Being a first-time parent is a roller coaster of emotions ranging from the excitement of nurturing a family to the general anxiety of “doing it right.” In collaboration with Saraya, a leading manufacturer of baby care products in Japan, Tokyo Weekender is introducing and inviting six new and expecting parents to talk about their experiences being pregnant, giving birth and being a parent as a foreign resident of Japan.
Read our first interview with mom Aizu Princess.
Wesley Stuurman moved to Tokyo from the Netherlands in August 2019. Both he and his wife Chihiro work in IT as a project manager and regional manager respectively. In December 2021, the couple welcomed their first child, a little boy by the name of Kaito.
Chihiro kept busy during her pregnancy. She changed jobs, securing a sought-out position as a regional manager just in the last few months. “During my [pregnancy] leave, I was doing interviews,” she says, laughing. She officially went back to work in early April, only four months after Kaito was born.
“In Japan, it’s quite common to take a year off,” she says. In some cases, an eagerness to get back to work is frowned upon. Chihiro, however, was lucky to be surrounded by supportive family members and friends. “[Kaito] sleeps very well,” says Wesley. “Yeah, I can have a good night’s sleep,” adds Chihiro. “And so it was easy for me to get back to work.”
It will come as no surprise that giving birth in the midst of a pandemic was not without its downsides. “It was a little bit sad,” says Wesley. “I couldn’t go to any of the appointments.” He was, however, allowed to be present for the birth of baby Kaito.
Laughing, he adds, “They didn’t give me any food at the clinic.” Wesley and Chihiro stayed at the clinic for a total of five nights. “I was taken care of in a room with, like, supplies and everything,” says Chihiro, chuckling. “Wesley was allowed to stay over but he didn’t have any of that.”
One big impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on pregnancy was maternity classes, or rather the lack thereof. In Japan, maternity classes teach you the very basics of caring for your newborn, and especially for new parents, they can help build confidence. “I didn’t have any [classes] to learn how to wash the baby, hold the baby, feed the baby,” says Chihiro. “I didn’t get to practice.”
On the topic of paternity leave, Wesley says “I’m very fortunate, my company is quite flexible. I got 12 weeks of leave, but I can decide how to use them.” The couple is leaving for the Netherlands in June to introduce baby Kaito to his paternal grandparents.
arau.baby’s Milky Lotion & Foam Body Wash
Wesley and Chihiro learned about arau.baby via the TW newsletter. For the last month or so, they have been using the brand’s foam body wash and lotion milk.
Wesley described the body wash as “life-changing,” with a laugh. Because this body wash can be used for both the body and hair, the ease of only needing one bottle to do it all is incomparable. This became especially convenient as Kaito started to enjoy his bathtime.
After bathing, they apply arau.baby’s milky lotion. “I love the scent,” says Chihiro. “The milky lotion absorbs quickly”, she says, “Which is great.”