They moved the limbs out of the road to await cleanup when the storm was finally over.

Across the island, it was reported that more than 27,000 people lost power. That's about half the population, including us. Many got it restored the same day, but unfortunately we had to wait till Monday. Not too bad - about a day and a half.

However, because we weren't prepared, we didn't do the usual things like fill up the tubs with water, move outdoor furniture or shut the hurricane shutters. It wasn't as bad as it could have been; and we were lucky to live close to town where we can take advantage of showers at the company gym which relies on major generators.

 But it wasn't fun.

Well, maybe for the kids it was.  School was closed Monday and Tuesday.  At the time of this writing, I'm still waiting to see if it will be open on Wednesday.  Saltus had some damage, including some of the roof being ripped off.  Yikes.

What's even scarier is that another one is on the way.  Hurricane Gonzalo is scheduled to make a direct hit on Bermuda either Thursday night or Friday.  Very worried about this one.  Going without power for a day or two is manageable .. going a week or more with three kids is something else. 

We have been very lucky in that during our four years on the island, we've avoided any major storms.  This one might be our first taste of it. 

Wish us luck!


Breakfast by candlelight during Tropical Storm Fay.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Jazz Hands ... and the absurdities of documenting your child's birth in BDA.

So, a month ago, I gave birth to my third child.  Since we live here in Bermuda for the time being, it made sense to just deliver him here. 

First, the baby in question.

Look!  Jazz hands!!


You know how easy it is to get a birth certificate when you deliver in a hospital in the US, right?  You pretty much leave the hospital on discharge with something in your hand.

Not here.

(We left with the baby, which is a good thing.)

Four weeks later, still no birth certificate. 

We did just get this form in the mail.  Blank for us to fill out - called "Notice of Particulars of Birth."

Take a look at it for a moment and tell me if you notice anything odd.


First, it's not a birth certificate.

Ok - no big deal.  Presumably we fill out the info and mail it to the Registrar and hopefully one day have something I can take to the American Consulate.  I hope I will secure an approval of a Notice of an American Birth Overseas, which I will then use to get the boy a passport. 

In case he ever wants to get off the island...


Keep looking at the form above ...

Apart from the fact that we have to declare our marital legitimacy so the child isn't legally a bastard, we also get to make up our own racial color of the child.

The best part?  Wait for it...

There's nowhere for the MOTHER to sign.

Get it?


I carried the boy for 40 weeks in my body, gained 30 pounds, delivered him in a burst of pain and drug-free glory.. and my signature isn't necessary.


Apparently I lack the legal capacity to verify the birth of my child.

Oh Bermuda. 

I love you, but it's true. 

It's a whole other world over here.

ps - we debated for two days what the "racial color of the child" was.  Jeff dared me to put down any other race that would guarantee him an affirmative action boost for college application processes 18 years from now.  I told him it wouldn't matter by then since everyone will be brown like me by that point.

Such is what passes for levity in this house when no one gets any sleep.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Newborn days, Iphone snippets, and what "they" say.

They say "these days" will go by so fast.


Every baby is different, and we are learning about ours.

Right now, we are deep in the trenches of life with a newborn. Endless nights, long stretches of daytime, a little mouth attached to my breast, and the constant feeling of sleepiness that hazes over everything.

There are moments like this one.


I think I'm still hormonal because I want to cry when I see this. Was it really nine and a half years ago that I had Jordan? Was it that long ago that he was a tiny baby attached to machines?

And now he's a big, big brother.

When I look at Theo, I see Jordan all over again - the Jordan I thought we were going to have before all hell broke loose. That sounds odd, doesn't it?  It's not like saying it's a second chance.  Obviously we got a second chance with Jordan when he had a heart transplant. 

Looking at Theo is liking looking at a duplicate of what Jordan looked like when he was born.  It's a weird deja vu/parallel universe of what normal would have been like minus the heart issues.

Getting out and about with the baby - a stop at Jeff's office and art gallery.


They say you have to stop and smell the roses sometimes.  I caught a glimpse of the amazing photography exhibit at ACE and I had to step in.  Good thing Theo was sleeping.  This was coming on the tale end of our first morning walking in town.  Although I've been using the stroller regularly for walks in our neighborhood, I havent ventured yet into the shops along Front St. just yet.  Today was the day.

Theo did ok. Fussing a bit when the stroller stopped moving, which became a minor problem as I was checking out at the register.  But not a big deal.  It's definitely easier having gone through this before.  You don't get as fazed by the minor crying or worry so much what other people think. 


