Dear Babel, by Papa


Dear Babel, now you are 3 and a half years old already. Time flies! You just started to go to nursery last month, so now you wake up at 7:30 every day. What a change. We thought you were just born, but now you are already in preschool. Mama and Papa even started looking at primary schools for you because you only have one year at nursery. Babel, school, unbelievable!

Your third birthday party’s theme was Thomas, of course! Mama decorated the entire living room with paper stripes of different colors, Thomas balloons, and Thomas boxes! Your friends came to celebrate. You got a lot of presents related to Thomas, and you were very happy to open them. You’re very good at singing the happy birthday song, and do so all the time even now, months later. You had practiced blowing out candles before your birthday, and you blew out the 3 candles on your cake so well (probably 3 times or so) on the big day. Mama made your birthday cake, and you and your friends all ate it. At the end of the day, you all put on the Thomas boxes and ran around in the courtyard. It was such a great birthday again, mainly thanks to Mama!

In May, we moved to a new apartment, which we fell in love with at first sight: bright and broad living space, connected to the kitchen. Because Mama had to prepare for the house move, you and I spent time alone a lot. We mostly spent time in the parks. I love running around with you in nature, and you look you do too. We are lucky to have this rich nature near our apartment, we can easily reach green in a few minutes of walk.

You loved chocolate surprise eggs, so we often went to the “winkel” [🇳🇱 store] to buy those. It was already warm in May and you liked to hold them for a while, so they always melted in your hands. What was difficult was that you only liked the toy inside the egg, so I ended up eating the melted chocolate and wiping my and your fingers before you could get to the toy.

As you know, Mama is very good at organizing, so our house move went really well. She took care of everything; finding several places we could potentially live, arranging movers and cleaners, and taking care of the contracts etc. She did a great job. It’s been 5 months now since we moved here, but we love it a lot. You and I often run around in the living room, and sometimes play with balls; kicking and throwing. Also, it is very close to my work and your nursery.

In June, we saw a couple of Japan’s games in the World Cup 2018. This time, the Dutch team didn’t make it to the World Cup, so we focused on Japan. It was great to root for my home country and one of your home countries together. We watched it from the beginning, so we sang the anthem together (you just looked confused looking at me singing).

When Japan made a goal, we screamed and jumped around in the room, which you found entertaining. The Japanese team really did well; we made it to the final tournament, but lost to Belgium. The game with Belgium was very exciting. I thought we would win! When we made 2 goals first, I was screaming so hard. You were smiling confusedly as you had never seen me scream that much. I looked happy so you understood it was something positive. Soon you were screaming and running around the room with me.

Mama and Papa always celebrate each country’s traditional things so that you (and we) can experience what it is like to be in the country around that time. Living in the UK, we believe it is important that you feel Japanese-ness and Dutch-ness. Sports events like the World Cup can also make you feel more connected with your countries. I like sports, so I’m looking forward to next worldwide competitions!

In July, we went to Morocco to attend Uncle Djamo and Aunt Yasmin’s wedding party! First time in Africa for all of us! We first flew to Amsterdam to meet up with them, Oma Lia and Uncle Gyano. They were really happy to see you, and got some presents for you. You are so loved by them too, and it’s obvious that you love them too.

We then flew to Marrakesh. It was really hot there, over 40°C. Our drivers took us to the Berber Lodge, which was the most beautiful and luxurious lodge I have ever stayed. Djamo and Yasmin got this lodge just for us for 4 days including delicious meals. The lodge had a big garden, and the staff kept moving the dinner tables, so we had each meal at a different location.

The best facility at this lodge for us was the pool, which was even more precious in such a hot weather. We went out to downtown Marrakesh once, but apart from that day, we mostly spent time in the pool. We put Superman arm floats on you, and you enjoyed floating in the pool.

We had lots of fun swimming, jumping into the pool, and somersaulting into the pool. You also jumped into the pool, which you liked a lot! At the party, Djamo and Yasmin dressed up so nicely, and we had a great time. Your first wedding party, and it was at such a beautiful location, and in Africa!

