Monday, 30 May 2005

So about having babies...

This blog is in serious trouble of becoming just about Marcus, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll post if I want to, and anyway, we’re still in Japan so it is sort of being about Japan so hopefully the JapanBloggers ring won’t kick me off for not being Japanese-y enough.

So the little chap came home after a week at the hospital. This is the standard time that all new mothers and babies get to stay in hospital as the authorities rightly feel that new mother might just be a little overwhelmed and/or shagged out so feel it best she gets a bit of rest. They do also take the babies away to sleep in a different room at night but do allow mothers to go and breast-feed – so why they just don’t let them sleep in the same room is, well, odd.

Both Marcus and the Guru made good progress after the birth, though getting him to eat was, for some reason, pretty hard work, seemed that he preferred sleeping. Oh well, that will soon pass, and it did so no worries there. Luckily the time he came home was the Golden Week holiday so I got to spend a whole week with him and the Guru after they came home. Before he was born I had had stern words with him that he was not to appear before May 7th as I very much wanted a holiday and a week of doing nothing, but in retrospect it was much better that he came early as I got to spend the time with him, help the Guru so she could get some sleep and learn all the stuff you need to learn in order not to inadvertently drop/maim/hurt in other stupid way your offspring.

Rule number one about having a baby in Japan is this: you are not allowed, on pain of death, to take your baby outside until it is one month old. No questions, no quibbles, no going out before he or she is a month old. Except of course going from the hospital to home (as you are not allowed to give birth at home – hmm, I guess that would be rule number one...ok, the above is rule number two. And, of course, that all pregnant women must wear pinafore dresses and ankle socks, no trousers thank you – that would probably be rule number one. OK, amongst the rules for being pregnant in Japan are such diverse elements as...Oh fuck it I’ll start again!).

No, the one-month thing is an odd one, as every Japanese person (with a baby that I have met) will absolutely not budge on this one. The Guru and I have our Doctor Sears book of which we will take everything as gospel in the bringing up of kids. Every word of it is the literal truth, except the paragraph that says it is ok to take your newborn out of the house after a week or so, this paragraph is obviously wrong, why, I don’t know, but it is. I think it stems from the tradition of visiting your local shrine one month after the baby is born to do the blessing thing. Back in the old days, when large numbers of kids didn’t make it through the first month or so, I can see why this would be a time for rejoicing and general ‘he’s made it this far so hopefully he’s going to be alright’, but in this day and age, with all the medical technology at one’s disposal, it all seems a little unnecessary to me – but who am I to argue with thousands of years of Japanese tradition? (Don’t answer that).

So our trip to the shrine was meant to be the weekend just gone, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. Youngster’s one-month check up was on Tuesday so I, being dutiful, took the day off work and trooped along with the Guru to the hospital to do the necessaries. I had to be there as well, actually, as the Guru was to have her check up as well and someone needed to be on hand to hold the baby – we could have asked m-i-l if she would do it, but relations were a little strained after the 10 days she spent with us looking after the Guru and Marcus.

Anyway the eating problems mentioned earlier hadn’t abated and the youngster seemed to be bringing his milk back up with a touch more regularity, and volume, that seemed necessary. A few questions and a wee prod by the Doc and it was decided that he (Marcus) ought to be admitted for observation and the like. So, observation and tests done (including the unpleasant barium and x-ray one) and the upshot is that the bit between his throat and stomach isn’t quite working properly, meaning that liquids, like milk, have a tendency to flow back up if we’re not too careful. Not panic inducingly bad news, but not great. The good news is that he is still eating and taking milk in as his nappies are full of both kinds of deposits, but just not really enough. So now he and the Guru are onto a strict ‘not too much milk but little and often’ diet, which just means that he’s going to be hungry most of the time, well, until he moves onto solid food, which should have a greater degree on stay-downness, apparently.

Anyway they are still in hospital for more monitoring as this doctor ordered regime now seems to be making the young ‘un lose weight, not a good thing for a one month old, but hey, this is Japan and the Doc is always right, right?

Happy birthday... this blog, which will be two years old tomorrow. Yaay. Cards, presents and donations gratefully received.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Apologies, things going on so no time to write a post this week.

