A post in which I actually DON’T complain about Germany

I complain about things here. A lot. I know.

But it really isn’t all bad news bears here in the land of beer and pretzels. I mean, this is the home of the Biergarten. Where in July you can enjoy a refreshing beverage of your choice outside on a bench with your friends and not sweat to death.

So, I’d like to take a moment to brag a bit on one of the lovelier things here in Germany: the affordability of healthcare in this country. I don’t often get too political here on my blog, but I do have to commend Germany’s government and the healthcare system in general. The healthcare system in the US was, and sadly, still is broken. I think it’s only going to get more broken until some sort of French Revolution style revolt occurs with CEOs of insurance firms being guillotined in Times Square. I won’t lie, or hide my views. I am much more liberal than most of my friends and family. That’s ok, we all get along. I don’t stand up on my soapbox all the time. But I would like to highlight some of the positive things in Germany, so here’s my story:

My first pregnancy, I was unmarried and on a tight budget- I had just quit my job to go to nursing school. Now you an cast all sorts of judgement on me for having an unplanned, out-of-wedlock baby. All I can say about that, is that I really don’t care what your opinion of it is. It was what it was. And like a lot of things in my life, I figured I’d just struggle through it and somehow make it work. My first doctor’s appointment I was given pamphlets and lots of information. I was also given a sheet that said about how much it was going to cost. It was in the thousands, and that was just the costs from my doctors clinic. That didn’t include the hospital costs or costs for an extra special circumstance type things. It said to contact my insurance company and to find out exactly what was covered and to set up a payment plan. It was like a warning, they didn’t want you to freak out at the last minute with a huge scary bill.

A week later, I got a letter from my insurance company informing me that my COBRA payments would be upwards of $500 a month. Yeah, that was going to happen. So I did something that was painful to my pride: I signed up for Medicaid. I justified it by telling myself that I had paid into the system in the years prior when I was working, but still I felt a bit sick in my stomach.I wasn’t alone, people in all sorts of health predicaments face this same struggle and anxiety. The person with the chronic illness who got laid off, couldn’t get coverage for treatment with their new insurance because of their “pre-existing condition”. Or people reaching “lifetime” limits because a for profit corporation put a price tag on a person’s worth. Or hospitals charging $10 for 1 Tylenol. I just think it’s all a bit ridiculous.

I was actually very lucky. Louisiana was set up that all pregnant women without insurance could get on Medicaid if they needed to. And I could do it online without anyone seeing or judging me. I just thank God that I had an excellent doctor who truly cared about me and didn’t care that I was (temporarily) on Medicaid. He made sure that I got great care and never skimped on anything.

Flash forward 4 years and a different continent. I now have very good private insurance. But we only have a private policy because Armin is a government employee. Since they pay their employees well, employees are expected to contribute out of pocket. Most people in Germany are on one of the public systems. Want to know what we all have in common? We don’t really worry about healthcare costs. Public insurance people pay a flat fee each time they go to the doctor. We get our bill and then pay the doctor ourselves. The we send everything to our insurance company and get reimbursed. So I have an idea of how much things cost.

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of bleeding one Saturday morning. I wasn’t worried, as I know it’s not uncommon in pregnancy, it wasn’t a lot, and I’d had it once or twice with the first pregnancy. But that night I was standing in the kitchen and felt a bit of pain low in my abdomen. I sat down for a bit, the pain stayed. I decided that it was probably nothing, but I should see a doctor, just in case. (Who does that in the US?) So I drove myself to the hospital, told them what was happening and was taken into an exam room. The doctor asked if I had taken anything for the pain. I said no, she left the room and returned with a packet of pills. She gave me 2 and a glass of water. She asked if I had these pills at home. I said no, I didn’t even know what they were. She gave me the rest of the packet and told me I could take them home. They were over-the-counter meds, but her giving me the extras meant I didn’t have to drive to the one open pharmacy that night. She did an ultrasound and assured me that all was well with the little one. She said I probably had the over-exerted myself and I was given directions to go home and rest.

The next week the bill came, and as I opened it Armin grumbled about how much it probably cost for a late night weekend visit to the ER. Who wants to guess how much the total was? Seriously, take a wild guess. ER visit + Ultrasound = 100 € They didn’t even charge for the pills she gave me. Now, if you aren’t familiar, 100 € is about $130. So yeah, the whole ER visit was less than 1 Ultrasound in the US.

