It's a rainy morning in Tokyo. We cross the city at its busiest hour, crammed into a subway car, on our way to the Birth House. We're going to meet three midwives: Yuko, Akane and Yasuko.
Yuko is the midwife that manages this small Tokyo Birth House. She was the one who founded it twenty years ago. There's only one other like it in all of Tokyo. Celebrating twenty years means two decades of births, mothers, families and a community. A support-net continuously being weaved and intertwined, still interconnected two decades after the first birth was strung into the network.
We were invited to join a circle of mothers that had recently given birth. It's a unique experience to take part and observe this group of Japanese mothers. I feel a little bit jealous watching them…trying to take in the patience, the deep respect for personal space, the laid-back handling of the newborns.
There is a pleasant vibe in the room, a lot of new information, different codes. I feel overwhelmed as I try to slowly process the knowhow. Sitting here among them is fascinating, feeling the warm sense of mutual support – utterly different, yet so similar to the one I know. Thinking back to the midwives that helped me deliver my babies, women that have accompanied me in the last 18 years, helping me guide my way along the path of well women care. Sitting here with these women on the Tatami floor I give in to the flood of tears and emotions.
In the upcoming days I have been given the opportunity to join these midwives in their daily work. Showing up at a small Birth House in the middle of an enormous, overcrowded city. A narrow confined space, Tatami floors, a world of its own. I depart after five hours. My night fills with dreams of them… and in the following morning I learn that one of the pregnant women we met for a prenatal checkup has given birth during the night. Tomorrow we'll be meeting her to see how she and her baby are doing. More adventures to come – stay tuned…