Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Donnerstag, 28. Juli 2011

17 weeks

*How far along?:  17 weeks

*Total weight gain: I had a really hard time eating last week.  I lost about 3 kilos, or 6 lbs.  Combined with the loss of 1 lb. two weeks ago, I have now lost 3.5 kilos since my BFP. 

*How big is baby?: Today, the baby is the size of an onion!
Baby's skeleton is hardening, changing from rubbery cartilage to bone, and fat is finally accumulating around it. The umbilical cord is getting thicker and stronger, and those little fingers and toes are now topped by one-of-a-kind prints.
From www.thebump.com

*Maternity clothes?: Nope, my jeans are snug, but since I lost weight, my already slightly baggy jeans now have a little more rooms to close. 

*Sleep?: No complaints here, sleeping great!

*Best moment this week?:  Definitely that I'm feeling much better!

*Movement?: Not yet, but I am looking forward to it!
*Food cravings?: chocolate cereal, fruit

*Labor signs?: Too early!

*Belly button in or out?: Innie.

*What I miss: this week, not much

*What I'm looking forward to: Feeling the Erbse move

*Milestone: no real exciting milestone this week
*Bonus bump picture:

Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2011

My appologies

I'm two days overdue for my 16 week post, but I am in mysery.  It is possible that the pregnancy is now rearing its ugly head that didn't do so during the first trimester.  Or, I am sick.  Whatever, my stomach is bothering me, and my head is going to burst off of my body. 
I promise to post more when I am feeling better!

Dienstag, 19. Juli 2011

Travels with Elizabeth, Carla, and the Erbse, week 1

My cousin, Elizabeth, and her friend, Carla, spent a whirlwind seven weeks in Europe.  They started in Barcelona, with a few little trips to Sevilla, Paris, and Rome; then, on to Milan; and their last stop was us!
They had a very eventful trip from Milan to Stuttgart, that involved 17 hours, a train, and three hours in the Munich train station at midnight.  We picked the girls up at 5:30 last Tuesday morning.  Needless to say, we arrived at the train station to find two very exhausted girls! 
It probably wasn't a big deal to them that I was working that day, because following our morning bakery run, they proceeded to spend the rest of the day sleeping!
Sadly, I couldn't spend much time with them their first night in Germany, as we had a dinner for the leavers at work.  I had to make a speech for my friend Stefanie, who is moving to Switzerland.
Of course, on Elizabeth and Carla's second day in Germany, I had to again go to work. After I got home from work, we headed to Reutlingen, known as the "Gateway to the Swabian Alb."  The town has and adorable center, and we had fun checking it out! We even "met" my aunt when we were there:

On our way home, Joern headed up the hill outside of Reutlingen to check out the view: it was beautiful!

Before heading home, we drove in Neckartailfingen, to Joern's grandmother's fields.  The view from there is always impressive:

 We sent the girls to Stuttgart for the day.  They checked out the Mercedes Museum, and then downtown Stuttgart.  Being design students, they enjoyed the architecture and design of the museum even more than the incredible cars there!  We met the girls downtown after work. Once we met them, we headed over to the Markthalle, which has been voted one of the most beautiful market halls in Europe.  It is one of my favorite places in Stuttgart.

On Friday, Joern took the girls to Tuebingen, a very old university town.  Sadly, it was raining, so I am pretty sure it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been in better weather.  We took it easy on Friday night, as Saturday was set to be a long day.
On Saturday morning, we headed southwest, into the Black Forest and over to France to Strassbourg. 
Our first stop was in Hornberg, the home of the traditional cuckoo-clocks.
And the girls decided to immerse themselves in the Black Forest culture:

We were pleasantly surprised by the House of Black Forest Clocks in Hornberg.  Not only did they have lovely clocks, but they were reasonably priced.  Joern fell in love with one clock, and wants to go back when we move into our house!
And before we left, Elizabeth and Carla got to try a delicacy, Black Forest Cherry Cake!

