At week 13/the beginning of November, I “graduated” from the fertility clinic and started going to the hospital at which I would give birth, and where the remainder of my checkups would be. It… got off to a bit of a rocky start.
Now, this hospital was part of the same “family” as the fertility clinic I had been attending, and as such I had actually visited the hospital once six months before for a specific test (where they flush you with fluid to test whether or not your uterus is an unusual shape or if there’s any blockage in the fallopian tubes. Very strange and wet experience). At that time they had weighed me, and still had my weight from that time on record. So, the first time I met Dr. Ugly* she looked at the weight on my chart and disapprovingly said, “Wow. What happened?”
What had happened was that I’d been stressed and depressed for that half a year struggling with infertility, a miscarriage, and the toll that all of the previously-attempted fertility treatments had taken on me, and I had gained 3kg. But I was so taken aback and irritated that the infamous “Japanese doctors are assholes about weight” had started already that I can’t even remember what I said. Probably something noncommittal. I do remember that she and I butted heads about weight once again the month after that too, just after Christmas (immediately after we’d moved house). I’d been thirsty and drunk almost a litre of water before the appointment and she scolded me for subsequently being over a kilo heavier than I “should” have been.
“Oh well, never mind,” I snapped.
“It’s not ‘never mind’,” she snapped back. “If you gain too much weight you’ll be directly responsible for the difficult birth your baby will endure. Do you want that?”
I was pretty furious. “I said, never mind,” I repeated, glaring at her. “I’m exercising every day and eating healthily, so my current weight is unavoidable.”
“Unavoidable!” she repeated. “New Year is coming, aren’t you going to eat too much then?”
“I’m not Japanese, we don’t focus so much on the New Year,” I said. “Besides, we’ve just moved house so are too busy for any of that.”
She dropped it then, but after our appointment I specifically requested a different doctor, and stayed with him for the rest of my pregnancy. Unpleasant woman.
*I’m only being slightly mean; her name is literally read “Aguri” which sounds almost exactly like “Ugly” which coincidentally perfectly matches her personality, so there you go.
But that aside, the second trimester was full of positives! I no longer felt as deathly tired as in the weeks prior, and by week 13 or 14 I had stopped throwing up, too. At the week 16 checkup we found out the sex, which helped me feel a little more like there really was a little human inside me rather than a little alien fish, and there was something else to look forward to, too.
December 15th was a lucky day. I mean, it was literally a taian (lucky) day according to the rokuyō (6-day cycle). It was also an inu no hi (literally “dog day”) and thus the ideal time to visit a shrine to pray for a smooth pregnancy and birth. We went to Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, and went actually inside the shrine where the priest included our names in the prayers and blessed us. We received various things for protection and good luck, and the priest did an additional blessing over items that I would wear during pregnancy.
We then decided that we would go down to Enoshima via the Enoden line to see the winter illuminations, and while we were sitting down on the train my husband rested his head on my shoulder and dozed off. I sat there, enjoying the atmosphere, when suddenly…
A sudden feeling, like a piece of popcorn had just popped, jumped up and hit against the inside of my belly. I’d felt what I thought might be movement a few days prior, too, but this time was so clear, so unmistakeable. My little goldfish had kicked! One day before my 18th week, and… finally, finally, my pregnancy started to feel “real”.