Thursday, February 21, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The question about my due date is a confusing one. When I found out I was pregnant, I calculated the date of Feb. 14, which was based on my ovulation calendar. After my first ultrasound, the doctor wrote Feb. 10 in my file. For several months the ultrasound kept calculating Feb. 3 as the due date. The doctor said that this was also a very possible date. However, in the end, whatever date you look at, time is up.

I am about to go to the hospital. No I am not having any contractions, but I finally cannot take anymore. I have C-section scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30pm. This is not the ideal end of my pregnancy that I envisioned, but I have faith in my doctor and am a little happy to know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I am a little disappointed that I won't be able to push the baby out (how crazy is that!), but I am looking forward to finally holding my baby. I suppose that you have to take the good with the bad. And you never know, I could still go into labor tonight!

Anyway, my doctor is going to keep me in the hospital until next week, so I won't be able to post until then. Maybe I can get the German to provide an update. Bis dann!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cake Will Save the Day

What should you do if you find yourself in a country where you don't speak the language, but have a TV and spend hours in front of it? Watch cooking shows. I have found that cooking shows are the easiest and most interesting to translate. Also, they involve a lot of easy to understand pictures. Mom and I have watched A LOT of cooking shows over the past three weeks.

Last week we watched Wissenshunger. On this show we learned that the Linzer Torte is the oldest cake recipe in the world. Wow. That is a bold claim. This cake, which is made of a crumbly pastery with lots of ground nuts and a jelly filling, was first documented in 1653.

On TV the cake was made at a bakery in Linz. They used ground hazelnuts and a special jam. I watched with interest and thought, "I can do that." After the show I went to my copy of Dr. Oetkers German Baking Today to look up the recipe. The book called for almonds and raspberry jam. I decided to use a mixture of ground almonds and hazelnuts and a jelly mix of raspberry and red current. Behold my results.

Not bad, if I do say so myself. I have never baked anything involving a lattice top. That part was a bit difficult.

Maybe tomorrow I will try something new. The German has said that the only good thing that has come from all this waiting is the lunch and cake that he gets everyday when he gets home from work!

Induction Malfunction

I am still here. And I am still pregnant. I know you must be tired of reading about it. I know that I am tried about writing about it.

Yesterday I went to the hospital in hopes of an induction. The doctors pumped my body with oxytocin for three hours. They stopped because too much can be harmful to the baby. I had a few mild contractions. After stopping the medication, my contractions stopped within one hour. I stayed in the hospital overnight "just in case." The doctors examined my cervix before and after the procedure, as well as this morning. The "induction" accomplished nothing. And now I am home again.

I had a decision to make. I could ask the doctor to do a C-section, or I could continue along the current path and let nature attempt to take its course. Because there is no medical reason for a C-section, I have decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the Dude is running out of time. My mom flies back to the U.S. on Saturday.

My mother came to Germany with one purpose: to be at the birth of her grandchild. She may leave without seeing that happen. I feel really bad about this, mostly because my mom and I ran out of things to do about a week and a half ago. We are bored out of our minds. Unfortunately, my mother does not speak German, which rules out television and trashy magazines. And you know what, dude, you can only clean the living room so many times.

This entire experience is teaching me a not so wanted lesson. I am a very organized, planned person. Under normal circumstances I need to know where to be and when at all times. I live by my schedule and my calendar and cannot stand it when people are late.

When I was told that having children would fundamentally change my life, I had no idea that it may have to fundamentally change the way I am. I am in the process of learning (the hard way) that kids do not come with a calendar or a schedule. I have to be "flexible," which is not really in my DNA. I am trying to come to terms with this and the poor German is getting the short end of my temper these days.

I reached an emotional low point this past weekend. On Saturday I received a ticket in the mail informing me that I was at fault in my accident in November. Although I still do not believe that I was completely at fault, fighting the ticket is more trouble than its worth. All of the pressure of the waiting, paying my income taxes, trying to reschedule March lessons (I thought I would be at home with my baby by then!), and answering the phone to, "Yes, I am still pregnant," led to a bit of a crying.

