Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 25 Doc appointment

Had another non stress test today. This time I was the one that needed waking up. The move really tired me out and it was sooo friggin’ hot in the hospital. My newly bronzed doc had a student in with him today, which was cool. The baby gained nearly a pound and a half in 11 days so you can imagine our doc’s surprise. Probably had something to do with the Cadbury Mini Eggs and Bounty bars! So he asked me if he could do an x-ray to make sure the baby’s head was going to fit thru my pelvis. I said “sure as long as I get to x-ray your testicles too”. Just kidding. I didn’t say that, but I really wanted to. The whole “foreigner has big baby” is wearing a little thin with me. If I end up needing a C-Section because the baby is too big then having an x-ray isn’t going to make any difference at this point. The Kid’s only 8.5 lbs and due any second now. I told him that I respected his concern but that I didn’t think an x-ray was necessary at this time. Other than that I had a good appointment although I did avoid going to the gas station afterwards!

-baby weight: approx. 3926 grams (approx. 8.5 lbs)
-head is down
-cervix is 2-3 cm dilated
-doctor: Coppertoned

New digs

Baby room
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
That’s right. We’ve moved. I’ve been so busy dealing with the reality of it that I haven’t had the time to mention it previously. So here are the details.

Our previous apartment though quaint as it was simply was just too small especially for the amount of money we paid for it every month. So Sean mentioned to his office that we would like to check into the “possibility” of moving (our housing is supplied by his office but we pay for it). That was on Thursday, March 30th. When Sean showed up for work on the following Monday his supervisor had a list of available housing all over the city and had already called our landlady (whom we lovingly refer to as the “Dragon lady”) to tell her of our intention to move. I can’t express how fast this reaction time is for any kind of request done thru a workplace office in Japan. Especially since Sean works for a prefectural (similar to provincial) government office. Record setting indeed. The most promising apartment was is West Obihiro in a Government of Hokkaido Employee Housing Complex. Built in 1987 is was a good twenty years younger than our apartment at the time, with 3 bedrooms, 83 square meters of space instead of 43 and it was better than half of what we were paying. The only thing was we couldn’t view it. Just doesn’t happen with that kind of housing here. So we crossed our fingers and took the plunge. By Friday our moving day was set for Saturday, April 22nd (11 days before the babies due date!). Wow!

We had a great group of friends help us move and everything was moved to our new place in 2 hours and 15 minutes. By the end of the day on Sunday Sean and I had unpacked half of the boxes and we were well on our way to being settled.

Now we’re at the point where just the sight of cardboard makes us cringe. We only have the spare room to finish and I think that can get done in a day. The best part is indeed the fact that we have a room dedicated entirely to our baby on the way. We went out and bought a crib on Saturday and it was the first room to be completed. Nothing throws a pregnant woman’s nesting instincts into overdrive like a baby room full of boxes less than 2 weeks before her due date!

I’ll post more photos of the rest of the place soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Don’t try this at home

Tums + Cadbury Mini Eggs + Bounty Bars = Constipation

I’ve discovered the above combination of indigestion relief and treats from home cause me a considerable amount of discomfort!

First off, the Tums. I’ve had a nasty case of bedtime heartburn for the past month. No amount of home remedies, pillows or change to my diet seemed to help the situation. So Sean and I headed to the pharmacy to see if we could rustle up something that we recognized to be for heartburn relief. No such luck. We did however luck out with the pharmacist although for a limited time only. The lucky part was that he spoke English. The unlucky part was that when I had the remedy, which, even appeared to be herbal in my hot little hands I asked him if it was safe for me to use while pregnant. He said that he couldn’t sell it to me and that I had to go see my doctor for all medications during pregnancy. I could feel a “aw you gotta be F’n kidding me” rant coming on so we left immediately. When we got home I emailed our friend Alixe from Obihiro who just happened to be home in Edmonton for a visit and requested that she locate, buy and bring me the biggest bottle of fruity Tums she could get her hands on! Alixe is without a doubt my hero! She brought me the biggest bottle of Tums I’ve ever seen along with lots of treats, vitamins and a tube of Preparation H just in case!

