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.

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Mom and baby.

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

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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.

milestones

And today marks Yui’s first week! ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s fast having a double chin already. I hope we could go home already so she won’t have to be fed with formula milk.
It’s amazing to note that comparing with the other babies during our hospital stint so far, Yui by far is the heaviest and longest at birth. No wonder doctors said my baby is big. It’s in comparison to Japanese babies wherein the average, as far as I’ve seen in the nursery, is 2.8kg (Yui was at 3.37kg).

Another milestone. My stitches, or more like staples, were removed this morning. Yay! I was kinda panicky about it since last night actually; apprehensive it would be painful. But when the doctor went about it, pulling your underarm hair with a puller is more painful than the removal of the stapler wires; removal was done in just a couple of minutes or so.

Ahhh. I can’t wait to be back home with Yui and Hubs!!!

Tojo Women’s hotel er hospital

I hope to find time next time to feature Tojo Women’s Hospital in detail. One thing though. Sometimes I forget I am in a hospital what with the food they’re serving and the shower amenities.

This is my dinner.

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Yep that’s just for me alone.
I’m already perfectly happy with the grilled pork and candied onion, the sautรฉed mushroom and the shellfish soup for viand. Yet they still threw in steamed snow crab.

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Now HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LOOSE WEIGHT while staying here??! I ain’t complaining though. Especially with a dessert as GOOD as this yuzu sorbet.

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As it is though, I really hope we could go home soon so hubs can enjoy some time with Yui as well; hospital rules (as a general rule in japan) has his time with Yui limited. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

hospital bag

All set! Finally after N years of procrastination, hospital bag is ready and set (still sans the fluffy slippers).

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Now for the looong wait before I go into labor. Truly so near yet so far.

baby cabinet and baby bed

Finally, our baby’s cabinet has been delivered! I so love the engraved mickey head.

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It came already assembled but sans the mickey head handle. So while brother and sister (hubs and Mayumi) took care of assembling baby’s crib (baby’s crib is just right beside my side of the bed. Perfect arrangement),

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I installed the mickey head handles. Voila! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Giggles on the mickey heads.

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After roughly more than one hour of assembly, crib is all up and ready! ๐Ÿ™‚

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One thing I love with this type of crib is that one side can be lowered. So while sleeping, I can lower down the slide for easy access to baby.

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No worries on baby falling because baby’s bed and my bed is jammed up tight (foam is askew in the photo hence the seeming gap).

Now we just have to wait for the futon that we’ve just ordered from Rakuten. Cutie isn’t it?

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——-
I’m a very satisfied Rakuten customer actually.

The Mickey baby cabinet we bought at 29,800 yen is really reasonable considering the price of the cabinets we’ve previously purchased from our friendly neighbour furniture shop. You can also select the color of the cabinet (either black or white) and the mickey head handles (comes in white, semi-transparent, blue, pink, black, yellow and of course red). The best part is that it’s wooden and not plastic.

The 7-set futon is at 21,000yen compared to the 5-set futon sold in Keikyu mall at 39,800yen.

The Katoji baby crib we bought at Akachan Honpo at ~13,000yen, courtesy of Otosan. Arigatou Otosan. ๐Ÿ™‚

moments

When in the middle of the night, there’s a sudden pain on my abdomen and I can’t help but whimper and moan. And yet even when he is sleeping soundly, his arm would be around me and then his hand would rub my arm or my back to comfort me. Joyfulness.

When I can’t sleep and I just stare at his face and he happened to wake up. And then he’d smile and say twice, “pretty ne”. Well that really lends me some self-confidence especially now that I feel and look so bloated with pregnancy. Joyfulness.

When in the wee hours of the morning I’d get up because I’m thirsty and needs to go to the loo as well. He’d get up also, pour me a glass of cold water before pouring a glass for himself. And after which hug me really tight. Joyfulness.

When before leaving for office he’d always make it a point to kiss and hug me goodbye and say “i love you” even when the remnants of my dream still lingered and I’m still cross-eyed from sleep. It’s like having a very good dream before going back to sleep again. Joyfulness.

Thank you A for making me really happy. Baby is so lucky to have you for a father. ๐Ÿ™‚

girdle it out

Growing up, and because those whom I personally encounter are not really celebrities, most of the moms I saw can be identified easily – they all sport this protruding belly even if some of them may be thin. I don’t look down on it though. I considered it way back then as a kind of champion belt like boxing champions have; sort of like something to be proud after having a baby, I thought so at that time when getting married and having babies was still so far removed from my mind.

When I was two months with baby though, it started to concern me. Yes of course I still consider it as an achievement. But my prevailing question was that isn’t there a way not to make it appear so obvious??! A Filipino colleague however who gave birth a little over a year ago said that there really is no escaping it; that moms would have to deal with this protruding belly for the rest of your life. Kind of like a sentence for imprisonment isn’t it.

And so I chewed on my lip, worried. And then I thought, how does Japanese women do it?? I mean, sure they’re gifted with slim figures and they’re gifted as well with the genes of still being trim even when heavy with baby. But surely at 9 months their bellies expand as well, even when the other parts of their bodies doesn’t. So how do they make the stretched muscles compress back in?

After much browsing with baby magazines, Okasan confirmed as well what I have had suspicions on – right after giving birth, moms wear a special kind of belt or binder to squeeze back their uterus and figures in.

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Our maternity hospital gave us a list of what we should bring and what the hospital will be providing. This girdle practice is so engrained in the Japanese pregnancies that the hospital is even providing me one set of this binder in my whole stay in the hospital – 5 days at the least.

Seeing how effective it is for the Japanese women, I do hope that this practice will also be done in the Philippines albeit a far as I know, for those who have had cesarians, they are also required to wear binders.

Why I’m hoping so is so that more Pinay moms would be more aware that they do have a choice – that they can have their old figures back after having a baby and that they needn’t be a celebrity nor exercise to death (although of course exercise is a big help) to get rid of the baby belly.

It isn’t just genes; a Filipino friend-colleague could attest the boon of these binders. She now still have her old figure, even after having her baby. And I so dearly hope it will have the same effect on me.

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