Okuizome, the “first meal” ceremony

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Yesterday, we did okuizome, a “first meal” ceremony held for Japanese babies when they reach either 100 or 120 days old (depending on the region). My mother-in-law brought over the elaborate food shown above and laid it out on the special dishes above. The dishes have been in the family for 40 years, so I guess that was kind of neat.

Mr. K didn’t actually eat of the food; even if babies were encouraged to be weaned that young, the food would have been far too rich for him.From what I can gather, it’s meant to be a time for families to gather and most families pretend to feed the baby and then carry on feasting. Link link here! My mother-in-law basically orchestrated the whole thing without consulting or inviting anyone else, and R pretended to share some of his lunch with Mr. K, a takeout bento that is definitely not pictured above. After setting out all the dishes, my mother-in-law took some photos of the food (I’m not 100% sure she included Mr. K in the photos at all; I was holding him and there was certainly no attempt to make us pose?) and packed everything away again.I spent most of my time trying to keep an increasingly grumpy baby in check and waiting for instructions that never came.

Why yes, my relationship with my mother-in-law is a difficult one!

Anyway, I don’t want to detract from what could be a nice ceremony with my husband’s family’s bizarre behaviour. I think, in different circumstances, it’s quite a cute thing to do, it’s certainly very pretty looking and given I identify as agnostic these days, I think it could be a good alternative to a Christening.

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Intriguing indeed!

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Journal

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I’m not 100% sure, but I strongly suspect the notebook itself was a gift from my younger sister

I like to keep journals. It helps me to scrawl out whatever inane thoughts I’m having onto paper and just process things. I’ve tried not doing it, or finding some means of carrying it out electronically instead to reduce the risk of other people reading them. Much of what I write is just me getting things out of my system and not necessarily fair, and I don’t think there’s much that’s profoundly interesting in them to make up for it, and thus the idea of anyone else sitting down and reading them is quite horrifying.

Still, I find it the easiest way for me personally to write about the minutiae of my life, and it’s interesting for me, at least, to come back to them later and look back. Thus, I keep writing anyway.

I finished off the above-pictured notebook this week and figured I’d share some selected… highlights… from it.

Life events of interest:

  • Sleepwalked through the final trimester of my pregnancy with Mr. K
  • Worried over premature labour
  • Worried over and tried to avoid an induction, failed
  • Gave birth to Mr. K
  • Mr. K’s first and second months
  • Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016
  • WINTER (there are so many variations of “omg it’s so cold” as opening sentences)
  • Mr. K’s third month

Selected quotes:

Feeling quite accomplished currently in contrast to yesterday afternoon… I did go to Hard-Off and I did buy stuff I wanted. I got a mobile and a baby carrier!
– 15th October 2015, buying baby stuff at the secondhand store

… went to Babies R Us. R thought I called it “Baby’s Arse” because… katakana?!
– 
1st November 2015 (re: 28th October, day before Mr. K was born). The joys of Japanese.

I felt this horrible tugging inside me, and a drop, as though something critical had pulled away… bad, it was bad…
– 1st November 2015 (it was a long entry). Regarding childbirth.

May be coming out of the maternity blues hole now, but the crying still isn’t just his.
– 
28th November 2015

… it’s my fault for not “reading the atmosphere”. Between him (R) and his mother, the atmosphere can go **** itself.
– 16th January 2016. Clashes with my mother-in-law and general adjustment to life with a baby have caused some friction.

 

A new niece

Not sure if I’d post an actual photo of her even if we had one, so enjoy this cute little picture instead!

Word came through late on Monday from Okaasan that R’s older sister was in labour. The baby was expected by midnight, so I assume the sister-in-law was in the active phase by then for everyone to be making such assertions, but it turned out that, to use R’s words, “the baby kind of got stuck”. For eight hours. She was born on Tuesday morning instead.

Aside from that “kind of got stuck” part being the stuff of my current nightmares, everyone is going well.

It was quite early on in the scheme of things, probably during the two week wait before I could even take a pregnancy test, that we learned that the sister-in-law was trying to conceive her first child at the same time as us and was also undergoing fertility treatment. In her case, possibly due to her age, they had cut straight to IVF and she managed to conceive on her first round.

We found out I actually was pregnant at about the same time as she found out she was too, and discovered that her baby was due 12 days before ours. For awhile, what with the whole threatened premature labour matter, R and I thought we might actually get in first and present the first grandchild for both sides of the family, but no. As of Tuesday 13th October, R is an uncle. I guess, by extension, I’m an aunt, and our own baby is still poking around my uterus.

R’s family has a very weird dynamic.To give a sense of this, consider that the sister-in-law and the niece are staying at a hospital that is literally 10-15 minutes walk from our house but we don’t know the niece’s name, there are no plans or expectations that we’ll visit, we don’t know when we’ll meet her, nor do we have a photo yet. However, for all that, we found out almost straightaway when she was born though that, I strongly suspect, was at least in part so R could take responsibility for sharing the news with his father so that nobody else had to do so.

I don’t really know how this is all going to play out. I wouldn’t say I felt especially strongly about birthing his family’s first grandchild and/or just missing out to the sister-in-law. I have my own family to concern myself with and they are generally delighted so far with their own pending first grandchild. I wasn’t really thrilled to hear how close these new cousins were going to be in age, though. As you can gather, the sister-in-law and I are not exactly close, so the nicer aspects of that seem diminished. The likelihood of rivalries, however, possibly aided and abetted by my mother-in-law, seems quite high.

On the other hand, who knows? We might all become much friendlier with two babies in the mix.