Kaiserschnitt, Where Kaiser is King

You’re probably reading this because you’re related to me, and/or you’re hoping for some cute baby pictures. This post is not for you. This post is for the (granted, unlikely) reader who is scheduled to provide medical care to me in the near future, and who wants a little preparatory insight into the psychology of the individual. So, dear nurse/doctor/anesthesiologist/insurance clerk, here’s the deal: my pre-, intra-, and post-procedure anxieties tend to express themselves in one of the following ways:

  • Nervous laughter. This, along with reading and speaking German at a two-year-old level, make me appear mentally deficient. See also: my haircut.
  • Jokes. These are typically pun-based, do not translate well, and are culturally inappropriately self-deprecating. See also: nervous laughter.
  • Harsh, unwelcome, and clear-to-the-point-of-strident criticisms of the specifics of your healthcare delivery systems. At today’s appointment alone:
  1.  after having the doctor review verbally the risks associated with c-section, I suggested that the risk of thromboembolism and post-surgery constipation warranted a revisiting of the hospital’s dehydration-inducing policy about not taking fluids after 10:00 pm the night before surgery (the doctor’s response: ‘We hardly ever have patients with an embolism!’)
  2. I pointed out that if my c-section appointment is at 8:00 but I’m told to get to the hospital at 6:45, and the other c-section patient’s appointment is at 10:00 but she’s also told to get to the hospital at 6:45, then one of us is going to be nervous and thirsty for two unnecessary hours (the doctor’s response: ‘You’re the 8:00 appointment, though, right?’ My response, ‘Let’s go ahead and make sure!’ Sorry, Ms. 10:00, I tried!)
  3. Immediately following a discussion about why the newborn needs to be wiped and wrapped with a blanket before being handed over to me for some skin-to-skin contact, which kind of defeats the purpose of immediate skin-to-skin contact (doctor’s response: ‘To maintain the sterile field – otherwise the nurse would need to re-sterilize,’ my response, ‘OK, so she’ll need to re-sterilize.’ Doctor’s response, ‘Grrr’), when the nurse used bafflingly bad disinfection technique during a blood draw, I just bit my tongue.

I explain this not to highlight what an insufferable asshole I am during each and every medical appointment, but rather to illustrate the fact that it could have been worse. That poor blood draw nurse could have been treated to a lecture about cross-contamination when touching the disinfected area with her dirty glove, the effects of an alcohol-soaked cotton swab on one’s ability to effectively form a clot at the blood draw site, and the hazards of gesturing wildly with a used needle before capping it, but rather she was treated to a calm silence as I reminded myself that she had two whole days to re-learn sterile technique before she holds my bowels in her hands during Thursday’s episode of Medical Freakout: Pregnancy Edition, Season Two.


Yeah, I might be a little nervous about the whole shebang. Can anyone reassure me with the details of what happened to Caesar’s mother after the original Caesarean Section?


Three generations of Rosenbaum females got their hairs cut in Hamburg yesterday. Here’s how it all played out:

  • One of us looks very nicely put together, with smooth, natural-looking bangs and curls shown to their best advantage.
  • One of us has new bangs that are the result of one swipe of my sneak-attack scissors. They’re impressively straight, but short enough to leave two inches of tiny baby forehead visible above her eyebrows.
  • One of us looks like her wig got caught in a draft and is tilted waaay back on her head. She looks like she spent 4 furtive minutes attacking herself with the blunt-nosed scissors that Mommy gave her to trim her Barbie’s hair. Her hair has the texture of Andy Warhol’s and the color of blah. Her bangs are literally shorter than her daughter’s, but rather than the cute, ‘baby’s first haircut’ look, they’re trending much closer to ‘village idiot’. Yup, that’s me. When I raised my eyebrows at a stray chunk of hair sticking out from behind my ear, the hairdresser explained that it was to feminize my look. She then explained that she was late for the next appointment. Ouch.

In food news, we’ve eaten radish cake three times this week. The first round was brought over last Sunday for a potluck lunch, and it was dynamite. Actually, the whole brunch was dynamite. The other guests brought two kinds of homemade bread, and I made an egg dish that started with butter and cream and ended with herbs and parmesan. Yes, I cheat at brunch: rather than radish+effort or flour+yeast+effort, I go for cream+butter+cheese, and for the ‘effort’ portion, I doodle around online until I find a recipe whose reviews say both ‘delicious’ and ‘foolproof’. Here are a few more brunch wins:

  • serve passionfruits in egg cups, ideally each with their own tiny spoon. All you’ve done is cut the top off a fruit and put it on the table, but oh it seems so special!
  • mix together honey and butter, or strawberry jam and butter, and serve it with any decent store-bought bread. It’s like you cooked something!
  • have a DIY option: pull all of your various vinegars and oils out of the back of the cupboard and let guests dress their own green salads, or make a fruit salad but, instead of mixing it together, pile the various fruits in seperate piles on a platter. Super fun experiment time, yeah!
This post should be spectacular because I’ve had lots of time to mull over ideas while hooked up to various fetal monitoring machines. Unfortunately, the machines do not disable the powers of the internet on my phone; rather than carefully crafting poignant essays about this ever-so-special time in our lives, or finding the humor in having purchased and then discarded endive three weeks in a row, I’ve been reading online journal articles about the pros and cons of fetal heartrate monitoring and trying to get google to tell me if the freakishly large head of the fetus I’m carrying is the result of undiagnosed insulin resistance despite two passed glucose tolerance tests. (And by ‘passed the test’ I mean I was spectacular. My control over my fasting glucose is only surpassed by my tolerance to a whopping dose of sugar water first thing in the morning: my one-hour readings were already below the threshold for the two hour readings! Wow, right?!! I fully expected the medical assistant to ask for an autograph. Instead, she said, ‘Ja, das is gut,’ not the least bit breathlessly. Boo.)
Long story short, the experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about but I’m scheduled for a c-section next Thursday due to a huge fetus and commensurately generous amounts of amniotic fluid. In the meantime I’m racking up ultrasounds at the rate of 4 per week and very few strangers allow me the dignity of an unremarked-upon crossing of paths. I have four more days to come up with a response better than, ‘Oh, you made the joke about being due yesterday/is it twins/how am I still walking? Ha ha, yeah, I’m not pregnant, it’s just that since Sunday I’ve eaten three Chinese New Years’ worth of radish cake.’


