Some sound advice.


When I was about 7 or 8 I lost my dad. I was still a kid and may have not understood everything, but I knew dad was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.

The memories I have of that time are surreal. I had no concept of time. I was out of school for a week, but it felt like months. I saw my dad’s body in the coffin, cold to the touch, pale and sleeping. He was different but the same. My world felt like it was turned upside down where everything was ok but not. I can not explain it.

I felt hollow and empty, time slowed down, I was in a mental daze and nothing made sense, but I didn’t cry.

I saw my mom’s tears quite often that week, I still remember clearly when she came home, sat me down on our brown flowered velvet sofa with wood trim, it was early evening I think, and calmly told me of my dad’s passing. I felt nothing. Her eyes started to tear up and she scooped me up into a big hug, rocking me and saying “I’m sorry” over and over and over again. I felt her gasps and hiccups, her breath on my neck, her tears as they rolled off her face onto mine and yet I felt nothing. I became a mask, burying my feelings deep inside of me, I became a rock for my mother, I wanted to become her strength, but in reality I was not dealing with my own personal grief.

I didn’t know how to talk about it. I remember asking my mom to buy me a picture book about “dealing with death” and I would tell my classmates that I was reading this book about “death”. My classmates just gave me a look and said nothing. The book was about a young boy about my age who lost this grandfather and how he couldn’t have his grandfathers homemade pink lemonade. He resolved his situation by learning how to make the lemonade and sharing with others. I couldn’t relate to this kid no matter how many times I read that book. I clung to that book and read it so many times, the green and white diagonal stripped trim of the book, the kid sitting outside with his grampa under a tree drinking pink lemonade, the pitcher of lemonade in included, and the gampa’s smiling face, to this day I can still see it clearly in my mind. Just as clearly as I can recall my dad’s pale, cold, sleeping face resting in his coffin.

There are only two times that I recall where I truly felt something about my dad’s death. One was at the reception after the funeral. There were sandwiches and coffee for everyone. I got angry because here my dad died and everyone was enjoying sandwiches and coffee while smiling and laughing! How dare they! I was furious. When I told my mom she told me that these people are eating in memory of my father and that they were laughing because they were trying to remember the good times.  They were grieving and I still didn’t know how.

Some years later I tried to reach out, I wrote a diary entry about the loss of my dad and left it open by my bed where my mom could see it. I didn’t know how to tell her how I was feeling and I didn’t want to talk about it, but I wanted her to know so that we could be on the same page. She did find it and we talked about it. I think it helped, but I still didn’t cry.

Looking back, since my father died I seldom showed “negative” feelings. I was always the happy positive girl in school and amongst my friends. Nothing could get me down, or so it seemed, but in reality I was hiding this painful and traumatic event in me and protecting others from it or feelings like it by being “the strong one”.

It was not until many years later sometime after high school that I was alone and I happen to think about my dad, a passing thought really, and I just cried. I don’t know how long I cried but when I was done I was exhausted but rejuvenated and surprisingly alive. I could feel again!

Between the time of my dad’s death and the moment I just let all my grief flow out in tears, I had never cried for the death of any family member or friend, I just added it to the void. I remember each death as if it was yesterday, so I know it wasn’t because I didn’t care or they didn’t effect me, I just hid it.

When Emi died, I cried. I cried a lot. I cried for days. I still cry. Each time I cry a little bit of the pain goes away and is replaced by a happy memory or thought. Each time I cry I feel liberated from the grief. Each time I cry I am one step closer to living life. Each time I cry I give my loss a voice, and it can be heard, and it can be felt, and it can be shared and suddenly the pain and burden of the loss is lightened.

It took me over a decade to learn how to grieve and let go. My fathers death was painful, anyone who has lost a parent can attest to that. The loss of my daughter was much much worse. It would have been the death I put in the void that finally caused me to sink after year and years of drowning in grief had I not learned to morn the death of my dad and those who followed. Without this experience, I don’t think I would have survived my daughters.

As painful as it is, embrace it, feel it and don’t rush to “get over it” because you never will, this pain, this loss becomes a part of you, a part of who you are. The sooner you take it in and accept it, the sooner you start to heal. It is amazing really.



Looking back at some old posts I came across this one that I wrote about Emi’s name while she was still alive, one of the sentences really struck me.

