Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

And yet I still smile...

...probably because I'm an idiot.

Jack has a curious habit of holding it until we get his diaper off, then letting loose all over his father.

Pee would be one thing, but...

Let's just say I've had to wash my clothes more than usual. He's hit me 3 times so far, and Katherine once.

I think its his only way of rebelling against his parents at this point (besides crying, of course, but we just ignore that), so he probably enjoys it.

Plus, afterwards he usually gets a bath, which he seems to enjoy as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jack Nervig...U.S. citizen

This morning we were up bright and early (nothing new for Katherine) and out for Jack's first big adventure in Bangkok. We went to the Embassy to apply for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and passport. Time for all of my built-up negative consular Karma to come back at me as we found ourselves on the other side of the window (yes, we could have just gone into the section, professional courtesy and all, but really there was no need).

The Bangkok American Citizen Services section is busy. In comparison to Vientiane, busy is an understatement. The are also very efficient. We arrived at 7:30 and were out of there by about 8:00.

Our stuff should be ready by mid-week next week, then it is off to the Lao Embassy for Jack's visa. When we get back, we'll get Jack his special black passport given to all very important government people like babies and whatnot.

Later, we stopped into the medical unit (Bangkok is a regional embassy, so the medical unit covers Laos). Katherine and Jack need to be medically cleared by the Med unit before we can return home, and since we are planning to return home the first day allowed (30 days after the birth), we thought we would stop in and lay the groundwork for a smooth clearance. Good thing too, as we will need to finesse a little bit because the first day we are allowed to leave is actually a Sunday, meaning we will have to get approval prior to that day.

It looks good for a December 17 departure, assuming that both Jack and Katherine get clean bills of health by their respective doctors at Samitivej on the 15th.

Diana and Alan examined the two and found them to be the picture of mother/son health.

I think so too.

We are moving, by the way. Our lovely 2 bedroom place is conveniently located near the elevators. Convenient until they started reconstruction on one of the elevator shafts. No matter what floor they are working on, the noise reverberates straight down into our brains. So we are moving the 39th floor and a room on the other side of the building, far from the maddening noise.

Katherine, Alan and Diana will be overseeing the move, as I will be in the midst of eye dilation at the Lasik center.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How Katherine is doing...

Katherine woke up from a short nap today and said...

'I think when I was sleeping I dreamt about sleeping'

pretty much sums it up.

Our growing boy

This morning Katherine and I took Jack to his first pediatrician appointment.

10 days on and he's still got a clean bill of health.

He was 3.59 kilos when born, dropped to 3.2 kilos, but is now up to a healthy 3.68 kilos, so he's definitely eating enough.

He's a big hit with his adoring public too, with people pointing and staring. Thais seem to love little white babies. Maybe they love babies in general, but it just so happens that I carry around a white baby so that's all I see.

Monday, November 27, 2006

All the photos you care to see...

And some you may not want to see of Katherine, Jack, and other supporting castmembers can be found here (and no, the pictures are in no particular order, nor do they have captions to explain what you are seeing. I think you are smart enough to figure it out, though).

Katherine and I took Jack out for his first real outing today, all the way to a restaurant on Soi 31. We are on Soi 24.

It's not as impressive when you know that the Sois (side streets) don't line up exactly and so the Emporium, on Soi 24, is across Sukumvit from Soi 33. But still.

Jack didn't really like his stroller at first (really just his car seat that sits on a frame with wheels), but then fell asleep straight away when we started our walk. There is a nice little park next to the hotel, so we walked through there, then across Sukumvit (scary, lots of traffic, even when crossing at a crosswalk) to an italian restaurant. Jack slept through the whole thing.

Come midnight when Jack is fussy I think I'll be walking the halls pushing a stroller. Until, of course, his shrieks result in an angry mob of neighbors. Maybe I'll walk him 2 floors down.

Tomorrow we have Jack's first post-hospital pediatrician appointment, Wednesday it is to the Embassy for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and Thursday I'm heading to the TRSC International Lasik Center for my pre-operative eye exam.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

As the sun went down on Bangkok and day 2 of our new adventure in parenting

The Parrs and Giselle packed up and headed home to the 34th floor.

And Jack began his nightly tradition (does 2 nights make it a tradition?) of crying unless held until about midnight.

Thanksgiving at the Emporium....on Saturday

Walter, Alex, Eva and Alex' mom Giselle came for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Diana undertook the herculean task of cooking a full T-giving dinner in our little kitchen, and it was delicious.

Eva and Jack decided to try a little harmonizing, but their cries are not yet in pitch.

A couple of naturals.

Less so.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanks, and a request

We have received a few very nice gifts here in Bangkok since Jack was born. Thanks.

If others are thinking about sending anything, and we are not expecting anything, but if you are, and again, this is not a subtle call for us to be showered with gifts, but if you are, please send them to Vientiane where we will see them just in time for Christmas.

Duty on things sent from overseas seems to run to about 33%, and we just can't afford your generosity.