From the House of Black Forest Clocks, we headed over to the House of 1000 Clocks in Triberg.  It is known for housing the world's largest cuckoo clock!
 We also stopped at the Triberg Waterfall, which is the highest waterfall in Germany.  It was beautiful, but sadly, due to extesnive errosion from a storm two years ago, you can no longer see the waterfall in its entirety.
From Triberg, we headed further into the Black Forest. Joern surprised me again, and pulled into the Vogtsbauernhof, which is an outdoor museum.  It is an actual "Black Forest" farm from 1612, that was working until the 1900s.  In 1963, the museum was opened with a few original buildings, and over time, more buildings were moved from other farms.   

The Vogtsbauernhof was really interesting!  From there, we headed into France, to take the girls to Strasbourg.  We love it there, because it is very French with German architecture. 

We went into the cathedral, which I have not done before.  I am always in awe of the architecture and decoration in churches in Europe.  The soaring ceilings, and stained glass windows are just breathtaking.  Strassbourg proves to be no less impressive.
We arrived just in time for the fireworks in our town.  Sadly, my pregnant self could not stay awake any longer, so Joern dropped me off, and he took Elizabeth and Carla to our lake to see the fireworks.

Sunday was another early day.  This time, we headed west, towards Bavaria.  Our destination was Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as the "Fairy Tale Castle."
Because Sunday is apparently the best day to visit the castle, and EVERY tourist was there, by the time we got there, tours were booking for 3 hours later.  This meant we had 3 hours to kill before our tour of the castle.  So, Joern decided to use the time to drive over to Austria, because it is so close, and Carla wanted a picture standing between two countries.
We stopped by a beautiful waterfall/ lake area.  One of the things I find most striking in the Alps besides the awesomeness of the mountains is most certainly the amazing green color of the water:

From there, we headed into Reutte, Austria, which is a quintessential Austrian town. 

Then, we headed back to the castle for our tour:

Before heading home, we had to make an obligatory stop in Munich, to have dinner at the Hofbräuhaus. Yeah, its cheesy and touristy, but sometimes, cheese is enjoyable :)

We wandered around a slightly rainy Munich for a while after dinner.  Munich is really a lovely city!

What a busy and enjoyable week!

Montag, 18. Juli 2011

NT scan

I can't believe I've missed posting about my NT (Nuchal Translucency) scan from two weeks ago.  Obviously, it has been a busy time here. 
But, anyway, okay, it was almost 3 weeks, but better late than never!
The NT scan, or Nackenfaltenmessung in German, is a test performed around the 14th week to measure the folds of the neck to be used with a series of other measurments to determine risk for Down Syndrome as well as other chromosomal disorders. 
I had my NT scan on a Wednesday afternoon after work.  It has been 4 weeks since our last ultrasound, which we found so amazing anway.  The doctor started with an internal ultrasound, and we were amazed by how big the baby had grown.  It was like a monster-baby in there.  The Erbse was 4 weeks before the test a very tiny face rubbing baby, had grown into a gargantuan.  The doctor was having trouble getting the whole Erbse into focus, because our very intelligent and very advanced little one was standing :)
So the doctor decided to move to an abdominal ultrasound, and changed my position, which she hoped might spur the Erbse to change positions.  Well, the Erbse did change positions, a little bit, and she was able to do the measurments to complete the test. 
The whole thing was incredible!  The doctor showed us the joints and bones, the heart, the brain.  She showed us the direction of the blood flowing through the heart, and she was able to let us listen to the heartbeat! 
Here are some of the better photos of Erbse from the NT scan:

If you look closely, you can see a good portion of the Erbse's face.

A good side view of the Erbse. 

The good news was that given the combined results of my age, blood test, and measurment of the neck folds, the Erbse's risk for chromosomal abnormalities is 1:4000, and that the organs and brain are all forming quite well.  The doctor also said that the Erbse was very active and agile.  

Dienstag, 12. Juli 2011

15 weeks

*How far along?: 15 weeks

*Total weight gain: So far, I've gained about 1.3 kilos, or about 2.8 lbs.

*How big is baby?: Today, the baby is the size of an orange!

Your Baby: Week 15

Continuing the march towards normal proportions, baby's legs now outmeasure the arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. Your fetus is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in the womb, though you probably still can't feel the movements. from: www.thebump.com

*Maternity clothes?: I put on my biggest pair of jeans this morning, and realized that I may only hava few days left to button them.  Looks like a trip to H&M is in my near future!
*Sleep?: Sleeping fine, and much less tired than last week. 

