Baby’s First Fever

Sorry for the lack of updates! I’ve been pretty hooked on Persona 5, so all of my free time has been spent playing it. Plus I was working on a stressful project for a couple of weeks there, and now I’ve got a cold so I haven’t had too much inspiration to write. I’m under the effect of some medicine that makes me pretty sleepy as I type this, so hopefully it’s not too incoherent!

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There’s so many exciting and happy firsts with your baby. Unfortunately, there’s sad ones too, like baby’s first fever and ear infection. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that it didn’t happen until now though. It happened at a pretty bad time too, with hubby getting really sick, and then I got really sick too. I’m not sure when the ear infection happened either. It seems likely that she may have had a small one and it got worse when she had a fever since she started a nursing strike 1-2 weeks before her fever.

When her fever first started it was on a Wednesday, which is the day her usual pediatrician is closed. There was another clinic open near the daycare though, so I took her there. I wasn’t too impressed with this clinic. The receptionists weren’t as friendly as the people who work at our regular pediatrician, although the doctor himself was quite kind and spoke slowly to make sure I understood all of the medical terms (as opposed to her regular pediatrician who always speaks quite fast to me). The waiting room also wasn’t as big, so Baby J wasn’t quite as entertained there while we waited to see the doctor. Even though it’s kinda closer than her usual clinic, I doubt we’ll be going back there again unless we have to.

The next day her fever broke but came back again and lasted all weekend. I wish I had realized that that Saturday was a national holiday though, or else I would’ve taken her to her regular pediatrician on Friday to get checked out. She had a loss of appetite, but thankfully was starting to get it back by Monday. However, the fever was continuing so I wound up taking her to get checked by her regular pediatrician. The doctor checked her over, and then told us we should go see an ENT. I asked for a recommendation and then headed over to the doctor’s recommended clinic.

Going with the recommended ENT was not necessarily the right choice though. It was the next station over from where the pediatrician is and the worst part is that it was on the second floor with no elevator! So here I was, a mom by herself with her toddler in a stroller. Luckily some kind old man helped me carry the stroller up the stairs. Phew. However, Baby J was still eating her lunch at the time and I wound up having a hectic time following her around and cleaning up peanut butter everywhere she went as I tried to fill out the clinic’s forms. Talk about hectic!

We finally saw the doctor, and he told me she has an ear infection. I have to wonder if it developed over the weekend when she was lethargic or if the first pediatrician had missed it completely? Anyway, we got a prescription for antibiotics and such. Unfortunately, it all came in powder form. So we wound up having to employ the following:

Medicine jelly

You squirt the jelly out onto a spoon and then mix the powder into it. Apparently it’s apple flavored. According to hubby it tastes gross but Baby J didn’t seem to mind. I had to make sure to give it to her before or during each meal though because she’d be too full for it after. Though eventually I just started mixing the powder into yogurt and giving her yogurt every meal instead. The jelly was useful though!

So, this was the Monday before Golden Week, which is when most people in the country has vacation time. Except hubby, unfortunately. He had his spring break a month earlier (which I meant to post about but was busy with my return to work and haven’t had a chance to write about…). Also unfortunately, this meant that daycare was closed and my body decided it was the perfect time to come down with a cold. It was not an easy week for us at all! She started waking up at night again and I wasn’t getting the much needed rest I needed for my cold at all. I was super burnt out by the time the weekend came.

Thankfully though, her fever went away and she started feeling much better. Through the course of all of this, she’s also regained her interest in nursing, so that’s a relief, especially since it helped to make sure she stayed hydrated during the worst parts of her fever. I really have to wonder if she had an ear infection for a few weeks prior though, which caused the nursing strike, and the first doctor missed that she had an ear infection.

She’s back to her normal happy self now though and had a good week at daycare. And although she keeps waking up an hour or two after she goes to bed to nurse, she’s been sleeping until 7:30-8 am without any extra wake ups. Also, for a little while she had gone back to two naps, but I think she’s back to one nap again now that she’s feeling better.

When we went back for a followup appointment last Saturday with the ENT, he said that the ear infection was half-gone. We have another appointment today, so with any luck it’s all gone now. I’m a bit afraid it’s not though because she’s had a terrible runny nose the past couple of days. But maybe that’s just something new she picked up back at daycare.

On a lighter note, I found out that she gained a whole pound the month since she started daycare! She loves to eat there with all the other kids. I think that makes her 17.4 pounds now, which means that she’s finally hit the 10th percentile exactly for weight! It’ll be funny to see if they keep “fattening” her up in the coming months.

Spring is Here!

