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Archive for January, 2009

Pregnant in Germany

One of my pet peeves about life in Germany has only come to irritate me more now that I am largely pregnant.

Car parking spaces.

I get that in order to conserve space, the spaces for cars in parking lots is generally smaller, but as a 3rd trimester pregnant woman, I hate it.

Yup.  Hate it.

Poor BJD.  He has to park so that his side mirror almost touches the car next to him so I have enough room to swing the door just wide enough (without touching the car next to me – that’s a cardinal sin in Germany – Germans are VERY picky about their cars) to squeeze my large belly through the door and out.

I mean, isn’t it bad enough that it takes me a good 30 seconds to swing my legs around to the side of the car before trying to stand up without losing balance, all the while making sure that I don’t use the door too much as a support because, again if it hits the car next to me I’m screwed.

No.

What makes it worse is when the car next to us moves and another car pulls in, only closer to ours than original said car was parked.

That’s when BJD gets the lovely task of pulling out of the parking space so I can get in.

And don’t think this relates simply to being pregnant – this is also valid for carrying your baby in a car seat.

Ugh.

I’m crabby today.  I have a peri appointment tomorrow.  My numbers keep creeping upwards. Hopefully all is well.

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We have a new household helper.  Her name is Astrid.  Which in German, I cannot pronounce.  The ‘str’ sound just won’t roll off my tongue properly.  She is the 4th person Humanitas has sent us in 4 weeks.  That means it’s the 4th person Bubba Joe has to get to know.  The 4th person I have to trust my son and house to.  The 4th person my doggies have to get used to and the 4th person dear BJD has to tell how to do laundry, what we use for cleaning, how we clean, etc.

She’s nice enough.

But she’s not me.

I’m having a bit of a pity party for myself today. My BP numbers are starting to creep upwards. I’m starting to retain just a tiny bit of water.  Of course, that could just be normal for 32 1/2 weeks … how would I know?  Last time, at this time, I was HUGE.  I mean HUGE with water retention.  Now, I’m just me.  I’m simply noticing that my fingers are slightly swollen and I’m scared.    At 33 weeks, I was admitted and administered steroid shots for Bubba Joe’s lungs. 

And I sit here, in bed yet again, this morning, listening to Bubba Joe play and laugh and joke with a stranger in my home.  If only I were as flexible as he.  She speaks no english.  He speaks a mix.  It frustrates me to no end that she doesn’t understand what he’s saying – but then again, she’s not me.

It’s hard not to feel replaced.  Replaced as a mom, replaced as a wife, replaced as cleaner/ironer/laundry gal/woman of the house.  The only other girl here (for now at least) is our Maggie – and if you’ve met her you know she’s a total loon.  (BTW – she’s our doggie who truly is neurotic.  She loves to walk in circles, only counter clockwise … will bark at anything … and loves to carry something in her mouth.  But the best part of her is when she does all three simultaneously!)

But then, Bubba Joe gets his diaper changed.  BJD is amazing.  He’s kept up with cloth diapering while I was in the hospital and since.  He does all the diaper laundry.  He does most of the diaper changes.  That’s the one thing we agreed that “we” would do and not ask the household help for.  Cloth diapers. 

He just changed Bubba Joe’s diaper.  He rocks.  He’s calm, and cool, and patient.  Well, he’s been a bit stressed out lately, but who wouldn’t be?  And as he’s done changing Bubba Joe’s diapers, Bubba Joe asks for some “drink yogurt” (i.e. Actimel).  BJD says he’ll run downstairs and bring it up.  No, Bubba Joe wants to go with his dad.  He lays his head down on BJD’s shoulder.  And I realize, I’m not being replaced.  I’m just being given the break I need.

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I had a great appointment this week at the perinatologist.

She’s happy with my health and that of the baby’s.  I’m doing, well, great.  No swelling.  BP is managed without meds.  And resting, with household help doing the bulk of the work, seems to be doing well for little girl too – who at this point, is estimated to weigh 100 grams less than Bubba Joe when he was born.  And I’m only at 32 weeks! (remember, Bubba Joe was born at 34 weeks.)

The images above are taken from the same timeframe in my pregnancy with Bubba Joe versus right now.  It hit me last night, as I was trying to fall back asleep from one of my mid-night bathroom breaks, that I was horribly swollen by this time in my first pregnancy.  It was winter and I was warm all the time.  BJD and I had lots of fun placing finger impressions in my fluid-filled legs.  Finding shoes that fit was, well, horrible.  At this point, I could only wear a pair of flip flops – I still have them, but they are stretched out so wide from my swollen feet that I can wear them with socks (sadly, an acceptable trend here in Germany).

How am I feeling?  Good.  Pregnant.  Scared still but more confident every day.  Less afraid to have a preemie.  I mean, I’ve already had a 4 pound baby – I know how to handle a 4 pound baby.  Bubba Joe came home at 4 pounds 2 ounces. 

