You may have noticed that we've been a little absent around here and on our social media recently, but we have a good reason, we promise!
Hai and I are very happy to announce that we're expecting a baby nomad in 2019!
Yep, now that we're shedding those winter layers, it's time to reveal the bump that has been slowly but surely developing over the past several months under my big sweaters and puffy coats.
This post is an update about the pregnancy so far and our future plans. We hope you are as excited as we are!
How far along are you? When is the baby due?
This is the question most people seem to ask first, so it seems like a good place to start.
I'm currently 19 weeks, so almost halfway!
The baby is due on 10 October 2019. Just in time for Halloween, which I am weirdly obsessed with.
Do you know/are you going to find out the gender?
We contemplated not finding out and leaving it as a surprise until the delivery – that's how I imagined I would do it when I was younger if I ever did fall pregnant. But to my surprise, I didn't feel compelled not to find out – although there is some fun in that, too.
Whatever we decided, we wanted to either both know or both not know, as it would be so difficult to keep that a secret from one another until the birth (just one pronoun slip and that game would be over), and we wanted to be able to share in the joy of that news together whenever that would take place.
In the end, we were both leaning towards knowing and so we decided to find out at my 16 week ultrasound. We wanted to find out somewhere that felt more personal than the OBGYN's office, so we asked the doctor not to tell us directly, but to write it on a card we had brought in. She was kind of confused at first, but once she understood what we were asking, she said, “Oh, that's cute!” Gender reveals of any kind don't seem to be a thing in Japan, at least not yet.
I made sure to close the door to the changing area when the nurse was writing it, even though I only needed to put my shoes back on, paranoid that I would be able to hear the number of strokes of the kanji character as the marker slid across the paper, or be able to tell from the arm movements. She really took the task seriously and glued the envelope shut!
A couple of days later we decided to take the envelope down to “our bench” at our local park. It's a place we have sat countless times over the past 10 years and had a lot of our conversations about future plans, so it seemed like a fitting and also very familiar place to learn the gender of our child.
After getting through the glue (I mean, it was really glued shut!) we opened the card to find this kanji.
It's a girl!
Have you decided on a name?
No, we haven't. Although we have been mulling over a shortlist. We will probably select a few possibilities and decide once she is born. Perhaps the name she is supposed to have will just “feel right” when we see her. If we are still having a hard time deciding, at least we'll have some ideas to work from. In any case, we will be announcing the name after the birth.
We do, however, have a rather unique nickname for her. A couple of months ago, we were at the supermarket when I made a comment about the baby. At that time we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl so I said “He or she…” I was wearing a face mask, as is standard here for pregnant women and also the population at large to help stop the spread of germs or to protect against hay fever, among other reasons. Anyway, the noise of the supermarket mixed with the slight muffling of my voice from the mask meant that instead of “He or she,” Hai heard the Japanese boy's name “Hi-yo-shi”. “You've already named the baby? And you've named him/her Hiyoshi?” We both laughed when I explained what I actually said, and it just seemed like the most hilarious nickname, so it stuck.
While most people have nicknames for their unborn babies like “peanut” or “bean”, here our child sounded like a 64-year-old Japanese salaryman!
Now that we know she is a girl, “Hi-yo-shi” has now become “Shi-yo-shi”. Haha
How has the pregnancy been so far?
The past couple of months have been quite difficult with morning sickness, and this is the main reason I haven't been as present around here as I would have liked. I have been suffering from nausea since Week 5 and have been vomiting since around Week 9.
For two months I was running to the bathroom multiple times per day. During the peak of it, I was sick around eight times a day. On good days, once or twice. Sometimes, it's very sudden. I feel totally fine and then within 10 seconds I have to dash to the toilet bowl. Other times, it's a more prolonged feeling of nausea. In any case, I will eventually throw up and will not feel any temporary sense of relief until I do, so when I have that impending feeling, I try to get it over with before meals, so that I can hopefully keep them down.
