Sunday, June 12, 2011

On Welfare in Japan

Hey folks,

So I have an interesting week 10 baby update for you. We're now on welfare! Yay! In Japan when a lady becomes knocked-up, her doctor gives her a form to take to the social welfare office. On Monday, 6/6, Jonathan and I went to the social welfare office to register our pregnancy. At the welfare office, the lady turns in the form and gets a book called the 母子手帳 (boshi techo) which means mother-and-child handbook. The mother and her doctor fill out this book with info about the pregnancy, subsequent delivery, and the child's health and immunizations until he or she turns 6 (years old, not months).

In the back of the book are coupons for free doctor's visits. Pregnant women have to go to the doctor a lot! I will be making at least 14 doctor's visits over the next 7 months, and I have 14 coupons in my book. Score! I have to go to the doctor once every 4 weeks during the first 23 weeks of pregnancy, then once every 2 weeks from weeks 24-35, then every week from 36 on. This is pretty standard in America as well, I believe. But it seems like a lot of doctor's visits to me.

Anywho, I am pretty happy about not having to pay for all of these doctor's visits. We had to pay for the first 2 visits before we got the book, but the total of both visits was under $100, and I got ultrasounds both times. BTW, we went to the doctor on Friday 6/3 and I have one baby growing in the incubator. Also, I got to see the little dude's heartbeat which was pretty awesome.

One last thing about the boshi techo. They could not find a bilingual one for me, so they gave me the Japanese language one and then an English translation of an old version from 2003. I was a little disappointed about this, but I don't think my town has ever had an English speaking mother. I know that none of the past 15 ALTs have had babies before, and I assumed that things would be a little more difficult for me, but I was hoping to get a bilingual book.

The lovely welfare office workers ordered a recent bilingual boshi techo for me and sent it in the mail. I believe we got it on Thursday, 6/9. I was pretty pleased about this. Also, they hand-wrote a nice note congratulating me on my pregnancy and thanking me for my patience as they obtained a new version of the handbook for me. Isn't that sweet?!

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