Woke up early on Saturday morning. The Red Cross Hospital had asked us to call at 9a.m. to ask us if they had time to talk to us that morning. Y called them and they asked us to come in at 11:30 and that they could only talk to us for about 15 minutes as they were busy. Fine by me, but I hated the thought of waiting around for hours until then, so I suggested that we try to visit the other hospital first seeing as I had friends visiting that afternoon. Y called that hospital and they said they could see us in about half an hour, so off we sped!
When we arrived, the place was packed. We had to park at the side of the road behind a whole load of other cars that were parked at the side of the road. Inside was just like their website, very hotel-like. The staff were very professional, friendly, but in a forced way, like a lot of customer service people in this country. When we met the midwife, she was a little friendlier. The nurses station was full of crying babies, just like my current hospital, the place clean, very efficient looking. The midwife took us into one of their LDRs. My first thought was that it was very small. There was no window, and they had one of those fancy birthing chairs as opposed to a bed, and the midwife waxed on about being able to watch t.v. during labour on a plasma screen fixed to the ceiling, and the coloured lights in front of it that changed colour in waves. “Our speciality is epidurals” she said. Oh, ok, now I get the t.v., but still, I don’t think I’d want to be watching telly while waiting for my labour to progress. Reading, maybe, sleeping, doubtful (I’m usually too excited/nervous/tense), t.v., not really. I told her that I wasn’t really in the market for an epidural, and would they let me go on all fours on the bed please? She told me that they have a mat that they could put on the floor (not sure where it would have gone really, as it was pretty crowded in there), and I could give birth down there, unless there were complications of course (they all say that to cover their backs). Then she took us through to another LDR and we continued chatting a little and told her about my previous births and asked what their policies were, etc. This part was a bit hard for me, because my Japanese isn’t great, and Y was doing most of the talking. I understand what he is saying though, and he starts apologising because I have a lot of “demands”. He thinks this is the right way to go about it, but doesn’t think about the fact that he is basically apologising on my behalf, which really sucks. So when the midwife has to leave and another midwife comes in, I try to join the conversation more and speak as much as possible. Y tells the midwife I want to labour on all fours or kneeling because I don’t want to tear again. This isn’t really the whole story. No woman wants to tear, but I’ve done a lot of research about active birth and how the pelvis works during labour. It makes sense to me not to be sitting on it. But of course it’s hard for me to explain all this, and the midwife gets, “she’s talked to her friends a lot and they think that kneeling will stop her tearing.” ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH! Anyway, after lots of clarifying, the message kind of got across. So as this hospital states it’s a “freestyle” hospital, I can give birth in any position, right? “Hmm, if you don’t want to tear, it’s easier for you to be on your back with your legs in the stirrups and trying not to push to hard when we tell you not to.”
I’m quite tolerant with pain, but I know damn well when I get to the second stage, that I have no control, and I’ll push even if you tell me not to with the best will in the world, and there goes my perineum again. I don’t have the Japanese “gaman” gene (tolerate and be patient/bear something). There’s no point even pretending, I thought. Plus I don’t really want to be lying down dammit! It also depends on what the doctor says, she added. Oh it’s another hospital like my own. Is this as good as it gets? They whizzed us around the hospital, looking at fancy private rooms costing 600,000 yen upwards, the dining area, the complimentary beauty treatment room. It’s almost as if giving birth is an afterthought. Now I can’t say that the idea of being coddled and pampered doesn’t appeal to me, but I’ve never really been a fancy frills kind of person, as I said. And this hospital didn’t really offer what it said it did, so we said our thanks, bowed a little, and then left the place.
Then it was on to the Red Cross. Oh this was a very humourous difference to me. The hospital is basically a hospital, as opposed to a maternity hospital (hotel more like). There are old codgers clattering around the halls, tacky lino on the floor, lifts that you wonder if you should get in or take the stairs instead. We reached the maternity ward and it was silent. No staff around at the nurses station, no babies crying, silence. Eventually a nurse came along just before 11:30 and she went off to find a midwife for us to talk to.
She seemed very calm and friendly, but down-to-earth. She took us along the corridor and showed us the early labour room (like a ward where patients go until they are in active labour, separated by curtains and shared with other women). I was surprised that it actually looked pretty decent. Then into the LDR where we found that the “tatami room” that Y had understood when talking over the phone, was actually a tatami bed. A bit like a small wooden stage with tatami on it, and a futon laid on top. There were also a couple fo bean bags on there, which is always a good sign in my book. I love bean bags in labour! In front of that was a birthing chair/bed with a high recline. We talked about the positions and she not only ok’d kneeling, standing, squatting, but demonstrated the positions herself. She said recently one of their midwives had given birth on there kneeling. All these positions are ok on the birthing chair too, so it looks like a really good option for me. She added that they don’t do episiotomies as routine and that a tear heals better than a cut anyway, although she didn’t think I would tear this time (for some reason). I could have hugged her on the spot. After talking with the other hospital staff I had felt really down and started to doubt myself (as anyone would I believe), but now here she was confirming all of the things I had thought. Phew…
I asked if it was ok to room with baby straight away and she told me that it was not only ok, but that it was the norm there. The other place had said they only allow it from the second day, which I hate. Y asked why it was so quiet and where were all the babies? And she simply told him it was quiet because the babies were all with their mothers, happy.
I looked at the rooms and one kind mother let me look at her bed area. The rooms are shared between 2-4 people and divided by curtains, so quite private. They each have t.v.s, fridges and look pretty cosy. The midwives are very much in charge there, and they are thinking of becoming a birthing centre as opposed to a maternity ward in the hospital. To me it’s a no brainer. I have a lot of respect for midwives (apart from the whole weight crap they spout at my place), although I’m sure midwives are like that all over Japan, but I can’t expect miracles! The only thing is the language difficulty. As I know how the system works in my current hospital, things are much EASIER to do and I go to appointments on my own. They have an interpreter there if there are things I need help with. This is a whole different ball game. Most of the appointments are with the midwife, and only one more perhaps with a doctor http://www.maebashi.jrc.or.jp/gairai/details.php?eid=00039 . So Y is going to have to man up and take a few hours off work to go with me to appointments, or at least my MIL if she can get off work.
Overall very excited. I’ll be off to my regular hospital on Thursday for a check up and to get my doctor to sign me off their service. After that, it’s a new experience for me. I’m a bit nervous, but also feeling a ton more relaxed. I’d thought it was too late to change my mind, but it made me realise that if you have something that’s upsetting you so much, it’s often never too late to change it. I’m quite proud of myself that I realised that and took steps to make it better. I’m a bit crap at that sometimes, often going for the easy route because I’m afraid of what might happen otherwise, so this is definitely a good step! Happy Days 😉