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Day 2

Last night was a toughie.  I had a good stretch from about 7pm until 9pm and I should have had the smarts to lay down during it but I didn’t.  By 9:15 the cramps/contractions were getting intense again and between my roommates’ crying babies and the pain I didn’t get to sleep until 3:30am.  I managed to sleep on and off until 6:30am but by that point I was happy to get anything.

My pain wasn’t in vain, though, as the OB told me the next morning that I had gotten to 4cm and wouldn’t have to do the foley balloon thingie.  Straight to IV fluids for me, hurray (is that something you’re supposed to hurray?  Who knows).  So from 9am until 3:30pm I was on a drip in the laboring room (right beside the delivery room, I could hear everything, great).  J and his mom came around 9:30 and took turns sitting in the room with me.  The AM was pretty easy, it wasn’t until the afternoon that it got bad.  By the time 4pm came around I was crawling up the walls from the pain and sitting in that room all day.  J’s mom and J were kind enough to massage my lower back for a good part of the afternoon, bless them.

Sadly my 6 hours didn’t open me up any more but I did “ripen” so to speak so the doctor said we’re doing good.  We’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow, 8:30 cervical check and then off to the dungeons for more drugs.  I just want this baby OUT.  I’m so tired!  I’m happy to report that I was able to get into a single room, though.  It’s really hard to be here by myself at night (I’m going to make Jun stay with me at some point, tonight I need sleep) so it’s nice to have my own space to collect myself and not have to worry about anyone else.  Just my luck with this hospital, the one I had been going to was single rooms only.

I did get in a nap once they left after 6pm.  About a half hour ago they came in to do an NST, baby is fine as he seemed content to keep me up all last night with somersaults (thank you jerk baby).  Fingers crossed that I can get to sleep and will wake up with some progress.  Hopefully we’ll have a baby tomorrow!  I don’t know what to expect beyond two days of IV drugs so tomorrow will be another adventure!

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What they failed to tell me

At the clinic that I’ve been visiting for 40 weeks.. is that if I go too far over they’ll kick me out on the street.  I waltzed in for a check-up at 40+5 (I have to go every 2 days after my EDD) and was still at a measly 2cm.  In comes the 180 where my OB informs me that I’ll be transferred to a different hospital because they don’t do inductions.  The rationale is that he’s the only doctor at the clinic and while he can perform caesareans in a pinch he doesn’t like to do higher risk deliveries if he can help it, including inductions.  Cue panic, feelings, and me going around the corner to the bakery and eating all the carbs.  I get what he means but a little warning would have been nice!

So this morning J and I take our paperwork and go to the new hospital.  Which is HUGE.  The one I went to is small (one doctor and all) and I’m in and out pretty quick, there isn’t even a baby born there every day.  So there was definitely some “culture” shock at this hospital.  I even had to do my own blood pressure!  We waited about 2 hours before I’m called in to talk to a university student about my background info.  After another 20 minutes or so one of the doctors calls me in and we do an ultrasound and he informs me that they’d like me to check-in to the hospital TODAY.  TODAY, people.  I could have probably fought it but didn’t seem to be much point seeing as I had all my stuff in the car anyway and I probably just would have been freaking out for the rest of the day.

The doctor is nice, a lot warmer than the OB I’ve been seeing.  He’s also very pretty and lived in Tennessee when he was 4 or something.  Unrelated but it’s nice to feel a connection with a doctor, I didn’t really have one with my OB.

So anyway we went in immediately (around 11:30am) to do what I imagine is this: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminaria_stick and it did not feel nice.  So I break out in a panic–sweating and crying with what can only be a combination of the pain and the sheer WHAT IS HAPPENING feelings that being unexpectedly checked into a new hospital for a surprise induction is sure to give any person.

Once that was done I laid down on a couch outside because I couldn’t deal but thankfully we were moved to the laboring room pretty quickly.  Not that I was laboring or anything, they just wanted to do an NST and probably not traumatize people with a hyperventilating foreigner in the lobby.

Bad news of today is that since it was so sudden I wasn’t able to get a private room so I’m in a room for 4 people.  There’s 2 other ladies here with their babies, though they both check out tomorrow.  I hope I can get a private room eventually, I have 6 days post-natal here at this hospital and tip toeing around other people sounds lame.  Also bad news is that the doctor failed to mention how much this seaweed stick HURTS.  I can’t even use the bathroom without wanting to pass out.  Thanks, guy.