"They" love to say newborns sleep all the time.  Some certainly do.  Yet all too often, Theo fights it.  Which is why I have resorted to wearing the infamous black chador of despair, a/k/a the moby wrap.  Yards and yards of fabric envelope my midsectiona and chest - all for the purpose of instantly putting the baby into a deep sleep. 


Food coma. 

The boy is attached to my breast whenever he is not sleeping.  I can't keep up with him, and I've resorted to supplementing with both formula and expressed milk I've been pumping.  Never had this problem with Jordan or Mina, but not much else I can do when I see him crying after a full feeding.  I also like being able to share the feeding duty with Jeff, who gives him a bottle before bedtime.


Fighting sleep!


The wee twilight hours between night and day.  Little guy is always by my side in the nursery.  I'm reminded of the time it took to set it up and feel pleased that it's decorated to my taste.  To Jeff's credit, leaving the guest bed in there was a good idea.  Theo and I are camped out on it all night.

Sleep training will begin in a few weeks when he's developmentally ready.  I'm a big fan of Marc Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits" book, and used it successfully for both Jordan and Mina.  It saved our lives, and I am hoping his research will work with Theo. 

"They" say moms should nap when the baby does, which I try, but the lack of sleep at night is making my brain really fuzzy.  Not good.  They also don't have any advice for what to do when you try to sleep but your mind is racing, thinking about all the other things you have to do, or your ears are on high alert as you wait for the baby to start crying again because you've had the nerve to put him in his crib.

I don't know why he hates the crib, or the bassinet, or the baby swing, or the standing rocker.  I'm guessing it's because I'm not laying next to him with my breast in his mouth.  Jeff has suggested designing a baby product  - a synthetic breast that keeps the baby company during nap time. 

Don't steal our idea.  If I ever get some sleep I might start designing it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Walks with Theo.

Exploring the neighborhood - Fairylands.

I spent a lot of time researching the best stroller option for us, convinced that a daily walk would be the best thing for both Theo and myself.


Doesn't he look thrilled about it?


Granted, there are speed bumps along the way - both to finding the perfect stroller.  Hint - it's the proverbial unicorn.  As well as convincing your newborn that it's better to be out walking than stuck at home attached to the breast all day.


The best part of walks is discovering new things.  Even though we've lived in this neighborhood for almost two years now, I had no idea this place existed.  It's the Butterfield Nature Preserve.  I didn't venture up the stairs into the woods with the stroller, but I'm coming back with our dog soon so I can explore further.  Aren't these mossy steps inviting?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Theo's Birth Story, also known as "The Anglican Arch Bishop Of Bermuda Almost Delivered my Baby!"

The last time I wrote, I was complaining about still being pregnant and the false alarm we had after our abbreviated curry night.

I guess I spoke too soon.

My little guy was just biding his time.  He waited for the first day of school to make his appearance.
On Tuesday, September 2, 2014, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy - presenting Theodore Naeem Trimarchi - 7 lbs 5 oz, 19 inches.

Theo first pics

Sleeping soundly in a bassinet.  This was the last time I saw this happen.  He's now attached to my breast or sleeping next to me on a memory foam mattress.  The bassinet next to our bed has become a storage basin for all the bed pillows Jeff despises.

And then there were three.  Welcome to the world Theodore Naeem Trimarchi.

Then there were three.

Post delivery

I'm going to document Theo's arrival, so there is no confusion years from now.  I always make fun of Jeff because he wasn't there when I had to drive myself to the hospital to give birth to Mina.  That theme continues. 

This time, I get to make fun of him because once again, I had to catch a ride with someone other than my husband. 

I was lucky - the Anglican Archbishop of Bermuda and his wife, Fiona Dill (my midwife/doula) drove me to King Edward Hospital to deliver my child. 

It's a long story.

Get some popcorn.



Sleep during day, party at night.

Setting:  September 2, 2014. 


Kids are on their first day of school.  Two days of minor contractions and Braxton Hicks over the weekend have left me feeling very blase about the whole thing.  Convinced they baby is taking his sweet time getting here, I no longer worry about every little muscle spasm hitting my uterus.

Since I have three hours before pick up, I decide to get a head start on dinner and cleaning.  I notice some mild contractions, but they are nothing to write home about.  I ignore them and proceed to make chicken marsala with mushrooms.  Because what else would you make while you are in the middle of labor?  Except, I didn't really think I was in labor because I'm the idiot who has never had a natural labor before.  Both my kids were induced so I have no clue what labor even means.

