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Wednesday, October 15

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

While eagle eye Kimono command remains thoroughly on top of the situation, things have gone from somewhat stable to taking nose dives with each passing week. I am now considered fully preeclamptic and on strict bed rest, which means that I have only a few moments each day to sit and type. This entry alone has taken me a week to put together. Gah.

The Good –

Six ultrasounds in 11 days means I get extra peaks at the critter inside and get to know the exact weight of this kid on an almost daily basis. We are at 5 lbs 15 ounces currently.

Seven non stress tests means I am ensured that, despite the deteriorating situation, the critter is still hanging in there pretty well.

Kimono Hubby’s grocery shopping trip was great for giving us both a big laugh. For example… a bag of rice was on the list. I was talking the 5 lb bag that last me several months. He bought the 20 lb bag. That rice will take us much more than a year to eat and that’s if I cook rice every day. Plus, he doubled the weekly grocery bill… from approximately $90 to $170. I have no idea how he managed this feat. I still giggle when I think about it. And, of course I am just damn grateful he even did it! Can’t wait for his next adventure.

Kimono Hubby has learned to cook several of my dishes and even surprised me with one of his own… chourizo and peppers. Yum!

Kimono Hubby has earned newfound respect regarding what I do around this house. He cleaned his first bathroom since we married four and a half years ago this weekend. I had to direct the operation from bed.

I read the entire four book Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyers in just five days. Of course, I have also dreamt about vampires every night since then… including that I was having one who bit me at his birth.

I have learned just how many friends I do have here in Japan as they have trooped through my hospital room and bedroom in the past weeks with everything from food, to magazines and books, to laptops and movies. One even comes to wash my dishes and help clean my house to ease the burden on KH.

My mommy is on her way in a week. She upped her trip by several weeks so, as she said, she can help us through this. I think it is really because she is going to try to swaddle the kiddo up and sneak him out of the country before I get even more attached.

There is no doubt I will be delivering early. Way early. So I won’t have to lay around with this massive body too much longer.

The Bad –

There is no NICU unit at the Yokosuka Naval Hospital. So even though I will be delivering early, I need to hang in there as long as possible or else the baby will be sent to a Japanese hospital, altering my entire birth plan in a course that I am trying not to even think about just yet. Just know that it is a much different system from American hospitals.

My insomnia is worse than ever because of all the worrying compounded by the pain and stiffness of bed rest. At least I have time to sleep during the day.

Doctors appointments are now taking an average of over three hours at each visit. I go at least twice a week, and four times last week including the overnight stay.

My insane blood pressures (combined with other factors, of course) have gotten me one overnight stay at the hospital in the past 11 days.

Although I was stable for a four day spell, those same problems almost kept me there last night too.

My latest blood pressures while on medication were over 160/110 (I won’t give an exact number because I can hardly face it). Meds have since been upped.

Preeclampsia makes you feel like you have the flu. It also makes me extremely dizzy and gives constant headaches. If I don’t hang on to something when I do get up for bathroom breaks, I am likely to fall right back down onto my widening tush.

Six ultrasounds in 11 days also tells me that my amniotic fluid is low, then improves, and then dips lower yet again.

The protein level in my body is now into the dangerous range. This makes them give me repeated 24 urinalysises. They suck. End of discussion.

The constant bed rest has allowed me to discover that my sacrum is bent in towards my cervix. I discovered this as an intense stinging pain started radiating down my leg last week. I can no only lay in one position for no more than an hour before either/or going numb or tearing up.

Induction is the next course, but considering I am not even slightly dilated, it is going to be a hell of a course should I go there at this early 36 week stage.

The Just Plain Ugly –

Preeclampsia means swelling… which means immense weight gain. My once rather cute pregnant body has become horribly disfigured, particularly in my face, hands and feet. There will not be a single picture taken from here on out. I am not exaggerating… I’m 50 pounds up with this condition. Gross. I cry when I see myself in a mirror.

Showering has become an issue. Without someone here, I’m just not supposed to do it. Plus, when I do, I sky rocket my blood pressure, dizziness and headaches. These days… I’m sporting a greasy do and I just can’t give a damn. Hot.

Twice I have flat out bawled in front of the doctor. Once when he discovered my deformed sacrum and pushed on it… from inside. And the second when he told me how low the amniotic fluid had gotten. I thought it was my fault. It wasn’t, but it didn’t stop me from blaming myself.

The Best –

The beloved critter is hanging in there well with all things considered; and I will do anything to make it stay that way. I’m mostly in good spirits, despite my irritability with laying around in pain and discomfort. And my husband has reached rock star status in my eyes.

And now I must announce that there will be a long hiatus for the remaining part of the pregnancy program.
The good news is that the next post will be all about this lovely little boy we brought into the world! Till then… thank you for all the kind comments and emails since my last post! I'm sorry that I have not been able to respond to all, but please know how very, very much they were appreciated.

PS - I have no idea what is up with the fonts in Blogger right now and I can't sit here trying to figure it out. Sorry. Please disregard that Blogger is being a bitch.

Thursday, October 2

Things Are Getting Positively Stagnant Around Here

Boy-oh-boy… if you thought things were getting lame around the Kimono household, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

So last week, I presented myself to the good folks at Yokosuka Naval Hospital’s Labor and Delivery. At the end of the appointment, the doctor indicated that I was being upped to weekly appointments… “to keep an eye on things.” I balked. I mean, with seven weeks to go at that point, it just seemed a little absurd. But I am not one to disregard orders. Usually. *ahem*

Keeping with the program, I returned for my appointment yesterday. This time, the Kimono commander joined me to make sure that I spilled all the beans and not just the finer points I felt were worthwhile for sharing.

