Thursday, 23 February 2017

Pregnant! Trimester #1

When we left South Africa about 3.5 years ago, "for 3 years", I didn't picture us having our children here. But, time passed and broodiness set in, and children are good, and we realised we don't know where we'll be in 6 months, or a year, or two years, or three years. So. Let's trust God in this. Let's have a baby!

Despite not anticipating having children here in Germany, I did always kind of suspect that if I were pregnant, I'd document it a whole lot better here on our blog than I have. But I didn't. which leaves me now feeling like I have an awful lot to catch up on because
- our contact to family and friends and time to tell them things is fairly limited and there's so much we don't get to say, and
- even entries to my real-life-secret-diary are sporadic and filled mostly with prayers and anxiety and rants and not too much about what's been going on in the last 9 months in my tummy and my life. And I want to remember stuff.

So here goes.

Malcolm was in China and I strongly suspected I was pregnant while running around Marburg with Anabel, with no appetite and a strange feeling that I can't really describe. When Malcolm returned I eagerly met him at the bus stop, so badly wanting to hear about his adventure but also really wanting to know if my instinct was correct.
(I was so relieved that he made it home safely, having all sorts of nightmares about his plane crashing and never knowing he was going to be a dad... I'm dramatic, I guess.) 
After some tea together and hearing a bit about his trip, I finally told him what was really occupying my thoughts, and took a test - positive! Another one? Positive! It was unreal. And scary. I tried taking a photo of the tests but my hands were shaking too badly. I was so excited, but also had moments where I thought "what have we done?!?" and felt terribly irresponsible. But God provides for us, and almost as reassurance and confirmation of this, we received the news the next that from Malcolm's scholarship that it had been extended until the end of March.
And then Malcolm told me all about China, so we had two exciting things to talk about :)

I called the doctor's office the next day to find out when they'd want to see me, expecting it to only be in a few weeks. It was weird, telling the receptionist that I'm pregnant - the first person to know besides the two of us. It was suddenly so real again and as soon as I hung up I burst into tears. 
I had an appointment scheduled for that week, and set about google-searching about what I should expect at a first appointment, and learning my first bits of pregnancy-vocab from various online forums. 
There wasn't much to see, but it was good to know everything was okay and that the little tests I'd ordered on Amazon were correct. Malcolm met me afterwards to buy me ice cream for being so brave and giving blood. (If only I still got ice cream every time I gave a vial...) 

The first trimester started with the Kinderferienwoche. I wasn't sure I'd be up to it, waiting for morning sickness to kick in any second. But, it didn't! I was suuuuper tired and felt a little queasy now and then, but nothing pretzels couldn't fix... It was a good week with the kids! 
The cat was almost out the bag at the end of the week when I met to hang out with a friend and she proudly produced a bottle of wine and looked so delighted by it. I panicked. "Oh, I can't drink that". "why not?" "ummm, I can't tell you right now"... (translated)
Subtle. Pregnant ladies, as soon as you see that positive, if you plan on keeping the news to yourself, practice turning down alcohol like a normal person. Fortunately, she changed the subject and didn't mention it again. 

The rest of the first trimester saw me sleeping a lot, experiencing weird aversions (pasta? gross! Cooked veggies? Ewww!), and enjoying bread, crackers, orange juice, and sparkling water. 
I was often anxious and worried if things were okay. My emotions weren't all together crazy, but I often got upset over silly things. One morning, I walked into the bedroom to see Malcolm had just made our bed, causing me to burst into tears because I had hoped to crawl back in and sleep. There'd be days where I felt absolutely fine and would immediately worry. There'd be days where I felt awful and miserable and would have a nap as soon as Malcolm left to the lab in the morning. I'm so grateful that it was during the Summer break and I had most mornings for myself. All in all, though, I know I had it easy - my nausea wasn't nearly as bad as many other women experience, and I had as good as no other symptoms. 

We also told our parents somewhere around 9 weeks, I think. It was fun getting to share the news with them, even though it was over Skype. 

We also set about starting our "great crochet project", a baby blanket (which turned out a lot bigger than we anticipated!). It was nice to work on something together and chat, and watch the blanket grow as we imagined the baby growing inside me.  

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bartletts in the Black Forest: part 2

Our holiday continued with a trip to Strassbourg. It was 3 Kings day so I was looking forward to some real French Galettes des rois, and it was the last day that the Christmas tree would still be standing. It was a beautiful sunny day, but so cold. SO. COLD. 

We were only in the city for a few hours, but with it being SO. COLD. I didn't mind too much. We saw the main attractions, appreciated the prettiness, bought a Galette des rois to take home, warmed up in a coffee shop, and then headed back to the station.
We arrived at the station with time to spare before the train we wanted to take would depart, buuuut, we couldn't figure out where to buy a ticket. We needed a ticket for only a 15 minute stretch before our other ticket would take us further, but it was such a hassle. We tried several machines, and asked somebody to help us. With just a couple minutes before departure, we still didn't have a ticket so we slowed down our frantic search and went to the travel office. Turns out, the ONLY way to buy a ticket for the train we needed, was to take a number at the office, wait about 15 minutes to get called to a counter, and buy one there. Come on France, you can do better!
So we finally got a train back to Freudenstadt but were very delayed, causing us to miss the last bus to our apartment and resulting in us needing to pay for a taxi. Fortunately, when we got back, we had a galette des rois and tea to defrost us. And Malcolm got to be King for the day, since he found the little figurine.

