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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Mysterious Adventures of Little Mr. Salaka

Welcome to the World Little Guy
Xavier-Alexander Andrew Salaka born 13:46 on November 11, 2010 3.276kg/7lbs 3.55oz
Thank goodness the 2,000 lb beast known as Google didn't eat this blog. Unfortunately, the original posting of this article on the ( was taken down by Google. Despite hiring professional writers to post articles to that blog, Google, in all its wisdom, decided that the blog was somehow a spam blog - 1 year worth of posting (and several grand in writing fees) gone in an instant. After 2 months of trying to talk to them, and no reasoning given, I gave up on re-instating the original blog and reproduced the article here.
Update 2: Awesomeness - Google is just going to town on deleting my blogs. I am about this far from starting a boycott Google campaign. 

This little guy’s adventure started long before the laborious hours leading up to his birth on November 11th. My wife and I had been discussing having a baby for a while, and were looking into tales and stories of people in their thirties to try and have children. What we were reading is that it took, on average 6 months to 1 year or longer to conceive, thus did the adventure start back in early February. However, I think due to the fact that my wife and I were on some very elite vitamins (for her and for him), within a week, I was sensing something strange about my wife.

The Preparations

Thanks be rendered to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all the graces with which I have been laden in the past.

Thanks be rendered to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the graces with which I am laden now.

Thanks be rendered to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the graces with which the Supreme Goodness will crown me in the future.

Since we had prepared for this (taking the vitamins), we had the dip sticks ready to go, and I told her to check it out. Unfortunately, the first test came back negative. However, a few days later, noticing her glow and the difference about her I told her to check again and as luck would have it, the test was positive. We waited the requisite 5 weeks after missing her monthly appointment, and went to get our first check up with Dr. Yokosuka on March 6th – who confirmed the baby and we got our first picture of the little guy and our tentative due date of November 7th
First Echo

November 7th, was a bit of a surprise for us. Here’s the breakdown of our current November activities. November 7th is my wife and my wedding ceremony anniversary. November 8th is my wife and her twin sisters birthday. November 10th is my sister’s birthday, and November 11th is our marriage anniversary. So having the little guy pop out in November, especially on the week of festivities was going to give us a lot to celebrate. I was thinking that he was going to be born closer to November 9th to give us a full week of celebrations. To prepare for this we got ourselves a bunch of baby books and the baby book monitoring log, which we religiously filled out in every day.

Things started out smoothly, but soon quickly deteriorated. Rina started getting morning sickness “tsuuwari” (in Japanese), and I spent a good many a night and day with her around the toilet. Looking online, I saw that taking B6 in large amounts seemed to help with the morning sickness, so we started taking them. Soon after she started taking the B6, the morning sickness vanished – she still had some meetings with the porcelain altar, but these were mainly caused by garlic and very savory foods – so we soon learned to avoid them. Because this was our first time, we didn’t find any special pre-natal vitamins in the drug stores (later we would come to find you could get them in baby specialty stores). During the pregnancy we took a variety of supplements – an iron/calcium/folic acid supplement, the B6 (50mg) in the early pregnancy (we changed to a B complex supplement later pregnancy), and DHA supplements. Just as we changed from the B6 to the B complex supplement, we also added a zinc supplement later in the pregnancy.

Once the morning sickness had passed and we were well into our 3rd month of pregnancy, we announced it to the world and started making plans for the delivery. However, after that nothing much really changed. Rina kept getting bigger, and things just kept happening as normal. We recorded our daily blood pressure and weights in the baby book (and anything out of the ordinary) every morning and every evening, and we took pictures of her belly as it grew.

However, we were not to stay with the Yokosuka Ladie’s Clinic for very long. The doctor there was already fully booked for November and he suggested we go to Shiseikai Dai Nii hospital near the station. Luckily for us this hospital is a 15 minute (door to room) commute from our house, and is very convenient to access from the station (they have a free bus which runs between the Sengawa station and the hospital every 15-30 minutes). The staff in the obgyn consists of mostly women from the local women’s university, so Rina felt very comfortable with the staff. The best part about having a baby in Japan is its extremely inexpensive – all the medical appointments were paid for, and we spent a total of $300 on all the exams and tests which were not covered.