Hospital food isn’t terrible at least (but not great either).  Two doctors came to check on me before they go home for the day and I was sadly informed that this pain is normal and there’s not much I can do but suck it up (he didn’t say that last part but I’m assuming this is he case).  J (who went home around 3 to get some paperwork) and his parents came by around 6:30 to see me but I couldn’t talk much because of the pain.  Since we were unexpectedly booted from my previous clinic I didn’t have some of the aftercare items prepared (pads, etc, they sell them in a set at the clinic but not here at this hospital) so J’s mom picked that up for me (and by picked it up I called the old clinic and asked them to give me one because they suck and threw me out like yesterday’s garbage.  Nope not bitter at all.).  She also brought me some bread from my favorite bakery, bless her.  They wouldn’t let J’s dad back in the room so I walked out to say hi but it was short lived because standing feels like terribleness.

So now I’m on my own because visiting hours are only until 7pm (unless I go into labor, obviously).  Tomorrow I’ll get an IV of what I imagine to be pitocin.  They also want to do the foley balloon but after this seaweed crap I think I’m going to opt out unless they can guarantee that putting it in won’t hurt as bad as this thing.  Please send me all your positive vibes, thoughts, and prayers as I start on this journey!  There’s been a lot of surprise in the past 24 hours but as long as I get a healthy baby out of it, all will be worth it.

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Being pregnant in Japan

So, we’re making quite the jump.  As of my last update I was 14 weeks pregnant, that feels so long ago!  Now I’m 2 days out of being 40 weeks and slowly losing my sanity on maternity leave.  I’ve been pretty lucky as I haven’t had an exciting pregnancy.

Around 20ish weeks my doctor said my cervix was a little (read: barely) short and gave me some nasty medicine (utemerin) that gave me the shakes, heart palpatations, and generally made me feel like I was high.  I took it for a week and a half but after blacking out J and I decided that the positives didn’t outweigh the risks.  I haven’t had any issues aside from that, one of my schools was very proactive and moved the English classroom temporarily to the 1st floor so I wouldn’t have to be on my feet too much.  But that school had a female principal and head teacher.  My base school really didn’t seem concerned but I chalk that up to the male administration and the fact that the female teachers I work with haven’t had babies yet (though they did let me stay in the staff room during the flu outbreak in Jan/Feb).

Being pregnant in Japan has been a pretty pleasant experience.  I think the only thing that has really been annoying is people treating me like I have a disease–I’m not broken, people, just pregnant!  I’m especially tired of the question “omg you’re still driving?!”  So. Weird.  That and the weight.  Here the pregnants are only expected to gain 10kg (22lbs), HAH.  As of last week I’m at 15kg (33lbs), but the nurses have been so agitating about it since January.  One even suggested I go on a diet, the hell?  My doctor has only mentioned it once but I’ve just let it go in one ear and out the other.  I know I’ve eating a lot of junk but I’m also not insane enough to hold myself to Japanese weight standards.

Thankfully my doctor is pretty straight forward and level headed.  I’ve gotten the sense that a lot of the nurses ideals are based more in anecdotes than study.  Last week I went to an onsen and the nurse almost peed her pants when I asked the doctor if there was any problem going to one at 39 weeks (and 2cm dilated).  A lot of the nurses there annoy me, especially the one at the desk whose level of condescending and unfriendliness makes me wonder if she’s ever had a baby herself.  Alas, that is what you have to deal with when you only have one clinic in the entire city.  Everyone in town knows the score but it’s either that or travel out of city.  And though that they annoy me I have every confidence in them when it comes to my baby so it’s not enough to make me change.  I imagine I’d be annoyed by little things wherever I go, anyway, though.

Hands down the best part of being pregnant here is the cost of FREE dollars.  Once my EDD was confirmed at 12 weeks I could go to the town hall to get a booklet of tickets (I had spent maybe $150 at that point for appointments at 6, 8, 10, and 12).  The tickets cover the cost of my appointments, I think there were 16?  I’ve had a couple extra appointments because of my cervix and anemia so I ended up running out last week but Wednesday will be the first time I’ll have to pay since the end of September.  Even then it’s only 6500Y ($65) for a 20 minute fetal heart check (NST), ultrasound, and a cervical check.  I’ve had an ultrasound every single time, I think I’m up to 18 pictures now!  Unfortunately this little guy has had zero interest in showing us his face so you can’t gather much from them except for the fact that he’s, in fact, a boy.

Plus we’ll get 420000Y ($4200) from the country/city for giving birth so we’ll only be paying about $800 out of pocket.  Compared to the US that’s probably expensive but it’s a 5 day stay so I feel like I’m getting a deal!  The next city over is apparently cheaper and you end up getting money back but that goes back to not having many options (and the fact that it’d be like a 45 minute drive to that hospital).  We’ll also get $200 in congratulatory money from the city so I’m pretty happy about it all!  The 5 day stay is probably going to be colossally boring but as a first time momma I’m looking forward to having the time to recuperate and breast feeding support.

