Saturday, October 27, 2012

Being pregnant has brought back a few forgotten memories of the first year with R, as a baby. A lot of the difficult times come to mind. Maybe the worst was being sick while having to care for an angry teething six month old, who didn't know what being sick meant and who had this quirky loathing for when mom tried to lie down ever. Just one reason co-sleeping never worked out for us.

So there I was, seated shaking and feverish on the carpet, unable to lie down because it would send R into a fit, and trying to keep her entertained. Which was pretty much impossible since teething kept her permanently miserable that particular month.

Well, what do you know? It's been almost four years. I'm five months pregnant, tired as heck, sick as a dog, and taking care of R once again. Only this time things are infinitely better. I lie on the couch--she lets me! She sits at the coffee table in front of me, drawing up a storm and coming up with her own craft projects. The table is positively exploding with bits of paper, tulle, glue, tape, scissors, and a big roll of toilet paper for me, to keep my runny nose at bay. Being much more enormous this time round, or maybe just because it's already the second time, my bladder is already starting to fail me. Ah, incontinence, welcome back, old friend.

Actually, the first time I experienced this problem was after I gave birth to R. It was horrific. I mean, I'm not talking a little trickle here and there. After a few months, I stopped having to wear pads and bracing myself if I needed to run. People warned me things could get worse if I ever got pregnant again.

And they were right. Yep, this past week, every time I've coughed, sneezed, or blown my nose, I've had to grab my crotch and sort of squeeze, in order to keep my pee from leaking out. It really is a pretty picture to behold. Wish I could make a holiday postcard out of the image.

Can't even imagine the state of my bladder after another baby has grown to full size inside me and then squeezed its way out.

Funny thing is I didn't come here to bitch about that. What I'm bothered by THIS TIME (I feel like a need to change the title of this blog to something more apt, like The Bitching Hour, though I bet that's already been taken) is the fact that I've been sick the past few days, haven't gotten any sleep at night because I've been too busy trying to hack up my lungs, I've got a sweet child but one that needs regular care and feeding--and a lot of conversation--it's a Sunday, and my husband...where is he? Oh yes, he's out playing soccer with his buds.

I am all for A having his own life and interests. I totally get that he needs to have fun in his spare time, since he works like a crazy person. But come on. Would it have killed him just to ask, "Are you going to be okay, hun? Would you like me to stay home and keep R company, while you rest?" I'm not asking for a hot beverage service, people. Or someone to tenderly wipe my feverish brow. A never does that stuff anyway. He's not that kind of guy and I've accepted that. But jeez! A little thought for the sick, pregnant lady here.

Poor R got natto and rice for lunch. A bit of a reprieve came in the delivery of a big bag of frozen raspberries I'd ordered online. R is crazy about them and you can't get them in Tokyo--or not where we live, anyway. R danced and beamed like Santa had hand-delivered her gift early. She ate a full cup of frozen berries and declared them the best she'd ever had. Made me feel like a less-bad mom that day.

Now she's taking her nap and I realize our peaceful existence will never return once the baby is here. And honestly, it makes me a little sad. We get along really wonderfully, R and I. Our peaceful little life together works. I find myself filled with doubt and a certain dread about what the new baby--a boy--will be like and how he will change the dynamic of our home. Will he be noisier, more rambunctious? Will chasing after him take away my reserves of patience and energy, make me more easily cross with R? Will R and I still be close, as close as we are now?

I've already googled this endlessly and know what everyone says. But despite the reassurances, I've really been showering R with extra hugs and kisses, trying to make up for any hurts bestowed upon her in the future, by a tired, sleep-deprived mom taking care of a newborn.

I also wonder how I'll cope when I get sick with a baby AND a child to care for. I had one mom tell me, "You just don't get sick. Your body knows it can't afford to." Ha! My stupid body is not that considerate. It'll happen, and I guess I'll be back to blog and whine about it then.

Okay, going to try to lie down for a bit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It came to me, as I pulled up the Blogger website for the first time in...I don't know how long it's been, that I now know why I blog--or don't blog, as the case may be most of the time. I don't do it because I need everyone to know about my life. As a confirmed introvert, in fact, I've always shared too little, been certain that no one would be interested in my thoughts, and marveled at strangers who could tell me the most intimate details of their life with full assurance that I would care.

Why do I write (sometimes) on a public forum, then? For me, it comes close to my childhood fantasy of sneaking into one of those Catholic confessional boxes and releasing all my pain, anger, and confusion on someone, while retaining anonymity. With a friend or family member, I'd have to see judgment, or maybe disinterest, on his or her face. But maybe a paper diary, tucked back into the underwear drawer and left to grow mold, is just a tad too...lonely? I'm not sure.

Lastly, it has never failed to amaze me how often, in times of distress, I've randomly Googled and found someone else going through something similar, and, without any connections being made, found solace. Just as that little bit of solidarity was enough to get me past a bad place, I always hope that someone might randomly find a snippet within all the drivel I've written here that would bring them a like comfort.

