Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Difficult Night

Tonight has been difficult for me. Gerard took the rental car back to the airport tonight while I Skyped his parents so Gerrit could talk to them, and then put him to bed. When Skype closed, Gerard’s email came up and on the screen. It was an email from a friend of his back home who wrote some things that really hurt my feelings. It basically stated he had read my blog (apparently Gerard gave him the url) and that he found it amusing how irrational a pregnant woman can be, how a foreigner views Germany, and that I should stop comparing things to So Cal, etc. He also later said that Gerard should just tell me to relax. I have two reactions to this email- anger and hurt feelings.

Let’s not forget that I did not want to come to Germany, but I felt for the sake of my marriage I should do what Gerard felt was best for him. Although I have traveled quite a bit and lived outside of California for a little while, I feel it’s very different to visit another country than it is to plan on settling or living there for an extended period of time.

I have struggled with balancing my posts in this blog- so that they convey my personal thoughts about how things are going and how I view things here, without censoring it so that it doesn’t sound so negative. I feel that I’m trying to be positive but that I also have reservations that I need to express. Therefore, I’ve done that in my blog. If you think I’m being pessimistic or negative, then hell, don’t read it. I do not feel that I should have to edit my feelings in order to make things sound “peachy.” I also feel that in the grand scheme of things I have been extraordinarily accommodating throughout this ordeal, despite my reservations. I am pregnant and yes, this move is very difficult for me. I may be more sensitive to things right now, but these are still my feelings, valid and true. I think most women would relate to these insecurities about giving birth in a foreign country where you don’t know the culture or the language. Just telling me to “relax” about it does not make these feelings go away. Yes, yes, I appreciate the opportunity this may turn out to be. Yes, I want Gerard to be happy in his job. Yes, I want what is best for my family and to keep us intact- this is why we opted to have me come to Germany with Gerard immediately rather than staying behind to deliver in the U.S. But damnit, I also feel I need some things, myself. And I am tired of being made to feel like my feelings don’t matter, are irrational, unwarranted, pessimistic, or selfish. I’m tired of being made to feel that I should already know German by certain Germans we have had to deal with in this transition. I am trying to be supportive. I truly am. Yet, I don’t want to sacrifice my personal happiness for the sake of Gerard’s. I honestly worry about how all of this will affect my marriage. I am trying really hard not to resent Gerard right now. I am really scared about my future… my family’s future.

I admire anyone who can move abroad like this, especially those who view it as a grand adventure. I also don’t think I am one of those people. I am too co-dependent. I don’t like being alone for extended periods, and I hate when Gerard travels. I like the fact that I can go visit my mom or a family members if I’m feeling out of sorts. Currently, I feel very isolated here. I feel nauseous right now just writing about this.

After reading the email, I decided it was time to put Gerrit down. I was clearly upset but thought it best to just let myself cool off and read to Gerrit for a bit upstairs. As I was lying down with Gerrit upstairs, the doorbell rang (around 8:30 pm). I thought it might be Gerard and that he had left his key at the house. Turns out that it was a police officer. I actually didn’t know that at first. At first, I thought he might have been a friend of Francoise’s and when he started speaking German to me, I asked if he spoke English. Fortunately, the officer knew some English, but even then did not identify himself or show me a badge. I don’t know if he identified himself in German and I didn’t realize it because I don’t yet know German. He knew enough English to convey to me that the neighbors had complained about our dogs barking all day. Apparently, Francoise’s neighbor had left her a note last week saying that dogs barked all day long and she wanted them kept quiet. Now, yes, our dogs bark when they see people walking by, but I highly doubt they barked literally ALL DAY LONG. Still, I have no proof of this, since Gerard and I have been in and out of the house most days. Our dogs are also used to being outside, not inside, so I can’t say for sure how they may be reacting differently in a foreign environment when we’re not around. The officer told me, “In Germany we have a law that dogs cannot bark more than 30 minutes.” I told him that we had spoken with the neighbor about our temporary situation, we had told her we were moving this weekend and taking the dogs with us, and that we had pulled the blinds down during the day so the dogs would not see people ride by on bikes, etc. I also told him that the neighbor seemed fine with that. (Incidentally, the neighbor has a little dog that barks throughout the day as well.) The police officer told me that she was not the only one who complained (though no one else has complained to us) and that we would have to do something to keep the dogs quiet for the next three days or else. I’m not sure what the “or else” means but I don’t really want to find out. The whole experience greatly disturbed me as I’ve never had police come to our house or complaints about our dogs barking excessively ever before.