*Best moment this week?: Not really baby related, but we spent a few days in Italy.  It was the Erbse's first trip to Italy :)

*Movement?: I can't figure out if its my pulse or movement.  The problem is that I have to breathe at some point, at which time I lose the feeling of whatever it is that I am feeling. 

*Food cravings?: Watery fruit, salads

*Labor signs?: Fortunately, not yet

*Belly button in or out?: Innie.

*What I miss: the thought of going home and not eating clams and lobster
*What I'm looking forward to: Feeling the Erbse move

*Milestone: no real milestone, aside from Erbse's first trips, and booking my flight home next week.

Dienstag, 5. Juli 2011

14 Weeks

I really enjoyed reading Monique's blog, throughout her pregnancy.  So, I decided to use her weekly update format, which was really concise and good.  This is my first update, and sadly, I have no bump picture, but rest assured friends, I have a noticable bump :)

Hope you enjoy the first of my weekly bump updates

*How far along?: 14 weeks

*Total weight gain: So far, I've gained about 1.3 kilos, or about 2.8 lbs.

*How big is baby?: Today, the baby is the size of a lemon!

Your adorable little fetus is busy with thumb sucking, toe wiggling, and (not so cute but equally amazing) making urine and breathing amniotic fluid as the liver, kidneys and spleen continue to develop. Lanugo (thin, downy hair) is growing all over the body for warmth.
From: www.thebump.com

*Maternity clothes?: Not yet, thanks to low-waisted jeans, and some larger shirts that I own.  I have noticed I have a narrowing choice of clothes though that still fit comfortably.

*Sleep?: I'm still a bit tired, but sleeping well. 

*Best moment this week?: Most definately our NT scan, seeing the baby move, and having the doctor tell us that the Erbse is so far, quite healthy.

*Movement?: I haven't felt anything yet.  But, the Erbse was really moving around during the NT scan.  The doctor says we have a very agile and active baby. 

*Food cravings?: Watery fruit, salads

*Labor signs?: Fortunately, not yet

*Belly button in or out?: Innie.

*What I miss: eating cheese without checking to see if its pasteurized
*What I'm looking forward to: Feeling the Erbse move

*Milestone: NT scan last week, as well as the second trimester!

Our last doctor's appointment

Life got really crazy last week, as our Richtfest preparations reached full swing.  But, we had such an exciting Monday, I really wish I could have posted about it. 
We went to our second OB appointment on Monday evening.  Everything looks GREAT!
The ultrasound showed that the Erbse is the correct size, growing well, good heartbeat.  The doctor started with the traditional 2-D ultrasound.  It was so cute, because we could see that the Erbse had reached "gummy bear" stage.  Around 9 weeks, the embryo looks and is about the same size, as a gummy bear.  She showed us the fingers, and toes- there are 10 of each :)  And she let us watch for a while, because the Erbse was moving all over the place! 
Then, she switched 3-D.  OH MY GOSH, I could not believe that they would do a 3-D ultrasound at almost 10 weeks.  Normally, I've seen 3-D ultrasounds from 20 weeks or even later.  But, wow, 10 weeks.  And, it was just amazing!

Maybe it is a little naive of me, but I had no idea that the Erbse already was a baby!  You can see the ears, the arms, little tummy, legs, feet, toes!  AMAZING!

Seeing the Erbse like this really made it feel a lot more real, especially since I have such few symptoms, I don't seem to feel pregnant yet.  The doctor said that everything was healthy, and looked great. 

We decided to do the NT scan, which measures the folds of the neck for possible Down Syndrome, as well as checks the organs for development.  I had blood taken for the test already at the end of Monday's appointment, and we have our next appointment for the scan on June 29th. 

I also received my Mutterpass (Mother's Passport,) from the doctor. 
The Mutterpass is a form of documentation, as a quick reference for all OB appointments during the pregnacy, and a few weeks after the birth.  I am assuming it is especially useful when you visit other doctors, like your GP or if you have to go to the hospital.  But, it is also a very handy thing to have.  In my Mutterpass, I have listed:
-dates and times of appointments
- any blood tests and results
- results of ultrasounds
- a running documentation of my weight and blood pressure
- documentation of previous pregnancies (including my ectopic pregnancy)

It seems like a really great way to keep a lot of information really handy.  You have to give Germans credit for their efficency!

