Monday, March 17, 2008

9 November: My First German OB/GYN Visit, High Tea, & a Besenwirtschaft

I decided to drive to my doctor’s appointment in Stuttgart-West and took John’s car so I’d have the navi. This ended up being a colossal mistake. I circled the block twice trying to find a parking space and ended up scraping up against a blue A-Class as I tried to back into a parking space on the street. Someone was waiting behind me, which always stresses me out, and the parking sensors didn’t go off. (John hit a concrete post in the parking garage of SI-Suites when we were on our look-see trip because the parking sensors didn’t go off. Apparently they aren’t very good at detecting objects at the corner of your car.) I got out of the car and didn’t see any damage to the A-Class; I didn’t even think to look at my car to see what I had done. I didn’t know what to do and no one was around, so I left. I ended up parking really far away from the doctor’s office, but at least I found a space that I could actually fit that enormous boat of a car into.

Dr. Linckh’s office is on the second floor of an old building (coincidentally located on Frauenstraße), with a small waiting room paneled in dark wood. I checked in with a young Indian woman at the reception desk, filled out my name and personal information on a tiny slip of paper, hung up my jacket, and sat down for a few minutes. Then they called me into the Labo where the Indian woman asked me a rapid-fire series of questions in German. The first one totally stumped me – I finally figured out that she was just asking when I had my last physical! I also had no idea how tall I was in centimeters, which she seemed to think was rather odd. Most of the other questions I could figure out well enough, but she didn’t offer up any English. She took a blood sample and I went back to wait again (thankfully I had brought my knitting).

Finally I was shown into the doctor’s office and met Dr. Linckh, who I recognized from the picture on her website. She’s middle-aged and quite cheerful, for a doctor. She knew that I had requested that she speak English, although her English seemed a bit rusty. She asked me some questions and then showed me into the examination room. I went into a tiny closet-like changing room and stripped from the waist down. Then I had to walk across the room half-naked and take a seat on the examination chair – a little different from America, where it’s all about modesty and you get a nice paper sheet to lay over yourself before anyone enters the room!

Dr. Linckh did a vaginal ultrasound, which Beth had fortunately warned me about in advance. It was very strange to sit there and look at the fuzzy black image on the screen for the first time…there’s your ovaries, there’s your uterus, etc. She couldn’t see anything definitive on the ultrasound but I am only about three weeks along, so that is not surprising. I told her that I was very happy to have gotten pregnant so quickly. She jotted some notes on my chart and I saw that she wrote down “glücklich” (happy). She also has a degree in psychology so I was pleased to see that she was interested in my mental state as well as the physical. She asked me to come back on Monday for the test results.

I called Beth on the way to my car and filled her in, then drove over to her place to join the ladies for tea. I was trying to pull into a tight spot outside her building and I got the rear wheel hung up on a little metal fence. I did a real number on the wheel. Here I’d been in Europe for over two years without a single incident and now I had hit two things in one day! While I was tallying the damage I went around to the front of the car and saw a small streak of blue paint. Oh, brother!

Beth met me at the door and said that she’d told everyone that I would be late because I had a doctor’s appointment, but of course the ever-astute Brenda had instantly asked if I was pregnant. I went into the bathroom to give myself a moment to think about what I was going to say. I had this brilliant idea – I’d just tell them about my irregular heartbeat and that I wanted to have it checked out since I’m trying to get pregnant. I walked into the dining room and was immediately the center of attention, but the heartbeat story seemed to do the trick. Brenda, Eliza, Thuy, Judy, and Beth were all there; Shannon was sick. They’d saved some food for me, so I pigged out on Beth’s homemade scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, followed up with cucumber, egg salad, and smoked salmon sandwiches. I declined a glass of champagne, which garnered a few suspicious looks. Brenda, Eliza and Thuy left around 12:30 but Judy and I hung out until 2:00. I decided I didn’t mind telling Judy, and I just couldn’t not talk about it any longer! It turns out that she didn’t know Beth was pregnant until today, so she got quite the double-whammy.

I finally had to drag myself away so I could go home and finish getting the house ready for our furniture sale tomorrow. I ended up vacuuming, mopping, and cleaning the bathrooms but I had put the laundry and ironing out of sight. I started working on the bid sheets too (we're going to do this silent auction style) but I will have to finish them in the morning.

This evening we met our German friends Uli and Markus for dinner at a Besenwirtschaft about halfway between Stuttgart and Pforzheim. As you may recall, a Besenwirtschaft (literally “broom business”) is a family-run restaurant usually located at a vineyard or farm which only has a permit to be open for a few months out of the year (usually in the spring and fall). They cater to a local crowd and offer simply country food accompanied by cheap wine in large quantities. The reference to the broom in the name comes from the tradition of leaving a broom outside the door to indicate that the place is cleaned up and open for business. We drove out into the countryside to Enzweihingen, not too far from our kennel in Unterriexingen, and watched out for signs to the Berghof, which was the only information that Uli and Markus could give us, since there was no street address! We ended up spotting the signs pretty easily and found our way up a narrow country lane to a small farm on top of a hill. Inside, the place was already packed to the rafters but we found Uli and Markus in a small room in back, squeezed in at a long table with another party. Sharing tables at a Besenwirtschaft is customary and it is not uncommon to strike up a conversation with your neighbors.

We had a great meal of traditional Schwäbisch delights and shared a couple of large carafes of Lemberger. (I tried not to make it too obvious that I wasn’t drinking much, since it was still a bit too early to tell Uli and Markus that I’m pregnant.) Uli and Markus told us more about their trip to South Africa, including their roadside encounter with a large bull elephant. We thought they were quite brave to have rented a car and explored the bush on their own. We also chatted with one of the hosts for a few minutes, a large jovial man, and when John and I mentioned that we had been out to that neck of the woods before to take our dog to the kennel at Schloss Unterriexingen, he replied, “Oh, yes, I know Herr Ratibor!” It was a wonderful moment…there we were, sharing a traditional meal with friends out in the countryside on a chilly November evening, speaking German for several hours on end, and we had a found a common acquaintance with our host! After dinner we had to say our final farewells to Uli and Markus, whom we have really enjoyed getting to know over the past two years. I fondly recall our early spring hike in the Schwarzwald, when we began our first tentative conversations in German. Uli actually got teary-eyed when we all said goodbye, which was very touching. I hope we will see them again on one of their trips to the U.S.

Postscript: The blue paint came off the E-Class’ bumper with a little mineral spirits.

No comments: