Happy New Year!

So, they say you should make New Year’s resolutions that are attainable. Break them down, make them reasonable. yada yada…

So my goal this year is to give birth. At 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I am confident that I can reach that goal. And won’t I feel accomplished when I do!

Gah. Seriously, I enjoyed a few extra days of just being O’s mom. Especially because he came down with a little virus and was all sick-y and needed mommy to take care of his fever. But I am ready for this baby to come on out already. I’ve had contractions for about a week now. They get real steady and then they’ll quit. And let’s not get started on the excruciating pain in my back from all the contractions. I’ve tried everything on my end: praying, eating pineapple, long walks, rich food, spicy food, cleaning the house, visualizing, seducing my husband, short walks, relaxing, eating more spicy food. So far all I have accomplished is heartburn….

But here in Germany it’s typical to make a woman wait it out. The lady near us at the clinic today was 9 days overdue, she was also late with her first 2 children as well. (Although, she looked very comfortable and relaxed, I must say, lacking that weary wild-eyed look I’m starting to permanently wear.) Pretty much doctors wait until there’s some sort of medical reason, or the woman goes crazy and demands and induction. But the doctor today offered a glimmer of hope. Maybe an induction tomorrow, if I want it.

I have never been so excited to drink castor oil in all my life y’all. We’ll see how it goes…

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Things Change

So, most mothers of 2 or more kids will tell you that each kid is different. That each pregnancy is different. Well, I’m not here today to tell you otherwise. Some of it is just the natural progression from over-zealous first-time-around motherhood to been-there-done-that-who-cares-if-the-baby-eats-some-dog-food-it’s-not-toxic second child syndrome. Some of it is more situational.

For example, in my first pregnancy I laughed at the idea of sewing my own hospital gown. Why would you waste money on fabric that’s just going to get all stained with lord-only-knows? Of course this time around, I feel compelled to tackle this sewing project. Mostly because in my sterile visions of childbirth, there’s always a lot of medical interventions involved and I’m always in a hospital gown. In Germany, they tell you to just wear a comfy shirt, when you come in labor. Now, if I own a comfy shirt, chances are, I like to wear it. So why in the world would I want to trash it by giving birth in it? If the hospital won’t issue me a disinfected, hospital grade material gown, then I guess I will be making my own.

Another case in point: not choosing my hospital based on my doctor. So in Baton Rouge, I had the most wonderful OB/Gyn. His office was in the tower at Woman’s Hospital. So, of course, it was planned out that we would drive 45 minutes to his hospital so he could oversee everything and take care of me. In Germany, the doctors aren’t so much involved. In fact, legally, you have to have a midwife with you for the birth in a hospital, but the doctor is totally optional. You might not even actually see a doctor during your labor and delivery. I’m still planning to drive the 45 minutes to Tübingen, but not because my doctor will be there. In fact, I don’t even know if someone has to call him to tell him I’m in labor, maybe they just send him a letter all official and German like from the hospital. Something with a signature and a stamp. Germans like to stamp important things. The hospital in our town actually has a WHO “Baby Friendly Certification, but I don’t really want to go there… I’ve heard that they tend to not send critical patients to the specialty hospitals as soon as they should. My nursing education makes me all too aware of every rare and life-threatening thing that could happen. I don’t want to stroke out from an embolism and be a vegetable because the doctors here were too proud to admit they couldn’t handle it themselves. I don’t think my husband or my in-laws fully understand this. But I really don’t care. In the words of every 13 year old that’s ever been on Maury Povich, “It’s my body, I do what I want.”

Also situational: In the last pregnancy, it was a question of “when” and not “if” I wanted an epidural. In Tübingen, there’s a variety of choices for pain relief. I’m still leery of all of the breathing and relaxation techniques people recommend. But I’m keeping an open mind. Also up for grabs are laughing gas and some kind of opiate. I may turn this birth into my own little science experiment. Of course, I never actually felt contractions during my first labor, so I may be screaming for my “Rückenspritz!” before I make it through all of the different options. (Also- I am not a super human- I didn’t feel the contractions despite my Pitocin drip due to an overwhelming and excruciating backache that I’d had from about 32 weeks into the pregnancy. Kind of like you wouldn’t notice if you busted your lip falling if you also broke your arm at the same time.)

Now that I am officially on Maternity Leave (another situational difference. Yay, socialism!) I hope to update a bit more on these differences. Maybe on the next post I’ll go into detail of some of the all natural recommendations for inducing labor. 🙂 But really, it’s been interesting so far. And I’m learning to not be too neurotic. Maybe.

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…

 

Some days….

Germans actually think it’s a good thing when you have spiders in your house. It means that it’s not too damp.

