Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Story of a mother who had a baby without a brain

Disclaimer : Summarized and excerpt from the original story, featured in Dr Yoshimura's book "Joyous Childbirth Changes the World", page 67-70 (2014)

Every time I am invited to give a speech, I relate the story of a women I assisted some years ago. When I told this story to a study group including members of the Japanese legislature the other day, a female official was moved to tears. I also learned a lot about life and the meaning of life from this case.

One day, a woman came to see me. She was in her fourth month of pregnancy and had desperate eyes, which I will never forget. She was a mother of two girs, had had them in ordinary maternity clinics and intended to have her third baby in the same way. However, she learned through and ultrasound exam that the fetus had no brain. The doctor said,"Your baby has no brain. You have got to have an abortion." It is trued that a baby without a brain might be born prematurely. Also, even if born alive, the baby will soon die. Maybe the doctor thought that it would be better for her to have an abortion in early pregnancy to avoid unnecessary strain on the body.

After wavering a lot, she decided to give birth to the baby. "Whether the baby has a brain or not, this is my baby. I will give birth to this baby,"she declared.

Everyone was astounded to hear this. Her doctor, her husband, her parents and her husband's parents strongly opposed her decision. They said things to her like,"It will soon die. Why in the world do you want to grow such a meaningless thing in your belly?" and "A handicapped fetus is likely cause a problem at delivery or pregnancy toxemia. Why don't you get an abortion now?" Her decision even damaged her relationship with her husband and parents at several points during the pregnancy. Despite all this, she insisted on giving birth to the baby. She looked for a hospital which would support her decision, but there were none. All the hospitals she visited recommended an abortion.

At last she found our clinic where a pregnant woman's decision to give birth is always respected. I accepted her as an ordinary pregnant woman, and she spent her prenatal period just the same as others. She did a lot of work and exercise as well as ate healthy food. She grew the baby in her belly to full-term and a little before her due date, had a baby with us.

I have photos of her birth. The baby was a girl full of energy, pink all over and crying loudly. But as she lacked a major portion of her head, we could see the glare of the flashlight in the part where the brain should have been. We put a knitted cap on her head to cover the missing part which looked as if it had been chopped off.

The baby was alive for several hours after birth. The mother was so glad to see her and feed her breast milk, repeating,"How lovely you are!" The mother had already chosen an adorable name for her. Seika, which means "Sacred Summer." The baby's sisters, who had attended the birth, held the baby in their arms by turns and cuddled her, also saying,"How lovely!"

The baby eventually died. Was her birth meaningless? She had been given a life and experienced many things in her mother's belly for nine months, moving her arms and legs, and practicing breathing with all her might. Finally, the contractions began, and she came out into this world. After birth, she breathed the air and cried as other ordinary babies do. In the meantime, she uttered lusty cries and looked around her. She surely looked at her mother and sisters, but I will never know how they looked to her.

Although only for a few hours, this baby lived her life. She developed from a fertilized egg to a fetus, growing and living her life in her mother's belly. And she experienced birth to come into this world. As a full-fledged baby, she was held in her mother's arms and her sister's arms, and called by her own name until she stopped breathing naturally.

How is that different from the lives of other people? Nothing is different. Only the time from birth to death was shorter. But the fact remains that she lived her life as a fully-fledged human being. The mother of this baby told me later that she had felt the presence of God at the birth. The baby might have been a messenger to tell us something important, she said. It is true that baby told us many things. Just that alone is enough reason for her birth. She had a great life.

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