Details about the delivery

Overview

Karuna Koyuki Miller was born on December 20th, 2004 at 7:07pm.

Her weight at birth was 2684 grams (about 6 lbs). She was 50cm long at birth, 31cm around the chest, and with a head circumference of 32cm.

She was delivered at 38 weeks which is exactly two weeks earlier than the due date of January 3rd (and is far enough along that she is considered full term and needed no special treatment).

Her first name (Karuna) comes from Sanskrit and means kindness and compassion.

Her second name (Koyuki) is a Japanese name which means "little snow" (kind of appropriate seeing as she was born around the first day of winter). The Japanese characters for Koyuki are:

Her full name in Japanese is:

She was born at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center in Hirou, Shibuya, Tokyo (ԏ\ЈÃZ^[LaJ).

Her zodiac sign is Sagittarius, and in the Japanese / Chinese zodiac she was born in the year of the monkey.

Originally, we were going to call her Koyuki Karuna Miller. However, we found that Koyuki was a little difficult to say and remember for non-Japanese, so we ended up swapping the first and middle names just before we officially registered her name.

What does she look like?

Given that Hitomi and I have different features, some people are wondering whether she looks more like her Dad or her Mom. Actually, her Mom and Dad are still wondering the same thing. Her hair colour at birth was black, although after she had her bath, her hair is now streaked with light brown. The hair at birth generally falls out soon, so it isn't clear what her next hair colour will be. One aspect that is Japanese is being born two weeks early with a healthy set of hair. Japanese babies often have a lot of hair which often sticks straight up like a punk rocker. Her nose is small which we assumed meant it was Hitomi's nose, although all babies seem to have small noses at birth, and looking back at Hitomi's and my baby photos, our noses weren't so different at birth. The eye colour is dark, although it is hard to tell what her eye colour is since she only opens them for brief periods and generally squints when they are open. Sometimes the eyes seem sort of greyish, and other times brownish. If you want to try to judge for yourself who Karuna looks like, here are baby photos of Hitomi, me, and Karuna:.

A picture of Mom at one month. A picutre of Dad at 4 days. A picture of Karuna at 3 days.

 

The details of the delivery

The due date for Karuna was January 3rd, although when we went for our weekly doctor visit on December 13th, the doctor told us that the baby had began to drop, and that the baby would probably be born within the next two weeks. Hitomi thought about this, and decided that December 20th would be a good date to deliver. Her reasoning was that she didn't want the baby to be born too close to the Christmas / New Year's holidays or to her birthday. Also, she prefered to have the baby before the New Year's shutdown at the hospital which would mean that there would only be emergency staff working. I was skeptical about any attempt to "decide the date", but Hitomi felt that it was possible to influence the date through positive thinking.

On the morning of December 19th, Hitomi said that she was feeling some discomfort in her stomach, but thought that it was maybe just an upset stomach. After having lunch with Hitomi's parents, both of us went home and relaxed. While we were sitting on the living room sofa, both of us became tired and almost unintentionally had a one and a half hour nap (which is extremely unusual for me). That turned out to be a very lucky thing as both of us were in for a grueling and sleep deprived next 24 hours.

That evening as we prepared to go to bed, Hitomi began to suspect that she was having contractions. She timed the contractions, but they didn't seem to be regular, and the frequency of contractions was not increasing. As we read over the texts, we concluded that they were probably just false contractions, but continued to monitor them. By 1am, Hitomi was getting more concerned. She called the hospital and described her contractions (which were about 8-10 minutes apart at this point). The hospital said that they thought it was best to wait at home, but if we were worried we could come in now if we liked. Since we live quite close to the hospital, we stayed at home and continued to monitor the contractions. They stayed at about 8-10 minutes, although by about 5am, they were occuring at intervals of between 6-10 minutes (still not completely regular). Hitomi called the hospital again, and the hospital had a similar response. However, since it seemed we weren't going to be getting any sleep that night anyways, we decided to go in to the hospital. We called the hospital back and told them that we would be coming in. We started getting dressed and packing our bags, and I had breakfast and showered. During this process, Hitomi's contractions lightened up, and almost seemed to go away. That is one sign of false contractions (moving around causes them to go away), so again we thought they must have been false contractions and we laid down on the bed in our clothes while we waited to see if they would come back. We both fell asleep at about 6:30, and woke up to our alarm about an hour later (set so that we didn't sleep past our regularily scheduled doctor's appointment).