If all continues to go well, the doc predicts I’ll be bringing home a 6.5 pounder.  For the first time in my life, I’m ready and willing to be patient.  🙂

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Moving to wordpress

I’ve decided to try my hand over here at wordpress instead of blogger. 

The main reason? To be able to provide an update on my pregnancy privately.  If you’d like the password to check out how things are going, send me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

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and I feel like a new woman.

It was at least 24 months ago that my OB diagnosed me with pregnancy induced hypertension and told me I had to quit my job. I tried negotiating with him, but thankfully he didn’t budge. It was Easter Sunday when I was first put on bedrest. I was 28 weeks pregnant, just passing from the 2nd trimester into the 3rd.

Bedrest consisted of me doing nothing. Literally, nothing all day long. Sounded okay at first – I mean who in corporate America wouldn’t want a break? But really, it was awful. I was allowed to shower and fix myself a sandwich, but I could not do anything else, including driving.

I had to take my BP meds and check sugar levels and measure my BP and do kick counts multiple times daily. It actually became difficult to remember these things. But then I created a spreadsheet to use for tracking and most importantly, dear husband called me multiple times daily to remind me what I was supposed to do and when.

That last week, after Mother’s Day, I was admitted. My pressures were in the 150/100 range. My kidneys had begun shutting down (hence protein in the urine) and it was determined that Bubba Joe was longer getting what he needed from the placenta. I was diagnosed with moderate preeclampsia and Bubba Joe was diagnosed as Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation (IUGR).

Two steroid shots later, and after a failed induction, out came a screaming 34-weeker. At 34 weeks, it is a miracle that he never needed any assistance breathing. And his scream wasn’t what you would expect for a newborn – I actually wondered to myself who let a kitten in – his voice was so tiny and small. He was tiny and small – less than 2kg (4 pounds 5 ounces). He weighed exactly what the high-risk OB determined him to be and had gained only 1 pound since I was originally put on bedrest.

Since then, it’s been a difficult road … Bubba Joe was in the NICU for 8 days. I had to go home without him. I thought losing my dad was tough – no way. That was by far the hardest day in my life.

But then I look at him today and have a difficult time thinking that *that* baby that I didn’t want to see, that baby that I had no idea how much I could love, that baby who came too early into this world, that baby is the same one who puts his chubby little hands on my cheeks and gives me a big fat wet one right on the lips.

That baby is nearly 30 pounds.

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I’ve been home now for 1 week. Where was I? Someplace warm? Someplace exciting? Well, no, not really. I was admitted on the afternoon of December 24th, just as I was beginning to prepare the evening meal to share with my inlaws, to the Uni-Klinik in Muenster for observation.

Minimum 2 day stay.

They did not like the 24-hour blood pressure test results. What is that you ask? Because I am high-risk, the perinatologist (high-risk OB) wanted me to track my BP for 24-hours. I went to my local Hausartzt (regular doc) who fitted me with a BP cuff and a machine that would track the measurements. It went off every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night.

As I was admitted, they placed an IV. Thankfully, the doc who placed the IV admitted it would hurt. And it did. They started a magnesium sulfate drip – to prevent strokes and seizures for my sporadically high BPs. (We’re talking 5 times in a 24-hour period of 180/130 BPs. Yikes!)

Then they sent me up to ICU. Where I was hooked up to all kinds of machines for monitoring.

They ran lots of lab work.

And came back and explained they were treating it as severe preeclampsia and would back off appropriately.

I stayed there for 2 weeks. Of the 2 weeks, I was on an IV drip for 12/14 days.

During that time, my german language skills improved so much that I was able to watch german TV AND understand it enough to laugh! Seriously. Of course, I tended to watch cartoons – Sponge Bob is still funny in german.

After nearly 1 week of good labs, I begged them to let me go home.

I’ve been home now 1 week and in a state of hibernation. I guess you could say I was/am in shock from it all.

While there, we toured the NICU, met with the neonatologists who explained what we could expect from a baby born at 28/29 weeks gestation, met with the anesthesiologist, was re-explained what a c-section is and how it is done in Germany, had daily NSTs (sometimes more than one when little girl was sleeping) and shared a room with strange German women.

I had a follow-up appointment today at the Klinik. My dx is officially mild preeclampsia. I’ll be seeing the peri every 2 weeks and my regular OB every 2 weeks – basically one appointment per week.

So far, I’m okay and little girl is okay. Tomorrow is 31 weeks gestation. I’m so thankful to still be pregnant but recognize that the road ahead is quite long. Lots of time for lots (either good or bad) to happen.

I’ve ordered 2 prenatal yoga dvds to help me STOP stressing (he he – yeah, if you know me you can imagine how obsessed I’ve become with this all). Hopefully they’ll arrive within the next 2 days – amazon.de and amazon.co.uk ship amazingly fast.

For now, I’m enjoying my time with Bubba Joe. Oh – and loving the household help that has taken over all household chores – laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. I really am able to just relax and enjoy my family.

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