What do a noble samurai warrior and an expectant mother on bedrest have in common?

061515_Memoir_2Nine years ago I was lying in a hospital bed on strict bedrest while pregnant with my twins. Keeping me idle was no easy feat. I was superwoman. I had to work 60-hour weeks. I had a new school opening up and new teachers had just arrived from Minnesota. Bedrest was unacceptable. All I could think was, “Please let me out of here!”

Unfortunately, my body wasn’t following my lead, so I eventually succumbed to the fact that I had to be a good girl and stay there. My new best friend was a 24-hour-a-day IV drip that was suppressing my labour contractions. But I didn’t go down all that easily. I still managed to make lesson plans, draw class materials and have bedside staff meetings in my little curtained cubicle. My bed was filled with paper, scissors, files and a plethora of coloured markers and pens. That took up some of my time, but to help combat the boredom, my husband set up a laptop for me in my room so that I wouldn’t lose my mind. We broke several rules in that hospital room: we had pizza parties, drank champagne (my husband, not me!)—and that laptop was definitely frowned upon. I was a total rebel mama for two months.

It was appropriate that one of the first movies I watched after “lights out” was the Japanese classic Yojimbo. I am not keen on violent movies, but this 1961 film was interesting to me for several reasons. It was the classic “Samurai movie,” that image that flashes into people’s minds when they think about Japan. And it’s also beautifully composed—who couldn’t love a slick, balletic sword fight? I also have an affinity for strong, handsome men with deep voices and deeper principles … and Sanjuro, the character played by Toshiro Mifune, really delivered on that front. Despite his bodyguard/assassin job title, his intentions were noble: to rid the town of evil and return it to peace. His most admirable act was when he fought the gangsters for the innocent farmer’s wife, who had been sold to the local gambling lord, and returned her to her kind husband. This was done for no profit to himself. It was done for love. I feel that, perhaps, this was the only way that Sanjuro could justify doing what he did for a living.

His battle paralleled mine in some ways. I was often alone in my struggle. I had to exert great patience and look towards the end goal, which was my beautiful babies. I had to control the urge to rip out my IV tube and flee the hospital in my slippers.

In the end, I was transported by ambulance to a larger hospital for an emergency Caesarean section. My twins came 10 weeks early and the greater battle was theirs, waged for two months in the ICU. They fought valiantly. Today, I am very fortunate to have two healthy, wonderful children. I am thankful that my doctor was smart enough to make me stay put and that Sanjuro was there to help me get through it.

Illustration by Chieko Watanabe