I had to find a doctor and make the appointment because of Geordie’s absence during the week. Even though I estimated I was only about six weeks pregnant, I didn’t want to delay seeing a doctor. I also wanted Geordie to be there with me, so I had to be able to see someone that weekend while he was home.

We live in Moriya (in Ibaraki prefecture), a small enough city that I doubted any baby doctors in the area would be fluent in English. I debated trying to find a doctor in Tokyo, which was only about 50 minutes away by train. Then, I considered Tsukuba, which was only 20 minutes by train and a lot less complicated to navigate. Tsukuba is one of Ibaraki’s newer cities, and its growth has everything to do with science. Because the companies based in Tsukuba have a lot of international connections, a lot of foreigners live and work there, and English is common enough. I thought I might be able to find English-speaking doctors at the hospitals there.

Sure enough, two hospitals had English-speaking doctors. Unfortunately, the reviews I read about them online didn’t give me much confidence. One of my teaching co-workers suggested checking out the Tsukuba City Wiki, and there, I found an entry for the Shoji Clinic, run by the Shoji family: two ob/gyn doctors (father and daughter) and a pediatrician (the mother). All three doctors were English-fluent, and they had a good reputation for working with their patients for the birth they wanted. I noted that the hospitals did not allow fathers into the delivery room, while an English review for the Shojis claimed that a father had even been allowed to be present during a C-section.

It took me forever to work up the courage to call. The doctors may speak English, but that didn’t guarantee the staff would. I hadn’t yet told my manager, and I didn’t want to bother her with translations (also, her English isn’t the best; when I did tell her, it took me about five minutes to explain “pregnant” to her). But, like most foreign speakers of a language, I hate talking on the phone unless I know I’m going to get an English speaker. This was something to important to bugle.

I got lucky. I called the Shoji Clinic, and with a little mangling of the language, managed to get one of the doctors on the phone. A young woman – the younger Dr. Shoji?

“Can I help you?” she asked. Her English was crisp, with only a hint of an accent.

The relief I’d felt from getting someone who spoke English evaporated. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Well, I guess I need an appointment.”

“Are you pregnant?”

At this point, I was still hoping that maybe the pregnancy test was wrong. I was also under the belief that one needed a doctor to know for certain. “I guess so.”

“You don’t know?”

“I took a test, and it was positive.”

“Oh, if it was positive, then you’re definitely pregnant.”

The blood drained from my face. That wasn’t very encouraging. She then explained that we could come in any time in the afternoon on Friday. I didn’t need an appointment. That only meant that we might have to wait a while to see the doctor. It also meant that I would have to skip work on Friday. At least Geordie would be able to come; he had that Friday off.

The real downside was that I had to tell my manager so I could beg the day off. Yumi was far more excited than I was about the whole thing. She was even jealous. But she did kindly arrange things with our area manager so that I could take Friday off.

 

Geordie came home on Thursday, and we left to go to the Shoji Clinic in the mid-morning on Friday. Saying we were nervous is an understatement. We’re still nervous. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being nervous.

Twenty minutes to walk to Moriya Station, a ten-minute ride on the Tsukuba Express, followed by a five-minute taxi drive to Shoji Clinic. And there we were, standing at the counter at the Shoji Clinic, surrounded by pregnant ladies, babies, and young children. I performed the first of many subsequent check-up starters: peeing in the cup, weighing in (bleh), and measuring blood pressure. We waited a bit, but we were called in to see Dr. Shoji after a fair time.

He greeted us in English and asked me to go into a curtained area for a vaginal examination. Geordie hung back, uncertain of what to do. As I undressed and sat in the examining chair, Dr. Shoji came back and drew aside a curtain. He asked a few questions and proceeded with the examination. And at that point, for me, everything clinical stopped.

Dr. Shoji turned the screen of the ultrasound so I could see. He pointed at a speck on the screen, looked up at me, and said, “There’s your baby.”

Feet shuffled back in the outer area. Dr. Shoji’s eyes widened in amusement, and he moved to the side, saying, “Father can come and see. It’s okay.”

Almost instantly, Geordie appeared. “It’s okay if I’m here?” he asked me.

“Of course!” I replied, amused at the question. “It’s your baby too.”

Geordie’s hand found mine, and I clutched at him, holding onto him as though he were a lifeline. We were looking at our child, a combination of our two selves melded into one perfect being. At that moment, I loved our baby and knew that I always will.

Seeing the baby strengthened my love for Geordie too, making it something far beyond what had already been established. Here was a tangible manifestation of what we had given each other, pieces of ourselves wrapped up into one little being that we could treasure and love. We had been brought together, and now here was this connection between us, cementing us to each other. Not only did I love this man, I could spend the rest of my life with him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

“One baby,” Dr. Shoji said as he continued the examination. I sighed with relief. For a long time, I’ve lived with the fear of having multiples. I’ve never been able to explain why, but for some reason, multiples scare the daylights out of me. I can’t imagine being able to keep up with them.

We saw the heart beating. What a beautiful thing. What an amazing thing. At only six weeks gestation, our baby could be seen, could be heard if we listened hard enough.

Back in the outer area, Dr. Shoji talked to us a bit about the pregnancy and how things would go. I had to register at the Moriya city office, where we would receive coupons for the pre-natal check-ups, as well as a booklet to bring to each appointment. He adjusted my due date to October 10th. Such a long way away! But he was kind and encouraging, and I liked him immediately. He made me feel completely comfortable.

 

It’s amazing what this single, primary doctor’s appointment has done for us. We’re as terrified as ever, naturally! But having seen the baby – Lucky, as Geordie has taken to calling it – has forged a connection that I never dreamed of. It’s so strange to have something so helpless inside you, so dependent on you for what it needs to live. But it’s even more amazing that my body already knows what to do. It’s already done a lot of work without me even knowing about it. I hope I can keep it up!

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