Despite our efforts, it looks like Jason is not going to get the Superbowl pajama party he was planning with his daughter next Monday morning (Sunday night US time). At least not in the comfort of our apartment and maybe not in his pajamas. Even if she arrives tomorrow, we will probably stay in the hospital for the 5-6 nights recommended by our hospital. Five to 6 nights - yes, you read that right. That is the standard in Japan for a normal delivery. It's longer for a c-section or other complicated situations.
Like so many other pregnancy experiences here, I've been interested in the the cultural reactions towards this feature of Japanese medical care depending on whether one is American or Japanese. When I tell family or American friends, I get a shocked "one week!" response. Usually this is accompanied by the look of a caged animal frantically searching for the trap door. When I speak to Japanese friends (either in the US or in Japan), they respond with a dreamy, "And you'll get a whole week in the hospital...," as if they are checking into an exclusive spa.
I have no idea what we will think about the experience. Perhaps somewhere in the middle. Since it is our first child and our families are not here, we are inclined to stay closer to the full amount of time. I think we will appreciate the extra care and assistance. Even friends who desperately wanted out of the hospital after even two days in the US have expressed how challenging that initial transition was after arriving home. I'm sure staying only delays that inevitability, but perhaps we'll be at least a bit more rested. God know we have enough food in the freezer to not have to worry about cooking for a while, so that will also be helpful. And Jason's parents just sent me my favorite cereal so I've got snacks covered too. Really, kid, anytime you want to come is just fine with us.
So what will we do for five to six days? It sounds like they assist with any number of things in that week - helping to establish breast-feeding, teaching you how to bathe, diaper, and even massage the baby, along with other baby care activities, and generally just trying to allow the mother to sleep and physically recover. Beyond that, I have no idea. Without any experience of this in the US, I have no basis for comparison. I assume US hospitals provide similar assistance, though obviously in a shorter amount of time. I can imagine the days getting a bit long and we may not stay the full amount of time, but it's looking like Jason might be (hopefully!) watching the Super Bowl at the hospital. Now that will be an interesting cultural experience for the hospital's midwife staff!