a labor of love

Each woman who gave/will give birth has her own story. And so this is the story of how I labored for love.

We had our weekly checkup with my new English-speaking OB in the maternity hospital we go to. Hubs and I usually have our checkups during the weekends because of work. Once I took my maternity leave at the end of August though, I had my checkup on a weekday already and chanced upon Hayashi-san, an english speaking OB who spent some of his studies in the US. I had two checkups with him and I couldn’t be any happier. Just the mere fact of being able to talk to an OB who speaks the language I speak took off a lot worries and apprehensions off me, even when I’m already informed what with all the pregnancy books and references I’ve been reading.

Had two weekly checkups with him and on both appointments, he told me I’m already 1cm dilated. On that second appointment, Sept 14, Hayashi-sensei already scheduled me for an induced labor come Sept 19, 5pm; with highly expected delivery on Sept 20 with a probability of cesarean operation depending on my labor progress and our (mine and baby’s) condition. He decided to have it so because he thinks I have small bones and my baby is a bit big.

I have wide hips and I’ve always been told I won’t have any difficulty giving birth because of it – this apparently turned out to be another “old wives’ tale”. Another thing which made me confident I can do the normal delivery is because my mother’s babies are bigger, our youngest being at 8.6lbs, and yet she had us all with normal delivery. a tapang a tao, is what I am.

So then we prepared for Sept 19. Come Sept 16 however, I woke up at 6:30am feeling stronger contractions. I timed my contractions and they were coming at 5min intervals each. As all pregnant women know, the guideline for rushing to the hospital is 1min contraction every 5min for 1 hr. Your dilation is expected to be at 4cm at this time. Albeit it’s just a guideline – your numbers may be a bit different. Mine was 20seconds contractions at 5min interval for almost 2 hours. In those 2 hours, i vomited twice already. It was time to call the hospital. It was a Sunday. And like most hospitals here in Japan, our hospital is not open for usual checkups. But ours was an emergency and when Hubs called and told them about my contractions, they told us to come on over. They were ready for us.

I was checked however and I was still 1cm dilated. Hospital didn’t send me home because of the interval of my contractions. Another check in the afternoon, after 10 hours of pain, proved I’m only 2cm dilated.

I spent an excruciatingly painful evening, with contractions every 4minutes. Most painful during that time was actually when the contractions put some pressure on my back hence touching the part where I had my gikkuri goshi (sprained lower back) back in January which never really got quite healed. I was openly crying to the overnight nurse already, bawling like a kid telling her how painful it is and that I want a no-pain delivery already (our birth plan is normal-no-medication-hence-with-pain-delivery).

But she told me what I already suspected – Monday is a holiday in Japan hence operations with anaesthetists are not possible. She promised to tell the doctor on duty though. She also checked me again at 6am, 24 hours after my intense contractions, but I’m still 2cm dilated. Still a looong way till 10cm.

The morning didn’t provide much relief. Pain is getting more intense, both abdomen and back. I asked Hubs we walk around the hospital to facilitate baby to be positioned lower and every time the contractions hit me, which sometimes come at 3min interval, I would cling to my husband for support while I try to breathe the “sophrology” way.

A check at around 1pm showed I’m only 3.5cm dilated with baby still very much high up, not even in the zero position. I can see the worry on Hubs’ and Mayumi’s faces as they look at me, contorted in pain, both my body and my face. Nurse had to apologise and tell us to wait some more because the doctor on duty is attending another delivery at the moment. See, it was a holiday with limited doctors on duty.

When I was told I’m only 3.5cm, at the back of my mind, I was thinking that I don’t think I can endure another night of labor. I had to give birth that afternoon. I knew that my stomach should be empty if I needed to be operated with epidural or similar. Incidentally, because of the pain, I didn’t have much appetite and what little I eat, I also vomit, so there really wasn’t much food inside me in those last 36 hours.

As we waited for the doctor, my mucus plug came out but my water bag hasn’t broken yet.

When the doctor finally finished the deliveries, it was already 2:30pm. He took a look at me, judged my frame is too small for the belly he saw in me and that I should have a cesarian operation. I already received a dose of pain relief at that time hence was a bit drugged but in my mind, I was contesting him why I should have a cesarean operation – can’t he see how fat I’ve gotten and that other women smaller than me gave birth to bigger babies than mine?