Dirty Kleenex Only. That’s My Rule.

As of a few minutes ago, Mom and Dad are on their way to Germany! Wahoo! If all goes well, I’ll pick them up at the Hamburg airport tomorrow morning at 11:20, a short 15 hours after they left home. It’s amazing that they can get here so quickly. Between the 8-hour time change, the wildly different politics, and the sun or lack thereof, Western Colorado seems light years away from Northern Germany. Tobias has generated his usual parental visit spreadsheet. This version has a visit to an organic pig farm (come see how the other half lives!), a trip to pregnancy water exercise class (ditto!), and a St. Pauli game (we’re all on the same side!) Tobias is awesome.

In food news, I highly recommend rubbing a combination of dried, powdered mushroom, rosemary, and black pepper on a soy-sauce-marinated steak, then frying it up in a pan. Surprisingly delicious! I got the dried, powdered mushrooms as a thanks for being the kind of sucker who buys a $2 avocado every week from the good spice stall at the weekly farmer’s market. The woman who runs the stall frequently winces when she rings me up, but I am happy to pay $1 for a jalapeno when I haven’t seen one for months, and the $2 avocados are usually quite good. She had some spectacular sweet-smelling lemons a few weeks ago, and the whole shop smells like cumin and cardommom – how can I resist?

I’ve taken Heather’s excellent (and thoroughly footnoted!) advice about easing up on my infant choking/allergy/toxicity paranoias, which worked out wonderfully for Frida this week at the market. As we strolled through, stopping by our usual vendors and browsing the new ones, Frida made out like a bandit: a clementine from the fruit stall, a brioche from the French deli, a round of delicous mystery lunch meat from the lovely butcher, a 1/4 apple from the apple stall, and a ‘sweetwood’ stick to chew on from the spice lady, who said that it was good for teething. Frida loved chewing on it before the fruit stall pulled trump with the old ‘fresh, in-season, perfectly ripe fruit over soggy old piece of wood’ move. Not only did Frida have a pretty decent lunch as I shopped, but when we got home I actually remembered to remove the apple core AND the rind of lunch meat from my pocket!

To recap: parents are en route, and my jacket pockets do not have rotten fruit or meat in them. Today is a good day!


Mushroomy beef recipe is here. If you try it, report back!

Every Day I’m Pestling, Pestling

It occurs to me now, 4 weeks away from my second birth in as many years, that my plans to do some volunteer work for the World Health Organization’s maternal and child health programs in South America may not be realized this year. See also: finishing the masters degree that I have not yet started, acquiring any degree of full-body base tan, and making croissant at home. Even as I was grinding walnuts this morning for Frida’s oatmeal I realized that my mortar-and-pestle days are numbered; soon I will break out the food processor to make a week’s worth of walnut butter at a time rather than shelling and grinding 4 individual walnuts each morning.

The parenting gig is totally worth it, though: Frida and I are making faces at each other while I type this, and I just made her laugh so hard she fell on her bum.

A question for the American Tic Tac Enthusiast – what color are the orange-flavored Tic Tacs in your part of the world? How long have they been that way? I was shocked to find that orange Tic Tacs are white in Germany, but then realized that I hadn’t had a Tic Tac in about a decade. I might just be out of the loop. Speaking of which, let’s play…

American Ingenuity, Corporate Headquarters Edition

Having lived in the U.S. for 31 of my 36 years, and having taken the commensurate student-hours of U.S. history, I am under the certain impression that American inventors and captains of industry have provided the world with everything good in the last century and a half, from cars to Coke to iPhones. While I know that the B in BMW stands for Bavarian, it comes as a surprise to me that so many companies I assumed were American are, in fact, not. To play, review the list below and try to name the company’s country:

  • Bayer Pharmaceuticals (yeah, like Bayer aspirin)
  • The Company That Makes Tic Tacs
  • ThyssenKrup (I thought they were headquarted in DesMoines, Iowa!)
  • SAP (as in, every airport advertisement you’ve ever seen and didn’t quite understand: ‘CitiCorp runs SAP!’ Um, OK. Thanks.)
  • Merck Pharmaceuticals (Claritin, Dr. Scholl’s, the HPV vaccine, and every kind of birth control advertised in popular women’s magazines)
  • Bosch (speakers)
  • Hugo Boss (fashion)
  • Jil Sander (fashion)
  • Puma (sportswear)
  • Airbus (buses that fly in the air)
  • Volvo (just checking to see if you’re paying attention)

Answer: all of the companies above, except for Volvo (Sweden), Airbus (France) and the company that makes TicTacs (Ferrero Rocher, France) are German. Plus Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Adidas, Beck’s, Birkenstock, and whoever’s making all of the solar panels we see everywhere. Amazing. Way to go, Germany. I’m sure the Euro is in good hands with you. Now, France, I appreciate that diversification is important but Airbus and TicTacs? You’ve gone too far.

Your prize for playing: a link to Rick Ross’ insanely repetitive song ‘Everyday I’m Hustling’  See if you can get that out of your head. You’re welcome.