Now for the Cadbury Mini Eggs and Bounty Bars. I got those in the Friday parcels from my sister. I love both and the problem with them not existing in Japan is that once they arrive in your apartment they’re pretty hard to leave alone no matter how well they are concealed behind the cupboard doors and on the topmost shelf. So I overindulged a bit which most likely didn’t help my nighttime heartburn in any way!

So here I am eating way too much chocolate during the day and taking the Tums at night. Basically making concrete in my guts. There’s likely no need that I describe what I went through much further except to say that this is a pooh story that didn’t result in any “poohing” over the course of several days. Thank goodness I was home when “things started to move along”. May you all learn from my mistakes!

April 14 Doc appointment

I had a non-stress test today. The baby was sooo non-stressed that the nurse had to come in twice in a 40 period to wake it up so that they could actually monitor the change in heart rate during activity. She had this neat little device that looked like a sweater shaver but there was a vibrating button where the shaver part would be. Anyhow she just found the babies head and gave it a little vibro action and the Kid woke up pretty darn fast! Which was followed up by an equally fast return to sleep. So she did it again and the Kid stayed awake long enough to kick and move a bit so the whole test wasn’t a total waste of time. In the end the doc said that the test results were perfect. This kid is growing in weight in textbook fashion. I’m hoping to go into labor before 9 lbs!

-baby weight: approx. 3599 grams (approx. 8 lbs)
-head is down
-internal exam showed that I am 2 cm dilated!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Meeting the Midwives and our April 7 doc appointment

Well that “class” that wasn’t on our official “class list” for the hospital wasn’t actually a class at all. It was an opportunity for us to meet with the midwives, ask any questions, squeeze in a doctor appointment, get the finances sorted out and get us organized for our “big” arrival at the hospital when the time comes.

As I had mentioned before I was a little cheesed about the lack of notice for this meeting. Jess was away in Kyoto and Tokyo so Sean and I asked our friend Eiko to join us. She did an awesome job translating and we are so grateful that she could come along. We showed up at 9:15 am and were there until 2 pm. This was by far the best meeting/appointment/class that we’ve attended at our hospital. It was very organized and no stone was left unturned.

First of all Eiko and I went in to meet with the lactation consultant. She was fan-friggin-tastic, super genki and knowledgeable. Our hospital has a “mother’s milk is best” policy and this woman is really committed to helping us through what can be the most frustrating part of breast-feeding…the first week. She prescribed more nipple exercises (I haven’t mentioned this before but ya, there’s nipple exercises) that involve pulling and pinching. Must toughen those babies up! Then we discussed our expectations of the hospital during the first hours of the baby’s life on the outside, rooming in, frequency of feedings, formula, sugar water and the different cultural expectations during this time between Japanese women and myself.

Then I had my usual doctor appointment, which I wasn’t expecting but was no biggie. The greatest news was that the baby finally decided to present itself in a head down position. Our doctor was so pleased and we were pleased for him. Honestly, Sean and I weren’t too concerned about it. We figured we had nothing to get excited about as long as the Kid is head down for Launch Day. It was really nice to have Sean there. He hasn’t been able to come to many appointments so he got to see the baby in the sonogram again. Of course the Kid is growing like a frickin’ weed so we mentioned that Sean was nearly 10 lbs at birth and I think Pat weighed a little over 100 lbs before she got pregnant. Nervous laughs all around with that one! So here are the details…

Apr 7
-baby weight: approx. 3214 grams (approx. 7 lbs.)
-head is down
-baby packing on weight
-my last blood test!
-internal exam showed that I am 1.5 cm dilated
-cervix is softening

Yes, that’s right, 1.5 cm dilated and sporting a softening cervix! My immediate thought when the doctor told me this was “guess I should stop riding my bike!” This was followed by the news that my doctor was leaving for a diving trip to Malaysia on April 15 and returning on April 23. Oh joy! I’ve taken that flight from Hokkaido to Malaysia. It’s a good 12 hours away but he did promise me he’d come back if I went into labor. Ok, well, I’ll try to hang on!