In case you didn't get it, I'm feeling low. Not completely. I'm about 17 or 18 weeks pregnant right now and today I actually wanted and enjoyed a cup of coffee after being put off by the idea for almost five months. So there's a little cause for celebration. I also found a not-entirely-new friend recently, who seems to want to support me through this pregnancy, which is nice.

I know it's mostly pregnancy hormones. Had a big pity-party this morning. Googled things like "labor pregnant alone" and "husband never around." Hey, after over ten years of marriage, I should be used to our life. I am used to it. Shh, don't tell A, but he was of no help to me when I went into labor with R. I don't mind that he probably won't even be present for the next birth.

I just resent the hell out of him, even though it's not his fault, that I can't depend on him ever. I had to hold R last night, while she sobbed in her bed because she missed her daddy--which makes it sound like he's dead or something, but no, it's just that we almost never see him. This morning, he promised to take R to kindergarten and she was so thrilled, as was I because there were a million things to prepare for today and I was so busy I didn't have time to eat breakfast, even though an empty stomach always has my morning sickness rearing it's ugly green head. But then, of course, suddenly A had work to do. What is new.

Suddenly, I had ten minutes to douse my crazy bed head, try to find clothes that would fit my new big boobs and big tummy, pack the gazillion things R's kindergarten had instructed we bring to school that day, help R on and off the toilet and in and out of her clothes about four times because she thought she had to poo but then she didn't (she recently cut her hand with a knife and is suddenly dependent on me for a lot of things she usually can do herself), and wonder as my stomach roiled if there were any way I had even 30 seconds to cram something into my mouth and tame the MS monster. I didn't.

R and I ran out the door. But not before I said some curt things to A, that resentment I mentioned seething inside me. I knew I was wrong. I know he works hard for us. I couldn't contain my feelings. I even had to blink a few tears away as we hurried toward the elevator, unsure if they were brought on by frustration or regret.

And now there is another baby on the way. Are you shaking your head in condemnation? What is she thinking, you wonder. She obviously can't handle the situation as it is, and now she wants to bring another kid into the mix?

I know, right?! This is crazy. How am I going to handle two kids by myself, one of them a needy newborn? Sure, there are a lot of single moms out there who do it. And what about those women who have like ten children, their own successful businesses, and time to blog daily about the art projects they came up with for their kids that will be on display at MoMA until the end of October? What is my life compared? How is it so impossible?

Well, that's where this blog comes in. Here I am, with my whirlwind of pregnant emotions, and I don't really have anyone in real life that I could whine to without feeling utterly ashamed. You could be reading this and hating me, but just don't tell me about it, okay? I don't wanna know. Just allow me to get this beast off my chest.

Big sigh.

I've got to get going. I'm meeting up with a midwife in a bit and discussing a possible all-natural birth, versus the full-on hospital experience I had originally planned for. R was born at a hospital and I had never been so grateful for the epidural I received. I can't remember the anesthesiologist's face, but in my mind, his head glows with a golden halo and he exudes an aura of peace and love. Unfortunately, this time around, I'm in Japan and my luck with doctors here is CRAP. They freak me out, with their taciturn, authoritarian, impatient mannerisms. I could not handle laboring alone in a hospital, surrounded by such people, knowing I had zero rights. It only took one hospital visit, with a doctor whose internal exam left me feeling violated and in pain, and a nurse who assured me I would get an episiotomy--everyone does--and that I could not have my baby with me during the week-long enforced hospital stay.

The two-hour appointment (most of it spent waiting in a huge room packed with other pregnant women) left me feeling dehumanized and scared. I knew I would rather die (sorry for the melodrama) than have that doctor's rough, pitiless hands on me when I was in the middle of labor and delivery pains.

I went home, wrote to as many people as I knew, and started researching alternate options. As the replies came in, it soon because clear that birthing at a midwife-run clinic would be my best bet. Unlike at the hospitals, my concerns would be heard and respected, breastfeeding would be supported, and there would be no medical interventions--i.e., no episiotomies but also no epidurals.

I am afraid of not having the epidural to fall back on, if I reach a point in labor where I just can't handle the pain. I try to tell myself that it's unlikely I'll have another 36-hour labor with the second baby. Anyhow, pain-free births in Japan aren't common and, in terms of accessible hospitals, I don't have many options: It's the Hospital From Hell or one that would require I be induced at the convenience of the anesthesiologist. I could try a smaller doctor's clinic, which I've read can provide a more personal and accommodating experience; but I've lived a total of ten years in Japan, seen my fair share of different doctors, and I'm afraid my confidence in them is lacking. A midwife clinic it is.

A is 100-percent unsupportive of natural birth. He doesn't think I can handle it. He also cannot believe the pictures he's seen on some of the birthing house websites: "There's just a bed," he'll say. He wants wires, monitors, the full shebang. But I say, he's not going to be there, I am. And if I'm going to be laboring alone, I'm going to want to do it with a midwife at my side, not some overworked nurse tersely barking orders at me and expecting me to lie quietly on my back and be an obedient little animal.

Oh well. I don't know what I hope to find out at my meeting with the midwife today. What assurance I will get. But I've had my cup of coffee and I've dumped my feelings all over this page, and I feel a flutter of optimism. Or maybe that's the baby inside me.