Monthly Archives: October 2010

What do you do? – Stop lurking and advise please!

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So I have two questions for the general population, well the general population with kids and living in Japan, preferably in an area that gets colder in winter. So maybe not the general population, but feel free to pipe in even if you don’t qualify with the above criteria.

Dilemma #1

Currently we co-sleep with Sara. Over the weekend we went to IKEA and bought her a lovely new toddler bed and set it up in her room for her to sleep on her own, something I would like to start ASAP as I would really like her to be sleeping on her own for awhile before Juniorette comes along and takes her place in our bed. Akinori understands this and is not opposed to having her finally leave our bed, thank god! because lord knows it took him long enough to get over his separation anxiety about this. However he has a problem with putting her in her own room because of the heating bill. We haven’t turned on the heat in our bedroom yet, but we will have to soon enough. If Sara sleeps in another room, we will have to turn on a heater in there too. Akinori is (for the first time ever!!) worried about how much our heating bill is going to escalate as a result, and he therefore wants to put her bed in our room, something I am completely against.

Maybe I sound callous and cold, but I didn’t want to be co-sleeping this long, to tell you the truth. It was easier to co-sleep while I was breastfeeding, but I haven’t been bfing for nearly a year now, and it is just plain uncomfortable for me as I get slowly pushed off the edge of the bed all night long because Sara wants to sleep on top of me, more or less, or with her face nuzzled into my back, or her feet on my stomach.

That is besides the point I guess. I don’t want to put her bed in our room because there is pretty much no room for it. We have a NEVER used crib in our room at the moment, which allows for approximately 15 cm of walking space on either side of our bed. He suggests taking that out, taking away ALL walking space on either side of our bed by pushing it up against a wall, and putting Sara’s bed next to it. Either way we are going to take the crib out as the cat is the only being to have used it in the 2 years that we’ve had it, though she seems to find it quite cozy and comfortable.

Anyway, my question is what do other people do? I know that not everyone with children in Japan co-sleeps and that people who live in colder regions, where using the heat at night is necessary have children who sleep in separate rooms (Heather, are you out there?). What do you do? Do you suck up the heating bill? Do your children sleep with you during the winter?

My suggestion is that we turn the heat on 30 minutes before Sara’s bedtime and put it on timer so that it shuts off an hour or two after she’s asleep. Make sure she has loads of blankets, and set the timer on the heater so that it starts up again an hour before she usually wakes in the morning. Is this unreasonable? Anyway, this topic caused a HUGE argument in the middle of IKEA on Saturday. Why does Akinori have to pipe up with his comments and ideas that piss me off at the most inappropriate times?

Dilemma #2

This one really is for the general population, with kids anyway.

Sara is at a stage where she throws things when she’s angry or when she gets overexcited. When she’s angry it’s easy to discipline her as she knows she’s doing something wrong because she’s doing it on purpose to express her anger. I can help her identify her own feelings that she’s angry and throwing is not how we deal with anger.

HOWEVER, when she gets overexcited she tends to get violent and think that it’s funny. Lately it’s pulling my hair and laughing hysterically. Sometimes it escalates to hitting me or throwing things at me. I tell her no and she laughs harder and comes back for more. I hold her hands firmly and tell her no and she laughs harder and comes back for more. I tried pulling her hair once to show her how much it hurt, and she laughed harder and came back for more. I yell “ouch!” or “itai!” and although that worked at first, now she laughs and comes back for more. I pretend, or sometimes I really cry, and although that also used to work, not anymore. She laughs and comes back for more. Lately I have taken to leaving the room and not letting her follow me. That seems to work, but it’s not always possible when we are away from home. She has also taken to kicking, which is fine when she’s kicking the floor or nothing at all, but she’ll position herself so that her legs reach me, and will kick at me, and anytime she gets anywhere near my stomach I have small panic attacks. I grab her legs and hold them, and tell her “no”. But she thinks it’s all a game, and no matter how stern I am, she laughs and laughs, and I just get more and more pissed off.

