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Pregnancy badge in Japan that says ''おなかに赤ちゃんがいます/I'm having a baby''
After a month-long stay in the Philippines (to have our church wedding), we're finally back to Japan. As soon as we were back, my husband and I had felt ill due to the difference in the weather. March was the beginning of summer in the Philippines and temperature would rise up to 30~40 Celsius while when we went back to Japan, spring was just peaking through and the temperature was still under 20 Celsius.
A couple of days later, we were finally okay and went back to work. My husband noticed that I still didn't have my period and kept asking me if I had my period, all the time. I wasn't bothered because my period would skip a week or so until I noticed something was not right. I wanted to sleep all day and I have no energy to work. Being pregnant was not the first thing that came to my mind as those were normal PMS but I was kind of curious so I bought a pregnancy test. It was positive.
I still kept my pregnancy tests
I didn't know what to feel about being pregnant so I didn't tell anybody about it yet. I had to make sure it's real so I booked for an appointment at the OB/GYN. Because of my work, I had to wait for a week or so for my appointment. It was kind of stressful for my body as I commute to work for 1 to 2 hours one-way by train and my train line is very packed so I have to stand most of all the train ride. Regardless if I'm feeling sick and squeamish, I just have to endure it.
Finally, the day of my appointment has come. I was planning to go by myself and surprise my husband with the sonogram but again, I wasn’t feeling well so I just canceled the surprise and asked him to take me to the OB/GYN. He was very confused as to why the OB/GYN so I showed him the pregnancy test. He was quite speechless, more like unfazed. When I asked him later on why he had no reaction, he said he was surprised and didn't know what to say.
On my very first appointment, it was confirmed that I was pregnant for about 6 weeks. It was so small and they couldn't pick up a heartbeat so I had to go back again the next week. Looking back, I was already pregnant during our church wedding, and somehow, that made me happy. We immediately told our families about the happy news. My side of the family was especially excited since my daughter is the first grandchild.
Most people would wait until their second trimester to announce their pregnancy but I told my boss about it early on because of the stress of commuting to work. They were very understanding and said that if I was feeling unwell, I can frequently take breaks or go home if needed. There were times that I can push through and work until the last hour but inevitably, there were also times that I feel like my insides were flipped and couldn't stand being in front of a computer.
Also, in Japan, there is a need to report in the municipality if one is pregnant. If you report about your pregnancy, you will be given prenatal check-up coupons, a pregnancy badge, and pamphlets with useful information about pregnancy. Prenatal check-ups are not covered by health insurance so the coupons are definitely a big help. The coupons covered from 5,000 to 10,000 JPY of the bills and most of the time, excluding the days when I have blood tests, the check-ups were just within those amounts. The pregnancy badge is also a way to say ''I'm pregnant'' without voicing it out. During my commute, people are kind enough to notice the badge and give up their seats for me. It was awkward at first because even old people who needed the seat more than me would give up their seats but there were times that I really needed a seat to stop myself from puking.
As for morning sickness, I wasn't vomiting my stomach out but I had no appetite and not much energy to move. It felt like I was eating to feed my baby not to nourish my body. I had a hard time eating a full meal so when I had the appetite, I could only eat sandwiches. I just want to sleep all day, too. When I have the day off, I would lay down all day and wait for my husband to come home from work. I found out about my pregnancy too early so this was a very long ride for me.
The squeamish feeling never stopped. Around this time, my check-up changed from every 4 weeks to every 2 weeks. As I was starting to show, the burden in my body grows. My already aching back was starting to ache more. It was getting harder and harder to walk.
Most couples would know the gender of their baby around this time but our daughter was so good at hiding that the doctor was having a hard time figuring it out. That time I was really hoping for a boy and my husband didn't really care as long as the baby is healthy. Despite the additional burden to my body, it still hasn't sunk in that I am having a baby. At that time, I didn't feel like I was connected or attached to my baby. I know my husband was most especially excited about the baby so it felt like I was taking care of the baby for my husband. Emotionally, I wasn't quite ready.
