Though we knew she would be thanks to the 3-D technology available at such a reasonable price in the U.S.
So in my last post I said I had been feeling weird since Friday morning and I was having weak contractions when I posted. I was a bit worried the contractions would stop, but at the same time I knew we were close. I had been feeling so awful there was no way my body was going to hold up much longer and baby had to be feeling it too.
I forgot to mention that at my 39 week appointment I found out that the woman who was due 6 days earlier than I was gave birth early that morning, on her due date. Before leaving the clinic I stopped by her room to say congratulations and have her son send some kind of message to my daughter, telling her to come on out and join the fun. It must have worked. After I left the clinic I ran some errands as I started to feel like it was now or never. If I didn’t get stuff done now, it would have to wait until after I had the baby. Somehow you just know, you know?
So Sunday comes and nothing exciting happens until about 6p.m. when I feel a weak contraction, and then another 30 minutes later, and yet another 30 minutes later. So I tell Akinori I want to take a shower now just in case we are headed to the clinic in the next few hours. I had another contraction or two while I was in the shower, so I was pretty sure that this was it, but the contractions weren’t getting any closer or stronger. Around 9:30p.m. the contractions started coming every 10 minutes apart, but still really weak. So I decided to call the midwife and see what she said.
Her advice was to hang out for another hour and see if the contractions got any stronger, and if they did to come in straight away regardless of the timing, and if they didn’t get stronger and I could get some sleep, then to do just that, and get some sleep. I was pretty excited knowing that things were starting to happen, but the contractions weren’t any stronger, so I finally fell asleep around midnight.
I could feel the contractions while I was sleeping, but there was nothing to jerk me awake until 2:30 a.m. I tried to sleep through for a while longer, but after an hour I realized the contractions were too strong for me to get any more decent sleep, and I called the midwife again who had been waiting for my call apparently, and she told me to come in. I woke up Akinori, and we were off. Luckily the contractions had started before we went to sleep so we had gotten everything we were going to need together before we went to bed, and then just loaded up the car. Poor Sara was really out of sorts though being woken up in the middle of the night, and I think she was a bit scared and started crying, but once we were in the car she calmed down.
When we got into the car though, the contractions started coming 2-3 minutes apart, though still not really strong. I called my dad just to let them know we were headed to the clinic and hopefully we would have some news for them soon. Akinori called his parents too, to have them meet us at the clinic and take Sara back home with them.
When I walked in, the midwife didn’t seem confident at all that I was about to give birth. But I went up to one of the rooms, and the main midwife did an internal exam first, and declared that I was nearly 100% effaced, but that I was still only 1 cm. dilated. That news was a little disappointing. But I laid down and they hooked me up to the NST anyway. The main midwife had called one of the other midwives in when I called her at 9:30, and I was so glad to see it was my favorite midwife! She actually worked at the hospital I had Sara at, when I gave birth to Sara, and the first time I saw her at the midwife clinic it was really nice to see a familiar face, and especially one that I like! She stayed with Akinori and me while I was hooked up to the NST, massaging my back and rubbing my feet. The contractions were still coming every 2-3 minutes, but were getting weaker, not stronger, and by the time they took the NST off an hour later, they were almost undetectable. The main midwife said that we should just wait and see how things progressed until breakfast time, and she would do another internal then and we could reassess the situation.
The minute the NST was taken off, Sara says “Mommy, go go. Bye bye!” And starts getting her coat on and waving goodbye to the midwives. Poor thing. She was still a bit freaked out apparently. My in-laws arrived soon after and took her back to their house, though not without some protest. Sara really didn’t want to leave without mommy and daddy, but with the promise of strawberries and ice cream, her grandfather won her over without too much of a fuss, and off she went with a “Mata ne!” and a “Sensei, onegaishimasu!” It was pretty funny.