Besides pissing me off beyond belief when she does this, it really worries me when she has a book or some other object in her hand and chases the cat and swats at the cat, not just because this behavior is obviously unacceptable, but because the cat is not nearly as understanding as I am, and has sharp nails that can cause some serious damage to protect herself with.

How do I get her to understand and stop hitting and kicking when I say no, or chasing the cat? The cat gets obviously angry and hisses and swats, and Sara thinks this is all a joke. One day the cat is going to get fed up and lose her cool if I don’t first.

Thanks for the advise in advance!

Update to yesterday’s post

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I can’t seem to edit my old posts or delete them, hence the reason my “Test” post is still up there. I don’t know why. Anyone? Anyone?

Anyway, I just wanted to update that I’m feeling loads better. Am able to walk without pain today. I asked Dr. Google last night and it seems that rest is the best thing (perhaps the only solution, since that was all I could find), and it is indeed quite common in pregnancy from around 22 weeks, and it seems to be more common in 2nd and subsequent pregnancies. It sounds like it’s the pelvic muscles all cramping at the same time, or all the pelvic muscles on one side cramping in my case. Lovely. After all that traveling with heavy luggage and holding Sara for hours on end, what else could I expect? So I guess I will make as much of an effort as possible not to hold Sara for long periods of time, if at all, while standing, and to rest my legs as much as possible.

Doc appt update

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I went to the big hospital for a check-up today. Baby is fine and measuring normal. Her waist measurement is almost exactly 2 weeks behind, her head measurement is 3 days behind, and her leg measurement is 1 week ahead. Sara was pretty much exactly the same, very skinny, long-legged baby. I’m fine with that, especially if her head continues measuring small.

I have gained 8 kgs. since the first recorded measurement in my boshi techo. Luckily no one gave me any shit about weight gain at the hospital. My next appointment at the midwife clinic is in 1.5 weeks, and I don’t expect to get off so easy. That said, I gained about 17 kgs. with Sara, and I didn’t get as much flack as I’ve heard of other foreign women getting in Japan. With Sara, one midwife even said to me, “it’s not as if you can go on a diet while you’re pregnant, as long as you’re eating healthily there’s really no problem”. Amen, sister! I just think different people gain or don’t gain no matter what they do or don’t do. I’m sure the crap I ate in America has been no help in preventing weight gain, but my blood pressure is perfectly normal, as it was with Sara, so I just don’t think it’s that big a deal.

I did have a blood test today, which showed that my blood sugar level is fine, however I came up slightly anemic. Not surprising since I just came back from America a few days ago and am still a bit jetlagged and just generally exhausted. The Dr. didn’t prescribe any medicine though as my iron level was just a bit below the normal range, but he gave me a list of foods that I should try and eat to prevent my iron level from falling any lower, as it easily can during pregnancy. I need to start taking my vitamins regularly again too. I’ve been a bit slack about it since I came back (and while I was gone).

More worrisome though is the pain I am feeling where my right leg and hip connect. At this very moment I am stuck on the sofa because I can’t walk it hurts so much. To tell you the truth, sitting is hurting like a bitch too as does laying down. I’m not sure what to do to ease the pain. I had pain here while I was in the States once in a while, but never to this degree. It seriously feels like my leg is about to fall out of its socket. While I was home I put it down to the fact that all of a pregnant woman’s joints loosen up in preparation for birth, and I remember having pain in the same place with Sara too, but much, much later on, and it wasn’t this crippling. It makes sense that it is happening earlier with the 2nd child I guess, but I have a feeling that teaching a belly dance class last night, after not doing any major exercise aside from chasing Sara, for a whole month, has something to do with it. Carrying Sara on the plane/standing for hours at a time probably didn’t help either. Whatever the reason, this is a problem. Once Akinori gets home, hopefully in the next few minutes, we are either going to have to go to the hospital to have it looked at, or he is going to have to take tomorrow off if this pain doesn’t get any better because I literally cannot stand.

I suppose I should have mentioned this to the Dr. this morning, but there just didn’t seem to be an appropriate time. It’s not like the Dr. actually says, “Do you have any questions?” This is Japan, after all. I’m thinking maybe we should call the midwife and ask her what to do.

