Pregnancy in Japan so far
As my pregnancy enters its final stages with just a week to go until my due date, I thought I would write a bit about all the experiences I have had so far with doctors etc, in the hopes of enlightening some people who have yet to go through the experience (here in Japan).
Obviously this is my first baby, and I have never been pregnant or given birth in any country except Japan, so forgive me for writing things that are normal in every country.
I don`t even remember why I thought I was pregnant to begin with, just `a feeling` I suppose. I peed on several sticks over the course of a week (with negative results), and finally got a positive result in the first week of August 2010 (in the loo at work!) Yoshi and I had gotten married just 3 weeks earlier, so this was all a bit of a surprise!
I took a picture of the pregnancy test and tried to stayed calm... I had always believed that it would take me ages to get pregnant since I was underweight after the wedding, have never had regular periods, and at one point in my late teens / early 20s was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which makes it harder to fall pregnant.
Actually, the first person I told was Eve (my little sister) because I saw her first. She and I were walking through Chayamachi (in Umeda, Osaka) and she screamed! What a reaction... people stopped and stared as though we were crazy (more than usual).
That same night, at a family BBQ for Yoshi`s nephew`s birthday, I told Yoshi, but told him to keep it quiet. If the pregnancy test was accurate, I would only be about 5 weeks along, far too early to spread the news.
The next Monday I went to a Ladies Clinic in Namba, Osaka (Oak Clinic) where the doctors speak English and they are quite happy to accept non-Japanese patients. The doctor confirmed my pregnancy with a urine test and then did an internal exam. She showed me a picture of the tiny fetus on the screen, but it was only 5 weeks along, and there was no heartbeat to be found. She told me to come back in 3 weeks (it is much easier to see a heartbeat on a fetus at 7-8weeks).
The next few weeks were unbearable... I am not the most patient of people, but when I went back 3 weeks later, and saw the tiny heartbeat, I finally realised `I am gonna be a mum!`
The Oak Clinic only deals with pregnancies (and pregnant patients) until the 12th week (as they do not have any facilities for delivering babies), and recommended I find a hospital asap. She said that most hospitals and clinics accept a limited number of patients (to avoid overcrowding) and with an expected due date in early April, a lot of hospitals might already be full! The doctor also told me to go to my local city/ward office and register the pregnancy.
I went to the Higashi Osaka City office (in Aramoto, Higashi Osaka) and talked to the lady in the International Plaza (one corner of one floor of the building with some very limited information about life in Japan, all written in English!). I asked her if she knew of any ob/gyn in the area who could speak English, to which she replied `no` and then she placed a call to the `birth registration` desk who sent a very nervous young man to see me, and record my information, and give me a 母子手帳 = boshi techo (