After that, I look with dismay at all the thyme that is scattered on my floor.  I sweep and then for good measure, mop.

By 1:37 pm I decide it's finally time to take a shower.  (I'm being really precise because I am looking at my text history with Jeff to verify these times!  No claiming I am making this stuff up!)  Still some minor contractions.  I ignore and take a long, hot shower.  I even have time to put on makeup and do my hair!  It sounds more impressive than it is.  No one notices hair and makeup when you are 40 weeks pregnant and waddling around with a watermelon attached to your stomach.

Me texting to Jeff:  I think I'm going to take a shower.  Contractions about 7 minutes apart.

Jeff:  Ok.  Will come home after doctor.  (Jeff conveniently had a doctor's appointment of his own for a cough.)

By 3:02, I decide to jot off a quick email.  As I sit down on the couch, I am struck with a huge contrzction that doubles me over.  I text Jeff.

Me:  I'm calling Fiona (my doula/midwife).  Had a really bad one.

Jeff:  Ok.  Have her take you right away.  I will wait till kids are settled.  Caroline can come at 5:00

me:  Can you call Susie to get the kids?  I want you at the hospital!

Jeff:  ok

Me:  Or Christina.  Or call Jennifer Pettit and put them in aftercare for today.

Jeff:  I am in car line.  Will have them soon. 

(this is the part where I groaned in frustration.  The first day back at school is notorious for complete cluster feck of a carline.)

me:  You gotta get them out NOW.  Fiona is here.  I am in agony!

Jeff:  just go!!! 

The trouble is, Jeff did not realize Fiona had lent her car to her husband, the for mentioned Anglican Archbishop of Bermuda.  Damn you Bermuda with your one car per household laws!  He was next door at Price Rite doing some shopping.  Fiona thought she would be driving to the hospital with us.  She didn't realize Jeff would not be home.

So, she called her husband, who dropped everything in line and came driving over.

By this point, I was on the floor of my bathroom screaming in agony.

Jeff also pulled up and was bringing the kids into the house.  Mina heard me screaming and proceeded to freak out and dash off to her room.

Because we didn't have anyone to watch the kids yet, Jeff stayed with them while my midwife and the Archbishop drove me to the hospital.  Everyone else was also in car line picking up their kids!

I screamed and cried the whole way.  The Archbishop was very calm as was Fiona.  They have six kids, so they have heard it all before.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:40.

There were no delivery rooms ready, so the nurses asked me to lay on an examining room table.  I cursed her out in pain and demanded an epidural.

"We need to examine you Mrs. Trimarchi!"

"No!!  No way!!  I am not doing this without an epidural!!  I want my epidural!!!"  I think I may have put my head down on the table and started crying.

My very lovely midwife, who is just a peach, replied in her quintessentially British tone,  "Sorry dear, no time for an epidural."

Together, they heaved me on the table.

Once there, the nurse examined me and told me I was fully dilated.  My water broke instantly, and I started sobbing.

"You can push now, Mrs Trimarchi.  When you feel the wave of the contraction."

"I can't do this!!  I don't know how to do this!! I can't remember anything!!"

Jeff showed up somehow and started doing some ridiculous thing with my leg.  The nurse practically rolled her eyes at me and told me to focus.

"Mrs Trimarchi, you have two kids!  You know what you are doing.  Just push!!"

"You can do this Sadaf, you're so close now!"

In ten minutes, also known as the equivalent of three pushes, Theodore made his way into the world.

He was tinged blue.  At which point I started screaming again that he was blue, because I forgot that most babies are slightly blue at birth till they get oxygenated.

And then I held him, and my sobs were ones of relief. 

Ten minutes.  No drugs.  It was finally over.

Welcome to the world, Theo! 

And a special thanks to Fiona Dill, of Great Beginnings, and her very capable husband/driver, for getting me to the hospital in time.  I hadn't imagined ever using a midwife before, especially since this was my third child.  On the recommendation of a friend, I decided to give her a try because I was a wee bit nervous about delivering in Bermuda.  Ok, I was actually very nervous.  I missed the comforts of home and wanted to work with someone who was familiar with the hospital and staff here. 

I am so glad I did.  I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn't relied on Fiona.  I suspect Theo would have been delivered on the floor of my dining room, which was the last place I was huddled over before she arrived at my house.