this is mostly for people back home. i know that some of my friends in japan want to hear it, too. so, here's my labor and birth story.

in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my blood pressure was pretty high. even though i cut back on salt and started exercising more (i kinda stopped after moving to fukuoka, and then 'more' exercise just meant going out and walking for a while), it didn't improve. a week before my due date, the doctor wanted to induce, because my blood pressure was still high and i hadn't dilated or effaced at all. i asked for another week. a couple of days later i started feeling like i had my period, so i thought, yay, it's starting...but, not really. i did dilate one centimeter, but nothing 'improved'. on october 26th, my due date, i had another appointment, but my blood pressure was still high and i was only one centimeter dilated. the doctor asked me if i wanted to wait some more, but i said no. so, he scheduled me to be induced the next day.

yoshi and i went to the hospital on wednesday afternoon, and the doctor inserted a 'balloon' to help dilate my cervix. he was then going to give me medicine to start mild contractions, but after checking my blood pressure, they discovered it was really high (the bottom number was over 90). too high to start contractions, so instead, the doctor gave me medicine to bring down my blood pressure and said we'd wait until morning to make a decision. basically, if my blood pressure didn't go down, then he'd have to do an epidural, which lowers blood pressure, then administer a drug to induce contractions. if that still didn't get things going, then he'd have to do a ceasarian. well, i didn't want either, but i also wanted a healthy baby (and mom!)

yoshi and i stayed the night in the labor room, which really was like a hotel room. the hospital bed had a nice comforter and sheets, there was a small loveseat the folded out into a bed and the room was decorated in brown, beige and white. the bathroom was big and the toilet even had a remote control flush! dinner that first night was steak with rice, miso soup, a salad and apple for dessert. it was delicious! breakfast the next morning was eggs with japanese sausages, bread, salad and more fruit. i ate more at the clinic than i probably had all month! during dinner, the balloon gave me contractions, but after a while they faded. i watched a replay of game three of the world series on tv. it was kinda like i was on a mini vacation!

so, in the morning, the balloon came out (which meant i had dilated three centimeters), and then an hour and a half later i was at four centimeters....but by lunch time, nothing had changed. so, the doctor decided to do an epidural. i really wanted to avoid one because i had a spinal tap when i was younger, and though i don't remember details (probably blocked them out!), i really don't like needles, and the thought of one near my back really made me uncomfortable. in fact, the whole time he was putting it in, i cried and cried. even though it really didn't hurt, i think my mind was remembering the last time.

however, once it was in, i was ok. and then they had to do the iv. oh man...i have small veins and they had a hard time getting the iv started. but then that was ok, too. so, around 2 pm, i was induced by medicine. things progressed, though slowly. around 4:30 i was feeling strong contractions, and the midwife checked and said that though i was only about eight centimeters dilated, the baby was finally making his move. she started 'helping' my cervix with each contraction. dinner was usually delivered around 5:30, so at 5, when i was at nine centimeters, she upped my epidural and contractions slowed. i started eating (the regular meal for that evening: fish, rice, miso soup, salad, fruit, tea...i could hardly believe they were letting me eat that much. however, they told yoshi i probably wouldn't deliver much before midnight, so....) halfway through the meal, though, i started having contractions again. and this time i felt as though the baby were entering the birth canal. i made yoshi call the midwife (and finish my dinner--lucky him!) and sure enough, the baby was starting to push through--with me at nine-and-a-half centimeters.

after about half an hour, i was fully dilated and the midwife was having me 'image' the baby down the birth canal. around eight o'clock i was ready for the delivery room, but the epidural had pretty much taken out my legs! that was ok, because the birthing bed was detachable, and they wheeled the bottom half into the labor room, got me on it somehow, and then wheeled me in! what fun! i could feel contractions, and i could feel the baby moving through the birth canal, and it was painful. i can't imagine what it would have been like without the epi. even though i hated the process (needle in the back), i'm actually quite grateful i had it!

the baby seemed to be in the birth canal a long time, and it took a lot of pushing. in time, though, the midwife could see the top of the head. she actually took my hand and had me feel it! finally yoshi was in the room and holding my hand, and the doctor was there, too. he put a suction cup on the baby's head to help him thing i knew, the doctor told me DO NOT PUSH, because the baby was coming...hiroyuki james was born at 8:22 pm on october 28th. yoshi got to cut the cord, which surprised me because nothing was mentioned before and so i thought they didn't offer that. i did know that they put the baby on my chest as soon as possible, and they offered to help start with breast feeding right there in the delivery room. little hiroyuki was so strong! after a little while, they took him into the other room to clean him up and do some tests, but the little bed is shown on a moniter--both in the labor room and the waiting room--so we could see him. afterward, while i was still resting in the labor room, the midwife brought him to yoshi and let him hold him for an hour.

after i had rested for two hours, the nurse took hiroyuki to the baby room and then checked me to make sure i was doing fine. the doctor had taken out the epidural soon after birth, and it was starting to wear off. i could move my left leg with no problems, but my right leg didn't respond well. the nurse said we'd have yoshi help her help me walk back to the labor room. we stayed one more night in the labor room. it's actually a lucky thing i gave birth well before midnight, because the woman in the next room unexpectedly progressed quickly and gave birth at 12:40 at night! i didn't sleep well that night, mainly because i could hear the babies crying (there were five of them in the baby room) and the woman next door's family was so excited about the birth of the baby (of course i don't blame them, but i could hear them in the hallway calling all their friends and relatives on cell phones...)

hiroyuki and i stayed in the clinic for five days after the birth. yoshi stayed with us the first two nights. the hospital rooms also looked like hotel rooms, only slightly bigger than the labor room. from the first day, the baby could stay with us. that first night was hard, because he just cried and cried. we tried to ask the nurse what was wrong, and she said he was hungry. but that wasn't it, because i kept trying to feed him and he wasn't interested. eventually, yoshi said that he thought hiro was cold, so we put some clothes on him (the clinic provided an undershirt and onsie for hiro, plus two towels that you used as blankets, but hiro was a bit small, so he was cold). after bundling him up, hiro stopped crying and went to sleep. poor little guy!

i actually managed to breastfeed hiro and kept the nurses from giving him bottles. and by the time we left, he was gaining weight, so the doctor said to keep up with the nursing. the nurses and midwives at the clinic were great with helping with breastfeeding, i'm really happy with our choice of clinics. i really hope i get to have my next baby there!

well, i do have an online album, but i haven't downloaded any pictures yet. soon, i promise!