Saturday, 30 April 2005

i have a baby son

i still can't quite get my head around this fact

this might well be because he is still with the Guru in hospital and so i get to see them for only about 8 hours a day, then i come home and live a 'real' life (except the Guru isn't here so i get to fart and burp and play loud music to my heart's content (and of those three 'guy' things to do, baby marcus gets congratulated when he does two of them whereas i find only admonishment - this hardly seems fair))

before marcus showed up i had never held a real baby. i had picked up the oddly weighted plastic one in the 'how to be a parent' classes I & II, but when the opportunity had presented itself to pick a real, living and breathing youngster, i had demurred, feeling, well, scared that i should hold, or more likely drop, a child. but when marcus was born and he was whisked out of the labour room with yours truly to be checked by Ms Weights & Measures (he, not i) he was then passed to me as the present parent - the Guru was still on the slab being stitched up, or whatever it is they do to women in japan after they have given birth. and to hold my son suddenly seemed the most natural and complete thing to do. he was where i was at, totally focused..... no, thinking about it that is not wholly true as is was worried about what was happening to the Guru as well, but pretty well focused.

for the last three days i have been to the hospital to visit the Guru and marcus. they are both in there for the mandatory 5 days that japanese mothers and babies get after the birth and visiting hours are about 12 to 8 or so, so i have found myself there for just about all of the time i could. i take my book to read but all i really want to do is be there with the Guru and hold and look at my son, just stare into his face, watching what's going on. i never thought, for the life of me, that babies were that interesting, and they are not, until you get one of your own.

i will write the story of the birth sometime soon, i reckon, but at the moment all i really want to do is sit down and have marcus in my arms. i am, therefore, turning into a soppy git, but somehow this doesn't seem to be too bad a thing.

Thursday, 28 April 2005

He's here...

Marcus Bowdidge was born at 20:05 on Wednesday 27th April 2005 at Saiseikai Hospital, Kawaguchi.

He weighed in at 3,230 grams and was 51 cm tall (or long, or whatever it is).

All appendages were present and correct, as was a fine pair of lungs and a wildly beating heart.

Mother doing well after the first sleep in 58 hours; baby this morning seems to be taking after his father by drinking too much then throwing up; father just relieved, bewildered, confused and feeling useless.

More news, info and, if I work it out, photos, will be posted when I get the time.

Monday, 25 April 2005

Very quickly...

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The Guru called whilst I was at work this morning to say she felt something amiss. About an hour later, after talking to someone at the hospital, her waters broke (I don't feel that the person at the hospital was responsible, probably just one of those things). So off she went, then called me to say so, put me into a rush as there were things i had to finish (or no one would be paid - a tough call, but the Guru did say to take my time as nothing much seemed to be happening). Anyway I finished up, rushed home, changed, went to the hospital and, as she said, nothing much has happened since. Indeed I am now back home and therefore able to write this note.

So the waters have indeed been broken, but anything else to do with the birth, such as dilation of the whatnot or the baby being in the right place, hasn't actually taken place as yet. Hmm

"Get some sleep" the Doc said to the Guru, so she told me to go home and get some sleep myself as I looked tired (surely it is meant to be the other way round). So here I am, only a phone call and 5 mintes away from the hospital but not there.

More bulletins as event warrant.

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Monday, 18 April 2005

So what’s up, me old China?

I mean come on, ok, we all know about the school textbook issues and the unapologetic Japanese political types, but at the moment it all seems to have got just a little out of hand, don’t you think? I have a very strong feeling that there is something much more sinister and cloak and dagger about the whole thing, indeed the person on the Kawaguchi omnibus (well, the Guru) is as confused as anyone about the apparent sudden upsurge in anti-Japanese feeling, though in fairness it isn’t all that recent as certainly during last year’s Asian footy cup there was a definite backlash towards Japan. This might well have had something to do with Japan beating China in the final with some slightly dodgy goals (though to be fair China weren’t much cop and didn’t exactly deserve to win either). But now we seem to be hitting new heights, as well as more projectiles hitting the embassies and consulates in Shanghai and Beijing.

