This has been the happiest week of my life, but in some ways also the most difficult. Let me back up to last Friday, May 29.
When I start writing this, I am sitting in a car park outside a children’s hospital in Tokyo. The time is 2.25 and the rain has finally stopped. We came by taxi and right now my soon-to-give-birth-wife is being examined and will hopefully be admitted. I’m waiting for news, sitting in the middle of the night in an empty car park outside a children’s hospital in Tokyo.
The emergency situation has been lifted in Japan, but the maternity ward is still closed for husbands. As a matter of fact, the whole hospital it seems, even though a piece of hope was awoken in me when we arrived at the hospital and they took my temperature as well, and I even got a sticker to put on my chest to show that I have no fever. Why I needed the sticker I have no idea – when a nurse came after a minute and fetched my wife and took the bags I was carrying, I was asked to go outside and wait instead; I was not even allowed to sit waiting on the chairs inside the doors to the night entrance. Obediently, I went out after saying goodbye to my beloved family. Outside there was no where to sit and wait; I’ve had to walk a bit to find a bench to sit on. The thought occurred to me that I could have sat down on the ground outside the night entrance. But I’m too tired. And the ground is too cold. And besides, I am both too much coward and too well behaved to venture into such a demonstrative statement. So instead I sat down on the bench with a sticker on my chest, and started writing down my experiences of becoming a dad in Tokyo in the middle of the Corona crisis.
I get a text message from my wife – she will be admitted, I should go home and wait. Calling a taxi feels too difficult (being tired and speaking Japanese is a combination that I still cannot handle at all) so I start walking. As I make my way home through the residential areas, my wife’s and my journey together plays out in my mind. We met when we were over forty, and we both had a strong desire to have a child; trying to become pregnant became our big focus and goal. From day one we have been riding the rollercoaster of hope and despair together; every doctor’s visit, every consultation. We have been sitting in countless waiting rooms for countless hours waiting hand in hand, and when there has not been a ban on men, I have been present for every examination. Now the magical day when my wife finally will give birth to our son is here. And that day she is completely alone. It feels so wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. That is not how it should be. We are meant to be together. I should be there for my wife and my child; instead I sit (try to sit, I am so stressed that just existing is difficult) waiting in our little apartment while she is struggling with aches and pains and fears, all alone.
She gives birth in prison, and I am also behind bars – that is how it feels.
I could devote many words to address the logic (or what I see the lack of) in the hospital’s various rules and regulations, but that does not change anything and besides, it is probably not wise to do while I am writing filled with stressed sadness about not being part of this our life’s biggest event, not being there to support my wife. I have not met much understanding from the hospital, instead I have got the feeling of being a not a very important person in this situation, more a potentially very dangerous complication that wants to be with his family (and whose wife really needs this complication to be with her). (A tip to the hospital – if the father is at all important and if it is too difficult to show compassion, then at least put out a chair in the car park for him to sit on while he waits for his wife in the middle of the night.)
Since we could not be together, we had planned to share the birth via video phone. And a video call I got Friday night, but instead of my wife giving birth, there was a doctor informing me there would be an emergency Caesarean operation – I have never in my whole life felt so in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I got a phone call from the doctor two hours later telling me that our son is born, I was lost for words (and this was not just a matter of the difficulties of the Japanese language). My son is born. He is fine. My wife is fine. I am a wreck in paradise.
Now a week of loneliness awaits. Being pregnant in Japan is so different from Sweden – one week my family will stay at the hospital, probably with a ban on visits because of that blasted virus. A week before I can hold my son. But after nine months (or ten) I can of course wait another week. So what will I do? Overclean and overwash probably – that is what every Swedish shufu in Tokyo with some self-respect would do in this situation (at least that is what I am telling myself to stay occupied and make the week pass faster).
Sometimes a miracle happens. I have become a father. And the hospital made a change of rules, and I was suddenly allowed to come and see my wife and son one afternoon during their stay at the hospital. Suddenly I was very grateful and a little bit ashamed of having been so angry at the hospital before, but that is what feelings are like I guess – always changing, always adjusting, always evolving. Like the disbelief I felt when holding my son for the first time. Is this real? Is this really happening? My beautiful wonderful precious son. Disbelief soon turned into pure joyfilled love.
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