We decided to name little man Aiden.  It’s not perfect but I like it!  I actually wanted to go with a different name but when I narrowed it down to two boy names I left the final decision to J.  Girls names were SO easy to come up with, boys names that a) sound nearly identical in both Japanese and English and b) aren’t outdated or too weird on either side are few and far between.  He’ll be getting my grandaddy’s middle name on the US side, too.  He appears to be a small fry, he was measuring 2700 grams last week, I think my doctor is surprised because he, like most people, assume that since Americans are big that our babies will be, too.  J was born at 2400g and I was 2300g 3 weeks early so he’s already beating us.  The doctor thinks the size of his man bits is hilarious, though, and is sure that’s what he’s getting from the American side.  Har har.

I think that’s the gist of it.  The real test (of motherhood and gaijinhood both) begins when Aiden decides to grace us with his presence.  Yesterday I washed both of our cars and took a tumble outside (didn’t land on my stomach but I did squish my bump on my leg going down), I was kind of hoping that would inspire an exit strategy but no such luck.  Once I pass 40 weeks I have to go every 2 days which sounds massively annoying, please come out soon (but be gentle).

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Keeping mum

Aaaaah, finally.  I haven’t updated because there was only one thing I wanted to write about but couldn’t. I’m sure by now my family have given up on this blog because of my sporadic updates but just in case I didn’t want to out myself.

As of today I’m 14 weeks pregnant!  I found out on August 9th, I hadn’t expected anything since it was our first month trying but I was going to a birthday party with the intention to drink so “just in case”.. and lo and behold a faint second line!  Two days later I went to the clinic (our ONLY clinic in the city, thanks for the choices rural Japan) to get it confirmed.  I assumed they were going to do a blood test like back home but they gave me a pee test (ok?) and a transvaginal ultrasound.  There was nothing to see because I was only about 2 weeks after when I probably conceived but they could confirm via pee, anyway.  It ended up being an overpriced pee test (6000 yen, about $60) but they told me to come back in two weeks.

As it turns out, most clinics in Japan do visits every 2 weeks in the first trimester so I went back at 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks, too.  Each time I had a transvaginal ultrasound and was able to see the transformation from a tiny uncertain ball in a small sac (at 6 weeks) to an actual human baby (at 12 weeks).  For the rest of the second trimester I’ll be going once ever 4 weeks, my next visit is 10/30.

They starting using the doppler on my 12 week visit, lucky me it’s apparently a new machine so two representatives from the company and about 6 nurses were loaded into the room watching him do it (at least that’s what I tell myself, for all I know they just wanted to know if the foreign carpet matches the drapes).  I got to hear the heartbeat for the first time (until then I had only seen the on screen flicker at 8 and 10 weeks) and they even switched to 3D for a second (to show him how to use it, technically), which was kind of frightening.  Baby was wriggly and they even played the heartbeat again when J got in a few minutes later.

J has been great and coming with me to all the appointments, something I don’t think the clinic is used to.  *smooshy feelings*  Especially helpful seeing as I’ve never had a reason to learn words related to pregnancy or the female body, he’s pretty good at being the bridge as he has a handle on my level of comprehension.  Although some of the words are over even his head which is pretty funny to watch.  I really need to get on the study train that but I can’t lie, I’ve just been pretty much winging it so far as I’ve been pretty exhausted ALL THE TIIIIIME.  I don’t know how people who already have little people do it, all I want to do is sleep and eat.  Hats off to you people!

Anyway, this is all pretty exciting.  I just told my schools, one is less happy than the other but I can’t blame them.  My part time maternity leave will pretty much take me to the end of the contract leaving them in a weird place where it’s kind of hard to replace someone like me temporarily.

More than anything I’m thankful that it happened so quickly.  I have plenty of friends who have taken over a year to conceive, friends on IVF, people who have experienced miscarriages and chemical pregnancies so I just thank my lucky stars!  Fingers crossed for an uneventful pregnancy for us!

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Car shopping (aaaaaaah)

My current car is on its last wheels (nearly literally) so now begins the search for a new (or used) car. This would be fine and good if I was back home and living with J but as I am in Japan and living with his parents this becomes a family conversation and the family wants.. a van.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against vans. I’m just not good with big cars. Especially cars that attach a funnel directly to my wallet and bleed, bleed, bleed until it’s dry. It would be one thing back home but I drive about 40km (25mi) to work and with gasoline where it is ($6.05/gallon; around 160Y/L) this makes me sad. Granted, any car I’d buy would be about the same (or maybe better) than my current ride in terms of consumption but I was really hoping to save some money in the gas department. Plus in Japan you have to pay car taxes every year and if I had gotten a kei (light, 660CC) car I would save $300/year on taxes in addition to the gas savings.