But every check-up would prove to me otherwise; it was so heartwarming every time I get to see the baby through the monitor. The moments when I could hear her heartbeat would bring me to the reality that I am growing a human.
And that human was getting bigger and bigger by the day. I wasn't having any squeamish feeling anymore (Some would consider this morning sickness but I refuse to call it that until the end) and I'm kind of getting back my appetite. Although, all I wanted to eat are ice cream and tonkatsu (pork cutlet) from a specific restaurant that we eat after every check-up. My check-up frequency increased from bi-weekly to weekly. I started my maternity leave around this time so the only thing that kept me busy was my weekly meetings with my baby.
Since I knew I was pregnant very early, I was so ready to push the baby by the 38th week. I did pregnancy yoga all the time but all it did was make the backache worse. I was even past my due date but still, no baby was born. I was almost going to have an assisted delivery until my mother arrived. We asked her to come to assist us in taking care of the baby. We did not have any relatives nearby and for first-time parents, we were quite anxious about how to take care of a baby.
On my 40th week and 2 days, my mother arrived from the Philippines and at 5:30 AM the next day, I was starting to have contractions. I thought it was just Braxton Hick's contraction, like always until the frequency and pain increased. I called the hospital to inform them about contractions and was told to have it checked around 12 noon. When we got to the hospital and have been checked, they said I was definitely having contractions but the opening was still 2 cm. The baby wasn't ready to come out so we were sent home but they informed us that the baby could come out anytime.
'Anytime' was a few hours later. We were on our way home, still, not far from the hospital when the contractions were under every 5 minutes and becoming too painful, it was hard to breathe. Again, I called to inform the hospital about the situation and they asked us to come again. When they checked, the opening was 5 cm so I was admitted immediately.
Everything from that moment was very hazy as I was just concentrating on pushing the baby. I was brought into the labor room with my husband and mother. All I can remember was the midwife telling me to push correctly. I don't know if you would understand but I was pushing in my stomach as if I was trying to plank when I was told to push in my butt as if I was taking a poo.
I was pushing for around 6 to 7 hours when my water broke. I was embarrassed because it felt like I peed on the bed but the nurses and midwife were very kind to help me clean on myself. After that, I was transferred to the delivery room. The contractions become stronger and stronger as the baby is trying to come out. I was so tired and my pushing was becoming sloppier. But then, I was full 10 cm and the baby is coming out! It felt like someone put gasoline in my vagina and lit it on fire! The midwife told me to push until they say stop and so I did push with all of my might. And poof! The baby was out! There was a millisecond of silence before we could hear her cry. She was as red as a scarlet when she came out and had a head full of hair, I thought she was a boy. Oh! I forgot to mention that we knew the gender the moment she was born.
All the blood loss, the long-hours of pushing, the painful contractions were all worth it. Just look how gorgeous and precious my baby is?!
Fast forward to today, she is now almost 5 months old. From 3.3 kgs to now 7 kgs, she is growing so fast, she can now roll over both sides. I was expecting sleepless nights and busy days but she is the easiest baby to take care of (as of writing, lol). She sleeps like a log at night, thankfully, she doesn't have bad reactions to vaccines and she likes bath times. That is all thanks to my mother who supported and assisted us, my cooperative husband, and a baby whose very easy to handle. She has my eyes so people would say she looks like me but she really is a very good mix of both our genes.
The pregnancy part was too slow yet when she arrived, time flew by so fast. However, it really sucks to be raising a child in this crisis. I couldn't bring her outside for a walk or meet other people. All she sees is me and her father. I hope the world would be well for her and children her age and those about to be born so they can explore the world they are born into, safely and freely.
To new parents or parents with small children, how are you holding on during this crisis? What worries you that most? What are your unique ways to raise a child in these times?
Thanks for stopping by.
See you in my next post.
Artistic vessel of @furirin