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There’s still a few chilly and rainy days here and there, but in general the warmer weather is finally here and the cherry blossoms have finally bloomed. April marks the beginning of the new school year as well as the time when new hires start at their new jobs. Last week marked Baby J’s first full week at daycare, and this week is my official return to work. I’ve been working on small projects here and there the past six months, but from this month forward I’ll be available again for taking on big translation projects again.

Happily, I’m starting out strong. I’ve already doubled the minimum amount of money I was hoping to make this month while I build up my freelance clients again, and I’ve already got some more work lined up for the month. I’m grateful that I’ve been getting a steady amount of flexible work from this one agency over the past six months, so I hope this trend will continue in the following months as well.

Baby J has been doing great at daycare. She’s now very impatient to go in the mornings, although she still cries when I leave and when she sees me there to pick her up. Or at least, she has been. This morning was the first time she hasn’t cried! I wonder how she will be at pickup, or if she cried after I left. In addition to getting used to drop off and pickup, she eats all of her food and snacks; in fact, I feel like her appetite and how much she eats has only increased since she started going. Also, her naps at daycare have been gradually lengthening from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. They even said that she doesn’t need her pacifier and bear for her naps anymore! Hopefully she’ll be able to take 2-2.5 hour naps there soon. Speaking of naps, she’s definitely dropped her morning nap and is now down to one nap a day. It’s been a bit of an adjustment though, since she’s needed some quiet downtime in her crib even though she doesn’t sleep. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for us as well since we’re used to her only being up for 2 hours in the morning, and now suddenly she’s up for 4 hours or so! Good thing I’ve rediscovered my love for milk tea.

In addition to this nap transition, she’s been gaining a lot of new skills recently. I don’t know if it’s something she’s just started doing on her own, or if she’s learning by watching the other kids at daycare. Now she pushes cars, is close to figuring out how her puzzle toys work, and according to hubby she can now stack the stacking rings toy (whereas up until now she was more interested in eating the rings). She’s also started to drag things with her. This morning she even helped put her shoes on by pressing down the velcro part for me.

In general, I’ve found that following her daycare schedule has been working out for us: Lunch at 11/11:30 depending on how late breakfast was, nap at noon, snack at 3, dinner at 6, bedtime around 8. She’s been consistently waking up at 7:30-8:30 now, though I’ve noticed that she sleeps in until 9 on the occasional night when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Like I mentioned before, it’s been a bit of an adjustment having her up for more hours in the day, but it offers more flexibility on what we can do in the afternoon. Before we never had much time to do much because as soon as she was fed, dressed, and ready to go we’d only have an hour or so until her second nap.

While I don’t quite know what’s up with the one year checkup (I think it might be the “cattle call” kind where they all have to go to the ward office to get checked?), she did have to have an individual checkup for our application to daycare. Baby J is now 28.1 inches and weighs 16 pounds and 7 ounces. She’s still our little peanut, but it’s been amazing being her guide and watching her grow and learn every day.

The Quest for Daycare Part 2: The Interview

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I had been anxiously awaiting this interview part of the process for the past few weeks. Although they called it an interview, it was more like an info session. Before the interview, I had to make sure to fill out a form and I had to make a copy of Baby J’s latest checkup. The form wasn’t too difficult, though I was embarrassed about my terrible handwriting. I think she was relieved to see that my language skills are high enough to be able to read and write in addition to speaking, since she spoke to me at her natural pace.

When we first went in I could see the people in the office gathering around the window and probably commenting about how cute Baby J is. I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit about one woman who covered her mouth with both hands in awe.

I was greeted at the door and then brought into their office, which was pretty hot. I had to keep Baby J on my lap the whole interview, which became a bit of a challenge as time went on. The lady brought some toys though, which was entertaining for J for a little while. However, for the most part J was more interested in the clear file that I brought to hold the documents I prepared. The lady went over the details on the paper I was given explaining the daycare and then showed the specifics of what types of things I need to pack for her each time she attends. She then asked about J’s daily schedule and eating. It turns out that she’s considered stage 4 (kanshoku) for solids, which is the last stage. Yay!

Unfortunately, there’s ten people on the waiting list. Not sure if that includes us or not, so a spot for us might not open up until the end of March if at all. In the meantime I can try my luck each month at securing a spot in their “emergency daycare” program. But first we have to have a trial run at the daycare. The lady scheduled us for the required half-day trial run next Thursday.

I was a bit surprised to hear that this daycare doesn’t accept breastmilk though since they don’t have a refrigerator. I gave up on pumping months ago so it’s not such a big deal, but this might mean that I’m going to have to buy some formula. I’ve started introducing her to cow’s milk, but so far she’s not impressed. I hope I can get her more interested in cow’s milk soon so we can avoid the cost of formula.

