Saturday, June 07, 2008

The day that almost wasn't my son's birthday

Today is my son Jonathan's birthday. He was born three days after the June 4th massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. I remember this well, because the hospital in which I was set to give birth was the closest American airbase hospital to China and it was placed on alert to accept casualties.

BassMan was currently stationed southwest of Tokyo, at MCAS Iwakuni. Our little base didn't have maternity facilities in its clinic, so they routinely booked all pregnant women on a Medevac flight to Yokosuka Airbase, where they checked into a holding zone called "The Stork's Nest" and awaited the onset of labor. Jonathan was a big baby, and I'd had a C-section with my first child, so my doctor scheduled me for another. My surgery date was set for June 7th.

[Photo caption: My mother, Elnora, with newborn baby Jonathan. June 7, 1989.]

A week before the surgery, BassMan, our almost two-year-old daughter Elisabeth, and I Medevac'd to Yokosuka, checked into the temporary housing on base, then took the train into Tokyo to pick up my mom who'd flown in from California to be with us. We had a grand time visiting Tokyo, me with my giant baby bump, my mom warming to the Japan she'd only read about during WWII propaganda, BassMan pushing Elisabeth in the stroller and trying to keep under the radar of the Japanese people who wanted to reach out and touch her blonde hair.

The day before my scheduled surgery, the hospital called to tell me that because of it's proximity to Beijing and the instability of the region, the hospital was placed on alert. All elective surgeries were put on hold and I would just have to wait to see what happened next.

I was disappointed. Jonathan, snug inside me, had no idea his scheduled birthdate was on hold and showed no inclination to exit on his own. Yokosuka had a Mexican restaurant on base, so to commiserate we went out for tacos and enchiladas.

The hospital called me about 10 p.m. on the night of the 6th and said they got clearance for my C-sec first thing in the morning and could I get to the hospital and check in right away? BassMan and I packed up my things, kissed my mom and Elisabeth goodbye and taxied to the hospital.

Six a.m. the nurse woke me up, scrubbed me down, numbed me up and wheeled me into surgery. BassMan stood next to my head and held my hand as the doctor sliced me open. I felt a stinging burn along the way, but the doc assured me it would be over in just a few minutes. And it was. The doc pulled out Jonathan, exclaimed at his size, then sent him over to be cleaned and weighed.

Jonathan weighed in at a hefty 9lbs 15oz. The nurses nicknamed him Konishiki after the American-born Sumo champion famous at the time. He was the only boy in a nursery of about a dozen baby girls.

Happy birthday, Jonathan.


Lynn Sinclair said...

It's funny how we can remember the tiniest details about the days leading up to our child's birth. Especially funny since I can't recall what I did 3 days ago.

Nice post, Carolyn.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

You and I have the same problem. I think it's because all of our ram memory was stuffed early on with useless things like all of the capital cities of South America.

Now, if I could only remember where I put that receipt to my new camera...