One of the problems with the Daini hospital was that they would not allow me into the examination room with Rina during her checkups. I was allowed in once a month when they did the family echo, but other than that she was flying solo. Out of her appointments, I only missed one – even if it did mean that I had to sit outside. The other complaint we had was that they would not give us the printouts of the echoes they took every session – even though they always made two copies (this later changed, and starting on October 1st, they started giving echoes out for all appointments). As a compromise, they would allow us to take pictures of the screen, so we started bringing our camera to the appointments.

It's a Boy

The other big issue with Japan is that they are very reluctant to tell the parents the gender of the baby. Rina and I really wanted to know, simply because we wanted to prepare the right colors for the arrival of the baby and yellow was just not doing it for us. At first they (the hospital) said it was 80% likely to be a girl but they weren’t certain and couldn’t tell us for sure. This antics of being very vague about the gender really irritated us – so much so that we went back to the Yokosuka clinic and got ourselves another echo. The doctor there pretty much lambasted the hospital staff – “no girl has a yingle that big. Congratulations, it’s going to be a boy”.

The Hectic Final Weeks

To be honest, since everything was so normal (other than Rina waddling like a penguin), we really weren’t in the baby is coming mode until the last few weeks before the expected due date. We set up a wish list (we still have a couple of little things we want to get from there), but by and large we had a very uneventful shower. We really started picking up the pace towards the mid-October time frame when we ordered the baby bed (rental), and did some massive baby shopping.

The crib arrived, as scheduled on October 29th and the room was ready to go. We had gotten most of the things we needed after the new Shima Matchu opened near Sengawa station. This was a real blessing for us. Shima Matchu is a huge 3 story store with the ground floor being all DIY things, the second floor a variety of specialty boutiques (including the Nishi Matsura – baby super store), and the third floor being full of housing furniture. We spent many hours there over several days getting the things we would need for the baby. We still need a humidifier, can never have too many baby blankets, mattress box covers (120cmx45cm), burping bibs, pacifiers, etc… but we have enough things to get through the first few weeks I think. Rina was really excited and wanted to get everything open, but I told her it was bad luck (so, while I’m waiting for the requisite 5 days in the hospital after the delivery I will be opening and getting everything ready for the new little guy).

The last few days leading up to the expected due date were pretty frenetic. Rina was frantically cleaning and re-cleaning the house. We got the guest room set up for her mother, and lots of dusting, cleaning, re-cleaning, and disinfecting everything. The best part of this was that because I was changing jobs (between October 14th and November 15th); I have been off of work and available to help Rina through these final stages. Unfortunately, I no longer had an excuse to sneak out of the house to do things like Birthday/Anniversary/etc… shopping and had to rely heavily on the good graces of Luckily enough, during this phase, I was also ordering books for next semester, so the packages that did arrive were nothing but “books” to Rina.

The Final Countdown
We had our last official appointment before the “due date” on Friday November 5th. Unfortunately, Rina was feeling neither labor nor anything different, and as such a follow appointment was set for the following Monday the 8th, in case nothing popped out over the weekend. During this final checkup, the doctor remarked that the baby was at least a week bigger than normal and was a bit concerned about the head size (considering Rina’s smaller than average stature).

The weekend came and went without fanfare, and we celebrated our wedding anniversary by sitting at home and watching a movie together and eating some really yummy fish Rina cooked up. I had been pushing to have Nabemono for a while, and told her we should have Nabe for her birthday meal on Monday. On Monday we went to the hospital again for the follow up appointment, and Rina mentioned she had been feeling a bit sick and was concerned about the baby size. This new doctor got all in a panic and ordered some xrays and what not, the conclusion of which was that Rina would start labor induction (if labor didn’t start that evening) on Tuesday the 9th at 9am. The baby’s head was at 9.7cm (up from 9.5 on Friday), and her pelvis was at 11.3cm (just enough clearance if passed in the next few days).