“We named her Emi. Her first name was chosen for various reasons, I have very fond memories of a young lady with the name, she brought happiness, laughter and sunshine where ever she went. I only knew her for a short time but she really impacted those around her. I knew I wanted to always have that in my life so the name Emi is a reminder of that. Our little one was born in Japan so I wanted to give a bit of a nod to that, but seeing as her parents are obviously not Japanese we wanted to give her a name that was Japanese but could pass as and English name. Her middle name is my maiden name, a nod to my dad who passed when I was still a kid.”


We only knew our little girl Emi for a short time, but like her name sake, she also brought happiness, laughter, and sunshine. Emi really impacted those around her.  Thank you little Emi, your short time with us will never be forgotten.

Saturday April 5th

My first night in the hospital was an interesting one. I couldn’t feel my legs and there was this noise that seemed to happen every few minutes, as I slowly regained feeling in my lower half I came to realise that the noise was an oversized leg balloon type thing that encompassed each leg, filling up to put pressure on my legs and deflating to release the pressure. I came to like the sensation of the noisy little massage. I was later told that it was there to prevent blood clots in the legs.


I was also super thirsty. Not hungry, just thirsty. I wanted nothing more than to have a tall glass of ice cold water. Luckily I was given a nifty little button to call for help in emergency situations like this! I waited patiently for the nurse, excited at the prospect of water. I was denied. Turns out that the anesthesia I was given makes it so my intestines were out of whack. Any food or drinks I had would soon find it’s way back up according to the nurse and they could not give me any foods or water until I passed gas three times. The rest of that night was spent wishing for flatulence and dreaming of cold water and kakigori (snow cones). I waited for a day and some change and the passing of gas did not happen. They eventually gave up and just gave me food and milk. Thankfully it stayed down. I can honestly say I have never wanted to pass gas so bad as I did that night!

My other discovery that night was the pain killers. The epidural they had set me up with had a nifty little button so that I could self medicate. I swear no one told me about this magical little button and I spent most of the night wondering if I should call the nurse so that I could acquire some pain medication and perhaps, with that, some water. But this place had thought of everything and that was why I  was hooked up to some contraption outfitted with pain killers so that I didn’t have to swallow pills and vomit them back up because my intestines were not cooperating. The nurse showed me where the button for the pain medication was and as soon as I clicked it I felt a cool stream of who knows what run down my back which was shortly followed by pain relief. I was amazed at this new availability of unlimited drugs and was somewhat excited that I could click away until all pain was gone. I was cut off after three clicks. Turns out they really do thing of everything and there was a safety on the pain relief contraption so that I didn’t overdose on the cooling relief.


In the morning I was told I could go see my girl. I was pretty excited and somewhat scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I waited and waited, watching nurses and midwives come in and out, testing this and that, checking my blood pressure and temperature until finally one of the midwives came to get me. I was internally shaking with excitement to see our little Emi and I was ready to jump out of bed. Sadly my body wouldn’t cooperate. Any small move hurt and sitting up was brutal, getting out of bed was impossible. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to see my little girl. But I couldn’t, the midwife eased me back on the bed with a look of concern on her face and I resigned myself to not being able to see my girl on this day.


The rest of the day went by with various paperwork being done and more nurses and midwives going in and out. Shelby eventually came by with some signed documents the doctor needed. He told me it was permission forms for Emi because she needed a blood transfusion. He was also told that she had jaundice and was getting light therapy. And that she had a slight heart condition that should sort itself out as she grows, if not, it could be fixed with surgery. For a micro preemie, our little Emi was doing awesome!


Shelby went to visit Emi for a bit while I tried to get a little bit of rest. After a while Shelby returned to hang out with me until the visiting hours where over at 7.Image


Later that night one of the NICU staff members came to me with a cute little card. They had taken pictures of Emi, printed them out and arranged them nicely on the little card. I finally got to see my girl, even if it was only through pictures.


I wish I could say I remember more of that day, but I don’t. Perhaps there was not much else that needed remembering.

The Evening of April 4th

The doctors at Sapporo University Hospital asked me some questions looked at all my previous ultrasound scans and then proceeded to do an ultrasound.

