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Reposted from my previous blog found via the Internet Archive Wayback machine.
Fast forward to today, I am at work a little after lunch my wife calls me and says the doctor's told her that our son's heartbeat was irregular and they might choose to do a C-Section soon. I ask her how soon was soon? She says she doesn't know, the doctors hadn't specified if soon meant today or next week. She says she has to go since the doctors are going to run more tests now. I sit down at my desk and go back to work, with this news processing in the back of my mind.
About 45 minutes later she calls me again, she says the doctors have recommended they do a C-Section now. I ask her now, as in right now? She replies yes, and she has to call her parents to tell them this update, and to sign some paperwork.
My mind begins to spin, adrenaline is pumping, and I start to panic. What do I do? I'm at work in Tokyo and my wife is having a C-Section in Iwate! Worries go through my head, will the baby be ok, will my wife be ok? I haven't even packed anything yet. I decide to talk with someone else to get these thoughts out of my head and to think through what's going on. I call my friend and co-worker Brian that has had 2 kids in Japan, and tell him what's going on. We talk briefly about what's going on and he asks me, is there any reason why you can't leave now and take a train to get there? I think about this for a second, I am at work, and hadn't planned to leave until next week but I could leave today. If I leave right now I could get to Iwate tonight and see how my wife and our son are doing in person. I decide that is what I'm going to do.
I walk back into the office, tell one of my team leaders that I have to leave my wife is having a C-Section now, I shutdown my computer, quickly say good bye to a couple co-workers and head out the door, going through in my head all the things I need to do before I can actually get to a bullet train. I rush to a bank ATM and take out money for the trip expenses, then rush to the Meguro Train Station where I can buy a new Shinkansen ticket for today. I decide to buy a non-reserved seating Ticket since it's cheaper, then rush down the stairs to my subway to take the train home, I still need to pack. On the way home I stop at Shirokane Takanawa Station to renew my Teiki (monthly train pass), since it's going to expire next week and don't want to worry about renewing it while I'm in Iwate. Then I get on the next subway train and continue my ride home.
To try and calm myself I listen to a Podcast on my N97, choosing the FFundercats since the show is usually funny yet doesn't require your full attention to listen to. While listening to that I create a list of things I want to bring, so that I don't forget anything to pack when I get home. I also search on the web for a Shinkansen Time Table to check which Shinkansen I can catch and when it will arrive in Iwate.
Arriving at my stop a while later, I rush up the stairs of Hatogaya Station on the way up my mobile phone rings. I answer, it's my wife's mother, she says the Baby is ok, Miki (my wife) is ok, and the baby is cute! I breath a sigh of relief. My mother in-law hands the phone to someone else, I hear another voice on the line, it's my wife's sister. She says congratulations! I tell her that I'm going there tonight, I'm on the way there right now, can someone pick me up at the train station to bring me to the hospital? She says yes, just let her know when I'll be arriving at the station. I thank her and hang up.
I continue briskly walking home from the Hatogaya Station to my apartment to pack and bring clothes, etc. to Iwate. Arriving home I go through the checklist I made on the subway ride home, double check it, then rush back out the door with my suitcase back to the Hatogaya train station. I take the subway to Oji Station, where I transfer to Keihin Tohoku Line. Unfortunately the line is crowded with afternoon passengers heading home from the office, and I'm sure some of them don't appreciate my suitcase on the train. Fortunately after several stops the crowd thins out, and there's room for my suitcase and I, afew stops from Omiya Station I could even sit down and rest a moment before I start rushing again.
I arrive at Omiya Station, where there's a Shinkansen Station, pull my suitcase off the train and rush up the escalator, wind my way through the crowds of people towards the Shinkansen ticket gates. Passing through the ticket gate I scan through the LED display showing the current time table. The next Tohoku Shinkansen that goes to Morioka, Iwate leaves in 20 minutes but is reserved seating only, the next Tohoku Shinkansen with non-reserved seating leaves in about 50 minutes. I ask a Shinkansen ticket booth employee and he confirms that I can't take the Shinkansen that leaves in 20 minutes with the non-reserved seating ticket I have, but I can upgrade to a reserved seat for an additional 600 Yen. I say to him upgrading would be great, he walks me over to a ticket machine, feeds in my current Shinkansen ticket and after a few touch screen button presses and paying the upgrade fee I now have a reserved seat on the next Shinkansen to Iwate!
The Shinkansen employee kindly walks me through the ticket gate and points me towards the platform where the Shinkansen to Iwate will be leaving from. I pull my suitcase up the escalator and walk to the waiting place for my Shinkansen car, following the signs above. A quick wait and I finally find myself riding on the Shinkansen to Morioka, Iwate. I step outside to the inbetween-car hallway and call my wife's sister, and tell her the time the train will arrive at Morioka Station. She tells me that her parents will pick me up from the station. I send her the same info via SMS, just to confirm that she has the correct times. Finally getting the chance to sit down in the cushy Shinkansen chair and rest a little, but my adrenaline is still pumping, excited to see my son and how my wife is doing. I send an E-mail to my family from my mobile, filling them in on all these updates, and that I'm on the way now to see my son.
A while later at about 9:15 PM I arrive at Morioka station. I rush outside, and realize it's much colder in Iwate than Tokyo or Saitama, by atleast a difference of 10 degrees Fahrenheit if not more. I pull a jacket out of my backpack and call my parent in-laws to tell them I've arrived, they pick me up in front of the station. They say congratulations, and they drive me to the hospital. The ride seems much longer than usual. Eventually we arrive at the hospital, my mother in-law hands me a health mask, she tells me to put it on as she and my father in-law put on their own masks. Apparently almost everyone that visits the hospital is encouraged to wear them. I follow my parent in-laws through the hallways, several of the hallways are dark, the lights have been turned off since it is after visiting hours and presumably so that patients can sleep better.
After a winding route through different hallways we reach a room, my mother in-law knocks softly and we walk into the dimly lit room. There's my wife laying on the bed, she says Hi. Her voice seems softer than before, she's drowsy from some painkillers she's been given. My father in-law and mother in-law struggle unsuccessfully to figure out how to turn on more of the lights in the room. They resolve to just turn on the light over the sink in the room. Shortly after there's a knock on the door, a woman's voice says shitsurei shimase (excuse me). Then the door slides open and a nurse wheels in a cart with baby bed and baby in it. I blink and then suddenly realize and say, is that him? (In hindsight of course it was our son, who else would it be?) My wife says yes that is Leo, say Hi to him. I look at him more closely, he's sleeping, but he looks wonderful.
Here's the first photos of my son: (Link Update: available on my Flickr)
It turns out the reason for the irregular heartbeat was the umbilical cord was tangled around his neck. Eventhough my son was born 2 weeks earlier than predicted he was plenty big, weighing in at about 6.3 pounds and 19.7 inches. I am now a proud father. =)