So the next segment of our visit was dedicated to the full on tour of the hospital. Right from the front door to the delivery room. We were given a tour of the rooms, which range in price from free for 4 moms to a room to about $80 a day for a private room with shower, toilet, washer dryer and enough beds for the entire family. We’ve decided on a private room with just 1 bed, TV, fridge, DVD player and phone but without a washroom or washer and dryer (they’re right across the hall). The cost is about $30 a day but it’s totally worth it considering I’ll be there for 5-6 nights. Yech! And there’s the whole staring thing. Being the only “gaijin” or foreigners in our hospital we draw a lot of attention to ourselves. I really don’t want that kind of attention while I’m trying to get a screaming infant to latch!

Then we were shown upstairs to the cafeteria where we finally got to sit down, have some juice and then we had a meeting with another midwife. She was also wonderful and Sean and her took a shine to each other instantly. When she got up to get us more juice she made a friendly gesture towards Sean by putting both of her hands on his shoulders. It was the first time a Japanese person ever touched him. He was very pleased! Now down to business. We discussed exactly what kind of stuff the hospital would be supplying…toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, underwear, nightgown, a limited supply of baby and nursing care stuff. Then we went over the list of things we have to bring…my own blanket for me (weird, I know), clothing for me and the babe, the balance of the baby care and nursing stuff etc. We got to chose cloth over disposable diapers for the baby during our stay in the hospital which was really nice I think. We went over when to call the hospital, what number to call, how to time the contractions, emergency procedures, the details of the meeting with the lactation consultant, visiting hours, how soon I can possibly manage to get my ass out of the hospital (no less than 5 nights, damn!) more questions and lastly the finances. The cost of the delivery and care over my 7-day stay without private room is 297000 yen. That’s about $3000 Canuck bucks. The good news is we get a refund from Japan’s national health insurance plan for 300000 yen about 4 to 8 weeks after the baby is born. So we pretty much just end up paying for the private room and the doctor’s visits up until the birth (a little less than $500 CDN). So it’s a pretty good deal since we get 24 hour nursing care and a lactaction consultant for the first 7 days and 6 nights of the baby’s life on the outside.

By the end of this marathon hospital visit the 3 of us were feeling pretty pooped and totally starving. So we made our way to a sushi restaurant and Sean, Eiko and myself ate ourselves into near oblivion!

Later that night when I had got myself all snug in bed I had an overwhelming sense of being “ready”. All of our questions were answered, we had seen the entire hospital, the staff are awesome and both sides know the expectations of the other. Now we just wait out these last few weeks. Wow. What a day.

Baby shower!

Sara and Bret
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
As if getting 3 parcels stuffed full of all kinds of cute baby and mommy and daddy treats wasn’t exciting enough for one day…Bret and Sara organized a wonderful baby shower for us in the evening as well! Apparently this had been in the works for quite some time and I was totally surprised! I LOVE surprises but sadly I usually figure them out before I get them. I don’t know why it’s just one of my many skills! This was a surprise, pretty much right up until we got to their place (which is four floors above us).

So we head upstairs under the excuse that we’re going over for “cake”. We always eat yummy things at Bret and Sara’s so that wasn’t too suspicious. I really only knew something was going on when Sean peeled out of the way so I could walk into the living room/kitchen first. Lights off and everyone yells “surprise”! There was a heck of a lot more than cake in that place. So many of our friends (including the guys!) and a few new faces.

We started off the evening with lots of great food, which included a very adorable Domo cake that Alixe made and a to-die-for cheese cake made by Eiko. Then lots of great presents and games and tons of socializing. Sara, Bret and Erin Poop did an awesome job putting the evening together and I even got to stay up until 12:30! Way, way, way past my bedtime these days!

Many thanks to Bret, Sara, Erin P. and everyone that came. We had such an awesome time and really appreciate all the gifts and goodies that came along with the evening.

