Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth – Part Four

Horrifying Hospital Ordeal

I was already in the end of 41-week. Baby was way overdue. Though he was in normal cephalic position, there was no big contraction. Hence, I was admitted to the hospital for labour induction, where I was made to wear PINK gown with polka dots. Sigh!

Within hours of induction, I sensed something was wrong. I felt strong pain near my stomach area, like Baby was kicking me with all his might. NST (Non-Stress Test) was also showing fetal distress. Baby’s heartbeats were unstable and dropping. My doctor warned that our child may not be able to survive the normal delivery. Time was crucial and he asked us whether I wanted to go for emergency C-sect. I told him of course! JUST CUT ME UP!

I was given spinal block. I think they didn’t wait until I was 100% numb and started operating on me! Or maybe, Japanese have higher pain threshold and need lower dosage of anesthetic than their foreign counterparts…. Who knows! Well, I actually felt them forcefully widening my uterus or whatever body part! I screamed, cried, begged them to do something about the pain and at the same time asking God to save our child. All the doctors could do, was repeatedly telling me “Ganbatte, Ganbatte” (Perserve, Push on). Only when I heard Baby’s first cry, I passed out! (This was the first time in my life that I actually fainted!) I didn’t even get to see or touch him!

Well, the operation lasted 40 minutes. It was a horrible experience, like having gone through a physical torture. Nonetheless, knowing that our child is safe and sound really worth it all! Only my husband and mother-in-law (MIL) saw Baby right after the surgery. Hey, any mummies out there with C-sect experiences to share? My MIL had hers but she said only the epidural injection was tough and she didn’t have any pain during the opt! Hmm….

Guess what! The nurses made me get up and walked the next morning!! (less than 14 hours post op!) Wow even with the pain-killer, the 25-stapled wound hurt so much! Initially I thought moving too much will aggravate the wound but apparently the Japanese thinks otherwise. I wanted to take it easy but they like “MOVE and start walking!” >_<”

In Japan, the length of hospital stay is determined by the type of childbirth. 6 days for natural delivery and 10 days for caesarean. The 10-day hospitalization was boundless and miserable for I was mostly alone due to strict visiting hours. And to make matter worst, due to miscommunication, I had Baby room-in for full 24 hours on my 3rd post-op (with almost no help from the nurses), while other C-sect mummies room-in with their babies on their 5th post-op onwards. Almost everyday, I was in tears as I struggled with language-deficiency, pain, sleep-deprivation and the bewilderment of motherhood. You can imagined my joy, when Baby and I were finally discharged and “reunited” with our family.

Hospital Mementos

A piece of me and baby – umbilical cord.

Birth notification

In Japan, it is mandatory to notify our local municipal office within 14 days after the baby was born. Hence, we registered our son immediately on the day we were discharged from the hospital. The amount of paperwork to fill was really scary, I think I will freak out if not for my husband. Really appreciate him.

Feline Siblings and the Giant Food Covering

We have two cats, Pooh and Gracie – the first babies in the family. At first, we thought Pooh (the one who is used to being the center of attention) will have a hard time accepting our first child. To our surprise, he is actually very okay. On many occasions, he was seen sitting comfortably near the baby, appeared like a big brother watching over his little bro. On contrary, the friendly and good-natured Gracie seems to have baby phobia, especially when our little boy is wailing away!

This may looks like a blow-up version of the nets we use to cover dishes, to prevent flies from getting to the food. The Kaya (蚊帳) is used to cover infants, a common strategy against mosquitoes. However, we used it to prevent our cats from sleeping on top of our boy or scratched him unintentionally, especially the 8-kg Pooh! In Japan, they even have larger ones, where baby and mummy sleep together!


Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth (Main Page)


11 comments on “Memoirs From Pregnancy to Childbirth – Part Four

  1. mmmarzipan
    November 3, 2012

    Hi! I can relate to your experience, having had an induction (labour lasted 44 hours- oh boy!) and then after a myriad of complications and interventions, ended up with an emergency c-section and blood loss of 3.2 litres! Hardly the experience I was hoping/planning for, but my baby was fine and (after blood transfusions and a few weeks of healing) I was too. All the best to you and yours

    • blackcabbit
      November 3, 2012

      Dearest mmmazipan, 44 hours of labour pain + C-sect + 3.2L blood loss!!! >_<" This is truly tough, a classic example of a mother's greatest love for her child. Kudos to you and to all mothers on planet earth!

      • mmmarzipan
        November 4, 2012

        I was just saying to a friend last night that despite everything I went through that pregnancy and my current pregnancy being ‘high risk’ (with all the crazy stuff that has meant), I would do it all again in a heartbeat for the opportunity to have my babies… even knowing what I know today. Nothing compares to a mother’s love :) Kudos to you too… and the best to you and yours x

  2. blackgodzilla
    November 10, 2011

    Dear Blackcabbit and Kim,

    One of the great things about being in the US Navy stationed in Japan, is that we had option of our baby being born in the base hospital. So upon finding out that my wife Hiroko was pregnant, she told me the horror stories of Japanese hospitals, and made it clear that she did not wait our son to be born in one. After, hearing other stories from friends and reading the posts made by you and Kim here I am glad we went with the base option.