 

I won’t say the ACA is great. I see that it has flaws and that it has actually caused more problems for some people. But I think the idea that people can access medical care when they need it and not stay up all night worrying how to pay for it is great. I have a lot of things to worry about- I have a child, an elderly dog, a marriage that requires the normal amount of work and care. But I don’t have to worry about my health or that of my family. We can afford it, and while the culture and customs may be different, I don’t fee that the medical care here is lacking in quality. My sincere hope is that the US can figure out a way to bring this peace of mind to its people.

Bugging Out

I am not adapting well these days.

 

Ugh. Some cultural differences are easy to just get over. Some are not. Where I come from, if there’s a bug or a rodent in the house, you get rid of it. Or you call a guy and he gets rid of it. Or he comes and sprays something that probably will someday kill him, too, but then all the little unwanted things are dead and you forget to worry about the exterminator’s health.

But. Here. Here in this godforsaken hell-hole of a bunch of nature-loving freaks….

Oh mah gawd. GAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! We have spiders in the garage the size of my palm– OK, not that big more like O’s palm- larger than anything I am comfortable with. My husband argues “they aren’t poisonous”. Well, no, technically, they are venomous, not poisonous. And maybe, as he says, they rarely bite people. (I don’t believe that he’s never been bit by one because he doesn’t pay that much attention to what’s going on around him or even on his body and he probably wouldn’t have noticed it was a spider bite just a red itchy spot that went away after some time.) But this guy proves they can bite and it will hurt, even if you won’t die from it. Ick. But Germans still seem to embrace these disgusting things.

 

Now, moving on to to other lawfully protected species. Wasps. Did you know that in Germany you aren’t supposed to kill a wasp’s nest?

Wait, whut?

 

Are you serious? Are you freaking kidding me? They are F—ing WASPS for crying out loud. And they have nested in the rolling shudders on O’s window. Our landlord told us to just roll the shudders up and down a lot and hope they go away on their own. You know what that does? Pisses them off. Like, a lot.

I do not understand Germans. Wasps serve no purpose in life other than to screw things up. They kill bees. Don’t you freaking hippies know that there’s a bee shortage in the world right now???? Kill the wasps. Oh, but no. If you google it in German, you’ll find on every forum where someone needs to get rid of a nest that “wasps are important predators in our ecosystem and it would be a shame to kill them”. Well, guess what. They never ate the damn aphids that killed my cilantro, so they really serve no important purpose in my ecosystem.

 

This is what my life has come to. I am seriously losing my shit over insects. And my husband could care less. Being so intellectually evolved and all, he has no caveman instincts to protect his cave. Grrrr…..

If they weren’t in the bleeping wall of O’s room, I’d go all redneck and fashion a makeshift blowtorch and burn their nest to nothingness. As it is, I’m going to put on something low-cut and flirt with the fire department. Internet rumors say they “might” help you if you can prove that the wasps are a danger or if the nest is too close to where children are. Let’s just hope they don’t tell me to just keep his window shut…

 

Adaptable Mamma is expanding!

No, I’m not going to start doing podcasts. I mean, I am literally expanding. My pants don’t fit anymore. I can only wear the half of my shirts that are flowy and baggy and the slim-fitting ones have been packed away in a box. But its good growth. Because it’s not just me growing, but our whole family!

Coming December 27, 2014! (or really, whenever it's ready- we know how babies are)

Coming December 27, 2014! (or really, whenever it’s ready- we know how babies are)

That’s right, folks! I wasn’t crazy enough cooking and cleaning up after my two boys. Cutting the dog’s thyroid and blood pressure pills into quarters and eighths wasn’t time consuming enough. Teaching a course that has no book and making my own curriculum and materials up as I go was getting to be too easy. We’re adding another family member to the family!

I am both excited and terrified. Hmm… much like the last time I was pregnant. I guess all pregnancies are both different and the same. I’ve already been pregnant and given birth in the US with a doctor I adored (I still recommend people to him that say they don’t like their doctor). This time I’m getting the German experience which is a little bit different. Ok, probably a lotta bit different. Let’s just hope my labor lasts long enough for the drive to Tübingen, so I can maybe have doctors who understand some English around…

I love my child, but….

Peaches Geldof- thanks for supporting my theory that most women must be on something if they are full on “attachment parenting” parents.

