1-24  The First Twenty-Four
25-48  The Second Twenty-Four
49-72  The Third Twenty-Four
73-96  The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120  The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-144  The Sixth Twenty-Four
145-168  The Seventh Twenty-Four
169-on  The Eighth Twenty-Four

25  A Week In Sydney
26  Interview with the Widow - 1
27  Interview with the Widow - 2
28  Three Kings of Orient
29  1969 - Year of the Rooster
30  Summer in Europe
31  Bellybuttons & Maggots
32  Yes/No vs. Maybe
33  Blood, Beer and Warm Feet
34  Mine Universe
35  Hands off, Boots on
36  The Accidental Cure
37  It's the Only Thing
38  The Professor's Stable
39  Little House on the Highway
40  "9/11 is OK"
41  Suspected Child Abuse
42  Midlife Crisis
43  Where Am I Today - 1
44  Where Am I Today - 2
45  The Rosebud Period
46  Angular and Giddy
47  Sandin, N. A., Computer
48  Hot Trailers




After my parents died, I ran across this letter which I had written to them to explain the circumstances surrounding the birth of my middle son, JR.  I present it here in nearly original form (except for the pictures), realizing that some explanation will be necessary.  Instead of interspersing comments, I have included them all at the end.

It seems appropriate to reread this now, on the 40th anniversary of the event!


Bangkok, November 11, 69

Dear Folks,

I'm going to give a try at explaining the last couple of weeks.  First let me say that everything turned out well so there is no longer anything to be concerned about.  Baby and Mommy are both fine.

For the last couple of months, Clae has had to take medicine to help her get rid of water.  They were mild diuretics and helped some, but eventually she started to swell in hands and feet, which seemed to concern the doctor.  On the 16th of Oct. she didn't see the regular doctor, Gibson, but saw Doctor Youngberg instead.  He didn't mention the swelling or seem to be concerned about it.  She was to come back in one week, but the 23rd was a Thai holiday so it was not possible to make an appointment before the 27th. That day Dr. Gibson saw her and wanted to put her in the hospital immediately.

It turns out that there are four readily apparent symptoms of toxemia and Clae had three of them.  In terms of importance they are excessive weight gain (she was up a total of 39#), water retention (swelling of feet, hands, and some on legs), high blood pressure (she was not too high, but much higher than usual), and finally protein (albumin) passed in the urine (she never got this far).  Doctors are not too knowledgeable about toxemia, but know that if it ever reaches the last stage, damage can result both to the mother and the baby. As a precaution she was put in for observation and special diet and medication.

Bangkok 7th Day Adventist Mission Hospital
Bangkok Seventh Day Adventist Mission Hospital

On that day, a Monday, the hospital was filled up. They had had 10 babies the night before and we found out later they had nine that night.  On Tuesday, therefore, we were to come in and he promised us a room.  Again, things were filled but someone was supposed to leave that day.  We were put temporarily in the Intensive Care Unit.  You can imagine how that was for nerves.  I could see that Clae was getting more and more nervous as people were wheeled in on stretchers just out of surgery, or with complications from delivery, etc. etc.  Then they would come out of the anesthetic and start moaning and spouting Thai.  Well, we kept checking for when the room would be ready and it just didn't get done.  Finally, I walked up to where it was and found that there was a lady firmly entrenched there and no indication of leaving.  Shortly after that I gathered up Clae’s belongings and took her home.  My feeling was that she had taken all medications necessary, had eaten the special food, had her blood pressure taken regularly, and now needed a good night’s sleep more than anything else.  It seemed to me that the mental attitude was at least as important as the physical aspects, and the ICU was doing very bad things mentally.  Anyway, away we went with promises to be back in the morning and not to eat anything that night.

Wednesday, we came back and there was a room (it was vacated 30 minutes after we left, ha ha) and we moved her in.  Then came the long wait.  To make a long story short, after seeing Gibson on Tuesday morning, we saw him again Thursday evening before he went to Pattaya for the weekend (a resort community) and then once more on Sunday evening before he left for a three week trip.  Oops, that is once Sunday and then once Monday before he left.  Again even that worked out for the best so don't worry.  I know this is disjointed but bear with me.

By Sunday, Clae had lost some weight, got her blood pressure under control, and Gibson thought it was best to induce labor.  I had always thought that was an easy process consisting of the injection of some hormones and away we go.  Actually, it started 3 pm Sunday with an intravenous that was hooked up for 6 hours.  It was just a glucose solution with about one cc of the hormone stuff. Absolutely nothing happened except that Clae got totally uncomfortable. Then at 7 am Monday they put her back on the bottle with 3 cc of the stuff in 1000 cc of glucose and she was there for 11 hours.  All of this in the labor room.