My doctor and midwife said that the pressure I put on myself is probably keeping the baby inside. Why come out to all the self-made drama? The Dude is like his dad. He is no fool. So I am trying to adopt a "Who cares?" attitude. It does not fit real well, but at this point, I don't have many options left.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Stress Test

Yesterday I was in the hospital for a contraction stress test. This test is used by doctors to make sure that the baby is healthy and can withstand the stress of contractions associated with birth. A small amount of oxytocin,(a hormone that stimulates contractions) is given by IV and the baby's heartbeat is monitored.

The good news is that the Dude passed with flying colors, and is just fine. It seems that although he may be a bit lazy, like his parents, he pulls it together when taking a test. The bad news is that I am still f***ing pregnant.

The doctor kept me in the hospital overnight because some women go into labor after this test. I did not / have not. I am home now. Waiting.

Nothing else to report. No blogging MoJo here. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Mom and I were walking through town the other day when I heard a very loud, crying kid behind me. We turned around and saw a rather frazzeled mom struggling to push a stroller and manage all of her packages. I felt bad for both her and the child as she pulled to the side of the sidewalk and tried (unsuccessfully) to get her little one to calm down. However, in my head I also thought, "Jeez, my kids will never do that."

Time for a reality check. My child will probably be just as obnoxious and demanding as every other kid on the planet. My reaction will be the difference. Will I remain relaxed and calm or freak out and yell? Only time will tell, but I hope I don't cross paths with a Super-Mom, who will be sure to let me know the right thing to do.

I had the opportunity to be judgemental a few weeks ago. Mom was about to arrive in Deutschland so I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items. As I was pushing my buggy through the aisles, I saw a mom with her (I am guessing) 6 year old. The Mom was chatting with a friend and not really paying attention to the kid. However, I noticed how the kid was facsinated by the apples in the barrel in front of him. I stopped for a minute to observe and watched as the kid picked up an apple, twisted it in his hands, smelled it, took a bite out of it and then put it back in the barrel.

What on earth . . .?? The kid looked up at his mom, but she was still chatting away. Then the kid did it again with a different apple, and then again with a third! At this point I realized that I had two options. First, I could go up to the woman outraged and ask her to control her kid. Now, this would not be uncommon in Germany, where I have been yelled at in public for wearing the wrong shoes. Second, I could go up to the woman and smile and point out the behavior of her child.

However, I realized that both options made me rather uncomfortable. I would not want someone to embarrass me by pointing out my child's misbehavior. Therefore, I choose door number 3 and kept walking but laughing the entire time.


I thought that a photo for Friday would be a good way to end the week and wish you all a good weekend. Carol has asked about a belly shot, and just to prove that I am indeed with child, behold my big belly. This picture is actually two weeks old. I am even bigger now!

The German and I were watching trashy television a few nights ago and a picture of JLo heading to her celebirty baby shower popped up on the screen. He tilted his head, and said, "Sweetie, I think that you should have more self-confidence about your figure. You are definitly smaller than her." This made me laugh. Only when I with child can I be smaller than a celebirty.

For those of you waiting on the appearence of Little Dude, I am afraid you will have to continue to wait. I went to the doctor this morning and the news was not the best. The baby has dropped but his head is still not fully engaged in my pelvis. To make matters worse, my cervix is still completely closed. No effacement. No dialation. Which all means that the birth could still be weeks away. The good news is that the baby is doing fine. In fact, he is getting big and a bit too fine. I think he does not want to come out.

The doctor mentioned the "C" word today. He says that he will not let me go two weeks over my due date, which means that the baby will have to come out by February 17. I got a little upset. Although I am not opposed to an epidural, I do not want a C-section. Even though it is scary, I really do want to give birth. Sunday I have to go in and be hooked up to the fetal heart monitor to make sure the baby is okay, and I have another appointment on Tuesday afternoon. If my situation has not changed, we talk about the other options.

If the weather is good tomorrow, I told the German that I would help him cut down some trees in the yard. Anyone else with some good ideas on how to naturally induce labor?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday

When Germans asked me who the next president of the United States will be, I always responded, "Ask me after Super Tuesday." It turns out that . . . I still do not have an answer. However, one thing is certain about last night . . . I am really glad that I did not stay up to watch the returns. At 11pm German time I decided I was too tired to watch TV and I went to bed. At 6am the picture had not yet cleared.

