Birth of Lucas

So it’s official- I am now a father. Baby Lucas came into this world on Saturday November 11th, 2017 at 8:13am. He weighed a healthy 7lbs 13oz and is still going strong a good eight days after birth. His due date was November 7th so he was four days late. We had an appointment to induce labor on November 13th, however it seems that he had plans of his own and decided to come out on 11/11.

On Friday night (the 10th) Asumi went to bed around 8pm and I did my normal “stay up and mess around on the computer” until about 10pm when I decided it was time to go to sleep. When I went into the bedroom Asumi was awake and told me she was experiencing contractions. We got out the cell phone and started timing them. The rule of thumb that we had learned from the childbirth classes was the “511” rule- that is wait until the contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for one minute each, for at least an hour before going to the ER.

After about 45 minutes we decided to make a game time call and go to the ER. Our logic was that worst case scenario we would just be sent back home, but it was always good to lean on the side of caution. Anyways at this point it was about 11pm on Friday and we drove to the ER at Richardson Methodist Health Center. The ER experience was pretty boilerplate- I dropped Asumi and her mother off, parked the car, and then ran inside to check-in. I remember at the ER I had to fill out a form and wrote down something like “I think my wife is in labor”. The ER nurse initially thought I was the one that needed care, but quickly laughed it off.

After about five minutes of waiting in the ER waiting room a nurse came out with a wheelchair and escorted us back into our ER room. Asumi was hooked up with a big sensor around her belly to monitor the baby and had an IV put in her (she hates needles). The OBGYN on-call doctor came in and measured her dilation to be 1cm (supposedly you need to be 8cm before being considered to be in full labor).

Since the contractions were so debilitating (and matched the 511 rule), after about an hour they decided to check us into Labor in Delivery. A nurse came with a wheel chair and and escorted us up to the labor and delivery floor on the fourth floor to our private room.

Bathroom in delivery room (complete with shower)

Delivery room bed

Baby heater

If you plan on having a baby at Methodist Richardson (which I highly recommend) the maternity floor (the fourth floor) is setup into two different partitions: one for delivery and one for postpartum care. The two areas are separated off by a waiting room with elevator access. Supposedly when the baby is born an RFID sensor is placed on his cord. If the baby tries to leave the hospital before he is allowed, the hospital will go on lockdown. After we were in our room in the delivery section we made it very clear that we wanted an epidural ASAP to alleviate the pain Asumi was having.

Within about ten minutes the anesthesiologist came in with the epidural kit. At this point Asumi’s mom had to leave (they only allow one visitor in the room for the epidural) and the doctor proceeded to insert the epidural catheter into Asumi’s back. From what it looked like the numbing shot was the most painful part. I stood in front of Asumi while they did it and she dug her nails into my hand to the point where it broke my skin. They had to try two different entry points before they got a clean line into the spine and were able to administer the medicine.

With the epidural in place the pain went down exponentially and they inserted a Foley catheter in order to help induce the labor and increase dilation. After we were settled in, I dropped her mom back off at our house and went back to spend the night at the hospital with Asumi. The one distinct thing that I remember about that night was that the lady in the room next to us clearly opted out of the epidural. We went to sleep with the excruciating loud screams of labor pains from the room next to us. Supposedly (according to the nurses) this was louder than normal and assured us that since we got the epidural the chances of Asumi having such extreme pain were relatively low. Still, I am sure that the lady freaked out anyone spending the night in the labor section that night.

When morning came around they checked dilation again only to find that it remained at 1cm. It was nothing extremely serious, but they also noted that his heart rate was somewhat fluctuating from high to low. For these reasons they decided the easiest and safest course of action was to have a Cesarean section. From here things happened very quickly- within about thirty minutes they carted off Asumi to the operating room. For C-sections, the spouse is also allowed to join the mother-to-be in the OR. After putting on the OR scrubs/bunny suit I accompanied Asumi to just outside the entrance to surgery.

Before going into the OR

I had to wait alone for about ten minutes while they prepped the surgery room and made sure everything was good to go. During these ten minutes I was coming up with conversation topics in my head to talk with Asumi during the procedure to distract her from the fact that there was major surgery happening.

Met waiting outside while they prep the OR

In the OR there was a big curtain that separated Asumi’s face/head and the more “gory” part of the surgery. I sat down in the chair next to her and we talked about everything that we could to distract away from the surgery. We talked about which Disney Land Lucas would go to first, when our next trip to Hawaii would be, and all of our travel experiences in the past. After about five minutes- at 8:13am on Saturday November 11th, we heard Lucas’s first gasp of air and crying screams that marked his entrance into this world.

