39 weeks plus

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i went to see my obstetrician yesterday (this will hopefully be the last visit). my cervix is now dilated “a good 2 cm” and 90% effaced. the baby is very very low — she said this is favorable for delivery. she thought that i would already have given birth last week. luckily, poko-chan was cooperative enough to stay inside quietly during our move to our new house last week. great work, poko-chan.

i’ve been having false labour pains since last sunday. usually they start around 4 or 5 am, an uncomfortable pain that wakes me up. at first, i was just having dull pain in my lower back. but on tuesday morning, i felt acute lower abdominal pain, as if someone stabbed me with an ice pick. i’d never had this type of pain before, so i grabbed my watch and started counting. the pain came and went a few times at an interval of 7 – 15 minutes. some were one minute long and others were two minutes long. they were irregular and stopped in an hour, so it was just false labour. poko-chan is practicing very well.

i tried not to fight against the pain because it just gets worse if you do so. i tried to accept it and observe how painful it’d get, then it was much easier to go through. i used to do this all the time in japan when i’d go see the dentist (japanese dentists don’t use much pain relief). if i think “aha~! this is how it feels like when you dig a big hole into your tooth”, the pain seems to be apart from my body, away from me somehow. after all, the body is just a box, you can take the mind out of it. i’m not sure if i can use this trick during my labour (i’m assuming i might not be able to…), but it would be nice.

my sister-in-law, mayumi, suggested that i should keep active during pregnancy in order to have a quick and healthy labour. i should probably listen to her, because her labour was really quick – only three hours or so even for her first baby. i took aqua-exercise classes until 36 weeks and since then, my exercise has been mainly cleaning and organizing stuff around the house. moving was slightly stressful, but it worked out okay since my nesting instinct covers all the cleaning.

paul and i set up our baby’s room — finally. we bought a second-hand cradle and a second-hand rocking chair. the cradle didn’t come with bedding, so i made it myself — another last minute project. i always end up wanting to make something right before a big event. i finished making my wedding dress the day before the wedding, for example…

it looks like my pregnant life is almost over (for now). i enjoyed it very much. i love watching my body transformation and imagining how poko-chan is growing. pregnancy seems to make people happy too. many people gave me a kind smile and helped me a lot (thank you those who sent me kind emails). some people (even some men) would touch my belly even without asking. i didn’t mind at all. it seems to me that pregnancy goes beyond social barriers and sexuality. i would probably be deeply offended if someone touched my breasts or bum saying, “they’ve got bigger!” , i’d give them a punch or two… and a kick. but around my belly, it was an oasis spot.

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pregnancy videos

i’ve been trying to record a video of poko-chan in action inside me. every time i feel some movements, i grab the camcorder. but as soon as i start aiming the camcorder toward my belly, poko-chan stops moving. it looks like this person is like his/her mother — a bit shy. i’ve been trying to trick poko-chan by playing music with a good dance beat (that usually starts the womb dancing) and grabbing the camera secretly, but i still haven’t caught the best kicks and dance moves.

anyway, here’s a video of the “top 10 kicking babies” that i found on videosift.

one thing i was surprised about with my pregnancy was that my belly button got stretched out flat. i knew my belly would get big but i didn’t expect that. this pregnant woman found a way to use her belly button to make a music video.

this is the world’s fastest pregnancy: 20 seconds long.

here’s what usually happens at the end of pregnancy. the cello music is relaxing — i hope i can hear cello in my head when i’m delivering poko-chan.

my big belly (at 33 weeks)

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i’m starting my 33rd week today, and my belly is very big. my waist is now 94 cm. i have to support my belly with my arm when i get myself up, in order to keep my balance. i can’t button up my spring jackets. with this big belly, i walk like a penguin — not that different from usual, unfortunately. people tell me my belly is going to get even bigger in the next two months, but i think it’s just a rumor. my skin is hitting its limit already.

even though my belly is getting bigger, my weight hasn’t changed over the last month. i gained about 15 pounds (7 kg) during the first 28 weeks, but since then it’s the same. i have a humongous appetite, i’m eating all the time, and i’m eating a lot at every meal. i even eat beef, which i didn’t care for before. in fact, i want to eat burgers all the time…

i feel like i’m getting bigger and bigger, but i was worried that i may not be taking enough nutrients to help poko-chan grow. i got an ultrasound two weeks ago and they estimated poko-chan’s current weight at 4.5 pounds (2 kg) already. this was even bigger than average at 32 weeks. my doctor assured me not to worry, so it’s probably okay.

i think poko-chan has grown even bigger since that ultrasound. poko-chan continues to kick and punch with no mercy. i can clearly see waves and bulges on my belly as s/he moves. i like watching and feeling those movements, even though i get kicked so hard sometimes i can’t sleep.

