With all of the packing, leaving the US, moving, getting settled in Germany, and the small and big details that go with that, I think I’ve been in denial that I’m going to have a baby and soon. I just haven’t had the time to really think about it and I’ve been so relieved that my baby girl is safely tucked away where she doesn’t require around-the-clock care so I can focus on what we need to do to get settled here. But now in a few short weeks, she’s going to arrive and in another country. Yikes!
Before we left for Germany, I started worrying about having a baby over here. I didn’t know how the medical system worked, I didn’t know who to contact to help me, and I had no idea where to start. My plan if we were in Denver was to use the same birth center that I used with Silas. I preferred not to have a hospital birth again even though that’s how it ended with Silas after he was 2 weeks past his due date. The birth was fine in the hospital (honestly I didn’t care at that point – just get this kid out of me!) but I hated being in the hospital for the post-natal care. The nurses come bother you every few hours just when you’ve fallen asleep and everything seems to be a crisis: “Your baby has jaundice? Well, that could lead to brain damage, so we’d better not let you hold him and we need to put him under this light instead and please bottle feed him a lot! It’s the only way for him to get better.”
“Your baby is dehydrated even though he’s one day old and your milk hasn’t come in? We’d better bottle feed him.”
“Since you’re having trouble breastfeeding, here is a recommendation for formula that you can pick up on your way home.”
“Please take the discharge class before you leave the hospital of 101 ways your baby can die after you get home…” Um. No thank you. At the birth center, they discharge you 4-6 hours after birth which may seem crazy to some people but I really just wanted to get home. They still follow up with post-natal care so any of those bad things that can happen after birth are still monitored.
A few months before we left for Germany when I wasn’t even sure if we were actually moving to Germany or not, I started contacting anyone and everyone I could regarding birth. I wanted a birth center but honestly, I was fine with anything – hospital, midwife, english or no english, just someone to help me catch this kid. I sent tons of un-returned emails. In Germany it seems most births are midwife-led which is awesome. Doctors only enter the picture if something goes wrong. The birth center in Dortmund was already full for a July delivery. My preparations were looking futile and my plan became “show up at a hospital and hope someone would help me” until one midwife wrote me back! I had found her on some midwife website and the site said she spoke English. Score! She worked closely with a birth center in a nearby town. She was so sweet and so willing to help me. The birth center she works with was already full as well but she talked to the other midwives in her practice and convinced them to make room for me. We stayed in contact over the few months before we arrived in Germany. I have since met the two midwives who will probably deliver my baby as well has her who will handle my pre and post-natal care. They have all been so kind and helpful. And their medical care is awesome!! All of the rest of my prenatal appointments are done at my house so they come to me and then after the baby is born, they come to check on me at my house every day for the first week and then every other day and then more spaced out – I think she said they will come up to 20 or so times to check on you at home and insurance pays for all of it!
I am also SO fortunate that James’ mom plans to come for a month to help out. I’m not sure how I would manage without her here.