Immediately they rushed him over to the heater and started to wipe him off and clean him up. I walked over to the heater (which was located opposite the operating table) to take pictures and say hello to Lucas. He was hooked up to a pulse oximeter and the doctors started listening to his hear to make sure everything was OK. He had a ton of hair when he came out (which is consistent with the rumor that the more heart burn the mom has during pregnancy, the more hair the baby has).

Initially his pulse was very high (close to 200) and his oxygen was a bit low (close to 86), but after about 10 minutes he stabilized. He was screaming a lot (which is normal given the trauma he just went through) but otherwise seemed very healthy. I remember turning around to tell Asumi something and accidentally catching a glimpse of the “other side” of the curtain while it was mid-procedure. I looked away as soon as possible, but it was definitely a sobering experience to see mid-procedure abdominal surgery. Gives me a renewed admiration for surgeons.

After Lucas was stabilized they wrapped him up and I took him over to Asumi’s head so that she could say hello to our new son. After a couple of minutes, I left the OR with Lucas and a nurse to go back to our delivery room. After a normal birth the baby is supposed to do skin-to-skin contact to “bond” with the parent and alleviate some of the shock of childbirth. Since Asumi was in the OR being patched up, it was suggested that Lucas go skin-to-skin with me (so called “kangaroo care”).

Fresh new baby

After about five minutes, Asumi came back in the room and I brought Lucas up to be with mom. We spent the next hour or so in the delivery room before we were carted across the hall to the post-partum care area. The private room here was a bit smaller than the delivery room, but still nice none-the-less.

Swaddled baby

The next few days were a bit of a blur. There are so many different doctors/nurses coming in at all hours of day/night to check up on both Lucas and Mom. After the surgery was over, they said that they found out that there was a “20% abruption” on the placenta and that it was a good call we did a C-section when we did. Recovery from the surgery (for mom) definitely looked hard- for the first couple of nights she was completely bed-ridden.

Methodist Richardson does not actually have a nursery (besides the NICU) and the baby sleeps in room with mom/dad. For the first couple of nights (since Asumi could not get out of bed) I woke up every two hours to change Lucas’s diaper and help him over to Asumi to nurse. I also had to swaddle him. Swaddling a baby (tightly) is harder than it looks. It seems that whenever I thought I did a good job, his hands would pop out of the swaddle within seconds. The nurses made it look really easy, but it definitely too me a few times each time to get it done correctly.

The doctors/nurses gave Asumi pretty powerful painkillers (everything from Tylenol with Codeine to Hydrocodone), however it was still a painful recovery. After about two days Asumi was able to walk (albeit slowly) to the bathroom.

On one of the check ups the day after delivery the doctor noticed that Lucas’s heartbeat sounded stronger on the right side of the chest. To rule out anything serious, they did a chest x-ray of Lucas and found that he had a pneumothorax that was causing the heartbeat to sound muffled on the left side (this also explained why it took so long for his oxygen to get to 100% right after birth). They said it did not look extremely serious and it would likely go away on its own. Because of this, however, they did come into the room every four hours to check his pulse/oxygen level. After a couple of days they redid the chest x-ray and found that everything had resolved itself.

Weight loss was another concern with Lucas. Right at birth he was 7lbs 13 oz. A day after birth (they check right around midnight) he had gone down to 7lbs 3oz. The day after he was 7lbs 1oz and at discharge he was 7lbs flat. Supposedly it is normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their body weight (and even more for a c-section), but since Lucas was breast feeding so well and eating a lot the hospital pediatrician did not seem to think it was an issue. Two days later when we went to the pediatrician for the first time (Dr. Daniel) we found that he was 7lbs 3oz.

There were a handful of other people that came into the room following the birth. The doctor came and took Lucas off to do a circumcision, someone came to test his hearing, and a photographer (from Mom365) came. Someone came in to take care of the application for the birth certificate as well as someone to give Lucas his HepB vaccine. Someone also came in to test his blood sugar to make sure everything was OK there since I had mentioned he looked a bit jittery.  A couple of religious people came in as well to offer prayers (which we politely declined).

The photographer caught Lucas at a bit of a bad time as it was right before a feeding, however they managed to get a couple of good pictures. As expected they price gouged for the pictures ($180 for eight digital copies). I’d recommend not using Mom365 and instead just going  to a cheaper and more reasonable photographer after discharge.

Overpriced professional picture

We stayed at the hospital for a total of three nights (including the ER trip). My Blue Cross Blue Shield TX plan from Texas Instruments would have covered “96 hours after c-section birth”, however after three days Asumi was feeling well enough to get back home. Surprisingly even after the hospital stay and surgery  we did not hit our out-of-pocket limit for the insurance. We had already hit our deductible, but did not reach the cap on our insurance plan. Since we hit our deductible- I made sure that I scheduled various medical appointments for myself (such as removing moles).