Well, anyway, she started to respond some by 4 or 5 in the afternoon and actually was having pains about 5 minutes apart.  Then at 6 pm they took her off the intravenous and sent her back to her room.  In less than two hours everything stopped again.  Speculation was that Tuesday she would go back on the bottle until she had the baby.  Then Monday night, at approximately 3 am she started having pains on her own and little Norm was born at about 3:19 pm Tuesday.

Brand new JR
JR – just hours old

Now, as I stated earlier, Gibson went away for a three week trip after inducing labor.  Then we found out that Dr. Youngberg, his partner was out of town and not due back until Tuesday afternoon.  The only one around was an American woman who neither of us had any confidence in.  She was (is) a GP and very young.  Later details make me think she has never delivered a baby.  (Youngberg requested that she be called to observe the delivery but she was taking her Thai lesson).  Again to shortcut, Youngberg got back in time, I was impressed with him, Clae became more impressed and he delivered.  I asked and received permission to go with Clae to the delivery room.  She was in deep labor, the nurse on duty had broken her water, the doctor was satisfied that she was close enough to ready, and in we went.

The first order of business in the delivery room was to give the anesthetic. She had a spinal and it was wonderful.  In one minute, all pain was gone.  Then two nurses got her into the leg clamps, with my help on the butterfly clamps.  She was scrubbed, the doctor was scrubbed, and the table of instruments was laid out.  In seconds, the forceps were placed and out came Norman Albert Sandin, Jr.  Youngberg said it's a boy and held him up.  We both looked first at the mouth.  Clae has always been worried that her birth defect was hereditary. Apparently, as doctors have said, it was just a vitamin deficiency.  Anyway he proceeded to take care of the afterbirth while I looked over the baby.  Then the nurse took the baby for cleaning, etc. and the doctor started sewing up the episiotomy.  Clae was awake and talking all the while and we had many questions answered while the doctor worked.  He turns out to be the best of the lot and we are both very happy that he was there for the delivery.

It is almost impossible to describe all the emotions and feelings and observations that one has during that experience but I must say that I was really surprised at it all.  First, I was amazed at the precision of measurements. There is a dilation scale of 1 to 10.  At a dilation of 5 cm. a sedative is administered, at 10 delivery is ready, if 3-cm of the baby's head is visible, etc.  Second, the matter of anesthetic is just wonderful.  It certainly seems humane. I can't imagine now why anyone would want to go through a natural childbirth.  Third, the skill with the forceps.  It is like pulling the cork from a wine bottle with a knife on each side of the cork.  There was a small mark on j.r.'s left cheek but it was gone by the next time we saw him.  Fourth, the ease of removing the afterbirth.  Doctor just pulled on the cord and out it came. It was like (You would have to have seen this to appreciate it) pulling a pizza from the oven onto a wooden tray.  Fifth, the little Thai nurse who assisted, climbing on a stool and then onto the table to help push on Clae’s tummy when the doctor was using the forceps.  And last, I get a lump in my throat every time I look at the perfection that can be produced by a couple of rank amateurs.  Well, almost perfect.  Normie's feet and hands are just like a St. Bernard puppy’s.  If he ever grows into them, he will be a giant.

JR's first swim in the Gulf of Siam
Pono dipping JR in the Gulf of Siam at about 6 weeks old

Clae came home on Sunday, November 9. I stayed home on the 10th and 11th and I think I will stay home tomorrow, the 12th also. Even with three women in the house, Dad still can't get a full night’s sleep.  Of course, I must admit I am a little excited about it. In fact, I sometimes wonder if people my age should have children.  We tend to get too emotional and worry too much. Youngsters tend to just let the chips fall where they may and maybe they get along better.  I say that like I can remember, but I really can't.  It is amazing what 17 years can do to one’s memory.

Hope you got the wire and the pictures in good season.  I'm never sure of Thai services or even APO mail.  If you didn't, this will inform you of the arrival of a perfect, beautiful, 7# 3 oz. baby boy who I am egotistical enough to want to name NAS, Jr.  Maybe someday he will say "I'm Norman Albert Sandin Jr., In Person”.  Remember?

