Sunday, March 28, 2004
On Saturday 27th, 23:00 (Japan), Margaret ("Maggie") Sakura* Watson was born at Matsugaoka Josanin. She weighed 3.3 kg and was born after a 43 hour labour (though it seemed much longer!)
She was born naturally with no drugs or nasty scissors required (though I vaguely recall somebody having second thoughts on this aspect around the 42nd hour...but I can't be sure).**

Maggie finally made her formal entrance from the birthing-pool. This was the most magical experience as she floated up to just below the surface, opened her eyes and calmly watched us. We let her swim around for about 5 minutes before she seemed ready to take her first was the closest I think I will get to the feeling of experiencing a miracle.

Lisa is very well though obviously extremely tired and a bit sore but not in the slightest bit damaged despite the very difficult labour which reflects on the quality of care she is receiving at the clinic.

Maggie is clearly a very tough girl and also very pretty as I am sure you'll agree. She slept the night soundly with Mum and Dad (that's Lisa and I just in case anybody thought our parents had turned up!) and is starting to find her voice. I'll leave you to comment on which family resemblances she has.

* As many of you will know, "Sakura" is Japanese for cherry blossom. The blossom has just come out in Tokyo and there are Hanami parties this weekend all over the city in the shade of the cherry trees. We took our final walk together through the Sakura in the local park just before we went back to the clinic for the final big push.
** Maggie's labour started at 04:00 on Friday 26th...just 6 hours before our appointment at the hospital for an induction (she was 2.5 weeks late). I remember the moment well as I was watching the Celtic-Barcelona's been a good week!

Thursday, March 25, 2004
So this is how it feels right at the end of my tether. Interesting - it's a while since I've been here...

Monday, March 22, 2004
Where's Mr Manners?
I'm amazed by the number of young, seemingly healthy, people here who have pacemakers. At least I must assume they have pacemakers because they clearly don't fit into any of the other categories of people entitled to a 'priority seat' on the train - pregnant ladies, people with small children, people with disabilities, the elderly and the all-encompassing people with pacemakers or other medical devices (maybe spectacles count as medical devices, of course). So much for the legendary Japanese politeness. All well and good if manners = perfect floral arrangements and bowing while not wearing your shoes in people's houses or sitting on their business cards, but distinctly lacking in actual empathy for other human beings. Today I stood right over said young, healthy people - and the man standing next to me had crutches and a leg in plaster! Did anybody get up? Of course not.
I'm sorry but it makes me very cross. Perhaps I was particularly nicely brought up but even if I was in a normal seat rather than a priority one I'd be ashamed to stay in my chair while a man strap-hung balanced on crutches. Were I not so pregnant I am expecting Norris MacWhirter to appear at any moment*, of course: I feel fully justified in grabbing a seat and staying in it at the moment.
*I have now discovered whose fault this is. Cameron was 2 weeks late being born and needed the threat of induction to get him out (and one of his family's cousins had a baby a whole month late - it was born with long nails and hair!) I am going to have to have words with the baby, it needs to realise that I am a far more sensible role model.

Sunday, March 21, 2004
what a weekend!
I've had needles stuck in me and burning twigs attached to every part of me from the top of my head to my ankles. I've had massages from at least four different people, both with and without aromatherapy oils, and seen a chiropractor (of sorts). I've had a homeopathic pill, raspberry-leaf tea and, memorably, castor oil. I've had my pulse and blood pressure measured umpteen times and spent hours attached to a baby monitor (it's fine, it just sleeps a bit longer than average. Like me. But I think it wakes up for longer than average too. Like Cameron.) and watched three James Bond films*.
Verdict? The baby and I are both absolutely fine. It just isn't ready to come out yet. The Really Good News is that its head has finally engaged! Which lends credence to the wrong-dates campaign I am pursuing vigorously - I have the midwife fully convinced, so all now depends on the whim of the hospital doctor tomorrow. (Trouble is, doctors here are next only to the almighty and Their Word Is Law.) I didn't realise, but dating scans at about 7 weeks are absolutely standard here, so the fact that I didn't have one is very helpful to my campaign too. Yay.
Now I want to do something nice and non-baby centred.
*As far as I'm aware nobody has suggested these might induce labour: the film channel is just having a Bond season.

