Thursday, September 19, 2013

For the past week, everyone has been looking forward--or, rather, upward--to the early evening sky, as tonight was supposedly the best and clearest night of the year for o-tsukimi, moon-viewing. I've been in Japan for long enough that a lot of the things a normal foreigner might blog about have already become commonplace for me; but I still love its seasonal traditions, and now I'm happy to find that even the youngest kids are encouraged to enjoy them. Having learned about it from her kindergarden teachers, R was the one who reminded me to watch for this week's full moon, and it was she who pointed out the shimmery white susuki growing in a neighbor's garden that would be used as ornamentation during this quiet little nocturnal celebration.

Mochi shaped into small, powdery moons are traditionally eaten on this night, but we were a little late arriving at the mochi shop after school, so everything was sold out. We settled for a couple of daifuku, instead. 

Unfortunately, the big, champagne-colored moon decided to start rising right in the middle of dinner and a little too close to S's bedtime. R was too excited about the daifuku to concentrate on her udon. S was getting enraged by something at dinner and then somehow managed to shove an entire spear of broccoli into his mouth, which he proceeded to gag silently on. I waited a few seconds to see if he'd figure out how to pull the thing out but like an old lady who suddenly couldn't remember which pedal was the break and which the accelerator, he seemed to keep shoving the darn stalk deeper and deeper into his mouth. I quickly pulled it out and tried to present a calm demeanor, while my poor baby's eyes watered and his face bloomed red. By the time we'd sorted ourselves out, I turned to the window and found the damn moon high up in the sky and, while yeah, it was pretty and clear, it was also rather small. Poor R had ended up sitting by herself--again--nibbling on daifuku and watching the moon alone. 

Although he was doing the back-arching "I'm tired" thing, I hefted S up in one arm and dragged a stool out onto the balcony. R pouted a bit because she wanted us to eat mochi together, but I was too full from dinner and plum out of free hands. I sat down with S, and then R asked to sit on my lap as well. With my four-year-old on one thigh and the baby on the other, I cuddled us together and squinted through the bars of my balcony at the cold, milk-white moon above. R began to giggle and when she waggled her daifuku in front of S and then snatched it away when he made a grab for it, he began to giggle as well. Finally, I allowed myself to relax and enjoy my two babies at the same time, something not usually possible. These two kids--they seem to need my full attention, both of them, all the time. S demands to be held so often that I'm actually worried about his physical development, since he spends almost zero time on the floor--"screw tummy time" is his opinion on the matter. R has really been trying hard, trying to be understanding, trying to accept my divided self. I make sure, after S is in his crib for the night, that she and I have our special time together, just the two of us. 