Is time, however, to link to this. Once upon a while ago Josh over at Bondibooks tried to lose me my job by discovering Stick Cricket version 1; now he is trying to break up my marriage by finding the new and improved version 2...

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Oh yes...

PS3 (thanks taffy san for the link)
a few more photos for you all, you lucky things...

Big yawn
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

What's going on
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

Baby, cake and Kanji 2
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

the birth, part 2

So back to the hospital for about 8pm and by now it seemed that the contractions proper had kicked off. They were coming at the rate of every 6-8 minutes and when they did, the Guru was doubled over in pain – ah this was a bit more like it – was essentially my reaction, no more pussy footing around but the real thing. I am sure that the Guru felt this way as well, but just didn’t tell me at the time.

From about 8 to 11 we were in the family room as there was more space and a window to look out of, but at 11 a nurse came around to tell us that the lights were going out and shop was being shut up for the night, so we could either move to the guest room (was almost exactly the same, only smaller) or wait next to the Guru’s bed (with her in it, obviously) in the pre labour windowless room; hmm, some choice. So, the Guru went to bed, I went to stay with her for a bit and mother in law went for a bit of kip in the family room. Cue more hand holding, a decent bit of rubbing, plenty of pain and no sleep for the Guru for the second night in a row. At midnight I went for a bit of a sleep and the m-i-l took over until 2am, whence I returned to my post – at this point, unable to stand it anymore, the Guru asked to be moved rooms as the woman from earlier was making so much noise in her agony, again one has to wonder why they share rooms.

Between 2 and about 330 not a lot changed, the contractions didn’t speed up appreciably, but nor did they slow down. The m-i-l took over at about 330 with instructions to wake me up about 5, which she signally failed to do and it wasn’t until about 7am that I awoke on the vinyl sofa in the family room – felt a bit bad about this, but I did ask to be woken up. Oh well.

By this stage the contractions were staying at their steady rate and the Guru was getting increasingly worried that she would have to have the baby induced as she wasn’t dilated enough to get the bugger out. These worries, along with various requests and a certain irritability carried on to about 10am, when she went to see the duty Doc. It wasn’t the Ichiro look-alike today, but the Loud One – this was a doc we had seen in the past and he had a tendency to emphasize the occasional word in a sentence by shouting it as loudly as he could. He also talked to you as if you were 12 yrs old, which wasn’t a great combination, but he good news for the Guru was that she was at 7cm by this stage, on course to deliver that day. This made her feel elated for about 10 seconds before she remembered the pain, lack of sleep and then had to walk back to her bed.

From here and for the rest of the morning and afternoon it was a bit like waiting in limbo. The midwives came and went, checking the Guru, checking the baby’s heartbeat, not checking the husband and generally saying, oh yes, we’ll take you through to the delivery room, but I think you’ve got another hour or two to wait. This happened at middy, 1pm, 3pm and 430 and each time I went to the toilet as I didn’t want to have to leave the delivery room mid push to visit the lavvie – the Guru picked up on this and thought I was abandoning her at various times. How untrue. All through this afternoon session was hard work – the guru wanted to get whole thing over with, whilst I wanted her pain to stop. It’s very difficult to watch a loved one in almost constant pain, even if it is exactly what they want to be doing, especially when there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. On the other hand at least the Guru wasn’t getting too angry with me, that was reserved for the m-i-l; after living with the guru for a good few years I have come to realise that she is an adult an that if she wants something she will ask for it. The m-i-l doesn’t realise this and so kept trying to do things for the Guru, like rubbing her back or massaging her calf muscles (she was getting pretty bad cramp – the Guru, not the m-i-l) without asking, about which the Guru got quite narked at times. Me, I just kept out of it and did what I was told, which is perhaps the best thing to do at times like these (i.e. dealing with one’s spouse).

So, at about 515, the call was made and we moved to the delivery room. Now at a point such as this I was expecting the contractions to be huge, roller coasters of pain, rampaging every thirty seconds, but no, the Guru maintained her stately and regal pace of about every 5 minutes. Into the delivery room and with yours truly in tow, which caused a little bit of surprise on the part of the midwives, but no problem, ready to go...

