Months and Months

Hmm, has been a while.  Lots of things to blog about, no real energy or time to do it.  Plus I think when you are pregnant, it kind of takes over your life a little bit, and I didn’t really want to become someone who made my blog into a pregnancy blog.  But you know, that’s kind of how I started blogging.  I had quit my job while expecting H, and wanted to keep a kind of diary.  So rather than avoid blogging, I have decided to blog away about whatever it is I am going through at the time, and right now, it happens to be pregnancy.

The temperature has well and truly risen here on the Kanto plain and as I was in the U.K. last year, I am really overwhelmed this time!  I know it’s a cliche, but it really is the humidity as opposed to the heat.  It’s claustrophobic, like trying to breathe in gloop as opposed to air.  If the air were even a little more dry it would be heavenly!  Last weekend, something AMAZING happened.  The humidity dropped and it was actually chilly enough for me to take hoodies in the car for the children.  I felt the cold air on my bare arms and was loving it.  It lasted for about three days, and during that time, we spent loads of time outside actually enjoying the fresh AIR instead of the gloop.  I have to say that it bothers the children less than me of course, and the extra 10 kilogramme bump I’m carrying is adding to the discomfort I’m feeling this year.

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At the beginning of July, we took a family holiday to Guam in the Mariana Islands.  It’s cheaper than visiting anywhere domestically, so it’s our second trip.  I’m not really a beach snob, but I DO like to see what’s on the ocean floor when I’m swimming, so it was lovely going in the nice clear waters and seeing the fish swimming around our feet and the beautiful white coral sand.  It was hot, but the heat was bearable because of the water, and also because it did cool down at times.  We ended up staying self-catering in the middle of the island, and decided at the last minute to hire a car for the entire week.  It was an expense that I’m really glad we decided to go for, as we used the car every single day.  Driving on the other side of the road was a new experience for the both of us, but I was the driver more often than not, because my navigational skills are truly awful.  We got lost sooooo many times.  We spent most of our time on the beach (where my four and five year old snorkelled – so proud!), and in the pool.  We went shopping a few times, as Guam is a U.S. territory it’s really great to be able to buy good stuff like nice hair products, meds., and usually clothes in my size.  I bought a couple of tops this time, and was really happy to get a post-preggy top that actually fits me a size S…that would NEVER happen in Japan, ha ha!  The self-catering route was really a big money saver, but I was a bit sad that there was no oven, only a microwave, toaster and two hobs.  It made eating healthier a little difficult, especially as I’m rubbish at microwave cooking.  I know you can technically cook everything in the microwave that you can in the oven, but I don’t really have the know how. In spite of that, it was still nice, and we only ate out a couple of times.

It was really nice to get back home too.  Not so much the heat, but I always find it nice coming home, however long I’ve been away.  MIL and SIL took care of the cats while we were away, so we didn’t have to put them in a pet hotel.  I’m sure they were happier here with space to roam and in their own environment.  They certainly didn’t seem to be angry with us for going away and leaving them.  They probably enjoyed the break!

Last weekend, I went for my second midwife check of this pregnancy.  There are three in total.  They usually slate me for my weight gain, which I try to ignore, but which still bugs the hell out of me, sadly, as they count BMI during pregnancy too.  I have gained 10 kilos so far out of the 12-13 they recommended and she told me that she would have hoped for less than this by this stage.  Had she bothered to look at my past notes (like my doctor does), she would have seen that I rarely gain much in the last month or so.  So that started me off on the wrong foot really.  It didn’t help that I was in the process of a fasting blood sugar test and hadn’t eaten since the previous evening and was starrrrrrrrrrrving!

Then it was time for going through the birth plan.  This is relatively new for them.  They wrote out a questionnaire for us to fill out.  It had taken Y and I at least an hour to do it because of the translation difficulties, and because of him wanting to fill it out the Japanese way (write what he thinks they want to hear) and me wanting to fill it out my way (write what I genuinely think).  It wasn’t really a Birth Plan by definition, but I thought it a good step.  It contained questions such as;

How are you feeling about your pregnancy?

What are you worried about?

What kind of atmosphere would you like in the LDR?

Is there anything that happened in previous births that you don’t want this time?

Do you plan to breastfeed? etc.