The Republican Side

The only real "winner" on Tuesday appears to be John McCain. His wins in the delegate rich states of California and New York clearly give him front runner status. Romney is not out but he has been knocked to the matt.

It was Huckabee's wins in the South that surprised many commentators. With a little money, he was able to prove that his voice cannot be ignored. However, I have the feeling that he is manouvering himself into a VP nomination. This would not be a bad thing. A McCain-Huckabee ticket would draw in the Republican conservative base as well as the independent appeal of McCain. It kind of reminds me of the JFK-Johnson ticket.

On the other hand, do not buy into the hype that McCain is not a "real" conservative and thus at danger of loosing the general election. Right wing conservatives will vote for the Republican candidate and not the Democratic one. The fight in American politics is always for the middle. McCain knows that.

The Democratic Side

Who won the Democratic primary last night? Well, that all depends on who you ask. The total number votes cast as well as the numbers of delegates won for each candidate may turnout to be equal. We cannot say just yet. It is only 10am in Germany and 4am on the east coast of the US. These vote counts are going to take awhile.

The Clinton campaign will say that they are the big winner of the night. They "won" the big states of California and New York. The Obama campaign, on the other hand, will say that they won because he won more states.

What impressed me the most were Obama's "wins" in the mid-West. Obama has had to fight the preception that Middle America will not vote for him, and thus he would loose the general election. I think that he proved last night that that is not the case. Democrats need to keep this in mind. Clinton may jazz up the liberal base of the party in New York and California, but the general election will not be won there alone. Could she beat a McCain-Huckabee ticket? I am not sure.

The Big Picture

Both parties need to remember that perception and momentum is everything in politics. Giuliani is a good example of that. He thought he could play a numbers game by skipping the first few primaries and then winning in Florida. However, he could not win in Florida because he was not in the news. He was not the story. And he lost. But, dude, I predicted that.

It will weaken any party if a fight for the nomination becomes too long and it appears to be divided. The party that chooses its candidate first and then gets behind that candidate will do better. The media pounces on in-fighting, which in turn makes voters nervous. This is not only true in the U.S. but in most other countries. In-fighting has severly damaged the SPD in Germany and if the Democrats are not careful, then it will hurt them too. I am a Democrat and I do not want to see that happen to my party.

All that said, it was a great night for turnout and participation in the U.S. The one great thing about all of this chaos is that is politically engaging. For the first time in a long time, Americans are being drawn to the polls. That is not only good for the parties, but also for democracy.

UPDATE: Check out this article on MSN / The New York Times, which basically says exactly what I did above about a party rallying around its candidate. Damn I am good. I posted several hours before the NY Times. Where is my political commentator job?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Room with a View

I can report that not all furniture stories in Germany end with pictures of sofas falling apart. In fact, there is sometimes a bit of a happy end and I am happy to say that the baby furniture finally arrived . . . and before the baby did / has. But of course there was a little catch . . . would you expect anything else?

Last Tuesday my mom and I drove up to the furniture store. I wanted to make sure that the furniture would be in by Feb. 2 (two weeks after its due date). When we got to the store, I presented my receipt / contract to the woman and asked, “When will it be delivered?”

“Well, when would you like it?”

“Friday would be great.”

“Let me check and see if that is possible.”

The saleswoman punched some numbers into the computer and made a call. She looked at me and shook her head.

“The earliest availability is Monday.”

(Big sigh from Claire). “Ok.”

When she got off the phone I looked at her and said, “I was just hoping to have everything settled before my due date. But I will send my father-in-law on Monday to pick it up.”

Confused Saleswoman: “Wait, you want to pick it up?”

Claire: “Um, yes. That is what we agreed to.”

Confused Saleswoman: “But you said delivery.”

Claire: “Yes. I meant when will it be delivered to the store so that I can pick it up.”

Confused Saleswoman points to the computer screen: “Oh, well it is here now. We got it in on Friday.”

(It was now Tuesday) Claire: “You have had my furniture since Friday? And you were going to call me . . .”

