Friday, March 27, 2015

Hanami 2015

We enjoyed a family hanami picnic today. It is sunny and beautiful in Tokyo, with the cherry blossoms starting to bloom. There is no place like Tokyo in the spring time. I have been here five years now and never tire of the sakura viewing. The city is relaxed and it is so nice seeing families out relaxing together. Thankfully we have a beautiful viewing right behind our building so we do not have to go too far and we do not have to fight crowds. We took scooters, baseball bats, badmiton, and had a lovely picnic as a family of five. 

J Man is 4 weeks old!

How can the J Man be four weeks old already? In some ways I feel like he should be a year old. He is the sweetest most laid back baby by far. His only fussy time is between 8-11PM and even then he is not that fussy...he just wants to be held and hang out with mama and daddy while we watch The Good Wife on Hulu. He eats, sleeps, and poos and simply goes with the flow of our family. His brother and sister love him to pieces, for the most part, and just today I saw his big brother give him a sweet kiss on the head. I do not have a lot of pictures documented from the birth so this post is mostly going to be pictures from our hospital stay. He goes for his first round of immunizations on Tuesday. As for mama, I am getting stronger and better each day. It helps that the sun is shining, sakura are about to bloom, and spring is in the air. I am doing a little bit more each day and have had the chance to take the big kids outside while daddy or our helper stay with J, so that has been fun for me and for them. I am hoping to make it to church for Palm Sunday as Miss M wants me to see her sing with the Grace kids. I probably will only stay for the worship part, but it is so cute to see her so excited about this event that I really do not want to miss it. We have had loads of fellowship with people bringing us meals which has been so nice. Four weeks old, baby J...and you have even given me 6 hours of sleep at times through the night. Keep it up sweet boy. We love you to the moon and back.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

K Man graduates Music Class

For the past two years, the K Man has participated in the same music classes Miss M has participated in. Sadly he will not be able to do the last year because of scheduling conflicts. Mama has not been to several of his music classes lately, but I did make it a point to get to his last one so I could see him graduate. It was so fun for mama to get to attend the last one, but I did have to put on sweat pants as soon as I got home. I currently have one pair of jeans I can put on but it rather hurts my incision after a certain amount of time, so thankfully the class did not last too long. It was nice to get out with just the K Man, ride the bus together, and enjoy his last music class together. He is such a joy and really a treasure. In the photo below, the teacher giving him his certificate is the one he had a crush on. During the welcome and goodbye song, he always made sure to hold her hand and stand next to her. We love him so much and we are so proud of him. He will start youchien in just a couple of weeks. I know he will enjoy it and it will be good for him to meet some friends his age, but I will miss having him around in the mornings. He will also continue with sports class and we will try to get him in soccer the same day as Miss M. K Man, our middle child, you are such a gift.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scrapbook Day 03/15/2015

Today is a Sunday. The Big Kids are off to church with Daddy and mama got her first nap with J Man on my chest this afternoon. It was a really sweet moment. We have been home now almost a week. On Friday I learned I no longer have to give myself the injections which is really nice. I will need to stay on the oral blood thinner for about 3 to 6 months but I can swallow a myself shots is not so much fun. So, I was glad to hear that my blood levels are recovering a bit. I also no longer have to wear the white compression socks! Slowly but surely we will get back to normal. I am still staying fairly homebound and our nanny is helping take the kids to their activities and such. My legs are not near as swollen as they once were, with the left one being completely back to normal and the right one almost there. Tonight after church we plan to fellowship with some dear friends, one of whom is visiting from the Netherlands. I have enjoyed the visitors that have come to drop off meals and such. At times it can be tiring, but to be around Christians is a big help as it keeps your mind focused on what is important. One friend came on Friday and we discussed loads about homeschool! I have had gentle reminders from friends to not rush the healing process. On Thursday, my friend drove me to the doctor and that simply activity of walking to the car, to the office, back to the car and back to my home wiped me out for the day. I am hoping that each week I see a bit more progress in terms of my physical healing and strength. J Man is sleeping fairly well. He gets fussy between 8-11PM, which is typical for his age, and he wants to be held a lot during this time, but he is sleeping until about 4AM or so and then again 7-8, so I am getting some solid 4-5 hour stretches of sleep at one time. Miss M loves him and she wants to hold him a lot and carry him to his bed! AGH! The K Man is not quite so taken with him, but he is also not opposed to him so I guess that is typical. He does want to hold his little brother at times, but after a few minutes he is finished. One of the best parts of this whole process is the big kids have been exposed to lots of different foods from people bringing different gifts. They are eating lots of veggies that they did not eat before and will try different things and eat them, even if they do not "like" it. The meals have been delicious and I will have to maintain this variety once I am back to cooking for our family. Well, my time to myself is limited today before everyone is home from church, so I am going to sit with a cup of tea and read before J Man is up to eat and the big kids are home from church. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

