Saturday, March 25, 2006

“The cute baby at the top of the mountain” Our first Prenatal class

Mount Yotei aka Ezo Fuji
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
We attended our first Prenatal class on March 8th. It was held at our hospital and Sean, Jess and myself were both excited and a wee bit nervous. We got there right on time which means we were late by Japanese standards. Chairs were pulled out for us and we got settled amongst the other couples. Then the nurse made an apology on our behalf to the rest of the group because the foreigners needed to be whispering in the back for the sake of translation. How kind.

Our doctor conducted a lecture for about the first hour on what to expect with the onset of labor, what the hospital’s procedures and policies are for certain situations (fetal stress, induction etc) and the differences between parenting styles for mothers and fathers. Most of the information was pretty basic but it was really nice to see that so much emphasis was being put on the importance of the father as an active member in the delivery, care and raising of the child. We’ve heard from many folks that have had children here that the dad is basically a non-participant in any aspect of the pregnancy and delivery. Now would probably be a good time to mention that I don’t have the option for a pain free delivery…no drugs…whatsoever. It’s standard for Tokachi (our region) and most of the rest of Japan unless you are in a big city like Tokyo or Kyoto where you have access to International hospitals. A lot of emphasis is put on relaxation and breathing techniques to get the laboring mom through the delivery. So all the while during the lecture we’re being reminded about the importance of staying focused on the breathing and getting through the pain because we’ll get to meet our cute baby that is waiting at the top of the mountain for us! The “cuteness culture” even prevails in the labor and delivery room! It’s hard to decide if the no drug policy is progressive or not. I think in many cases in the west drugs are given too readily but conversely I think there are likely many cases here when drugs should be given and are not. Let’s just hope I’m not proof of the later. Further on the topic of progression we found out that our hospital is the best maternity hospital on Hokkaido. When compared to other hospitals here or down south it appears to be light years ahead of the rest of Japan in the progressive thinking department. We couldn’t be happier to be living 2.5 blocks away from this place!

For the last half of the class we watched a very informative video. They actually showed a woman going thru the labor and birth process from the onset of labor at home right thru to the delivery of the baby. The editing was totally crappy but this video was made by our hospital and showed the actual procedures, rooms and staff that we would be dealing with which was greatly comforting. I’m all about eliminating the “unknowns” and this video struck a great deal of them off my list. Except for the compulsory enema, I still don’t know what that is like but I will soon enough!

So the 3 of us left feeling pretty good about climbing the mountain. Here’s hoping it’s more like Fuji than Everest!

Friday, March 24, 2006

March doc appointments

Mar 7
-baby weight: approx. 2300 grams (5 lbs.)
-heard baby’s heart beat
-saw 4 chambers of the baby’s heart via ultrasound
-head is down
-this kid is really packing on the weight
-all is well

My burning question this week was “What is your hospital’s policy on episiotomy procedure?”. This is one of the things I’m least looking forward to. I have a higher tolerance for pain than I do for seeing my own blood or anything to do with needles being stuck into me. I’m just not sure how I’ll handle the 3 together should the time come. So my doc said they have a less than 10% episiotomy rate (Canada has a crazy range of 31% in Quebec to 15% in Manitoba) so at this point I’m happier to be having the Kid here as opposed to Montreal! He credits his skilled midwives with the low rate and insists an episiotomy is only performed if a tear is inevitable.

Mar 24
-baby weight: approx. 2850 grams (6.27 lbs)
-head is up again

I didn’t have such a fun appointment today. The waiting room was sooo hot and it appeared that other mother’s who arrived after me were allowed to go ahead of me. The average Japanese woman is in with the doc for a regular visit for less than 5 minutes and I take about 15 minutes. So I figured they were clearing up the backlog before I slowed things down. Or it could just be paranoia. This whole thing could be cleared up if they went to an appointment system instead of a first come first served system. I showed up at 9 am and I was already 9th in line for my doc. Yucky.

So the doc is concerned about the breach presentation of our baby. I’m not. Not at this point anyways. I’ve got just a bit under 6 weeks to go and there’s still plenty of time and room for intra-uterine acrobatics. Jose had told me that Nick was two weeks late and didn’t go heads down until she was overdue. I relayed this to the doc and he felt a bit better until of course he asked how much Nick weighed and I said “nearly 10 pounds”. I didn’t bother telling him Sean was nearly the same size and degree of lateness! Geez, you’d think he was giving birth to this Kid! Anyways, the baby will come out when it’s ready and I’m not gonna get too hung up on weight approximations. If the Kid keeps growing at this rate it will be a 9 pounder and that’s gonna be a reality we face on Launch day.

I also found out that Sean isn’t allowed to cut the babies cord. He’s not too disappointed but I think he really wanted to be a physical part of that aspect of the delivery.

Then I found out we have another class we have to take that wasn’t on the official “class form”. So we have to meet with the delivery nurse and midwife for any last minute questions and for another tour of the hospital and the labor/delivery room. The timing is crappy as Jess will be in Kyoto so we’ll have to ask someone else to come along with us. I’m not too cool on the splitting up of the team but at least the hospital is making sure we are as prepared as possible.

I could now go on about my shitty experience at the gas station following my doc appointment but I won’t. Time to make some coffee and get outside and enjoy this sunny day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Meet Jessyca!

Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
Jess is a good friend of ours and is going to be helping us out with the delivery of the Kid. Sean, Jess and I have gone to Prenatal classes together and between the 3 of us we're slowly unraveling the mysteries of having a child in Japan! Jess is very proficient in the Japanese language so she's also acting as our translator which has turned out to be very helpful and heaps of fun at the same time. There are even talks of team t-shirts with matching gloves for "Launch Day"! The 3 of us get along like a house on fire and I'm sure we've been labeled the "giggling foreigners" by the staff at the hospital. We were late (meaning right on time) for our classes and then we would have hushed giggling fits over some of the translations of the process and procedure of child birth in this country. At least we didn't fall asleep during the meditation portion of the class like half of the other moms!

We're so grateful to have Jess by our side during this part of our life. It's very comforting to have someone we care about so much as our cheering section, emotional backup and language discombobulator! Thanks Jess, you're the bestest!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ack! Stretch Marks!

I guess I’ve been living in a fantasy dream world when it comes to the topic of stretch marks. I figured that since I’m a bigger woman I would gracefully side step them altogether. Well, as of yesterday that theory has been flung out of our 4th floor apartment window!

It all started on Tuesday. I woke up feeling pretty normal but after I got out of bed the Kid who has been living with it’s head snuggled under my ribs for the longest while decided it was time for a change. Well into the afternoon I could feel the baby put it’s head into my pelvis then apparently unhappy with the position it would elbow, shoulder and knee it’s way back out. I felt like a parking lot at a senior’s center on Bingo night. In…not quite right…out…in…nope just a little more to the left…out…in…maybe I should face the other way…half turn…out. That was the most stretched I’ve felt so far and I now have 3 red marks on either side of my belly button to prove it.

My waist now looks sort of like this \ \ \ * / / /

So I discover these things in the shower yesterday. I get out and called Sean over right away and he handled it way better than I did. He sure knows when to say the right thing these days! So last night before bed he read to me from our book of 1000 Pregnancy Questions which claims that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the marks (it’s so nice to be absolved of that one!) and then I was treated to a nice belly rub with some Body Shop Hemp Lotion. Maybe they aren’t such a bad thing after all!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Boobs, can they really get that big?

So last week I put in my nursing bra order with my sister Jose in Ottawa. They’re on they’re way here via Airmail and I’m secretly hoping the package gets opened in Japanese customs. The cup size alone would inspire fantasies amongst the men and envy amongst the women in that building for years to come!

There’s no chance in hell I could find a nursing bra here that would fit me. At least not on Hokkaido anyways. I checked in Sapporo and the biggest were 20 cm too short around the body. The cups went up to a small looking DD and were padded of all friggin’ things! So when I went to Ottawa this past fall I was fitted and taught the secrets to proper bra measurement so I could guesstimate my post delivery size at about 7 months. By my calculations I’ll be a 40 DDD within the first two weeks after delivering the baby. It seems huge to me but I’m almost a full 40 DD at this point. When I was figuring out my size I was running back and forth between the boob measuring instructions written out by the maternity shop, the back up instructions I Googled on the computer and the mirror. I used to be a 38 C now I’ll be able to use my bra’s to launch canon balls across the Pacific! Sean is of course excited beyond words!

What the locals are saying and doing

Boy or girl? Well, every Japanese woman save 1 that I have asked is convinced we’re having a boy. The reason we’re having a boy is because the baby is high up and straight out or so I’m told. Usually the answer is preceded by the rubbing of my belly, a long view of my profile and all sorts of questions. Do you crave fruit or meat? What was the weather when you conceived? Are you tired? You’re not still driving your car are you? The belly rubbing is by far the most bizarre. This is a culture where all manner of salutations, thanks and respect are paid with varying degrees of bowing. Well, all the rules go out the window between women folk when one or more in the group are pregnant. This weirded me out at first. I had never been touched by a Japanese person until I was doing an English lesson with a dynamic group of ladies in Memuro. It was the first time most of us met. I did my usual self-introduction and for the heck of it I thru in the fact that I was 3 months pregnant. Man, talk about a sweet ice-breaker! These gals were so excited they were vibrating in their seats! By the end of the 90 minute session everyone in that room had either touched or rubbed my totally un-pregnant looking tummy. Now that I’m full on and very visibly pregnant there’s no stopping them! The best is the girls in my grade 1 and 2 classes. They stand under my tummy and wrap their arms around from the bottom up so all I see are these little waving hands in front of my face!

So far this is a phenomenon shared only amongst women. I’ve had the standard questions from the men. One of my VP’s asked me if the baby was moving a lot and I told him “Yup, it feels just like a big fish in there!” I’m not sure anyone had ever been that honest with him! On my last day of classes at his school he gave me a charm for a fast and easy birth from the local Shinto Shrine. It was a lovely gesture and had a definite touch affect on me. The guys are just much more sly about it I guess!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Where in the heck?

It's been a busy month and I've had a nasty cold coming on 3 weeks now. I'm finally starting to gain on the cold and feel motivated to do more than sleep. Plus, I'm finishing up at work today then I've got another busy weekend and then next week I'll be free until launch day! So more from me soon. I've got blogs posts floating around in my head with titles like...

"What the locals are saying"
"Boobs, can they really get that big?"
"First Prenatal class"