Back in the UK, as you had been into skateboarding, Mama got you a skateboard, protection gears, and helmet. We played it inside the apartment, and outside. It was very difficult so you always needed us to hold your hands. You enjoyed it a lot, though. After I came home, we went to the downstairs parking space, and ran from one side to the other. When you got tired of skateboarding, you ran (which is a lot faster and more stable). You love running. You say “yo-i don!” [🇯🇵 ready, set, go!] and we both run, then you repeat this over and over again.

Worldwide, it was very hot this summer, which, in our new apartment, was very difficult as it’s high, has many windows facing upwards, and no air-conditioning. So we ate a lot of ice cream and you spent a lot of time running around the house in nothing but your diaper.

July became a very difficult month for all of us – the loss of Berber. It happened on a day I took a sick day from work, due to a stomach bug. I was already unwell from the day before, so I took it very easy. The evening before as soon as I came home, I went to bed without having dinner and without writing research papers, as I usually do. The next day, I was still sick, but Mama told me that she also felt unwell. She seemed worse than I was, Mama even could not hold herself up from the bed. So I was in the living room with you, while Mama was in the bedroom.

In the afternoon, Mama came to the living room (it was very hot that day), and sat on a chair holding a bucket in case she threw up. It was around 3pm (I think) that Mama fainted, and fell off the chair. She threw up a bit on the floor. I cleaned up the floor, and Mama noticed where she was. I helped her hold herself up, and she said that she didn’t remember what happened. I told her that she had fainted, she was surprised. I told her that she should go to see a doctor, but she insisted she would wait and see. I really regret not taking her to a clinic, even though I had no idea how to help her walk out of this building (she was completely lethargic at this time).

She somehow seemed to recover as the air temperature went down. You fell asleep, and we were getting ready to sleep. I was hoping that after a good night’s sleep, I would feel fine. So in my mind, I was already planning how to catch up on a hundred things at work the next day when Mama told me that she felt unwell again.

After researching the NHS website, she suspected (correctly) that she was suffering a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Since this condition is life-threatening, she called the 999 emergency number as the NHS website suggested. But 999 told her to just go see a GP the next day. Still, she was scared so next she called NHS 111 who told her to go to A&E.

I remember that I was angry with her, because I told her to go to see a doctor in the afternoon, which she refused, and now she wanted to go to A&E, which is a lot further, and the time was 11pm. Because you were already asleep, and someone needed to be with you, I stayed with you, and Mama went to A&E alone. Even in this situation, Mama’s first thought was on how to provide you with a good sleep. You’ve got the best mother, who thinks of you first at any moment from anywhere.

That night, she waited for 5 hours at A&E, while lots of drunk bar fighters who came after her were seen first because they’ve got blood on their faces (which is infuriating). Mama didn’t want to come across wimpy, so she endured the pain in the waiting room. Five hours later, a doctor attended to her, and confirmed that she was indeed suffering a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Every minute counted and she needed surgery, immediately.

It is so tough for me to think that Mama waited alone in the waiting room for such a long time, enduring such enormous pain. During that night and early morning, we learned that Berber did exist. We lost him. He was 0.5mm long. Just because he was not in the right place, we had to lose him. He didn’t do anything wrong, rather he was doing great. In fact, we all did our best, especially Mama. But, Babel, life is sometimes tough to us. I’m sorry.

I was worried about Mama too, as an ectopic pregnancy is dangerous for the mother. She had an emergency surgery, they removed Berber, her fallopian tube and her ovary. She lost so much blood she had to have 2 sets of blood transfusion. She also waited 5 hours in the waiting room during the time she normally sleeps.

You and I went to the hospital in the morning, before 10, I remember. A nurse came to us to tell that we should be able to see Mama in a couple of hours. So we waited in the waiting room. It was just us, so we lay down on a couch or jumped around. By this time, Oma Lia decided to come to Derby the next day. She did an extremely perfectly impressive thing, and we found it really helpful.

A few hours later, the nurse came back to tell that it might take another few more hours, so it might be good to go home and come back. But I brought something to eat, and taking a taxi to go home then come back would be troublesome (and it might only give us an hour at home), so I decided to stay. But the wait lasted much longer than a few more hours.