After 30min though, my usual weekend OB, Tojo-sensei, the son of the hospital owner, dropped by to check on me, still in his out-of-duty clothes. I’m barely 4cm dilated. My contractions were at 3min interval already and my pain chart was reading very high. I guess fetal monitor wasn’t going well too. Hence a few minutes after his check, Tojo-sensei went back to our room and explained to my husband why the cesarean operation had to be done within the day. We had to make a go for it. Papers were signed and then I was scheduled for an operation at 5:30pm.

From then on, in the few moments that we were alone, hubs would hug and kiss me and extend his fist for that buddy sign we have whenever we make an agreement and he’d say “we can do this! you can do this”, wearing a very worried face. I’d extend a fist and give a wan smile and say “yes we can do this” albeit at the back of my mind I was saying “I hope I can do this”.

Just before I was wheeled inside the operating room (was in a wheel chair), Hubs caught up with me, stopped the nurse and right there, in front of all the people, he kissed me hard, TWICE! So uncharacteristic of my shy and conservative husband. It was then that I fully understood how worried and afraid he was for me. He knows cesarean operation is almost routine but we’ve all heard some tales and he knows I have already been through a lot of pain and stress for the last 36 hours and we’re not really assured of how my body will react during the operation.

Those kisses gave me a boost of energy and willpower I guess because even when I was barely awake during the past hour, I was strangely awake the whole time I was being operated.

Before the spinal block was administered, the head doctor talked to me – in very good English! His demeanor calmed me as i felt i was in very able hands. And indeed i was for it was the chief doctor i was talking to. So with him and Tojo-sensei on the team, i didn’t have to fret at all.

It was my first major operation ever. Everything was new to me. The overhead lights that I only saw in the movies; heart and pulse and blood pressure monitors were attached to me; oxygen supplied through a tube opening to my nosetrils. Thankfully, they explain their actions to me although I really couldn’t stop them from doing anything I didn’t like, incapacitated as I was. Once the spinal block was administered, I felt numb. It was a weird feeling – I could feel them doing something, pulling something yet I can’t feel a thing (which is exactly what the chief told me). I couldn’t see what they were doing as well because of the blue curtain which they’ve placed across my chest.

God is good. In those crucial times, He gave me blessings to help me along the way and keep my resolve up. Hubs’ kisses lent me more willpower. And an English-speaking, head-of-the-big-maternity-hospital doctor (Icho-sensei) giving me instructions in a calm and confident way throughout the operation wiped away my apprehensions on what they were doing to my body.

I’ve heard not a few times about the conservative thinking of having your baby delivered vaginally – that it’s the best thing and that you’d love your child more if so, especially if you had it with pain.

That thinking and perspective is probably one of the most stupid notions there is (well, probably next to what somebody said – that childbirth pain is akin to the pain you get after mountain climbing). The mother has no less risked her life by subjecting herself on the operating table. One of my bestfriends lost her uterus and 3/4 of her blood while undergoing CS operation and has to have blood transfusion. My operation was especially crucial as well since my body was already under stress and pain for 36 hours with my labor and who knows how my body will react during the operation.

Up to now I really don’t why I was still awake when they brought my baby up to me, drugged as I was even before the spinal block.

The first time I heard my baby cry, there was only one thought in my mind – she has such a sweet voice.

I’ve watched a number of births/deliveries during my last few pregnant weeks and it doesn’t fail to make me cry every time I see the baby crowning and then come out fully. I was even teary eyed when we visited the nursery while hubs and I were walking around while I was still on labor. The miracle of birth just amazes and touches me so.

Hence I thought I’d cry the first time I’d see my baby. But I didn’t. Rather, I felt an overwhelming relief and happiness to see my baby complete, physically and so beautiful and sweet voiced besides. And I’m really thankful I didn’t cry. Cause then the first words I was able to tell my baby were all words of admiration and love.

They brought my baby to me twice – once right after taking her out from my womb and again after they wiped her up, checked and weighed. In the latter one, I was able to kiss her on the lips three times.

