Spent

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is how I feel, in every sense of the word. *warning – this is going to be another one of my long and all over the place posts

The events of March 11 have left me completely and utterly heartbroken. I’m sure that’s how everyone is feeling these days. It’s impossible to put into words the loss I feel even though I haven’t been directly affected by the earthquakes or tsunami. I mean, we shook here, a few times, but there was no damage. We’re all fine. Akinori’s family in Aomori was without power for a few days, but they’re fine. His family in Sendai is fine. Miraculously we are all fine, physically. But I can’t watch the news without crying. I can’t remember the last full day I went without crying. I don’t even have to watch the news. I just have to stop for a minute and think about the people in evacuation centers up north and what they’re going through. And I’m going to have to stop there because if I start thinking about it anymore I’m not going to be able to get through this post. I donated to the Red Cross. In fact,  I donated way more than we can afford at the moment, but no matter how much I give it doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m going back to teaching belly dance from April, and I sent all of my students an e-mail telling them so, and that I am going to donate 10% of their lesson fees every month for a year. For me, belly dancing is my job, but for my students, taking lessons is a luxury. I find it hard enough to go about my normal every day life without feeling guilty, and I’m sure many of my students do too. I thought it would be easier, for them and for me, to know that while we’re doing something for ourselves, we’re also doing something for someone else. That almost sounds selfish too, like I’m doing it out of guilt, and I guess part of it is out of guilt, but I want to help. I want to feel like I am doing something to help someone rebuild their life, while I am here sitting in my warm home, with all of my belongings, enjoying warm food and sleeping in my warm bed.

My parents were supposed to come for a 2 week visit from this past Sunday, but with the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear reactor situation being so unpredictable at the moment, we were able to persuade them not to come now. I think they wanted to hold out on making a decision until the last minute, but we (my PIL included) were quite stressed about the thought of them coming now. Personally, I was stressed from the moment I knew they planned on coming. I know they want to see their new granddaughter, but I have two small children that need my attention, and having my parents here is like having 2 more children who need constant attention. They said they were going to help with taking care of Sara and Amelie, but my parents are not hands-on grandparents, as much as they’d like to think they are. So now they plan on coming in July. That sounds more reasonable to me.

I think my MIL is really worried about me though. She’s worried about me being stressed at going through earthquakes and what not in a country that is not my own, with my own family far away. For me it’s not so much being in a foreign country, but Osaka still feels much more like home to me than Nagano does, and of course, my family isn’t here, and most of my good friends are in Osaka. And she’s worried about the fact that on top of that, I have two small children, and I’m having some feeding problems with Amelie at the moment.

The poor baby is totally constipated, and when I was at the midwife clinic she said it was because she’s not getting enough milk, and sure enough when we weighed her, she hasn’t been gaining like she should be. The first month she did great. She gained a kilo in one month, averaging 55g a day! 30g a day is considered acceptable, but the next two weeks she only averaged 26g a day, and then last week 21g a day, even though her constipation got better. The nurse at the midwife clinic said she thought the further decrease was due to her explosive poops when her constipation got better, but she hasn’t pooped for a few days now again, which means she is once again not getting enough milk, and I don’t know what to do. I’m tempted to give up the whole breastfeeding thing and just put her on a bottle, but if we hadn’t gone to the midwife clinic I never would have known that she wasn’t getting enough milk. I had just taken Amelie to the Dr. a few days earlier to have her stuffy nose looked at, because it had been stuffed for weeks, and I asked him about the constipation and he said that’s just how some babies are, but she was gaining weight so there was nothing to worry about. Then I talked to the midwife and she said all Drs. say that, but the baby really isn’t getting enough. I’ve been making a huge effort to drink more water, and it seemed to help at first, but I am at my wit’s end with this now, and I feel horrible, and it is stressing me out, which I’m sure is not helping the situation. I never had this with Sara.

I’m not sure if it’s the stress from the natural disaster or the milk thing or the having two small kids thing, but I have been suffering from vertigo now for the last few weeks, and up until last week it was just once in awhile, but since Thursday it has been all day everyday. I wake up dizzy, and I feel like I’m on a boat until I go to bed at night. When it’s really bad I feel seasick, and eating can make me nauseous. I went to the Dr. and he gave me some medicine that has absolutely no effect whatsoever, but that’s all he could give me since I’m breastfeeding. He said it’s an inner ear thing that needs to fix itself, but it takes time. This happened to me once before about 3 years ago at another really stressful time in my life, when I found out the girl at work who had been parading around as my best friend, was actually going behind my back spreading rumors, nearly getting me fired. (She ended up getting fired in the end – let that be a lesson!) Sometimes it’s worse than others. But sometimes I feel so horrible I want to cry. The worst was last night. The end of a 3-day weekend, meaning Sara wasn’t going to kindy during the day, Akinori was doing something in the kitchen and both girls were screaming at the top of their lungs, and my head felt like it was going to spin off my neck.

I don’t want to put this down to stress. There are plenty other foreign wives in this country who have more than one child and they handle it. I don’t want to think that I’m just too weak to handle my life, but I’m afraid I am. Okay, crying baby. Gotta go.

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About Brenda in Nagano

Originally from Chicago, I knew I was destined to spend the rest of my life in Japan the moment I set foot in the country at the tender age of 16. However, I was quite intent on spending that rest of my life in a major city with a full on career, until my Japanese Prince Charming came trotting down from the mountains of Nagano to sweep me off my feet and whisk me away, turning my whole life plan on its head. Two months after moving to Nagano I gave birth to our little Princess Charming, so now I am officially a SAHM and teach a little belly dance on the side.