Bill for delivery as seen on insurance.

Food at Richardson Methodist- no complaints . Three times a day Asumi could call room service. The food was pretty good and there was also a cafeteria on the second floor of the building that had Starbucks coffee. They gave guests two free meal vouchers (which I used quickly) and would charge $7 a meal (for guests, not patient) after that. Highlights were the pizza, the french toast, and the turkey flatbread. Lowlights were the pasta, the burgers, and the carne verde. Everything was edible though and there was nothing terrible. There was also a “nourishment”  station with free tea/water/coffee for all and free pudding/soft drinks for patients.

The staff/doctors/nurses at Richardson Methodist are top notch. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and I’d highly recommend going there for delivery. Asumi had a lactation consultant to give her some pointers for breast feeding and the nurses made sure that we were completely comfortable and that all of our needs were handled.

Discharge day was pretty uneventful. The nurse came in with all of the paperwork and explained to us everything that we needed to do the following few days. We already had our pediatrician visit scheduled. They gave us a nice gift bag with a very nice Velcro swaddle. After strapping Lucas into our car seat the nurse escorted us down to the front of the hospital where I drove around. If you could dog Richardson Methodist on anything- it’s the fact that their valet management is completely clueless. The valet had parked cars all in the front of the hospital making it impossible for me to pull up right next to Asumi. I would expect the ability to pick up patients would trump the need for parking. Putting Lucas into the car was pretty easy- we had gone through the NHTSA a month or so earlier to make sure everything was installed correctly.

Lucas strapped in

Lucas has been at home now for about five days and things are going pretty well. He does everything that a newborn normally does- eat, poop, and sleep. Asumi is doing better with her recovery (although it is still hard). Our pediatrician visit with Dr. Daniel went pretty well and Lucas seems to be very healthy. The weather in Richardson was great on Saturday so I actually took him out for 10 minutes in the stroller.

Stroller time!

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about fatherhood and life in general. Definitely looking forward to the challenge of being a parent and am excited for the good memories to be made!

Sleepy baby

Delfrisco’s Grille

On Monday I went to a new steakhouse in town called Delfrisco’s Grille with some of my Japanese-savvy friends. Let’s face it; opening up a steakhouse in Texas is tough. Texans love their steaks and they know how to cook them.

Was the food good? Yes. Was the quality/price on par with places like Pappa’s Steakhouse? Sure. Would I rather go to Central Market, buy a huge steak and six-pack of St. Arnold’s, and cook the steak on a grill in my apartment? Definitely. Don’t get me wrong; it was really nice to go out and talk with everyone. I did realize that my Japanese speaking ability has somewhat been lagging recently, however I can’t really justify going out and spending $40+ per head on a meal on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe I am still in poor college student mode.

Afterwards we went to a pretty nice and low-key bar called Breadwinners to catch the tail end of the Fiesta Bowl. It was a nice night to cap off a very relaxing vacation.


Delfrisco's Grille

 

Future Career Possibilities

Well now that all is said in done about my brief one year visit to Japan I am starting to look at future career possibilities that will bring me back to Japan. I’ve hashed out all of the routes that I am going to investigate.

English Teacher

As much as this doesn’t have anything to do with Computer Engineering I am sure I would enjoy it. I love working with children so I think maybe being an Alternative Language Teacher (ALT) would be a fun job. This is by far the most readily available job in Japan. With my credentials I would fair a very good chance of landing one of these jobs.

I am also going to apply for a few linguistic school jobs in Japan. This differs than the ALT jobs in that my students would tend to be professionals wanting to expand their knowledge of English for career related reasons. I think this would also be an interesting job.

The thing about an English Teacher is that it would just serve as a gateway for me to get back to Japan and build up my arsenal of Japanese knowledge. Ideally what I would want to do is go to Japan as an English teacher, spend a few years teaching English, and then find a job more related to my major once I am over there. From what it seems it is immensely easier to get a position in engineering once you already are residing in Japan.