Gerrit was screaming through this whole conversation because I had left him upstairs while I came down to answer the door. I tried putting Gerrit down again after this, but either because he wasn’t sleepy or perhaps he sensed that I was upset, he wouldn’t fall asleep. I tried for over an hour to get him to go down with no success. I started to leave the room and let him cry it out a bit, but when I heard how loud he was crying, I was afraid the neighbor might complain about that, too. So… I brought him downstairs with me for a bit. I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

In other news, we visited the hospital this morning and I was able to register for the delivery there. I was able to speak with one of the doctors there and ask some questions about their hospital practices. To help me feel more comfortable, I also requested a tour of the labor and delivery area. We were only able to view a maternity room and will have to return later to tour the labor and delivery ward as all rooms were currently occupied by laboring women. Although I’m still nervous about delivering in the coming weeks, at least I’ve been able to see where I will be. (It’s the little things like that I can do to try to make me feel more comfortable.) We also signed our rental lease today. Though I have to admit that after the experience this evening, I worry about how our new neighbors will deal with the dogs. We also went to dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant down the road from Francoise’s house. The chef (unsure if he is also the owner) was very pleasant and welcoming, and the meal was delicious. Gerrit even ate most of his own meal and part of Gerard’s pizza.Waiting for Italian restuarant to open for dinner.

Gerard just got home. He bought a fancy shmancy GPS for our (new to us) used Toyota. We’ve really benefited this past week from having turn by turn audio instructions in the rental car this week. It was also even able to reroute us if there was traffic. Apparently, the one Gerard purchased does the same thing and is good for all of Western Europe so we can use it when we travel. The GPS we had in the rental car this past week had a female British accent, which Gerard found quite pleasant. I jokingly asked Gerard if we could program this one with a male accent, either Scottish or Australian to satisfy me. He said it came with a CD that had several different voices you could load into the thing. Wow! Leave it to Gerard to find the cool geeky toys. :-)


At September 12, 2007 at 3:31 PM , Blogger Anastasia L said...

For what it's worth, I think you've been quite positive on this blog - I was actually expecting a lot more bitching. :) I know I'd be a lot snarkier in your place... Of course this is hard, and you should be allowed to vent about it. You agreed to make the move, but that doesn't mean you forfeit all complaining rights - at least not in my book!

At September 12, 2007 at 6:32 PM , Blogger jody said...

Hey Steph,
Love the house and all the great pictures. You look great and you certainly don't look very pregnant.
I really miss our socializing hour, bitching, moaning and gossiping, ha ha ha........... Jackie is too much of a lady to do that, but Pat Harris isn't. I've been spending a little bit of time with Pat and Chris. That part has been a lot of fun. Bob's been in a great mood lately and seems to have found some new things to keep himself busy outside of the classroom.
Gotta go make dinner, yuck! Love

At September 13, 2007 at 6:58 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Hmmmmm . . . me thinks when Gerard's friend obtains a uterus and fills it with something other than a rubber band ball or a rubix cube, he can then have an opinion.

But, until then, unless he wishes to lose a limb or a functioning, necessary organ, telling a pregnant women to "relax" is not a productive way to deal with things.

At September 13, 2007 at 6:58 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Hmmmmm . . . me thinks when Gerard's friend obtains a uterus and fills it with something other than a rubber band ball or a rubix cube, he can then have an opinion.

But, until then, unless he wishes to lose a limb or a functioning, necessary organ, telling a pregnant women to "relax" is not a productive way to deal with things.

At September 15, 2007 at 9:44 PM , Blogger wendi said...

wow, what an ass that guy is. seriously, get a clue. sometimes i think it is funny how men think they are the rulers of our world. if we are not the way they want, we are weird. stupid.

you did and are doing more than most would do - i wouldnt have done it. tell that person to STFU.

At September 18, 2007 at 6:48 AM , Blogger Greg said...

Hey...I think you are holding up remarkably well! Ignor the guy.


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