This post could have an alternative title as well: giving birth in Japan...
So I thought I'd share my birth story for my blog readers. It also helps me to get it all down before I forget anything!
Monday, January 30th, I went in for my appointment at my clinic. When I had gone in the previous week before my due date there wasn't a lot happening, so my doctor booked me another appointment. By the 30th, there was more activity and some fairly minor birthing waves/contractions. But I wasn't all that concerned as I wasn't in any discomfort and didn't expect to be in any for some time.
Before I continue, I would like to add that I intended to use Hypnobabies as my birthing method. It's a method that helps mothers relax and focus during birth and, since I was giving birth naturally, a good way for me to try to manage my birthing experience. Hypnobabies is a great birthing method and really helped during the first portion of my birth experience, I'll go into how/why it was less effective later on as the story unfolds.
After my appointment, I went home had some lunch, talked to my parents on Skype, etc. In general, I just spent the afternoon relaxed and rather unconcerned about anything regarding baby. As the afternoon wore on though, I began to feel some rather irregular pains in my abdomen. As I hadn't really experienced Braxton-Hicks, I figured that's what it was and continued about my business.
Around six o'clock, I realized that what I was feeling was maybe NOT B-H and started using my Hypnobabies training to manage the waves of discomfort. It worked great. I watched my shows (Bones & NCIS) and made dinner, all while experiencing early stages of labor. By the time that Shimon arrived home (around 8) and we were eating dinner, I had started to time because I had no idea how far apart things were. I also told Shimon quite calmly, "I'm in labor." He didn't really react much, but I think he got a bit more anxious as we were eating.
By the end of dinner, I had been clocking contractions for 45 minutes and I was hitting either 3:40 to 5:15 between them. Still I wasn't having a major problem, so we went into the living room and watching our Monday night drama. I was using my relaxation techniques from Hypnobabies and was standing up or leaning during the most strong sensations. Also, it felt like I had to go number 2 during each one... which I found out later was caused by the baby dropping!
We passed the time watching TV and finally around 11, I went and took a bath. It felt wonderful!! But when I got out, Shimon was pretty concerned and he wanted to call the clinic. He called and then put me on the phone. I was prepared to be told to wait awhile longer (I was all ready to get into bed and turn on my relaxation tracks to start getting more ready for what was ahead!), but the nurse said to come on in.
This is where my Hypnobabies did not help me, because I had misjudged how much time I would have before leaving my house for the hospital I wasn't able to utilize all of the resources from Hypnobabies. However, I realize this was more a problem with my inexperience and less with the program itself. I would still endorse Hypnobabies for anyone wanting an enjoyable and relaxed birth experience. I just wasn't able to utilize it to the fullest this time.
Shimon called a taxi and we were ready to leave in about 10 minutes. It was around that time that it all hit me - this was really happening!! Eek! Shimon was also having similar thoughts. On the way to the clinic I listened to my Hypnobabies track, which did help minimize the stress of being in a taxi on the way to give birth.
We got to the clinic at around midnight. We went to the delivery area and the nurse checked my progress (2-3cm) and I changed into my hospital issue nightgown. Then headed to the room where we would be until things progressed a bit more. Slowly, the fact that I was losing my grip on my Hypnobabies methods sunk in. However, I did have plenty of help from Shimon (holding my hand, distracting me with bad late night TV, etc.) to make it through the next 45 minutes or so.
Just before one the nurse came in and I was in some fairly intense pain... and the breaks between were quite short. So she checked and I was already 7cm dilated and she said that we should get ready to move to the delivery area right then. Yet again, I was unprepared for the speed at which things were moving along. Eek! And after this things get a little fuzzy...
My husband was a gem. He offered me his hand (which at the beginning I would take, but closer to the end I wouldn't because I was afraid I'd crush it!!) and water when I asked and counted out the contractions (and the pushes once we got to that point!) He was great. And this is the man who was very skeptical about joining me for the actual birthing...
I think we spent about an hour as I dilated to 9cm. They put a monitor on me for the duration... and I was still getting some amount of break between each contraction. I was able to feel when each one was coming on (intense sensation in my lower back and bum) and Shimon would count so I could concentrate on something besides the hurt. As I mentioned before, this portion of my birthing did not benefit from my Hypnobabies training. So I tried to keep calm and relaxed, but often succumbed to yelling out "Ouch!" repeatedly in Japanese. We also changed positions a few times during this time, but I can't really remember how long I spent in which position.
After what seemed like forever, the nurse said that I could push curing the next contraction. The first few pushes weren't great. It felt good to be doing something, but then the nurse told me how to focus and when to breathe in order to be most effective. That worked better and Shimon was really helpful at this point because I was supposed to try to push for as long as possible... and with him counting it helped me focus.
Finally, after what was at least another hour (in reality it was probably longer), it was time to call the doctor on duty in. The only unfortunate thing about having a baby in the wee hours is that my regular doctors weren't on duty. The night doctor was a guy I hadn't actually seen before. However, at that point the nurses and midwives had done way more anyway and I was confident in their abilities. After much pushing, Touma Patrick Yamamori arrived at 4:08am on January 31st, 2012. It's amazing how relieved I felt when I could see him... and I ended up panting, but Shimon and the nurses/midwives were there to help me keep my breathing regular so I didn't hyperventilate.
From arriving at the hospital to giving birth to Touma, it was just over 4 hours. During all the talks with friends and the official doctor talks (there were two) about giving birth, everyone said that giving birth to your first baby takes a long time. Around 19-32 hours total. From 6 when I realised I was in labor to 4am when Touma arrived, it was about 10 hours. And the brevity is part of the reason that I wasn't able to use my relaxation methods as effectively because I was caught completely off guard.
So... this is very long... but a story like this one has to be told thoroughly! :-) Pictures will come soon!