Dear friends, it is my great honour to announce that I have naturally given birth to a beautiful, spirited boy on April 23, 2016 at 10:23am. Blossoming into motherhood from August 2015, it has been an unforgettable journey alongside my beloved boyfriend. Becoming (surprisingly) pregnant, after thinking that I was completely infertile (from what doctors had been telling me since 18 years old)… and then a very big WWHHAATT??!! day on August 22, we leapt right into the birth of Mahlekai… (estimated birth date was May 22 so yes, it was a great surprise to us) I knew he’d arrive earlier than the date but an entire month early was…. well… go figure. These sort of things seem to happen in my life.
It all made me re-realize: Accept the Unknown. Allow the Unexpected to Flow.
I have learned over and over in my life thus far, to invite great changes and to know that life doesn’t always go your way. This pregnancy taught me. And moreso, the birthing experience taught me these lessons.
***CAUTION: From here I will begin to write on my birthing journey. If you wish not to read on, I will not be offended in any way. If you are a pregnant mamma, CONGRATS!!! Mamma, if you wish to read on, know that fear is what holds us back. Though my experience sounds dramatic, know that surprises can happen. Just know that the breath is what brings us back to our hearts and to let go of attachments. Enjoy your pregnancy and your birthing experience!
April 22nd at around 4am – I started feeling what I had read as Braxton Hicks (practice surges/contractions). Without doubting that it was just practice, I just embraced the sensations which took hold of my body. Not too intense, just waves of intense pressure – awake during the early morning, I went right into a hypnotic state, as practiced with the Mongan Method Hypnobirthing breathing techniques. Breathing in, I feel connected to my body… Breathing out, I feel relaxed. Breathing in, I feel connected to Mahlekai… Breathing out, I feel calm. This continued throughout the morning… Today, I am going to the hospital with my midwife to see how far down Mahlekai has journeyed down. I’ve been looking forward to this date. Picked up by my midwife, I explained I had some blood spotting. “This either means you’re going into labour… and definitely something we should mention to the doctor.” In this moment, all I could do was continue to breathe deeply and remain calm. The surges continued, like the waves of the ocean. Calm waves… Swells of waves with great pressure… calm… swells… It’s 10:30am now. We arrive at the hospital for my one and only check up.
“Well” says the doctor, “looks like you’ll be giving birth today. You’re 3-4cm dilated, my dear.”
Whhhaaaattttt???!!!! But my due date is May 22. I knew we’d be birthing early but not THIS early!!! My birth plan…. My birth plan…. Hospital birth???? Today????
As the surges continued to rhythmically take hold of my body. We are referred to the massive hospital in Kurashiki. This hospital is MASSIVE. Are we in a train station in Tokyo??? Is this a ritzy hotel??? I’m birthing here???? Breathe…. Breathe…..
Closing my eyes, standing in the sunlight. I await my midwife to park the car and take me up to the next doctor. Breathing in, I allow this journey to flow…. Breathing out, I accept this great gift…. She sits me down in the wheel chair.
“I hope you’re okay that you won’t be birthing at the midwifery,” says the doctor. “You’re 5-7cm dilated now at 35 weeks and 5 days of gestation. We are going to put you in a room.”
My birth plan… All the visualizations I had been meditation upon… This is not what I had envisioned… Breathe… Allow… Flow… Let go… As I continued to do breathing exercises, my beloved arrived finally.
Hours go by… the nurses come to check up on me… Hours go by… My beloved lovingly guides me through deeply breathing among the deep, powerful, unforgettable surges… We are now at 24 hours of labour… When is this great moment? Did Mahlekai fall asleep??
I don’t know if this has happened to you during birth… My baby fell asleep inside my womb, exhausted during his journey. My cervix closed up a bit…
“Hey nurse… the pain is subsiding, enough that I’m able to nap… I think he fell asleep??”
“Let me check… Yep. Looks like we’ll be here for a bit longer. Do you want to speed up the process with Oxytocin in the early morning?”
“I hate to say it, but yes. Oxytocin sounds harmless for us. Let’s do it.”
