Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Hi Tatsu Kudasai..or Can You Deliver?

I look back over the years and I am amazed that time has flown so swiftly...I felt it appropriate to continue the story of Kenji's today December his 40th birthday. It seems like only yesterday I held him in my arms and rocked him to sleep.

Back to the past, where my deep emotions still lay sleeping under a cloudy haze.  As I have said before Kenji was a very happy baby, he laughed, he giggled, he slept very well right from the beginning.  That was, of course, after we figured out that he had to have double the amount of formula that the doctor said.

Actually by four weeks old I was giving him mushy cereal also, when I went for the three month check up with the doctor, he told me that Kenji was the size of a six month old.  That was a good thing too, because it turned out he was a very active baby.

We had one of those first type built baby walkers, by age four months he was in it and pushing himself around.  He was crawling all over by five months and believe or not (I have pictures) he walked at age nine months.  He was a very determined little boy this son of mine!

One day I had left Kenji in the walker in the livingroom, just for a minute to pop into the next room to check on dinner cooking and when I returned Kenji had moved this very large package that contained stainless steel samples that Tom needed.  He had slipped the lip of the walker under the package, I guess part of it extended over the coffee table and he proceeded to walk away with it balanced on his walker...funniest sight you ever saw.  Oh, how I wish they had video cameras back then.

We had a little side patio off the livingroom and during the summer months to cool off I filled that darn (remember the tub) bathtub up with cool water and sat Kenji in it to play...sitting by him wishing I were small enough to join him. These are some of the memories that I hold dear. The bubbles of laughter from such pure simple joy...stay forever within a Mother's heart.

Happy Birthday Kenji.....

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Baby Days

As the weeks passed, Kenji grew bigger and first sleeping soundly and waking basically just to feed. He was a very good baby, no colic...didn't cry much at all, we really had it very easy for the first baby...thank goodness.

I easily fell into a housewife routine, cleaning, cooking, feeding, washing...etc., all the fun things in life!  Kenji laughed very early...he was like one month old and I swear he giggled! Tom enjoyed coming home and learning to play a little with him.

Remember Tom was a child during World War II, so his childhood was cut short even more so by his Father's death when he was ten years old.  Since there were very few children that he had ever interacted with I had to teach him in my limited way how to act with a baby.  One thing though he could not abide know like gagag..dadaddda...he insisted that we speak normally to our children.  To this day, the both of them have great vocabularies...wonder if it's due in part to that?

The picture above is of Kenji at three months old..the doctor told me that he was the size of a six month old.  We still tried to travel a bit around the country even with a baby.  Our little grey Volkswagon bug took many a day trip to tourist spots close by Tokyo.

One such trip was to visit his Dad's grave, he wanted to introduce his son to his father.  If memory serves me correctly the gravesite was quite near Tamagawa and was up in a hilly area.  Because everyone there is cremated the gravesites themselves are very small..with tall markers that also have ledges on them, so that you can leave small items that your loved one's spirit would enjoy.  It was a very emotional moment for Tom..he had loved his father very much as a child.

In the Shinto religion there are certain years that are important after a relative dies.  It just so happened that we were there for the 21st year after the death of his Dad.  So Oba-san planned a Shinto ceremony at her house in Tamagawa, she had a little shrine set up complete with pictures, sand & incense.  A Shinto priest arrived to perform the ceremony for the was a very moving experience even for me, a back sliding Methodist.  Oba-san had invited some of her late husband's relatives and also some of hers that we had not yet met.....none of them spoke English so I could only understand a small portion of the conversation that was taking place at the long low table that was set in the tatami room.

I knew from what Tom had told me that his Mother had not been treated well after his Dad died by his father's family.  Their marriage had been an arranged one, like a contract between two families with no love lost.  I tell you though, that woman loved her son you could see the love in her eyes.  She also was an excellent cook, and that particular day of the ceremony she had outdone herself for her guests.  One of Tom's cousins who attended was evidently very talented at origami...he proceeded to make all kinds of little paper creatures for me, with Kenji trying to gleefully grab them all in his little hands.



Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Bring Baby Home

Well after a long seven day stay in the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Tokyo..(no meat, no eggs, no eating anything that ever lived - except plant life) poor motherinlaw snuck me in some Japanese sweet rolls that were wrapped around abit of sweetened meat in the center..nothing ever tasted so good!

Baby Kenji was a very good baby, by the time we left the hospital he was drinking almost 5 oz's of formula and looking for more.  I felt bad about not being able to breast feed him myself, but I had had surgery a few years before and the surgeon told me never to nurse as there were scar tissues that would cause problems.

I think every couple that starts a family goes through a panic period...Tom and I went through ours rather quickly.  By this point Tom had recuperated from the hospital scare of me having the baby right in front of him....but he was still skittish around the baby, only because there were no children in his family at all.  He kept on telling me that he was afraid to pick Kenji up because he didn't want to hurt him somehow.

Thank God, my mother had sent me a copy of Dr. Spock's Baby Book...that became my bible on baby care.  In fact, I still have that damn book put away in a safe place.  Imagine, being basically alone and going through a life altering experience like shook my world a bit.  So, I would grasp at any & all things that would remind me of home.

Oba-san decided to stay to help with the baby, she was beside herself with joy.  Tom was her only child and now she had a grandson!  Even though we could not converse on a spectacular level we did manage to communicate with each other.  She enjoyed everything about Kenji and we let her.  There was one moment though that I kind of held my breath.  Remember the blue tub that she had shown up with one day at our front door?