In the meantime though, I’m going to have to go shopping for all of the things Baby J will need! Hopefully it own’t be too expensive. I think I need to buy labels that I can stick onto her belongings too.

New Glasses

There isn’t anything more that Baby J loves than to steal our glasses and play with them. I wasn’t expecting her to break them though! I’ve been overdue for a new pair (I think I had that pair for like five years?), but the kind of vocabulary that would be related to glasses isn’t covered in Japanese class, so I’ve been a bit nervous about actually getting new ones. The whole process wasn’t too painful, thankfully.

I regretfully didn’t buy the Sailor Moon frames that a store called JINS released last year, so I decided to had to look around for another kind (though I’m waiting for them to announce this month or next month that they’re making new kinds of Sailor Moon frames…). A friend recommended Zoff, so I took a look at their website to get an idea of what kind of frames I may find. My attention was immediately grabbed by the advertisement for their Disney Collection Princess Line. Of course I checked out Ariel first and was immediately struck by how perfect they were!

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Even the little details were perfect! I loved the pearls. They are a lot redder in person than they appear online though, which made me hesitate when I was in the store, since I thought they would be a bit pinker. There’s also a gray version (“basic color”), but I wasn’t a fan of that. I almost bought the Jasmine glasses instead. In the end, I decided on going with the Princess color ones, as seen above.

I had gone on the weekend, so they were pretty busy. The sign by the entrance said it would take an hour for glasses to be ready. I was expecting it to be at least a half hour, so I made sure to bring something to read while I waited. I brought the frames I picked out to the front and they had me sign in using their iPad. I was surprised that the form was available in multiple languages, which leads me to think that maybe their stores in places like Tokyo have bilingual people working at them? The staff member who assisted me did not, however.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for the eye exam. I had heard from hubby that the eye exam might be the letter C going in different directions and I might have to say which direction it’s going in, but it was different from that. First they had me look into one machine that automatically adjusted itself, then I was seated at another machine where I was first shown something on the screen, and was asked which side was easy to read or if they were about the same. Next I was asked to read hiragana. They weren’t strings of multiple letters like I remember doing for eye exams in the States, but just a single hiragana character per line.

After the eye exam was done, I was shown a sheet and asked which options I’d like for the glasses. They had things such as making the lenses be thinner and therefore weigh less on the sheet. Hubby has glasses with transition lenses and I always thought those were pretty neat since you didn’t need a second pair of glasses. I saw online that the price for them was only 3,000 yen, so I jumped at the opportunity since it was so cheap. I think it’s not a very popular option though since the staff member seemed a bit surprised. I guess it might not be popular since you can’t leave the same day with the glasses. He told me it would take three days for them to be ready. That was fine with me! I had already been dealing with using my broken glasses for a few weeks at that point, and I decided that I could go a couple of extra days without new glasses.

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Coming home from shopping on a windy, snowy day.

It was well worth the wait! I felt like I had never seen so clearly in my life when I put them on. They had to adjust the way they fit a couple of times though, and I’m afraid I might have to go back for them to adjust them again. But the discomfort I still feel might be because these glasses are much heavier than my old ones. I think they’re very cute though!

As a bonus, it looks like the glasses are anti-glare too! In the end, my new glasses cost about 12,000 yen (about $105). Not bad!

The Quest for Daycare Part 1: The First Steps

There’s nothing more in the world that I hate more than calling a place. Which makes it all the more nerve wracking when I have to do it in a foreign language! I’ve been putting it off due to this anxiety, but a job opportunity came up that prompted me to finally start getting things into motion.

Since my last post, I managed to find a stamped copy of last year’s tax return (which I had been afraid I didn’t receive because I never thought I’d need it for something), and so I made up my mind to pursue applying to daycare as someone who is self-employed.

I made the first preliminary step to applying to daycare a week or two ago when I went to the ward office to inquire about it. I checked online already and knew that the only actual option for part time daycare was the one that’s nearby that I’ve taken Baby J to on occasion to play, but it seems like the first step is to go to the daycare and get your name put down that you’re starting the process in general. So I did that and got information on the nearby daycare, full time ones, and really expensive full time and part time ones. I was relieved to see that the daycare I want to apply to has “some openings”. It’s not very clear though. Of course the only way to find out any extra details was to call and find out.

After dwelling on it since that visit, I managed to work out what I want to do going forward and then I finally picked up the phone and called yesterday. I think they get a lot of non-Japanese there, so they didn’t seem that put off when I stumbled on a few things. I was told that the very first thing I should do is come to the daycare and pick up the forms that will have to be filled out for the interview portion of the process.

After she finally woke up from her nap, Baby J and I went over to the daycare. I got some details on the process we’ll have to go through to get registered. I asked about how many openings they have, and at the moment they don’t know. They also don’t know what days of the week those openings would be. I think that they did tell me that there’s around 40 people on the waiting list for their full time daycare right now. Wow!