Fulbright Scholar
The United States and Japanese government have a long-running program that gives college graduates the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct independent research. This program is fairly competitive, but I do plan on applying for it. The problem here is finding a good research proposal. Looking at past proposals they seem to be fairly broad in category. I could do anything from a technical research topic to a social issue. A lot of thought will need to be put into this before the application.
Graduate School
Going to graduate school in Japan is another possibility. Surprisingly it is considerably cheaper in Japan that it is in the United States. Right now I am about $20,000 in the hole from undergraduate student debts. I would have to take out more to go to graduate school and could very well be in $40,000 in debt by the time I get my Masters. My only realy worry about this route is the linguistic requirement. Right now I can communicate in Japanese just fine, but I dread to think of how a Japanese graduate course in electrical engineering would be. Still, often times these classes are in English.
Domestic Job
I could always get a job in the United States and then hope that the job involves some sort of traveling to Japan. I would definitely get paid quite a bit more money and would have no trouble getting a job within Computer Engineering. This wouldn’t be in Japan however and I would likely distance myself from Japan after I get the job.
Japanese Job

The other option would be to find a non-teaching related job in Japan. This could prove to be a little difficult as the economy isn’t doing too well right now in Japan and usually foreigner jobs are the first to go. Still I do have experience at a Japanese company so this option cannot be overlooked. I would be willing to take a dent in my salary just for the fact that the job location is in Japan.

I’m sure after living in Japan a while the novelty will go away and it will just become the place that I live. However, the aspect that I think will keep me wanting to live in Japan is the people . Sure it started to get redundant going to festivals/temples and traveling to cities, but the friends that I went with made me appreciate every single moment of it.

I think that the friends that you make will define how much you enjoy living in an area. From my experience in Japan it seemed like it was difficult to make a genuine Japanese friend (outside of the obligatory courtesy that most people display), however once you made a friend you had one for life. I love to get out but I also love to stay in sometimes on lazy weekends. It seems that Japan allows for a comfortable balance for both of these.

Anyways this has more or less just been a way for me to hash out what has been in my mind. This fall will be pretty hectic with applying for jobs, taking tests, hoarding reference letters, and also going to class in the midst. I am going to try to use this blog more as a personal blog for now on.

Haircuts in Japan

Well since I have been in Japan I have only got my haircut twice. I tend to like shorter hair so this is somewhat unusual for me. Anyways the reason I haven’t gone as much as I did in the States is because I simply didn’t know what to do. I have dirty blond hair which isn’t common in Japan. I wasn’t quite sure whether to go to a fancy salon where they may have more experience or just a regular barber. Here are the experiences I had.

My first attempt for a haircut was a bit more pricey and quite honestly not worth it. Talking to Marco (Italian) he said that he went to a place kind of close to the station called “Cover with Earth”. He said that the service was very good and that they spoke broken English pretty well for Japan. The downside was that it cost about 4000 yen. Anyways, I figured to bite the bullet and just go there. When I got there and went in they welcomed me and asked for my name. After the normal gaijin spelling of my name they took me back and started shampooing my hair. They did a damn good job with the shampoo. The girl doing it paid very close attention to detail and they seemed to be using high end shampoo. The seat was typical Japanese size so I had to slouch down in order for my head to line up correctly with the seat.

Anyways after the shampoo was the cut. He asked me what I wanted and I figured I would just say “tekitou ni niau no harustairu wo shite kudasai” (please cut in a fashion that suits me). I didn’t really say much else about length or anything which looking back at it was a mistake. So anyways he started cutting and styling my hair.

In the end, I got a fauxhawk hairstyle. It wasn’t my type of thing and honestly that was the last day that it was actually up and styled. Anyways going into wasn’t really too worried. After another shampoo and 4000 yen less I was done. Looking back I should have said something more, but this place seemed a little out of my league to begin with. I was used to getting $15 haircuts at pro/super clips back in the states so to go to an actual salon was different.

The second time I went for a haircut was last Thursday. Randy told me that the place he goes to is close to the station and is relatively inexpensive. It was called something like “Popeye”. This time I went with Steve. Immediately when walking in I knew that this place was a little bit closer to my standards. It was a little bit more down to earth and more for normal people.

When I got to the seat they must have wrapped my shoulders with at least three layers of towels. He asked me what I wanted. I told him to do a hairstyle that suited me, but I also gave him specifics about the length to cut. finger-length. He asked me also if he could use clippers (mashiinu wo shite mo ii desu ka) which threw me off at first, but after he pointed to the clippers I understood. I’ll have to admit that he did a damn good job. He paid attention to detail and it seemed like he was very experienced even with my different gaijin hair. At the end he told one of the students working there to finish up. This was a bit different. They got shaving cream and actually shaved the parts under the back of my neck and behind my ears. It was pretty neat.

Anyways as I was finishing up with my haircut Steve was about to start his. Steve (who I have linked on the blog friends) spoke very limited Japanese. I explained that to them and they smiled and chuckled a little. I tried to translate for him but something got lost in translation. In the end though Steve said that they cut his hair pretty well.

This haircut only ended up being about 1200 yen, but since he did such a good job I tipped him (which is unheard of in Japan apparently). I will definitely be going back to this place the remainder of my time in Japan.