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pregnancy test

It was supposed to be a yeast infection. Continue reading

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Let the pregnant ladies sit down

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Image from TOKYOITE

Since Mr K was born, I’ve had the pleasant experience of people falling over themselves to help me when I go out in public with him. They hold doors open for us, clear paths for us, and spring up from their seats to offer them to me. I even had an elderly lady help me haul the pram (and the grumpy baby therein) onto the bus today. It’s great!

I can’t help but feel a little frustrated on behalf of my former self, though. When I was pregnant, it was a different story completely. I had a grand total of two people offer me seats during the whole forty weeks (and two days), and both of them (a mother with a baby and a very old lady) were in need of seats themselves. There’s nothing like catching the bus on what is supposed to be your due date and STILL not being able to get a seat.

While the pram can be a bit of a pain to lug around, doors present a strange new challenge and I feel even more anxious about taking up too much space in petite Japan than I usually do, I am physically fine. Yes, I’m tired – sometimes very tired – but I otherwise feel pretty much like myself. I wouldn’t say managing Mr. K in public is necessarily easy, but it’s something I feel capable of doing.

When I was pregnant, though? I felt crap almost from the outset. It was nine months of extreme fatigue, physically and mentally, not to mention the morning sickness and aching body. I might not have felt utterly incapable of getting myself around, but it frequently meant summoning reserves of energy and exerting extra effort.

I know it can be hard to tell if someone’s pregnant or not sometimes and there’s a risk of awkwardness (Japan doesn’t have that excuse, by the way – pregnant women have been getting the above-pictured tags issued by their cities for their bags, which clearly state the woman is pregnant, since 2007). While I’m not ungrateful and I don’t wish to sound it, if I could choose between getting those little acts of kindness right now and back then, I would be choosing pregnancy.

 

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.

 

Bicycle!

It’s not particularly fancy, it’s dirty after being exposed to six months of the elements, both of its tyres were flat and the chain is rusted, but that is my bicycle and I’m thrilled to have it working again.

Along with deli meats, sashimi and my usual dose of caffeine, one of the things I was expected to give up when I found out I was pregnant was cycling. Like some of the other things on that above list, the reasoning behind it was a bit questionable and mainly erred on the side of the caution – if I fell, I could have a miscarriage.

I found it a bit exasperating because I had almost never fallen off my bicycle and so continued to ride it quietly for the first seven or eight weeks, just because it was so much easier to get around on it even when I was feeling queasy. I was nine weeks pregnant when I took a plummet down the apartment building stairs and after that, even though the baby was fine and the probable reasons for the fall were the slipperiness of the stairs and me being distracted, I couldn’t entirely discount the fact my balance might be off.

So, for the next ten months, I stopped cycling and that was quite hard. Cycling wasn’t just exercise or a hobby for me; it’s the key way in which I got around, particularly for work, and I felt extremely limited without it.

Now, two months after giving birth, I’m quite ready to start cycling again, though, even if it won’t be anywhere near as often what with having a baby to lug around. Those first few moments when I rode off after getting my bicycle serviced were pure glee, and I can’t wait until R’s off work for the day and I can go for a longer ride.

Dates of 2015 To Remember

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So. 2015. I know it’s done and dusted for most of us now, the focus shifted to what can be accomplished in 2016 instead. Still, I only started posting semi-regularly late in the year and I figured a wrap-up was in order.

The winter was mild, but it didn’t feel like it. While it didn’t snow, it was still definitely cold and the first three months of the year had the same energy-draining chill that they typically do over here. In early February, my former housemate came to Japan to visit, followed two weeks later by two former schoolmates; I went drinking and romped around Tokyo Disneyland with the former and, with roamed around the gardens in Shinjuku and had lunch at Takashimaya Times Square with the latter.

I was already pregnant by the time they all arrived and suspected it. Fertility treatment takes some of the surprise out of these things and by February 11th – between the two visits – a fatigue that I couldn’t shake off had set in. I didn’t confirm it, though, until February 20th and even then, the positive pregnancy test didn’t quite seem real.

