Friday, September 7, 2007

Ah.. There's Nothing Like....

... the smell of smoke permeating your hair, skin, pores... bleh... I miss the California smoking ban in public places.

It's now Saturday morning here (9 hours ahead of Los Angeles), and I meant to post something late last night, but Gerrit was way too fussy and wouldn't go down so I didn't get to it. Yesterday was a jam packed day and poor Gerrit was dragged along everywhere by his parents. He was quite a trooper up until the very end when he just had a melt down. Sounds a bit like me the past few days. I've had a melt down a bit almost every day. I'm still in culture shock and I'm overwhelmed at all that has to be done to settle in here.
We started our morning by heading to an OB. It sounded promising enough. We had found her on a list of "English-Speaking Doctors" and she had also come highly recommended on toytown, an english-speaking web site centered around the Munich area. We had called back in mid-August while still in L.A. to set up this appointment. When we arrived at her office, the door was locked and there was a note written in German on her door. I assume it was a lengthy explanation that she was on holiday through the end of the week and gave information as to where her patients could go if they needed to see someone during that time. Now I have to assume that her reception booked her without realizing she would be gone, and since they never asked for a phone number from us we may have been too difficult to try to contact regarding the last minute changes. Nonetheless it was very discouraging as she was likely our best option. Fortunately, we had also made another appointment with a second OB in case the first one didn't work out so we had a back up. Our second appointment was much more successful, and although the doctor and staff were not native english speakers they spoke enough English for us to make do.

They took more bloodwork from me as there are a few different blood tests they do in Germany than the U.S. They also said that at this point in pregnancy they routinely run iron tests at every visit so I got to enjoy a lovely finger stick prick as they drew blood. After watching a former diabetic student of mine prick her finger four times a day to check her glucose levels and mom now having to also check glucose levels, I was a bit put off by the whole thing. I'm a wuss when it comes to needles of any kind, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. They also wanted a urine sample and to check the heart rate (all routine for the U.S., too). They wanted to check the heart rate of the baby both at rest and moving so they gave me two big sugar squares to suck on and eat so the baby would start kicking around. It appears they do an ultrasound at almost every visit here, too. That's great news for me since I like to see the baby every chance I get. There's a cute photo of Gerrit and me looking at the baby on the screen. Doctor says the baby is currently about 5 pounds and that I'm officially ending my 34th week so in another week if the baby came it would not be considered premature. That's good to know. She also said that the baby was a bit smaller (measuring 33 weeks) and asked how Gerrit weighed in at birth, but didn't seem concerned. She said she'd rather see a smaller healthy baby than a larger one, and that everything looked good so far.
In Germany there is a clear separation between regular physicians and hospital physicians. Regular doctors in their own practices do not typically have hospital privileges and do not perform procedures requiring a hospital visit. This means that OB's here only follow you through your pregnancy monitoring the mother and the health of the fetus. When it comes time to deliver, you register at a local hospital where the midwives and doctor working there handle your care. The midwives basically do everything for the delivery, but if there is a problem the doctor will take over. To accomodate this, the OB fills out a document called a Mutterpass at each of your visits listing all tests, results, and pertinent information needed for the hospital to handle your care during delivery. You are supposed to carry this with you at all times, to every OB visit, and then have it ready for the hospital should you go into labor. The OB I saw yesterday was kind enough to schedule a registration appointment for me at a local hospital. Their staff is supposed to call back Monday with a day and time. So that's at least one mountain where we've started to make progress on our climb.
We also managed to set up bank accounts, look at a few cars, and visit two more houses to rent. The house we had visited in Eching a few days ago seems to be a bust as the realtor never phoned us back. It also appears that we are often told that homes are no longer available, or were only recently rented as of "yesterday" whenever we call. As the homes are always still listed onthe websites, I'm not sure how much of this is clerical mismanagement, or if we're experiencing a bit of cultural bias where Germans don't necessarily want to rent to foreigners. Either way, it makes obtaining any rental much more difficult. We looked at two homes yesterday, one in Lodof and one in Neufahrn. The house in Lohof had a bit more room, but nothing within walking distance for me to do with kids. Another disadvantage to that house is that it's already furnished. Since we have our own furniture, we'd be responsible for storing all of the existing house furniture, either by paying for a storage facility or using one of the larger rooms in the house as storage. Neither option sounds appealing there so we'll likely pass on that one. Although Neufarn is further out, that may be our best bet as the realtor seemed fairly interested. The house has a small yard for the dogs and Gerrit and enough space to accomodate us and visitors (hint hint). We had dinner in the village- perfect for Gerard as there were very few vegetables on the plate, mostly meat and potatoes. We asked the waiter (who spoke a little english) if he would recommend us moving to that area. He quickly replied no, stating that the area where we were looking was inhabited by many Turks. I've heard of bias toward Turks on toytown and through other sources. I have to assume it's similar to the immigrant hispanic population in Los Angeles. Munich is home to the second largest Turkish population outside of Turkey itself, so I think there may be a lot of negative bias toward them here. If the house is still available, we'll likely push to get it. My major concerns are that the area is a small village further away from Munich (much much less english available) so it makes getting into the city a bit more difficult and there is not a great deal to do in the village, so I will likely be traveling to the city often with two young children. Perhaps if we get a car I can drive to one of the nearby villages to do something there from time to time. Driving out in the villages doesn't seem as
crazy as trying to drive into the city.
The arrow shows Garching (where Gerard will be working). Lohof is to northwest of Garching, near a city called Unterschleissheim, and Neufahrn is almost directly north (and a bit east of Garching) at the top of the map. Munich is shown at the bottom of the map.

Speaking of driving, we looked at a used Toyota Picnic today. It sort of looks like a combination of a station wagon and mini van, only much smaller than you would see in the U.S. It officially can seat seven, but of course it is much more squished than U.S. cars so there is not a lot of leg room provided. Still, if we only end up getting one car, with two kids and potential visitors (hint hint) we wanted the option of being able to tote ourselves and our dogs and/or guests around when they were here (hint hint). We've looked at a few other brands and models, but this particular car seems to be in good shape. It appears it had only one owner, an older woman who only drove the car sporadically. It's from a dealer, though, so we're likely paying top dollar for the car... C'est la vie. I guess in our case, it's likely easier to go through a dealer at this point. When buying a used car you have to pay cash on the spot, though, so we'll have to do some money shifting and dip heavily into our savings (which has been rapidly depleting itself) during this whole process.
Gerard and "Mini-Me"

This morning we intend to get phones. Later this evening, there also appears to be a "Potato Festival" in Neufahrn (the village where we viewed the house yesterday), so we may take a peek to see what that's all about. I'm already missing a few comforts from home, so I may be asking for care packages soon. This week was the first week at school back home, and it feels really strange not to be there. That, too, will definitely take some getting used to.


At September 8, 2007 at 10:32 AM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Steph - get those phones up and running so I can call you!!!

So where are the pics of you and me and our bellies? Huh? (hint, hint!)

I love and miss you already. I hope you find a home soon so you can settle in and stop having meltdowns (or as many).


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