aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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Posted by dav at 2006 July 18 07:14 PM
File under: Events

So those of you who signed up for my announcement service or follow kokochi already know that Mie gave birth to our daughter, Tesla Rhea Yaginuma, on July 5th. She came out at 7 pounds even and 19.5 inches in length. It's been quite a ride, but things seem to be settling down into a bit of a manageable routine now.

The labor started on July 4th at 2AM, but I slept through most of that. Throughout the day Mie's contractions were getting stronger, so I was still holding out hope for a July 4th birth. Mainly so she'd have fireworks every year for her birthday, but I also liked the patriotic element. As much as I disapprove of the USA's policies today, I have always believed America has great potential to truly make the world a better place. It's a potential we have squandered, but the coming era of Tesla's generation is probably going to be the one that sees if America gets back on track or becomes a failed state. Hopefully we have that long anyhow.

But back to the labor. Mie's moans during contractions were growing in frequency and volume, but around 5PM I could hear a deep bellowing noise coming from the direction of Survival Research Laboratories HQ a few blocks away that was actually louder and shaking the house. I thought it was nice that SRL was already celebrating Tesla's birth :) I found out later they were testing a german V1 missile engine replica. Mie didn't seem so excited about it though. Her contractions were about 40-60 seconds long at this point and around 4 minutes apart. It seemed like she was getting into that transactional active labor stage. She was worried about going to the hospital too soon though, so we stuck around the house for another couple of hours before heading into the hospital around 7pm.

Once at the hospital, she was already at 4cm so we settled in for the long haul. By 9pm she was in an increased amount of pain and decided to go for the epidural. Our hospital room had a nice view, we could see the July 4th fireworks going off at Pier 39. In fact, here's a short video shot from the room with the fireworks going on outside the window and Mie's moans as her mom massaged her providing the soundtrack. This was right before they administered the epidural. I know, I know, how could I be watching fireworks when my wife is moaning in labor pains? What can I say, after twelve hours of it you can get just a little distracted.

Labor Pains

After that kicked in, the pain went away for the most part. However things did not seem to be progressing too quickly, it became apparent that it was going to be a July 5th birth. The contractions kept coming, but Mie didn't seem to be dilating very quickly and the contractions weren't increasing any more. So they gave her a shot of something to stimulate contractions which seemed to work but then after a few hours, the baby's heart rate started decelerating after heavy contractions. This alarmed the doctors enough for them to give Mie a shot to stop the contractions and wheel her into the operating room in case they needed to do an emergency c-section. They told her if they had to, they could have the baby out in about 60 seconds. Tesla's heart rate stabilized though and we went back to the delivery room. The doctors made it clear that if there was no more progression (the dilation was still practically halted) and there were more heart rate dips, they would have to start seriously looking at other options. They gave her another shot to get the contractions going again. Unfortunately once the contractions started up though, the heart rate dropped again. At 9AM they wheeled Mie into the operating room. It was a rough night for all of us but the c-section operation went very smoothly and everything else seemed to stop when we first heard Tesla's cry. I peeked over the operating curtain to see her little head, then shoulders, pop out
of Mie's belly. It really was quite a moment.

Mie's mom and I went with Tesla to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit while they finished sewing up Mie. I wanted to take my shirt off and hold her skin to skin but they had her under this heating lamp thing so I just made sure I was touching her as much as I could until we could bring her back to Mie. Wow. I can't really express what things were like in that hour. I just couldn't take my eyes off her. They had to tell me to stop leaning over her because I was blocking the heat lamp.

Keeping Tesla Warm ; She's Tiny! Mom and Baby

It felt great to bring her back to Mie. They had only been together for a couple of minutes right after the birth. By the way, Mie is super bloated in that photo of her and Tesla above. She hardly looked any different than normal throughout her whole pregnancy, unless she was standing sideways, but in less than 24 hours a mixture of IV fluids and hormones bloated her out like a usual pregnant woman. It's her first photo with Tesla, so vanity aside it has to be special. The sudden weight gain was funny though, she couldn't even fit her feet in her sandals afterwards.

I try to help out as much as I can, but it's become very apparent to me how special the mother-child bond is and Mie is a wonderful mother. We spent three more night in the hospital in order to let the cesarean section incision heal. The three extra nights of instruction by the nurses and doctors were of enormous help though. It's weird being a new parent, you really don't know what you're doing even though the instinctual route is usually pretty safe. We learned a lot from the different nurses that would come in on how to do everything from changing the diaper to breast feeding. The Kaiser facilities and staff were almost uniformly superb, but we were itching to get home.

On the last day the doctor came in to remove the staples from the c-section incision. Unfortunately there turned out to be a complication called a serona. This means that fluid built up in the wound area that prevented bonding of the flesh. The incision in the uterus wall healed up fine, but when the staples came out the skin and fatty layer above opened right back up again. This will now take another 4-8 weeks to heal. She has to keep the wound stuffed full of wet gauze and twice a day I have to put on surgical gloves and replace the gauze. I have a photo of the wound, but don't click on it if you aren't comfortable with that sort of thing. Cesarean Section / Serona Photo. I tried to find another one on the web, but couldn't find one. Apparently this is a fairly rare complication. I'm happy to report that a couple of weeks later it seems to be healing up right on schedule.

Well this was a long rambling post. And like most things these days it was done in small steps. I probably changed 5 diapers between starting this and finishing it, plus a trip to the hospital for a scheduled appointment and a short nap on the couch with Tesla. Being home with her has been great. It's so more conducive to realizing that we are a family now than living together in the hospital. And speaking of family, major props to Mie's mom, Mikie. She's leaving to go back to Japan in two days, and I suspect things will get either more hectic or more cluttered pretty quickly after (probably both actually). She's been a major source of strength for the past few weeks both in practical around the house matters and in supporting Mie throughout.

I'll stop now. There will be many more posts concerning this adventure we've embarked on.


Dear Dav,

Just wanted to say thanks for your honest and wise words about your daughter's birth. My wife went through almost identical processes on the way to giving birth to our daughter (Madeleine). It's hard work to start with, but fantastic hard work. Tesla is a great name, too. And your Rails stuff looks cool (I'm about to embark on getting Google Maps to play with Rails, so your code will hopefully get me started).

Best wishes to you and yours.
Elliot Smith

Posted by: townxelliot on November 10, 2006 02:21 AM

Hi townxelliot,

I just happened to be reminiscing about the whole ordeal (strangely I miss it!!) and found your post. We're in month 4 now, and Tesla is *so* cute and fun to be with. Whatever birth process, it all works out when the baby begins to see you as parents. However, birth is deep for the mom...I still go over the birth process and wonder about stuff. If your wife ever wants to email, feel free to have her emaail dav (dav will forward to me).

Hope all is well. Babies are the BEST!!

Posted by: Mie on November 14, 2006 07:33 PM

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