TRG Info and Advice

A Rural Saga of Birthing Babies in Japan, Part 3

Within minutes of Pumpkin’s delivery, I had forgotten about the pain. Tricky hormones! Even though I was nursing her 24/7, I was able to get pregnant again when she was not quite two. Having given birth once, I figured I would be more prepared this time around, but all of you who have delivered more than one baby are laughing at my naïve self, aren’t you! Of course, I had a better idea of what to expect, and how I wanted to do things:

1. No gallery! I had regrets about pushing Pumpkin out before she was ready just because I felt like people were getting bored.
2. Better lighting! My midwife and I shared a common goal for this birth: no tearing, and in order to accomplish that, she had to have a better view of the process.
3. More breathing! A friend had used the Lamaze breathing technique with her second child’s homebirth and swore by it. We had practiced together and I was hoping it would go to bat for me in the throes of labor and also help with the “no tearing” goal.

Part 3: Jo-Jo

As it was spring, my husband was dutifully raising baby rice plants, and working day and night to ready the fields for planting. Pumpkin and I took a walk one evening and I had a premonition that the baby I was carrying was getting ready to come out. I had met him, too, in a dream, where he told me his name as we rocked in the rocking chair. He was nearly a week late, and the midwife had warned that if he didn’t come soon, I might have to give birth at the hospital! NO! I piggybacked two-and-a-half-year-old Pumpkin on the way home from our walk in an effort to “get things going.” We took a bath before bed and I could feel familiar tugs and pangs, but I didn’t say anything to anyone.

Around 2:00 am, the contractions were clear and strong. “Oh, yeah, I remember this pain now,” I thought. My husband called the midwife and started the woodstove in the living room. I brought my journal and sat down in front of the clock to begin recording the contractions. This task was soon abandoned, however, as this baby was on his way! Our beloved midwife arrived promptly and we barely had time to set up before I was on my side, singing opera with my husband instead of doing my Lamaze breathing, but it worked. With one leg up on my poor midwife’s shoulder, I felt my upper body separate from my lower half. Jo-Jo was on a mission to be born and I was merely the means to an end.

My mother-in-law came to be with Pumpkin and she was dragged out of bed to watch her brother be born. Though barely awake and blowing bubbles through her stuffy nose, she still claims today that she remembers my singing.

At 4:18 am, six days after his due date, our Jo-Jo was born with only slight tearing on my part. With all the fuss, my husband had had no time to add wood to the fire. It was still mid-spring, so the room was chilly, and both the baby and I began to shiver. With my mother in law home preparing breakfast for everyone and my husband intent on getting the fire going, the midwife was slightly overwhelmed at having to do everything: dress the baby, help me birth the placenta, get me changed and dressed. There was also the two year old who needed care. So, you see, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d hoped, but I’m still glad we did it this way, and grateful to everyone who helped make it possible.

In this sense, a homebirth is a selfish act.
Spouses, parents and friends must all be called upon to take up the slack while
the mother is out of commission with her newborn.

Having older children around can also complicate things as extra attention and care are required for them. The grace period of doing nothing following my first child’s birth is something that can never be repeated. Having my son in the spring, just after planting season when my husband had to be attentive to thousands of fledgling rice shoots, was another complication. I’m sure part of him wished that our son and I were safely being cared for in the hospital, while our daughter stayed with his parents. He’s too kind to say, though, and simply did his best to provide for our growing little family.

For more homebirth drama, this time with a twist, go to A Rural Saga of Birthing Babies in Japan, Part 4.
To return to Part 1 of this article, please click here.
To return to Part 2 of this article, please click here.