You wanted to go home, so we took a walk inside the hospital. It was a big hospital, so we had a plenty of space to walk. But we had to be careful not to be away from the waiting room, as they could come to let us know that we could see Mama. Dinner time came and we had a couple of sandwiches and waited some more in the waiting room.

Finally around 7pm, we were allowed to see Mama. She had a couple of tubes in her body, and looked exhausted, but happy to see us. I was so relieved to see Mama. She showed us 3 big scars, which were painful to see. She has been recovering reasonably well since then. Also, we must appreciate Viviana and Clara for their sincere support, especially Viviana was there for Mama all the time. Right after this, Papa flew to Japan for work. I was able to go, thanks to Oma Lia, which was even noted by the Dean of the department.

In August, we went to the Netherlands to see Oma Lia, Djamo, Gyano, and Yasmin! We really had a great time there. You ate a lot of Dutch things, and enjoyed them. It is your home country, so I feel good to see you there.

During this stay, we visited Djamo and Yasmin in Amsterdam. I have been there several times, but I enjoyed it the most this time; maybe where they took us was great. We also visited a couple of friends including Kanako and Tomo, and Martine. I enjoyed visiting the University of Amsterdam, and this time, thanks to Martine, I’ve started a research collaboration with her colleague. This is going to be great.

In this visit, I noticed more that Dutch people are very kid-friendly, maybe because by comparison British people are not. Wherever we took you, people were very positive and happy to talk to you. One time at the Efteling you were on my lap, we were watching a show about a wolf, and your feet hit a lady next to us. I immediately apologized to her, imagining how upset she would be (typical reaction in the UK). But the lady wasn’t frowning as expected, rather she was smiling at you, and replied “no problem”. Then she looked into your eyes with a smile, and turned back to the stage. I thought to myself, “no wonder kids here are the happiest in the world!” Anyway, we had a great time in the Netherlands.

In September, after we enjoyed the last days of the paddling pool, you started nursery! This is a big change for all of us. We couldn’t believe that you are already going to nursery. It is the first social group you belong to outside the family. You had been there many times for play groups and other events, but going there everyday for preschool is different.

You are adjusting to your nursery life well; of course the first week was tough. In the first week, you cried a few times when Mama left. One time, maybe in the second week, I also saw you cry there. Usually, when your friend Robin is there, you are fine. The first day he was not there (I think it was the Wednesday in your first week), you cried a lot. Mama stayed at the nursery for 45 minutes, and came home, but she went back again soon after. I know it is hard to be away from her, even for a short time and distance. But you are getting more used to spending time apart from Mama.

Sometimes I join you two during drop off at nursery, which is really fun. You’re learning a lot of English phrases there, which becomes obvious as we talk at home. I’m sure you do a lot of things at nursery but every time I ask you what you did, your response is “wakarahen” [🇯🇵 I don’t know – Osaka dialect].

It is a big change for Mama too. Now, she has about 3 hours of her own time, editing movies and pictures on her brand new Mac at home. Of course, she misses you in these 3 hours, but she enjoys her own time. Mama and Papa also went to see a primary school for you, because just after one year at nursery, you are going to school. Things are changing so quickly.

In October (from late September), we started to cook together for SweetStatistics. It has been really fun for Mama and Papa, and you seem to enjoy it too. Mama is the producer: she thinks about what we are going to make, prepares for it, and films. So far, we have made vegan avocado brownies, pancakes, and cup noodles. You speak so well, introducing the procedure.

Originally, I was only going to do SweetStatistics for one year in 2017. But it is super fun, so it has been lasting this long. We are soon to hit the 100th episode! I think cooking will be more fun than dining out because it’s done at home so we can scream and run around. Also, I enjoy learning how to make a variety of things, it is fun! Mama and Papa already have many ideas about what to make: cookies, madeleine cakes, parfaits, yakisoba, sekihan and more. It’s gonna be fun!

Well, again this was an eventful half year, we had a lot of fun. We are in a new phase; you are in preschool. We really enjoy every moment with you. In the coming months, we will have Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night, going to the Netherlands, Sinterklaas, Christmas, Oshougatsu, Setsubun, Carnaval, Easter. They are going to be even more fun, I can’t wait!

Your co-host of SweetStatistics Papa


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