Saturday, September 06, 2008

Expecting in Japan

People say a picture is worth 1,000 words and well now I believe it completely. As you can clearly see by this 3D sonogram I'm 5 moths pregnant. There I finally said it (in this case wrote it). Now it's completely out there and no one has to wonder why did I suddenly gain weight in only one spot in my Facebook pictures? The mystery is officially solved.

Being pregnant in another country has been quite interesting to say the least. Luckily I have been feeling well and have had no issues with the pregnancy so far (knock on wood) which is quite positive since there is only one hospital with a semi English speaking doctor around our house. The doctor speaks a little English and as long as he keeps saying "genki" - which is healthy in Japanese - I'm happy. Every month we go over to the hospital/5 star hotel (very posh place people) get a sonogram and wait for the word "genki", it's as simple as that. I'm not really sure why I have to get a sonogram every visit but "when in Rome do as the Romans". I have to accept that it's kind of cool to see exactly what is going on inside my belly and I have been pleasantly surprised to see how much this kid moves (a sign of things to come). Everyone at the hospital is super nice and cordial even though I don't know what their saying. Here is a scan of the hospital's brochure so you have an idea what I'm talking about.

I have received many questions from the people that I have already told about my pregnancy and I'm sure allot of people have the same questions so I will address some of these issues independently.

1. Citizenship - The kid will be an American citizen, after he (yes it's a boy and I am not publishing that sonogram picture for obvious reasons) is born we have 30 days to take the baby to the American embassy in Osaka (2 hours by train) and get a social security number and a passport. Even if your born in Japan that does not mean you are a Japanese citizen. You can only be Japanese by blood (mom or dad are Japanese). There are actually lots of court cases in Japan right now because of that. Imagine being born and raised in a place and then told your not a citizen because your parents are from another country!!! The only thing that we can keep is the babies birth certificate as a souvenir after that he will have a tiny little passport and alien registration card just like all the foreigners in Japan. Interesting.
2. Where is the baby going to be born? I'm having the baby in Japan. The health care here is really good, the government cover 70% of all your expenses. I actually had to go down to the Hiroshima city hall and register that I'm having a baby. I thought this was strange but actually they give you a mother's book where the doctor record your progress during the pregnancy and coupons. I did not know exactly what these coupons where for, free diapers? free massage? no idea since I can't read. I soon found out the coupons are actually to cover your check ups when you go to the doctor. The last check up I went to I had a sonogram and a blood test and only pad about $35 USD. Go Japan that's all I have to say.
3. Is someone going to help you out after the baby is born in January? Yes, Orlando's parents are going to come and help out in January. I don't have a final plan yet until my due date is more fixed, up to now it's January 15, 2009 but it could vary 2 weeks before or after so it's tricky.
4. Maternity clothes - What do you do when all the women around are 5 feet tall and weigh 90 pounds max? well you order clothes from the US because guess what, NOTHING FITS!!!!!!!! So I gave a huge donation to Gap maternity and had my very nice mother in law send it to Japan (another huge donation for duty taxes upon delivery). I have to wear something!!!! even if it's a waste to pay so much for something your going to use only a few months. "Shoganai" - there is nothing I can do - in Japanese. For the record, maternity clothes suck no matter which country you buy them from.
5. Cravings - How do you deal with craving if your live half way around the world from your home country? You have very nice people that send you things. I've only really had 2 craving Froot Loops and plantains. My parents actually send me plantains all the way from Puerto Rico and I'm happy to report they made it in one piece. I recently figured out how to order plantains from a Philippines online store here in Japan and I paid $30 USD for a batch and I don't care, it was a matter of life or death. I also had a box of Fruit Loops send to me from a very good friend in Michigan. I have not figured out where to get these, since cereal (especially sugary ones) are not popular in Japan, but where there is a will there is a way.

Last but not least I just wanted to thank everybody for their good wishes and gifts. I am very grateful to have such good friends and family that ship me books, Froot Loops, Plantains and all sorts of baby gifts to Japan. Orlando and I joke around that we have never received so many boxes consecutively in the whole 2 years we have been here. The good thing about being in Japan is that there is no storage space, so people have to get rid of their stuff quickly, that's where we come in. So far many of the our foreign friends here in Hiroshima have given us their baby furniture and contraptions that they are not going to use anymore. I have no idea how to use or put together some of the stuff we already got, but I guess I'll figure it out 4 months from now.

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