I brought with my iPod and a set of speakers so that I could belly dance through contractions, as Kuri had inspired me to do by sending my a link to a video she found on YouTube. But it was still only 6 or so in the morning, and I knew there was someone in the room next door, and I didn’t want to wake her, so until 7 a.m. I just laid on the bed and let the midwife massage my back, and we all just kind of chilled out. My contractions really weren’t that bad at all, so there was a lot of laughing and joking around going on. The nurse who works at the midwife clinic came into work and came into the room and asked where Sara was, so I told her we had sent her our to play in the street for awhile. The midwife got a big kick out of my answer.
Around 7 I plugged in the speakers and started to do some belly dancing moves when contractions came. The midwives did them with me, which was really fun and we were able to keep the atmosphere light and amusing. Once in awhile I’d have a really big, painful contraction and the midwife would massage my back as I swayed to the music. At 8 a.m. someone brought breakfast in, and I was soooo hungry at that point, I couldn’t wait to get some food in me. So I would eat a few bites, and when I felt a contraction coming on, I would stand up and dance through it, then sit back down and wolf down some more breakfast.
It was a little after 8 when the main midwife came back in to check how far along I was, and I had progressed to 3 cm., and although it was progress, I felt like it had taken forever to get there. Sara’s labor was just so fast and furious, and of course I don’t remember everything all that clearly. You forget the pain, and being my first time giving birth, there was a huge fear factor involved that probably altered my memory of the way things happened as well. So while I kept thinking, “this should happen next” or “with Sara it was this way”, things weren’t happening in exactly the same way, and I found myself disappointed that things weren’t happening the way I had expected them to, or in some cases I think it freaked me out a bit.
The next two hours were more of the same, belly dancing through contractions, talking and laughing. As the contractions started to get more painful, I would grab hold of Akinori’s neck, and hold on to him for support while still standing, and the midwife would massage my back. I got tired of standing after awhile and needed to sit, so I was kind of kneeling and when a contraction came I would bury my head in Akinori’s chest, but that position seemed to slow things down, and my contractions were a little further apart. More like 4-5 minutes or longer, and I didn’t want things to slow down now that we had come so far.
The midwife suggested I walk up and down the stairs a few times, so we did 3 trips up and down the stairs, and then I had another internal exam, around 10 a.m. and I was 5 cm. dilated. At least things were moving, but they were starting to get really, really painful. I started to let out little moans during my contractions and the midwife took that as a sign that things were going to start really progressing, so they had me take off the sweatpants and underwear I had worn to the clinic, and they wrapped this skirt around me instead. At the same time, the midwife who was with me called for the main midwife to come back as it looked like things were going to start happening soon. God, how I wanted things to start happening!
I kept waiting for my water to break, thinking that things would really move along then, but it just wasn’t happening like that. I couldn’t stand through the contractions anymore, and thought that it might feel better if I laid on my side, so I tried that for awhile, but in the end there was just no position that was comfortable, I mean I was in the late stages of labor. Just not comfortable! So eventually I ended up on my back with Akinori behind me. He was told to support me and keep me kind of upright, and the midwives at one point tried to pull me further upright and OMG! that was so super painful. I think the poor baby was probably in a position where she nearly snapped in half. They kept having me go to the bathroom as well, which was great in between contractions. Sitting on the toilet felt really, really good. But when a contraction came it was awful. I hated it. So we went back to the room.
I kept looking at the clock waiting for it to be noon because something inside me told me this baby was not coming until the clock turned 12. Sara was born just after noon, and so were my brother and I. I just had a feeling it was something in my blood. I think just before 12 I was 8-9 cm when the midwife checked. I was pulling at Akinori’s neck, hair, face from behind me through every contraction, and spitting all over the place as I tried to breathe through them. Fuck it hurt, and I wasn’t feeling the urge to push at all, which was KILLING me! That was what I remembered most with Sara. There was the urge to push, and I did, and out she came, but the urge wasn’t coming and I must have asked 300 times in that last 30 minutes, “Are you sure this baby is really coming?” It just didn’t feel like she was ever going to come out.