As you are probably guessing, things didn’t go well. With six weeks left to go, I have not been put on bed rest, per say, but I have been seriously restricted in activities. After checking my protein and sugar levels, multiple blood pressure checks (done manually after the absurdly high numbers they were initially getting from the machine), being hooked up to the fetal monitor to check the baby’s heart rate and fetal movements, and even an impromptu ultrasound (the baby is about 4 pounds 11 ounces right now!)… it has been deemed that I am pretty much on my way to preeclampsia. As the doctor put it, you don’t have it yet, but you will likely have it soon and definitely before you make it across the finish line. These were truly not the encouraging words I was expecting to hear.

I asked if I had done something wrong that caused this. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. It seems that it affects 5-8% of all pregnancies and they don’t really know for sure why it happens. It could be that I had some undiagnosed problems with my blood pressure before the pregnancy that are exacerbated with the strain that pregnancy puts on a woman’s body. And then it could be something else entirely.

So what is it exactly? Well… high blood pressures, sudden weight gain, changes in vision, headaches, swelling… pretty much all of which I have. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation website, it is “a rapidly progressive condition” that affects both myself and my poor bambino. While I am staying relatively calm about all of this because the doctor is being so watchful, reading statements like this off that website do establish frequent freak-out lapses: “Globally, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.” I do hope those statistics include third world countries where the care is lacking more than in civilized societies. The Mayo Clinic website has a lot of information on this too, with many of the same comments. On both, words like “seizures,” “brain, liver and kidney damage” and “placental abruption” are going to stick with me until the end.

What can be done about it? Well, since I technically don’t have it yet, I am remaining on the excessively monitored list. I know have to drive my cookies in to the hospital biweekly for checks. And… small bonus… I get another ultrasound next week to continue monitoring the critter closely and make sure he is not being adversely affected by momma’s problems. If, or I should probably say when, my symptoms continue to impede the path to improvement, I will have to go on some sort of medication to bring it down. The whole medicine thing, well, I have felt really bad about it. I really did want to do this pregnancy as drug free as possible and yet I am constantly encouraged to take this or that to get things back in order. It pains me because I fear that something will adversely affect my precious little boy. Then, if I don’t do something, that could hurt him just as well. Ugh.

There is one more thing I have to do. And that is just stay the hell at home. Anyone who knows me well, know that this ‘sit still’ thing has never been my strong point. I’m an antsy kinda gal! I like to move it, move it! My specific instructions rule out not only any more substituting, but also even trips to the grocery store, mall or any other shopping facility. That’s too long for me to be on my feet apparently. My longest walks are to be from upstairs to downstairs or from the car to the door of a restaurant. Before we even left the hospital, Kimono Hubby had snatched the grocery list out of my hands to do it himself tonight. God help us… you never know what he will interpret from my list and bring home with him.

Don’t get me wrong… I will do anything to deliver this baby healthily into the world, which will keep me following the doctor’s orders. But it does pain me that it has come to this. That’s six weeks of pretty much only going to the doctor’s and lying around the house.

So, if you thought I was really letting my lameness show in my lack of fun outings lately, it is about to get worse around here. I hope you will stick with me! I swear I will get back out and about in Japan… in, oh, say six weeks… plus a few more for recovery time on the opposite end.

So much for having a to-date textbook pregnancy.

Wednesday, October 1

Japanese Peculiarities #6

One of the things I love best about being here in Japan is the lack of crime. Or should I say surface crime. I know I have talked about this before, somewhere in my ramblings, but let me fire off a few examples. It is perfectly safe here for a woman to walk down a dark and empty street alone and still feel secure in knowing that a rapist isn’t hiding in that alley. It is perfectly safe for tiny elementary kids to walk home by themselves, catching the train home all alone, and know that no one will snag them calling for an AMBER alert. You can park your bike in front of a store, either forget to or just don’t chain it, and know that it will still be waiting for you right where you left it. I have even gotten so lax as to walk around with my purse unzipped or use a purse that doesn’t even have a closure of sorts and know that sticky fingers won’t be pilfering my wallet. Of course, all this is the great part about a relatively crime free society, but it does make me lose some of the past American street smarts I had, which isn’t entirely a good thing. Because, I certainly am not going to be living here forever.

And to be honest… there are parts of Japan that are less safe. Tokyo is a major metropolitan city with plenty of influences from outside cultures. You can still feel pretty secure there, but it pays to not walk around like a blundering idiot with blinders on.

And a bit more honesty, there is plenty of crime under the surface. But since I am not a cop, this crime and violence isn’t readily apparent to people like myself. Certainly no place is entirely crime free and I am well aware that there are these ‘hidden’ crimes happening on a daily basis even here in Japan. Frankly, I’m just glad that it is indeed mostly under the surface and stalking me from behind every corner like pretty much most of the streets in a city like, say, New York City.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, the other day I was driving home and caught a great picture of a beer and alcohol delivery truck. Now, back home, this truck would be enclosed and, most assuredly, it would be securely locked. But in Japan… it’s just not necessary. Here is this open-bed truck loaded to the gills with beer, sake and various other libations and the only thing securing it is a few stretchy ropes! Can you imagine parking this truck on a street in NYC? That thing would be cleaned out before the delivery guy walked out of the store of his first daily delivery! Here… just wouldn’t happen.

Who wouldn’t like a country where an ever important commodity like alcohol is perfectly safe without placing it in a heavily secured bank truck?