Doctor speak

The info sheet about my situation the doctor from the Iwamizawa hospital wrote up for the doctors in Sapporo.

They talked amongst themselves in Japanese looking at several different angles and finally taking a look at a 3D ultrasound. I was so excited, I had only heard of 3D ultrasounds, but knew I wanted to see one of our little one if I could. The doctor took it back to 2D and continued muttering in Japanese “hen”, “this is strange” I kept hearing “this is strange, this is rare, hmmmm strange”.

Finally he turned to talk to my husband and I, the other doctor just looked at us with concern.

My placenta was unusually thick. The baby measured smaller than expected, showing at 22 weeks size at it’s 25, almost 26 week gestational age, was in fetal distress and was unlikely to grow much more if at all, furthermore my pre emclampsia was getting worse at a fast rate. I had two options, to wait it out and see if the baby grows (unlikely) or emergency caesarian. The only way to cure my condition and give our baby it’s best chance was delivery of both the baby and placenta. My womb was possibly killing our baby and my condition could possibly kill us both.

He gave me the survival odds of a premature baby the size of ours at their hospital, 80%, however the chances of various complications in the baby’s future was high.

He told us the best option was emergency caesarian but that it was ultimately our choice. My husband and I were given some privacy and we finally were able to let go of all our emotions that had been building up that day. We cried and cried and cried, everything seemed surreal, it was like a distant dream or a movie that we would watch, not something that would happen to us. The doctor came back and we hadn’t made our choice yet, though in our hearts we knew what it was we just needed to confirm it with each other. He left us again and both Shelby and I agreed that we would go ahead with the emergency caesarian.

The midwife assigned to me prepped me while the rest of the team went to prepare the operating room. My midwife, Kaori, was young yet skilled and very kind. She tried to make small talk although my Japanese was lacking and her English was non existent. I felt safe and calm with her around.

In the operating room I was hooked up to the epidural, no one told me how much it hurts to get that thing set up, and then while Japanese pop music played in the background while I waited for the lower half of my body to become numb.  As soon as the anesthesia kicked in the Doctor began. I remember hearing him hum as he worked. Often I would see Kaori in my line of sight, her warm smile never wavered and she often mouthed the words “ganbare” which means “do your best” or “good luck”. I latter found out her main purpose was to keep my spirits up. I was very grateful for her presence. I wouldn’t admit I was nervous, but I really was. I felt positive that it would all turn out ok and I was excited to meet my little one. I was excited to know if we were having a girl or a boy.

As soon as my baby was born and I was told the baby was out, I asked it the baby was ok and fell asleep. I had no idea I was so exhausted!

I managed to wake up as they transferred me to my new bed before wheeling me to my room in it. I never did get my answer regarding my baby, but seeing as everyone was cheerful and joking around I assumed everything was ok. Shelby was waiting outside and somehow I managed to string a few coherent words together. Shelby told me he got to see “her” and that was when I finally found out the gender, I could name my little “bean chan”: Emi.

I pray that you find strength and don’t loose hope in this time, God has a plan for you both, I think this was meant to strengthen you, both individually and your relationship to each-other.

-messages from friends and family

Sometimes info comes a little late….

When I got pregnant I subscribed to various sites and mailing lists. I haven’t unsubscribed from some of them, either because I forgot or was busy with other things. At first I wanted nothing to do with the emails and forums because they are cruel reminders of what I no longer have. But now I appreciate the information though it still kind of hurts to know that I should be x number of weeks at this point or that my baby is developing xyz in womb.

Today I received this email from “Lucy’s Mailing List”:



Week 29 of Bun Cookingwrong date?

* I used to send this email out at 36 weeks. Then something terrible happened. For those who follow me on FB, you know that one of my subscribers died of preeclampsia 5 days before receiving this email (per her mother).

It hit me really hard.

If you’re in contact with 53k people, this type of thing is bound to happen, so please don’t be paranoid about it… but please DO read carefully. Thank you!!!

It is the most common of the gnarly pregnancy complications — and it can affect both mother and her unborn baby:


(sometimes called toxemia by the old-timers)

Preeclampsia affects about 5-8 percent of pregnancies (dang!), or an estimated 300k women per year in the United States alone. Because preeclampsia can come on very suddenly, you should be familiar with the symptoms.