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(paul took these photos)

having this huge appetite reminded me of the opposite problem i had in early pregnancy – morning sickness.

i started getting morning sickness around 7 weeks. at first, i was happy to experience it. since i couldn’t feel any movement of the baby yet, it was the only sign i had that i was pregnant. but it soon turned into a not-so-pleasant experience.

my morning sickness was more like “evening sickness”. i was fine in the morning, but later in the day, i started to feel unwell — no appetite, headache and nausea. i guess my body is still in japan time — it was morning-in-japan sickness in the evening here in canada. anyway, this soon became all-day sickness.

i felt like i was having hungover all the time. food smelled weird. all kinds of food i used to like turned into a nightmare. i couldn’t eat, look at, or think about:

  • any vegetables, especially leafy ones and potatoes – tasted strange.
  • tomato-related food – i couldn’t understand why tomatoes exist on the planet.
  • crackers – some people suggested i eat crackers, but for me, they tasted like sawdust.
  • milk products: yogurt, milk, ice cream – usually i love ice cream, but i felt sick when i thought about it.
  • meat in general, especially beef. tasted odd, even though now this is my favorite food.

the food i could eat:

  • udon, soba or rice
  • fruit, especially oranges
  • apple sauce
  • potato chips (plain, salt flavour)
  • sweet potato
  • bread (only white part)

it was really hard to go grocery shopping because i couldn’t look at food. so i kept my head straight all the time and when i saw what i wanted in my peripheral vision, i grabbed it.

it was probably not a good time for paul either, because i couldn’t taste the food i was making for him. one time, i was trying to make a pasta dish for supper. i started sauteeing mushrooms and spinach. it didn’t look good, so i added a can of tomatoes. it didn’t look good so i added more herbs and spices. somehow this combination just didn’t work — it was really awful pasta. of course i couldn’t taste it, but paul did. he was very kind to say just, “mmm…. (silent)”. but i could tell it was awful. so i asked him how the taste was. he said with the most agonized face, “not very good…”. i should probably note he was kind enough to eat most of it. we started buying frozen food soon after that.

around my 14th week, i started to feel much better and have more appetite. i broke off my morning sickness period by wanting to eat MEAT. one day in the 14th week, i had a huge craving for beef. so paul and i went to a restaurant and i ordered a hamburger. it was a big hamburger, but i ate it all. people who know me are often surprised to see me eating meat since i’ve never been a big meat eater. but now i love it. i didn’t know cows and pigs are so tasty.

my appetite has just grown and grown now, and so has my belly. now that i see poko-chan getting bigger and moving so wild, i feel much better. s/he makes a big wave on my belly by stretching and pushing. it looks like an effortless belly dance.

starting my third trimester (28 weeks)

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i don’t usually like the word “perfect”.  but when it comes to my pregnancy, i’ve never been happier to hear it.

i just started my 28th week and i had my monthly visit with my obstetrician. she always assures me that i’m doing great. my weight gain is ideal and the baby’s growth is on schedule. i tell her my concerns, which are usually nothing to worry about. she always says, “don’t worry. you’re doing great! perfect!” without problematizing my tiny worries. i walk out the door encouraged. i think i’m doing the best i can, but i can’t really see what’s happening in my womb, so i need some reassurance from a professional. when she says “perfect”, i really believe her.

after my visit with the obstetrician, i had a public nurse over to my apartment. she asked about my personal and medical history and about my pregnant life. she was trying to find out what needs i have, so she could connect me with community services applicable to my needs. but i didn’t have anything i needed support with, so we had a nice chat for an hour and a half or so. the best moment was when she asked me if i was happy when i found out about my pregnancy. i guess i expressed maximum happiness with my words and my face. she wrote “extremely happy” on her chart. she said that the criteria of “happy” was not enough to describe how happy i was, so she exceptionally noted it.

the 24th to 27th weeks were a dramatic ride for me. around my 24th week, my belly started to get really big really fast. i could see it getting bigger every day. i felt a little bit overwhelmed. as i looked at my belly, it became obvious there is a life growing inside. it sounds like an absurd realization, but it felt so real. there was no doubt about how happy i was that poko-chan was growing, but it felt like my baby was going forward and my mind was making a late start. i really hoped that i was doing good for this new life. when i got too serious about it, poko-chan rolled around. it felt so ticklish that it made me laugh.

luckily the overwhelmed feeling lasted only a couple days at the beginning of my 24th week. after that, i just stopped worrying about it. i just have to do the best i can.

poko-chan is doing awesome. it’s getting bigger and it’s incredibly active. it not only kicks hard, it vibrates. i’m guessing it’s hiccuping — it’s definitely different from kicking. these days, i can clearly see a bulge whenever poko-chan kicks my belly. if i’m reading a book or holding the newspaper against my belly, it knocks it off by kicking. poko-chan especially likes to start kicking when i’m listening to music or eating. i think that means it’s happy.