Curiously enough, right after they took away my baby, I drifted to unconsciousness,waking just enough to tell the people who were doing something to my body that it’s so cold and that I’m very sleepy. Yep the only two words I can utter then were: COLD and SLEEPY. (Curious: they say you’d speak your native tongue when you’re in an extreme condition. How come I said it in English?) Because goodness it was really cold like it was winter and yet I was naked; my body was terribly shaking from the cold. And I was so sleepy that Hubs told me he can only see the whites on my eyes. I was laughing hard when hubs said how confused he was because Icho-san told him I’m ok and yet when hubs looks at me, I’m shaking uncontrollably (effect of the epidural/spinal block) and he can only see the whites on my eyes.

And so it happened that I was unconscious from a little after 6pm up to 1am. Drifted on and off to sleep since then and was fully awake by 1pm which was really good timing because they brought Yui to our room at that time.

Our first family portrait.


Mom and baby.


The proud and happy daddy (this photo was right after baby’s birth).


I’m used to big babies in the Philippines and US. So at first I couldn’t believe what the doctors were saying – that I have a big baby even before delivery. Later in the nursery, the nurses also comment my baby is big. True enough, as I compare my baby’s statistics with the other babies in the nursery during the 10 days we stayed in the hospital, Yui is the biggest (heaviest) and longest (tallest) baby at birth during our ten days stay.

A labor of 36 grueling hours and then ending up with a cesarean operation is no big joke. But it’s all worth it. Just seeing Yui smile even in her sleep makes my heart both melt and soar to heights at the same time, if that is at all possible. Truly all worth it.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lia12
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 15:12:35

    congrats marj! yui is lovely πŸ™‚


  2. Rez
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 16:00:21

    So, this is the full account i’ve been waiting on. Whew! i can only imagine the extreme pain and joy you went through. πŸ™‚

    Congratulations again, Atsushi and Marj! Hope we get to see Yui soon. πŸ™‚


  3. ana k.
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 20:49:49

    i can so relate ate marj… the joys and pains of delivering your baby, whether CS or normal, it just simply is hard to describe. i had a normal delivery although induced labor.

    i hope to see your beautiful family one of these days.. unta masaag mi ug balik diha! take care always!


    • atsushiandmarjorie
      Sep 25, 2012 @ 22:15:53

      Indeed Ana K! Even when you know the delivery you’ve been through was like “buwis buhay”, one look at your child and you’d forget how difficult it was.

      Yeah, visit kayo ulit dito J! Grabe I so envy you guys, you can speak Nihongo! Di pa din ako natututo. Hope we could visit Germany too, and see your pretty Sam! (segue: we also considered Samantha. Kaso since we have to register her name in Japanese, it will become Samanza na. Not as nice anymore hehe)


  4. Dea
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 17:23:04

    Congratulations! Yui is so lovely! Thank you for your birth story. Now I’m not as scared of having a CS if it means that it’s for the best.

    I love that last pic with your husband and Yui, his smile his so big! Obviously a very proud papa.


    • atsushiandmarjorie
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 17:34:40

      Thank you Dea! πŸ™‚
      We’re now considering ourselves as oyabaka (overly fond or doting parents) so it’s really good to hear/know other people share our views too haha.

      Yes, if it means to save your life and the baby’s, CS is the option talaga. It’s not just for the mom kasi, a long labor can also be stressful for the baby.

      Haha, yes, Atsushi is really one proud papa. He changes his phone wallpaper with the daily photos he takes. πŸ˜€


  5. Ingrid
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 21:54:06

    Congratulations to you and Atsushi!!! Grabe parang kelan lang I was hosting your wedding! Congratulations on this sweet bundle of joy!


    • atsushiandmarjorie
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 23:19:36

      Hi Ms Ingrid! (i still can’t drop the ms hehe) thanks for the visit and the hearty congratulations. πŸ™‚
      Honga parang kailan lang yung wedding albeit in six months or so two years na din nakalipas. Bilis ng panahon talaga!


  6. tamarindstreet
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 08:50:34

    congratulations! very true my mother in law told my wife to watch what she eats when she was pregnant for fear of gaining weight , as oppose to our American doctor who scolded my wife for not gaining weight,hihihi!


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