Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Post- Natal

My Lao Baby

Well, Thai baby, sort of.

Our son, Sayo Ephraïm David Hyman, was born in Udon Thani, Thailand on Wednesday, the Second of February, 2011 at the AEK Udon International Hospital.

Mother, baby, siblings and father are doing well.

Many thanks and much gratitude go to the staff of the hospital, which is an amazing facility. It is light-years ahead of hospitals in France or Canada or even the French Hospital in Hanoi. Doctor Rachani and his staff all speak good English, the equipment and care were superb and Marie-Do’s room (which had French windows leading to a large, palm-tree planted terrace…) was large and bright. Really no comparison to her dingy hospital room in Toronto which she had to share with a family wearing baseball caps, baggy pants, speaking loudly and stinking up the room with take-out fast food.

Sayo is a Têt baby, born on the Chinese New Year. For some reason it is the Year of the Rabbit, but in Vietnam it is the Year of the Cat (in a country where they turn back time…). The hospital staff got dressed up in Chinese robes and came to Marie-Do’s room to sing New Years’ songs and give us presents. Clearly, medical care in the Third World leaves something to be desired.

From the point of a pregnant woman, however, one drawback is that they will not administer epidural because of a past incident somewhere in Udon. It’s sink or swim, baby!

The day after the birth I flew to Bangkok to get an emergency passport for Sayo at the French embassy. Once again I was impressed by French consular staff. When Marie-Do and I drove from France to Vietnam ( http://www.eastofeden.fr ), French embassies we met on the way were always excellent. The Canadian embassy I just avoided

( http://www.eastofeden.fr/turquie/english/mad.htm. ). Why bother getting angry?

Bangkok is big and bustling. The Skytrain is a marvel of technology and the buildings sparkle. I am glad to be back in Anatevka. (See posting on this blog dated September 24, 2010: Anatevka)

The baby is beautiful as you can see, fit, and with a great pair of lungs.

Sayo’s name means Victory in Lao. His Hebrew names are Ephraïm and David, named after my Uncles Eph and Eddy, men who were very great influences in my life. It is an honour to be able to name my son after two such fine men.

Finding a mohel out here is going to be another piece of cake.


We went to Udon Thani three full days before the birth and checked into the EAK Udon Apartments, just to be on the safe side. We wanted to avoid at all costs a mad dash to the border with Marie-Do having contractions, and so we took our time. We spent three days walking around this very ugly city and even ate at McDonald’s one morning. When a pregnant woman demands an Egg McMuffin, you give her an Egg McMuffin. As you can see, Ronald McDonald says ‘sabadeeka’ like the well-trained operative he is.

Udon is a strange sort of place. They say that there was an American Air Force base here back in the day and a remnant of this is that the city is a magnet for Old White Men. And I don’t mean old like me. I mean really old. They sit around the bars at night smoking and drinking beers and not smelling good. Those who have the energy joke around with the bar girls. Some of them have Thai girlfriends or wives and children young enough to be their great-grand-children. The scene is one of alcohol and despair; and leaves you with a kind of washed-up feeling.

There is a vibrant Night Market, though; that most lovely of Thai traditions, and discount supermarkets where everything is cheaper than in Laos.

There is an old British kind of formalism in some aspects of life here that reminded me of Jordan. The parking attendants at the hospital, for example, all have cleats on the inner outsoles of their boots, so when they see you they salute very properly and click their heels together and say ‘kah!’

The back streets of the city are Thai intimate, little alleyways and people playing dominoes. People are friendly and welcoming, handing you meat skewers and glasses of beer as you walk by their street parties.