Carrying a baby in Germany was roughly the same ordeal as it was in the States. I was exhausted, got dizzy when I bent over, and still needed to roll in order to evacuate my bed. Prenatal care was similar, but there were a few interesting pieces that varied:
Germans love ultrasounds, and don’t skimp on them. I had one every single visit. And I love ultrasounds. Seeing a squirming little person underneath my skin? Watching blood pump through tiny, newly formed heart valves? Finally understanding the bizarre karate movement the kid has been making inside me as I peer at a screen? That’s riveting.
3. I’m not sure even what to label this number as. Rational Thought?
Dr: (Examining the ultrasound picture) Your baby is…very large.
Me: I’ve always had large babies. Plus my husband is a tall guy. He was 10lbs at birth.
Dr: Yes. Your baby is too large.
Me: (sitting quietly, unphased)
Dr: You need to go on a diet.
Me: (astonishment) Really?
Dr: Cut out all white bread--
Me: I’m gluten intolerant. I don’t eat bread.
Dr: (Not listening) No more white bread. And no sweets. And no fruit.
Dr: Fruit has too much sugar.
That was about when I stopped listening.
4. Stress Tests
Around week 30, I began to take stress tests at every visit. This is where they cinch a band around your belly to monitor the babe and leave you to lounge for an hour. I have an fiery, unbridled hatred for said test because the nurses always secured the straps too tightly. Even after the equipment was off, the marks and welts from the pieces digging would paint my skin like battle scars.
Each mama is given a laboring room. Mine was spacious and boasted of a hot tub sized laboring pool, a bed with a noose-like contraption above it for gripping, a private bathroom, a ball, mats, chairs.
Shortly after arrival, assuming the baby isn’t shooting out, they administer a stress test. And then again once you are nearing the end. I may have voiced a calm and level-headed comment of feedback regarding said test shortly before pushing out Daniel.
Germans are not big on epidurals, but when things grew intense, the midwife offered me laughing gas. I’d heard about this and had been looking forward to laughing my way gleefully through contractions. But the gas only infuriated me. Remember, a Giant was coming, and between contractions was the only time to recover and think. The gas did nothing for the pain, but instead made me feel loopy during that brief breath of respite. I did not throw the tank against the wall, even if I may have felt the inclination.
I am told that Germans immediately give the babe to the mom after birth, goo and all, and let them both hang out for an hour, chest to chest. Daniel had some breathing issues so I didn’t get to see him for a bit, but I love when other moms tell me about this. It seems like such a special bonding time after the insanity of birth.
6. Post Partum
For a normal vaginal birth, the Germans require a mom to stay for 5 days. FIVE. (C-sections are on the upwards of 1-2 weeks!) And hospital stays aren’t a vacation away from all the daily grind. Random people traipse into the room to talk, whether it be a medical issue or a sales pitch.
And gosh, that food. Mercy.
I did like the little side car attachment for the baby on my bed though. That was cool.
I opted to look up my own exercises on Google.