Archive for June, 2009

Hey expats, I need your help!

I am still in contact with one of my college professors.  I adore her.  She was the reason I chose the college I did and has influenced my life in many ways.

I have been speaking with her about the many differences in healthcare I have experienced here in comparison to the States.

Would any of you be willing to share some of your experiences?  or do you know of some good (reputable please) online sources that carefully explain what the system really is like here in Germany?

She is very influential on campus and active politically.  She’s trying to understand that we do pay monthly for our insurance, the care (especially hospitals) isn’t so cushy like in the States (unless of course you are privately insured from what I understand … we’re not, we’re IKK) but the level of medical experitise is top notch (or at least comperable as a whole).

Your thoughts or experiences?

Do you prefer the medical/insurance system in one country over another?


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Miscellaneous Pictures

BJD has taken Bubba Joe for a walk.  Little Girl is asleep.  I have some alone time.

So … here are some recent pictures!

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Berlin Pictures

Here are some pics of the view from our hotel and just out and about in Berlin.  Mind you, we haven’t ventured much more than a few blocks from our hotel, but still, it’s Berlin!

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Oh yeah, one more thing. Bubba Joe is now in his own bed, in his own room, every night. No more bribery required.

Even here, he’s sleeping on the pull-out couch. He woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to sleep next to mama. He refused to go back to his bed … until I told him daddy was going to sleep in his bed. (I meant it though, I was soooo tired!) He said No! Daddy no! You can’t sleep in my bed!!!

Ahhh … I’m so happy.

Potty training has also begun. For that, we are still bribing. I’ll be sure to post more later.

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BJD has to do some fieldwork throughout Germany.  We’ve decided to take the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing.  In the 10 years since we’ve known each other (yes, it really has been that long!), I’ve seen very little of this country.

So right now, I’m writing from our hotel in Berlin.  Bubba Joe is watching a dvd.  Little Girl is finally asleep.

I plan on writing more about Berlin, but seeing as it has been some time since I’ve updated about me, I’d rather write about that first.

I think one of my last posts was me admitting to myself (and hence, to ya’ll) that I have postpartum depression.

I decided to use this blog as a forum to work through well, work through me.

It’s not something I really want to do.

In fact, I’d be more than happy if I just avoided me.

But the truth is I need to.

I’ve been on meds for just about a month now.  I have a psychiatrist in Dülmen that I saw and who is overseeing my care.  And I met with the oberartzt (chief doc) at a clinic 1/2 drive from us that specializes in postpartum depression.

Thankfully, this time, the depression is not that severe.  We’ve caught it early enough.

I am not going to check into the clinic (at this time).  First off, they specialize in women who have not bonded with their children and are struggling.  That would have been me the first time around.  It was hard to feel close to Bubba Joe.  Even though his NICU stay was relatively short, it was still a NICU stay.  And he was a very colicky, hypersensitive, preemie.  It was ridiculously difficult for me to come to terms with it all.  Add to that experience the recent loss of my dad and my family as I knew them changing drastically and well, the recipe for depression was there.

This time though, I’m mostly overwhelmed.  I just can’t seem to find my footing.  There’ll be one good day and that sets the standard.  Then the next day comes and it is SO opposite the day before that I just crash.  And burn.  And then melt down.

I always expected that with depression, I’d feel, well depressed.

Nope.  Not me.

I feel angry.

and alone.

and pissed off at stupid things.

and alone.

and too needed by everyone.

So I just shut down.


I have household help.  Six hours a day for this week and next initially.  The doctor will prescribe it again for longer so that I am covered until my sister comes in.

We have the same  woman who Bubba Joe absolutely LOVES.  He cries when he wakes from his nap and I have to tell him that she went home to her children (who are teenagers BTW).

Oh yes, this is the woman that I didn’t like at all.  Not when she first came to work with us.  But I soon realized how much my son adored her.  And that my dislike of her was my insecurities.  Makes me wonder how many people I’ve met who I judged quickly because of me, not them …


I’m exhausted.  This time it’s a physical (on top of the all-around emotional exhaustion that PPD encompasses).

Bubba Joe started running a fever the night before we left.



A fever.

The night before.


Fortunately it was low-grade.

We left anyway.

Gave him motrin and tylenol.  It’s all good.

He did great the whole car trip.  Five hours total.

Little Girl did too.

Until the last 1/2 hour.  Go figure.

Then I squished my butt between their 2 carseats to try to entertain her.

She’s screaming on my right.  We’re literally ALMOST there.  To stop and take care of her will take at least an hour.  We push it.

We pull into the city and what do you think happens?  Bubba Joe throws up.