Click here to access my Flickr Bigger in Japan photo pool and to see more photo's of the baby shower.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Friday parcels

The Friday parcels
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
Well, Sean and I had a great time opening the parcels from my mom and sister on Friday evening. Once again I'm amazed by how much stuff the two of them can fit into a box or bubble pack! It’s quite safe to say that we have enough baby clothes to get us through the first 3 months of our childs life and we definitely have a solid head start for the 3 months following as well. I can’t get over how absolutely cute everything is! We’re definitely going to have a very well dressed kid! Here’s a list of the goodies that arrived from Ottawa this past Friday…

-10 receiving blankets
-4 wash cloths
-1 bath towel
-5 pairs of socks
-the monkey sweater!
-bunting vest
-monkey blanket
-stuffed doggie

Clothes for 1 month
-3 onsies
-5 sleepers (one which came with a matching hat and sweater)

Clothes for 3 months
-3 onsies
-2 sleepers

Clothes for 3-6 months
-4 onsies
-1 sleeper

Amongst the baby treats there were treats for us as well. Including lots of Easter treats, a good book for my 6 night painfully mandatory hospital stay and enough pit stick to last me until I return to Canada!

Thanks again to the best mom and big sister a girl could ever hope to have! Sean, myself and the wee nipper are very grateful to be so well taken care of by the two of you. Love and kisses from the 3 of us!

Friday, April 14, 2006

The BEST mom and big sis in the whole world!

Jose and Mom
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
My mom and sister have simply outdone themselves when it comes to spoiling their next grandchild/niece or nephew on the way. There has been a steady stream of parcels of all sorts of goodies from Ottawa to Obihiro for the last 5 months. Today I received 3 parcels! One for me, one for Baby O’Flanagan and one for Parents & Baby O’Flanagan! I opened the one addressed to me as I was pretty sure there would be Bounty bars amongst its contents. Indeed there were! Yippee for me! But there was also the cutest monkey sweater with matching socks that you could ever imagine. Pictures will SO be following. As a matter of fact I’m saving the other two parcels until Sean gets home in 1 hour and 35 minutes. He can’t miss out on this. Then I’m going to photograph everything and post it just so you all can see how amazing my mom and big sis are!

Thanks so much to you both. You’ve done a very good job of making me feel like the Pacific is a lot smaller than it actually is and I love you immensely for it!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

“This is going to hurt a lot” Our second Prenatal class

Our second Prenatal class was devoted to the explaination of “Sofurorogi” This is an English word made up by some Japanese health care professionals to describe the breathing and relaxation techniques used by our hospital to get the laboring mom thru the pain of labor without medication. Apparently this is based on natural birthing methods with origins in Spain and France. The basic breakdown of the word is “soft” and “ology” which is roughly translated into a “calm birth”. See how that works?!

Sean, Jess and I showed up late for the class (once again cause we were on time). Sean was the only dad in attendance but my doc said it was a good idea for Sean to be there since he would have attended that sort of class in Canada. It was nice of him to take that into consideration. We watched another video of a woman giving birth but the bulk of this class was devoted to meditation and relaxation techniques. Once again the room was unbearably hot. After we got past the deep breathing portion some of the moms started to drop off to sleep. At least we know the technique works! We went thru the proper techniques for breathing during contractions and how to make adjustments to keep yourself comfortable. The thing that stands out the most in my memory is that the delivery nurse doing the presentation said on more than one occasion “this is going to hurt a lot” and that we basically needed to find our way through the pain using whatever breathing and relaxation worked for us. The reason this stuck out so much for all 3 of us was that she was so uncharacteristically Japanese and up front about the pain. It’s not very common for Japanese folks to be honest about feelings. Perhaps this is another aspect of that closeness and honesty between women folk in this culture. After the breathing instruction we were treated to a tour of the LDR (labor/delivery/recovery) room. All of us mom’s to be got to try out the very cool bed/chair that has MANY buttons and removeable and adjustable parts that basically turn it into a rocket ship for giving birth!

All in all it was a basic but pretty informative class and it was really great to see a bit more of the hospital. Apparently we get another tour of the place a little later on so we’re looking forward to what that reveals as well!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

boobs vs. belly…The race for Greatness

Well here we are in the last month before Launch Day. The month when the Kid makes it’s best effort to get nice and fat! At my last doc visit the Kid gained about 500 grams but I didn’t gain anything so it’s all going to the baby. Here’s hoping it’s just getting longer and not growing a “gargantuan head”!

