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November 24, 2010

“And Baby Makes Three” – Part One

Tom McLaughlin

“Ambulance!” I yelled in the phone to the lady at the front desk from our hotel room in Sibu, Malaysian Borneo.


“Envelope?” was the reply!


“No, ambulance!”


“Envelope?” was the reply.


I felt like I was on a game show. I did not know the Malay word for ambulance, if there is one, so I tried “Emergency!”


“Click!” The phone said.


Suriani and I had decided to take a small trip before the baby was to be born in early December. We rode the bus, a nice coach, from Kuching to Seri Amin where we stayed overnight and explored the town. Our next stop was the river town of Sereiki and then on to Sibu. Our final destination was the Sultanate of Brunei, a few days hence.


I went from the phone back to my wife, who was heavily in labor, and whose contractions had arrived suddenly, swiftly and without much warning. We decided to get dressed and make a mad dash downstairs to the lobby to find someone, anyone, to get us to the hospital.


There was a bang at the door and I opened it to find a young Chinese man holding a walkie-talkie.


“I need an ambulance and we must go to the hospital,” I said quietly but forcefully.


“I am the food and beverage manager,” he said as if this was supposed to impress me. By this time, two maids had showed up and I asked them to help out figuring they had been through this before.


They got on either side of my wife and helped her into the lift and I asked the F&B guy to have an ambulance waiting. When we got to the lobby, we sat her down near the entrance. One of the maids started to give her a back rub while Mr. Food and Beverage disappeared.


Across from us, a loud band was playing for a teenage party in a separate room. Attempts at western music blasted out in waves as groups of rambunctious young girls came in and out to discuss what all teen age girls discuss during these events in the ladies room.


Mr. Food and Beverage came through the front door and I asked “Where is the ambulance?”


“We will take my car,” he said as we got in and we drove to the private hospital.


There are two types of hospitals here in Malaysia. One is a private hospital where one must pay while the other is a government run facility. We arrived at the emergency room of the private one.


The young Chinese doctor told us my wife was in labor, not exactly a revelation. I told him she requires a C-section, called a Caesar here. We had planned to nonchalantly walk into our hospital in Kuching where we live and to have the operation and be home in a few days. The best laid plans of mice and men…


It was public holiday in Malaysia, the celebration of people, past and present, who went to Mecca for the Haj.


“We can’t do the Caesar here,” the doctor stated


“Why?” I asked.


“The surgeon has the day off,” he replied


“Can’t you call and get him”? I asked, now very annoyed.


“No, it’s a holiday. You must go to the government hospital,” he stated firmly


Back in the car - me, the F&B guy, the maid and my wife.


To be continued……….next week


…life is good…


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