Wut? o_O

I am clearly not a German. I spent the better half of my day waging a war against them. I think they hitched a ride in the boxes we’ve stored in my in-laws’ garage. But seriously, I found like 5 of them in my house. Fortunately, I have a lovely spider killing machine that also functions as a vacuum cleaner. It’s still so gross thinking they were here in my house. Ick. I’m probably not going to sleep well tonight….. I’ll be thinking I can hear them having a neighborhood watch meeting to discuss the crazy spider-killing lady….

Jubiläum! (Anniversary)

A year ago yesterday, I arrived on a plane in Stuttgart to begin an interesting new path in life in Deutschland. So today, in German fashion, I brought a cake to school to celebrate with my classmates my anniversary at Vivat Lingua (my school, that I started the day after I arrived- jetlagged and all). I didn’t think much of it, just an excuse to eat cake. But the head of the school, Adelheid, is so nice, she had chocolates and a little plant in a pretty cup for me.

Last summer in Germany. Let's hope this year is a little bit warmer.

Last summer in Germany. Let’s hope this year is a little bit warmer.

It was such a different day today than a year ago.

For starters, Spring is trying her best to come round. We’ve had a few lovely days this week. I even wore a skirt and no leggings today. It was fabulous. Last year at this time, it was not very good weather and it was cold. I remember needing to wear my coat.

Another thing that has changed: my weight, for the better. I’ve lost 15 pounds over the last year. I had gained quite a bit after the wedding and before the move. Unfortunately I haven’t really achieved that awesome all-Euro wardrobe yet, mostly because I lost weight and now I can just wear the clothes I had in Louisiana.

I walk everywhere and only drive two or three days out of the week. (HUGE difference from wasting my life away in that little blue Corolla in BR traffic) … hey maybe this is related to the above…

I’m no longer shocked by the weird hairdos of the local youth.

I have friends from all sorts of places, but not very many German friends. Maybe after I stop learning German in a class with a bunch of foreigners and I get a job.

I finally understand how to sort trash and recyclables the “Deutsch way” (i.e. very complicated).

I came here barely able to ask people “How are you?” Now, I’m in the C-1 level. Today in class we listened to a comedian joke about a European initiative against the privatization of water, then we read a short paper on it, listened to an interview about water conservation and researched on the internet about this initiative. All in German!

A year ago, I really didn’t understand the concept of trying to conserve water. I always thought it was pointless to try to teach Louisiana kids about that sort of thing. We’re surrounded by water there. It’s waiting in the clouds above us for the right time to fall on our heads as we run through a parking lot to our car. It’s under the ground if we dig deep enough. Bayous, rivers, creeks, canals, swamps- you name it, we got it! I couldn’t fathom a world where people actually thought about that stuff. Then I came here. Water out the tap is fairly expensive, and has so much calcium it’ll eat your washing machine if you don’t add a special anti-calc powder. People collect rain water to water the garden. They don’t use the hose. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a hose in anyone’s yard. Every appliance has energy efficient what-nots and the toilets have various options for how much you want to flush!

I care more about electricity too. I mean, I cared before in the sense that I wanted to pay as little as possible. But I’ve been hanging my clothes out to dry outside the past few days. Simply because it was so nice outside that I knew they would dry quickly and I could do a few loads.

Speaking of the environment: Sunday, I went walking on a trail on a mountain, through a forest-y type area… and I liked it!

Guten Tag!

First full day in Germany as an ex-pat:

Started the morning off with a train into Tubingen. This alone was entertaining. People-watching included a man wearing an ascot and punked out Euro-teens (pretty much as bad as the hipster-youth in the US that I want to kick in the teeth wearing skinny jeans with oversized high-top sneakers). German language class was not all that bad. The teachers only speak German and us students just fumble through and make asses of ourselves. By happenstance, I sat down next to the other American in the class (not a totally unlikely scenario, we only have 6 students). I think I learned a few things, but a lot of it was phrases I already knew. I was already a bit confused at times, though, so we’ll see how I fair in the long run. After class was over, Husband and I drove back to Albstadt to register me and Oli as living in the city. It went fairly quickly, thank God. There is nothing more boring than sitting there with people having an entire conversation in front of you in which you can’t participate. Hell, I don’t even understand 75% of the words. Then A took me to the metzgerei (a butcher shop) to feed me because I was complaining of hunger (who would have guessed?). They had some sort of sausage with cheese in it. I said, “That sounds fab!” And indeed, it was fab. Very, very fabulous. It was like the best smoked sausage you could find at home, with this creamy cheesiness melting from the inside. They served it on this cross between a croissant and a ciabatta. AhhhMazing. It was a ray of light on an otherwise bleak and dreary day. I’m not being melodramatic here, it was dreary outside. It’s cold, first of all. And wet. And the sky is grey and everything just looks dull. I missed the sun, the warmth from home. The colorful clothes and just generally happier faces of Louisiana people. I must say, while some of the people here are good looking, I do believe the South has a higher ratio of pretty people to the general population. Just saying….