Anyway, this is one of the two photos I received of the ultrasound this morning. The baby was totally staring right at the camera and the doctor was able to get this amazing face shot. It’s totally freaky, but so incredibly cool at the same time. I can’t wait to meet her!

The tale of the horrible, awful, never-ever-going-to-do-it-again flight

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I should have known it was going to be a crap flight by the way the morning started. Got in the shower around 7 a.m. and the moment I got in, the bathmat slipped out from under me and I fell straight on my ass. Not a good thing even when you’re not pregnant, but considering I am, I was a little concerned. The fall actually felt like it was happening in slow motion though, and I didn’t hit anything or bang into anything on the way down, so it was kind of like riding a slide unexpectedly, and the baby was kicking around a little while later, no bleeding or spotting, so I wasn’t TOO concerned. None since then either, so I think we are all good, but I have a Dr. appointment tomorrow so I’m going to mention it then and we’ll get to see whether everything really is alright or not, but baby is kicking me hard enough to move the computer as I type, so I think we’re probably okay.

Sara started nodding off in the car on the way to the airport, and I was not about to let her nap before we actually got on the flight, though in retrospect, maybe I should have. I had been checking the seat map regularly and there were two adjacent seats open in the middle of two different rows until the the night before the flight. Our seat was reserved as an aisle seat, but if I could let Sara have her own seat, even if it was in the middle of a row, I figured that was the best option. Unfortunately I was told at check-in and at the gate when I asked again that it was a full flight and there were no adjacent seats available.

We get on and I notice in the row behind us there is an open seat in the middle of a row, and I wanted to ask the gentleman sitting on the aisle if he wouldn’t change seats with us, but he was asleep before the flight took off, and Sara had already started falling asleep, so I figured, “meh, I can handle this if she’s going to sleep.” Oh how wrong I was!! Dumbest, dumbest, dumbest mistake I have ever made. If you find a more preferable seat on a flight, don’t ever hesitate, ASK!!! The worst that can happen is the person will refuse, and I have experienced the worst outcome when you don’t ask, and believe me rejection is far easier to handle!

Sara slept for the 1st hour and a half or so. Lovely. So did I. We woke up just in time for lunch. That went fine. And then the screaming started. High-pitched pterodactyl screaming whenever she didn’t get exactly what she wanted, which was basically to run around or play with the water in the bathroom, but it was not, under any circumstances, to sit on my lap in our seat. Granted, who could blame her? We were sitting in a crowded economy seat next to a larger, older woman. Very sweet lady, but  a bit on the larger size, not to mention I myself, am a bit on the larger side these days. Just plain uncomfortable for all parties involved. PLUS! the asshole in front of us insisted on keeping is sit all the way back the ENTIRE flight, except during meals. That made a HUGE difference in the amount of space we didn’t have, and Sara’s feet, or head if she was standing on the floor in front of me, bumped the back of his seat often. I did try my best to prevent that from happening, but inevitably she kicked or hit his seat several times. And do you know what the asshole did in return? He would throw his body back into the seat, to “send a message” I’m guessing, but I was so pissed off! He could have really hurt Sara if the table back had hit her in the head. Just not a cool thing to do. When we went to LA Sara was in my lap for the return flight, and at least the guy in front of us had the courtesy to ask if it was okay if he reclined his seat after realizing I had a child in my lap. Asshole, asshole, asshole! Beware of karma, you fucker! (Though he’s probably thinking the same thing about me.)

I’m not going to go through the entire flight hour-by-hour, it was just too freaking painful! But basically after Sara woke up and we ate lunch, we spent the next SIX hours of the flight running down the aisles, locked in the bathroom, screaming, crying (me), throwing water (Sara would ask for water, and when I wouldn’t let her pour it herself, she would take the cup and throw it, lovely). There was another little girl on the flight who was 3 years old and so well-behaved. It made me want to cry even more. Whenever someone was the least bit kind to me I ended up in tears again. I’m sure pregnancy hormones had a lot to do with the tears, but at one point Sara was slapping me in the face, and I was holding her hands and telling her no, and she was laughing and just kept doing it whenever she could get a hand free, and I started crying and she was still laughing, and I just completely lost it. How could my child be so completely evil as to watch her mother break down in tears and continue hitting me and slapping me and pulling at me cheeks and hair. I swear if someone had offered to take her away forever in that moment, I probably would have said yes.