Spring arrived, but the weather didn’t really pick up – again, as usual. March was morning sickness and exhaustion, weeks that dragged sluggishly by until late in the month, when I toppled down the apartment building stairs. It was terrifying. The baby was fine, though, and while I was covered in bruises, I actually was too.

Our housing contract was up and, after the stairs incident, we decided to move. The hunt for a new place to rent was on. The cherry blossoms bloomed. On April 2nd, my uncle passed away. I couldn’t go back for the funeral. Financially, it would have been difficult at best and physically, I just couldn’t imagine undertaking a 10 hour minimum flight. I still don’t see how I could have done it but I find myself wishing I had.

The days lengthened, the weather warmed up, the morning sickness abated and we found a new place to live. In mid-May, we moved, an experience I found oddly traumatic. R and I had several arguments, one very big one, and the hot water system at the new house was a nightmare that we paid to replace ourselves. June drifted in, rainy season started, and a stray cat started showing up at our house looking for food. R named him Neko Neko and he started bringing two other cats with him.

Prenatal classes began in July and the rain didn’t let up until the middle of the month, when it was instantly replaced by the soul-crushing humidity that defines the summer here. I slept under the air conditioning, hoping I would get some sort of second trimester energy increase and never quite managing it.

I began to look pregnant, at least if you knew, by the time August flopped in. The days began to blur together, but I do remember a Saturday, though, that was a bit cooler than usual. I walked more than usual and overdid it. That evening, I had a strange pain in my back and in the middle of the night, I woke to what I hoped were not contractions. Nothing else happened and I mentioned it casually at my prenatal appointment on August  13th, only to discover that I was in danger of premature labour. I started anti-contraction medication that left me with palpitations but it wasn’t effective enough and I was put on partial bedrest one week later.

Work stopped almost altogether immediately, save for a couple of students who came to me, and if the days were a blur of sameness before, it was nothing compared to the seven weeks that followed. I spent my days lying around in a state of bored anxiety, cramping often and unable to do much about it except take the side-effect inducing medicine. I watched TV, played The Sims, read articles about the baby I scarcely dared believe would be born alive and well, and tried to get my ever-growing body to cool down.

When October swung around and I was still pregnant, I was finally allowed to move around again. By then, I no longer entirely wanted to. I was big and lumbering, my back, hips and pelvis aching incessantly, but I welcomed the freedom. A flurry of baby shopping ensued and despite the cramping continuing and occasionally intensifying, I was still pregnant on October 27th, my due date. Juggling a combination of R’s schedule, the days my mother was scheduled to visit,  Dr I.’s work hours and the hospital’s own special requirement that babies be born by 41 weeks gestation, we scheduled an induction for the 29th and that day was when, at 5:02pm and entirely drug-free (thanks for that very… charming… tradition, Japan), my baby, Mr. K, was born.

I was in hospital for four days. My mother arrived in Japan on November 1st and I was discharged on November 2nd, driving myself and Mr. K home. Dealing with a baby was a shock and while I felt a semblance of control while my mother was here and being unbelievably supportive, it didn’t entirely chase away the sadness and I struggled some after she went back to Australia on November 9th. My mother-in-law helped some, albeit on her own terms and while R was very supportive and engaged while he was here, lengthy work hours in both November and December meant he wasn’t home as often as any of us would have liked. While life started to feel a bit more normal in December, it was an otherwise unremarkable month by comparison. I spent Christmas in Japan and it was something of a low-key occasion, and I even ended up at Immigration on Christmas Day itself, something R was chuffed about and I most definitely was not, collecting my 5 year spouse visa.

And then the New Year holidays came, and now they’ve gone, and here we are, working out 2016.

Thankful

I’m from Australia and I live in Japan. Neither country has really appropriated Thanksgiving, and thus I do not celebrate it.

Still, I like the idea of giving thanks. I’m aware that the occasion is bound up with all sorts of questionable historical connotations, but I just want to focus on being thankful for the moment and the things in particular for which I’m feeling gratitude right now.

