Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Giving birth in Switzerland

When we moved to our new apartment we switched cantons, which is pretty much like moving to another state. We had to change our license plates, residence cards, and health insurance. Even though the doctor I was seeing is close to our new place, he was in a different canton. So I have been forced to find a doctor in our new canton, which also happens to be primarily German speaking. Thankfully I was able to get a referral and so far my new doctor has been great! His nurse, on the other hand, speaks mostly German. And while she does speak French, she doesn't understand my french... so making appointments and asking questions has been quite difficult. One of the things I have been most terrified about since I found out I was pregnant has been giving birth in the German hospitals. I know NO german and I have nightmares of being in the hospital with doctors and nurses who don't speak english who are giving me drugs and doing things to my baby and no can tell me what is going on. I have been considering hiring a doula to not only help me through the birth, but who will also be a translator for me in case my nightmare comes true.

Well at my last appointment my doctor told me he doesn't deliver at the hospital. He has his own private clinic and he would only deliver my baby if I go to this clinic. The problem is that it is quite expensive as it is a private clinic. He told me if I chose not to deliver at his clinic, then I would go to the hospital and whichever resident doctor is on call that day would deliver my baby... english speaking or not. He then told me that all the midwifes at his clinic speak english at least as good as him. This alone is worth paying the extra money for, so we went to check out the clinic today.

One of the english speaking midwifes greeted us at reception. She was very friendly and took us up to one of the birth rooms. The birthing rooms are huge and they are very big on having a natural birth with no interventions. They offer almost everything you can think of to help you through labor including a pool where you can deliver the baby in the water if you choose:
Here is Jack checking out the birthing pool
A huge lounge area with a kitchen behind stocked with all sorts of snacks/drinks:

Here is the birthing bed:

The midwife told me I could have the baby anyway I wanted. I did not have to deliver the baby laying on my back on the bed. I would really like to try a water birth this time and she said that as long as everything is okay with me and the baby, I could have the baby in the water. 

After the baby is born, it is typical to stay in the clinic 5 to 7 days. Then, the insurance will pay for me to have a midwife another 5 days to come to my house and help with the baby. 

I feel much more confident about delivering a baby here now that I have seen the clinic and I know that there will be english speakers to help me.  Oh, and the icing on the cake is they offer (free) unlimited snacks and soft drinks for my entire stay! Seems like giving birth here is Switzerland is going to be much better than doing it in the states. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One year in Switzerland. A new year, a new apartment

This weekend marks our 1 year anniversary of living in Switzerland! It is also the start of our new life in our new apartment. As I look back through the last year, I think most of my problems came from living isolated in the country. I didn't have many chances to practice french, there were not many people to make friends with, Jack and I basically just spent the first year isolated from other humans. 

Now, we are living in the city. I have already had more conversations in French with our neighbors than I had the whole year of living in the country. I haven't had a chance to make friends yet, but the parks here always have kids playing and Jack can always find someone to play with. 

Our apartment is fairly small, right around 80 square meters (under 900 square feet). We live in a building with 6 other apartments. The majority of the other tenants are over 75 years old. This has actually been really good as they are very quiet, can't hear Jack's tantrums, and best of all they love to talk and are very patient with me as I practice my french. Our apartment building is in an area with several other apartment buildings and there are several kids and playgrounds for Jack. 

Okay, so now it's time to come inside: 

This is our front door and our hallway which leads to the bedrooms. 