2/27/2015 - Her version

February 27, 2015 will go down as a day I will never ever forget. Upon hearing the physical descriptions of our birth story of baby J, one may think I am crazy for still having a smile on my face. The physical birth story is not pretty - it is scary, frightening, and there were periods of darkness and lonliness. On the other hand, by God's grace and love that abounds, this is turning into one of the most beautiful days of my life. 

It started like a normal birth. I woke up around 6AM with menstrual cramps and knew this baby was coming today. So, rather than going to my appointment at 9 to have the doctor check me, I called the hospital and went straight in. Thankfully the doctor was already there with another delivery. The taxi I hailed was an old taxi and he did not have a navigation unit but somehow we found the hospital as it was in a new location. The husband stayed behind until our childcare could come to watch Miss M and the K Man. Someone was waiting for me in the lobby, took me to the labor and delivery floor, and we got started. I was only 2 cm along when I first checked in.

By the time the husband arrived, the doctor had broken my water and given me my epidural. I was only at 3cm so we anticipated the baby would greet us in the afternoon. The husband and I were chatting, discussing the big kids, the excitement of the day when all of a sudden I was at 4cm. Then within about 5 minutes I was at 10 cm and they were getting ready for me to push. How did this happen so quick? I pushed but the baby was not coming and his heart rate was dropping. The doctor said he would use a vacuum and if this did not work I would need to have an emergency c-section. I was fine with that - I just wanted to meet our baby boy. Thankfully the vacuum worked. They simply showed me the baby and rushed him to the nursery. The cord was wrapped around his neck which was causing his distress. They encouraged the Husband to go with the baby while the doctor delivered my placenta and gave me my stitches.

After the doctor finished, he left the nurses in my care to clean me up. Then, literally, all hell broke loose. I was losing a tremendous amount of blood. Each time I coughed more blood came out and I knew something was wrong. I kept coughing on purpose to see if it would stop and it didn't. Before I knew it about ten nurses and the head of the department were surrounding me. I kept telling them in both English and Japanese that it hurt. I kept asking them to fix me and to not let me die. I wanted the husband because I could not understand everything but they would not let him in. I have been watching Grey's Anatomy in my spare time and I thought to myself "I am bleeding internally." Let's just say I will not be watching anymore of season 11. 

They realized my uterus was not contracting correctly and this was the source of the bleeding so they wheeled me to the OR. My only vision here is a blurry one, of my sweet husband in his Tennessee checkered shirt waving sweetly at me with a smile on his face. Every time I think of this image, I cry and am so thankful to be alive and for this man who God gave me - this man who loves me deeply, but he loves Jesus even more than that - this man who is strong and has a deep rest in the Almighty. I am so glad I get to do this life with him.That is the last thing I remember. They put me under shortly once I got in the OR. I was in surgery from about 1PM-6PM Japanese time, and was moved to ICU around 8PM. From what my husband has told me, my uterus was bleeding out. They tried to stop the bleeding with a balloon but it did not work so the only other option to save my life was to remove the uterus. Obviously my husband told them to do whatever they had to do. I lost 5 Liters of blood, which according to my husband web MD is the amount of blood in my body. Thankfully my body responded to the transfusion, which was all Japanese blood, so we joke that I am now fully Japanese (Humor helps). If only that blood would make me miraculously speak the language I would be perfect. :) Around 8PM my husband got to see me and stayed with me until about 10PM. The first night, I was in a fog and had no idea what happened. I had flashbacks the entire night of the event while I dozed in and out. On Saturday I finally got to meet sweet J Man and hold him and nurse him. He is healthy and fine and you would never know his birth was so traumatic. 

