we’re now informed; a pregnancy registration experience

If truth be told, during the first few weeks of pregnancy, I had to make peace with a lot of big differences of prenatal care here in Japan as compared to western countries and in the Philippines. To name a couple, no maternity hospitals/clinics are open on Sundays (as are some other hospitals for sickness except for those hospitals designated for emergencies) and that maternity hospitals here as a general practice don’t prescribe prenatal vitamins. Yes, even folic acid.

I felt that there was disparity on how one of Japan’s most pressing problem is its ageing population owing to lower birth rates and yet we didn’t feel any government support on the pregnant population. One would have thought that Japan would step up on this pressing issue. But there seems to be no action.

Apparently though, we’re just uninformed. The Japanese government of course had already taken action. No, they don’t give out vitamins. But they give support alright.

When we visited the ob-gyn last month, we were advised to go to the ward office/city hall to register our pregnancy. I thought it’s just as brief as when we go there for alien registration which usually takes just about 10 minutes max. But it took me one hour this time! Why so?

The ward officer had to explain to me everything he gave me in this package after I had filled out the necessary forms.

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In the package, one of the things I was giggling is this.

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Supposedly I’d attach it on the sling of my bag to earn me a seat on the train. Unfortunately though, as is typical with most Japanese who doesn’t have a culture of staring at other people, most of them are so busy reading their books or with their phones that they don’t notice the woman in front of them wearing the badge. The badge only earned me a seat once. Nevertheless though, I’m happy just wearing the badge.

What the hospital really wanted me to get from the ward office though is the boshi kenko techo (母子手帳) or the Mother and Child Health Handbook.

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The ward office employee asked me if i wanted the Japanese or the English copy. Of course I chose the English one. Inside the book are pages used to contain information of your history prior to pregnancy, your record during pregnancy (the checkups you had, weight gain, tests you undertook and even dental checkups) and record of your baby’s health after birth (the developments, the immunizations administered).

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Since it contains all the record of the immunizations of the baby, obviously I need to keep this handbook with me until baby is well into kindergarten. Or thereabouts.

The guidebook that came with it was really helpful. It showed some advise on how to take care of yourself during pregnancy, your diet, who to ask for help in your area etc.

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I was most thankful though on the section which tells about the law and your rights at work.

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It was clearly stated that it is prohibited by law to dismiss from work or discriminate pregnant women or women who gave birth. They even gave a contact number if in case you meet some problems.

The government really had to take care of that fact. Otherwise they’d find themselves in a worse predicament than they are now what with women deciding to work instead for self fulfillment.

Now this is sweet. The guy in the ward office gave me these two pads.

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The one in the left I should bring with me during my prenatal visits. This booklet contain slips of ¥4700, ¥7000 and ¥12000 which will subsidize the expenses incurred during our checkups. In our last checkup two weeks ago, I had to take all the routine tests. And even with our company insurance and the ¥12,000 slip, we still ended up paying ~¥10,000. So really, the subsidies helped. Without the ¥12k slip, we would have had paid ¥22,000!

The other booklet on the right contain slips for every immunization that baby needs. I just take out one slip designated for a particular immunization and baby would get it for free.

These two booklets however are given only once so if you loose it, you can’t ask for another one again.

By the way. These subsidies are only acknowledged in hospitals in our area or in some hospitals outside Yokohama which are approved by the Yokohama city government. Meaning i can’t use these slips in Tokyo if ever I decide to have my checkups there. The same goes for Tokyo-issued boshi techo and subsidy slips.

I was also advised on the parenting and birth classes available in the area and the schedule. They have no English classes however. I just might have to request hubby to translate during the class! Haha. I’m still hoping though we’d catch an English class, even if it’s in Tokyo.

I was also advised that once I’ve given birth, we should register the birth within two weeks so that baby and mommy can enjoy more privileges (will share more next time).

Anyways, the government does care after all. 🙂

Excited to see baby again on the monitor in our next prenatal visit! Hope you’re growing healthy and fine baby.

recovering appetite

Hubs’ family sent us a package which includes a box of tofu which are packed akin to milk.