 

I’m writing this post from the bathroom the tiny water closet with just the toilet in it. Now, I’ve had this thing where I really don’t like being in a bathroom with the door closed since I got stuck in the tiny bathroom in the Pre-K room at St. Theresa. But I’ve come to learn to love hiding in this very tiny tiny room with a functioning lock on the door. Even then, though, sometimes I can’t enjoy pooping (or pretending to poop) in peace. Case in point: As I was writing that last sentence a small voice called through the grate on the door “Mommy!!! I have to go! Are you in there, mommy? Are you trying to poopoo? Is it coming out?” (We discuss poop quite openly in this house, apparently)

*Sigh*

We’re on Day 3 of O not being at kindergarten. May 1 is a Labor Day sort of holiday here in Germany. So the kindergarten was closed Thursday and Friday, too. How lovely! What makes this time even more special is that my child is at that age where he asks A LOT of questions. Like repeatedly asking, “When are we going to …?” Or asking, “But, why?” in response to anything that comes out of my mouth. As the title of this post implies- I love my child, but… I swear, it’s like he has this special patience detector. And right when I start to run low on patience, that’s when he attacks. Endless questions, whining, repeating the same things over and over, clinging to my legs. Gah!!! I mean, I know that someday I’ll look back on these times and laugh, maybe even miss the way he has to be physically attached to me in some way at EVERY MOMENT. And I must obviously love O. My brother used to be the same way as a little kid. I punched him quite often. So my restraint of not knocking my kid out is proof of both my increased maturity and my motherly love, right? :)

 

 

Note to attachment parents: I admire you for doing what you think is right for your kid. I just really, really don’t understand y’all. I think our brains are just wired differently.

My life, as told by Sophia Patrillo

Picture it: Germany 2014

A young(ish) wife gets off the train after spending the day working in the city. She makes her way through the streets of the small town. It’s a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, she sees him: her husband, sitting outside a cafe eating an ice cream cone. She smiles thinking she’ll surprise him. As she walks on she sees someone else sitting at the table. She doesn’t know this person. Maybe her eyes are playing tricks on her. The sun is low, maybe she only thinks the two are at the same table. She makes her way forward debating whether she, too, should have some ice cream— her waistline is not as slim as it once was! As she approaches the table, she realizes she’s made a grave mistake. The other person is sitting at the table with her husband. She’s shocked.

That young woman was me. And the other person at the table, was my own son. His hair was so long and wild, that he looked like a new person after a haircut! Look how grown up this child looks:

All smiles after a haircut and an ice cream cone.

All smiles after a haircut and an ice cream cone.

I am so thankful I had a C-section

Yes, you read that right.

Tonight, my very insightful 3 year old asked “How did I come out of your belly??” Now, I’m not the kind of mom to sugar coat much on the biology/anatomy front. I believe in honest age-appropriate answers. He knows that sometimes women have big bellies because they are growing babies. But I was relieved to be able to answer honestly, “Well, honey, the doctor had to cut my tummy a little bit and pull you out.” I mean, let’s face it, explaining vaginal delivery is not exactly age-appropriate for any age.

Just another little gripe session

I’ve made a decision. I’m buying our house. Let me re-phrase that, when we have money saved in like 8 years and we can buy a house, I’m picking it out. I might let my husband express his opinion, but I will make the decision by myself.

This apartment has been nothing but one problem after another. The kitchen is a disaster. We bought a fullsize dishwasher b/c the small one we had was way too small. We measured everything and thought, ok, perfect, just enough room for a regular sized dishwasher. Well, guess what. The wall is crooked! So, while there is enough room at the front to put the dishwasher in, but it stops about 2/3 of the way and gets stuck on the wall. Our old apartment was pretty awful, and I will admit that this place is an improvement. But seriously y’all, I was only able to deal with the old apartment because I could close my eyes, take a deep breath and remind myself that it was only temporary. Now A says that we have to stay here until we buy a house (in 8 years)! Gah!!!

Oh, and the only reasons I relented and accepted this apartment is because the rent was slightly less and it had a yard for O to play in. Guess what, he doesn’t like to go outside and play by himself.

If you’ll excuse me now, I’m going bang my head on the wall. I’ll try the wall where the dishwasher belongs, maybe I can knock off some of the plaster so I can get my dishwasher in place ._.

 

 

Update: Our landlord came over tonight. He had to take out a cabinet next to the dishwasher, but now the dishwasher is under the counter and working. Oh, and now there is only one cabinet and an oven in between the sink and dishwasher. One less foot of dripping water when I load the dishwasher! Now, where in the heck am I going to stick this cabinet???