When Kyoko said "It's time" at around 6:30 in the morning on December 1st, I had no reason to doubt her. She had been having contractions since the preceding Thursday (November 27), and with each "oh" or "ouch" during that time, you had to scrape me off the ceiling.
She called her friend with whom she arranged a ride to the midwife's birthing center and told her to come in about an hour. In Japan, cars can be more trouble than they're worth and, as a result, we don't have one. But first, Kyoko took a shower while I paced around the house checking and rechecking whether everything was in the bags that were to go with us.
Thanks to driving that would humble Mario Andretti and all of his racing sons and nephews, Clara got us to the birthing center in an almost record time. Piloting through the rush hour traffic was no easy feat, and she gets eternal kudos. We arrived at Martey Maternity House in nearby Kodaira, Tokyo, and the home of midwife Mariko Martey. All the preparations and such that we had gone through were now about to bear fruit. In other words, it was showtime.
My role consisted of a lot of massaging and occasional coaching (even after being told by Kyoko to shut up!). The communication between Kyoko and Mariko was outstanding, and the delivery went quite smoothly. At one point, Mariko said, "Eh?" which elicited a moderately frantic response from me: "Eh? What do you mean, eh?" But it was nothing to worry about, and both Kyoko and Mariko, in unison if not in harmony, said it was all right.
Welcomed by two very happy parents, a capable midwife and a room full of flowers, Mirano Kawashima came into the world around 12:30 Tokyo Time on a rainy December 1 (around 11:30 p.m. EST on November 30). She was 2,980 grams (about 6.9 pounds) and 50.5 centimeters (around 20 inches). The joke after delivery is that Mirano, "kowaiso" (poor girl), looks like her father. As for Mariko's questioning remark of "eh?", it was because Mirano had her hand on her forehead when she was born - a thoughtful pose that she may have picked up, in vitro, from her father, whom Kyoko says "thinks too much."
Mirano is home now, as is Kyoko and they are both fine. Dad, who spends his time as a freelance writer in Tokyo, is also well and wishes he could write more about his daughter.