Monday, May 30, 2011

4 Weeks Ago...

It is 8:50PM here in Tokyo on this Memorial Day and I am thinking back to where I was four weeks ago. I was sitting in Seibo hospital by myself probably nursing sweet Kei. He was just five hours old. Today he is four weeks old, and my how he has grown, as you can see by the pictures. He is already past the ten pound mark. We go on Saturday for his four week check-up so I can post the actual statistics after that. But obviously from the pictures, the boy is growing and he likes to eat. He already feels more like a baby to me than a newborn. He is showing more alertness and having more wake time. His favorite place to sleep is in the sling when we are out and about. I am still trying to teach him how to nap in his pack and play during the day. He sleeps there just fine at night but during the day he would much rather be held than take a nap in his bed. I cannot say that I do not blame him, but reality is I am one person trying to take care of two so the boy has gotta learn how to nap in the bed. I do not want to be wearing him at 30 pounds in his sling to take a nap. Last night he gave me my longest stretch yet. I fed him at 9:30PM, put him to bed, and I woke up at 3AM needing to feed the poor boy. He was still asleep, but mama needed to feed him, so we did. He went right back to sleep and slept until 7. Tonight I am hoping we can go a little bit longer. Or else he just tricked me last night. We will see.

Miyako has her good days and bad days when it comes to him. When I tell her I need her to help me and be a big girl, she will often respond with, "I want to be a baby brother." Today she wanted me to carry her while I had Kei in the sling. She often acts out while I am feeding him because she knows it is harder for me to discipline her then. But she has her sweet moments with him too. She loves to tell me when he is crying and how I need to see what is wrong. She is doing great with Nena at her classes, and I am wondering if she will be dependent upon me when I take her this week to music class or if she will be more independent like she is when she goes with Nena.

Kan and I are wondering how you have time for yourself with more than one child. I was talking to a friend who had her third child in January this year. She said she realized after her first child that her life was no longer her own, so her transition to her second child was not too bad. She said her transition to her third child was when she stopped caring about her house being clean or getting a shower first thing in the morning. I have not had such a seamless transition to number two. I guess when we had Miyako, I knew my life was no longer mine, but things were very manageable with one. Kan and I could take turns easily so the other person could do something on their own. Or, we could easily take just one out with us. It is a bit more difficult with two. But I remind myself that in four weeks things will be much easier...that is when it got easier with Miyako. Right now, you feel like you will never have time to yourself or with your spouse, but I have seen plenty of healthy people to know that it can be done and it does get better. And reality is, my life is not my own - it belongs to someone much higher than myself - and He has given me this life and blessed me with two precious children to disciple unto Him. What better job could I ask for? Sure today, when I was cleaning up a blow out by my two year old with spit up on my arm from my shoulder to my wrist, I questioned this high calling and wondered if I was cut out for it...but His Spirit reminded me gently that He has ordained all of my days, including the blow outs and spit ups, and by His grace, I will get through each day.

And boy do I need His grace...when I go through the day, hit my pillow, and finally remember to pray...I think I utter "dear Lord" before falling fast asleep. Sad isn't it that I can go the whole day, knowing I need Him and His strength to get me through, and I finally remember to pray? Part of me is even embarrassed to write this hard truth, but this is where I am. The beauty of it is I am covered by His grace. And He reminds me how much He loves me, loves my husband, loves my kiddos, and meets each of us during these days.

By the way, it is now 10:23 PM here - yes, it took me this long to compose a blog entry...just one more adjustment I am having to make in this new "normal." :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Surviving...moving towards living...

Well, we are past two weeks and I feel like we are moving from survival mode to living mode...maybe this is just wishful thinking though as a friend came over today and made us Japanese curry for dinner and left it here. I did cook two meals this week and managed to get Miyako to bed on her own one night while Kei was crying and Kan was working. But I am hoping we are moving towards more "living" in the next week or so. I do not quite think I will be "thriving" until I am getting a solid five hours of sleep at a time and am back to an exercise routine, but for now, I will enjoy this phase and the girl scout cookies that are living in my freezer. Kan asked when they would be gone, and I said by the end of the month because come June I start my "baby weight boot camp" to shed those last ten pounds from Kei and the ten pounds from Miyako that never quite left me. But, who starts that the first month post baby? Not me...I guess I have a good 12 more days of indulgence.

