20 weeks! It's the Day of the Dog in Japan, the day I am supposed to start wearing the haramaki (tummy binding). To tell the truth, just in the last few weeks I've been starting to feel the strain on my lower tummy muscles and have been considering starting to wear my maternity belt, but since I'm not wearing honky great maternity clothes I'm a little reluctant to break my line.
I'm still wearing my old clothes! The weight I've lost seems to be even with the tum I've gained. I have three pairs of jeans that fit under the belly, including a - gasp - pair of skinny jeans. That was a revelation. At least I have distant memories of the first time they were in, so they don't look totally bizarre to me, but the kids laughed. I persisted however, despite a suspicion that they make my bum look huge. But I even got a little bit of satisfaction there over the Golden Week holiday when a friend predicted a baby boy (who she thinks should be called Guy or Hugo) because my bum was skinny. I know I have no faith in gender predictions from shape, face, morning sickness or pimples (seems everybody has a different theory) but I kind of like that the skinny jeans don't make me look too fat!
Of course the low pants means I have to wear very long tops, but luckily for me, they are in fashion this year. I'm getting to the stage where I have to go for either maternity pants plus a normal top, or normal pants or skirt, but with a maternity top, but I can still get away with normal top and bottom.
So far my skin is cooperating nicely, but if I remember rightly, the really big, triple-header pimples and red nose didn't really kick in until the later months anyway. Something to look forward to!
Oh, and the baby! She is kicking quite a bit - I got some huge wallops over the holiday. And general wiggling and fipping. Most of all I can feel a lump in there, that is starting to affect my ability to bend over. I can just lie on my tummy, for a few seconds, but I can feel the big lump and the baby starts to protest - or is it that with everything squished up, I can just feel it better?
I went to the doctor last week. Well, I decided I just had to get around to asking the Big Questions and stop putting it off. I was not looking forward to getting the 'wrong' answers. It turned out as well as can be hoped, I suppose. I was elated at the time, but have calmed down now, and remember that promises are, well, not actually promises. I've heard that story too many times!
I chose Tuesday to get the guy, because I didn't like the lady doctor, who is a bit grumpy. He is very cheerful, and throws in a bit of English, but not in a patronizing way. It helped my moood also that I had a very competent nurse. It helped that, again, they did my bp twice - for some reason that machine just hates me gives me a really high reading, but their policy is obviously to do another one with the old-fashioned hand pump, while resting on the bed, which gives me a much better reading.
Next came the ultrasound, still can't tell if it's a boy or girl, but I made him laugh telling him I needed to know so my mother could make the right colour clothes. He tried the 3D u/s but it wasn't very good - to be honest, bubs looks like the elephant man. He didn't seem worried though, which is a good sign. I just went 'huh? kowai!' (scary) Also helped that I have not yet put on weight; he commented that I was 'gambatteriu' (doing a good job), actually I'm nauseous, but hey, I'll take the compliments when I can get them! Japanese doctors are notorious for bullying women into putting on no more than 9kg for the whole pregnancy, less you if started out big.
Then came the scary bit. I asked about rooming in and breastfeeding first, and that was all okay. I said right from birth. He seemed surprised that I'd want to (it's very much standard around here to let the nurses take the baby so you can 'rest'), but seemed happier when I said I'd hand it over when/if I felt tired, but clarified that I would get it back when I wanted. Still not sure about the breastfeeding - I know they can say, 'yes, yes, yes' but still come at you with formula or glucose water for every little thing. I'm sure I said 'right from birth, breastmilk only' and that was agreed to. I hope.
Next I asked about labor, would I be free to move, and what kind of rooms did they have. He thought I was going to ask about drugs, but I waved away that idea, which probably made things easier for me. Western women have a bit of a reputation for being wimps. And noisy. He drew me a little picture (a tour would have been better,but) and it seems I do have to move to the delivery room from a separate labour room. I talked about only being on the monitor sometimes, and being able to walk. Seems I will have to stay in the room, but be able to move around in there. I'm not sure what that means in reality! I forgot to ask about drips.
The coolest thing though was that he took my book on Active Birth to read. It's in Japanese, and I got it from a friend a few months ago along with several other old birth books. I can't read it, and I know dh, despite his best intentions, won't either, but I thought it would come in handy for situations just like this, when I needed to explain that not wanting a drip or continunous. monitor was not just dumb ignorance or fear, but a valid philosophy. I said I can't read it, so take it please, and he did! Maybe if I'm lucky, he'll get curious and want to see it in action. I just hope the book isn't too far out there and turns him off! It's full of photos of butt naked ladies laboring all over the place. I forogt to say I had no intention of wandering about in the nude, labor or not.
But the best news was the episiotomy. He said only if necessary, but I knew not to stop there - there all say that! I pointed out that I hadn't had one for my last two, and he seemed confident that I wouldn't need one. I asked how many 2nd the 3rd time mothers get them, and he said 'hotondo nai' (most don't) which is as good an answer as you can get. But then he added that it would be just a little snip and some stitches, but not a big cut. Hmm, not sure what that means. It's not an episiotomy if it's less that 1cm or something? It still hurts! But, with that, and my history of short second stages, it's looking good. Hopefully, if I stay home in my bathtub until the last moment, rush in and push that baby out before he can even reach for his scissors, I'll get a nice comfy bum to sit on post-partum!