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Rough Day

By Dan | June 21, 2007

Finally, all’s quiet on the Eastern front… As you can tell by my entry interval, today was not a particularly good day, although it is ending much, much better than it started. The twins tag teamed all night, so we probably got a cumulative 2 hours of sleep, ending at 4am when both were up and fussing constantly. We figured out about 4 that they were constipated, but at that time there isn’t much we could do about it. (There isn’t exactly a 24 hour Walgreen’s here.) Thanh’s finally cleared on it’s own about 8am (two diapers full, he was really backed up), but it took several hours for him to feel better I think. About the same time, we called Anna our facilitator, who came by the hotel with Thao. Anna and Shannon took the twins while Thao and I walked down the street to a pharmacy to get glycerin suppositories.

The pharmacy met absolutely no expectations when compared with those in the USA. This was a hole-in-the-wall store front, with a counter up front (no customer entry) and a pharmacist and all products in storage cases everywhere else in the space. The pharmacist asked what we needed in reasonable English and I asked for the glycerin suppositories, and she gave me a very quizzical look. Makes me wonder what they are used for here. Anyway, she asked what the problem was, and I told her, thinking the language barrier was a problem. She understood and started digging around the various boxes and came up with Duphalac. She spoke with Thao for a while in Vietnamese and I think she may have been trying to persuade Thao that we should use the Duphalac instead (which is oral, we really didn’t have the time to wait). Eventually, she scrambled around the pharmacy some more and found a dosage sheet for the Duphalac, and some glycerine suppositories. (All in all, the total was like $1.50 for 6 suppositories and the equivalent of 6 infant doses of the Duphalac.) Thao and I walked back, and Shannon and I went up and administered the suppository to Vinh about 9, and by 9:05 he was starting to clear as well. Shannon and I have decided that they were probable getting too rich of a formula mix (even though it is mixed consistent with the instructions on the formula and from the orphanage), and have thinned it out some. Also, we are going to keep giving them small amounts of the Dulphalac until we are sure they are on schedule or until we can get home.

After all was settled upstairs, I took Thanh and went down to get some breakfast. (Breakfast is included with our hotel stay, and is served until 9:30.) I walked into the restaurant at 9:28, and they were starting to close up. The hostess smiled at me and said it was fine, and everyone stopped until I had eaten. I must have looked horrible, because they set a new place at a table for me, and she said that she had seen Shannon early this morning (Shannon had gone down for toast around 6 or 6:30.) I told here it had been a long night and she said she understood. She (and all of the staff) were very kind, waiting hand and foot even more than normal.

While digestive tracts were finally getting to be normal, it took a while for the kids to start to feel better. They were still fussy and irritable all morning (although Thanh already was starting to like being held much more). By the time we started to get them settled down so they were at least quiet (about 10:45), Anna called to say our CIS appointment was at 11:45 and she would be picking us up in 15 minutes. Shannon assumed she meant tomorrow, since it felt like it was at least 4pm by then. She was pretty shocked to know it was not even 11am! We scrambled around everywhere to get ourselves presentable and prepared for the kids, which of course upset the kids. Finally we got everyone situated, and were still 10 minutes late (which is actually pretty impressive I think given what state we were in all morning). Anna was very patient, and we got a taxi to go to the CIS office. Both kids were sound asleep by the time we were into the taxi of course, since there was no way that Shannon and I could get any sleep for the next several hours. (They slept all the way through until we got back to the hotel.)

Thankfully, Anna had built in some extra time for traffic and what not, and we walked into the office pretty much right on time. The officer was of course running late, so we waited for about 30 minutes. The interview was not bad, the majority of it was confirming information on our I600a application, and some brief questions to ensure that there was not any impropriety in the process. The officer seemed to regard the Vietnamese adoption process with disdain, and made it clear without directly saying so that she was not in favor of reopening the program. I’ll probably write more on this subject when I get home. For now, the important part is that everything is in order (to our knowledge – it’s probably just my unease about the process, but I will feel better when we have documents in hand).