And nothing happened. We went in, the Guru go into the high, legs akimbo chair and then we waited. The first contraction/push happened about 10 minutes after going into the delivery room, then a break of about 6-7 minutes to the next one. After about half an hour you could see the midwives were getting a bit impatient as they kept popping in and then wandering off. It was most disconcerting as I was in there with the Guru, at her head end, not the business end, as it were, and various midwives and doctors came in and gave the Guru’s ‘business end’ the once over, muttered something like ‘good’ and then buggered off again, never really acknowledging there were people involved.

In answer to the question ‘how long does this usually last?’, one of the midwives said about 2 hours was normal and anything over three was getting dangerous. At 2 hours in there was still little sign that the little bugger wanted to come out, but into the last 30 minutes and things really started to hot up. Well, that should be that the guru really started to cramp up, as with every contraction she would be yelling more from the cramp in both calfs than from the birth (it seemed). In the end we had 4 midwives and a doctor in there, mostly holding/massaging the Guru’s legs – on her instructions, she was ordering everybody about, much to the nonplussedness of the Doc.

But even here the contractions were still only coming at about 5 minute intervals, not like any tv/film birth drama I have ever watched. It seemed that the Guru would give one almighty heave or two, everyone would be a flurry of activity, then the contraction would subside and the assembled would stand around looking at each other, whistling, popping out for a cigarette, saying things like ‘how about those Giants?’ until the next contraction came along, wherein everyone would leap into action once again. All very odd.

But get there we did. The final few pushes did come a little bit closer together but in the end the Guru did need a helping hand – so for the final one, one of the midwives actually climbed on top of the Guru and was pummelling her stomach, like giving cpr but a bit lower down. I had visions of the baby being forced out and shooting across the room with the midwives and doc lined up like a slip cordon...

But luckily nothing like that happened and at 8:05 he finally made his entrance into this world – and he looked just like a purple gremlin.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Due south

due south
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

as it says, due south from the balcony, i.e. standing in the 'patio' doors and looking straight out. Fuji is just off to the right, when you can see it (like the photo below) and this is the view we get everyday. the first bit of green after the houses stop is the flood bank, about the height of a 4 storey building with a path along the top which is just fine for cycling or running along. beyond this on the left is the golf course and the right is the local schools' footy pitch, then the river after them. the other side of the river is akabane with a similar large open space and golf course before flood bank set up, meaning that we get uninterrupted views all the way through tokyo. all in all, not a bad little vista...

Tuesday, 10 May 2005


Ok, have downloaded a photo doohickey but seem to have layout issues. Will try to sort out when I get the chance, hope you like the few that are here.

Sunset in May, Arakawa River on the left

sunset in May
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

Ghostly Mt Fuji in May, from our balcony

Ghostly Mt Fuji in May
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

Soon after he was born

Soon after he was born
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

Awake at last

Awake at last
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.

I thought I ought to share, so here goes. New fangled photo sharing software thing that will probably make the computer crash.

Anyway, here's a test one of Marcus the day after he was born.

Sunday, 8 May 2005

The birth, part. 1

So, onto the story of the birth and all that. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get everything down all in one go as now, not so strangely I suppose, time seems to be at something of a premium...

Anyway, as I mentioned when this all started, I was at work on Monday 25th April, as I should have been, whilst the Guru was at home in the final stages of preparation for the birth. The official due date was May 7th, as in yesterday, but for some reason Fuu chan, as he was known then, was in far too much of a hurry to get out and so decided, in his own way, to take things into his own hands. The Guru called me at about 10 that morning to say that she felt ‘odd’, but as she was 8 and half months pregnant, I suspect that she had been feeling odd for a good deal longer than that. Anyway, she said that should oddness maintain itself, she would seek advice from a doctor type personage. Very sensible.

Then at about midday or she calls to say, rather matter-of-factly, I thought, that her waters had broken and that she was having the baby. Don’t Panic!, as numerous bastions of British sitcoms, have shouted down the ages, advice which I did my best to heed, but it was difficult. Actually it was quite easy to deal with as the Guru said, “my waters have broken but not much else is happening, so take your time and get to the hospital when you can”. OK, mild panic, but I did stick around at work long enough to finish off all the absolute necessaries, such as making sure all the teachers got paid (I deemed this to be quite important), but everything else was shelved – to be fair the office closed on the 29th for a week or so, so it wasn’t like there was much to do.