Among the theories put forward in the media are that:
a) The Chinese are getting uppity at the textbooks in Japanese schools that gloss over or ignore Japan’s somewhat ignoble past. This might hold water except for a few points such as: pretty much every country writes textbooks for its kids that try to portray that country in as good a light as possible (I feel sure that UK texts on the British Empire, if it is still taught, still bang on about how enlightened and forward thinking we all were, but of course); that the text the Chinese are getting uppity about is admittedly a far-right creation but it is only used in a very small minority of private schools; and that Japanese have been using these texts for years but this is the first instance of mass Chinese demonstrations. Odd that.

b) Yasukuni Shrine, and all that was dicussed in more detail here, once upon a time ago and, basically, the Japanese should apologise for what they did. But then again, this does seem to be a bit of pot shouting black as the Chinese aren’t exactly the most benign of people, now are they? Tibet, anyone?

c) It’s all economic – there are a bunch of rocks in the South China Sea, or maybe the Sea of Japan, under which there is, according to those in the know, bounteous supplies of natural gas. The Japanese, not satisfied with discovering gas whilst drilling for onsens next to the Arakawa River, claim these concrete postage stamps for their own, along with all the gas. The Chinese, on the other hand disagree and say it is all theirs. Children, children, just try and learn to share, will you?

d) Japanese militarism – the Chinese, with a standing army of a million souls (or was that the Vietnamese?) is getting worried that Japan wants to remilitarise. Right. Sorry, back to that talking pot again, I mean really, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone threw away their guns. Unlikely, I know, but for China to whip up nationalist fervour because the of what the Japanese might do militarily seems just a mite hypocritical, but hey, they won’t listen to me.

e) The security council issue – as we all know Japan wants a permanent seat on the UNSC, something that yours truly has mentioned before, somewhere, and I agree with China that Japan shouldn’t get it. But nor should China, with their record of uses and abuses. Whose great idea was that? Of course China is worried about its veto being diluted and it having less of an influence in Asia, again seems like a case of share and share alike, though this probably means I am being far too na├»ve and simplistic, but I find that helps in a lot of situations.

No, I reckon it is something a lot more interesting than all that. That is all just a smokescreen or diversion. I reckon that the waves of liberalisation that have been sweeping China for the last few years have got the old politburo (or whatever they call it these days) in a bit of a dilemma. They like it, but they aren’t sure they are fully in control, especially since, if memory serves, they recently had a jolly big committee session with all the bigwigs with a bit of power changing hands, back room deals, back scratching and the like. So, now the musical-chairs has finished and everyone has had a little time to take stock, some gestures are needed…

So whichever bod is now in charge has to make his mark (I realise that this isn’t very well informed on my part, apologies, I have impending fatherhood to worry about (good excuse that, very flexible and convenient)). An easy way to do this is to take some existing local angst, of which the anti-Japanese one has always been there, fan it a little – for example by getting the Shanghai police to guide the protesters to the Japanese consulate and then stand around and watch them doing slightly unpleasant things to shops signs (and very unpleasant things to two unfortunate Japanese tourists who happened by, probably seeking sanctuary at the consulate as they grew worried about the situation) – and then, when things have got to a reasonably feverish pitch, send in the tanks as Deng Xiaoping did in Tiananmen Square…

Result: Populace gets to blow off a little steam. Govt gets to show who’s the boss with a martial crackdown. Asia (and West) served notice that China won’t be told what to do by anyone. Army happy that they get to push people around again. Conservatives happy that they won’t take no shit from no one. Status quo returned and liberalisations can be (temporarily or permanently) withdrawn. Koizumi happy as he can carry on visiting Yasukuni because if the Chinese govt stopped the protests with force, well, that means they must have been illegal and therefore not representative of the real will of the people. Ditto the textbook writers.

Hmm

Monday, 11 April 2005

So,

Sorry about the lack of posting last week, new toy to play with, even took my mind off GT4 for a while, and then apathy took over, so there you go.

Problem seems to be that not much is happening at the moment. Now I know that this might seem to be a strange thing to say, seeing as baby bogue is now due in less than one month (official due date is Saturday 7th May, if I haven’t mentioned it before, so now actually less than 4 weeks, and as these things (babies) can fall out anywhere from 2 weeks before, it could only be a week until the bugger pops out...what me, panic?), but we’re kind of into that last bit of waiting stage. There is not a lot we can do, except buy more things for him, talk to him and pat him through the Guru’s distended abdomen, but that’s about it. Hmm...