With the exciting news, Joern and I headed home, and I made my first baby purchase!
I bought a diaper bag!  I fell in love with it a few weeks ago, and it was on sale at Kate Spade.  My plan was to make the purchase if everything was okay.  Yay!  I bought the Kennywood Small Coal Baby Bag, which despite the word small, is quite sizable:

What really won me over, besides the very "Allison," design of the bag, and the fact that it isn't overly boyish or girlish, is the fact that it comes with stroller straps, so you can attach it to the handles of your stroller, which seems really convenient!

Its official- we are on our way to becoming parents!  Joern and I are just over the moon excited!

9 weeks 4 days

We're anxiously awaiting our next appointment with the OB.  We're both so very hopeful that everything is okay with the little Erbse.  And I am hoping to see the Erbse again.
In terms of symptoms, I am still pretty okay.  I am sometimes a little crampy, and have been having shooting pains in my womanly bits lately.  But otherwise, I feel good.  I am hoping this means that things are all going well. 
I have learned that pregnancy is a lot of waiting, and a lot of wondering.  It must have been really difficult in the past, no ultrasounds.  You needed to have a lot of faith. 
It is a frustrating time to be pregnant though in Germany.  There is a serious outbreak of E Coli here, that is very dangerous.  Unfortunately, it has been 2 weeks now, and the researchers and doctors have still not found the cause, and are warning people not to eat fresh vegetables.  Ugh!  Just the time when I want to eat especially healthy.  Sheesh! 
I am also missing cheese.  As it stands now, my plan is to gorge on soft cheeses after the Erbse comes.  I miss Camembert, blues, and a wide variety of other unpasteurized cheeses.  Who needs to lament over alcohol when you can miss cheese?!

Well, that is pretty much the update from here.  I do believe that if things go well at the doctor on Monday, then we'll become quite a bit more baby-focused.  Looking forward to Monday!

A little "Erbse-imposed" glitch with work

Last week Monday, we got the blood tests results back from the doctor.  Everything looked great, except for immunity to Cytomegalovirus (CMV.)  I have no immunity.
I guess the amazing part is that in the past week, I have finally learned to spell Cytomegalovirus due to lots and lots of Google searches.  It turns out that up to 80% of the population in the US has had exposure to CMV.  Amazingly, not me.  It is a virus that stays in your body for quite a long time and is passed through ALL bodily fluids.  It tends to be particularly easily passed around among kids under the age of 3.  If a pregnant woman contracts the virus and she is not immune, there is a small chance that the virus can have devistating effects on the baby. 
Under German law, if you test negative, like me, and work with children under the age of 3, your workplace must find a new position for you during your pregnancy.  When we spoke with the doctor about the test results, she offered that I needed to speak with my boss because every workplace has a procedure in place for this.  I knew my workplace did not have such procedure.
On Wednesday, I met with my principal.  He was very congratulatory, and admitted that he also was uncertain of our next step.  On Thursday, I met with the HR lady at work.  She was surprisingly kind, and said simply, "you cannot avoid contact with bodily fluids with little kids."   Our final decision, which is still tentative, is that I will complete the school year in our classroom- after all, there are only a few weeks left.  But, next year, I will be given another position, no kids contact, for the three months before November 22, which is when my maternity leave is scheduled to begin. 
When I left the meeting, we agreed that both she and I would brainstorm potential jobs within the school.  Yesterday, I spoke with the school librarian, who offered me a potential position- cataloging home reading books in English and German.  She warned me that it was a huge job, but that she needed assistance, and also agreed it would be perfect, as I could do the job from the staff room without coming into much contact with kids.
It makes me very sad to have to go to work and have no cuddles, no hugs, and no gigantic laughs from the kids.  Three months in the staff room seems relatively lonely.  But then again, if it helps keep the little Erbse safe, then there is no question.  I will continue cementing this position next week, and write another update.