It all just came up yesterday so we’ll see where it goes. I just really don’t want to be forced to buy a car that I don’t want to drive, thinking about it just makes me frustrated since I’ll be the one that will have to pay for inspections (about $1000 every two years) and gas, etc. But I know the future and being able to ride with everyone in one car and blah, blah, blah.

I’ve spent the morning writing up a list of 7 seaters and their mileage/cost and am wondering if I’d be able to get away with a SUV like Nissan’s X-Trail. The back seems a little more narrow than a van but J’s parents are small people, right?

Ah, just yesterday I had dreams of a Honda Fit and it’s 36km/liter (about 80mi/gallon) in my head. We have until October/November to think about it anyway (that’s when my current car is due for inspection which I’m not going to do) but fingers crossed that we can come to a decision that’s acceptable for all involved.

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Looooong time no post.

I am so, so bad at this blogging thing.  Or just at the “keeping up at doing anything” thing.  It’s been well over two years since any “regular posting”, whoops.

In two years time I’ve at least been able to legitimately become an inakawife, at least. Nuptials were had, a ridiculous outpouring of money was seen.  Japan, I applaud the greedy bastards that set up the construction, automobile, and wedding businesses.  Quite the racket and no one complains because they don’t know any better.  I was lucky in the sense that J’s parents were willing to pay for the wedding because a) it’s not optional in the rural social la-dee-da of where I am to NOT have a wedding and b) they didn’t have to give me money as they would a Japanese girl (about 10k USD).  There was about 130 people there, from my family only my parents (who managed not to kill each other) and my sister as it would have been far be too overwhelming to translate and plan for more people coming.  I was at the peak of exhaustion by my wedding day.  J needs to learn some English ASAP.

Things are things, I still get along wonderfully with J’s parents but I no longer use the words “amazing” to refer to J himself, usually more along the lines of “idiot” but I guess that’s how it goes.  We’re gonna go home this Christmas as it’ll probably be the last chance without hypothetical children.  It’s been almost a year since I last went back and I am on a hot streak of Japan rage right now!

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Getting married in Japan (as an American)

We’re officially married!  We submitted our paperwork today after driving my sister and parents back to the airport (sadface).  It wasn’t a terrible process but it was quite annoying in that it cost me about $300.

If you’re lucky enough to be a Japanese person marrying another Japanese person you only need the marriage registration papers (婚姻届) and a copy of your fiance’s family register (戸籍謄本) but foreigners require a bit of extra work.

All foreigners, regardless of country, are required to get an affidavit confirming that they aren’t hiding secret spouses overseas.  For me that meant a trip to the US embassy in Tokyo because up here it’s either Tokyo or Sapporo. (Thanks, guys, for the convenience.)  After waiting about 30 minutes to go through security I raised my right hand and swore not to have husbands/wives elsewhere in the world.  Then I went to see Sky Tree and eat some burger king before taking the bullet train home because why waste a trip?

The affidavit is only good for 3 months from the date it’s marked so that’s something to keep in mind.  You also need to translate it but you can do that yourself.

Once I had those forms, we filled out the Japanese paperwork (somewhat confusing, we left some parts blank and asked for clarification at town hall) and had J’s parents stamp as the official witnesses (they didn’t have to come with us, though) before going to town hall.  Aside from the “ermagherd foreigner” panic in the office everything went through after about 30 minutes of confirming everything a dozen times.  Since we went on April 1st (first day of the public official work year) the people at the front were new and very confused, it’d probably have gone a little faster, otherwise.

So as a recap here’s what you need (also listed on the US Embassy website http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7114a.html):

  • Marriage registration application (婚姻届)
  • Japanese fiance’s official family registry (戸籍謄本)
  • Affidavit (http://photos.state.gov/libraries/japan/39181/pdfs/wwwf7114_001.pdf)
    • You can schedule an appointment for notarial services at one of the embassies: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-appointments.html
  • Affidavit Translation (included in the above file)
  • Passport
  • Resident Card
  • Fiance’s hanko on hand (just in case you have to cross something out and fix it)

As it says on the US Embassy website some places may require a copy and translation of the foreigner’s birth certificate, I was never asked for mine.  I’d definitely recommend calling up the local town/city office that you plan to submit your papers at and confirm what they’ll need from you to ensure no surprises (especially if you’re shooting for a specific day).  Can’t hurt to have them just in case, though.

So there you have it, very exciting.  Right now I’m working on the paperwork to change my visa over to “Spouse of a Japanese National” which is even MORE fun.  But that’s a longer, angrier story for another day.