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The tofu is so silky and smooth and soft!

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I tried to cook adobo but of course the moment I’ve put the tofu in after the pork was cooked, it’s an altogether different dish already because of the texture that the tofu gave. The dish’s soup though, before simmering all out seeped its way into the tofu, lending the tofu a very delicious adobo taste. It brought a smile to my face every time I had a mouthful of the tofu. It’s so silky and creamy and smooth and literally melts in the mouth. Knowing the health benefits of tofu makes that smile even bigger.

Apparently though, as I later realized, my appetite is finally back. With fewer pregnancy sickness (morning sickness is clearly a misnomer since it sometimes lasts up to midnight so I’d rather call it pregnancy sickness) bouts now, and with the bitter taste less frequent now, I find myself having the appetite.

And so that was why right after having dinner, I requested a very surprised hubs that we cook pancakes. He couldn’t believe that I’d have the stomach still for pancake right after our dinner; he’s worried that I’d vomit again. But the yearning is just so strong and after a couple of minutes of lambing, he finally relented.

Thing is, I am not very confident with cooking pancakes. All my tries before we’re total sloppy failures. And hubs hasn’t had the experience ever to cook pancake. But I was really bent on having pancakes so we tried to experiment.

We ended having a very good bonding time. Thankfully we had all ingredients in the cupboard and fridge – pancake mix, eggs, butter – and all we just need to do is follow the instructions. Hubs even followed the step on cooling the pan a bit by putting it on a wet cloth after heating it up – if it were only me, I would have had omitted that step. The effect is a perfect pancake, the first decent looking pancake I’ve EVER made.

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The taste was really good!!! We bought a good pancake mix. Although I still long for the day that I could make a pancake mix from scratch and not instant just like how mama and papa used to do it for our snacks when we were young. Those pancakes were just so good!!!

Above all though, because of the unexpected pancake craving, we had a fun and memorable time in the process. Happy.

freeze-dried miso soup

Was nursing a very bad sore throat ever since Saturday. Last night however, the coughing got nasty. And for every cough i’d double up because my belly would hurt as well. Felt like some nerves went taut inside my belly and it was just so painful. Of course this got me worried for baby.

The cough and the pain went on till morning prompting me to decide to take the day off, following the doctor’s advise to just lie in bed whenever my belly hurts.

Hubs bought me bottled water and oranges and some bacon for the fried rice I had in mind. He was really a dear – he had to go out once and then come back before heading back out again for office. Thankfully it was still early.

Had the fried rice for lunch. But we haven’t thought about dinner. Thankfully we still have eggs so I noshed on two hard-boiled eggs; which are actually my favourite recently.

One other thing I was thankful for. Last weekend, Atsushi’s family sent us a package of good-quality Japanese food: nori which were in cans and not just in plastic, tofu which are boxed like milk which was just soooo good, and freeze-dried miso.

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Just add a bit if water. Tadaan! Perfect complement for my eggs.

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Being pregnant and conscious of food intake as I am, I had to research a bit on freeze drying. Thankfully, no preservatives involved. Read here for some interesting very short read.
I checked the salt content and considering all my food intake today, I was surprised I still didn’t make the minimum required of 1500mg (US standard).

Will share the delicious tofu we received, next time.

ichiran

It’s very rare that Hubs suggests we eat ramen whenever I ask him where we’ll have our late night dinner. Hence whenever he suggests so, I almost always say yes.

My favourite ramen place is Yoshimuraya in Yokohama but that is still a station and a 10min walk away, hence we decided to go for Ichiran, the closest one and my second favourite, at least within Yokohama and Sakuragicho.

Ichiran, which serves tonkotsu ramen (pork bone broth), is quite unique from other ramen places however. For a number of reasons.

Back when we’ve just discovered the place, we were laughing on how it felt like we were having an exam. After ordering on the machine right at the entrance, once seated, you have to fill up a sheet for the kind of ramen specs you want to have.

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Once you’re done answering your sheet, you can then “submit” it to the staff so they will cook your ramen the way you want it too.