    10 minutes after leaving the Ave supermarket near our house on Christmas Eve, my wife’s water break just as we walk in the down without warning. I cannot imagine the reactions the rest of the shoppers if this had happen if we still in line at the cashier on that day.

    (Comedic relief) My wife went into panic mode at the house, and while I getting her hospital bag ready she found herself cooking instant in the microwave with the metal and plastic containers still attached. No fire, however it was the first time I ever saw burned instant ramen noodles and yes the microwave was overcooked as well.

    Beside just being bedridden after we got to the hospital and did not experience any pain up and she was quite comfortable without any problems until they gave her the epidural (HOW IRONIC). To add some more ironic facts, the epidural did not take effect until my son was born and the doctor believe it was responsible for increasing her contractions somehow.

    Although my wife is about average with English, she found the language barrier during birth process to be a horrible experience for her, the only comforts she had was me saying “Ganbatte” to her, and the crying of our son at 02:09 AM Christmas Morning. He was the best and most memorable Christmas present we ever had.

    To comment on the pain threshold of Japanese, my wife has zero tolerance of it and regular medicines such as Tylenol, Robitussin, Advil, etc cures a lot of her ailments without problems. Higher grades or increased dosages of medicine will put her to sleep instantly without fail. The conclusion we found from the local clinic doctor was that dosage or grade of medicine we use in America is twice the normal amount given in Japan. The only one exception to this explanation so far was the birth of our son.

    The baby was with us in the room the entire 4 days we stayed at the hospital, and they did make my wife walk 1 day after birth. We did get some help from the staff there, however they in the “Get used to having a baby in the house” mode. One thing about being in the military I was used not getting decent sleep for a few days every so often, so I was there to support her while she rest and tended to the language barrier for the majority part. Whereas if that was a Japanese hospital, she would experience everything (not the language-deficiency of course) that you did Blackcabbit.

    After a full day of being home with the new edition and me having fun watching our Shih Tzu dog running scared when he cried. I left the house for the city hall to register our him, I am proud to say that it was faster, cheaper, easier for me an American with limited Japanese skills to register my son as Japanese national then it was for me to register him as an American one later. During our visit to city hall months earlier for the Boshi Kenko Techo, we got all of the registration paperwork start at the same time. All that was needed was a few fill ins, hanko stamps, and paperwork from the base hospital, I was in and out of the city hall with a new Koseki Tohon, his temporary issuance paper, and notice of the Shussan Ikuji Ichijikin in about 2 hours (waiting time mostly).

    Since I started living in Japan I have experience a lot of stuff, but my son’s birth will rank at the top of the list for years.

    • blackcabbit
      November 10, 2011

      Hi Blackgozilla. By reading the account you wrote about your wife’s childbirth experience, I’m sure you are a wonderful and attentive husband. Hiroko is a blessed woman! ^_^b It is always amazing when one’s husband can remember every details, every emotions of THE DAY. It just beautiful! And nothing beats Christmas Day!

      Yup, the unpredictability of Japanese medicine & the “never-seems-to-get-the-right-dosage-for-that-gaijin” only make it worst & is really freaking me up. We love to have our second child but me really scared…. :P

      Hee my two feline buddies still running scare when my boy (now 20 months old) is anywhere near them. Usually they will deliberate for a second, then decides “NAH, better not go near him yet” LOL. I think doggies better with babies, right?

      Hey, really appreciate you sharing. Remember to hug your boy for me on his birthday yah ^_^b

    • Kim
      November 16, 2011

      On that note, we too had an easier time with the Japanese paperwork than the American stuff… although my husband doesn’t read as much kanji as I do, so the birth certificate was intimidating the first time. (The second time they let me out of the hospital so fast, I did all the paperwork.)

      The visas were easy, too. Just took my husband’s passport and visa and they had us fill out a single piece of paper and gave us a temporary visa booklet with a sticker, asked us to come back after we got the U.S. passport and they’d make a new sticker for it.

      The U.S. paperwork, on the other hand, was an intimidating mess that ALSO required a three hour drive to the Consulate. The older son never wanted to have his eyes open long enough in the first few months to get a decent picture. We had to keep mailing photos to the Consulate until we got a good one. The second one we had way less trouble.


    • blackgodzilla
      November 21, 2011

      I think your cats and our dog are pen pals Blackcabbit, LOL. They have the same response, whenever our babies get near them. First comes the deliberation, moments later the chase begins.

      When tell my family and friends back home, that it is easier and cheaper for me an American to register my son as a Japanese, then it was to register him to be an American, they are all stunned. Due to errors in one of our documents, we had to make two trips on the hour long train ride to Tokyo. When you include travel, waiting, snacks/drinks, waiting again, and the process fees. It was about 40,000 yen and 8 hours of work to complete his “Report of Birth Abroad”.

      Now comes the mother of all hardships, the visa process. Both me and Hiroko get headaches whenever we think about it. A few of my fellow sailors on board have already told us their stories, now it is our turn to feel the love, LOL.

