Just a couple of weeks ago when showing off me blogs to my daughter Candy, she asked me in her Micky Mouse style of Thai language ‘Noo yoo nai?” (And where’s my foto dad?) before heading off into a sulk. To put her out of her misery and cheer her up I would like to take the opportunity to write a blog of a more serious nature and tell you about ‘the little love of my life’.
The Thais have a saying that goes: the three happiest days of ones life ought to be 1: The day of graduation, 2: The day of your wedding and 3: The day of the birth of your first child. The day Candy was born was actually the most horrific day of my life.
Out celebrating my b-day with Candy’s mom and a few friends along Phra Athit road I had a few drinks but nothing towards the exent of uncontrolable and went home for a pleasant nights sleep. I woke with a start at around 5am to find Candy’s mom gone and the lights full on. I then lay back and tried my almightiest to think about why Candy’s mom had to disappear in the middle of the night: was she angry that I had drunk so much the night before?.. couldn’t have been!
The phone rang. On the other end of the line was a man that identified himself as a doctor and said “Congratulations, you have a baby daughter, but get down here straight away, she is in a critical condition”. Arriving at Siriraj hospital in absolute disbelief I was advised by the doctor on duty that an incubator at the hospital wasn’t available and that I would have to take her to a Pvt hospital straight away. I then spent the next half hour running round like a headless chicken calling up relatives asking for a whopping loan in the range of 100-200,000 baht.
On realizing that I wasn’t a filthy rich Farang the doctor came out to my darned relief to say “Nevermind Mr Steve, we have made room for her at the ICU for new borns, now if you would care to go see her”. In a chaotic tramatic state I was met by a doctor who led me through into ICU. I could do nothing but burst into tears when I saw my daughter for the first time with wires, tubes and needles stuck into her. She had been born 11 weeks pre-mature, weighing just 1.1kg and suffering from ‘Severe Respiratory Syndrome’, she was given a 70-30% chance of survival.
To say that I was ‘flippin my nut’ would be an understatement and the doctors kindly sought for me a psychiatrist to listen to my whims and prescribe me with a batch of anti-depressants. Nothing in ones life can match the trauma of seeing ones baby loved-one clinging on for life and having her lungs constantly massaged so as not forgetting to breathe. For the next couple of weeks, when not a day passed that I wasn’t found weeping away to myself, had to see Candy and talk and touch her as psychological support. This touching I found so hard to do as I was afraid that to just touch her tiny arm would hurt her, her weight had dropped to just 900 grammes and was informed that if Candy caught even the smallest of infections she wouldn’t live it through, she was too weak.
Every morning I would wake and worry myself sick with “Will she see the day out?” To make things even more psychologically worse a couple of other new-borns hadn’t survived and I witnessed a couple of pitiful parents sat outside ICU holding their little loved one shrouded in a blanket like their was no tomorrow and sobbing into each others shoulder. The birth of their cherished one had turned into a nightmare that you wouldn’t even wish upon your worst enemy.
The weeks went by and Candy grew bigger and stronger and so did my hopes. After more than three months after her birth, there was one happy morning when arriving to see Candy, I was met by a delighted doctor who said “Candy has been considered safe she doesn’t stay here anymore, she has been moved upstairs”. Late July, nearly five months after her birth I proudly took Candy home for the first time, she weighed just like any other newly born: 3kg.
Love him or despise him, I thank PM Thaksin for his 30 baht health card policy. As the doctors knew how much I was earning, did ask me on occasions to flash some cash. At the end of the day she must have cost me just over ten thousand baht, an absolute fraction of the true cost. Looking through the receipts etc… I knew that Candy had cost the government more than 400,000 baht. I had never realized before that the price of an incubator is equivalent to that of a house.
Living here, I have become Thai in a few ways. On Candy’s b-days (mine too) I have taken Candy to pay respects to the statue of ‘Jao Fah Mahidol’ in the compounds of Siriraj as I once vowed that if his spirit would help Candy I would come back every year henceforth to pay my respects. Since Candy’s birth I have also not eaten beef as I also made a vow to ‘Jao Mae Kuan Yim’ (Mahayana’s Goddess of Mercy) that if she helped too I wouldn’t touch beef again. She is the reason that most Thai-Chinese don’t eat such meat.
I’m a little sad to say, that beginning in May, I may not be able to blog so often as I shall have to take care of my daughter who is coming to live with me in Suphan as I have arranged for her to attend pre-kindergarten right behind my school here. If you are wondering why I am in such a rush to send her to school, the reason is, custody law. The day she steps into a school will give me the automatic right that she lives with me after her mother decided to go work upcountry and leave Candy with her granny. For any single guy interested, Candy’s mom can found working as a receptionist at a flashy hotel in Rayong probably hoping to meet another Farang but preferably one with a stack-a-cash. Just ask for ‘O’ ‘Sirinapa! and I will be happy to point out the directions to any interested guy.
I know that this hasn’t been a usual stevesuphan style blog but at least Candy can stop sulking now.By the way, her real name is ‘Catillia’, which is a type of orchid.