so far the rule is, if i like it and poko-chan kicks, then poko-chan likes it. if i don’t like it, and poko-chan kicks, then poko-chan doesn’t like it either. this works really well, because we’re always agreeing with each other. :)

pregnancy armor (23 weeks)

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it’s been a very cold winter here in saskatoon. it was -36℃ (without wind chill) yesterday. i don’t like the icy cold weather. even though i’ve gotten used to it a bit, every time i go out, i dress super-warm. i wear so many layers that i need an extra five minutes to get ready to go out.

since i got pregnant, i’m taking even longer to get ready while i put on my pregnancy equipment. i call it my “pregnancy armor”. my parents sent me a package from japan which included a haramaki (belly wrap) and a sasae-obi (support belt).

a haramaki is knit tube that you wear around your belly. it’s very important to keep your belly warm during pregnancy. whenever i say this to canadians, they’re always surprised to hear it. but in japan, it’s a very common idea.

the sasae-obi is a belt for protecting my back during pregnancy. it almost looks like a bra for the belly. it’s got a belly-shaped cup and a stretchy belt that wraps around the back. you can find this sort of belt in canada.  adding two layers to my belly really makes it stick out. once i put on the haramaki and the belt and tights and maternity jeans, i look totally pregnant. i think i need some kind of a theme song while i’m dressing up.

i’ve started to experience back pain for the first time in my life, from holding up my big belly. i don’t feel that heavy, but i guess i’m trying to balance my body unconsciously. i tend to sit for a long time when i’m drawing. i try to remember to stand up and walk once a hour, but sometimes i forget. my back aches so bad if i don’t stretch once awhile.

the good thing about this back pain is that i can get paul to massage my back. usually i’m the one who gives him a back massage, because he works for long hours standing up. i never understood what back pain felt like before, but now i know. so i think i can give him a better massage now.

poko-chan is doing well, i think and feel. poko-chan continues to kick hard at night when i go to bed. i guess it’s working on kickboxing technique. i used to get one kick at a time, but now i’m getting multiple kicks in a row. another thing that never occurred to me before i got pregnant is that the baby kicks not only out against the belly but inward and downward. it’s pretty weird feeling, being kicked in the bladder from the inside. another mystery of pregnancy.

i don’t want to criticize poko-chan (new to the world, doesn’t know personal etiquette yet), but please don’t kick my bladder…

actually, i’m pregnant

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i’m just starting my 21st week. it’s our first baby.

my belly has really started getting bigger recently, so i’m visibly pregnant as well. the baby is already quite active. it started moving in my belly around 17 weeks. at first, it felt like bubbles popping. some pregnancy books describe this as “butterfly flapping”, but i’ve never eaten any live butterflies, so how would i know?

more recently, i can really feel the baby kicking. this involuntary movement (on my end) is absolutely amazing. sometimes, when i feel its kicks, i tap it back around the same area. a few seconds later, it kicks back :) i’m enjoying this non-verbal communication so much. the kicking feels like “poko-poko” to me (the japanese language has lots more sounds to describe things than english does), so i gave the baby a nickname: “poko-chan”.

yesterday morning, i could feel the baby pushing out against my left and right sides at the same time — like stretching out, slowly. the baby is building a new body, and it’s going to be crowded inside me.

just before i found out i was pregnant, i started drawing the baby in my drawing “numb“. after i found out, i went to the doctor and saw the heart beating on the ultrasound, and heard the heartbeat sound with the fetal doppler. i did another drawing: “new heartbeat“.

paul and i went to get an ultrasound last week. the radiologist gave us a 3D image of one of the photos, which shows our baby’s face, with the right hand held up shyly in front of it.

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mmm~~ good looking. as you can tell, i’m already starting my “oya-baka” (foolish parents) plan (親ばか実行計画). :D

during the ultrasound, we saw our baby open its mouth and wave its hands around. the baby got much bigger since the last ultrasound. now it actually looks more like a human. it’s got fingers, toes, ears, eyes, and a cute bum. at first, i thought i might give birth to some sort of animal, but now officially it’s a human. :)

i knew something was living inside of me… no wonder my belly is getting so much bigger. i’ve never experienced this type of rapid physical transformation before, except in my mind. it’s interesting — all the changes seem to happen according to a schedule. it’s like my body is a machine. but i’ve never felt so human before.

some other time, i’ll post about my early pregnancy experience, and my weird “morning sickness” behaviour, which lasted about 8 weeks.

in a meantime, this is me with our baby inside. :)

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16 weeks 2 days

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20 weeks 1 day

(paul took the photos of me)

she and elephant: art recipe 1

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my mom keeps asking me to draw something cheerful. i thought i’ve been drawing something cheerful :D i guess not.

i want my mom to be happy, so i started to draw this. see! the girl is smiling :D nothing more cheerful than a girl smiling with an elephant sticking out of her belly.

it’s not done yet.