Thursday, June 2, 2011

So at this point, you're probably wondering why in the world we were continuing to plan to have our child in this place of uncertainty.  I honestly don't know what else to say except that the other options were not options at all because I didn't have enough leave built up to take off work for such a length of time.  And...we loved the Japanese culture, though looking back, we had no idea of the medical aspect of that culture.  The here say on base amongst the other American women who had birthed there was pretty much 50-50.  Some spoke of it as a wonderful place to have your baby, that they would take care of you for days after the baby was born and that the food was amazing.  They assured us that there was nothing to be concerned about and that the language barrier was not an issue.  Others, however, couldn't find enough seething words to discourage us from that place.  Stories of how their epidurals didn't work and their babies were compromised were eventually what I summed up to mean that those particular women were the type that could not embrace a new and different culture.  After all, we were not IN America, so why expect it to BE like America?  But now I understand the 50-50 split of advice.  Those women who had an easy time were mostly those who were having their second, third, or fourth child.  The women that begged me to reconsider were usually the ones scared to death during their first delivery by the raw and nearly torturing experience of birthing for the first time in a completely foreign environment, one that I heard a priest visiting Iwakuni once describe as a place he "would never take his dog".

But from the moment we got off the airplane in Tokyo, Jay and I had fallen in love with this culture.  We had made our decision to birth locally in that small, two story brick building and  we were sticking to it.  I started avoiding the nay-sayers.  And reading all I could on delivering a baby...until I was too nauseated to even think of the process.  I decided that God made my body to have this child and that one way or another, He would see me through it.

When I was about 15 weeks along, I flew back to the states for a conference for work.  The flight is nearly 24 hrs. of travel if flying to the East Coast and, the time difference is 13 hours.  I had a pretty rough time trying to adjust to everything and stay focused on my task at hand.  I was in the states for 5 days before turning around and heading back to Iwakuni.  Once I got back, I started having some pretty sharp pains in my lower abdomen.  I was at home one day for lunch and ended up lying on the couch, pleading with God that these pains go away.  I had to return to work because it was the day pay roll was due and I had to make sure my employees were paid!  I painstakingly drove myself back to work and set about approving their time in the system.  But after that task I decided to go to Shoji's Clinic, immediately.  I had one friend drive me, another come along to translate, and Jay was to meet us there.  Talk about a three-ring circus.  Kubota Sensei was there that day (coincidentally, the doctor who "speaks good English" also commutes in from Kyoto and is only there for two weeks before leaving again for two weeks) and he checked me over.

To this point, I haven't mentioned the Japanese procedure of checking a pregnant woman.  As you walk into the room, straight ahead is a desk and chair where the doctor is always sitting.  To the right of that desk is a long, skinny table about knee height off the floor, and with no padding whatsoever.  It is literally a piece of plywood covered with pink vinyl and nothing else.  After gesturing for me to shed my shoes, the nurse then open-handedly waves me toward the scale, where I had better not have gained "too" much weight (the average Japanese woman gains about 15-20 lbs during pregnancy and I was held to the same standard).  Then I am waved to lie down on that rock hard table and pull my garments, with the help of one of the five Japanese nurses present, down to my hips to allow the doctor full access to my belly.  As he palpates my belly, feeling for anything unusual, he asks if there has been any "discomfort".   I want to say, pregnant has zero discomforts.  But I just say no.  Then he gets out the 3-D ultrasound machine, which is WAY COOL.  Seeing our little forming baby in a sepia colored, real time, fully animated video was some of the best time of our lives!  I looked so forward to those appointments, just to see his little foot, or melon head!  And that excitement is what got me through the next part of the exam...

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