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Almost always, I have the firm noodles, half-clove garlic, no scallions, only half serving of their secret sauce and with pork of course. Would have wanted eggs but theirs is only half cooked so me and baby can’t eat it. I was also a nori monster before but I found myself not liking its smell now that I’m preggers. 😀

Once your ramen is done, they’ll leave you be as they close the bamboo curtain for your privacy. And indeed you can’t get any more private what with the cubicle for each customer. It’s really like taking an exam!

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いただきます‼

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From their poster, Ichiran also have a branch in Manhattan, New York. But after having ramen in Manila and Singapore and it being far from the real Japanese thing, I’m not sure if the Ichiran in NY tastes the same as the Sakuragicho Ichiran. 🙂 Even the ramen in the Ippudo in Kyushu, where the original Ippudo resto is, is different from Yokohama Ippudo!

turning 32

And the leaf has just turned. I’m now 32!!! Albeit nowadays when I’m asked of my age, my instant (innocent) reply is that I’m 29. And then a pause. And then I say “wait”. And then I think about my real age. Haha. It’s not that I dislike having birthdays, reminding me that I’m getting older. In fact, quite the contrary. I’ve never really outgrown that childlike attitude of looking forward to my birthday, all giddy and excited. It’s just that at some point, I stopped counting the age, it’s just a number!

But what I would count though are the blessings. There’s been lots for the last year! Let’s count shall we? 🙂

• March 5 of last year, I officially became an immigrant. The process was tedious! And the CFO (Center for Filipinos Overseas) experience was both humiliating and utterly infuriating. But am still truly thankful that I was able to travel to Japan and be with my husband on my birthday without any hassles

• because I was able to fly to Japan for my birthday, I was with hubby during one of Japan’s most difficult time – the March 11 debacle. I couldn’t imagine how lonely and depressed hubby could have been had he been home alone. And I couldn’t imagine how paranoid I would have been had I been in Manila at that time, far from knowing the real situation Hubs is in! Of course I’m not thankful it happened! But I am thankful that we were together during that very trying time and that we survived it.

• we had a very beautiful wedding. Civil marriage here in Japan is totally devoid of any ceremony or emotion. And so we’re truly thankful for our beautiful Church ceremony. And we’re thankful as well that we’ve given our families a memory that they’d always cherish. Even now, almost a year after, when I recently heard our Ninang tell her friend that ours was a very beautiful wedding, my heart warmed and I feel jelly-like all over. 😀

• thankful for the gift of friendship. Our wedding wouldn’t have been that beautiful if not for the help of friends. For old friends albeit far and rare to see, still we’re able to foster a friendship that would (hopefully) last a lifetime. Thankful for new friends as well! 🙂

• Thankful that I was able to work. Thankful that I was able to keep my position and career and work in the main company. Thankful that I’m now working on a very interesting project, with my work scope being one of the plant’s core, both a challenging yet very interesting experience. Thankful.

• thankful that this last year, we were able to travel to very beautiful places! – El Nido, Vienna, Cesky Krumlov, Prague.

• thankful that we were able to spend the New year with Atsushi’s family and where I experienced for the first time the true and very interesting Japanese New Year festivities. But most of all, I am thankful for the kindness Hubs’ family had shown to me. I’ve heard “horror stories” from other people about other people’s experiences. Hence I am truly thankful of the kindness Atsushi’s family has shown to me

• thankful for my family’s good health back home!! 🙂

• thankful for that lovely surprise request although we are yet to know of its outcome

• thankful, thankful, for this little wonderful person growing inside me. Thankful for this miracle of life. My morning sickness is truly bad, yes, and it can sometimes last till midnight. But what’s surprising is that whenever I’m in a meeting and couldn’t get to the toilet for hours, I don’t feel the urge to vomit at all. Even when still inside the womb, I’ve an ace baby already 🙂

• of course, thankful for my husband. Our blogsite has been witness to how great a husband Atsushi is. Of course he’s not perfect, I’m not blind with his faults. But he’s “perfect for his imperfections” and perfect for the imperfect me.

