July 26, 2011

5 Tips on Having a Kid in Thailand - Farang Guy Edition

Luckily, My Kid Was Better Looking than Kuato from Total Recall
So, your wife, girlfriend, or mia noi got pregnant and you are about to be the father of a beautiful Luuk Krung baby (i.e. a half-Thai/half-something else baby). Not too fear, because Thailand is world-renowned for its destination for medical tourists, so the quality of medical care is excellent. Also, half/half babies are typically considered very pretty around these parts. As a matter of fact, many of the big movie stars in Thailand are the sons and daughters of a mixed relationship, just look at how many Faceook fans Chompoo has.

The problem as a guy is, nothing in life prepares you for having a kid. Being a dude has given me the ability to change a timing belt, recite the Big Lebowski line for line, and sink an 8-ball on a bankshot, but I never learned what to hell to expect having a baby. Also, things are always just a little bit different in Thailand - labor and delivery being no exception. So without further ado, here's some helpful advice for all the future dads out there:

Becoming a Dad: This is Crazy, This is Crazy, This is Crazy
1) Relax - Let's be honest. Being a mother is a lot harder than being a father, at least until your little girl grows up and dates boys. Labor is a painful process that my wife described as, "feeling like your going to die". I was pretty nervous about the whole ordeal the night before my wife had labor induced. But seriously, it's a lot easier for you than it is for her. Also, you're not the first person in the world to be a dad, and the staff at the hospital have probably seen one, two, or a thousand deliveries in their day. Do you best to support your loved one and take it easy. Most of the Thai hospital staff thought I didn't speak a word of Thai, so they weren't expecting much out of me.

Dress for Success

2) Dress for Success - Thailand is a very judgmental society that is highly focused on face. If your dressed in the Chang Beer tank-top you bought on Sukhumvit after a night out in Nana, the entire hospital staff is going to be glaring at you, and your wife. Also, you will be meeting with doctors, who are highly respected professionals in Thailand. You don't want to look like some bum who's going to run off with the baby and not pay the bill. Plus, you want to make a good first impression on baby, don't you? You only get one.

No Boys Allowed

3) Don't Expect to be in the Delivery Room - I had heard that most Thai hospitals (except for the expensive ones that cater to foreigners and high-society like BNH and Samitivej) do not let Dad into the delivery room during the actual delivery. I thought this was some sort of hygiene thing, but my experience shows that it was a modesty and cultural issue. When the doctor checked on my wife's contractions, they suitcase tossed me out of there faster than Carrot Top at the Apollo. So when it was time for delivery, they didn't let me in the room until after baby was sitting under the heat lamp getting cleaned up by the nurse. I'm sure they would have let me in if I insisted, but they seem to have an aversion to the guy being present for the ordeal. However, my Singaporean brother-in-law informed me the reason may have been personal. He said, "They probably didn't want you getting in the way."

4) Bring Your Papers -A Boy Named Sue is a great Johnny Cash tune, but nothing screws up your kid's life more than giving him or her a goofy name. That's why it's important you fill out the forms properly that the nurse brings you for the baby's birth certificate (สูติบัตร or Sutibat). The Thai government issues the birth certificate completely in Thai, and everyone's names have to be in Thai. For your name, you should use the exact same Thai spelling on your wedding certificate or your work permit. If you don't have either, the staff at the hospital should be able to help you out (maybe). The official Thai first name gets picked based on what day of the week baby is born. We went to a website, but I've heard people often go see the monks. If you want baby to have a farang name, make sure you agree on the Thai spelling ahead of time with the misses. For example, our daughter's Western name is Monica, named after her great-grandma, so for the Thai spelling we decided on โมนิค่า. Don't forget to bring photocopies of the following. Just pack it in the baby action pack with the diapers, towels, and booties that you plan on taking to the hospital on the big day:
  1. Copy of Wife's Thai Id Card
  2. Copy of Wife's Home of Record Document
  3. Copy of Wife's Birth Certificate
  4. Copy of Your wedding certificate (if married)
  5. Copy of Your Passport

Baby Getting Attention from Relatives
5) Splurge for the VIP room - My wife had the baby at Vibharam Hospital. The delivery package was 30,000THB (~$1,000) and it was extra 10,000 if she would've had a C-section. I've heard the high-end hospitals are about 100,000THB, assuming it's a standard delivery with no snags. The VIP room was only an extra 1,000THB per night - totally worth it. Considering how many family and friends visited us, it's nice to have some space and take a break while everyone's oohing and aahing over the baby. It should go without the say that no one is interested in the father. However, that gave me some free time to relax for a moment, because I've got a solid 18 years of worrying ahead of me.


subrookie said...

Congrats Paul! We had our first on New Years day. Interesting take on the Thai experience.

Swedish Hospital here in Seattle had just had it's 100 year anniversary when we were getting ready to have our kid. There was a photo from 50 years ago in the lobby of the "Stork Club" a bunch of dads waiting in a Hugh Hefner looking den with cigars and drinking scotch while they waited for the nurse to come in and tell them if they had a boy or a girl.

Not quite my experience. But, I was in the room the whole time. At least here you start in a pretty big room, then quickly get whisked away to some small recovery room for a day. Overall, I think it cost us somewhere around $7-8K, before insurance.

Hang in there, the first 4 months are a lot of work and the kid will just poop, eat, cry, sleep. After that they start to develop their personality and it's very rewarding.

Congrats again. Been trolling your new blog for a while. Chris in Seattle.

Paul Salvette said...


Thanks for dropping a line. I'm pretty excited about the baby. I'm lucky, because my wife's sisters, aunt, and mother are all pitching in (sort of the Thai way of raising a family). There's very little expectation for the father at this point, so maybe I can start my own "Stork" club. Take care.