I’m thankful for this odd little house we’ve been residing in since late May. I was profoundly upset to leave our old apartment, but I’m so glad we’re here now. We’re closer to our local major train station and near a bus that runs frequently. We have a bamboo forest just outside and even a random raccoon dog roaming therein, and we have two stray monkey cats half-living with us. The move was hard, but I’m glad of it now.

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Neko Neko and Mark Two are grateful for their food, especially if that means there is more of it forthcoming.

I’m thankful for my body and my health. I really am. The former hasn’t always done what I wanted it to and pregnancy was exhausting, but generally speaking, it has surpassed all expectations this year. Right now, I am enjoying feeling something like myself again, the strength and energy in my limbs flowing again when I walk. I remain a little shocked by the fact I grew a baby, pushed it out, and am almost completely recovered from it, and whatever mixed feelings I might have about breastfeeding, I am impressed by my body’s ability to nurture another. I’m thankful for the medical institutions and people that have made and continue to make all of this possible.

I’m thankful for my family. My sister and my parents, my mother in particular, have been so supportive. My in-laws… well, I don’t have to cook right now care of my mother-in-law, so there’s that. I’m always, always grateful for R, for being precisely who he is and a wonderful partner.

This year, I’m so very grateful for Mr. K. He’s the baby I wanted so very badly and he’s just… he’s made our lives so much busier and harder, and he’s likely to wake up crying and demanding milk any minute now, but he’s made everything so much richer too. There’s so much to say about so many things to do with him, but I can’t really convey just how much that little person means to us.

Finally, to whoever is reading this – thank you for doing so, particularly if you’re a regular who is sticking with me through this quiet phase while I get used to having a baby. It’s much appreciated!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Frank comments on pregnancy and the IVF syringe heart baby

An interesting story that came up late last week was Kim Kardashian saying something typically unspeakable – namely, that pregnancy kind of sucks.

Normally, my interest in what any of the Kardashians do is somewhere around zero. I don’t typically have any positive interest in their affairs but nor do I have any particularly negative feelings about them. I just really, really don’t care. This comment, however, caught my attention because it’s an issue that, courtesy of my own pregnancy, is currently quite close to my heart.

The fact is that pregnancy really is damn hard, and the reality of it, when I first fell so, was just plain shocking. Nothing and nobody adequately prepares you for how tough it’s going to be. It’s extraordinarily demanding on you physically and it can be particularly rough emotionally as well.

The details of the whole experience are pretty well known, ranging from the horrors of all day morning sickness through to the aches, pains and hormonal hell and then finally to the excruciating finale. A lot can go wrong during pregnancy, and a lot can go wrong in its wake. Yet despite this being known and being something fundamental that a good portion of humanity has had to endure for as long as we’ve been members of humanity, we still get stuck on this idea of pending motherhood as this happy, glorious, wonderfully natural state to be in. I read stories about, say, Jennifer Love Hewitt in prenatal bliss and I feel like we might actually belong to different species (and note that she has a pregnancy clothing line to try and sell).

It’s easy to feel resentful of this particular image when your pregnancy feels like its, at best, one very long endurance test.But then, just when you’re feeling particularly achy and exhausted and willing the baby out already, something like this goes viral too:

I came across this on Facebook after an acquaintance (whose fertility situation I really don’t know) liked it. It’s a baby girl, surrounded by a heart shape made of IVF syringes to represent those which her parents used to conceive her.

I haven’t done IVF, though I was forced to consider the possibility that we might need to go there… and the possibility that doing so might be a bridge too far for me, especially if we had to repeat it many times over. The fertility treatments I did need to conceive the baby I’m carrying as I type this were enough to take me to some dark emotional places, and that photo reminds me acutely that there were tougher ones to which we could have gone, that we may end up going to in the future. How can one complain about the difficulties of pregnancy when so many people out there who – yes, including my past self – would be grateful to be pregnant at all?

But surely we can manage it. We are talking about processes around a huge, important part of human life, after all. There has to be room for some complexity in the discussion. We are not simple creatures really. It has to be possible to be grateful to be having a baby, and yet, as the author notes in the first link, “to be utterly thrilled to be growing a baby and still hate every minute of it” without being damned for it.