I have no idea when it happened, but it must have been just after noon that I was fully dilated and the midwife broke my water for me. I didn’t feel it happen, but they told me afterward that they had to break my water for me. I guess it was then that I finally felt the urge to push, and push I did. Two pushes and she was out. I pushed with the first urge and when she didn’t come out then I decided that she was definitely coming out with the next one and I continued to push even after the contraction finished. I just couldn’t take anymore. But that did it. She was out, and they were telling me to stop pushing and to hold my hands out to receive my baby. And for some reason I didn’t want to. I just wanted to rest. I wanted to be left alone. I was fucking exhausted.
They put the baby on my chest, and the rest is kind of fuzzy. I remember waiting for what felt like an eternity for the placenta to come out. I just wanted it out of me! I think the reason it was so uncomfortable was because the midwife said the umbilical cord was really short so with every movement of the baby, there was a pull on the placenta which was still inside. Akinori came out from behind me to cut the cord, then they put a mirror between my legs so I could see the placenta being birthed (is that the right word?). That was pretty cool, and unbelievably Akinori watched too, which I never thought he would. They wrapped the baby up in towels and placed her next to me while they cleaned up the mess. I ended up tearing because I was so determined to get the baby out, but the midwife clinic obviously doesn’t use anesthesia, nor does she use stitches. She uses these tiny little painful buggers:
I thought I was going to fucking die when she was clamping my skin together with these. At first I was just kind of putting up with it, and then the younger midwife said, “It’s okay to say it hurts.” And I just let loose. I know I didn’t scream that loud when I was giving birth. These little fuckers were painful!! BUT I was able to sit without a problem 2 days after giving birth, which I wasn’t able to do for about 10 days with the 3 stitches I had after giving birth to Sara. The midwife took these out the day before I was discharged and I was already healed and back together. Apparently these hurt like hell when going in (which I can attest to), but actually heal faster and cleaner than stitches. My goal for my next birth is not to tear at all so I don’t have to deal with that kind of pain in the first place, but as long as I did, at least it healed well and fast. The worst part was they had somehow moved on the 4th day and were sticking somewhere funny, so while I hadn’t been in any pain for the previous two days, all of a sudden my crotch was hurting like a bitch again.
They brought a baby scale and height measuring thing into the room, so the baby and I were never separated during my entire stay at the clinic, aside from when I took my daily shower, and when they gave her a bath the day we took her home. At my clinic they don’t bathe the babies for the first 4 or 5 days because according to the midwife, newborns are covered in all kinds of good, healthy natural oils, and it’s better to leave them in their natural oils to stew for a few days before giving their system a shock by exposing them to the cruel, harsh world right away. It’s also supposed to reduce the chances of getting skin allergies, like atopy, in the future.
Amelie Rose was born on January 31, 2011 at 12:08 p.m. weighing 3156 grams and 47.1 cm. (though not really, will explain shortly) in length. The clinic gave us this collage of photos the day before I left. It’s a photo of a photo, so a little fuzzy, but you get the general idea, AND you don’t get the full effect of how incredibly awful I looked while in labor and directly after giving birth.
The other baby in the photo on the bottom right is the little boy who was born 2 days earlier. What’s great about my clinic is that they have monthly lunches and a yearly Christmas party, and all kinds of other events for the mothers who have given birth there, so there are lots of chances to meet up again with the same women who were pregnant around the same time, or staying at the clinic at the same time. It’s a very homey atmosphere. You have the choice of eating all your meals in your room, which most people do the day they give birth, but as a general rule, all of the mothers bring their babies down to the kitchen and eat all three meals with the staff. I found it much nicer than eating alone in a hospital room, and the food was soooo good! All washoku (Japanese food) though. ALL washoku! And I do like washoku, but too much and I need a good helping of yoshoku (Western food) after awhile, but amazingly I wasn’t craving Western food at all! The food was just THAT good! (Probably the stash of chocolate chip cookies I had in my room to snack on after meals helped.)
