Sosuke. September 7, 2014 at 10:26AM, 2,965 gram. At that moment, I was driving the Hwy 99 toward Lions Bay. It was the evening of Saturday the 6th in Vancouver.
When Tomoka’s pain started, Ikkei(her younger brother) was at Tomoka’s house visiting from Vancouver, and was able to take care of Sumire (her 5 year old daughter). While Tomoka was in the hospital, her husband Tomo-kun took some time off from work, and Sumire even slept at the hospital for some nights. I arrived Tokyo the night before they came home from the hospital… So-chan has made his world debut in such a perfect way, timing-wise. He’s got a face with big eyes, big nose, big mouth, and yes… he is pretty handsome. Very tiny. I’ve forgotten how small new-born babies were….
However, I was shocked to see how baby birth has become a big business in Japan. Amazing, indeed.
First, I stepped in the hospital and totally shocked. Vaulted ceiling, huge windows, luxurious couches… it looked like a hotel lobby. Nurses were not wearing white robes, and the hospital admission desk looked like a hotel front reception. I took the elevator to the patient rooms and was surprised that each room had some fancy French name. The room had a queen size bed, couches & table, refrigerator, TV, deck… It really was like a deluxe hotel room. Meals were all prepared professionally at the premise. Babies were taken care of by doctors, midwives, and nurses. They got some memoir including photos, card with personal messages from the midwife, CD of the baby’s first cry…. 80% of the cost was covered by medical insurance, and the out of pocket fee was not much more than that of public hospital. Customer service was so impressive. A staff actually came to the room to settle, and three staff came to say good-bye and wish them good luck at the door… Tomoka has really been treated like a princess. She was so happy and said, “I want to come back here for another baby.”
When I gave birth to this Tomoka 32 years ago, on the other hand, it was at the house of a midwife named Mrs. Mimori. She was at the time a person of controversy. She believed in “natural birth”. Since there was another woman giving birth at almost the same time as me, I was in a tatami-room working on my breathing “hee, hee, hoooo” As soon as the person finished her delivery, I went on the delivery table. After the baby birth, I was placed with four other mothers & babies with futon placed at the four corners of the tatami-room. Mrs. Mimori cooked for us her homemade meals… The whole thing was a completely different experience from Tomoka’s. I got to know this person, Mrs. Mimori, how she lived and what she believed. She taught me some valuable lessons. Being with other mothers was an interesting experience as well. We talked a lot about all kinds of things and saw different ways of being and interacting as a couple. However, it must have been very hard for Mrs. Mimori physically. She died some time after she delivered Ikkei at probably in her late 50s. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of her that she sacrificed her health in order to give babies the most natural way of starting their lives. I feel grateful that I met her. I really respect and admire her.