I’ve got something in common with Leslie Nielsen. While I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t look as good as him in a full nude photograph, the photo does give you a hint. I, too, am pregnant (well.. actually, my wife is!).
Getting pregnant with our first baby was a huge change for our household. Only a few months into our marriage, and just learning the ins and outs of what it means to have an international marriage, a whole new perspective showed its face when we found out that my wife was pregnant. Marriage is all about finding common ground when you both have differing opinions and there is no topic better than children to bring out the best (and worst) of your compromising skills (see our Kokusai Kekkon Article). While I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise given the huge number of wives tales that we have back at home surrounding the topic, Japan is host to its own long list of theories about what should or shouldn’t be done during child birth.
In addition to reading about the growth of my as yet unborn child in various books each week, I’ve found the entire experience to be an eye-opening one in terms of Japanese culture. Who would have thought that best practices about pregnancy could be so different from one country to another. The enjoyable part of the process has been that generally no one theory about childbirth is universally right or wrong and so finding “common ground” between our “theories” has become a hobby.
Throughout the process so far, my wife and I have gone to our utmost to refer to several sources in both English and Japanese to come to our own conclusions of what we want to do. The hope is that through this article/series, I can shed some light on the potential grey areas that future gaijin parents might also encounter. As a gaijin father to be, most of my comments will be directed towards the Gaijin Daddy/Nihonjin Mummy pattern but there is no reason why many of the realizations shouldn’t be relevant to couples of the opposite combination.
The odds that you (or your wife) are pregnant right now are probably pretty slim(*) , but bookmark the page as one day you might find it comes in handy. Personally, I’ve been amazed by how much information I should have already known way before I started to think about children (dedicated future mothers these days spend as much as a year in advance preparing their bodies and lifestyles for pregnancy!). If you have already gone through parenthood in Japan then please stop by, leave a comment and share your advice with me and other readers.
(*) unless you are a newly wed in Japan and then the odds are over 25% that yours was a “MAMArriage“!
For any couple’s first pregnancy, the most logical place to look for advice is at home. Most people form their views on what it means to be a good parent from looking at how they were brought up. Generally that is a mix of good, bad and controversial pointers, but it gives you a lot of material to work with. Because the world of pregnancy is one that is uncharted for most of us, it is probably the one time in our lives that we are most likely to turn to our parents for help. While sometimes you can turn to friends for advice, more often than not couples keep their pregnancy a secret for the first three months until they are certain that there won’t be a miscarriage (one in 6 conceptions end up as a miscarriage!) What do you do if you’re like me and your parents are back home? What do you do if your Japanese partner is living in a different city from his/her “home town” too?
It isn’t easy getting pregnant in a foreign country. I’m still going through the process so would love to hear words of advice from any stippy readers who have “been there, done that”. On the same token, if there is a particular contentious point in your pregnancy that you’d like more advice on, I’d be over the moon to look into it for a future episode. It’s about time there was a resource out there on the internet especially for bi-cultural couples, having their first baby in Japan.
This article is the first of a new series, “Getting Pregnant in Japan”. I am already writing the new instalments madly, but as I mentioned, give me some neta for research, or just some simple comments, and Ill try my best to include some clarification in the upcoming parts!
Update: Part Two of this series now available.