The sheet they gave me with the info detailed everything about the daycare, and I was comforted to learn that they’re flexible about naps if the kids seem like they need it sooner than the noon nap time they have set for their daily schedule. Right now Baby J still takes two naps a day so I was a bit nervous about sending her somewhere where they only have the one long nap.

I can’t believe how much stuff she’ll have to bring every day! Lots of changes of clothes, lots of diapers and wipes, lots and lots of towels, and other things too. It looks like I won’t be stuck making a bento every day if I choose not to though, which is nice. They also have snacks we can pay for too.

While I was there, I got us signed up for an interview on the 16th. So now I’ve just got to make sure I get that form filled out and wait for the day to come.

Baby’s Second Cold

Baby had her first cold when she was pretty young and it wasn’t too bad. Recently though, hubby got sick and she caught it. It’s only been just a stuffy and runny nose though, so luckily it’s not too bad. However, a couple of nights ago she woke up a couple of times and was unable to be easily settled by offering to nurse like she normally is. It worried me, and since visiting the doctor is free for her, I decided to schedule an appointment using the automatic phone system that they have for scheduling appointments at her pediatrician.

What happened during the call was a bit unexpected. Right away I had to learn what they called the star key and pound key (komejirushi and sharp key). Aside from that hiccup, the rest of the process was easy enough. The next day we got seen right away during her appointment time. I learned that she’s now 6.6 kg (14 pounds 9 oz). Our little peanut is getting so big!

Ever since her pediatrician realized I can speak and understand Japanese though, he’s only spoken in Japanese to me despite having spoken only English the first time we met. While I don’t mind it (it’s nicer than the people who default to English and stay with bad English even when you’re speaking Japanese to them), it’s a bit frustrating since medical terms aren’t really my forte. Because of this, I had been considering just switching to another pediatrician since the only reason I started going to this one was because he could speak English. But I guess things are ok if I give my explanations in English, and when I didn’t understand a term he told me what it was in English, so that helped and I guess I’ll be sticking with him for now.

Speaking of English speaking doctors, we also had something similar happen when I went with hubby to a clinic back when he caught the flu last year. Since I spoke Japanese, doctor only spoke Japanese and I had to interpret even though I didn’t understand everything. Hubby went back to the clinic for his cold, and it turns out that that doctor does speak English pretty well. So that’s good to know for the future that there’s an English speaking general practitioner at our station.

Anyway, I got medicine some medicine to help her stuffy nose. Getting it into her has been a bit of a challenge though. Also she hasn’t had much appetite for dinner. She’s still really been into her yogurt though, so I’ve been mixing the powdered medicine (Japan sure loves it’s powdered medicine) into the yogurt. A couple days of that, and she’s seeming much better now, although I had to give her some more medicine this morning.

The funny thing is though that despite being sick, she suddenly slept for 5 hour stretches again. I’m not sure if it’s because she was sick, because I lowered the temperature in her room, or if it was just a coincidence. I was feeling like a whole new person! Last night was rough since she was up 3 times by 4:30 am, but then she slept in until about 9. Every night feels like a roll of the sleep dice, but it sure would be nice if the 5 hour stretches of sleep could keep continuing.

May the sleep odds be ever in our favor…

Residency Renewal

Ever since I came to Japan, I’ve unfortunately had to renew my residency (aka visa) yearly. Since I’m self-sponsored, they’ve never made it easy. This year was even harder than usual though. When I submitted my application, they tried really hard to push for me to switch to dependent because I’m on childcare leave (though I’m working part-time again). I’m hoping to return to the translation company I was working at before, which means I’ll need to apply for daycare soon. For that though, I think I need to be working full time if I want a hope of getting a spot (competition is fierce for both full time and part-time daycare). So, I need to keep my ability to work full time.

One thing that perplexed me was how the person who was filing the papers that day mentioned that it shouldn’t have been possible for me to renew my visa last year. Well, that was quite a shock. He even tried to tell me that self-sponsorship wasn’t possible. Was it because I forgot to submit a copy of my “Notification of Commencement of Business”? I realized I had forgotten to submit it, so I went back with it and asked about self-sponsorship. Of course I was assured that self-sponsorship was possible, and appealed to the woman about how I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get into daycare if I wasn’t allowed to work full time.

After a month long wait, I finally got my notification that my renewal had been accepted on Monday! Phew. With hubby getting sick, I was a bit worried to be going so long without healthcare (it had expired since my residency card had expired). Unfortunately, they only gave me one year again, so this means that I’m going to have to do this all over again next year. Ugh.