7 responses »

  1. I know you don`t want to put it down to stress, but consider how much you have on your plate and I`m not surprised! (Not sure about the dizziness thing tho)..Amelie not gaining must be stress/worry all in itself. I supplemented Emily from the start since I knew I would be working from April so didn`t want any issues with taking the bottle. I`m glad I did because even though I probably would`ve made enough breastmilk this time round, the chance to peacefully breastfeed just wasn`t happening with Alex running around and all and actually stressed me out.
    Emily only poo`s once a day if that, that also worried me but doc said it was fine and some babies are just like that. Perhaps you need to eat more? More food usually = more breastmilk being made if you aren`t making enough..(I know I eat like a horse and it helps ;P)
    Big hugs, just take one day at a time, that`s the only way to get through stuff at the moment I think. Thinking about the future/tomm/ next week is too stressful for me so the `this too shall pass` motto is something that helps with the day xx

  2. I don’t think you knew me when I had a 2 yo and a newborn but I was a MESS- physically, mentally and emotionally. It was downright dangerous now I think of it. I walked out of kinder with Meg and her bag having forgotten Amy was being passed around the teachers for cuddles. I frequently just cried for no reason from the sheer exhaustion of it and the feeling torn in two by two people completely and utterly dependent on me- agghhhhh!!! And added to that you have feeding issues and a DH who works 6 days a week? Cut yourself some slack! Can you book in for an oppai massage and some more encouragement from your fabulous midwife clinic? And definitely both drink AND eat more. Sorry to hear there was no quick fix on the ear thing either…

    Sending you love and warm weather!

  3. Hi Brenda, delurking here but you may have seen me around!
    Don’t be too harsh on yourself, I don’t think anybody realises how tough it is second time round. As much as you love your little girls it is hard to manage everyones needs all the time while looking after yourself. Added to the new baby a huge earthquake and it’s consequences just lifted your stress off the meter. Try to focus just on your family and take one day at a time, it takes much more than the 6 weeks of a first baby to settle in to any type of a routine, and if it takes even longer than loger so be it do it at your pace.

    Your milk maybe low because of stress but is your baby really constipated? If she is fully breastfeed she may not be. My kids went on average 14 days without doing a bowel movement. First time round I was as stressed as hell, the docs and midwives giving conflicting advice, sticking cotton buds up her bum …. I read my aussie books and they said it was normal if she was weeing, and then read more and discovered that it is okay for a fully breastfeed baby to go for long periods without pooing. It’s just another thing the Japanese don’t agree with!!!

    Try and tackle one thing at a time…sounds like you’re a great mum

  4. brenda! i think i would be super stressed out if i were you! amelie isn’t even 2 months yet! and pretty much every time i get sick it’s cause i’ve been stressed out. can you get rescue remedy or some equivalent? it may be just a placebo effect, but it’s a good one!

    anyway, kellymom.com is a great site for breastfeeding info. here’s a link about weight gain: http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/growth/weight-gain.html
    the ultimate breastfeeding book of answers is also a very reliable source of info: http://bit.ly/ezaWmf
    20g a day is not totally out of the ordinary it looks like for 0-4 months.
    (also see here: http://bit.ly/fYEISR)
    and i totally agree that wet diapers and not poop frequency are a much better measure.
    http://www.mother-2-mother.com/normal.htm#NormalStools
    “At around the age of six weeks, the stooling pattern of a breastfed baby may change. It is not uncommon for the breastfed baby to skip days between bowel movements. Some babies skip every other day, some go every two or three days, some once every 5 – 7 days, and some babies hold out for up to 11 or 12 days at a time – then have quite a FULL diaper when they DO go!”
    (and see here: http://bit.ly/heRB65)
    hope that helps. doesn’t sound like you should be super worried. i’m sure you would have a good intuition about it if she wasn’t thriving! take care! xoxoxo

  5. Hi, the low weight gain also may be due to her stuffy nose. Baby’s are nose breathers and she may get tired feeding. I think that as long as she isn’t screaming from hunger that you shouldn’t worry too much about her weight gain. (I think it also depends on if she is a good sleeper. My daughter wasn’t and her weight gain was really slow, since she was not a good napper). With the dizziness, I don’t know if you want to try this Eply procedure, but it does help some. It says you are supposed to do it with the doctor, but there isn’t a big reason why as far as I can tell. As you roll around, it really makes you feel very nauseous etc., but it may be worth a try. I hope that you feel better soon. Nancy

    http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/au/sec06/ch080/ch080e.html

  6. Hi congratulations
    I have a 3 year old and a 3 month year old. The wet nappies are the thing to look out for. IF there are no wet nappies then it is time to worry. If she has the sniffles they don’t eat as much. Did you know you can help clear the nose by either a saline solution or (my favorite) squirt some breast milk up her nose? It helps losen the mucus and BM is always to hand as it were.
    If your baby seems happy and not too letharigic then don’t worry! Happy mummy happy baby is all that matters.
    Also my doctor said for the first month or so they are full of mums growth hormones and then after that they are producing their own so the growth rate may change ( not sure how true it is ) but don’t worry
    the lentil weaver

  7. I agree with everything said here. Having a new baby and an infant is stressful enough, add to that the terrible disaster (and yes we are safe, warm and have rooves over our heads, but I think we are also allowed to be stressed, call it survivors guilt perhaps), and you have a whole load of stress. I hope you can continue with the breastfeeding, but also that if you DO have to substitute, that you don’t feel guilty about it. Amelie has already had lots of the good stuff from you, and that’s more than I managed with my first child. xxx

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