Most women with preeclampsia will deliver a healthy baby and fully recover. However, some women will experience complications, several of which may be life-threatening to mother and/or baby. A woman’s condition can go from mild to severe very quickly.

Don’t want.

The causes of PE are still unknown, but the hallmarks are clear: both high blood pressureandprotein in your urine (this is why you pee in a cup at every OB visit). If protein is present, it’s a sign that the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys are leaking and spilling it into your urine (mind you, it’s normal to have a small amount of protein in your urine).

The Big Swell

The telltale symptom with pre-e is SwElLiNg — and lots of it. Swelling can occur in the face or around your eyes, it can be more than slight swelling of your hands, or excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles (not to be confused with summertime pregnancy elephant-cankles).

Some cankles.

This condition is called edema. The retention of fluid can lead to rapid weight gain, which is one of the reasons your doc checks your weight at every appointment and is concerned with sudden weight gain.

Classic preeclampsia symptoms look and feel something like this: Swelling, racing pulse, mental confusion, blurry vision (or other visual weirdness), headaches, upper-right abdominal pain, vomiting, shortness of breath or chest pain, a sense of impending doom [outside of normal feelings of impending doom, heh].

** Call you doc right away if you experience any of this. **

PE can usually be managed, but the only way to make it go away is to get that baby OUT of you! Obviously, the earlier the onset, the greater the risks for you and your babe.

Read more about how pre-e is treated here.

**Guys, I can’t underscore this enough… if you don’t feel right, CALL YOUR DOCTOR!


— What is HELLP Syndrome?

— To find support for preeclampsia or to learn more, check out the Preeclampsia Foundation.

— Can chocolate prevent PE?

Support Lucie’s List by telling a friend or pinning Lucie’s List to pinterest.Like me on Facebook for daily laughs and info. Thanks!

**This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. The author does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.”



Just goes to show you that anything can happen at any time. If possible be aware but don’t stress. (easier said than done I know). Pre enclampisa still needs a lot of research it seems because there is still a lot that we just don’t know about it, but simply being aware can save you and hopefully your child’s life as well.

I don’t think anything would have changed if I had gotten this email earlier, but I do appreciate that this mailing list sees the importance of spreading this information sooner rather than later.

April 4th, Iwamizawa Hospital to Sapporo

That morning, Shelby and I headed to the Iwamizawa hospital. The place seemed like a zoo and I was just an other animal that they had no time to care for. In hind sight, I just didn’t know how things operated. Things were very different from back home, very different from my little clinic even. I wanted nothing more than to just go back to my old doctor and the friendly nurses. Everything seemed to methodical and cold.

After filling in some forms and waiting and talking to more people I was finally sent up to the maternity area to be checked out. They just sent me up, I had no idea if I had to hand some papers in up there or what. I asked the nurse that was at the window at the maternity ward, she was super busy and didn’t want to talk to me but finally she took my little “baby and mothers book” (a book issued to you which has all your information about your pregnancy and subsequent birth) and told me to wait.

It was honestly so cold that I had to hold back the tears of frustration and loneliness. Not only was I dealing with god knows what but I was also being treated like I was not important at all. I realize that there were many other women who where waiting, but honestly a smile wouldn’t kill you.

Finally a friendly nurse came to talk to me and eventually took me in to get my blood pressure, blood and urine samples taken. Blood pressure was high. After working with me for a bit she confessed that she was very nervous working with me because she didn’t speak English, but that she was happy that I was friendly and kind to her. I almost started crying and told her that I was equally glad that she was friendly and that it was a huge relief to have her attending me.

I was given a blood pressure machine to take home so that I could check my BP regularly. It looked like I would get to go home that night. But before that, I needed to see the doctor for my ultra sound.

After some waiting I was called in for the ultra sound. I was pretty excited to see my little bean but as the ultra sound the doctor started making faces at the screen. I waited patiently as the doctors face contorted into various grimaces and frowns while my husband reassuringly patted my feet.

“Your amniotic fluid is very low”

This was the first time I had heard anything about this, I was shocked and a little bit angry, how was it that the other doctor never noticed something as crucial as my amniotic being low! Very low no less! It wasn’t like this happened overnight!

