Friday, September 14, 2007

13 weeks

One of the major logistical concerns about being pregnant in Japan was how and where to find good prenatal care... both J and I are here on tourist visas, and don't have insurance. Neither did we really know where to start looking for hospitals and doctors. Fortunately he is resourceful and his Japanese is way better than mine: he did lots of legwork from the States before we left, looking at websites, comparing prices, determining what will happen at a routine check-up (you'd be surprised at how much this varies from culture to culture). Also fortunately, we have lots of friends here who are willing to help out. One friend recommended an OB-GYN who speaks English and is a friend of hers, so to him we went.

The check-up mainly involved showing the doctor my records from my initial visit in Michigan, which included all my blood work and medical history, and then an ultrasound, and a reminder not to smoke, drink, or overexercise. He didn't weigh me or take my blood pressure, something I didn't even think about until later. What I did say to J right afterwards was, "He didn't palpate" -- and I meant to say 'my uterus,' but it came out 'my universe' -- and so we were laughing too much about the slip to be really concerned about it. I guess if they do an ultrasound, they have a good idea of the size of uterus and baby and all.

Here's the baby in its universe:

That's the head on the left, in a profiled and reclining position; to the right, the round midsection and spindly little leg. Of course, ultrasound prints always look more like snow on the TV than any discernable likeness to a human; but in his office, watching the monitor, watching this little creature tumble around and kick its legs out, I was utterly impressed with its wholeness and complexity. We could make out its spine, its tiny hip-bones, even hands with fingers. I was also amazed at how active it is -- I still can't feel a thing.

The doctor pointed out the presence of a nose bone, which apparently is a sign that it does not have Down Syndrome. "Nice baby," he said, "Healthy baby. Congratulations!"

I don't know what this check-up would have cost in the States, but I do know that Medicaid kicks in for a reason, namely, prenatal care can be prohibitively expensive. We found out that pregnancy is not covered by Japanese National Health Care -- which makes sense when you consider it's not a sickness, a categorization I find annoying in the States. I don't know what's better: instant medical coverage for pregnant ladies, or super cheap prenatal care with no insurance necessary.

This visit cost us all of $30.

That night we celebrated with dinner at Kerala, delicious Indian food, and coconut ice cream for dessert. Here's to nice babies with nose bones!



Dmitry said...

Hi again! It is Dima. About med stuff perhaps it is good to ask at

There should be some options, though tourist visa can be an obstacle....

Congratulations with the nose bone!


ヒミツ said...