Well, Oba-san decides after a day home from the hospital that Kenji needs a full bath.  Now, mind you his belly button thingy had not fallen off yet.  So she cleared the kitchen table put the tub on it and proceeds to BOIL water.  She fills some of it up with hot water from the sink and adds the boiling water...I'm frantic by this time..trying to tell her it's too hot, it's not good, it's wrong...she puts her elbow in the water and says.."di jobu -
di jobu" which I found out later means "it's ok, it's ok". 

Tom wasn't home, I'm beside myself...she takes Kenji and gently lowers him into the water...he didn't like it too much and started to cry.  I started crying because I thought he was getting it turned out, he wasn't the temperature wasn't hot enough to burn him Thank God.  It seems that the Japanese love hot water I know that it starts from birth! Only because of crazy ladies dunking their offspring into a hot pot like a lobster!

When Tom came home, it was decided that I as Kenji's Mother would give him all his baths from then on....

As a side note...I have to remember to ask my now grown son if he does like hot baths or not....


Monday, February 7, 2005

Baby Oh Baby

Oh, motherhood, what an experience.  There is no easy way to explain the feeling that overcomes you...that this little bit of humanity could completely captivate you entirely.

Back in those days..1965...a woman stayed for about seven days in the hospital after givng birth.  I can remember being put into a semi-private room, falling into a much needed sleep (after all those hours awake in labor, I kind of went comatose).  I awoke to find a nurse pushing a baby cart near to my bed...she reached in and brought out a blue swaddled baby and laid the baby at the foot of my bed.  The nurse handed me a baby bottle and without further ado she left! 

I pulled myself up a bit, I was still kind of out of it...I was trying to figure out how to get to the end of the bed...I knew I had to get there, I knew I had to pick the baby up somehow.  Looking back I have no idea why the nurse left the baby without checking that I was capable of handling a baby.  I finally edged myself slowly down to the end of the bed....remember I'm still hooked to an IV and I hurt like crazy.

I don't know if swaddling a baby is a nurse type of thing or is it universal?  I know it quiets them down, maybe because it restricts their movements and they feel safe like in a womb. Anyway, I finally reached little Kenji...managed to pick him up, he hungrily took the bottle and oh, my goodness...he drained the 3 ozs. in a short time.  I knew at that moment, I would love being a Mom.

Tom was walking about three feet above the ground...he was so was Oka-san who had just become Oba-san!

Will write more tommorrow.....

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Well here I was....having a baby so far from home.  I felt very homesick at this point, I just wanted my Mother.  Tom's mother tried to help me gather things together that I would need for the baby.  It was difficult for me, it wasn't as if I had a convenient baby store near us.  I had to travel into Tokyo for specific items, like the glass baby bottles, and double steamer for them.  We did not have a dryer, I did have an old washing machine thank goodness.

Even though we were watching our budget, I talked Tom into using a diaper service...otherwise I would of gone insane.  Remember, this is right before throw away diapers came into being.  We also found a western style food store in Shibuya that carried dry infant formula and other odds & ends that would come  in handy.

(Because of the surgery that I had earlier the doctors advised against breastfeeding because of the scar tissue)

One day Oka-san came over and when I went to answer the door I see this little bit of a woman in a kimono struggling with a large blue plastic baby bath.  I immediately helped her in, I broke out in laughter and she joined in.  It was funny not being able to really speak to one another, yet we had just shared a terrific moment together regarding our yet unborn son.  Please remember the tub, in a later story we will go back to the tub.

Like many  soon to be parents Tom & I agonized over the babies names.   We had a list for girls, we had a list for Mom had sent me a book of names, & of course, Dr. Spock's book (God bless that book, it was so needed) Well, Tom wanted to honor his father and use his name somehow.  His father's name was Enji and as we looked over boy's names the name Ken kept coming up..I found Kenji which meant healthy.  It was just perfect, if it was a boy the name Kenji would incorporate his father's name of Enji.   Also since this was the dark ages, no way to find the baby's sex out beforehand...we had to choose a girl's name also...I was headed for Tamiko or possibly Hanako which meant flower.

Well, my due date was Dec. 26th, of course I go into labor on Christmas Day or at least I thought I was.  The hospital said "false labor" go home.   Home we went....Dec. 27th - terrible back pain, onto the hospital again.  This time they keep me...I started dialating and continued for 29 hours...thought I was going to die.  When the baby finally decides to crown, I'm alone in the room with a totally insane one's in sight, ringing the bell did nothing...I told Tom the baby is coming!  He went running down the corridor yelling in Japanese/mixed English everything under the sun for a doctor.

He made such a commotion that I had a bunch of doctors & nurses come flooding into my room.  Somehow they got me onto a gurney, wheeled me into the delivery room...meanwhile, I know the baby crowned because I had reached down and touched his head!  They are yelling at me to turn on my side for an injection to my spine, someone was pulling on white thigh high booties just so much action going on it was ridiculous.  I'm the only sane person in that damn room! I told them, of course they wouldn't listen, just let me have the baby naturally at this point I'm over the pain.  Nope, they are going to give me a spinal if it kills me.  They start injecting me telling me to lie still (huge contraction going on) and they proceed to send both my legs into charlie horse spasms...and they were about the only things that didn't hurt at point.

Well, my baby had a mind of it's own about it's arrival time...three minutes in the room and there he was.....he was not going to wait for the spinal tap to work...he was ready!

He was very healty....7 lbs. 8 oz. and 20" long.  Huge head...see the picture that's one of the reasons for the long delivery.  They say that women forget about the pains of childbirth afterwards...bullcrappy!  I remember it all, too well, but I would not trade a moment of the whole thing because it gave me someone very son Kenji

Actually, I almost needed to put Tom into a hospital bed..the two days and the rush ending had almost done him in...I really think he had a mini breakdown runningdown that corridor! Poor guy.