Full term but far from ready
I’m 37 weeks pregnant. Our baby is now considered full term and could come at anytime. Although we’re hoping we still have another 2 1/2 – 3 weeks to go. There are a lot of things to do still to prepare for our new little baby. Mike wraps his last classes before baby on August 1st, so hopefully baby will hold off until after then.
On Monday, I will have my 11th prenatal appointment, and from here on out I will see the doctor once a week (and eventually twice a week if baby is late). At our last appointment baby’s weight was estimated to be 2988g or 6.6lbs. He is steadily growing. I have no doubt that he will reach his sister’s birth weight by the time he’s born (if he doesn’t surpass her). Our Bunny was 8lbs 9oz (3885g) at birth. I remind myself that baby’s current weight is just an estimate (and hopefully a high estimate). At this coming appointment, I will be hooked up to a fetal monitor for 30 minutes while we listen to baby’s heartbeat and see if I have any contractions. Sounds a little intimidating, doesn’t it? I still have time don’t I? Labour hasn’t started yet…
Yikes… Reality is starting to sneak in. I’m having a baby. I’m having a baby in a foreign country where I don’t know the language. I’m very far away from family. Am I getting in over my head…? There’s no turning back at this point.
Panic button paused. My obstetrician speaks English. Even if she is not working, she will come to the hospital when I go into labour to delivery my baby boy. The hospital also has an English speaking midwife on staff who has been helping to translate all the paperwork, answer questions I have, and help me feel more confident. We have a fantastic church family and amazing friends who have offered to help watch the Bunny on the big day. I’ve done this before. I know it’s going to be different, but with Mike at my side and many prayers from family and friends, I can do it again.
So, how are things different?
I don’t think I will really know until after the birth takes place, but there are some differences I have noted along the way. In Japan, pregnancy is not considered an illness and therefore is not covered by national health insurance. We do however receive some money from the city for having a baby. It covers a good portion of the costs, but not everything. As a result, I am supposed to provide references, names of friends or family that live in Japan that would take responsibility for my hospital bill in the case that I couldn’t afford to pay it. Not the kind of request I really want to ask a friend for.
I will also be staying at the hospital for much longer than I did when I gave birth to the Bunny in Canada. I have a long list of items to pack for my period of hospitalization (including cup, fork, spoon, and chopsticks). If I want I can wear the hospital’s night wear, but again there’s an additional charge for that. I’m thinking a big t-shirt should do just fine.
In Japan, they also want me to come to the hospital sooner when labour begins. When I was pregnant with the Bunny, we took a prenatal class and learned about the 5-1-1 rule: Go to the hospital when contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute in duration, and have been like that for 1 hour. In Canada, if you go to the hospital too soon, you get sent home. Here, first time moms are to go to the hospital if contractions are 10 minutes apart or they have had 6 contractions within an hour. Moms who have had previous children are supposed to go even sooner, when contractions are 15 to 20 minutes apart and happening at regular intervals. Heavy bleeding, strong or continuous abdominal pain, or water breaking require immediate hospitalization.
Mike will be there with me in the labour/delivery room, but if something goes wrong and I need to have a c-section, he will be unable to enter the operating room. Please join us in praying for a smooth delivery with no complications.
Kangaroo care is something that isn’t so different from our experience in Canada, although it wasn’t called kangaroo care at the time (that we know of). It was just the norm. Here our hospital has a special emphasis on kangaroo care (not all birth facilities in Japan do kangaroo care! We investigated this earlier.). I’ve been told after the birth, baby’s health condition will be quickly checked and then he will be placed directly on my chest for 2 hours during which he can also be breastfed. Our hospital’s staff like to emphasize the health benefits of doing this, like making antibodies, keeping warm, good posture to breathe, and helping establish feeding easier. After the health check up by the obstetrician, I will be able to spend time with the baby in my room, but if I need to rest, they are more than willing to take the baby for a while.
Please pray for us while we prepare to welcome our little boy into the world.