The doctor also confirmed that I had pre enclampsia, this news was no longer a shock to me. He informed me that I would need to stay in the Iwamizawa hospital for the weekend and then be transferred by ambulance to the Sapporo University Hospital on Monday where they could take care of me and Bean if Bean is born prematurely. (why ambulance, I don’t know but I didn’t fight it either.)

I was placed on a wheelchair (no more moving allowed in order to keep my blood pressure down) and taken to the maternity ward. My husband left to collect some of my personal belongings and to get some lunch.

I felt a sense of relief because I was finally being taken seriously in regards to my concerns and it also looked like I was going to be on bed rest for a while, something which I personally felt should has been prescribed to me a few weeks back. I felt ok, but I knew that bed rest would help the situation for Bean.

A new doctor came to me armed with a white board and an assistant. Using the white board and some broken English he communicated that I was going to be put on a strict diet to help with my weight and blood pressure. He also told me that they were going to monitor Bean’s heart beat.

They strapped me up to the fetal heart monitor for 40 minutes. The doctor came back to look at the report and told me I needed to be monitored for a bit longer. So another 20 minutes passed before a nurse came back and removed the monitor.

The doctor returned and informed me that Bean’s heart rate was not doing well, it would be steady and then faint or not heard at all. Honestly I didn’t think it was that bad, for the most part the heart beat sounded pretty strong and steady, but the doctor explained that when the baby’s heart is lost or goes up and down as much as Bean’s did it meant that the baby was in distress and if the heart rate dropped too much I would have to deliver through emergency c-section in order to save my little one’s life.  I needed to be transferred to the Sapporo University Hospital as soon as possible.  In preparation for my transfer the nurse put in a needle in anticipation for an IV I would get at the hospital. I was also informed that I could not eat or drink for now on. (turns out it was in anticipation for surgery)

The doctor informed me that he would contact my husband as well as my supervisor to tell them of the development and to get my husband to return to the hospital so we could go together to Sapporo.

It seemed that my husband missed the call and had no idea what was going on when he showed up. Shortly after he arrived my supervisors both arrived with extreme worry on their faces. I really wonder what the hell the doctor told them because I was no where near as worried as they where.

We barely got a few words exchanged when the ambulance showed up to pick me up. As they where strapping me on to a stretcher our friend who works as a Coordinator for International Relations at city hall arrived. Apparently my supervisor called him in to help with translations. I saw him for the whole of 5 minutes. No translations occurred.

I was loaded up into the ambulance along with my husband, a nurse and my doctor from the ultrasound. I had no idea my condition needed to have a doctor accompany me on the ambulance.

I was hooked up for monitoring and my blood pressure was taken regularly. I over heard the Doctor respond to the ambulance driver to drive “quickly”. With that the sirens were turned on and off we went. I honestly had no idea I was an emergency case.

Through out the ride the doctor kept asking me if I saw “kirakira” which basically means “are you seeing stars or bright lights”. Looking back I now know that he was checking to see if my condition was worsening.    …I did finally see the stars he was talking about…. I didn’t tell him. I probably should have.

It was a bit surreal riding in the ambulance and I had to control myself from laughing from nervousness and excitement… or was it anxiety?

We arrived at the Sapporo Hospital and I was unloaded, aside from my entourage all I could see was the ceiling. I was taken to the 6th floor and wheeled into an examination room filled with medical people. It was quite the welcome.

I was transferred onto the bed and immediately people starting working on me.

Thinking of you two and your precious little one. Love and prayers for the little daily moments of peace and joy that will come along to balance all the other emotions.

-messages from friends and family

Where it all started?

On March 12, 2014 the car I was in was involved in minor fender bender, the second one within a few months. This time around we were hit from behind, there was very little damage to both cars and everyone walked / drove away. However this meant a trip to my doctor the next day just to check. I was excited to see my little Bean again but a bit nervous having to explain that I was involved in a traffic accident again. They gave me a non stress test, basically they monitored Bean’s heart beat for 40 minutes. With the exception of one little blip where the heart beat was not found or simply dipped everything was fine.

I do not know if this was the first sign of things to come but it does stick out to me. I had asked the nurse why the blip happened and she said that the heart rate goes down when baby is sleeping. Ok, I understand that, but off the chart? It only happened once so I was no too concerned.