Emotionally I have my moments. The worst flashback to deal with is the one of seeing the husband wave at me as I was wheeled off to the OR. I cry just typing that sentence. But I have a different peace, a deeper peace than I knew before this event. I have struggled for a long time believeing God, questioning purpose, knowing he is real but not experiencing him like I wanted to. For the past year or so I have prayed "Jesus be real to me" and for moments he would be, but this is different. His presence is with me. I know it. I do not want to go back to who I was before this - I probably will at times because we are sinful, but I do not want to. I do not want to yell at my kids for spilling milk (which is what kids do) or lose my patience when my tatami closet is a wreck because let's face it, these closets are not the most functional. I have a new appreciation for life and what God has given me and I clearly now know I am not in control of anything. He had to literally strip me of everything to show me this. It is only by His grace. I know I have a rough road ahead in processing this, but I have been comforted through the Ephesians passage (5:10-20) about the armor of God and wearing it to get me through. Other passages I am reading daily are Psalm 91, Matthew 6:25-34, Ephesians 2:14-21, and Philippians 4:4-20. Plus, I know a good Christian counselor here who can help me walk this road. My get it done personality wants this to happen by my birthday in April so I can "move on" with my life, but in reality my life has been radically changed. I do not want to move on in the old way but in a new way, a richer way. Pray I would not rush this beautiful process God has us on. I am trying to focus on the physical first. In time, we can tackle the emotion of it all. The husband too has a deep rest in the Almighty and is seeing God's goodness abound through this situation. We are trying to focus on the goodness of God in this rather than the what ifs of life that did not happen. We use a lot of humor -  we joke that I am fully Asian with getting brand new blood from a Japanese donor. I even switched to the Japanese menu because the western menu was too heavy for me - he said it is because of my Japanese blood now. :) The 80's song Turning Japanese has taken on a whole new meaning. 

We are amazed at the body of Christ. Our church has been a pillar of strength to us and without the body of Christ we would not be ten days into this road with smiles on our faces. Between meals, support, babysitting offers, visits, prayers, texts, emails - God has used them to strengthen us and show us His love in a more tangible way. I will copy what the husband wrote in an email to the church leaders here: "What's really hit home is how much God loves us, so much so that he sacrificed Jesus for us. That is some awesome love. I was also able to confirm that everything happens for the best, based on that love. I am grateful that God has given us the body of Christ so that Shari and I are not alone in believing this truth."

As of my current state, I left the hospital yesterday, finally! There are a few conditions - I have to give myself four injections a day and come in two to three times a week for blood work to be drawn. As much as I do not like giving myself injections, being home is much better than that hospital. However, my puffy legs are getting smaller and smaller so the injections and blood thinner are working. 

It was quite the humorous journey home from the hospital. The husband rented a mini van and from the hospital we had 30 minutes to get to the doctors office to get the injections. The hospital is not allowed to give it out. Well, it was 5:00, raining and lots of traffic. We made it at 5:40 and thankfully they waited for us. The big kids were whining about being hungry, bored etc. Jun needed to eat. Kan had not eaten lunch so he was rather hungry too. We had to laugh - life as a family of five, mini van life, life was back to normal per se with kids whining and a baby needing to be fed. After getting home, dinner, and finally getting all three kids in bed, we sat in silence for 30 minutes and relished the quiet. In spite of the craziness though, we would not change it for anything.

Jun slept really well last night. I fed him at 9:30 and put him down shortly after and he did not get up again until 5:30! I am praying that is not a fluke as it would be really God's grace for me to have a good sleeper from the beginning. I am so thankful for our nanny. It was hard for me when I came home to not be able to do everything I am used to doing, and after doing dinner by myself last night while Kan returned the car, I realized she is very necessary right now. The adrenaline rush from the hospital is gone and my body is pretty depleted. The most energy I have is for a shower so please pray for strength for me, especially when I am having to go to the doctors office for blood work several times a week. I have also had tremendous pressure in my bladder so when I go in on Thursday for blood work I am going to ask about this and I am praying it is nothing too serious. 

Many of you probably want to know how the big kids are doing. The big kids are doing well, keeping a normal sense of life with their activities and such. Of course they want mama home, but to them, I just had a baby and am in the hospital. We have not told them the extent of what happened nor do we plan to at this phase in life. They seem so grown up next to Jun. And the nanny has been wonderful for them. She has provided consistency, fun, and introduced them to lots of new foods through her cooking and the meals from our church family and better manners! She also is preparing them for life with mama at home and how it will be a little different temporarily. 

I was planning to watch lots of movies while in the hospital and let my mind try to be preoccupied with someone else's movie character life. However, what I have found is I want to be in the Word, listen to praise songs on utube, or sermons by Tim Keller. I have also had lots of visitors and God has used the opportunity for me to share about His love to them. I will end this post with some of what I have learned via the two sermons I have listened to.

