Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Julie, That's No Christmas Cookie

Part of the "fun" of having a child in another country is really not knowing what to expect. Sometimes what we think of as normal is very American and is just done differently in other places. I have never had a child in the US nor even had a prenatal visit in the US, so I really have nothing to compare it with except for friends' stories.

In Peru, we enjoyed ultrasounds at every visit (as we did here). Our doctors, both the ob-gyn and the pediatrician give out their cellphone numbers to patients (a bit crazy for them, but great for patients). We dealt with circumcision, although it is not commonly done there. I was not allowed to leave the country with Maximo without PERMISSION from my husband.

Here in Japan, John wasn't allowed in the operating room for the cesarean section and my doctor seemed uncomfortable talking to me whenever he was there. Lola had my name scrawled across her leg after birth in permanent marker (you can still see it a bit). The birth certificate has no name except Julie Lemley. No father's name. All her hospital records refer to her as Baby Lemley.

And then the day of her birth? maybe the day after, one of the midwives came in with something in a napkin. It looked like a cookie covered in powered sugar. She was saying something about "tradition" and letting it dry out and then keeping it in a box. I was a bit out of sorts and her English was only so-so. A day or so later, I was explaining it to John and had him check out the "cookie" in the napkin that was drying on the counter.

Jule, it's the umbilical cord. Thank God you didn't eat it.


Later, John noticed in our gift bag of samples and what not, there was a little wooden box with tissue inside and a drying packet to keep the umbilical cord in.

As I was packing up on the last day, it took every ounce of me not to dry heave as I moved the cord off the napkin into the box.

Today, Lola lost her umbilical stump (I really hate that word, stump), so I felt it fitting to tell the story. I was relieved as it really kind of grosses me out and Max lost his way before he ever left the hospital.

The umbilical cord - the bond between mother and child.

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