Thursday, November 23, 2006


Since it is Thanksgiving in the U.S., Katherine and I talked about what we are truly thankful for this year.

Katherine decided that she is thankful that jewelry is so inexpensive in SE Asia.

I am thankful that I got to see the new James Bond movie.

We couldn't really think of anything else.

Oh, and beer Lao.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cousinly greetings

Jack's cousins Ben and Joseph went above and beyond in sending their well wishes.

I now expect Jack's other cousins Emma and Leah to trump this lovely photo, causing Ben and Joseph to redouble their efforts in a competition that will spiral ever higher into the realm of the impossible to top.

You may start.....


And in other news...

Beer Goggles explained by science.

I guess I should be happy that I met Katherine at the smoky, dimly lit Dive Bar on 96th and Amsterdam after she'd had a couple.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Jack has now come home. We left the hospital in a flurry of bill signing, gift getting (the hospital makes a to go bag for you with diapers and such) and goodbyes from the nursing staff.

Katherine and I thought we would just walk out and that would be that. We were therefore frustrated as they made us wait first for the guy to carry our things (we didn't have much) and then for the guy with the wheelchair. Jack took the opportunity to really wake up for the first time and start really crying for the first time.

We got hime home and fed and tried to put him down for a nap. Nothing doing. He has decided it's time to change personalities and become the monstrous crying and pooping machine that we have been sort of expecting and dreading.

3 hours later and he's finally asleep. Where the hell are our nurses?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You think Diana is excited to be a grandmother?

Bonding is not just for dentures anymore

So I spent the day hanging out with Jack and Katherine. We got a lesson in bathing, changing diapers, dressing, etc. from the very friendly and helpful nurses, and I got to wear a very stylish pink gown in the nursery (it's a rule, and it is fabulous!)

Then, later in the afternoon, Katherine rested and Jack and I read a book about 4 journalists who died when their helicopter was shot down over Laos during the ill-fated 1971 South Vietnam invasion of southern Laos to cut off the flow of men and materiel on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. I figure it's never too early to teach him about the harsh realities of the world around him.

He didn't seem too interested and slept through it.

This morning, while walking through the Emporium to catch a cab to the hospital, I noticed that they were setting up for a fashion show. Dozens of waifish western and Thai women were milling around the runway and seating area to register as models (I think).

I couldn't help but think that a) I absolutely must be back in time to see the show, if only for the cultural understanding it could bring, and b) it was the opening, grand or otherwise, of lingerie that got Katherine and me into this whole baby situation in the first place.

Alas, I think I missed the show.

Day 4

Jack, Katherine, and a proud grandmother.

Alan and Diana contemplate grandparenthood.

Katherine and Jack. He's still a sleeper.

We'll all be home at the Emporium tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just a few more of the boy.

I fear that Jack has already inherited my receding hairline.

And especially for my judgemental friend Geoffrey, a picture of Jack with yours truly, with me wearing yet another tasteful ensemble suitable for hanging out in a hospital room while having a little chat with my boy.

Katherine shoo'd me out of the room this afternoon. While I want nothing more than to stay with my beautiful wife and my thus far well-behaved son, four nights on a short, naugahyde couch made me accept her offer of sleeping in a bed at the Emporium pretty quickly. Plus, I think that Katherine will be able to get more sleep tonight with me gone.

I took the opportunity to check out movie times on the 5th floor of the Emporium Mall, and what do you know...Casino Royale was starting just 5 minutes after I arrived. One, please.

Now I'm home and going to bed. Katherine assured me she was going to sleep too, and would call at any time if she decided that my presence was necessary.

All Katherine, all the time...

And Jack.

Walter and Alex were the first non-family visitors to our new little family. Diana has decided that she's going to make a full Thanksgiving dinner (now moved to Saturday given Katherine's status is still up in the air vis a vis homecoming day) and the Parrs clan will be joining.

For the peanut gallery....

And all others.

I bring you Mother and child.

Mother appears to be quite happy about the whole affair.

Baby could take it or leave it, it seems. No, that is not a cry, but a yawn.

So Diana decided to choke our baby until he got with the program, or kindly offered to burp Jack after he was done's hard to tell.

I am not an attention hog

Perhaps others have wondered about what Geoffrey Knoell writes in an extremely rude and insulting e-mail:

We're wondering why there's a disproportionate # of photos of you posing in various outfits and no pictures of Katherine.

In response, I will only say that my outfits are all functional and the camera just happens to love me. Also, over the past 4 days, Katherine has mostly been a) in extreme pain and not feeling particularly photogenic (there are plenty of photos from this time, but my editor has nixed any plans for posting them), b) in the O.R. and not photogenic, believe me, or c) flashing her boobs when Jack is around.

Never fear. More pictures of Katherine and Jack will be forthcoming.

Oh, and Geoffrey's a jerk. You are dead to me, man.