We have been pretty home bound. We took Kei to a birthday party Sunday and on Tuesday I took both kids to a friends house to play. It was nice to get outside, but pushing Miyako in the stroller and carrying Kei in the sling took a bit much out of my two week post baby body. Kan's schedule has been a bit more flexible this week so he has been home to take Miyako to sports class or to a walk next door to get groceries. This at least gets her outside a bit. My goal next week is to take both kids out on two days and slowly increase this. I am grateful Miyako is getting to maintain her classes and go with either Kan or Nena as I think it is good for her to go without mama. She is much more independent in her classes when she does not go with me. :)

Kei is a sweet baby boy...that is all I can say about him. I just love him so much and his laid back personality. He cries, but usually it is because he is hungry, stinky, or wants to be stinky and can't be. Miyako is slowly warming up to him. I often find random toys in his pack and play that she has "given" him to play with. She does not understand why mama lets him cry at nap time sometimes, but I am explaining to her how we have to teach Kei how to sleep on his own. Today was a huge success as he took two naps on his own in his pack and play. He often would cry when the paci would fall out of his mouth, but I am helping him to hold it in there. Both times today the paci did fall out of his mouth but he kept sleeping. For me, y'all, this is huge. I really cannot have him sleep on my chest all day every day so the boy needs to learn how to nap in the pack and play. At night, he sleeps there fine, but during the day, not so much. With Miyako, I was much more relaxed about naps and did not start putting her in her bed until about 8 weeks old. I loved snuggling with her and had nobody else to take care of, so she got the extra loving. But poor second child Kei, already deprived, as I am having him sleep in his own bed at 2 weeks old because I need to take care of Miyako as well.

I heard once that going from 1 to 2 is the hardest. After that, it is no big deal. Whoever said that is right - it is crazy when both are crying, or both need diaper changes (come on Miyako, let's go potty!) - and your spaghetti water is boiling over as you cannot get to it - but someone wise also told me "the days are long but the years are short." I remind myself of that little saying when I want to pull my hair out. And how could you not love these adorable little faces?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 11, 2011

It is the monthly scrapbook day. I should be sleeping while Miyako "naps" (aka, sings to herself) and Kei just looks around, but after being pooped on, spit up on, and everything else under the sun, I thought I would take some time and blog. Blogging puts things into perspective doesn't it. I guess Kei thought I needed something to blog about, and here it is... little boys are a lot messier than little girls. I remember Miyako peeing on me often when she was itty bitty, but it did not shoot up everywhere and projectile itself across the room onto walls. Good thing we rent huh? I guess the large deposit will not be coming back to the Kawashima clan. Thankfully, Nena was here and she was doing some cleaning for me, so Kei gave her a little extra work. As soon as I changed him and myself, I put him down in the pack and play and got everything into the laundry. Not fifteen minutes later when I came to check on him, he had spit up all over his crib sheet and clothes. Such is life I guess. I just forgot about all of this "stuff" in the last 2 and a half years.

Nena came today. I was going to send her out with Miyako so I could get some sleep but decided Miyako needed some mama time. So, while Nena stayed with Kei and cleaned the house a bit, Miyako and I went to the mall next door. She got to have a treat, a McD's ice cream cone, and we had a great time together just going to the grocery store. The little man we buy our vegetables from was surprised to see me without a large belly. They want me to bring the baby down to meet them. Miyako is slowly adjusting. She wants to help Mama a lot by getting a diaper or simply checking on Kei. But she has only held him once for about 10 seconds. She said she did not like it. She says things like "Daddy feed him" at night when Kan is home. She does not understand why daddy cannot feed the baby and Mama hold Miyako. But at least she is not asking for him to leave yet. I am sure that day will come soon enough. :)

Kan and I are in survival mode, but trying to see how God can use this to show us His grace and strength in new ways. Kan has been a bit busier with work this week than we anticipated, but with the help of Nena and the body of Christ, I am doing well. I have a hard time relaxing during the day. My friend took Miyako all morning yesterday and I thought I would get some sleep. No, instead, I got the baby blues and cried. But at least I could let it out with Miyako at a play date rather than her seeing me. More than anything I found myself lonely yesterday, and when my friend brought Miyako back she came with some cookies and spare time to chat, which was just lovely. Today, another friend from church is bringing me Starbuck's and coming to hang out. Tomorrow, another friend is coming over to cook us dinner and hang out. These little tidbits of love make the days better when you are sleep deprived and a bit "hormonal."

