Special Family Announcement
As most friends and family will now know, on August 1st at 4:58am, we welcomed Annelise Ruth into the world. Annie has been an absolute delight, and we are enjoying (and adjusting to!) being the parents of 3 precious daughters.
Having a Baby in Japan
We arrived in Japan when I was about 4 months pregnant, and so began antenatal checks very soon after we arrived. I think I’ve mentioned before that the maternal health system here is very thorough – lots of checks, scans, internals etc. You name it, I probably had it done! At the same time, Japan has a really good record for low C-section rates, advocates natural delivery (no use of pain relief in most hospitals), and breastfeeding is promoted. Thus presents this dichotomy of very invasive antenatal care, but considerably less invasive records when it comes to birth. Because of these two seemingly conflicting strategies, I was not really sure what was going to happen with the birth!
It was recommended to me by both the Obstetrician I saw regularly, and the midwives who I saw occasionally to come into the hospital when contractions where 10-15 minutes apart. For me, that seemed way too early! But at the same time, both of my previous deliveries were under 4 hours, so I didn’t want to get stuck somewhere not the hospital having my baby. This was one of my main concerns – the timing of when to get to the hospital. Adding into the equation was needing to call people to come and look after the ‘big girls’, needing someone to meet us at the hospital, and the fact that the hospital which is about 8km (a guess) form here has about 40 traffic lights between here and there!
Thankfully though, timing issues didn’t come up. Paul and I went to bed about 11 that night, and I thought perhaps I was having very mild contractions. As I was feeling fine, and thought it would probably just go away, I simply went to sleep. Around 3am I woke up, after having dreamed that I was in pain, and found that I was actually in pain. After about 10 minutes of indecisiveness, I realised it was indeed time to call up ‘our people’, and within about half an hour the contractions were getting considerably more painful. Paul and I left home close to 4am, and arrived at the hospital perhaps by 4:10/15. I was taken straight into the delivery room (as opposed to the labour room, for the earlier stages of labour), and lay on the bed. I was already about 8cm dilated! I continued to breath through contractions, and was very calm and managed to stay mostly in control. It was the easiest birth so far. The contractions were not too close together, they weren’t too long, and it was low in my abdomen, rather than my whole body – so when I reflect on the other two births, they were considerably worse! It was only really the last 5 minutes of waters breaking and pushing that the pain was super intense, but then our precious girl was born!
I had two lovely midwives, and felt very well cared for, and managed OK all in Japanese. They were very kind, and spoke in a way I could understand, for which I was very thankful. One of them even wrote me a super sweet card (in English) and gave it to me before I left. It made me tear up! She was very sweet.
The Hospital Stay
The typical length of a stay post-baby is 5 days in Japan at most hospitals. Due to the timing of Annelise’s birth, I stayed for 5 nights/6 days. For the first 2 nights I was in a 4 bed room, and the other nights I was in a private room. The care was good, kind, if a little bit too much, but generally very good. But it was quite a lonely time – and what with baby blues, breastfeeding troubles, and being away from Paul and the big girls, it was a bit of an emotional time too. My Nana (in Aus) also passed away the day after Annie was born – so that was a hard time too. It was also a hard time for Paul, looking after Heidi and Pippa in the middle of summer by himself, with Heidi on school holidays, and bringing them in to see me at the hospital each day. We did have some lovely friends here cook some meals, and do washing, offering to help in other ways etc. So I don’t want to sound as though we were all destitute and alone (definitely not!) but it was a harder time than we had anticipated.
All of that though meant that the day we could come home was very looked forward too!
A Family of Five
It has been a special time getting used to life with a new precious family member. Because Heidi was still so young when Pippa was born (only just 19 months) it has been really lovely to see both Heidi and Pippa in their roles as big sisters, and to be aware of the fact that they are now extra special big sisters. The number of kisses Annelise gets in a day is huge! 🙂
Thanks for reading, and I want to also thank our special friends, previous growth group from EBC, HMT and family for the amazing packages, gifts, cards and messages that we have received. We have felt very loved despite missing you all, and feeling the absence of many of you quite keenly. You have encouraged us and warmed our hearts at this special yet not so easy time. So thank you.