On the way home, we stopped by Queen’s Isaten (a supermarket) and got some food for the Nabe in the evening. We got a ton of stuff to throw in there – since this was the first time we were doing this, we really were unsure as to what we needed to put into it, and ended up way overbuying. Going out the front door of Queen’s Isaten, I pulled Rina a bit to the left and veered her into the nearby sweets shop. In there she helped me pick out a nice cake and we had it decorated. Not much of a surprise, but since I’d been home all the time, she understood the intention behind it.

The lunch
Before going to the supermarket to do some shopping, we stopped by Seizeria (Japanese Itallian restaurant) got some lunch. We sat in the back corner, and started eating, and during the meal, a couple with a little baby came and sat down next to us at the adjacent table. After the meal was over, Rina, as usual, slowly waddled over to the bathroom and the man started talking to me.

“When is she due?”
“Yesterday, but we’re going to go in for induction tomorrow if the baby doesn’t come out tonight”
“Really, that’s a coincidence.”
“Why’s that?”
“4 months ago we came and sat at that table on a Monday. We were overdue, and were going into get induction done on Tuesday.”
“That’s amazing, which hospital did you go to?”
“Shiseikai Daini hospital.”
“No way, were going there too.”
“That seat is good luck, we were in there for 3 days, and then the baby was born.”

The conversation continued – they were on their way to go back to Chile where they were going to visit their parents there for the first time (which is also a coincidence, we are going back to the states in February to go to my friend’s wedding and visit the parents when the baby is around 4 months). Sadly, I never got their name or contact information – however, since our two children are so like (aside from gender) I would love to get in contact with them, one to thank them, and two to see how their child is doing – most likely since the babies parallel each other so much, it’s likely that all the milestones they experience will be 4 months ahead of us so we can plan accordingly. If anyone knows the Chile couple who live near Sengawa and just recently had a baby 4 months ago, please let me know.

The dinner
 That evening, she was starting to prepare the Nabe, and I heard her washing bowls and pots. I immediately ran in there and stopped her motions and told her that maybe we should open some of the packages I haven’t opened up yet. In the confusion and rush, she completely missed the packages on the side of the couch, and was more focused on the present of a new “garbage can” I got for her which came in the mail earlier that day. Opening the first box she was a bit confused, but eventually things started to click together. I had gotten her an IH Nabe pot, an IH Tajine pot and recipe book, and an IH heating element. We had a wonderful meal and ate way too much; we’ll get fewer things for the Nabe next time.

The Stork doesn’t come too quickly
We got to the hospital around 9am, and were run through the standard procedures. While Rina was staying in the hospital for lunch, I went out and got something to eat. When I came back, they had her hooked up to some Atonin-O (Japanese equivalent of Pitocin), and she was connected to the baby monitor. She was getting contractions, but she didn’t feel anything at all. She was focused on playing game boy and listening to music and thought it best if I went home to do some studying. I left there around 3pm that day to go home and work on homework, while my phone was set up to ring very loudly if there were any problems. She was experiencing contractions 2-3 minutes apart from the medication, but wasn’t really feeling anything. By the end of the day she started to notice that her stomach was getting tighter when the machine measured the contractions, but other than that she was still at 2-3cm and was progressing very slowly. Unfortunately the baby missed the November 9th due date which meant that he was going to be sharing a celebration.