So I suppose I should be going for “now you’re going to be a father, how does that make you feel?” routine, but as I have mentioned in a post somewhere before, deep introspective self reflection is not, and never really has been, a strong point of mine, too busy living in the here and now to worry existentially. Perhaps this is why I have always found philosophy just a little too much like nonsense, for the most part, who knows, but in an attempt to rectify this I have recently got hold of a copy of Albert Camus’ The Outsider, hopefully this will make me take that step towards self actualisation. Or maybe not.

So anyway, may as well make an attempt at ‘how do you feel?’ So still a little bit unconnected, if the truth be told. Part of this might be to do with the fact that I am a foreigner having a baby in Japan, seems there is a lot I could be getting involved in but aren’t because it is all in Japanese and therefore I’m not understanding it. This is a distinct possibility but it is hard to put your finger on it, just a vague sense, I suppose, but then again, this could easily be a feeling common with all fathers to be. The whole pregnancy care thing in Japan is, I must say, pretty darned impressive. The Guru is jolly close to birth and therefore is trotting waddling off the hospital every week for scans and proddings from the various doctors, midwives, health care professionals and probably cleaners who are involved with this sort of thing. In the UK, as far as I know, pregnant women get two scans in the whole 9 months (or 10 months, if you count it the Japanese way (no, I don’t get it either)), so to get 4 in the last month seems pretty good going to me. I hope these scans aren’t like x-rays... never thought about it before... surely they wouldn’t... Also, as mentioned before, the hospital is all jolly new, clean, spic-and-span as the old saying goes, and full of machines going ‘ping’, which leads me to think she will be in safe hands when the day finally comes, certainly safer than in any British hospital I’ve ever been into, I’m sorry to say – not that my experience of hospitals in the UK is that extensive, but I’ve been into enough for me to realise that I’d never want to end up in one for any length of time.

So am I worried? Well, again I don’t really think so as it seems to be something that is going to happen, inevitably, and I have no real concept of what the aftermath is going to be like, except for the supposition/fact that I’m probably not going to get much sleep to begin with. Also, and I know this is probably a crap thing to say, but work is pretty busy at the moment, and I’m trying to get the final assignment finished (final except for a year spent on the dissertation, that is), so I find myself quite busy at the moment and waiting for the term to end, which it will do about a week before the youngster is officially due, so my mind, perhaps being “typically male” and therefore unable to multitask, is compartmentalise the various parts into: work –> finish work –> week off –> baby born –> life never same again so watch out!

Of course I realise that the section entitled ‘week off’ will be nothing of the sort and I am sure things will be found to keep me busy, even if it will be the first time in two years I won’t have to open a text book on a day off. Anyway various colleagues have had babies in the recent past, one in mid February, so the Guru and I went to visit them a few weekends ago and their daughter, Sofia Hana, was a little bundle of joy but even though I am having a similar one of my own pretty soon, I was still most apprehensive about picking her up, mainly as, still, I have yet to hold a really baby, so am still a little unsure as to how it is done (along with, and this is the point, I think, just about everything else connected with newborns). I’ve tried the weirdly weighted plastic ones we did the bath training with, but they didn’t move, smell, dribble on me etc, so what a real one is like, I have no idea. I could have pick Sofia up, but couldn’t quite bring myself to, hopefully this worry will pass when ours arrives next month, indeed I am sure it will, but still, it worries me.

Like any parent-to-be I have thought, and think, about what I want to do with the baby after he has been born, but as the Guru pointed out to me, all the sorts of things I have mentioned to her are when the baby has grown to be a boy and we can go off and have adventures. She, it seems, has thoughts and ideas about what she wants to do in the weeks and months after the baby is born. For me I have absolutely no idea what this time will be like so can’t really envisage what I will be doing with the little mite in this time. Teaching him to ride a bike, no problem. Kicking rugby balls and footballs around, dates marked in my mental diary already. Googly out the back of the hand and clean through a firm forward defensive, oh yes indeed. Changing nappies and watching him crawl, no point of reference so can’t visualise myself being there or doing it except in a very hazy and abstract way of ‘I guess I’ll be doing that sort of stuff’. For learning curve read learning cliff face, I fear.

But looking forward to it all I most certainly am.

Monday, 4 April 2005

ah,

sorry, no post tonight, i have a new toy. in anticipation of the birth of the youngster (now only 1 month away...help) we have bought a digital video camera doohickey. this means lots of playing about and, hopeful, eventually, pictures on this blog.

you heard it here first...