Aside from the awesome meals, the clinic also gives an oppai (breast) massage and an oil back and foot massage every day. That was awesome! Well the oppai massage wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t painful. I was actually producing too much milk by day four (and still am) so it was nice to get some relief every day. I did have to supplement with formula the 2nd night, and I was so relieved that the midwife suggested it. I was afraid they were going to be breastfeeding nazis, but they so weren’t. Thanks to that little bit of formula, Amelie slept for 6 hours straight and I had an awesome sleep! It was the 3rd day that my milk really came in though, and oh boy did it come in! Engorged boobies = OUCH!
Not being separated from Amelie at all provided another really interesting experience the first night when she had her first poop. If you give birth in a hospital, usually the nurses take the baby the first night to let the mother rest, so they deal with the first poop. I don’t know how many mother get to see what I saw, but holy shit! I mean literally, holy shit! Of course it was the blackish/greenish meconium that first came out, but there was buckets of it! Plus my clinic only uses cloth diapers and the diaper leaked, and absolutely everything got pooped on! It was the first time I ever used cloth diapers myself and I can manage huge poops with disposable diapers at this point, I’ve been doing it long enough, but I had NO idea how to contain the mess, so I had to call for help, and the midwife had a good laugh at my inability to cope. She basically did the whole clean-up for me, and gave me back my clean, fresh baby.
Although Amelie was a regular pooping, peeing, puking factory right from the start, I was not, and this was a big problem. *TMI WARNING* I’m writing this as a memoir for myself as well, so I want to include all the gory details. Please stop reading if you don’t want to know anymore about my poop.
So I hadn’t had an bowel action since a few days before Amelie was born, and they ask you every day if you’ve pooped while you’re at the clinic, and of course, every day my answer was no. So on day 4 they started me on prune extract. On day 5 I started to feel like I had to go, but when I sat down, nothing was happening. At least it wasn’t going to happen without some effort on my part, but when I tried to make an effort I started to freak out. The memory of the pain of actual childbirth came flooding back and I would start shaking and crying and I just couldn’t do it. I took a shower, and had a good cry while I was in the shower because I just felt so tired, and felt like keeping my shit bottled up inside me was tiring, and my body was still exhausted from the whole birthing effort, and I was going home the next day to real life and dealing with a messy house and a stubborn two-year old and the task of keeping a newborn alive, and I couldn’t shit, and it was all a bit overwhelming.
After my shower I wanted to consult one of the midwives about my situation, but right then Akinori’s best friend’s wife, and their 3 kids came for a visit. She gave birth to her 3rd child at the same clinic, which is how I found out about it, and as happy as I would have normally been to see them, I really was not up for visitors. In fact, I couldn’t even sit down I was so freaking uncomfortable. Not to mention that at this point those nasty little clamps had moved themselves to an uncomfortable position, so I was in all kinds of discomfort. They only stayed about 20 minutes, and Akinori arrived soon after and I broke down crying again. One of the midwives came in at that point and I told her what was going on, and she said she would consult the main midwife about what to do as I was supposed to have my pre-discharge exam later that day, and in the state I was in I couldn’t walk, or sit or stand anymore. I actually had to have lunch in my room, laying down on the bed because I couldn’t sit to have lunch with everyone else in the kitchen.
After lunch it was decided that I should have an enema, which I was a bit nervous about, but I thought that if it was going to get all the crap out, and give me some relief, then that was what I wanted to do. I had had enemas on two other occasions when I had surgery on my foot, and both times the enemas were given to me in the toilet. It was about 8 years ago, so my memory is fuzzy, but I was pretty sure the effect was immediate, which was why I had to have them administered in the toilet. The midwife assured me that since I was not an old lady, and it would be fine for me to receive the enema in the exam room and then make a run for the toilet. She was almost right.