The next day, the weather was good so we decided to go for a walk to Freudenstadt. It was only about 3kms or so, and the path was really snowy and pretty. 


We saw a sign to a tower, and decided it might be worth looking at. I searched google images and it did look pretty, so we detoured up the hill and to Friedrichsturm.

After a rather steep ascent up the hill, we finally made it to the tower. It was a little disappointing, since it wasn't at all that big and seemed dwarfed by the trees around it, but it was very pretty! And, not too far away, there was a decent view over the city.

Our aim was to find a teddy bear for our baby, but we were unsuccessful, so after wandering around the city a little, we found a cafe at the market place to warm up and have lunch at. Then, back to our apartment for cosy hot chocolate and board games and TV. 

It was suddenly our last day in the Black Forest, a Sunday, and there wasn't too much to do. And, honestly, it was nice just to hang out and head out for a walk with no goal. We soon discovered a bus stop very close by, with a cleared road leading to it - we were so glad because lugging our bags to the other bus stop the next day didn't seem too appealing, and now we wouldn't have to! We continued our walk through the forest, aimlessly wandering and enjoying the snow. We attempted a snow ball fight, but my stomach made it tricky to bend down and pick up snow, so Malcolm lovingly made me snow balls so it'd be more fair ;)

The next day was departure-day, and we sadly said goodbye to our little spot in the Black Forest. It was such a wonderful holiday, and just what we needed before the craziness of 2017 started.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Bartletts in the Black Forest: Part 1

We intended to go on holiday last Summer, but then Malcolm was in China and didn't want to take more time off, and since I was pregnant and in the first trimester, it wasn't ideal anyway. So we decided we'd go in Autumn instead. I marked the dates in my calender, and then we just never got around to planning anything. The days came and went and we were still in Marburg. In November I finally got my act together and started actually planning this holiday, which would be in early January. Once the holiday apartment and train tickets were booked, I felt very accomplished! 

So. This holiday. We went to the Schwarzwald, to Freudenstadt. Not your typical holiday destination, but we wanted a sort of cosy holiday surrounded by snow, with cities close by to visit. And I'd say that Freudenstadt provided just that. 

Th train line between Karlsruhe and Freudenstadt is worth seeing. It was SO pretty. A winter wonderland. Maerchenhaft. All the cliches. 

We arrived to find our apartment just as described, and then very soon set out to find the busstop to get into the city. This busstop was not as described. I had asked before booking how accessible it was, since I'd be 7months pregnant, the thought of waddling for ages through snow was not appealing. Turns out we needed to walk along a snow and ice-lined road with very fast cars, being careful not to slip down the sometimes rather steep slopes on the side. OR we could walk up the snowy path next to a ski-slope. We missed the bus by a few minutes, but checked the plan and realised how seldom the busses came. Drat. 

I felt a little hopeless, because how were we going to get out of our snowy wonderland if the connection was so bad? Fortunately, our apartment was cosy and we had milk and cookies and we could plan the next few days. 

The next day, after our early-morning trecherous walk to the busstop and then another even more terrifying walk along icy pavements to the train station in a tiny little dorf, we we were on our way to Freiburg. One of the most beautiful cities in Germany! I think it's probably a little more pretty in Summer, but in winter it was also nice to wander around in for a few hours. 

It was dark by the time we got back, and we were a little nervous about how to get back to our apartment. Fortunately, prayers were answered and 1) another couple was needing to walk the same way as us and 2) the snow reflected enough light that we could walk down the path along the ski slope without it having lamps.

The next day, we had decided to tone down the adventure and just see Freudenstadt. The day was beautiful. Blue skies and snow are the best combination! We walked up along the ski slope to the bus stop, stopping to take photos and to build a snow man. Our snow man turned out so pathetically that we destroyed it, and I won't embarrass us by posting a photo here, either. (things to do in preparation for German baby: learn to make a snow man so we can be cool and competent parents)


By the time we made it to the top, the weather had turned rather blustery and snow was falling. We went to the bus stop and hung around a few minutes before realising that the bus wasn't scheduled to come in that hour. Fortunately, a coffee shop was close by in the hotel at the top of the hill. So we, looking miserable as anything and all soaked in snow, went and drank coffee to pass the time until the next bus.

We made it to Freudenstadt (3kms away, really not that big a deal!) and the sun was shining again and the market place was just stunning. The biggest market place in Germany.

We wandered around the market place, peering into the famous arcaded shops all around. The church was beautiful inside, and also shows how terribly the town was destroyed in the war and how it was rebuilt. A little while later, the weather turned for the worse again, and, with a freezing cold wind, we took shelter in any shop that looked interesting.

One other reason why we chose Freudenstadt, is because it's close by to the teeny tiny settlement called Neuneck, where my maternal grandmother was born and lived in the parsonage. I hoped to get there, but with only 2 busses going there each day, and taxis being horrifically expensive, my hopes were fading. However, a friend suggested contacting their family who live in Freudenstadt, and, after a couple sms's, we were picked up and driven the 10km's to Neuneck. How kind?! There we were able to find the church and the house next door, where my grandmother once lived.

It really is a teeny-tiny village, but so picturesque! It was so nice to get to see it, and then get driven back to our apartment. 
Later that afternoon, we went out for a walk in the snow, and caught a spectacular sunset over the hill. It was so special, getting to soak up these moments of being just the two of us. This really wasn't intended as a 'baby-moon' or a 'last hoorah', but it kind of turned into one, as it dawned on us that our time left alone is so limited.