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Remember how I was talking about triggers not so long ago? Well, sometimes you know when to expect them. Sometimes, you know they’re coming, even days in advance. It doesn’t do much to diminish them, but at least you’re prepared.

I knew going to the gynecologist would be a trigger. I haven’t been to one since my postpartum check-up. I also knew it would be difficult because I wouldn’t have Geordie to be physically there to support me.  No one there would know about Lauren until I told them – and I would tell them, the paperwork requires that, but I knew I would speak of her. I just wasn’t sure how well I would be able to handle it.

I knew there would be tears, and there were. But overall, it was a good experience. I managed to hold it all together until I was changing from my clothes to the gown, and as soon as the doctor walked in and introduced himself, I knew the restraint wouldn’t last.

The first thing I said to him was, “I want to warn you that this is probably going to be a little emotional for me.” As soon as I said it, the control slipped away from me, and the tears started, and I quickly explained the circumstances of my last doctor’s visit. He very kindly offered me tissues and condolences and encouraged me to tell him about it, which is really what I needed.

He was a very kind doctor, and he listened to my jumbly rambling and didn’t rush me along. It was a quick examination, just long enough to get a Pap smear and to check that everything was okay (and it was). I told him that we were hoping to try again this year, and he said he saw no reason not to and wished us luck.

And that’s that. A very small thing to be so anxious about, but I accept that it was a normal reaction. I wasn’t really worried about anything being wrong, it was just the stress of not really knowing what to expect and dealing with flashbacks of my last experience with this kind of thing. Now that it’s over, I think it’ll be much easier the next time around.

Of course, next time around, we’re hoping it’ll be to confirm a pregnancy, and that will be a whole other set of emotions to deal with.

March is definitely the starting line now. We don’t have any expectations of being successful the first time around, so we don’t want to delay any more than we have to. Three months will give us time to get ourselves a little healthier, a little more mentally prepared, and also to deal with some things that need doing around the house. Like painting the hot pink bedroom that will be the nursery.

Three months seems like such a long time.

And also such a short amount of time. It’s a little bit terrifying.

But mostly wonderful.

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We got our health insurance finalized this month. That’s great news in and of itself because we’ve gone about a year now without it. It’s even better news because it means that I can start looking for an OB-GYN.

There’s a major mix of emotions going on with this realization. Excitement, anxiety, worry, anticipation, fear. It’s like I don’t know how to feel so I just feel everything.

The biggest thing is that I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve never been to a gynecologist in the States. I’ve also never been without Geordie, which may sound creepy, but he was pretty necessary for the whole Japanese translation thing. I’m actually a little nervous about going without him. Especially any time when needles might be involved. The first time I ever had blood drawn was during Lauren’s pregnancy. That would not have happened without Geordie there to hold my hand and agreeing to let me squeeze it as much as I needed to.

Finding an OB in Japan was actually fairly simple to do – I was limited to doctors who spoke English or were, at the least, open to seeing foreign patients. Here, there’s a lot more to choose from. There are a lot more options. I’m not even sure how to go about it. So, I started with a simple web search. And I’m working my way through that, weeding through what I know I want and what I think might be good for me.

That’s really all I have to say today. It’s just an update on the whole getting pregnant again thing. It’s gone beyond simple waiting now. It’s time for me to do something, to take the first step in making this happen. I realize we still have a long way to go, but it’s good to finally have something to work with. The goal right now is to decide on a doctor (or a clinic – I’m also considering looking into midwives) and get a regular exam and see what happens from there. I’d like to be able to have the exam in December, early January at the latest. That way, if everything checks out, I can start getting my body ready to try again, and we can go ahead with our plan to begin TTC (trying to conceive) in March or April.

So, maybe it’s just the first step, but it’s a very important one. In some ways, a terrifying one.

But, ultimately, a wonderful one.

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!

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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