First International Birth

This is the birth story of my 2nd child, Malachi, born in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2012, just 5 months after we arrived there to begin our careers as missionaries.

When you get ready to give birth to your second child, I don’t think you can help but have some expectations for labor and delivery based on how it went with #1. So of course, since Evangeline was born at 36 weeks, I was driving myself crazy since 35 weeks every time I had a Braxton Hicks contraction. Also, my water broke before any contractions with Evangeline, so I was constantly on the look out for that happening too, even though I told myself that it could be totally different with this one, since the water breaking first isn’t very common.

Well, 36 weeks came and went. Even though I wanted him to come at full-term (37 weeks) or later, I also kind of wanted him to come when our friends and mentors were in town…they left on Friday, May 11th, to take a volunteer team up north-the day I turned 37 weeks. They asked me to keep him inside for ten more days, and I said I would try…but I failed miserably!

We had made some jokes about him coming on Adam’s birthday or Mother’s Day…I knew it was possible, but also had convinced myself that since he didn’t come 4 weeks early like Evangeline, he was going to stay in a lot longer. There was NO WAY I was going into labor that weekend.

I knew that I was already 3 cm dilated, but the doctor had said he was still too high to start labor and that it might be another week or so. I had been telling people he might come next week…I talked to my sister on Friday and said ‘He’s definitely not coming today.’ Well, he didn’t…he came the next day.

On Saturday morning I woke Adam up pretty early…he forgot it was his birthday until I said it! A little while later I decided to rest and make sure Malachi was still moving around as much as he should be. I sat in bed for an hour, starting around 7:30, while Adam got Evangeline up.

Malachi took a while to move around, but then he started kicking a lot. I was relieved until I realized that I had started having contractions every 15-20 minutes. Evangeline and Adam were in bed with me, and I told Adam he should take her and make breakfast while I timed a few more contractions.

Adam heated up some leftover pancakes for us, and we ate breakfast together. I had started my contraction timer app on my phone and knew my contractions were about 10 minutes apart now, lasting 30-45 seconds and getting more painful. I still was in denial though…I couldn’t be in labor!

I joked that it would be funny if I was in labor and eating pancakes with peanut butter and honey since with Evangeline I ate waffles and peanut butter and syrup right after my water broke (which turned out to not be a good idea…).

I decided to sit on my exercise ball to get more comfortable. It was probably about 9 am by then, and my contractions were still getting closer together. I decided to call my mom “just in case” I was in real labor. While we talked, my contractions became about 3-4 minutes apart, and I became convinced. Mom told me to go to the hospital, so I hung up and Adam called our friends, Kunio and Yuki, while I gathered a few last minute things for my bag.

Kunio is a taxi driver on leave for an injury, but he was able to get us a taxi within 15 minutes of us calling. My friend Megumi picked up Evangeline within 5 minutes of calling…the Lord really answered our prayers for everything to work out perfectly with transportation to the hospital and someone to care for Evangeline!

Kunio and Yuki rode to the hospital with us. I was still able to talk and laugh between contractions, plus they slowed down once I was sitting, so I knew we would make it to the hospital with no problems. It took a little more than 20 minutes to get there, and Yuki went in to warn them I was coming. As soon as I stepped out of the car I had a strong contraction. I was even more convinced now! This baby had decided to come on his daddy’s birthday!

They took me to a room and checked me…I was 7 cm. (That’s a little better than last time…I got to the hospital at 9 cm with Evangeline!) I labored for about 2 hours in there. It definitely got more difficult and exhausting…I was able to walk around or kneel or whatever I wanted to do. What I really wanted was to lie down and rest, but that made the contractions really painful and slowed things down. I knew I had hit the rough part of labor when I told Adam not to talk or touch me, and then 5 seconds later said ‘I changed my mind…touch me!’.

In Japan, women are not “supposed” to scream during labor. I was told that early on, but I knew that if I wanted to scream I was going to scream…the only time I remember being mad during labor with Evangeline was when someone told me I should stop screaming. However, I actually don’t think I ever screamed this time! I did a lot of low moaning and groaning.

After a while, the midwife suggested I go to a tatami room down the hall, because it would be more comfortable. Japanese have an interesting concept of comfortable…it was a tiny square tatami room (google tatami if you don’t know what it is), with a mattress on the floor and other laboring women on the other side of paper-thin walls.

They gave me an exercise ball to lean on, and then after 5 minutes in there I said ‘Ikimitai!’…that means, ‘I want to push!’. Of course, I couldn’t actually deliver the baby in the tatami room, so I walked back down to the other room. Without going into all the details, I think I pushed for about 15 minutes with coaching from the midwives, and then he was born at 2:07 pm! My water broke just about 5 minutes before he was born.

Malachi had a rough first 5 days, but we were able to bring him home on Thursday. The days are passing quickly, and I know that before we know it he’ll be a rambunctious 1-year-old like his sister! We’re trying to enjoy these moments and adjust to life as a family of 4 in a foreign country. Keep us in your prayers, please!

Afterward: We did adjust, and I learned Japanese and loved living in Japan. But, I ended up having postpartum depression that year. Looking back, I can understand why – some of the same reasons that we ended up returning to the States 5 1/2 years later. But that’s another story…

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