The Day My World Changed

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

John Keats

“She would prefer to have a natural birth”, I said, thinking about my wife, who was scared of a cesarian procedure.

Susi was not due for another week but looked enormous.  Her ankles were terribly swollen too and had started to turn a nasty shade of purple too.

I was worried for her and for the baby.

The doctor turned to me and said,  “This not fair.  She, a little Thai woman.  This giant falang* baby.  Tomorrow morning. we get it out!”

One could hardly object to his logic and I turned to Susi to encourage her once again to opt for the doctor’s advice rather than to see what she wanted.

She was beaten.  She was obviously very uncomfortable and complications would only start to happen if we waited too long for this giant foreign baby to decide he was ready to make a move.

Susi nodded and laid her head back down on the pillow of the examination table.

Note:  Most people talking about their child begin to glow as they do so, and all first-time parents talk the most about their experience, oblivious or not even caring that the experience has been shared by nearly every other loving mother and father on earth to some degree or another.

It can be tedious, even irritating, for those who are childless for any reason, either by choice or circumstance.  Oftentimes, the information heard or read is just ‘irrelevant’ and if this is how you feel about baby stories, you had best move on to another post without delay.

I had always wanted to be a father and in a former relationship which never worked out, it did not happen because of choice driven by circumstance.  Maybe that was for the best.

Whilst living with Susi from 2011, we had always hoped she might fall pregnant, but despite every reasonable effort, it never happened either.

Anyway, life moved on and over time, we settled into a life with four dogs.

What happened next can be read HERE

Anyway, fast forward to the 10th of March 2017; Susi has got big, she was suffering from enormous ankles and the Doctor, as determined that in the interests of the baby and more specifically Susi, the baby needed to arrive post haste.

We were told that an appointment had been made at the Japanese Hospital in Siracha where we should present at 10pm.

Susi would not be allowed any food to drink from then on.

We had a few hours until we had to be at the hospital.  We had kept our hospital bag for a few months ready near the door ‘just in case’.  I had been premature and there was a risk the baby might come early; which never happened.

As it turned out, the risk was now that our little bun was in no hurry to leave the oven and the longer he remained there, the potential risks increased.

Susi and I were both nervous and we decided that we should go to a restaurant to grab some food before the impending 10 pm deadline.  Susi decided that she wanted to go to a seafood restaurant, despite my protests.

We parked nearby the restaurant, and in spite of the delightful surroundings, neither of us really had an appetite.  Susi endeavoured well and finished her food, before we set off for the Samitivej Sriracha Hospital.

We were shown upstairs to the maternity ward and taken to a room.  It was not like any hospital room I had seen in England, but rather more like an en suite hotel room, with a hospital bed in it.

There was an enormous sofa in the room too, which folded down and doubled as a makeshift bed for fathers/partners to stay.

The following morning, at 6:30am the nurses came into the room and started to prepare Susi with an intravenous drip and gave her a couple of pills before wheeling her bed toward the door.  I followed.  We were being taken down!

It was only then that the doctor explained ‘under no circumstances was I allowed to be with Susi.  They explained that it does not happen in Thailand.  This was a big surprise which meant Susi would be taking the next step in our journey without me.  We said our goodbyes and I watched as she was wheeled through a pair of opaque double doors, which closed behind them.

I felt like one of those fathers portrayed in the old cowboy movies.  Nervously waiting for the doctor to emerge with diabolical news informing him that only one had survived.  I feared the worst.

I waited and did everything expectant fathers do.  I paced up and down.  I wandered about and tried to find somewhere to buy a coffee.

In reality, I was only by myself for about 30 minutes until the doctor appeared as if from nowhere.  He had a serious face but I would put out of my misery quickly.

I asked about Susi, but he did not answer me and informed me that I would be able to see the baby now.  I asked about Susi again, maybe even a third time before he confirmed that she was resting and everything was fine.

I was led to a window which had a curtain closed on the other side of the glass.

I waited.

After what felt like an eternity (about a minute), the curtains were pulled back and I could see in the room, a row of about 15 little transparent plastic cribs with little red-faced black-haired babies, wrapped in either pink or blue blankets.

The nurse in the room, gestured for me to look a little to my left and there was a very large plastic incubator was an enormous pale-skinned, nearly-bald baby.  It was asleep.

This was him.  This was Sebastian!  Born at 7:15am by way of caesarian.  There was no way he was going to fit in the little boxes the other babies had.  He was massive by comparison!!

Kindly another nurse came out and took the camera so we could get some shots of him.   It was great although a little abstract; looking into an incubator through a window.

I was then directed to return to the room and wait.

I was becoming increasingly anxious about Susi despite the doctor saying all was fine and although I followed the instructions to wait, I could feel my stress levels rising.

About an hour later, Susi was wheeled into the room, unconscious.  The nurse explained that she would wake up in her own time and she would be in some discomfort when she did.

A couple of hours later, Susi started to come around.  She was paralyzed down her left side, (something which wore off over the course of the following 36 hours).

At about 11am, there was a little knock at the door and a trolly was wheeled into the room.  Inside the rectangular plastic bowl, was a little baby; wrapped in his blue blanket.  He was lifted out, unwrapped and placed on Susi.

After about 30 minutes, he was wrapped again and given to me to hold.  Susi took this photo.

It remains a Damascus Road moment of my life.  Pivotal and earth-shattering in my perception of almost everything.

My view of life’s horizon had always been limited to about 5 years hence; but here, holding this new person in my arms, it became fuller, all-encompassing and urgent.

It was no longer simply linear; it was global.  Things which up until that moment had had little or no impact suddenly became pertaining since they would inevitably be things this helpless little would need to navigate in his lifetime.

Maybe with some effort, even to a fraction of a degree, I might be able to contribute positively to some of the biggest concerns facing humankind and Sebastian, and in that way, I might be able to help him.

Of course, my impact alone is inconsequential, but with others, we might achieve something good, by me adding my efforts to others and them adding their efforts to mine.

All this and more to explore elsewhere, but for now looking at this image, at this moment, I knew my world had changed for the better.

*most European and American visitors to Thailand will quickly become familiar with the Thai word farang (often mispronounced (even by Thais) as falang – farang with a slightly trilled ‘r’ is the correct pronunciation).

It’s basically used to describe caucasian foreigners, though black foreigners will sometimes also be known as farang or as farang dam (‘black foreigner’).

About Rev Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchell

Rev. Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchell, an Englishman deeply connected to Thailand, was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on 28th May 2023.

In addition to his religious journey, he has worked as an online English teacher and pursued a career as an artist. He has also operated a tour desk business with his wife within international brand hotels.

Lloyd has extensive experience in the voluntary sector, specifically in addressing homelessness and social welfare.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and embraces opportunities to meet new people, see new places, explore cultural similarities, and celebrate differences.