All over himself.

all that … I’ll spare you the details.  Let’s just say gross.

We visited with G and company then headed home.

Took a while to get everyone settled in.  Bubba Joe took a bath (not willingly).  I quickly showered to get the smell of spit up (a constant for us – that’s what you get with a reflux baby) as well as the smell of puke off me.

Little Girl finally crashed.  Bubba Joe crashed.  I crashed.

Now she’s asleep.  By now, hopefully Bubba Joe is too.

I’m off for a nap.

Stupid allergies.  Killing me.  Add to that I think I have a cold.

Enough wallowing in my own misery.  🙂

I’m off to rest.

I promise to update ya’ll more … and hopefully soon with pics of the city.

For all of ya’ll here in Berlin that I won’t get to visit, know that I’m thinking of you.  And for G and company, thanks for entertaining us!!!

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I’m sorry I don’t have an audio file of it (yet) … but Baby Girl laughing at her dad is the greatest.  I can’t stop smiling.

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After admitting to myself, BJD and I talked.  And we both agree that it is time to get some help.  One of the nice things about being here in Germany is their social system.  Yes, everyone has insurance, no it is not free (we pay 15% of BJD’s salary to have coverage).

In order to get true help (i.e. to get insurance to provide household assistance as they did when I was on bedrest), I needed a diagnosis.  My regular hausartzt was not enough.  I had to see a neurologist/psychiatrist.  Yup, they’re one in the same here.

My appointment was today.   5pm.

We go in, having left the kids with oma and opa and are told there is approximately a 30 minute wait.  (I truly love when they know they are running late and give us the option to go run errands/grab a bit to eat/whatever.)  We decided to just stay and wait.

And as we’re sitting there, I feel myself surrounded by  crazies.

I know, I know.  It’s awfully judgemental of me, a woman with postpartum depression, stating that I’m in a room full of crazies, but seriously, I was in a shrink’s waiting room.  And more than that, in a waiting room preparing to speak with a medical professional who may or may not be nice, helpful, sympathetic or worse yet, have such a strong dialect that I can’t communicate.

Needless to say, I had myself pretty worked up and at one point asked BJD what we were doing there.  He reminded me that in order for him to return back to the office (and no longer work from home), I needed help.  To get help required a diagnosis.  To get a diagnosis meant waiting.

Now I’m not normally a patient person in the best of situations.  But admitting to myself that I needed help was destroying pieces of me more and more and the longer I sat there, I started wondering if *I* too, were in fact crazy.  I mean, what on earth were these people doing here, if they weren’t somehow “messed up in head”.  See.  There I am, being judgemental again.

They call me in.  Approximately 1/2 hour after my appointment (love it even more when their predictions are correct). And they tell me to wait in the hallway.  Ahh, the joys of thinking you’re going in to only go to yet another room to wait.

But it wasn’t long.

Then the doc called me in.

I was surprised.

He was great.

He took his time listening.  And asked questions to make sure he understood what I was saying.  (BTW – no dialect.  He spoke high german which was great!) He even knew what preeclampsia was and was surprised that I had it twice.  Surprised simply because it’s not common to have it the first time and well, twice is truly something.

When I told him that most of my problems center around my feelings of guilt and my inability to find my footing, he immediately explained that the guilt is depression.

Dude.  He got me.

We talked more.

He was incredibly empathetic.  And moreso when I explained about my dad dieing just before Bubba Joe was conceived – the dichotomy of life and death.

So I’m getting help.

And I’m not being judged.

I will continue on my low-dose zo lo f t.

BJD will contact our insurance tomorrow to find out about household help.  It has some other name for now, but it’s basically the same thing.

He will also contact Caritas again – they are a religious non-profit who does these kinds of things … helping those who need help.

And the last option of course is to go away on a mother-child cure – a few weeks away, just me and the kids, to heal and find my footing.  I tried this when we first moved but insurance denied it.  (I was still fighting PPD when we moved.)  Since that time, the german government has said that insurance is not allowed to deny the mother-child cure when prescribed by a doctor, as mine originally was.

So now there is a plan.

I liked the doctor.

I still feel odd  writing about it.  But I guess to be an advocate for postpartum depression I need to come to terms with it – and part of coming to terms is discussing it.

I wish I didn’t feel so well, crazy, as though I am being judged.  But I think this is all part of the hormonal imbalance.

I’ll do my best to keep ya’ll updated.  But don’t be surprised if it takes me a while to come back and update.  It’s a hard process for me.  Hard to come to terms with my own failures and weaknesses.  But to move forward, to become stronger, I must.

So here goes …

one foot …

then the other.

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