      Almost one month to go til our little one’s hatsu tanjobi v(^_^)v

  3. Kim
    November 8, 2011

    My husband and I are both American, although I’m Japanese descent (50%… comedy relief is that I look Asian to Westerners and Western to Asians!)… I gave birth to both of my sons in Japan, partially because a friend of mine had a nightmarish time back in the U.S., especially with her insurance. I didn’t want to face that.

    The first kid was, unsurprisingly, a mess. I didn’t know what I was doing. (I would’ve been confused if we’d been stateside.) Also, oddly, I can read Japanese far better than I can speak it (I learned Chinese IN China, forcing me to learn as many Chinese characters as possible). This causes people to misjudge my level of comprehension, because I sometimes understand insanely complex writing, but then don’t understand things said to me.

    My first son was exactly One. Day. Past. Due. We showed up to the hospital right on time, just as the contractions hit ten minutes and my cervix hit 4 centimeters, making the doctor just peachy happy with me. (I was late to a LOT of appointments… so it was a nice change for him.)

    They checked me in, and I spent the next several hours walking around in pain. When I finally reached the “lay in bed and wail” stage, they moved me to the delivery room. Unfortunately, I discovered I was a tad small down there and our first son’s head was huge (they were flabbergasted when they measured him later). He got stuck — right as he was getting out, and he was suffocating! The doctor had to give me oxytocin for exhaustion (I’d been suffering from insomnia for a few weeks) and slice me up down there to make sure the kid would make it out. I apparently also bled really badly from that cut.

    When he popped out, he didn’t cry at first, although a few seconds later he started crying on his own, to the great relief of everyone in the room. Me and my husband (who had nearly had his hand wrenched off by me) only briefly saw him, as he was whisked away to the pediatrician for tests to make sure he hadn’t suffered brain damage from asphyxiation!

    Then they took me away for surgery, leaving my poor bewildered husband alone, having seen his newborn (and very weak) son for a minute, tops, and his extremely pale wife (I’d lost a lot of blood) taken off to surgery. He was never so scared in his life, poor thing.

    I tried to convince the doctors that they could just give me a local anesthetic and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’m notoriously weak to anesthetic, as are a lot of people on the Japanese half of my family — which might explain why you didn’t get enough meds. That may be a common trait here. (I am also very weak to a lot of other meds and often require about half to two-thirds the dose a doctor expects for my size.) But the doctor (who had operated on a lot of foreigners, too) would hear nothing of it, and gave me a general. I slept like a rock. Woke up being wheeled into my room to my nervous husband.

    We spent seven days at the hospital, not six, because my first son had to have extra tests to make sure he was okay. He was fine, and we went home.

    The second kid went much smoother, although we still had mishaps. This time, my water broke early, they put me in the hospital to induce labor, and it was a different hospital and a different doctor. SO this doctor didn’t know how I don’t need much in the way of meds… and when they induced labor, it ended up… INTERESTING.

    They put me on oxytocin for about six hours, it looked like things had kicked in, I was in agony, doctor came in and said my cervix wasn’t dilated enough, and turned off the IV. If I could have, I would have kicked him, I was just miserable. They said there was nothing to be done, they’d try again tomorrow. The doctor left. I was still in agony, and the midwife stayed around to help me out while the medicine wore off. That was when it got odd. I kept complaining, utterly miserably, that I felt like I need to push and I was horribly sick feeling. Fortunately, my husband (who wasn’t in agony) translated and explained, and the midwife checked… in less than 30 minutes, my cervix went from about four centimeters to ten. She called the doctor back in because it turned out that the kid’s head was partially OUT, they couldn’t get me to the delivery room in time and I had our second son on my hospital bed. I got to hold him immediately, and they sent me home four days later because we were good to go. (Also, I had no problems nursing this time, unlike the first time.) This kid is strong. He could lift his head up at two days old, and he starting to crawl at less than three months. Unfortunately, his older brother is a preschooler and keeps bringing hugs and viruses home for his baby brother. How sweet!

    Now I maintain that our older son would have been more alert earlier on but we knocked the wind out of him when he was born. This second one’s constantly awake, started playing with toys at two months, wants to move, wide-eyed at everything, while the first one wasn’t really alert or paying much attention to anything until about three months.

    • blackcabbit
      November 8, 2011

      Dearest Kim, Wow, thank u so much for sharing. U are such a fantastic writer. I can picture myself being beside you during your ordeal, with my face all writhed up with fear & terror seizes me… (yup, I always let my imaginations seriously go out of control). With all that you have gone through, you have my upmost admiration! Kudos! May your husband and sons never ever forget your wonderful, selfless, unconditional, mother’s act of love. God bless you with ton of family bliss & joy. Once again, thank you for sharing.

  4. blackcabbit
    June 9, 2010

    Dearest Angie, thanks for dropping by and I really appreciate your comment. Baby is very “genki” (healthy), in fact too energetic LOL :P Best wishes for you and your baby too!

  5. Angie
    June 9, 2010

    Oh, brother…what a story! I wish you and baby well! I did have C-sect and could only stay in hospital for 4 days — the American way! That was not something I want to remember, either. ^^

    Best of luck!

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2010 by in Baby Log, Life in Japan and tagged .
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