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Too tired to be coherent after approx 4 hours sleep and a whole day out and about but just thought I'd better post so you don't all assume I am in labour. I'm not.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
One may now cast one's clouts
First may flowers spotted in Shinjuku-gyoen. Also, first cherry blossom:

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Since Phil feels so very strongly that his presence on my blog is insufficient (or could it be that my comments server was playing up?), here's a picture of him singing karaoke, accompanied by Cameron on the tambourine.

Monday, March 15, 2004
a unisex post about flowers
The magnolias are in flower.
And I spotted my first daffs out on my daily waddle round the park.
It must be spring!

sorry boys
I have been reprimanded for alienating my male readership with all this talk of cervices and whatnot. And it's true, I hadn't noticed but it has been a long long time since any man left me a comment. The same chap also tells me that the whole pregnancy thing has gone on long enough and the readers need closure; well, not much I can do about that but I can say:
didn't Celtic do well against Barcelona last week? Jolly well done them.
Only other news is that I have a horrible stinking cold so feel even more sorry for myself. Sniff.

Friday, March 12, 2004
miserable and cross
Bah. Checkup today. Midwife actually did an internal exam and tells me my cervix is 0.5 cm dilated and that the baby is going nowhere until at least next weekend. Reflexologist concurs (though we take both their predictions lightly when we have our logical hats on - after all, they were both convinced it was going to be a few days early not so long ago. They were wrong about that; why then am I so gullible as to believe they can predict it now?). Have taken to the sofa with a packet of Timtams. (OK I should probably be out striding vigorously round the park concocting pineapple-curry recipes but cut a girl some slack.) So that's miserable, and it had me in tears on the way home (I am pathetic, sorry). Cross is because I think - actually I am only 2 days past my due date, surely they can read gestational-period statistics just as well as I can - is it right that they are already frightening me with dates for having to go to hospital and be induced?
So there we go. I'm not so impatient for myself, both the baby and I are perfectly healthy still (so why the panic?) but I am scared that I won't be allowed to have it in my own time and at the place of my choice. Arg. Please don't email me and ask if there's news, I might just snap.

Text reads:
Many years ago fields of yellow rape blossoms stretched
across the area surrounding Yoyogi Uehara.
The lyrics to the old Japanese song, "oboro-tsukiyo"
were written to describe the beauty of the landscape
under a hazy moon and the warm spring breeze
that carried the scent over the hills of Oyama

Which is rather nice, isn't it. Only nobody in their right mind, in my opinion, would describe the revolting smell of yellow rape as a 'scent'.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
some phone pictures

Left: the jolly animal alphabet stickers I spent a pleasant morning putting up above the changing unit. They are very cool - peelable so ideal for an idiot such as myself (and for rented housing!) - but I can't really approve of "X is for xtra-large mouse" or "U is for unicorn". Not that I can think of anything better off the top of my head.
Centre and right: our station has been undergoing a facelift over the past few months. The most exciting change is the installation of lifts but I do love the mural too. Kavitha tells me it was painted by kids, which is nice. It shows green and yellow fields inhabited by an imaginative range of woodland creatures in silhouette. My picture (obviously) shows a couple of bunnies but my real favourite is an owl with a rat hovering just inches above its head - it looks like the owl is dreaming about dinner. I'll tell you what the text reads next time I go to the station - can't read it here!

Sunday, March 07, 2004
new toys
I've had a lovely weekend of new gadgets: we bought one of these (so small! so shiny!), which put nearly enough points on my reward card to get a webcam, so we did. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself (I am so very very sad) downloading drivers, manuals, etc (because of course everything we get in the boxes here is Japanese).
Otherwise, it's all just been sooo alternative. Reflexology on Friday (revised opinion of birth day from today - obviously because I'm here typing - to Wednesday or Thursday next week but had me make an appointment for Friday just in case so I don't have too much faith!). Then yesterday I had my usual checkup with moxibustion (burning twigs on my feet) and aromatherapy then popped next door to see the midwife's sister, as it turned out, who does some sort of Japanese therapy that's a bit like chiropracty but not quite. Tei-something. So-san came along too to translate for me and they exclaimed over how stiff my body is; apparently it is very rare and all down to me using my brain too much (I'm sure all those Japanese ladies out there who, by implication, don't think much, are delighted to hear this.) I don't know what I had anticipated, never having been to a normal chiropractor even, but lying on my back on the floor while a tiny Japanese lady held up everything south of my ribs by my ankles probably wasn't it. Then she had a good dig about my neck with very hard bony fingers, ow ow ow! She then diverted me along to her masseuse who had to try to unstiffen my ankles. Between them they did leave me feeling fantastic - but I've been a bad girl today and spent several hours at my desk playing with the computer (I think that's the real culprit, not my brain) so I am all seized up again. Boo.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
This is just me learning how to blog AND how to place a photograph....with a cat stuck to my armpit!