• all of the blessings above only came from One, Who has been generous to me. Thank you Lord, for all I’ve just mentioned, for the gift of life, for the year to come, for the blessings we’re about to receive, for taking care of all our loved ones, for your patience with me. Thank you for empowering me 🙂

Have a blessed day everyone!

Hinamatsuri!

It’s Hinamatsuri! Otherwise known as the Japanese Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, this March 3 festivity involves displaying dolls arrayed in traditional costume typical of the Heian Period. I was reminded of the Hinamatsuri because of Google’s doodle for the day.

Cute right?

As we weren’t able to go around sightseeing this time, i dug up old photos to show hubby, and share here; photos of my trip with friends in Katsuura City, Chiba back in 2008.

The first thing that greeted us from the station was this.

Even hubby was truly impressed and estimated this must have cost millions. And yep, it was just on display with nary a guard around to look after the display.

The community also displayed the dolls on one of the stairs leading to a temple in the area.

Even a doll collector like me see these numbers of dolls gathered together as quite scary. But look up close and you’d just be amazed at the detail.

An Emperor and his Empress.

Can you count the layers of the doll’s kimono?

A court official.

Court musicians.

Usually, the hina-ningyos of the emperor, empress and courtiers are arrayed like this.

But in Katsuura, we found some displays with elaborate houses.

And some other very interesting displays as well. In bamboos! but oopps, one bamboo window is empty! Could someone have…? (gasp!)

Aren’t they cute?

This manner of displaying the dolls is probably the least of my favorites.

Funny, there’s Anpanman series as well!

This dolls are usually on display from around February up to March 4. Read in Wikipedia that having these dolls on display in the house beyond March 4 would result to the daughter of the house marrying late. I wonder if come next year, we’d be celebrating the Hinamatsuri (for the girls) or the Kodomo no hi (mainly for little boys). Hopefully. Excited! 🙂

 

 

he gave it just because

I have been feeling the fatigue this week much hence I’ve been going home earlier than usual and so earlier than hubby. Since today was a Friday and I can afford to stay late because I can wake up late, I thought of waiting up for hubby so we can enjoy the walk home together.

To wait for him, I decided to have dinner somewhere. But it took me an hour to select which place to eat in thanks to my morning sickness (or more technically all-day sickness). I wasn’t in a particular hurry anyway since I know hubby is working late. By 9:00pm however, dinner almost done, hubs sent me a message that he’d still be working late so I’d better go back home ahead. I can understand how busy he is as we are working in the same company and I know how demanding the job is so I didn’t complain and just agreed with his suggestion. A few minutes after though, I was already feeling lonely because it’s a Friday and yet i was dining alone.

Not really relishing the fact of being home alone on a late Friday night, I dillydallied in finishing my meal and in walking home so much so that when I was just waiting for the train an hour after, hubby sent me a message that he was already about to leave the office. I then decided to wait some more for hubby.

A quarter of an hour later, Atsushi was a sight to behold. He was hurrying down the escalator, a huge pink bouquet of flowers in one hand and his laptop bag in the other hand, ever hurrying to meet me. Reminiscing how he looked back then brought tears to my eyes just now just as it did earlier when I was meeting up with him, overwhelmed and surprised of his thoughtfulness.

I instantly assumed the flowers were his advance birthday gift for my birthday this Tuesday and posted so in Facebook. He knows how flowers really makes me happier on my birthdays although I’m happy already with the birthday per se. But upon asking him why he decided to give the flowers five days in advance, I learned the flowers were really not for my birthday in itself.

But just because. Because recently, every morning, I chirp on how the branches of the sakura/cherry blossoms are getting thicker with the growing buds and how soon there’d be flowers abloom. Because recently, even when it’s raining, I always happily point out how the flowers are blooming on our magic umbrella as it gets wet. All the chirping had him convinced how flowers make me happy.

Was so surprised, happy and touched with hubby’s thoughtfulness in that I wasn’t able to keep myself from crying – in the subway platform. Haha.

Atsushi, thank you for making me happy, always. God really blesses me a lot. Thankful.

And so, for the flowers’ photos! Trust me, the bouquet was as big as my arm. 😀

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