Around hour 9 Sara finally started showing signs of being tired, but refused to allow me to sit down and hold her until she fell asleep. The moment I sat down in my seat, the high-pitched screaming started again. So I had to walk around the plane with my 10 kg daughter in my arms until she finally fell asleep. Once she did I thought for sure that was it until we landed. It was already nearly 9 p.m. Chicago time, the normal time she would fall asleep, but she was having a very restless sleep and woke up after about 2 hours and stayed awake for the last 3 hours of the flight. She was too tired to insist we walk around at least, but still lots of screaming and crying and just plain misery for both of us.

I swear 13 hours of intense, painful labor would have been far more pleasant than that flight. Luckily, I shouldn’t ever have to do that again. Sara will have a sibling the next time we go to Chicago,  which will hopefully provide some entertainment for both of them, and the plan for next time is to go during the dead of winter so Akinori can take 2 weeks off, and we’ll go and come back together.  Not the best time to be in Chicago, but I am more willing to put up with shit weather for 2 weeks than 13 hours of misery on a flight. Plus next time we fly Sara will have to have her own seat, so at the very least there will be a little more room for us when we travel.

Once we got to Narita and I had to get through immigration and customs with Sara in her stroller and the luggage cart with our 3 huge bags, people were very kind. The airport staff was incredibly helpful, and Akinori was waiting for us at the airport. Unfortunately the fun didn’t end there. All the time spent standing and walking around in the airplane was apparently a big strain on my pregnant body, and after about an hour or two in the car, I started to get horrible cramps in both my legs. We were getting gas when it started, and we had to repark the car after filling up, I laid down on the cement and Akinori stretched my legs out for me because I was in so much pain.

He and a friend had gone to a concert in Saitama the night before, spent the night in a hotel, and both came to pick us up, so the friend was sitting in the front seat, but after that episode we changed seats and I was able to stretch my legs on my own until we got home, when the REAL cramping started. I have NEVER had such horrible leg cramps in my life. I passed out on the sofa about 10 minutes after walking in the door and was woken up repeatedly by cramps in my legs, usually both at the same time. Just one, long, horrible nightmare. We ended up all camping out in the living room because Akinori had been sleeping on the living room floor since he came back so there were no clean sheets on the bed, and only a sheet and thin blanket for covers.

After a fairly decent night’s sleep though I was feeling motivated when we woke up and got the bed done, pulled out the winter blankets, washed the dirty sheets, started unpacking, got us showered, had a fairly productive morning, then went out for lunch and was dying for a nap. Luckily Sara was too, so we both passed out just after 1 p.m. and I had to force myself and Sara to wake up around 5:30! because if we slept any longer we would never get over our jetlag. It was an awesome nap though!

At 8:00 I went to the dance studio where I usually teach Monday nights to say hello to the students and the girl who was teaching my classes for me, and bring the chocolates I had brought as omiyage, so really expensive Godiva truffles, that I wanted to owners to give to the students, but the dickhead owner just said thank you, and left the unopened box on the front desk. I was so pissed off. Those chocolates were for my students, not him!

