Welcome Emma Marie Malone

Emma's First Year

Emma Maree Malone was delivered by Dr Gerta Ettinger at 1350hrs at the Royal Bangkok Nursing Home RBNH on Monday 25 June 1979.

Her birth was planned. We wanted a child. I particularly wanted a girl. Mid to late 1978, we went to Gerta and asked for advice on the best chances of conception. She instructed us - not in the act but in matters such as Carmel taking her temperature around a certain cycle in the month. A higher temperature indicates the optimum period to conceive.

Carmel would telephone me at the office to come home.

Quite frankly it took the fun out of sex. But it achieved the desired result.

Carmel was recruited as an administrative aide for a visiting AusAid team evaluating the training impact of the recently completed road link from Lampang to Prae (She had shorthand and typing skills).

The task was to take two weeks ending in December. She rang me from north Thailand with the news.

I drove up and we spent Xmas in Chiang Mai - happy but wondering what the hell we had let us in for.

It was not Second Thoughts. It was more about the responsibility of bringing a child into the world.

On our return to Bangkok we checked in with Gerta and she seemed to take special care of Carmel.

Gerta touched the hearts of all her patients. She and her husband were of German Jewish backgrounds.

They were young missionaries in China up until the invasion by the Japanese in the 30's and 40's of the last century.

In Bangkok their main practice was located in a rundown teak hovel in a slum area.

She serviced the diplomatic corps from the Royal Bangkok Nursing Home.

They experienced the horror of deprivation and atrocities against the Chinese population and in particular the christian minorities in their pastoral care. There would have been no drugs or medicine to deal with sickness and decease. But for Gerta, it seemed that the tougher the circumstances the kinder and caring was the human spirit.

Emma should feel blessed to have been brought into the world by this magnificent lady.

The birth was not all beer n skittles. Emma was six to seven weeks premature - too weak to participate.

Delivery included a complicated epidural, an episiotomy and forceps where, in the end, Emma was reefed out unceremoniously.

Like a new motor, Emma had to somehow be kick started.

The medical team ignored mum and dad. They were trying to clear Emma's airwaves and get life into her.

It seemed an eternity before we heard a bellow.

Ten minutes beforehand Gerta, an agile octogenarian, was all about the operating room with surgical mask gloves and gown swinging around this bub on the end of a steel rod - trying to stop Carmel from her natural inclination to touch bub and to get the dangling "package" in around the assembled waiting team and onto the work table.

Now she was serenely sitting down sewing up Carmel and offering calming re assurances.

What a contrast!

She was more direct with me. Gerta said bub had the typical problems of premature babies (risk of infection; Jaundice) and had to go into intensive care with no touching.

Heartache! But all the better when we eventually held and appreciated such a gift.

I drove home to wash and change cloths. A CD was on the console mounted in the dashboard.

I switched it on per chance.

Handels Messiah - the Hallelujah Chorus. It is a piece celebrating the birth of another newborn - Christ.

We named her Emma Marie Malone.

The honorary name "Kath" after her mother was "taken" so "Marie" was next in line - after Carmel's sister.

The Thais did have a little problem with the name. It took a lot of practice not to pronounce her as Emma Malee Maron.

They were wonderful, patient carers of infants.

In hospital, Carmel could not touch Emma for fear of infection. She expressed her milk and gave to a Thai nurse whom we saw through a looking glass window of a quarantined area sitting down and feeding Emma using an eye dropper - sip by sip.

Our two maids (Pah and Chalaw) took charge when we got home. Emma got 24/7 service. So much so that often we forgot we had another member of the household.

On one occasion, a Saturday morning, we walked out of the house hopped in the car and went shopping.

It was only when in a shopping mall that we both had that "Oh my god! moment".

The neighourhood kids were amusing. After school they would climb up on fences and other nearby vantage points in the hope of getting a glimpse at the young "farang" - foreigner.

It is one thing to speak Thai. But you get lots of "browny points" if you could say "Luk_saow geert ti muang Thai".

My daughter was born in Thailand.

It did not matter if the tones were ALL cocked up.

Khun Vilai - put me down again.

"I am so sorry Paul that it is not a boy - better luck next time"

In Thai society you must have a boy - first.

At aged one year Emma was centre stage at any Embassy functions where both Thai and Australia based staff mixed.