Thursday, November 15, 2012

Being pregnant in Japan, part two

I want to include a picture of my belly here, but though my belly is getting big, it's not quite the charming *obviously pregnant* kind of big, just the 'jeez, someone needs to tell this girl to lay off the Cheetos!' kind. Combined with my now-large chest and my naturally big butt, I am now approximately the shape of a sausage.
("An attractive sausage," my husband assures me.) So please forgive me for not posting belly pictures quite yet.

Anyways, where was I. Oh yes!! 97!

I can take those odds, I thought, and had a weird dorky grin at work all day, and kept myself from peeking at the sonogram and/or maternity themed websites.
But uh, considering I was trying to keep this whole thing under wraps from my company, I didn't dare use the magical token afforded to me by the city office, namely a a little badge you can attatch to your bag that announces to the world at large to give you their seats on the subway. (Due to the high probability of being seen by coworkers on the same train route, there was no way I was attaching it to my bag.)

(Translation: move, plebeians.)

Lucky for me, I was able to keep my stealthy secret because of my luck; I hadn't gotten much in the way of morning sickness. No vomiting for *me*, thank you very much!

Well, during the first three months it's true that I never barfed, but it felt like I had a little nausea meter with me at all times, where full is good and empty means vomit. Most of the time it was at 'just slightly nauseous', but when I got hungry it would dip dangerously into 'definitely feeling sick'.

When having lunch, every day, each and every food item would carry a different nausea-inducing or reducing ranking. Think of it as an exciting game where the peices are reset every day:

i.e., you find out the hard way that today's rating system is as follows:

  • That fish you had yesterday that was totally fine? Now that fish is -2 nausea points, sucker.
  • Salad is +1, potatoes: +5 (yay)

Today: your best friend. Tomorrow, your worst enemy.

Thanks to that amusing game, I very nearly barfed at the private new-hire lunch where we are invited to converse with the COMPANY PRESIDENT.
Luckily there was a peice of cheese in my bento, thank the lord. Cheese cleared the slate and made me feel instantly cured, so I didn't even have to empty my stomach contents on the president's shoes.

THAT would have been a story.

From then on out I started taking the thing much more seriously. I got this big thick book on pregnancy from the local bookstore, which of course was in Japanese. But Japanese books are cute and have tons of explanatory illustrations and I could pretty much read most of it, except for the pregnancy-specific vocab. Which posed the unique dillema of Takeshi knowing the word in Japanese but not in English, so i would point to a word and ask him what it meant, with him having to describe everything.

(I wanted to include a picture of my book, but I can't find it at the moment. rats)

"Teiou-sekkai, um, that's when they get the baby out by cutting your stomach," he said, making snipping gestures.

Other than the occasional need for snipping gestures, I like this book. I like it for the main reason that it has pretty much the same advice as all those official medical sites by Western Authorities (this is not a outlet mall brand by the way), and the advice makes sense. And I like how it says 'you SHOULD have a cat. There is some rumor about toxoplasmosis these days, but if you take care of it normally the risk is negligable, in fact, cats have endearing qualities will help you cope with the stress of pregnancy."

Hear that Cally? You get to live another day! :D

But of course there are slight differences. Like in the US, people tell you to avoid raw fish altogether, whereas here they only tell you to avoid tuna, swordfish... and DOLHPINS AND WHALES (hello?! were we eating these??). Sashimi's freshness is taken so seriously here they show the *time* of packaging on the box and throw things out after a couple of HOURS, so this is probably why it's never come up as an issue here.

So what *do* I do to consolidate the different sources of sometimes confusing, often controversial information?

Easy. I look at the Japanese guide, then I look at the western guide, and painstakingly venn diagram them making little charts like I pretend I'm the crazy professor in A Beautiful Mind, and I
....throw away the advice out of the two versions that's the most pain in the ass.

Because seriously, if an entire *country* is having healthy babies without your "ruuuuuules", then I think I can ignore them, thank-you-very-much.

By the way, this is a great system that I think every pregnant lady should follow. If you have just one rule set, you're forced to follow everything on the list, no matter how crazy they sound. But if you have *two*, you can pick and choose between them for the easiest policies! Seriously, I am thinking of awarding myself with a pat on the back and a cookie for my quick thinking. (A cookie is allowed, because even though the US guide tells me to avoid sweets, the Japanese guidelines tell me no such thing. ;))

But fear not! I am not 100% a pregnancy rule slacker-offer. I am following *some* rules. The most lenient of both systems, but they exist nonetheless!

Like, no downhill skiing.

Right. Not that I would have done that anyway, BUT you may rest assured that since both WebMD *and* my Big Book of Illustrated Pregnancy Guidelines (in Japanese) specifically told me not to, it's off the list. SIGH.

Another sad thing is that I have not had *any* alcohol, even though I have read some lenient guidelines that said maybe a sip every now and then is "fiiine you big chicken", Takeshi slapped the glass out of my pretty little hand (figuratively! figuratively) and told me not to endanger his unborn child.

Sheesh! Have you BEEN to a Japanese izzakaya? Have you EXPERIENCED the sadness that is a nomihoudai when you're not allowed to drink?? My department just went to a 3-hour party at one of those all you can drink places, where the all-you-can-drink menu included a hundred-drink encyclopedia of various alcoholic delights.
The non-alcoholic menu? Coke, orange juice, and tea. That's it! For THREE HOURS!!
And no, there were no non-alcoholic versions of the hundred-drink party. I asked.

Batender, get me a pint of non-alcoholic juice in which to drown my sorrows.
On second thought, make it a double.

I am keeping a list as evidence, so I can point to it later. "Look at the sacrifices I made for you", I say as my offspring is looking over the list shaking his/her head in shame, (in this vision I am lounging one of those day sofa-beds gesturing at Junior with a cigarette in a long holder), "now mix me a martini, darling, and make it snappy!"

...what, this will totally work. I'm a genius!


Blogger cat weaver said...

By the end of the three hours of juice and tea, did your company know you were pregnant, or were they too drunk to notice?

12:55 AM  
Blogger Kyra said...

well, I wasn't the only one laying off the alcohol (a lot of people don't have a huge tolerance here), so I slipped under the radar ;)

4:25 AM  
Anonymous BotanyDave said...

Listen to Takeshi! No alcohol for you!

And... were there many kinds of tea? Or just "tea?" You could start our with a nice cup of Puer, then follow it up with some bancha, and later, some nice, warming oolong and/or sencha.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Kyra said...

haha thanks BotanyDave ^^ I've been good, I've been good.
Ahh, I wish there had been lots of teas! just iced oolong. ;p
I'm really starting to miss wine though. Maybe if I boil it when I make mulled wine, the alcohol will dissapear?

6:20 PM  
Blogger Kyra said...

haha thanks BotanyDave ^^ I've been good, I've been good.
Ahh, I wish there had been lots of teas! just iced oolong. ;p
I'm really starting to miss wine though. Maybe if I boil it when I make mulled wine, the alcohol will dissapear?

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record, meconium and placenta are not the same thing. Placenta is the sack around the baby.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last comment was from Grandma Blue, who really doesn't know everything you know, even after four babies!

12:56 PM  

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