I was told to stay away from traffic accidents.

On March 26, I went for my scheduled appointment. They took my blood pressure twice, but it came out normal.  Then my fundus was measured. (basically the uterus was measured but from the outside). The measurement usually correlates with the week of the pregnancy, so if you are 34 weeks pregnant your fundus should measure 34cm. Mine was measuring at 23, it grew from 19 but the problem was I was 25 weeks pregnant. Of course there are some arguments that this measurement can be inaccurate and that it can vary depending on who is measuring. The nurse however was flustered at the measurement. The Doc then came to do the ultra sound. Bean was measuring at 23 weeks. Defiantly IUGR. I would be monitored closely and my next appointment was in two weeks.

On March 30th I was woken up by a brutal headache. I have never experienced migraines before, but I figured if I ever had one this would have been it. It was so bad I could not go back to sleep for several hours. I decided that if the headache was still around in the morning I would call in sick to work and head over to the doctor. It was gone by the morning and I went to work. In the afternoon shortly after lunch I got a mild headache,  it stuck around for a few hours, and then for a few hours more after that but subsided by the evening. The next morning I woke up and for some unknown reason check my weight. 96.3 kg. I was also dealing with the same mild headache. It lasted all day. I headed to the doctor after work to report this persistent headache.

The nurse called me in and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had a constant headache and without further questions she took me straight to take my blood pressure. She took my blood pressure three times on my left arm, scrunched up her face, told me to relax and then took it twice more on my right arm. My blood pressure was mildly high. The doc then talked to me and asked how my back was doing, any pains in my arms/shoulders and if there was anything else I needed to tell him. I told him I did have lower back pain and that the night before my severe headache I had a really bad pain in my right shoulder. I figured I’d also tell him about the pains around my tummy every time I rolled over in my sleep. He prescribed a weak headache medicine, a patch to put on my back to help with the pain and anti contraction medication and sent me on my way.

I seriously started to suspect pre-emclampsia.

The next day I was still dealing with a mild headache but not as bad as before. I also emailed both my mother and mother in law and told them about my high blood pressure and my suspicions. I also messaged my Japanese friend to ask her if she would join me at my next appointment (which was less than a week away) because I suspected some big medicial terms and complications were going to be thrown around.  That night I skyped with my mother and once again shared my suspecions just in case it did escalate. I didn’t want her to be caught by surprise, but I also was positive that the outcome will be OK.

The following day, two days after I had gone to the doctor, I woke up with the mild headache. Two days of medication and this headache was still around. Little read flags were waving in my head. I wondered where my weight was. 98.6, a 2.3kg (about 5lbs) increase in my weight over two days! I may be pregnant but there is no way that was normal. I remember reading that sudden weight gain was a symptom of pre-emclampsia and that anything over 2 pounds within a week should be suspect. If two pounds was suspect, then 5 was downright criminal.

I went into work and did some research to confirm my suspicions and to translate some terms into Japanese to prepare myself for a visit to the doctor. I asked my co-worker to call the clinic for me and tell them of the headaches and weight gain and ask them if I should go in. When I told my co-worker about my sudden weight gain she asked me, “did you eat too much?” I honestly wondered in what world you could eat too much and gain 5 pounds over night. I calmly informed her that “No, I didn’t eat too much.” She didn’t seem to think that the weight gain was worth mentioning, but I urged her to do it anyways. The nurse she talked to told her that I should go in that morning, so I took some time off and headed out to the doctor.

They took my blood pressure again and did another non-stress test. My little Bean’s heart rate was faint but strong.

The doctor talked to me and my husband and said that I may have “Toxiema” which was another word for pre-emclampsia. My doctor’s clinic is a small one and not equipped to handle a complication such as mine, further more it didn’t have an NICU and so if my little one was born per-maturely the clinic would not be able to handle it. He also suggested that I needed counseling and needed to be monitored for my weight gain. (Honestly I wanted to roll my eyes at this, what do they all thing I am doing? Sitting in font of vats of haggen das and stuffing my face? This is Japan I can’t even get a pint of haggen das if I wanted to…) He did say there was a possibility of being hospitalised in order to be monitored.

The doctor referred me to the city hospital which had an NICU. He wrote a letter for the doctor there and told me to go the following morning.