Anyway, he stopped me as I was leaving saying he had something he wanted to talk to me about, and complained that the number of students dropped considerably while I was gone. Whatever. 4 students have stopped coming. 1 has a serious back problem, and plans to continue taking lessons with me after I quit the studio, 1 is doing IVF in an effort to get pregnant, but told the studio work is getting in the way, and the other 2 they can’t get in touch with. Whatever. They stopped coming before I went to Chicago. It has nothing to do with me not being there. It has to do with the fact that they are pushy and nosy, and no one wants to deal with them. So then he asked when my due date was and what my plans were, so for the 1500th time I told him I was due early February, and would teach up until the New Year’s break. And he was like “What?! What do you mean you’re going to take time off after December?!” So I said, “Well, okay then, actually I think it’s better for everyone involved if I quit.” And he took it really, really well, so I think they probably planned on asking me to quit anyway. Perfectly fine with me, and I would prefer even sooner, but whatever. Then he has the nerve to ask me about finding another teacher. Fuck that!! First of all, I only know of other teachers, I don’t know any other teachers in Nagano personally. Second, I have no obligation to them whatsoever! Argh! Asshole! Asshole! Asshole! I do feel much, much better having quit though. I even had a nightmare about them and quitting their studio while  I was in Chicago. I can’t wait for the end of the year now!

When I got home around 9, Sara was already asleep, and she ended up sleeping through until 5 a.m. Hopefully we will back to normal by tonight. Tomorrow I have a Dr. appointment at the big hospital, which means another blood test and fancy ultrasound. This day seemed so far away when I went to the hospital and made the appointment at only 12 weeks. Time sure flies. Going to the big hospital means putting Sara in daycare though, which I am looking forward to. Aside from the hour last night, and approximately 2 hours I left her with my parents while we were in Chicago, Sara and I have been together 24/7 for the last month, non-stop. I need a break.

On our way

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Oh my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…

The bags, all 3 ginormous bags, are finally packed and ready to go. All of the laundry, save the pajamas we’re wearing, has been washed so I won’t have massive amounts of laundry to do when I get back. I’m debating waking up a few hours earlier than I need to, to wash the pajamas as well, but I think I might do better getting that extra bit of sleep because who knows how much rest I will or will not get on the plane.

I am looking forward to getting back home and seeing Akinori, whom I miss terribly! Though I’ve gotten used to not having him around and it’s not quite as bad as it was the first week he was gone. I REALLY missed him when he first left. The problem is mostly my mother, who I don’t have the best relationship with. She wasn’t a great mother (my grandmother raised me – not because my mom was on drugs or anything, but because she worked full-time and did all kinds of community shit and volunteer blah blah blah, so that she was literally NEVER home), and she’s not a great grandmother either. She doesn’t beat Sara or anything, but she’s just kind of awkward with her. She’s not the “here, I’ll take care of the baby while you get some rest/do your own thing” type of grandmother. She’s more the “I’ll watch her if I’m asked, but I’ll never offer” type. Though Sara absolutely adores her. I guess I adored her when I was that age too.

Anyway, I want my children to have a good relationship with their grandparents, even if I don’t, so I come back and stay here and we put up with each other for a month. Probably not next year though. It’s hard enough doing it with one kiddie, I can’t imagine trying to do it with two. Akinori and I have pretty much decided that we’re better off coming in the dead of winter when he can actually take about two weeks off work, and just staying two weeks as a family, rather than him flying one way with us, and going back early while we stay on for another 2 or 3 weeks. Plus flying back with Sara alone tomorrow has me scared shitless. I don’t want to even start to imagine trying to do it with 2!

I was looking at the seating plan on the flight and currently we are sitting 3 rows from the back of the plane on an aisle seat that has just two people in the row, meaning the person next to me is on a window. But there appears to be 2 places on the plane still where there are 2 adjacent seats open, but they are in the middle of 4-person rows. I’m not so keen on asking people to get up and let us out every time I have to go to the bathroom (which is fairly often considering there is a small person resting on it), but I have a feeling that having Sara sit/sleep on my lap the entire time is just going to be hell. We barely managed the 4 hours from California. 13 hours with her on my lap is a really unappealing thought.

Originally from California I had an aisle seat, but then when I looked online, there were two adjacent seats open next to a window, so I changed our seats, but there were so many people flying standby when we got to the airport, that we ended up being on a full flight, and I was stuck with Sara on my lap, next to the window, in a 3-person row. SO not fun! So hopefully no one will be flying standby to Japan, right? And even if they are, there are a few other seats still available on the plane, and they can sit in one of those seats, right? I guess we’ll see when we get to the airport tomorrow. Anyway, wish me luck because I am seriously going to need buckets of it!!