it’s a boy!


(click to enlarge — slideshow)

poko-chan is born!

paul and i are happy to announce our first-born son, elijah takumi.

he was born at 11:49am on friday, june 8th.

birth weight was 3320 grams (7 lbs 2 oz). he was 50 cm long (about 20″).

we are both healthy and doing well.

it’s already been 10 days since he was born. i’ve lost track of time. i can’t stop looking at him. i’m in euphoria.

i’ll write more about the birth and the baby in the next few days.

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.

poko-chan’s unseen face (broadway art encounter)

the title of this drawing is “poko de ippai”, which is japanese for “full of poko”. maybe you don’t know if you don’t usually read this blog, but poko is my nickname for my unborn baby. i named it “poko-chan” (as if it was a name, Poko) because it was making “poko-poko” bubbling movements inside of me when i first felt it moving. now i’m in my 39th week of pregnancy and i can’t think of anything else but poko-chan. my head is full of many many poko-chans. but i don’t know what poko-chan’s face looks like, so i can’t draw the details of it yet.

i went to see my obstetrician yesterday. she said that my cervix is mostly effaced and dilated 1 to 2 cm. my baby is very low, she could feel the head. i’ve been experiencing some braxton hicks contractions. for some of them, my lower back feels really heavy and dull pain like menstrual cramps and my belly gets hard like a rock. they last for about 20 minutes each. it looks like my body is getting ready for labour. poko-chan, hang in there! let mama finish moving before you come into the world…

i’m taking part in broadway art encounter again this year, starting tomorrow. i’ll be showing this drawing as well as this and this at al’s broadway shoe repair shop. i showed my works at his shop last year as well. he kindly offered to have me show at his shop again.

broadway art encounter is an event where shops on broadway avenue generously open their shops as galleries. there is expected to be a bigger crowd than usual this year because the university of saskatchewan is hosting the 2007 congress of the humanities and social sciences this week. i hope you can come out and see the exhibits! i’m going to be walking around saturday afternoon, as long as i’m not in labor.

Broadway Art Encounter
June 1 ~ 2 (Fri & Sat)

Al’s Broadway Shoe Repair
638 Broadway Avenue,
Saskatoon
(306)652-4399

milky videos

since i’m feeling milky these days, here are 3 milky videos for you:

japanese ad for “jersey milk” cookies.
i think beethoven would be proud…

american ad for “milky the marvelous milking cow”, 1978.
don’t drink the milk, kids…

milk, milk, miiiiiiilllllk.
beautiful and hypnotic song from sesame street, 1970s.
teaching kids without talking…

taste of mama :: art recipe final

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i can’t wait to breastfeed poko-chan. i hope my milk is as tasty as a fresh apple.

i spend most of my waking time thinking about poko-chan and our life together as a family of three. i’m really looking forward to meeting poko-chan in seven weeks. people like to tell us horrible stories about giving birth or bringing up children. but i listen to them with a grain of salt. of course it will be difficult because we are new parents and poko-chan is new to the world, but i think our effort will be nothing compared to poko-chan trying to live.

like my dad always says, “you’ll forget about all the hard things that happened when you look at the angel face of your child”.

you can view the progress of this drawing here:

art recipe 1
art recipe 2
art recipe 3

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. :)

nigi nigi :: toys for poko-chan

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i don’t know what you call these toys for babies in english. they’re called “nigi nigi” in japanese (“nigiru” means “squeeze”). these are toys for babies to squeeze. i found a japanese website that shows how to make handmade toys for babies and children. of course, i couldn’t follow the exact instructions, so their eyes are different and their holes should be smaller. but they turned out pretty good, i think.

as a child, my parents and grandparents bought me many toys. but the toys i remember most are the things my family created. my favorite was a car my brother made out of a cardboard box. we would both get in the car and pretend to drive around inside the house… my brother also made some kind of transformer costumes and we fought in them. he made many things and it was really amusing to watch him destroy things like an alarm clock to examine how it’s made. when he was 12, he actually built a house out of wood. it was a two-story house, with a meeting room, a manga reading room and a kitchen (or just a place to eat snacks). unfortunately he and his friends built the house on someone else’s property, so the house had to be torn down. too bad — it was impressive. i don’t think we have any photos of it either.

my mom and grandma made things for me as well. they made me some cloths for my rika-chan doll (my rika chan was second generation). my friends and i would get together with our own rika-chan dolls and do fashion shows in a portable rika-chan house.

anyway, i hope poko-chan likes these handmade toys too and has fun playing with them. or eating them, at least.

iron deficiency (final version)

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it needed more veins…

i wanted this girl to look stoned, but i’ve never been stoned before so it’s hard for me to imagine the feeling. she ended up just looking sleepy — a feeling i know very well.

i need more practice.

since i got pregnant, i can hear my pulse clearer than ever, and my veins have been growing all over me. i can see my veins running across my skin so clearly, they’re like a tattoo. i don’t have any tattoos on my body, but i’m enjoying looking at my temporary tattoo.

you can view the process of this drawing:

art recipe 1
art recipe 2
art recipe 3

16 x 20″