And then along came George

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


George is now 10 weeks old and was conceived by IVF. The past two years have been hard, and when we learned that my wife, Huen-yee, was pregnant, we had mixed feelings. Clearly we were very happy, but Huen-yee had had trouble with her previous pregnancy and, while we wanted to enjoy this one, we didn't want to get too excited.

Only in the past four months did we allow ourselves to relax a bit. The tests were coming back great and the doctors were positive, and when George was born, we were overjoyed.

He arrived in the first hour of January 1. I'd never seen anyone exert themselves as much as Huen-yee did for that near-19-hour labour. George came out with loads of spiky, black hair, and was straight on the breast. He was a big baby, weighing 3.8 kg.

Huen-yee's pregnancy has reaffirmed my belief that Hong Kong has a good, well-funded public health system. Although it was a bit regimented, I was impressed by the overall process. The pre-natal lessons were clear, and during the delivery, the nurses were fantastic. Queen Mary Hospital didn't seem the slightest bit understaffed.

We went home quickly, as we had the luxury of a helper and Huen-yee's mother (visiting from the US) to help us look after baby George.

There's more of a focus here, and in Chinese culture generally, on mothers having time to recover after giving birth. We seem to have forgotten that a bit in the West. Huen-yee's mother looked after her, and trained our domestic helper to make special soups. So Huen-yee recovered quickly.

The name George is in my family, but that wasn't the reason we chose it. We just liked it. It's a relatively honest, no-nonsense name - in line with how we hope to raise him. He's going to be brought up in a pretty open-minded way, with the philosophies of both Huen-yee and myself.

With our backgrounds (I'm British, Huen-yee is from Hong Kong) and our multicultural friends, George will be able to speak English, Cantonese and Putonghua.

There are pros and cons to raising him in Hong Kong. One disadvantage is that he'll be far away from his cousins in Britain. But his Hong Kong relatives will be very close by.

We have the convenience of a helper here; but the pollution is horrific. I spent my childhood in the countryside in England, running around semi-feral with my bike, going off on my own and doing what I wanted, before reappearing at mealtimes. You can't do that here. It's a trade-off. It would be nice to think that Hong Kong might be more environmentally friendly by the time George gets a bit older. I want him to be a child with a degree of independence, who can cycle to school and doesn't have to travel two hours to the nearest sports field.

He's got two kai mas, or godmothers: one Western, one Chinese. We chose people we think have a sane set of beliefs and principles. One is a professor at the University of Hong Kong, so the chances of George not reading are pretty slim. And the other is Huen-yee's sister, Bobo, who organises art exhibitions, so the chances of him not being involved in the arts are pretty slim, too.

Looking ahead, I want George to do what he wants to do and be happy. I think less in terms of actual job title, and more about him being fulfilled and having control of his own life. Put it this way: I haven't quite put his name on the Vidler & Co nameplate just yet.

Human rights lawyer Michael Vidler of law firm Vidler & Co was speaking to Annemarie Evans