Defensive Saleswoman: “I am sure we would have gotten to it today.”

But all’s well that ends well, as they say. The baby’s room is now done, and doesn’t it look great! It is a Winnie-the-Pooh theme in green and beige. I choose neutral colors in that 1% chance that Little Dude turns out to be Little Dude-ette. All of the furniture is in the nursery except the crib, which is in my bedroom. As I went to bed last night, I turned to the German. "Now all we need is the baby." He looked at my bump and said dryly, "Yeah, that might take awhile."

Monday, February 04, 2008

The U.S. Side of Things

I found this bit on the internet this afternoon. For those U.S. citizens who enjoyed learning about the German take on maternity leave, this clip will help some Germans see the U.S. side of things.

It came. It went. Nothing Happened.

My due date that is.

If you check the bottom of this blog, you will see a little marker that indicates how many days I have left in my pregnancy. Yesterday was supposed to be the last day. It was not. I am not overly surprised, as the vast majority of babies are not born on their due dates. However, I was a bit disappointed.

Also, there are no indications that Little Dude will be here any time soon. I have not had any contractions, seen no blood, and not lost my mucous plug. (I know this is a bit gross, but those who have had babies will understand my frustration.) The only thing that has happened is that the baby has dropped. But that is about it.

I think my doctor my have calculated my due date wrong. If you follow the calendar (i.e. day of last period, ovulation, etc.) then my due date is around Feb. 14. On the other hand, ultrasounds do all kinds of fancy measurements to calculate a due date. According to the measurements of my kid's head, he should have been born on Feb. 2. He was not, and I think all it means is that my kid is going to have a big head. Great.

My mom did get here in one piece and thank goodness she is here. I am getting a bit bored and want to work. My mom then starts giving me the evil eye and growling tells me to step away from the computer. She keeps me walking insisting that it will encourage the baby to come.

This is only the second time my mom has been to Germany. The last time she and dad-squared did a lot of tourist stuff in their 9 day trip. This time she is getting a taste of every day life in Germany. She has come to the conclusion that Germans are . . . rude. This makes me giggle.

Last week we decided to take the train into Bremen and meet up with the German for lunch and some shopping. We got to the train station about 10 minutes before the train. We stood in line to get some tickets. There were only two people in front of us, and as the clock ticked, two people got into line behind us. After 5 minutes of waiting, the guy behind the counter indicated that the first two people had complicated requests, and those people who just wanted tickets for the Bremen train should come to the front of the line.

At this point I was standing to the side a bit and talking to the German on my cell phone. My mother went to move towards the front of the line. The guy behind us then shoved my mother out of the way and went to the window. "What the f***?!" said my mother. "Honey, let me call you back," and I hung up the phone.

The guy that was BEHIND us was purchasing his tickets and turned back and said, "I just need a ticket for the Bremen train." This shocked the heck out of me. "Yes, so do we!" I responded. When I translated for my mom, she responded, "Well that is just rude! Where I come from, people have bit more courtesy!" Normally, my mom and I speak English in whispers as to not attract attention, but this time I responded in a loud English voice, "No mom, I think you are right." The man just stared at us, but I think he understood.

He finished his transaction and stepped aside. As my mom and I were stepping forward, the woman behind us tried to push as to the side!!! I used an elbow and said, "One moment please" (in German) and proceeded to buy tickets.

Unfortunately, the rudeness was not restricted to the train station. On Saturday we went to the grocery store. The entire time, people were cutting us off in the aisles, pushing in front of us and grabbing at things. No one said, "excuse me." To top it off, when we went to check out, I decided to back up my cart and move into a different, shorter check-out aisle. I could not really see behind me and as I was backing up, someone came up behind me and decided to get into a different aisle. The woman physically shoved me and my cart got caught into the tight spaced and was rammed into my huge 9 month pregnant belly. I almost fell to the floor because of the pain.

"My God! What is wrong with the people in this country!" said my mom. "Can't they be nice? What about common courtesy?!"

"Mom, common courtesy is a cultural thing. In the U.S. it is expected, in Germany it is considered superficial," I responded.

"Well, send me back to the States then!" After reflecting on the past few days, for a moment I thought, "Take me with you."