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4586Birth Announcement

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  • John Patten
    Apr 5, 2005
      Dear Friends,

      Eriko and I are very happy to announce the birth of
      our daughter, Hanako Kathleen Patten, who was born at
      3:15 am on Sunday, April 3rd at Takarazuka City
      Hospital in Hyogo, Japan. In the photos below she is
      about 45 minutes old. There will be many more. She
      also got over the squished baby look relatively

      In my usual self-indulgent and overly verbose,
      although not altogether insufferable way, I also
      attached as a word document the play by play if you
      would like the details. And there are many.

      For those of my friends in Afghanistan, I will be back
      on the 24th. Yes, it will be hard to be away from the
      new family, but it will be ok. The poet Frost once
      said happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in
      length. I can scarcely believe I could be this lucky,
      and we could hardly love the little girl more.

      John and Eriko

      Ps- who am I kidding? I can�ft get this attached as a
      word doc because everything is in Japanese on this
      computer and I almost sent you all the tax records
      instead. At least I got the photos on. Why don�ft I
      just add the text below:

      The contractions every ten minutes started about four
      days before the actual birth. It�fs not like an
      episode of Friends where the water breaks and the baby
      is out after the Taco Bell commercial. That night
      fortunately we could stay home so she could get some
      rest, but she did have to spend two agonizing days
      before the birth in the hospital anyway. A guy never
      feels less powerful than when his wife is having
      contractions, as there is not much to be done about
      it. I offered to get the parking validated, but I
      guess they don�ft do that here. The best you can do is
      be quiet and not say anything too controversial or
      provocative such as, �gHow are you doing?�h

      Around that time I started to have what I thought were
      sympathy stomach pains, but confirmed later it was
      actually the Shabu-shabu pork, despite my love for
      Japanese food. I had to take something for it, because
      the last thing I wanted in the delivery room was to
      walk into my worst fear as an extra on the set of
      �gScrubs,�h on my back on the floor staring up at the
      bright lights. �gSumimasen, can somebody please get
      this gaijin off the floor?�h

      The suffering in the holding room of mothers in labor
      is something out of Dante�fs Inferno. I don�ft see how
      the hospital tent at the Battle of Gettysburg could
      have seen much more wailing. We�fve been
      rocket-attacked in Afghanistan and I can say without
      hyperbole that this was a million-times worse. I think
      all twelve year-old boys should be required to sit in
      for a day on the NICU rotation. The hospital staff was
      professional, if a little severe in my eyes. After
      four days awake all night I asked for an epidural for
      myself and they did not see the humor in it.

      The cultural things have generally gone fine, although
      sometimes I forget to immediately take my shoes off
      when bringing home groceries or such, and it creates a
      Godzilla-like-related panic. I did want to try this
      one restaurant somewhere I couldn�ft find while Eriko
      is in the hospital. It translates to something like
      �gNothing but Whale.�h Try starting that franchise in
      L.A. Those whales have been a bit smug for my taste
      lately anyway, plus anything that would piss-off PETA
      has to be a good thing. If chickens weren�ft so stupid
      and were cuter or had a better publicist maybe they
      would have their own bumper sticker too. But I

      While the actual birth was one of the most amazing and
      emotional experiences of my life, the three days
      leading up to it were among the most upsetting. It
      leads me to believe that all births should be run
      through a clandestine government agency that has the
      technology to where we can transfer the happy young
      fetus to that big plexi-glass tube of green liquid
      like on the X-Files. If we ever get to vote on that,
      all I could probably add is, �gSo where do you plug
      this thing in?�h I mean, we could leave the other way
      to giraffes and other mammals, because they seem to be
      able to handle easier cranking out a six-foot walking,
      talking giraffe, or wildebeest, or water buffalo, etc.
      If ours didn�ft have to kick their way into this world
      screaming and bloody, we could just lift them out of
      the warm water more fully formed with less shock, and
      maybe they would just motion for a sweater or
      something. It was pretty amazing to witness though and
      it�fs permanently burned into my memory. When she�fs
      17 and denting my car and inquiring how I got to be
      such a bonehead, I can use my �gI pulled you into this
      world in the first seconds of your life�h card. It�fs
      a good thing I remembered the batteries for my digital
      camera for proof.

      The birth itself went mostly quickly and ok after
      Hanako nearly killed my wife, but was not without
      it�fs scary moments. She was too big to drop easily
      during the labor, and got an abcess on her head from
      trying to push past the pelvic bone. When she did
      finally come out, the hard labor had wrapped the cord
      tightly twice around her neck and it got pretty dicey
      for a moment. She was blue at first, but they made a
      cut, got her out quickly and got the blood flowing,
      and it appears no permanent damage was done as she
      wasn�ft long like that. Although, if in twenty years
      she turns out like me people may always question.

      We thought the baby would be visibly upset with the
      harsh eviction from her previous dwelling, but after
      all it was the third of the month by then and later
      she was pretty calm; kind of like, �geh, this ain�ft
      bad, I have a lot more room now.�h What they don�ft
      tell you in the all the beautiful hype of the baby
      books is that birth, after the whole magical,
      spiritual, yada yada part, is a horrible, horrible
      enterprise. Everything is so fragile I honestly don�ft
      know how six-billion of us got through it, let alone
      the succeeding days.

      You know what surprised me though? The fact that she
      looks so much like me and a western baby. I honestly
      thought she would be darker. She has deep blue-steel
      eyes, and light brownish hair. It�fs ok though, some
      of my best friends are white, but it was still a shock
      to see what I may have partly looked like. Of course
      she�fs beautiful to me, but she might end up actually
      being too cute, in which case we really have to
      develop her mind more so she doesn�ft end up on one of
      those Japanese game shows, wearing pink, frilly stuff
      and screaming �gWho is the receiva? Let loose the
      cannons!�h The only reason I went on the Hollywood
      Squares was because I needed money for grad school. I
      don�ft even want to think of what happens at 16 and
      she starts dating. Actually let�fs make that 17 and a
      half. It will take the poor guy that long to get the
      paperwork and labs through processing. I know guys,
      and I used to be one. If she wants to date someone
      like me she can do it on her own time after she moves

      In what could have been a life of surfeit or excess,
      which has its own benefits, it�fs good to know that
      life still has the ability to surprise you. With
      turning 40, new baby, career going well, it�fs
      certainly been a milestone year for us, in a long life
      of interesting experiences. It seems like one of those
      pivotal moments where things can be measured as
      everything that came before and everything that came
      after. At least until I�fm 85 and can tell those damn
      kids to get away from my geraniums. But then my
      darling 45 year-old daughter can bring me a beer on
      the porch laughing and tell me Papi chill out, this
      ain�ft the labor ward ya�f know!

      We are truly blessed.


      "Think of where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends." Yeats

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