Sweet Kei, he is a sweet baby boy. He cries when he has a dirty diaper or hungry. Not too shabby. He is content laying in his pack and play and just looking around. He seems "easier" than Miyako but it could be because he is our second child so we know what to look for - is he hungry, tired or gassy? I think he looks a lot like Kan. His eyes are smaller than Miyako's were at birth. He has less hair than she did also. And he is a big boy. After one week, he was almost back to his birth weight. The midwife was very impressed. She told me I looked a bit pale and was concerned my iron was low. :) So last night Kan made us big steaks. Kei is 8 days old now. In some ways it feels like he has been around forever...I think that is just my lack of sleep talking. As hard as it is, it is fun having a little baby around. Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, you pronounce his name like the letter "k." Well, little guy is hungry so I better go. Here is our first family pic as a family of four (ignore my appearance) and a shot of Kei today hanging out while I type this. There is also a shot of what Miyako and I have been doing a lot of lately - watching Easter Beagle and feeding Kei.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Labor Story

Well, I am going to steal a few precious minutes and write about the labor story of Kei Kawashima. I want to record it before I forget. Deb, you may want to stop reading now as I did not go Bradley. :)

I woke up Monday morning, May 2nd, and felt some small contractions. As the morning went on, the contractions would make me stop what I was doing to breathe through them. I called my doctor and when I told him they were between 4-10 minutes apart, he ordered us to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at 10AM and I was 4 cm. along. My doctor knew I wanted an epidural. When he arrived, I was at 5 cm. He looked at me and said, "I'm going to break the water, get you the epidural and you will have a baby in a couple of hours." The moved me to the delivery room (at this hospital you "labor" in one room, and deliver in another), I got my epidural, and Kan and I proceeded to talk. He joked at how much more relaxing this birth experience was since I got the epidural much earlier than the last time (with Miyako I got it at 10 cm - yes, I made it that far but had no energy left to push). The midwife monitored me and I progressed pretty smoothly. During the entire time, I could hear the woman next door in agony as she did not have the epidural (probably 95 percent of Japanese women do not get an epidural unless it is medically necessary). My doctor walked in and said, "I sure am glad that is not what you sound like." My response was, "So am I." I think Kan would have toasted a beer to that as well.

The epidural began to slightly wear off at about 9 cm so he gave me a little bit more. The doctor told Kan we would start pushing at 3 and have the baby by 3:30. Well, I started pushing at 3 and Kei entered this world at 3:26. It took about 30 minutes and five pushes. In comparison, Miyako took about 100 pushes (at least it felt like it) and 2.5 hours. We labored for 5.5 hours verses almost 14 with Miyako. That makes quite a difference.

In both labor experiences, I have had fabulous doctors/midwives. My doctor here was incredible. I cannot say enough positive things about him. From the time I "thought I was in labor" about 2 weeks ago until giving birth, he has called everything exactly as it came to be. I felt so comfortable with him and would not have traded the experience for anything.

Kei and I stayed in the hospital until Thursday with Kan, Miyako and Kan's mother coming to visit a little bit each day. Miyako and Mommy-chan were actually at the hospital when we gave birth so they got to meet Kei shortly after he was born. I admit, it was a bit lonely in the hospital. No husband, no computer - just me and my baby boy. But I had a great stay and the staff and facility was very nice. There were some differences of course between the US and Japan, but I felt like they were both good experiences. As much as I wanted to be home with my family, I was glad to have a few extra days compared to the US when they rush you home so soon after birth. In fact, I actually came home early compared to most Japanese women.

