The only bad thing I did while I was pregnant was drink 3 soy lattes a week. I exercised until I was so big I made the people around me nervous. I walked an average of 2 miles until the day she was born. I ate as organically as possible and turned down every piece of processed meat. I got plenty of sleep and read a few books. I even politely accepted all the un-solicited advice. So, as I laid in recovery from my emergency c-section I couldn't help but curse the pregnancy God's for screwing with my plan. The reality was, Ella knew it wasn't going to work out and there for decided for herself it was best to stay put - until we made her come.
At 8:45PM on October 11th we hailed a cab from our apartment to our birthing clinic. It was a sight I'm sure. A 10 day over due pregnant lady, a suitcase, a nervous dad and two excited grandparents all cramming in to one red taxi cab. Wouldn't you laugh a little bit? When we arrived at the birthing clinic a sweet old Japanese lady(all the old ladies work the night shifts) helped me into my Minnie Mouse inspired gown and gave me a nice little pep talk - well, technically I am not sure what she said but I like to think it was a pep talk.
Later that night I took the first of many steps to being induced. In Japan they do everything they can to avoid giving drugs to a pregnant or nursing woman for the sake of the baby. This means you don't just get a shot of Petocin. First, the doctor inserted a balloon to, let's just say, get things to start stretching out. There wasn't much sleep that night due to awkward pain and anxiety. We were so excited that Ella's arrival was immanent at this point. In a few short hours we would be holding our baby girl! Then at 7am on October 12th I started a series of pills to jump start my contractions. Which was a success. I went from zero to squeezing the heck out of Brandon's hand in no time. Later that morning I received a new (and bigger) balloon. After the doctor's check up at 3:00PM he gave me the okay to start pushing when the contractions came. There was a great deal of excitement again at this point, especially from my coach Brandon. If you want to know how much your husband loves you wait and see how he treats you during labor. Brandon never left my side for anything, except once, but we will get to that later.
5:00PM rolled around and it was go time. As I sat in this big scary chair, gripping the big scary handles I tried will all my might to zone out and think of Ella's face. The idea of picturing her little nose and mouth made the painful things seem so far away. In fact I was so zoned out that I didn't realize things weren't materializing. My body was ready for her to come, everything about my body was working it's hardest but for some reason she wouldn't give more then the top of her head. At some point I realized that my head was in the lap of one of the nurses who was pushing down on my stomach. I thought this part was a dream until I saw the bruises a few days later. I zoned in enough to hear my doctor telling Brandon we would push one more time and then he was going to prep me for a c-section. Ella's umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and most likely prohibiting her from making her natural debut.
Soon I was walking to the operating room. You read right, I got my body up with all it's 13 hours of labor and walked to the next room where I was prepped for the c-section. Now, you should know that we chose our doctor because of his quick decision making skills and the fact that he is trained and prepared to preform an emergency operation if needed. We just didn't think we would actually have to receive those services. My doctor: just for a moment I would like to talk about this amazingly gentle, English speaking man. He is so well renowned that he has to turn people away and some of those people take several hours of trains just to get to his clinic. He lives on the top floor of the clinic with his family - including his 86 year old father who started the practice. This 86 year old "father-doctor" also served as my doctor's assistant for the surgery. He literally works 8 days a week delivering babies around the clock and still has time to learn Spanish(his teacher is from San Antonio!). Literally, he delivers 1.2 babies per day. Basically this guy makes us all look like lazy good-for-nothings.
Next thing I knew the father-son doctor duo were peering into me trying to get our baby out. In the meantime I was shaking like crazy and ridiculously nauseous from the anesthesia. The only thing I remember was asking for my mother in-law instead of Brandon because he tends to throw up at the sight of blood. Not realizing that he was already sitting next to me and had already seen a ton of blood from the earlier birth moments. He was still standing strong, holding my hand like a pro - I guess he only passes out at the sight of his blood. Lucky me. The last thing I remember before I passed out was the sight of Ella being pulled from my body. She was all purple and gooey and there it was, the cord was hanging around her neck but she was beautiful and squirmy so I knew she was going to be okay. This was the first (and close to only) time that Brandon left my side. He was quickly whisked away to be by Ella's side as they checked her and gave her her first bath. How I would have loved to have that moment every mother dreams about. The one where they plop your naked, screaming baby into your arms to kick start the ultimate bond. I would have loved to have the skin to skin connection and feed her for the first time. However, there was work to be done and my time would have to wait, after all I was in no condition to be holding a newborn baby. The doctor's began to sew me up and it wouldn't be until the next day that we would meet.
I woke up cursing the pregnancy God's not only for messing with my perfect plan, but also because I was in an impossible amount of pain. Again with the no medication issue. How ironic is it that both of my in-laws are pharmacists and there I was lying in bed with a giant, painful wound and no pain medication to be seen for miles. I proceeded to begin my recovery, just me and nature, makin' it happen. Healing from the inside out. I stayed alone that night pressing my feet against the bed every 5 minutes to relieve the pain I was in. Wondering all the while what Ella looked like and what she sounded like. Still imagining these things all these hours later to avoid the pain.
The next day Brandon came to me with Ella. We finally had our moment. Our first moment as a family, our first moment with each other. Just holding each other. I couldn't believe how perfect she was. Every bit of her was more perfect then I could have imagined during all of those moments of pain. It's amazing how quick mama-hood turns on, with in minutes I was completely devoted to her.
So there we were, a family at last. I'll be it a messy and confusing adventure that left me wounded to say the least. In the end, it really didn't matter because Ella was healthy and happy with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes. Now, let the fun begin.
There is nothing like growing another year older. Except maybe for watching some little person live their first year on great Mother Earth. When I last wrote about Ella I was a bit wounded. I had emerged from a heart aching, bellyaching, gut wrenching surgery. I was still frustrated that I couldn't fully understand what had even happened. I was also very sleep deprived.
In the year that followed Ella's birth I quickly learned that what I went through was the easiest of all parts to being a Mom. When Ella is sick or hurts herself I would give anything to go back and be the one in that recovery bed. Every time Ella is upset because she is trying to tell me something, I remind myself of the day where I cried because the nurses couldn't understand me. I could go on for ever here.
As the days passed we watched Ella lift her head and then soon, try to stand. We watched her sit up for the first time on the beach in Okinawa and take her first steps among friends. She began spending her days at a Japanese day school and now proudly asks for her shoes in Japanese. She went from a smile of gums to a full set of teeth and little by little her chubby legs are developing the muscle and tone of a young girl.
If I think back on the birth experience I can't help but be blessed and realize I was given a lesson in what it's like to be confused, excited, and scared about what the next day will bring. I feel that is the best gift and I can relate to Ella so much more than I ever imagined because of it.