But this beautiful, soft evening, for just one brief moment, we all laughed together and enjoyed ourselves as a family. Of course the moment ended after about a minute, when R began complaining that S's diaper was stinky and S began arching farther and farther backward over my arm, trying to go who-knows-where. I eventually had to jostle R off my leg when she refused to budge, turned on the audio book for her, and got S ready for bed, while R played outside in the living room by herself again. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My due date is in two days and I've never felt so conflicted. On one hand, the nights are getting unbearably uncomfortable. I don't know why everything feels worse when I'm lying down: I can't breathe well, my hips and ribs hurt, the nausea and heartburn comes roiling up, the internal poking from the baby increases, and I feel the need to pee every half hour. Also, a new development: That hypersensitivity to noise that I had when R was a baby is back. I always marveled at how A could snore blissfully through the baby's nighttime wakings. To me, the cries felt almost like electric shocks--my heart would actually lurch in panic and there was no way I could ignore them. This meant that for the first few years, even after R started sleeping better, I never got a really good night's sleep because every little sound would jerk me awake. Anyhow, that exhausting, extended state of ultralight sleep seems to have returned, as well as a bout of insomnia that hits at around 3am and lasts for two hours. On the other hand, I can honestly say I'm not sure I want the baby to come out yet. Lately, every small moment of joy or pleasure is followed by a sense of loss. My mind keeps whispering to me, Maybe this will be the last time: the last time our family of three enjoys a relaxed dinner together, the last time I get a good night's sleep (that experience actually passed quite a few weeks back, and I'm pretty sure I won't see it again), the last time R and I spend a leisurely afternoon together playing her favorite game of May We Pretend? Yesterday night, as I made my upteenth trip to the toilet, I heard R's deep breathing through her closed bedroom door as she slept, and I felt a sense of regret that her life is about to change in ways she cannot imagine. Everyone keeps asking her if she is looking forward to the birth of her baby brother and her shy smile and nods make me feel so guilty. She has always had unlimited access to me--we still struggle every weekend with her refusing A's help when getting ready for bed, etc.--and I have no idea how she will respond to sharing her mom. I keep wavering between wanting to start "training" her to get used to me not always being available and wanting to shower her with extra attention. I know these are pretty normal feelings that most moms have, when faced with kid #2. I'm sure I even wrote something similar on this blog a while back. I just need to process everything, though, while I still have my mental faculties in tact. Now that I'm full term this week, there is an uncontrollable sense of being in limbo...just waiting for labor to start. Do I plan a whole week's worth of meals? Do I stock up the fridge? What if I make a pan of cinnamon roll dough, leave it to rest in the fridge overnight, but then go into labor before they are baked? These are the kinds of earth-shattering concerns flitting through my head these days. One thing weighing heavily on my mind is that I'm GBS positive and, when labor begins, I have to go to a faraway clinic first (not the midwife's) to get an IV drip of antibiotics. I really would rather drive myself there, so that once it's done, if I have time, I can just take myself home again and hang out in the comfort of my own bathtub. But everyone practically yells at me not to consider driving while in labor. On the other hand, I keep having visions of me being stuck in a taxi, about to give birth, trying not to make weird sounds that will scare the driver, maybe even getting on all fours in the back of the cab and swaying my butt while trying to deal with the pain. I don't know why but in Japan, the cab seats are always lined with this white fabric that can get stained really easily from, say, a toddler clambering about or a woman whose water is breaking. When I call for a cab, I'm debating whether or not to warn them that I'm in labor. "Don't worry," I'll say, "I've got my adult diaper on." Yeah, I actually bought a small pack in preparation. There were so many choices! Who knew. I worry a lot about breastfeeding, which was SO hard with R; took us about eight months to get it right. And even after that, I had to deal with endless bouts of clogged ducts, mastitis, and thrush. I'm also dreading the hormonally charged emotions of that first month. I really don't like crying in front of people--anyone. And I suddenly realize I have to throw away the garbage, make the dog poo, and pick my daughter up from kindergarten RIGHT NOW, so I'll end this post in a nice, abrupt manner.
I'm 39 weeks along in this pregnancy and about three weeks into what has been an insane nesting frenzy. In fact this post is part of it. I just can't stop feeling like I need to GET THINGS DONE before the baby arrives, and one of those things is capturing our life--these last few precious moments--before everything changes. It's crazy how completely different my two pregnancies have been. Aside from the first few months of morning sickness, with R, my stomach stayed relatively small, I only gained about 8kg, my appetite never changed, I had loads of time to attend yoga, breastfeeding, newborn care, and labor classes, while still not really having a clue as to what lay in store for me. I stayed pretty mellow and carefree until the end. This time around, I'm huge--so stretched my ribcage aches and feels like it's about to crack. I should have a permanent bruise where THIS KID repeatedly jabs his feet into his favorite spot waaay out to my right side. I've already gained 12kg. Japanese people LOVE telling you how big you've gotten--in an affectionate and good-natured way, though--and I get told this at every opportunity by all the moms at R's kindergarden. And I've been busy. I think I've managed to do one prenatal yoga video I found on YouTube a total of four times in the past nine months. The rest of my time has been spent taking care of R and, these past few weeks, nesting like a crazed bird. My apartment has never been this clean. I've got my hospital bag packed--I don't think I even had a hospital bag the first time round. I've put together an actual folder of instructions for my mother-in-law when she comes to stay, to take care of R the week I'm in the hospital. I've got a few weeks' worth of meal parts in my college-dorm-sized Japanese freezer (it was just too small to actually store whole meals in); I definitely didn't care about this when pregnant with R, but now that I have an actual other child to think about while I'm dealing with a newborn at the same time, I'm pretty worried about whether I'll be able to keep the older one properly fed and cared for. My home is stocked to the brim with extras: soap, shampoo, toilet paper, clothing detergent, you name it. Although with all the damn peeing I've been doing lately, I've almost finished off the year's supply of toilet paper I'd recently ordered online; and I can't stop eating all the muffins and breads that are supposed to be back-up snacks for when breastfeeding turns me into a ravenous beast but I don't have any time or desire to cook for myself. Damn it.