I was up very late that night, thinking that they would ring any minute, and went to bed around 4am. I got up at 7am, and rushed out the door to go see my honey. This time, I took all my study material with me so I could spend all day with her. Today was another story. They had her hooked up to the Atonin again, and this time had shoved a balloon up her yerk to help with the expansion. She was looking very tired, and by the afternoon, she was having some really strong contractions. We were hoping that this would mean the baby was coming (November 10th) soon (on his Auntie Laura’s birthday), but the pain was pretty solid all through the day, and I spent the day massaging her, bringing her drinks, wiping her sweat, and fanning her. The bed was very uncomfortable for her, so she asked if she could turn on her side. She did so, but soon after alarms started ringing. The baby’s heart rate had dropped, and the nurses all rushed in to give her oxygen and move her around. I was pushed out of the room and told everything would be fine. I think the baby was distressed because it still wasn’t in bearing position, so they took her off the IV, and the rest of the night we were a bit scared that the monitor would alarm again. I left there around midnight that night, after her pains subsided tremendously, and the nurse assured me that nothing would be happening that night. At the end of the IV she was at 8cm, but by midnight she had shrank back down to 6-7pm.

I went to bed again at 4am, after chatting with my Mom. She informed me that the most pain comes from the labor pains, and the drug really is the strongest pain she would be feeling – all the yelling and screaming was an “effort push” scream, and not a painful push. With the good news, I woke up again at 7am to get back to the hospital ASAP. I had hit the alarm to snooze a bit, when the ketai (mobile) phone went off, I immediately sprang into action – then decided to read my email. Rina had said they were going to start her on the IV after breakfast, so I had some time to eat and take a shower (which I took good advantage of – I had been in the same clothes for 3 days by that point).

I got to the hospital around 8am, and they had moved her into another room (the birthing room), and that sometime during the night (around 3am) her water broke. She looked a lot better, but didn’t sleep much the night before because the pains were there all night. After breakfast (baby’s last meal from mommy), they hooked her back up to the IV (9:22 am). At this time she was back up at 8cm and we were expecting an eventful day. The nurse said we would be lucky if the baby was born today. Around 10:30, things really started picking up, the pains were tremendous, and we had to call the nurse because I had no idea what to do to control the pain. They gave her a hot pack for her lower back, and showed me how to massage her pelvis and shove a tennis ball up her butt to keep the baby inside. So the rubbing and shoving continued for around 2 hours. The nurses were coming to check every hour. Around 11:45, Rina was running out of water, so she asked me to go get some water during the next check up.

At around 12:36, the nurse came back again, and did another check-up. As instructed, I went and got her 2 waters, went to the bathroom myself, and at the same time got her 2 packs of her mango jelly she was drinking. It was already 12:30 and she hadn’t had lunch yet, so I thought she might be getting hungry (with Rina it’s always about food – that’s her trademark). When I returned to the room, they had her up in straddle position and were prepping her for the baby to come out. I was stationed off to her side with sweat towel, fans, water and mango ready for taking care of her. At 12:43 she started pushing. Contraction, push, fan, water, contraction, push, fan, water. The nurse there asked if the internists could come into observe the delivery, and Rina weekly agreed to the observations. The funniest thing about the whole process was that instead of focusing on the pain so much, she was focusing on being hungry – I’m sooo hungry (just like my little sweetheart, always about the food). So, when she wanted, I fed her the mango jelly drink (good thing I thought of bringing them). The pushing and fanning continued. Around 13:30, we could see the baby’s hair, then the rest of the baby came out. I was a bit concerned, as the baby was a bit purple and wasn’t breathing, and the nurse looked like she was strangling him as he came out. However, at 13:46, the baby popped out a healthy 3.2kg.

Afterwards, I emailed and called and made the necessary rounds. After lunch we got to play with the baby for a bit. Then we moved to the permanent room (208 – same as Rina’s address in Osaka), and I went home. I was going to write this story last night, but I was just too tired to even eat lunch. Despite not eating anything from the morning, I collapsed in bed around 4pm and didn’t wake up until the next day at 10am (which is when I started to write this).

If you’re in the mood, you can always send us gifts through

The Origins of the Name

This baby’s name has a long, long history. In fact, when Rina and I started dating, I told her, if we ever have a son, his name will be Xavier-Alexander. The origins of the name come from a dream I had around 6 years ago during which time I was recovering from the car accident. You can read the history of the name and the story here.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” – Bryant H. McGill

As for the middle name, it comes from my father – Andrew, because he is truly my hero.

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