Dear Little Erbse

Well Little Erbse,
Today, I am 7 weeks pregnant, which means that you, dear Little Erbse are 5 weeks old!  We have been together over on month.  Your daddy and I love you so.  We have discussed changing your name this week, because you're no longer the size of a pea, but more like a blueberry.  But, you are our our sweet little pea.

Thank you Little Erbse.  So far, I haven't been very sick.  Just a little queasiness, but nothing too big.  You seem to love orange juice though, because surprisingly, it helps to settle my stomach.  With all the vitamin C I am drinking, you're certain to have a sunny personality!

We're doing well so far Little Erbse.  I did get my test results back though that say that I am not immune to a virus called CMV.  This means that I need to be extra careful at work, with all of our little cutie-pies, so that you don't get sick.  Believe me, Little Erbse, I will do everything in my power to keep you healthy.

Well Little Erbse, here is to the next few weeks, then the next few months, to when we meet.  We're on the downward slide now in the first trimester, only a few more weeks to go now, and we'll be out of one big danger zone.

Stay strong Little Erbse, we love you,
Your Mommy and Daddy

Montag, 4. Juli 2011

Our latest, and greatest, news!

Sometime's its better to let pictures do the talking:
And yes, the post card is in the background for added impact:  we were in Hong Kong when we found out! 

Our little Erbse (or pea in English,) is due on January 3, 2012.  Joern and I could not be more excited!  Just look:

Obviously, we were quite cautious this time around in our excitement though, considering our last pregnancy was ectopic.  But, we did tell Joern's parents in Hong Kong, on the sidewalk, somewhere between our hotel and 7Eleven.  Of course, we toasted to the Erbse at the White Stag!

Once we returned from Hong Kong, we called the doctor straight away to set up an appointment.  She saw us on Wednesday, the 11th of May.  First thing, it was time for the ultrasound, just to make sure that the Erbse was okay. 
Gestational age:  6w1d

We were so relieved when the doctor said that everything looked good.  The Erbse is the right size and in the right place.  We even got to see the heartbeat, which may have been the most incredible thing I have ever seen!

After the hoorays and tears calmed down, it was time to discuss a few things.  First were the "No's". No drinking, no smoking, no raw meat, no unpasteurized milk products.  We also discussed tests that were covered by the compulsory government health insurance, and those that were an additional cost.  She gave me a list of tests and their cost.  The blood test for thyroid was covered, but the tests for CMV and rubella were not covered, they were 15 Euro each.  Since I work with little kids, we felt that the additional tests were very important.  So, after I finshed chatting with the doctor, I had a blood test, for my hormone levels, thyroid, CMV and rubella immunity.  We're waiting to hear back on the results.

I called my dad on Wednesday night to tell him the good news.  He also had very good news to share that his foot is healing nicely.  Then, I shared my news.  I think my dad is very excited with the idea that he is going to be a grandpa.  He'll be a super grandpa, I know that already!

We've only shared the news with a few people so far, and everyone is so very happy.  I told my long time friend Erica last week over the phone, and we squealed like we were eleven again.  I shared the news with my friend Mandy, and she was so very happy.  Yesterday, we shared the news with two other friends, Heidi and Julie.  I was hoping to do it in a more dramatic way, but instead, Joern simply announced, "You know that Allison is pregnant, right?"  Obviously, lots of clapping and congraulations.  I also told my friend Iris, who also offered many hoorays and congratulations, as well as two other friends at work.  I know that outing yourself so early at work isn't always desiriable, but I needed to let a few people know for a variety of reasons. 

Otherwise, things are going well.  I feel well, have slight nausea, a little tenderness and pains, but overall, just excited.  With every day that goes by, my sigh of relief grows a bit.  I have started looking into nursery furniture, and figuring out how on earth to properly set up that gigantic bedroom that will become the Erbse's nursery.  I am hoping to buy the furniture at home, and to ship it in a partial container back.  Fingers crossed that I can figure out how to do it!  I am so looking forward to taking my aunt baby shopping when I am home this summer.  I am sure it will be an exciting time for the both of us!

I haven't quite figured out how I will do baby posts from now on.  Not sure if I will write letters to the baby, keep this as a personal diary, or what.  No worries, I'll continue to post.  Can't wait to see what the next 9 months bring!