Well, we made it!  We are in Japan!  We survived a 12 and half hour flight with an almost two year old, plus an hour long train ride, and made it up to the seventh floor of my in-law’s place in Japan.  After an approximately 18 hour doorstep to doorstep journey, into a time zone the completely opposite of our own, we were glad to be on the ground and in one spot for awhile.  And the first order of business was to try to get Ellie adjusted, and rested to her new surroundings as soon as possible so we could all get some much needed rest.

When we busted through the door, Ellie was already in her over-tired hyper happy mode.  She only slept for a total of about two hours on the plane.  Yikes.  Aya’s parents recently moved and this was our first time visiting them in their new apartment.  While Aya and I rummaged around and checked out all the rooms and digital refrigerator, Ellie did the same thing by opening drawers and checking out the stereo and TV with Gigi.  She was very playful and happy, but we knew that lurking under that happy, excited-to-see-Gigi (Aya’s dad, which means old man in Japanese)-and-Grandma-chan (an informal name for grandma Aya came up with)-face was a monster.

We finished dinner about 9pm and thought we should put Ellie to bed as soon as possible.  Since she barely slept on the plane, we really thought that she would crash, and crash quickly.  But an over-tired, jet-lagged baby seemed to be a new animal all to itself.

Our sleeping arrangements at my in-law’s include me, Ellie, and Aya all sleeping in the same room.  Even though it’s a brand new apartment, most Japanese houses and apartments still have one traditional Japanese room with a tatami mat floor and sliding doors.  This is the room we were all going to be sleeping in.  Aya and I will sleep on the floor on futons mattresses, and Ellie has her own crib.  We hadn’t all slept in the same room since she was born.  We really didn’t know exactly how all this was gonna go down.

When I say that Ellie cried for an hour, I don’t mean she whimpered and whined and twisted and turned, I mean she SCREAMED for two hours.  She wailed, she hit, she flung herself, smacked her face on my chest and on the floor.  We tried everything in our power to get her to stop crying but it only made it worse.  My throat hurt just listening to her.  My heart hurt too.  I felt so bad for her.  We were both tired and jetlagged and drained from the long trip, and dealing with Ellie to this level was just not what we were expecting.  Finally, she fell asleep in Aya’s arms with a remaining twitch and an occasional whimper.  But when we tried to put her down, the scream instantly came back and would not go away.

It’s a good thing Aya’s dad is a Beatles fan, because what eventually did the trick to get her to stop was our trusted Beatles song, You Really Got a Hold on Me.  She stopped crying, eventually smiled, ate a banana and had some water and finally went to bed without a struggle about midnight.  And with Ellie to bed, we could finally go to bed too.

I always wake up really early for the first few days I’m here because of the jetlag.  I expect it and actually don’t mind it.  It’s kind of my alone time before being overwhelmed with the Japanese language all the time and not knowing what’s going on.  But when I woke up at 4am and saw a silhouetted baby standing in the crib staring down at me I was a little startled.  In a chipper voice she requested a banana.  Ugh, really?  Four hours of sleep, that’s all you got?  “Let’s get a banana dad!”  I looked at Aya and she was out cold.  This was my “alone time” that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I now had a friend to share it with.

After Ellie had her banana and some water, I got her to come in and lay on the floor with us.  She twisted, flipped, and flopped, and finally fell asleep again on top of me.  With her butt in my face and her face on my stomach.  This wasn’t my ideal situation, but she did fall asleep again.  And shortly after she did, so did I.  Only to be jolted awake at 7am by a toddler foot kicking me in the eye.  THE EYE!  And just like that, the night was over, and our day had begun.

Welcome to Japan, welcome to jet lag, welcome to a jet lagged baby.  I knew when we planned this trip, it was not going to be a vacation.  I insisted on calling it, “visiting family” so we didn’t have images of relaxation and all day excursions alone and returning home feeling refreshed.  But vacation or not, this is going to be one very interesting awesome trip for all of us.  And it really makes me happy to see Aya so happy to be home and see her family and now, for Ellie to get to embrace her “other half.”

And after last night, I’m hoping things can only go up from there.  Right?  Wish me luck!



  1. Sorry the first night was so horrific. I can’t imagine being woken by a kick to the eye would be too pleasant, but it sounds like you handled it well.

    Listening to your child scream and knowing that nothing you’re doing is going to solve the problem is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve had to deal with as a parent. I mean, one of our main jobs is to protect them, so when there’s nothing we can do to help them when they’re in a bad situation, it’s never fun.

    Best of luck surviving the jetlag switch (I’ve never traveled far enough to deal with it) and sorry you’re going to have to go through it again soon.

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