So I went through that with the midwife and later Y described it as “a Birth Plan questionnaire where they ask you what you want and then tell you you can’t have any of it.” which was pretty much on the money.  We gave them the birth plan that I drew up for when I was having L and they told me that they wouldn’t consider any birthing position except for semi-reclining.  “We are not a freestyle hospital,” she said.  Now I’m almost sure that last time they said that as long as it was safe on the bed, that they would be ok with it.  That I could give birth leaning forward on a bean bag on the bed if I wanted to.  When the time of L’s birth came, I finished up giving birth lying down anyway, because that’s what I felt like at the time.  This time, I really think it would be better on my knees or hands and knees to reduce the risk of tearing and because it apparently helps with the PGP that I’ve been having.  So this got me in a bit of a state.  I managed to hold it together during the meeting, then went off and had a sob in the corner of the playroom after that.  They had said that they would ask the head midwife, so it wasn’t a definite no, but I just got fed up with them and their inflexibility.  Their attitude especially being that the safety and ease for the doctors is paramount.  They spout about it “being best for the baby”, but really they are trying to get you to do it their way.  They make you wear snap crotch pants, have an I.V. drip “just in case”, and have a sheet with a hole in the middle of it to deliver your baby out of.  All the memories of past births came flooding back.  The doctor laughing at some point when I said it didn’t feel right, the midwife telling me to open my eyes, them saying making too much noise isn’t good for the baby.  Now it goes without saying that I care about the safety and well-being of my baby, but to say I didn’t care less how much it hurt me and doing it in the most painful way to me, would be a foolish lie.  I’m the one giving birth, not the bloody doctors.  And for me, semi reclining (and this is more like 45 degrees) is like trying to poo lying down.  Surely kneeling or squatting is the easiest way all round?  But no, because it’s not the norm…

So for the whole weekend, I was depressed.  Not like blue or a bit under the weather, but depressed.  I woke up crying, not looking forward to anything, not being able to do anything, not wanting to eat.  I didn’t realise that what they had said had affected me that much.  After doing some research and having some really nice chats with the foreign wives community (many of whom have laboured in midwife clinics and had positive birth experiences), I decided that if possible, I would like to change hospitals.  The reason I’ve gone with the same hospital is more like a “better the devil you know” reason.  In retrospect, I kind of wish I’d gone for a home birth, but I don’t think that would have been possible.  Plus that only really works if you have someone at home to look after you for at least the first week, and I don’t.  I really need those six days in hospital, if only just to have my meals cooked for me and no housework to pull at my sleeves.

I found a hospital that states freestyle birth is fine (even putting kneeling or on all fours on that list) .  It looks kind of ok, but is still run by male doctors and looks very similar to my current hospital.  So it’s still an option.  Then there is the Red Cross hospital.  For me that looks better, as it’s primarily run by midwives and has a tatami mat room (japanese style matting) as well as a normal room with a bed.  Y spoke to one of the midwives and thought it not so great because it doesn’t have private rooms for afterwards, and because the hospital is older.  The midwife told him that not many mothers use the tatami room, so he was concerned that they wouldn’t be experienced enough to deal with a more freestyle kind of birth.  In my opinion though, midwives tend to care more about the mother and would be up for this kind of birth.  As for experience, I’m no midwife, but I’m fairly sure midwives would be ok to deliver babies in different positions to the norm.  The hospital policy is as follows:

Self-management such as regular pregnancy checks is the first step to self-leading delivery. In the
outpatient department, doctors and midwives attend to mothers and cooperate as a team while
performing regular health checks. The “Birth plan” system has been introduced recently. Its main
purpose is to help mothers both understand the risks during delivery and accomplish a self-leading and
satisfying childbirth.
Our delivery rooms are furnished with comfortable spaces to ensure home-like delivery for the family
to celebrate the first moments of birth together. The advice and care of doctors and midwives are
always available. “Kangaroo Care,” a technique wherein there is skin-to-skin contact between the
mother and the infant immediately after the delivery, and early breastfeeding help develop baby-mother

This Saturday, we are going to visit this hospital to see if it’s right for me, so I’m trying to keep an open mind at the moment.  I’m really grateful that B, a fellow foreign wife nearby asked her own midwife if she could recommend anywhere and she went with the Red Cross hospital too, so I’m crossing my fingers reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hard!  I’ve started to feel a lot brighter after making this decision, so I’m a bit nervous that things won’t seem much better.  Keep your fingers crossed for me please!



3 thoughts on “Months and Months

  1. Fingers and toes crossed that you can switch hospitals! That other place sounds like it’s stuck in the 1950s.

    “… a sheet with a hole in the middle of it to deliver your baby out of.”

    What? How in the world does that work? Is there a sheet over you with a big hole around your crotch area and the doctor reaches through the sheet to do everything? Why? Are some women really feeling that modest in the middle of pushing out a baby?

    • Yes, sadly there are a lot of 1950s aspects in Japan. You are spot on with the sheet. I think having that sheet makes a woman feel at least as if she SHOULD be ashamed of showing her “modesty”. The only thing I can think of is keeping out the mess if your bowel empties while you’re pushing?!?! Who knows. I only remember my waters breaking with an almighty pop before they had managed to get the sheet of shame up and them running around like headless chickens trying to tidy it up. Divine intervention…

  2. Wow, no wonder you have been stressed out. Hoping the new hospital is a better fit for you and YOUR needs and not the needs of some stuffy dr.

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