I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller while in the hospital that suited our situation perfectly. A friend here in Tokyo suggested this sermon for me, and our Pastor is preaching on the same Scripture today. Keller talks about submission to the Father, losing your life so that you might find it. He said, "God is not safe, but He is good." He also said, "The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of man." Friends, this I now know to be true. I have experienced God in a way I never thought possible and it is/was HARD, but I never want to let go. His peace really is deeper than anything this world can give. I do not want to be a moderate for Christ. I want to live truly for him. (Here is the link for the sermon if you would like to listen to it:

I also listened to another sermon by Tim Keller on peace from Philippians 4:4-20. My mind started playing tricks on me, thinking of the what ifs and I knew I needed to thank God and combat the lies with truth. So I searched the Redeemer website and found this sermon on peace. In it Tim Keller explains how peace is not just the absence of fear but the presence of being protected. People will tell you to push the negative thoughts away but when you do that you do not face reality. Peace of God is not expelling negative thoughts but focusing on what will get you through the difficulty which is the presence and protection of God. I am experiencing this at the core. To develop peace, you must first think on doctrine and truths of the Word. God has saved me; the love of Jesus is better than anything this life can give; God is in control of everything. Then, thank God, even when you do not know the outcome - thank Him because He is in control. And finally, love. Do not focus on success or your family or your own virtue because all of these things are out of your control and will leave you anxious. Instead, focus on loving the immutable God and this will bring you peace that cannot be disturbed. Jesus lost all of His peace on the cross so that we may have it. My prayer is that God would use this event for His glory and that our family will praise God and glorify Him through this journey.

The link for the sermon on peace is here:

It has been so amazing to see our church really rally behind us and support us. We are a young church, only about 5 years old now, so to see the body of Christ come together in such an amazing way is quite beautiful. Kan jokes that we gave my uterus up for Jesus and the scar on my belly is like the mat that the lame man laid on in John 5...just a sweet reminder from God that he is in control. Thank you to everyone both near and far who have encouraged us and ministered to us during this time. We are humbled at God's grace and work in our lives and praise Him, the author and perfector of our days. May He receive all honor and glory and power. Often times you hear that God does not give you more than you can handle. Well, I think in this case, God gave us quite a bit more than I thought I could possibly handle, on my own. But He does give us the grace to handle whatever He ordains in our lives. My prayer is that He uses this event in our story to make us more humble and aware of His love that orchestrates everything, and as we understand this love, may we move in empathy towards others who may be struggling or hurting and love them with the Gospel of Christ. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

He's here

My husband sent this out to family. I thought I would update the blog with his "birth announcement." More will come as I recover physically and emotionally. We had some complications but everything is well now. So for now, I will focus on Jun.

Please allow us to introduce our new member to the Kan and Shari's clan, Jun (Godzilla 2.0) Kawashima.  He was born on Feb 27 at noon Japan time.  He is 20 inches (51cm) tall and weights 8.28lb (3.76kg).  He is cute as he can be (well of course..) and even his brother and sister is welcoming him, at least for the time being.  Shari and I could not agree on the name for the longest time where we had much easier time with his sister and brother.  Some may knows, but Japanese uses Chinese symbols to represent their name.  Miyako, is 都 and Kei is 京.  Both put together, it represents Kyoto (京都), which is the city in Japan where Kan was born and also where his ancestor has resided for the last 1300 years.  Kan was the first to move to the United States and no longer calls Kyoto a home but it is remembrance of where Kawashima family is from.  Also, some may knows that Kyoto was the old capital of Japan and well loved by many still today.  But of course, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we long for our true Kyoto to be restored by our father.  But the issue for Jun is that we ran out of characters to represent Kyoto, or other characters that has good meaning to Shari and I but also easier for the westerners to pronounce.           This was quite a task for us.  Jun is 純 and it represent pure and innocent.  Our prayer is that for Jun to know his savior Christ and in Christ, he is made pure and innocent once again.  We have a feeling we will be saying lots of "NO JUN!!!" for number of years to come but he has been made pure and innocent no mater what and we thank almighty for this.  Here are few picture of him and also his welcome board member, his sister and brother.  Shari had a complication with the labor but she is recovering well now and we hope to share more news and pictures through individual communication, for now, our apology for group email.