Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome Andrew....opps....Sorry, I mean Isabella

After being awake for about 28 hours, I was a little bit like a zombie.  I staggered up the stairs, showed the nurse my piece of paper saying I was the father of my child and was lead to a room.  I figured at this point I'd be able to pick our baby up, talk with her/him and start to get to know it.  Well, as it transpires, it turned out to a viewing gallery and my ticket allowed me about 30 seconds to see my baby. 

I counted, two arms, two legs and one head.  Good start I thought.  Cute little face - definitive plus.  Potentially blue eyes (I still haven't worked that out yet) - double plus.  Looks like me - plus as it's definitely my baby, minus that she may end up being the female equivalent of her father.  I went to pick her up, but was fended off by the nurse.  I figured they must have tests to do but I was a bit put out.  The nurse quickly lifted up the diaper to show me the sex.  She lifted up our baby's legs for about half a second.  As no spoke any English and I didn't really get a clear look, I made the decision the our baby, was in fact, an Andrew, my son.  I quickly took two pictures and was asked to leave the room.
My wife's sister told me that I wouldn't be able to see Hanh until about 1 or 2pm so I decided to go home.  I found my motorbike in the car park, paid the attendant and drove home - which I wouldn't advise doing after being awake for as long as I had!  I stopped off at the shop, bought some milk as I was desperate for a cup of tea and eventually made it to my house at about 9:40, roughly 27 hours after I'd left the house the previous day.  I hadn't turned off my computer from the day before, so I opened the top, uploaded the two pictures I had taken and announced the arrival of Andrew to the world on Facebook.  I didn't even look at the pictures.  I was too tired.  I was only really thinking about Hanh and Andrew.  I hoped they were both healthy and couldn't wait to see them both.  I set a couple of alarms for 1pm and 1:10pm, closed my eyes and fell asleep.

As is normal for me, I woke up a couple of minutes before my alarm went off.  At first, I didn't know where I was or what had happened before I went to sleep.  However, after looking to my left, I saw the cot already made and suddenly remembered I had some to be.  Unlike the previous morning, I had a quick shower, gulped down some water and dashed to my motorbike.  Again, I don't remember all that much about the bike journey but I think it was fairly uneventful.  For this experience I know that if my wife goes into labour in the UK, I will definitely not be the one driving the car!

I arrived at hospital and called Ngan.  See came down to meet me at reception to tell me her bag had got stolen.  This was a big loss for us.  Most of the money that we were going to use to pay for everything was stolen, 3 mobile phones (including my wife's) and my sister in laws identification papers were gone.  Fortunately, I'd kept some of the money (which turned out to be enough to cover all the fees) and the important documentation for Hanh and myself.  If these papers had have been lost, it would've made life very difficult as bureaucracy is king in Vietnam.  At the time, I took all this in my stride.  I was to concerned about Hanh and excited to meet Andrew to care.  Ngan led me upstairs to the room my family was staying in.

At about I walked into the walk.  Hanh looked exhausted.  My managed a faint smile and nodded to say she was OK.  In the time I was away, her parents had arrived from her hometown.  Hanh and Ngan had decided not to tell them that their daughter had gone into labour to save them from any stress.  In hindsight, that turned out to be a good idea, though not necessary one I'd have chosen in the same circumstances.  My attention then turned to the centre of the room.  There was a small baby's bed, covered in a pink mosquito net.  Inside was my child dressed in pink.  I spoke to him and he seemed to recognise my voice.  I look into his eyes and felt a surge of love that will stay with me for life.  Just of innocent purity.  I picked him up, held him and started walking around the room, talking the sort of non-sense that only new fathers are allowed to speak.
 I distinctly remember saying "Why have they dressed you in pink Andrew?'' and ''Why is your bed pink?'' in my 10 minutes of rambling after which time my wife said to me ''Mark, why are you calling Isabella Andrew?''.  I stopped, looked, put two and two together and had realised my mistake.  I offered a token ''Are you sure?'' to which the response was ''You can check if you want!'' - Check mate.  I'd lost.  Andrew was in fact Isabella which seemed to make much more sense since everything was pink!

Since I'd informed everyone that we'd had a boy, I knew that a bit of stick would be coming my way.  To be fair to everyone, I haven't received a lot of mickey taking for which I'm incredibly grateful.  Hopefully if you've read the previous two blogs, you'll see that I was exactly in the best place through both physical and mental exhaustion.  Hanh needed me to pick up a few things from home, so after an hour and a half, I went home, had something to eat as I was starving and updated Facebook.  I called my parents and gran to inform them of the change of gender before going back to the hospital for the 4th time.  This time, I just spent time with my family.  Hanh and Isabella spent most of the time sleeping after their earlier struggles and the in laws and I just watched them.  At about 21:30, I said my goodbyes and went to my local.  I knew that a couple of the darts team would be there so I got my first proper meal, a whiskey and watched the community shield, reflecting on what had happened in the previous 48hours and contemplating on what the future will hold. 

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