A couple of days ago, I went to the Ward Office to get Mayuki properly registered in Japan. She now has her Japanese birth certificate, and is, or will soon be, registered on Yuriko’s family record, which proves that she is Japanese. (I don’t get properly registered there; I’m just a footnote.)
The next step was applying for child benefit, at the next window along, which is 10,000 yen per month until the age of three, and then 5,000 yen per month until the age of 12, with an income limit. I’m not particularly close to the income limit, so we’ll be getting it. It’s paid three times per year, and, conveniently, one of the standard payment dates is in October. For some reason, payment starts from the month after you apply, so ours will start from October. The child benefit window is the same as the foreigner registration window. I have no idea why.
Then I had to apply for the one-off payment for the birth, which was another different window, because this comes from the health insurance. It’s 350,000 yen, which doesn’t actually cover the cost of the birth, but does cover about half of it, all told, and so it not to be sneezed at. That should appear in my bank account next month as well.
Finally, at the same window, I had to apply for Mayuki’s free medical treatment certificate. On the national system, we have to pay 30% of the costs. However, Kawasaki City will pay that 30% for all children in their first year, and up to the age of 12 if the family has under a certain income level. I got that certificate while I was there, which is useful.
However, because this isn’t a national certificate, it only works at hospitals in Kanagawa Prefecture. If Mayuki gets ill somewhere else (her grandparents’ in Nagoya, for example), we have to pay and then claim back from Kawasaki. It seems like a little unification of the system would save money.
Indeed, that struck me as being generally the case. I had to do four separate applications at three separate windows, but in the overwhelming majority of cases people with a new baby will do all of them. It would surely be a lot easier for everyone if there were just one application procedure. This sort of vertical division is a widely-recognised problem with Japanese bureaucracy, so I don’t imagine it will be getting fixed any time soon.
The next step is to register the birth at the British Embassy, for which I apparently need my passport and my birth certificate. I have a strong feeling that I didn’t get the copy I needed when we got married back, so I may have to order another one from the UK. I have one more box to check before I do that, though.
Fortunately, there is no legal obligation to register the birth; Mayuki is a UK citizen automatically. To get any of the benefits, though, she has to be registered, and it’s likely to be easiest for us to do that now. Especially as she might well need a British passport in the near future. Still, it means that there is no tearing rush to get it done.
Anyway, she’s properly registered here, and we’ll be getting the benefits we’re entitled to, so that’s good.
She’s also got better at crying over the last couple of days. I suppose she has to grow into it before she can grow out of it, so it’s a good thing, really.
Mayuki woke up and cried last night. Yuriko was right on it, but it still took a while to settle her. Fortunately, because Yuriko was right on it, I didn’t need to wake up properly, so I got back to sleep quickly once Mayuki settled.
At the moment, we seem to be working on a pattern where I sleep roughly normal times, and Yuriko sleeps when Mayuki does, which means that Yuriko sleeps large portions of the day as well. So far it’s working quite well. The trick, of course, is that, at least once I start teaching again, I need to be awake during the day, so that I can work, while, as Yuriko is not working, that is less critical for her. I end up doing a fair bit of housework and much of the shopping, but the night is largely being left to Yuriko.
I actually feel a bit guilty about that, but that’s silly. While it’s important that Yuriko gets enough sleep, it’s not important that she gets it at night, at least not at the moment. (We’ll have to work on that as time goes on, but it’s too early yet.) I, on the other hand, both need enough sleep, and need it at night. Working is also a necessary part of child-rearing, after all.
I suspect that one of the most important qualities in the next few weeks, months, and years will be flexibility; adapting quickly to changes in Mayuki’s situation. Attempts to set up clearly defined plans are likely to fail, and have lots of bad consequences.
So Mayuki has been home for a couple of days, and I’m trying to get used to my new lifestyle. I’ve changed a few nappies, helped with a bath, and managed to get a full night’s sleep despite the presence of the baby. This was due to Yuriko keeping Mayuki quiet, and thus getting very little sleep herself. So Yuriko sleeps during the day.
And this blog entry was just interrupted because Mayuki started crying.
I’m not sure that Yuriko and I will get to eat together very often. Yesterday evening, Yuriko looked after Mayuki while I ate, then I looked after her while Yuriko ate. This morning, I took first shift, holding her while Yuriko ate breakfast, and then Yuriko took over while I did the same.
There is, of course, a fundamental asymmetry between us. We’re raising Mayuki on breast milk, so I can’t do the feeding. That means that Yuriko will inevitably do more than I do, but I’m doing my best to make sure that she doesn’t feel as though she has to cope with the baby all by herself. And, of course, I want to have chances to cuddle my daughter.
Mayuki is already showing changes. She is much more active than she was immediately after birth, waving her arms and legs around a lot. In the last couple of days she’s started grasping with her hands, and trying to put them in her mouth, but she’s not really co-ordinated enough to manage that yet. Still, it’s surprising how much change we can see in such a short time.
Parenthood is good so far. I gather that there’s quite a lot more to come, however.
Yuriko and Mayuki came home from the hospital today. Mayuki is currently asleep in her cot in the bedroom, and so Yuriko is also taking a nap. Mayuki has been sleeping quite a lot today, which does not bode well for her sleeping a lot tonight… I suppose I have to get used to this.
Anyway, it’s lovely to have them home. I feel more like a family now that they are here, and I don’t have to walk twenty five minutes to see them.
Yuriko’s mother is also here, and was really delighted to see her first grandchild in the flesh. My family will have to wait a little bit longer for that, alas.