My Japanese isn't especially good. I've made no secret of that. Despite my attempts to go to Japanese language classes while living here in Japan, my Japanese is just barely functional in say, a convenience store. "Could I please have one newspaper?" might be manageable.
Thus, when it was time for my OB appointment here in Japan (because of our travels I haven't been able to see a doctor for maternity care for just over 2 months) I took my husband with me knowing full well that I couldn't possibly follow a medical conversation with a doctor. I'm glad I took him. First off, it was nice to have some company while I spent over 2 hours in the hospital being shuttled up and down, back and forth to the lab for urine samples, blood work, what I'm told was an EKG (never had one so I couldn't say for sure), a brief meeting with the doctor who whipped out the Doppler (Yes! a heartbeat!) and finally the doula. We don't need a doula for birthing services as we will be back in the U.S. for labor and delivery. But apparently this doula's responsibilities also include maternity services much like a nurse in the U.S. might provide, such as nutritional counseling, information about weight control, etc.
This conversation with the doula was not my favorite part of the visit. She was shocked when I told her that my pre-baby weight was probably around 54 kg. and I'm now up to just over 60 kg. "54?!!" she yelled. I was so startled and confused by her yelling, that I thought maybe I was wrong. I refigured in my head and said, yes, 54. If you're not accustomed to metric terms, (and I'm not really) this means that I've gained about 12 pounds in my first 18 weeks. Not ideal by American standards but even more out of line by Japanese standards. As a result, I was given a chart with a request to weigh myself at home once a week and record it for future review by the doctor. They would like to see me every few weeks while I'm here. I don't know if that's standard, but I appreciate their thoroughness.
The doula went on to say that she isn't too worried since I'm not Japanese (I'm nearly 5'8" tall for heavens sake and as a result, bigger and heavier than most Japanese women). Still, by most American standards on was on the very low end of the weight chart for a woman my height before pregnancy, and while I gained quickly in the 1st trimester that's to be expected as I was eating as a self-defense to minimize the nausea and because at the end of the 1st trimester I was sometimes ravenous. This has all changed in the last several weeks and the weight gain has slowed, but now I'm more than a little paranoid.
The shock this woman expressed has been engraved on my brain. I'm sure my own doctor would have talked to me about weight gain and target weights, but I'm sure that she would have been far more sensitive about the whole thing. Not only does my own doctor know that I only gained about 25 pounds during my 1st pregnancy, but she also knows that was not overweight prior to pregnancy. I was stunned and hurt by the doula's reaction. It felt as though she was suggesting that I'm an overweight and out of control crazy American (not an unusual experience for a foreigner here in Japan). I'm sure many of my readers are familiar with this situation, and I actually expected it, but it was startling all the same.
The good news is that I've been able to explain to my husband how much this concerned me and we've made time in our family schedule for me to get back to my maternity exercise routine -something that had fallen by the wayside what with jet lag and settling back in here. Also, Gboy was able to explain what happened to his mother and I'm hoping that now when I say, "No thank you I'm done" when she offers me more food at dinner, she'll believe me. I appreciate her attempts to feed me, but portion control is out of the question when she just keeps dishing up equal portions to everyone at the table regardless of their hunger level.
By the way, does anyone have any speculation about why the hospital would want an EKG? I don't have any history of heart problems or anything else that I can think of which would even make that test relevant for maternity services.
Also, anything else I should be prepared for in my coming visits with the doctor? I've got an ultrasound scheduled for about 3 weeks from now.