Hitomi still wasn't feeling any serious contractions, so we had breakfast and got ready to go to the doctor. The first part of this visit is something called a non-stress test where the heart-beat and other vital signs of the baby are monitored over a half hour period. Hitomi had only one contraction during this half hour of testing. When we went in to see the doctor, we told him about our sleepless evening. His response was that things like that happen, and it could still be a week or more away from the birth. He did his normal ultrasound, told us that the baby was now about 2.7kg, and then took Hitomi into another room to check her cervix. He came back into the room with a more serious expression on his face, and calmly told me that the labour had started and the baby would be born soon.

We hadn't brought Hitomi's overnight bags in with us, so the doctor told us we had time to go home and pick them up and have a bit of lunch. We arrived back at the hospital around 12:30 in the afternoon. After a small amount of paperwork, we were taken up to a room where we would be monitored as the labour progressed. At first, we were mostly left alone. Occasionally a nurse would come in and monitor the baby's heartbeat, but other than that, I was alone to help comfort Hitomi. The contractions weren't too serious nor too close together at this point, so they weren't too stressful for Hitomi. Of course, things did get worse as the afternoon progressed. I tried to keep Hitomi's spirits up, and to distract her from the discomfort she was feeling. I also took her out on walks which are supposed to help move along the deliver process.

As the contractions became closer and closer together, we started to get more and more attention from the nurses. By about 4-5pm, there were 2-3 nurses watching over Hitomi in addition to myself and Hitomi's mother who had just arrived. We were all helping to massage and comfort Hitomi who was screaming out in pain with each contraction at this point. It was a gut-wrenching and helpless feeling for me to watch Hitomi in such agony, while my attempts to help didn't seem to be working. The massage techniques we had practiced beforehand didn't seem to make her feel better, although the nurse did show me how to do a better job of helping Hitomi (which Hitomi thanked me for during the brief intervals that she wasn't in agony).

The intense contractions lasted for about 1-2 hours, and at 6:35pm we were taken into the delivery room. Hitomi was in almost constant intense pain at this point, but at least the end was in sight. Within about 10-15 minutes, I had the first glimpse of the baby's hair poking out, and with each contraction I could see Hitomi's skin bulging from the pressure of the head. One midwife tried to help encourage Hitomi by showing her the baby's head with a mirror and letting Hitomi touch the baby's head. This helped only slightly, but after a few more contractions and some pushing from Hitomi, Karuna was born at 7:07pm. From the time the head popped out, it was about 30 seconds before Hitomi had her new daughter in her hands and was marvelling at the culmination of 9 months of pregnancy. Karuna was surprisingly clean on delivery, and it was only about 30 minutes after birth that she started to breast-feed.

The hospital we chose tends to prefer a natural birth, and so it doesn't provide pain killers, and it only an episiotomy when deemed necessary. Since Karuna was not a large baby, they decided not to perform the episiotomy, although there was a bit of tearing during the birth which required some stitching afterwards. Other than that, both mother and baby are in perfect health. Dad was completely exhausted from lack of sleep and other stresses, but a good night of very deep sleep helped cure that. Luckily, pregnancy amnesia kicks in, and Hitomi remembers that the final stage of delivery was painful, but doesn't remember many of the specifics.

Karuna's first 24 hours or so were peaceful ones. She slept most of the time, and when she was awake she just squinted, grunted a litle, and looked around the room. However, as time went on, Karuna discovered hunger, the uncomfortable sensation of full diapers, and how to use her healthy set of lungs.

For now, Hitomi and Karuna are resting and recovering in the hospital while being monitored and instructed by the nurses. Her room is very nice and spacious, with a private toilet, lots of room for guests, a TV, fridge, a DSL connection, and big windows from where it is possible to see Mt Fuji on a clear day. Best of all, there is a little magic button that you can press any time you have a problem or a question, and a nurse will appear to help. The nurses are constantly checking on mother and daughter, and are also helping to instruct Hitomi on changing diapers, breastfeeding, and how to deal with any complications that might arise.

It is typical for a Japanese mother to spend one week after birth in the hospital. Normally, Hitomi would stay at the hospital until the 26th or 27th, although we are going to try and see if Hitomi and Karuna can come home on Christmas Day.

Click here to go back to Karunas's page.