• Art Nomura

ST: Chapter 1, 'Birthday', part 1 of 3

Updated: May 4, 2018

“Open the window a bit,” the midwife requested. “We all need some fresh air before continuing.”

Toya, the youngest maid/attendant in the stuffy room quickly rose and slid open one of the windows.

Gathered in the smallest bedroom of the manor, Tona Hase Takahashi, age twenty-nine, sat stoically while catching her breath. Around her the maid/servants, her mother-in-law, Kyoko, and Sato-san sanba, the midwife awaited Tona’s next contraction. The cool outdoor air gently wafted into the space, steadily replacing the stale air within.

Tona, ever sensitive to circumstance and precedence, had insisted on giving birth in the tight quarters of the small bedroom at the back of the house rather than the spacious master bedroom she and her husband Kichinosuke shared. Kichinosuke and his father Naotaro, as well as Tona’s three older children all had been successfully delivered in the small room.

Each had been born without any problems. In her opinion, it would have been tempting fate to change the location for this latest birth.

After three uncomplicated and routine deliveries, Tona fully expected the birth of her fourth child to be similar. But after a night of painful and prolonged labor it seemed that her baby was no closer to being born than when her contractions had started.

Yumi, one of her attendants, gently sponged Tona’s perspiring brow with a damp cloth. Tona’s offered a grateful smile then prepared for the next onslaught.

Sato-san, the midwife, who had been carefully running her hands along Tona’s belly, looked up expectantly.

“Before we resume, please lean back for a moment and let’s see what’s happening,” said the midwife who had assisted in all of Tona’s previous deliveries.

Tona tilted back from the squatting position she had gamely maintained throughout the night and leaned into the comforting arms of Kyoko-san, her kind and able mother-in-law. Sachi and Yumi, Tona’s most trusted maid/servants, kneeled back on their heels to rest.

Sato-san abruptly sat back after examining Tona.

“Your child’s birth is imminent.”

“Everyone. Please return to your places. Help Tona-sama get back into position.”

Tona legs trembled as she resumed squatting over the sterile blanket that Sato-san had placed beneath her. The maids steadied Tona by her arms as the contraction began. Kyoko scooted forward and positioned her hands on Tona’s back so that she would have more leverage with which to push down.

“Now, PUSH!” Sato-san ordered.

Abandoning the silent countenance that she had maintained for hours, Tona let loose with a guttural wail halfway between a shriek and a groan.


“It’s coming, keep pushing. That’s right. Keep pushing. It’s almost there. Aha! I can see it.”

Moving quickly with deft, sure movements, the midwife supported the infant’s head and shoulders as they emerged. In just seconds, the rest of the baby’s body slid onto Sato-san’s waiting hands.

Tona, exhausted and relieved, leaned back against Kyoko and watched Sato-san methodically wipe the newborn clean with sterile rags and wrap the child in a clean white blanket.

“Congratulations Tona-sama, you have a beautiful baby girl,” Sato-san beamed, handing the precious bundle to her mother.

end of Chap.1, segment 1 of 3

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