Clae, Norm, and I are all fine.  The maids are bound to be the ones who suffer.  Can you imagine doing all those foul diapers by hand? We promised to raise the number two all the way to $20 a month when the baby arrived so maybe she will want to work harder.  We have two very wonderful girls, and I’m sure both of us will miss them when we leave.  Maybe all three of us.

Leme and Dang
Sisters Leme (#2) and Dang (#1)

A few words on other subjects.  Blah, blah, blah.  (Deleted.)

As I have said, it is almost impossible to describe some of the things that happen to us.  Let me try one that happened just now. It is 6 pm Tuesday, Nov 11.  Clae and Norm have been home more than two days now.  Norm was fed, changed and almost sleeping.  I was carrying him around for a final burp.  Dang walked by and I said "You want?"  She speaks about 100 words of English, but she immediately said, "O.K.", and proceeded to take over.  Thai people really like children and we have only one fear.  She will take over too much.  This was the first time she held Normie and I'm sure she was thrilled.  The moment is gone, but the memory will go on, I hope forever.

In like manner, we have been visited by maids from all over the building.  The consensus is that having a boy baby first is very lucky, having a boy baby on Tuesday is very lucky, having a 7# 3 oz. boy baby on Tuesday is very lucky, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.  At any rate all have come to worship at the throne of the new master.  I guess I should say the new mister, Clae won't let the maids call me master anymore.  In fact, the last time one of them got on her knees to me was when Glenn was here.  What is this world coming to? Next thing you know, they won't even dip when they walk by!

There is a theory that women tend to forget the pains of labor very rapidly.  I hope that is true.  There is also a theory that if the woman had the first one and the man had the second one there would never be any more.  We'll never know if that is true.  At any rate, I am totally happy with this one and I only wish this newborn thrill would last forever.

You'll get more pictures from time to time.  On the second day I laid little Norm on a pillow and took two color shots.  I know that Grandpa would want to measure him on a pillow and the best I can do is show you a photo.

JR on a pillow
JR’s legs just wouldn’t stay extended for the Pillow Pics!

To prevent this from turning into a book, I will close for now.  Love from us all.

Norm, Clae and Norm


Editorial Comments

ICU: Putting Clae in the Intensive Care Unit distressed Clae, but it scared me silly.  The place was chaotic, the bed she was in had someone else’s name and ailment record on it, and some of the nurses knew very little English.  If we had left Clae there overnight, I could just see some poor nurse come in with medication or treatment for the person identified on the bed, and end up giving her something that could injure her or the baby!  Normally Clae would not have let that happen, but if she was half asleep – yikes!  We had to take her home!

Labor Room: As you can see, Clae spent many, many hours in this place and was frustrated by it.  I don’t know how many Thai women came in, grunted once or twice, went off to the Delivery room, and proceeded to have their babies, while Clae went merrily on with her IVs!  I suppose some of them have troubles also, but from our limited point of view it was easy for all of them – it just didn’t seem fair!

Birth defect: For those who don’t know her, Clae was born with a cleft palate and we always worried that it might have been genetic even though doctors assured us that it was most likely a vitamin deficiency her mother experienced during the pregnancy.  Neither JR nor Stuart had any such problem!

Age at birth of child: I was 36 when JR was born (yes, we were both born in years of the rooster) and Clae was 28.  I had been a very green 19 when my first son Kim was born!  In case you have trouble with the numbers – no, Clae did not have Kim when she was 11.  That was another world and another wife.

In person: When I was a child, I learned that I got a very positive response from adults by saying “I’m Norman Albert Sandin, in person!” in an obnoxious loud voice.

Glenn: When JR was just a few weeks old, my nephew Glenn came to Bangkok on R&R from Vietnam.  We loaded up JR, Dang and Leme, and Glenn and drove to Pattaya, on the Gulf of Siam for a few days.  That’s when I dunked JR.

Pillow pics: My father would place any baby he got his hands on (especially grandkids) lengthwise on a pillow to see how long they were.  I had to take a series of such pics for him!

Name of baby: You may notice the struggle in this letter to identify the baby and to distinguish between myself and the baby.  We very quickly decided the he would be called JR (spelled without periods and pronounced “Jay Are”) and I would continue to be called whatever people had been accustomed to dredge up.  (Privately and secretly I called him Poops.  When Stuart was born, I called him Poops once or twice and Clae said no-no, that’s for JR.  So I called Stuart Toot or Tooter instead and that stuck with him for [probably] longer than he ever cares to admit.)

Happy Birthday, JR!