I had low dosage of Oxytocin IV’ed into my blood stream… Within 30 minutes, this lightweight body starts to surge harder than ever. From here, I started to feel within my body, almost being able to see Mahlekai’s journey down the cervix. I could most definitely feel his squiggling down. Amazing. An hour…. two….
“Maya, I’m going to go get more water. I’ll be right back. Keep breathing deeply. You’re doing great.” He kisses my forehead and heads for the vending machine.
As he has only been gone for 2 minutes or so… Water SPLOOOSH!!!!! WOW!!!!! What was that??!!!!!!
I called for the nurse. Where’s Zack?
The nurse arrives and checks my one last time. “There we go! It’s time. Let’s get you in the birth room.” Zack arrives, eyes nearly bulging out of his eye sockets. I could almost feel his intense heart beats through his hands and through my arm.
Consciously, hearing the other women going through in the next two other birthing rooms – hearing their primal sounds… Sounds I’ve never made before burst out from my body. You know, I imagined a quiet, serene birth. Smiling. No shouting. I definitely was making very loud primal sounds. I could feel every inch that Mahlekai journeyed down my cervix. I could see him in my mind’s eye. I could feel every bit of his head pressing against my pelvis. As the surges came, I breathed deeply like I had never before – Mahlekai and I connected as one. When the surges would subside for those brief moments, I breathed as calmly as I could muster. Maybe a minute between the surges – With about 5~7 deep pushes, allowing Mahlekai’s great journey out into the world of oxygen and bright lights. He bursts out into our world. Almost 30 hours later, 35 weeks and 6 days – He made it out safely with no complications. Just a tad early. But really… had he been even a bit bigger in size, I don’t think I could have birthed him with 5-7 pushes.
I cried in relief. I cried in love. I cried in euphoria.
I did it… I really… did it.
I want to hold him… As I watched the doctors and nurses do their routine… I could only kangaroo care with him for what felt a split minute. “Ushikubo-san. We have to take him to the NICU to check his organs and vitals. You can come visit in 2 hours and be with him as long as you wish.”
As I watched him get put in a incubation box, he gets wheeled out of the birth room. Tears roll down my face…
What I wished for didn’t matter at this point. I just wish for him to be healthy. Don’t hurt him. Don’t prick him with needles… Don’t IV him… Don’t….
Mahlekai spent 3 full days in the NICU, surrounded by very premature babies, babies with respiration tubes, babies under UV light… Cries, loud beeping sounds…. I’m so sorry you have to be here. The good news is, you are getting all the thorough check ups and we know you are healthy. We’ll be out of here soon. Just us. We went back and forth from the healing ward for mammas and back to the NICU every couple hours.
Finally on the 4th day of healing – He is granted permission to be brought to my room in the hospital. Doctors worried for jaundice… and all sorts of other health complications. Zack and I battled the dragons. Finally… I’m so glad we didn’t have to do anything rash to get Mahlekai out of the NICU. We almost had to kidnap our own child.
As much as I know the doctors were taking great precaution for Mahlekai’s precious and sensitive health – I knew in my heart that nothing was/is wrong with him. I knew that being in that room was unnecessary. Japan’s institutions are so much lived by protocols and logistics. I was really astounded by how little rights we had as parents, it brought me to tears and disturbed us both. My birth plan was a page long but simple. I had many things on that page that, in North America, would not be an issue. But here in a Japanese hospital, I had no rights. Especially to a preemie mother.
My dear friends. Birthing brings out the unexpected. It may not happen the way you envisioned it. But accept the process. Most of all, let go~~
Be flexible with your birth plan. The #1 thing through it all is to be thankful that your baby made it out safely and is living healthy. This is all that I learned in my journey to motherhood. One other thing, doctors say a lot of things straight out of the textbook due to protocol. Feel what’s in your heart. Connect with you baby. That intuition is more deeply true than what any doctor will tell you. Trust your intuition. Trust your inner guidance. And act accordingly – Without ego, without selfishness, without anger, without controlling behaviour. When you act from your heart and your inner voice connected to your baby, you will make the “right” decision.