Came back to the hotel and Shannon stayed with Thanh while Anna and the other family and I (and Vinh) went to buy our plane tickets for Hanoi. It was fairly unremarkable, other than it took almost 90 minutes to buy 8 plane tickets. Total cost was just under 200 USD for two tickets and both infants. So we are all set to leave tomorrow at 6pm for Hanoi. Shannon and I are both excited, but have no energy to show it. Only things left are to get the passports (Thao will deliver them at 2) and the medical reports, which apparently cannot be released without the passports issued. The Cho Ray hospital that we used apparently bends the rules a little bit due to the volume of immigration physicals they perform, but apparently the physical is not technically supposed to occur until after the passport is issued. I’m not sure from the CIS officers comments whether that is a US thing or a VN thing, but she did not seem to have a problem with it.

Back to the hotel, and Shannon was feeding Thanh. (Vinh had taken a whole bottle at the airline ticket office.) We tried to put them down at the same time to get some sleep. This was the first time that we have tried to put either one of them down without them more / less being already asleep, much less at the same time. It took about 90 minutes, but we were eventually successful and got between 4-5 hours of sleep finally. With more regular digestive tracts, they are different babies this afternoon, but they are still very itchy. The only reason I can see for this is the drier air of the air conditioned room, but unless we can find an anti-histamine there isn’t much we can do. This makes them very restless all the time, especially when going down to sleep and while sleeping. (Thanh especially has been moving almost constantly as I have been writing, even though he is pretty deeply asleep. Since I am awake and aware I try to keep rocking his cradle when he starts tossing. I don’t think this is actually necessary, but I would rather be safe as all of us need the rest.) I may try the pharmacy again tomorrow morning, but don’t expect much luck, as I was kind of looking for a familiar product when I was there today and didn’t see one. I also looked at the grocery store, but sale of OTC drugs is apparently not common / allowed outside of a pharmacy here. (OTC is kind of relative anyway, as it seems even the most rudimentary drugs must be bought through a pharmacist, even tho no prescription is necessary.)

Shannon woke me up at about 8 to mention that we were basically out of water, so I went over to the mall grocery store to get more and shopped for a little bit. Bought a couple souvenirs (although what I am really looking for is a money clip – keeping USD and Dong on the same clip is just not that practical, especailly with the volume of bills necessary for Dong.) It was near closing time for the mall (in fact, it was 15 minutes after close when I left), but the shopkeepers were still very willing to help. Only at the jewelry shops would I have had problems, as they pretty much pack up the same way our jewelry stores do with any external facing windows. I have lots of promises to come back tomorrow, as I was running out of readily accessible cash. (I had plenty in my passport holder, but was unwilling to dig under my shirt for it in the mall.) Hopefully time will allow, as there were several things I was legitimately interested in. One shop keeper was trying to haggle in order to make the sale, and saw that I had a credit card and she very excitedly kept saying ‘I take Visa’ (even though it was an American Express that she had seen in my money clip). I told her we would probably both be happier if I came back tomorrow and she seemed to understand, although was a little disappointed. Found a few really neat future gift ideas for the kids tho, and hopefully Shannon and I can get back there to get some of them, or we can find something similar in Hanoi.

Speaking of Hanoi and travel in general, we will be staying at the Gouman hotel that is mentioned in all our travel guides. This is a 4 star hotel and supposed to be very comfortable. (The Oscar hotel where we are staying is a 3 star, and works very well especially given the rate, but is definitely of the 3 star variety.) Reservations are already made. We are told that it is now safe to change plane reservations for return to next week. Shannon and I have not discussed exactly when we may want to return (and some of that will be at the mercy of Korean Air anyway), but I must first find the local Delta number. Hopefully there is one for Vietnam; if not, I may see if I can find someone stateside (probably Fred as he is familiar with Delta) to take care of it. As of right now, it looks like we may be home in time to get to the beach, and as I have not re-booked our airline tickets for the wedding, there is a (fairly slight) chance we may still go. Hopefully everything continues to go smoothly, but it sounds like the major in-country hurdles are taken care of, and the child hurdles we will have to deal with in transit (and if not, the earlier we are home the better in that regard, if no other reason than to get on a medical system we are familiar with).

Also, Shannon thinks Vinh may have an ear infection. He has been tugging at his ears almost since we got him on Tuesday, but has not had a fever, discharge, or basically any other symptoms. I’m hoping it is just that they aren’t clearing due to congestion. They are still clearing out from the cold they had last week, and all the crying this morning did not help the matter. Regardless, hopefully this does not cause a problem flying tomorrow and if it’s not already an infection, clears up before it becomes one. We have received advice that we should be feeding them at takeoff and landing to help the clear their ears, so will try that.

I think that’s the major points of the day. There are a few other topics I will catch up in future entries.

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