I was getting so frustrated for a while there, when I would spend time trying to cook up something nutritious for me and the baby and then it would be literally all down the toilet ten minutes later. Then I'd be back to square one, an empty stomach and having to think of something else to eat.
Now the morning sickness is finally improving and it's possible to go a day or two before I have a day of sickness. Hopefully with a little more time, those days will be behind me.
My biggest issue right now is sciatica, which I am getting down both sides. Some days I am fine or just have a twinge here or there, but on the difficult days I can barely walk, roll over or get up out of bed, and Hai needs to help me to move. Apart from morning sickness, this has been the symptom I've found the most difficult so far.
Apart from that, I had restless leg syndrome in the early days of the pregnancy (which luckily seems to have disappeared), so now my additional symptoms are that I tire easily and have heartburn, both very standard pregnancy symptoms, although still not fun – especially the heartburn.
Have you felt the baby kick?
Yes, she is an extremely active baby and so I have been feeling her move for some time now. At our last two ultrasounds, the doctor has commented on how much she is moving and “jumping”. She has to attempt each measurement multiple times as she just won't keep still!
Her movements are not strong enough yet though for them to be felt from the outside. Hai is anxiously awaiting the time when he can feel the movements, too. Every time she starts kicking repeatedly and at her current full force, and Hai touches my stomach to try to feel her, she suddenly stops. Hai is convinced she is playing some kind of game with him!
She is most active later in the day/night and early morning. Five consecutive kicks seems to be her preferred method of telling me to get up.
Where will you give birth?
We really contemplated giving birth in Japan, but in the end decided that we will go back to Melbourne, Australia. I'll probably go into the reasons why we felt that was best for us in another post.
However, we have also made the big decision to stay on in Australia after the birth. As I'm sure you can appreciate, after 10 years of calling Japan home, deciding to leave Tokyo and move back to Australia has not been an easy decision. I have had lots of doubts and anxiety over it, and days when the tears just flow. I know that I'll have many more of those moments in the lead-up to leaving, and no doubt so many days of missing our lives and the people here once we do make the move. However, deep down, we know that this is the right decision for us right now. Our plan is to move back some time in July.
The baby is not the only reason for the move; we have been feeling like a change has been approaching for a while. However, the pregnancy has given us a set timeline and perhaps the push we needed to take the leap. And the coinciding pregnancy just seemed like fitting timing to start the next chapter in our lives.
We have chosen July as we want to be able to stay here as long as we can to see friends and enjoy our last moments, at least for now, doing the things we love here, and of course we have entire lives and an apartment to sort out before leaving, which is taking considerable organization.
It will also hopefully give us a little bit of time to organize some of the things we'll need for the baby and prepare for the birth (as much as one can) in Australia before she arrives. Plus, as we'll be flying internationally, we have to pay attention to airline rules about up to how many weeks I can fly. So July seems to be the sweet spot for all of these considerations.
Currently, we are trying to do a combination of checking off some of the things we want to do before we leave (Tokyo is huge and I don't think we'll ever complete “our list”, no matter how long we stay here), and getting the house in order.
Our plan is to get rid of as much stuff as early as we can, so that we can spend the last bit of our stay just enjoying ourselves and seeing people, rather than rushing until the very end. I didn't feel like I really got to say goodbye properly to Japan last time we left, so this slow and deliberate letting go is an important part of leaving on my own terms this time around.
Of course, we'll still be continuing with the blog and usual travel content, and Japan will still be a major topic of our blog going forward. Japan is a part of us now; there's no two ways about it! And we'll probably add some extra posts about the baby and the move in there along the way to keep you updated.
Thank you for continuing to follow our journey. It really does mean so much to us that we have readers both new and long-term who are sharing in our story with us. We hope that you'll enjoy all the new content we have in store as we begin this next phase!
Much love and happy adventuring,
Jess & Hai