In other growing news…the other day I looked down at my chest and thought to myself, “hmmm, my boobs aren’t looking that big anymore”. Silly girl. They’re still big. It’s just the bigger belly slowly and consistently expanding below them that is causing the deception! Sean swears he can see a difference almost everyday. He did a belly circumference measurement just once, much to my dismay. I can feel my belly button stretching big enough to house a bar of soap so I don’t really need a figure in centimeters to back that up!

And to Jose…I know, I know…more photos of your baby sister all huge and pregnant are on the way soon!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Snow, sleeplessness, stomachache, Tetris, grapefruit juice, flames and nesting

Well it’s currently 5:05 am, -0.5 C, snowing like a mother scratcher and I’m wide awake. I’ve been up for a while. Possibly 2 hours. I try not to check. It just makes it worse. Sean and I have fairly offset sleeping schedules which, we’re thinking will come in handy once the Kid is born. I go to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 pm (the later is a real stretch for me right now) and I get up at around 6 am. Sean comes to bed sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 am and gets up no earlier than 8:15 am. Lately it seems that I don’t really actually need the sleep I get between 3 and 6 am. Which is a reversal from my pre-pregnancy life. Those used to be my most important sleeping hours. Also, if Sean engages me in any sort of conversation beyond “pee?” than I can’t get back to sleep after he comes to bed no matter what time it is.

Today I woke up when Sean came to bed and realized I had a stomachache. We went out for ramen last night since we thought spring was on it’s way. We wanted to treat ourselves to another of Misuzu’s famous Kodowari Miso ramen soup while the weather is still cold enough that you need warming up by the time you walk to the restaurant. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I'm all about the liquids these days but the noodles are soooo good at this place so I ate more than I could and ended up a little over stuffed a little too close to bed time. Well the stomachache went away after a few rounds of Tetris on the Game Boy (for those of you that have never been to our place you should know that our Game Boy takes up permanent residence in our washroom). Now I’m into the grapefruit juice.

Hmmm, there’s lot’s of fire trucks heading this way that are cutting their sirens somewhere’s near here. Last time that happened we had a fire in the basement of our building…I’m gonna go check it out…

…well there’s a fire on the next block down. I went up on the 8th floor and from what I can see it’s the porn video shop. There’s always apartments connected to those sorts of establishments so it’s not as good as it sounds. It’s 6:06 am. What an eventful hour. I’m gonna crawl back into bed with Sean for a while.

It’s now 11:11 am, still snowing and -1.5 C. The fire is out and I’m pooped. It turns out the fire was in the building next to the porn shop. It's totally gutted. I watched the firemen’s flashlights swirling around inside the darkened apartments once they got the flames out. There was lots of yelling and they were popping out windows to let the smoke out and fresh air in. I hope nobody was hurt. This is a pretty old neighborhood and if anyone was living in the building they likely would have been older folks.

Despite my tiredness I am being driven to nest. So nest I must.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

It’s all about the liquids

Nothing is wasted on me more than the tabehodai (all-you-can-eat restaurant) at this point. For the last couple of weeks the baby has been snuggled with it’s head rammed tightly under my ribs to the right of my sternum. This makes me feel like I have a ball joint on the top of my belly and leaves about a tablespoons worth of room for my stomach. If I eat two halves of a sandwich right now I need Sean to help me get up (our table is J-style so we eat dinner sitting on the floor). So I’ve found myself thinking more about soups and every manner of beverage. Fruit and yoghurt shakes are the big deal for me right now. This is definitely the land of yummy soups so there’s lots of places to eat good ramen or udon and I’m always up for attempting a new soup recipe at home. The down side to all of this is that I can’t be too far away from a bathroom for longer than an hour. Whenever we go out I have to stop and think about our route and destination and map out the toilets along the way. This is always complicated by the “nasty washroom stink syndrome” that plagues this country. There’s something about the smell of many Japanese toilets that can turn your focus away from your daily constitutional faster than you can say “hai”. Heaven forbid you should find yourself in a stinky washroom that happens to house only “squatty toilets” cause then you have to get CLOSER to the stink to get your business over with. Click here for a squatty tutorial. Alright this has turned into a poop story, time to cut it short.