Monday, November 20, 2006

36 hours old

The nurses have to wake Jack up every time it's time to eat. He seems content to just sleep off the trauma of labor and birth. Me too, come to think of it.

He can't even be bothered to open up both eyes. Or maybe he's practicing to be a pirate.

Contact Info

Katherine and Jack will be in residence at Samitivej until Wednesday (or possibly Thursday) while she recuperates and Jack learns to eat.

Some people have inquired about calling. If you want to call, it is +66-2-392-0011, room number 1414. Bear in mind the 12 hour time difference from the east coast.


All is still well at the Samitivej maternity ward. Katherine is taking her first shower since Friday so everyone is happy about that.

For those of you commenting on the similarity between our boy Jack's name and a certain still-missing cat's name, I refer you to this post from September.

The nursing staff has said that most newborns come in one of two forms; Cryers and sleepers. Thus far, Jack is a sleeper, which is nice. That is not to say that he hasn't been crying, it's just that he's not yet a constant wailer, which is nice.

Diana and Alan are going to head over about 11:00 this morning and Jack will have his first non-family visitors when Walter, Alex and Eva stop by later today.

I finally crashed last night when I slept off and on from about 8:00 pm to 8:00 am. Katherine was up for feedings, but otherwise got some good sleep too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Master Nervig

According to his I.D. sticker on his little portable bed.

The dude has footprints.

Swaddling seems to be the thing to do. The nurses are quite adept at it. I, less so.

Jack. I would say he looks less like Kojak and more like a monkey.

In fact, when he came out Katherine asked me what he looked like (she wasn't wearing her glasses or contacts in the O.R. I said he kind of looked like a monkey. When Katherine rejoined us in the delivery room and finally had her glasses, she said 'you know, he does kind of look like a monkey.'

I guess that means we'll be buying a weiner dog.

The End Result...

So on to the next phase. Epidural time, and none too soon for me (and Katherine, of course). So they put Katherine on an epidural, then drew some blood. The blood tests revealed a rising white blood count and a falling platelet count, so Dr. Sankiat recommended a C-section. There was just no way to tell how long the baby had been exposed because of the tear in the amniotic sack.

One hour later, Jack was born.

I scrubbed in just in case the doctors needed any advice. I have seen 4 seasons of Scrubs afterall.

Because Katherine already had the epidural, she was awake for the procedure. Jack came out, and after the longest 10 or so seconds, he began to cry. My boy's got skills too. 10 on the APGAR, for those in the know.

I took Jack back to the delivery room while the doctors finished up in the OR with Katherine. After Katherine joined us, Diana and Alan came over to meet their grandson.

We got on the phone to New York and Minnesota - grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins stateside all got the news.

The team (minus Dr. Sankiat, his surgical staff, the nursing staff, etc. of course). Katherine and I were so incredibly lucky to have Kate with us throughout. She really helped to make Katherine's labor as tolerable as possible.
She also kept me in check. I mean, I don't know what I'm doing.

Katherine going through a particularly hard contraction, concentrating, Kate talking to her in a soothing voice about how great she's doing, telling her to focus on her breathing, telling her the room is a safe place to be to go through this thrilling thing, there is nothing to be scared of...

EXCEPT BEARS, I say, but there are none here, so don't worry. Levity, right?

Katherine ignores me and continues to concentrate, and Kate shoots me a look that says "you are not helping" for about the 4th time. I learned. Slow, sure, but I came around.

Katherine is now resting with Jack at the hospital. Diana and Alan are with them. I'm hitting the shower then heading back.

The Story, continued.

So back into the room for some more work. The walk was nice, but not that productive.

The next six or so hours were not nice, and not at all productive (you know...).

Katherine was a champ. She was very centered and calm, working her way through each successive contraction.

And while waiting for the next one to hit, she could even manage a word or smile every now and again.

After what seemed an eternity, but was really about 6 hours, Katherine was still hardly dilated at all.

The Story

Friday we went to the Dr. for Katherine's regularly scheduled appointment. He did an exam and reported that at some point in the past week, Katherine had developed a small leak in her amniotic sack. Not a big problem, but it was time to have the baby, especially because we didn't know when her water had broken. And like that, we were on our way.

So off to the birthing room we went.

Five hours later, Katherine was having contractions, but they weren't really that productive (you know...down there) so Dr. Sankiat changed things up and had her go upstairs to rest for a few hours, then tried another method to get things going. The night was bad, Katherine had lots of back pain to go with her regular contractions, so she got about 20 minutes of sleep. I slept 2 hours.

Saturday morning at 6:00 am we were back in the birthing room with Kate, who worked wonders on Katherine's back and got her more comfortable. Strong contractions continued, but at least she had a break between them without the constant back pain. A check at 10:00 am showed no progress to show for the pain.

Diana and Alan came over after breakfast and we all went for a walk.

Jackson Robert Nervig

But we call him Jack.

Born November 18 at 21:27. Weight 3.59 Kilos, 7 lbs 14.6 ounces.

Mother and monkey are doing fine.