Home I rushed, fast as the Tokyo metropolitan transit systems would get me, pausing only to buy a sandwich to munch as I changed clothes at home. Whilst there the Guru called again to say that, as before, not much was happening, but could I bring a few bits and pieces along with me. So, by about 4pm I got to the hospital to find the Guru and her mother sitting around twiddling their thumbs as, really, not much was happening.

And so it stayed. The mother-in-law disappeared at about 6 as she had only been out and about in Tokyo and wasn’t in a position to stay the night, and then the Guru, after chatting to a midwife, told yours truly to bugger off home for the night as little was likely to happen. Now at this stage I was all for kipping on the floor of the family room, rather than leave my poor, unprotected wife in the hands of evil maternity ward goons. But then reality reasserted itself and off I went with assurances on pain of death that should anything happen I would be called at home.

So by 9pm I was back home, wondering what it was all about. In the end I came to the conclusion that it’s probably for the best if we don’t know what it’s all about, but some hints would be nice.

Tuesday morning, 8 sharp I was back at the hospital. Visiting time on the ward is from midday but I think they make exceptions for spooked gaijin with a wild look in their eyes (or possibly they make exceptions for any father to be whose wife is expecting soon, I don’t know). So, Monday night no calls from the hospital telling me to get there toot sweet (or is it tout suite? Or a combination? Let’s say avec tout vitesse as it sound good), and the reason for this was that still nothing much was happening. Hmmm...

Through Monday night the guru had what she thought were contractions, but they were very faint. Even so, as she thought they were contractions, the Guru had been assiduously noting down when they started and how long they lasted. This she had done through most of the night and so was understandably a bit tired by this stage.

At 10am she went to see the duty Doc, a very young looking bloke who bore a more than passing resemblance to Japanese baseball star Ichiro Suzuki, but paler and less athletic looking. His news was that the Guru’s night of ‘contractions’ weren’t the real thing by a long chalk and although her waters had broken 24hrs ago, she was only about 2cm dilated, not nearly enough to get a baby through, so would we like to have some ‘assistance’ in inducing the baby out?

Hmmm, not really was the reply. What happens if we don’t? Well. The chance of an infection goes up (nothing to worry about as yet) and things take longer, but otherwise not too much. So we decided not to at this stage and, if nothing had happened by Wednesday morning, would rethink the position. So the Guru and I trooped off back to her pre-labour room. As mentioned before, the pre-labour rooms are a bit odd. Two very pregnant ladies share these, but with curtains down the middle, so if one is nearly there and in and later stages of intense agony, the other lady is going to know about it.

In the Guru's room the woman in the other bed was in a similar situation vis-à-vis the water breaking but not much else stakes – but she decided to take the Doc’s inducement and so by Tuesday afternoon we knew all about it and it did not sound good... (but did involve, by the sound of it, an awful lot of rubbing on the part of the husband. What he was rubbing, only he and his wife will ever know, but it was vigorous and went on for a long time, indeed such was the nylon/polyester nature of the hospital provided gowns for the ladies, I suspect that said husband ended up with some pretty severe blisters or burns after all that rubbing – this thought did not fill me with happiness as I pictured myself doing likewise, but with loins girded we entered Tuesday evening).

The afternoon passed listening to other pregant women's descent into agony whilst the Guru wondered if that twinge she felt was the real thing (not judging by the noise next door, we quickly came to realise). The mother in law had returned to the fray earlier so at about 6 yours truly thought it a good opportunity to nip back home for a quick shower and the bite to eat as it looked like being a long night. Back to the hospital at about 8pm to find that the contractions seem to have really started at last. They were now coming at about 8-10 minute intervals and lasting for about 30 seconds or so. This stage was meant to be the haiteeeeee, suteeeee breathing stage. I completely forgot this, as did the Guru, and I only remembered after rereading one of the posts about parenting classes on this blog, I knew there was a good reason for it.

Next: Tuesday night and Wednesday morning...