I know people have been here before. In fact, I’ve been slogging through the extensive German-Way archives and reading about my more established contributors’ experiences. The fact is, I’m pregnant in Germany and just a little terrified.
While my husband and I have been together for a total of 10 years, this wasn’t exactly planned. We were in perfect agreement that we wanted a kid – it was just a question of timing. You may have gotten the sense from my previous post about moving in Germany that I can be a little tentative about long-term plans, and nothing is more long-term than having a kid.
Pregnancy Tests in Germany
The usual symptoms alerted me that I might be in need of a pregnancy test, but first I had to figure out exactly what that was called. While I had learned the fun-to-say word of schwanger (try saying it, “shh-vong-er”) early on, Schwangerschaftstest (pregnancy test) proved a mouthful.
First step – check.
Next on my list was where one buys a pregnancy test. Unlike the USA where there are a plethora of over-the-counter drugs at most grocery stores and pharmacies, Germans keep a tight leash on their pharmaceuticals. A talk with your friendly Apotheke is required for everything from a head cold to an upset stomach. I was fretting about having to discuss the most delicate of matters with the kind, but brusque, German ladies who run our local shop. Luckily, I remembered seeing (and photographing for comedic proof) the “Maybe Baby” pregnancy test vending machines on the S-Bahn platforms. Has there ever been a better product name? Surely if these had such indiscriminate standards, I should be able to buy a test at the nearest DM.
My hypothesis proved correct and soon I was standing in my very own bathroom, trying to decipher the German directions. My German-speaking husband and years of television dramas guided me through the process. Abject terror, hope and absolute uncertainty were all emotions at the forefront. I didn’t need to be fluent in German to understand that the strong blue line meant that we were having a German.
Second step (gulp!) – check.
Meeting With Your Doctor
Our next stop was at my gynecologist (Frauenarzt) to confirm our findings. We wee there initially to consult on an insurance claim (ugh – private insurance), but Herr Doktor calmly answered our slightly panicked questions before asking if I’d like to hop on the table and take a look (ultrasound – Ultraschall). We blinked. Already? See the baby? He had estimated that the fetus was about 7 weeks along and the American pregnancy sites I had been reading said nothing about such an early check. But we only hesitated for a moment before we said, “YES! Yes, please show us this tiny thing that it upending our entire life”.
With the flick of his wand, a small blurb appeared on the screen within my uterus. No idea what we should be looking for, we held our breath and looked to the doc to fill us in. He informed us that it had made it to the right place (no ectopic pregnancy) and everything was in ordnung. (What pleasure it must give a German doctor to utter those words.)
Now 18 weeks along, we have had a total of 4 visits and 4 perfect black and white sonogram pictures of our newest roommate. While this appears to be a higher number than usual for the UK or USA, it is common in Germany to get a scan and pic each time you go in. I, for one, love it. As your whole life is spinning, it’s wonderful to have something tangible to hold onto. And living so far away from our parents, every little piece of the pregnancy we can send them makes us all feel a bit closer.
Third step – check. Only about a 100 more steps to go.
I am currently discovering prenatal care in Germany, the ins and outs of my private insurance coverage, how to find a Hebamme (midwife), registering with a hospital and citizenship laws – among other things – and promise to share my findings in my next dispatch. Until then, anyone out there in Germany have tips for a pregnant expat? Please?