Coming home as been nice. But goodness, they were not kidding when they said you really have no alone time with two. Kei is eating well. He eats, sleeps and poos... which is exactly what he is supposed to do. Miyako is having a bit of an adjustment but we see progress each day with her. Today she has been mama's helper - bringing me my boppy pillow when it is time to feed him, or bringing a diaper to change him. I know it will just take time for her to adjust. As you can imagine, my emotions are running wild - and that too is to be expected. I keep reminding myself "this shall pass." The first 6-8 weeks are the toughest. My doctor provides a midwife service to come out once a week for the next two weeks to check on me and the baby. This is nice so I do not have to take the baby to the pediatrician every other day. :) He will go at four weeks as will I for my post-labor check.

It is hard to believe that this Mother's Day I have two precious gifts from God. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this to be my life, but in spite of the lack of sleep and wondering if I will ever sleep again, I love my life. I love my husband more than anything. He has taken such good care of Miyako while I was in the hospital, and me as I have come home. I love our sweet little family of four. And I hope to embrace this new life that God has given us with joy and grace.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Welcome Baby Kei

For those of you who did not get our mass email, here is what my sweet husband work regarding our newest addition, Kei Kawashima. I will write more details regarding the birth and my experience so far hopefully tomorrow. For now, this will have to do. But I do need to write a bit, for my own sake, just to have the memories. Maybe that will be my one goal for tomorrow...

Hello friends and family,
Our apology on mass e-mail once again instead of writing it to each and everyone but we have another news we like to share and we just couldn’t wait. Please allow us to welcome “KEI” Kawashima to our little family. He was born on May 2 at 15:26 Tokyo time (which is May 2 on Eastern Standard time, same date as Japan and US for those who guessed his birthday horribly and blamed on time difference..), whopping 8.4 lb. Apparently, 6.6 lb is average size new born baby in Japan where midwife was quite concerned with Shari having over 8lb baby. All we could say is we super size everything in America.
Kei and Shari are doing well and they came home last night, we started our new journey, pilgrim, satire or lampoon (however you think the word would best describe us..) as family of four. What do you know, we are becoming the statistics, the average American family size which is 2.6 according to US Census Bureau (thanks Census Bureau for the update :) )
Last few months has been eventful to say the least. There was that huge earthquake in March, which destroyed northern part of Japan and also seriously damaged nuclear plant. We were okay physically but were drained emotionally and had to pray through where to be and where to have this baby. We had some scares with supplies (especially with bottled water) and electric shortages in April and weren’t sure how it would all play out but it appear to be life as usual for the most part here in Tokyo. We had a labor that went so perfect we couldn’t ask anything better. Well, easier for me (Kan is writing this obviously..) to say since I wasn’t the one who had to bare the child but hey… I suffered kicking in my back throughout the night in last few months, can we say it’s even? Okay.. I am getting a feeling I just need to drop the subject and move on… what I wanted to say is… there were no complications, and the labor was much shorter than Miyako. We arrived at the hospital around 10:00AM and Shari went into active labor around 11:00ish. By 15:30, we had a healthy boy. It was smooth. There is no jaundice issues so far, he eats well (I mean really well), he poops well (I mean really well) and he sleeps well (little more would be nice but..). As you can tell, I am such a proud dad. Oh, that reminds us.. any of you out there has a good advice on how to change boy diaper, please let us know. Man, that thing is like a fire hydrant and shoots out everywhere unannounced. Well, please look through the attached photos if you have time. I am sure we will try to post more pictures through Facebook and Shari’s blog (, so please keep up with these sites as well.

For those who are curious, Kei ( ‘京’ <- Japanese character if you can see.. ) means Capital, wealth of wisdom through heritage and history. It is much similar to Miyako’s (‘都’)name. In fact, if you place Kei and Miyako’s character together, it reads Kyoto (‘京都’).
This idea came from the Kawashima side of family and their wish is that wherever Miyako and Kei end up, their ‘home’ is in Kyoto and that they would live graciously in accordance with customary expectations.
Shari and I have a different take on this obviously. We want them to return to their true home, God’s kingdom someday. Wherever they end up, they are both covenant children, they both represent the kingdom of God, and they are marked.

Now our job now is to make sure they don’t go to same Japanese school because if they do, man, they are going get it… :)

Well, thanks for letting us share our news… What’s up with you? We would love to catch up with you, let us know how things are going.

Your… whatever we are to you,
Kan, Shari, Miyako and Kei