I very, very thankfully did not have a shit explosion in my pants, but I did lose the enema almost the second I pulled my pants up. The shit explosion didn’t happen until I got to the toilet. But it didn’t happen as easily as I thought it was supposed to, and I started crying and freaking out again. I felt like my body was totally and completely failing me. I felt horrible because it was like I had found childbirth so traumatic I couldn’t shit, and I didn’t want childbirth to be traumatic for me, I still want to give birth again! I didn’t want the birth of my second child to be something I remembered as an awful experience, especially since everything had happened the way I wanted regarding being able to give birth at the clinic vs. hospital, and her arriving early. The enema took over though and forced me to push, and I did, and boom!
But I was still crying and upset and the midwife called to me and asked if I was okay, and I said no, and then she asked if she could come in. To tell the truth, I hadn’t wanted her to leave me in the first place. I felt like I needed someone by my side, just like while I was giving birth. But I mean who really wants to sit in the bathroom with someone while they shit? I was way too embarrassed to actually ask her to stay from the start, but I was so relieved when she did actually come in. She actually meant was I physically okay when she asked, as enemas sometimes have the effect of causing your blood pressure drop to the point of passing out, but either way I was feeling BAD!
All’s well that end’s well though and after a few more minutes, everything was finally out of me. The midwife had taken my clothes to be laundered and brought me new ones, and I was ready for my internal exam, EXCEPT the shit that was stuffing me up, stuffed up the toilet. Totally embarrassing! But apparently there was quite a bit that came out. More than I realized. The poor midwife cleaned up that mess for me too, though I offered to send Akinori to clean it up. The main midwife greeted me in the hall with a big “omedeto!” (congratulations!) She said “You gave birth to baby #3! Good job!” I said “Thanks, it was a boy. His name is Ben” (ben means poop in Japanese).
The midwife does the discharge exam for mothers, but for babies, you have to go to a nearby pediatrician. So we went and they measured Amelie’s height and weight again. She had started gaining weight again from day 3, which is apparently really good, but she also gained over 2 cm. in height, which I thought was kind of crazy, so I asked that she be measured again, and there was no mistake, she was now 49.8 cm. tall. I asked the nurse, and she said it was because I had such good milk. Funny. I got back to the midwife clinic and they said that they had probably mismeasured and I could choose whichever measurement I wanted as her official height. I think it’s probably a lot more likely that the taller measurement is more accurate as Sara was 50.5 cm. when she was born and 100 g. lighter, so that’s the one we’re going with.
After eating lunch one last time with the staff, I packed up my bags and was ready to go, but I totally had a big blubber on the way out, like I would never see these people again. I had a freaking appointment for the following Thursday at the clinic for another oppai massage and so that they could weigh Amelie and make sure she’s gaining weight like she should be. But it was really hard to leave such a warm, family-type, loving environment, where I was totally spoiled and waited on hand and foot, knowing that I had to go back home to fend for myself. The experience really was wonderful.
Akinori has been great since we’ve been home, and his parents have been even more great giving him 3 weeks off from work to take care of us! He’s really taken over Sara duties, and Sara is a great big sister. She is so totally in love with Amelie. She is constantly kissing her, and patting her head, and fetching diapers and gets so excited when she wakes up so she can make faces at her, and when she cries, she pats her head and says “Don’t cry baby”. It’s really, really sweet. I can’t wait until they can play together! Although I doubt it will be all love and hugs and kisses then.
Amelie is two weeks old today and we had to turn in her birth announcement to city hall today. Akinori has spent the last 3 days working on her kanji and it has been driving me CRAZY! Luckily it’s done! This is what we decided on 明天光, and it was totally last minute. We were kind of set in having the kanji for ocean in her name, and we clung to that choice until the very end, but decided that this kanji more represents our hopes for her future than the other. Here’s to our little star!