26 June 2011

Mia comes in 30 minutes or your money back

Yoko got me up a little before two this morning, her hand on my foot, exactly as I imagined it. She said, It's started and was brushing her hair. I asked her how far apart the contractions were and she called the midwife to have them come out for the home birth, but they apologised and said they only had one person on duty, so we would have to go into the hospital. Luckily, Yoko had packed a bag--she woke her mom and we left right away as the contractions, in the five minutes or so we had been up were now stopping her from being able to move or talk when they came. 

I dropped Yoko off at the front of the A&E department where we were supposed to go in and parked. 2:19AM: that's what the parking card said when I left. The Milton Keynes Hospital A&E on early Sunday morning is full of disoriented, confused people in ruffled dance clothes suffering terribly under the fluorescent lights. Yoko was having another contraction in the midst of them--where had the party gone?--and we left the waiting area quickly, moving towards the lift after the contraction passed.

Another quickly came though, we stopped, it passed, and we got in the lift. Another contraction came, and we got out of the lift--rang the bell at the labour ward, got in and another contraction came.

At the ward reception desk, they wanted to send us to a room down the hall, but another contraction came and they decided we would have room 8 instead, the closest room. The midwife came in to check Yoko, but this was the same story as we had with Naomi and Mei: it was, of course, already time. The body was taking over and Yoko got on the bed. The midwife examined her: yes, it was time. Next contraction, no screaming, chin on your chest and push. I explained this to Yoko in Japanese the contraction came and there was Mia's purple head. And then shoulders and then Mia was there, purple and naked and starting to breathe.

The midwife cleaned her up, I cut the cord and the midwife gave Mia to Yoko. 2:47AM. Are you happy with 2:45AM for the certificate? she asked. What an odd question, I thought. Could we have 2:44? 2:43? Could we have tomorrow — tomorrow's my birthday.

Mia was quiet, calm, and disoriented: they brought tea and toast for Yoko and I had to run home to get our pregnancy notebook which I had forgotten. Yoko thinks she started labour at 1:15, but isn't sure because she was asleep and kept thinking she would get up whenever the next contraction came. Like hitting snooze on the alarm clock. 

The sun was just starting to come up when I got back to the hospital around 3:15, angry, disoriented drunks still smoking at the entrance of the A&E and looking more and more like god had somehow wronged them. I had a sudden, unexpected flash of awful and unjustified anger about my visa troubles: certainly I am more valuable to this country than these people.

The staff said we could discharge between 5 and 5:30 if there were no problems. Yoko took a shower and the three of us sat in the room while the sun started to come up, a perfect grey morning in England. The midwife came back with paperwork and we were free to go. 

5:40AM. We walked out of the A&E and a doctor stopped us and said, Didn't I just see you going in? and several of the nurses gathered around to congratulate us. The drunks had more-or-less cleared out as we came through the sliding glass doors, save a guy sleeping on the bench outside

We got home and Yoko's mum and Mei were sleeping on the mat we had out in the lounge for the delivery. Mei woke up after about 20 minutes and the look on her face, the look of realisation, was incredible. Yes, she understood what had happened. Naomi woke up and we all gathered round the baby, talking about whom she looked like. She's definitely a part of our branch of the Pihlaja brand.

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More than Mei and Naomi, I appreciated this birth because there was nothing unexpected about the mechanics of it. When I held Mia for the first time, I was confident and strong, not the delicate 24 year old that held Naomi for the first time. Our family was complete now. I found myself talking again about the body and how clear at times of death and birth that you are your body. Everything is stripped away and your body takes over because you are your body. It's an incredible thing to experience: magical the first time, yes, but in a different way, this time was special for its familiarity.

I let out a sigh before I start this concluding paragraph, thinking about the mechanics of this blog entry and listening to the four girls behind me on the sofa. A flood of normalcy comes: how many kCals have I eaten today, what's for dinner, what's the plan for tomorrow... It is the summer again in Milton Keynes, the sun is shining and tomorrow is my birthday. A new stability has emerged, another narrative to develop.
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