Hooray! The last part of the cot just arrived. Typically, I sent a verging-on-snotty email this morning enquiring about it and whether it was going to take a week to get across Tokyo to me this time. Ah well. I hope Cameron has no plans to relax when he gets home tonight, he has flat-pack fun awaiting him.

Oh dear. Yolly (the maid) is going to be so disappointed if I don't have this baby on the right date. She just came to ask me what my schedule was next week - what days did I want her to work given that I'd be having the baby on wednesday! I'm sure we've had umpteen conversations where I've explained that it might not actually come on the due date, but it seems she doesn't believe me! My intention was to stay out all afternoon today to let her clean in peace but it suddenly got dark and rainy and very very cold around 3 o'clock so I just came home instead. Silly me. Still, look on the bright side - apparently she told my friend Sarah (who she also cleans for and who is also pregnant) that her bum was getting big! She just tells me I'm not tired (how does she know?) I'm sure my bottom has got bigger too - the thing with being enormously pregnant, your bum is going to look teeny compared with your tummy, and Sarah doesn't have a big tummy yet.
Kris (due tomorrow) is in labour and Sandra (due next week) has been told she's on red alert! I am still not feeling any twinges. And I am getting quite sick of people observing that I'm still here (no, I had it a week ago and have put it in a drawer; didn't I say?). It's not like I'm even due for another week! But I'm off to the friendly clinic reflexologist again tomorrow so we'll see what she says.
Oh and one thing that can always be relied on to cheer me up about living in Tokyo, the silly english. I was cold and miserable and getting very tetchy having been barged out of the way by two vicious old ladies with baskets, but I couldn't help but smile at goods! goods! goods! (a shop) and daphne poo (shampoo)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
I'm sure it's down to hormone saturation but I just have to say arg!! in reply to the lady who told me that yes, she'd love to do 'that whole holistic thing' too, but she just couldn't forgive herself if anything happened to her baby. Implication being, presumably, that my choosing a midwife clinic rather than a hospital is a result of a misguided set of priorities: instant access to lentils and open-toed sandals being more important to me than my health or that of my baby! Not being big on conflict I muttered and changed the subject but I've been dwelling on it ever since so I'm putting it down here to clear it from my head! I have done so much research about all my options you wouldn't believe it (I am a scientist after you know, I even understand statistics?!) - I can send you any amount of information about the safety of various birth options if you like - and I would never criticise anybody else's choices, as long as they have informed themselves. (I get very irate about women - like my friend above - who have assumed their doctor will do what's best so don't need to know anything. He might, I'm sure he's a great doctor, but how can you assume that?) So why do people (she is not the only one) assume that I'm the one taking chances? In an emergency I have a fast ambulance transfer available to one of the best maternity hospitals in Tokyo. It's not one expats generally use because they don't speak much English, but it has a fantastic reputation. However, this will only happen in a true emergency; I run no risk of having a caesarian, episiotomy or any other nasties purely because the doctor wants to get home for his tea! They had about 400 births at the clinic last year, 3 of which had to be transferred for an emergency caesarian (a few more were transferred for other necessities).
Sorry. I don't want to bore you all witless. I just want to say: I've thought it through very carefully and I feel very confident I am doing the right thing for me. I have every confidence in my very experienced midwife - in fact, a house-full of very experienced midwives. Please don't assume I have some sort of naive expectations of the baby blissfully floating out to the sound of guitars and flutes while a rainbow hangs above and birds tweet round my head. But I do hope to have some lentils...