 The hallway cabinets open up to reveal tons of storage and our closet
 A view of both bedrooms
 The master bedroom
 We have Luke's computer hooked up in here and can use it as a TV
 A look into our backyard. Right now it is all under construction, but this summer there will be a pool and patio/BBQ area.
 Welcome to Jack's room
 Jack loves anything to do with space, hence the bedspread
 It's a tiny room, but he loves it!
 Our bathroom
 And bath/shower
 The living room
And dining room (ignore the random extra chairs and clothes hanger. we still need to make room for these in our storage area)
 Looking from our dining room out into the living room.
 The kitchen
Pretty big refrigerator for Swiss standards. And we have a steamer above the oven (although I've yet to figure out how to use it)
 The use of storage space amazes me. For being so small, this apartment is very efficient. You can see I have a spinning pantry next to the oven)
 The stove and view of dining room
 Our balcony which is getting new flooring right now, but should be finished next week.
And there you have it, our new home! My favorite thing about this apartment is that it is brand new! It was completely refurbished before we moved in, so we are the first to live in it. It is such a nice change from our last apartment which was so old it seemed like everything we touched fell to pieces. Not to mention the washing machine here only takes 1.5 hours for a cycle versus the 3 hour cycle in our last place! And like I said before, the people are much nicer. In one week I have talked to my neighbors more than I did the entire year in our last place.

I hope that living in the city will help speed up my french conversation skills and I hope Jack can make some good friends. It is great to be living amongst other people again... even if it means having the construction workers wake Jack up at 8am every morning with their drilling...

As for celebrating our 1 year in Switzerland we have no plans for this weekend as Luke is rushing to finish a work project. But, next weekend we leave for Greece! One week on a cruise and one week on a beach. It should be heavenly!

As soon as we get back from Greece, I will work on taking you on a tour of our new city.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reason #1 I won't gain 60 pounds this pregnancy

It's 10pm on Friday night and all I can think of is eating something sweet. Problem is, we have nothing sweet in the house and here in Switzerland every grocery store and all gas stations are now closed. There is no where for me to go to satisfy my sweet tooth.

So instead I have a piece of toast with creme fraiche.

And then some gum.

And then I dream about all the delicious sweets that would be available to me right now if I were back in Colorado.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day in Ballenberg

We spent all day Saturday unpacking and making our new apartment livable. It was a grand effort as our apartment came with no lights so Luke had to drill into the concrete ceilings for all the bedrooms, living room, kitchen, etc. Plus we downgraded from a 6.5 piece apartment to a 3.5 piece apartment so we have WAY too much stuff and had to ask for an extra cave (aka storage room) to store all the things we now need to sell. It took us the entire day to make our apartment a home. So Sunday we decided to do something fun. 

We drove to the Swiss city of Ballenberg which is really a large open air museum. 

There are more than 100 century old buildings from all over Switzerland. Each building had a description and most had some sort of exhibit such as bread making, weaving, etc.
It was an awesome place to go with a preschooler. Jack loved running around outside, going in and out of the homes.

One of the houses had an exhibit of how cheese was made 100 years ago. We even got to buy some homemade cheese that was made that day from the cows outside. It was delicious!

We had lunch in the Tincino region where the houses have more of an Italian flair

Although it was a great place for kids, it was not stroller friendly. Most of the paths were rocks and steps and made pushing a stroller a pain in the butt

There were lots of animals for Jack to chase

And even a petting zoo
There was also an area just for kids with a carousel

And swings
And a slide ... with a view!
On a completely different note, I thought I'd take a second to talk about a real difficulty raising a child here in Switzerland. Here in the Swiss playgrounds, the kids can be downright nasty. I have noticed that parents here do not seem to intervene or even pay attention to their kids at the playground. Thus, there are many bullies. I have no problem giving a tongue lashing to a 4 year old bully, but the problem is that none of the kids here speak English. So reprimanding a child who has just shoved Jack is very difficult. I know a few phrases in French, but now that we are living closer to the German areas I think I need to learn some German phrases. Case in point, this little boy (shown below, running with the hat) was the playground bully. He would stand at the top of the slide and step on the kids hands who were trying to climb up, then he would shove them down the slide. I saw him do it to Jack and for Jack's sake I wanted to punish that kid so Jack knew what he did was wrong. But the little boy spoke German and his parents were no where to be found. So I just said what I needed to say in English, gave him the evil eye and he tried my best to scare him. Jack felt validated that I stood up for him, but the little bully had no idea what I said and continued to bully all the other kids. In a country that has 4 national languages (none of which are English) I guess the language barrier will always be a problem.
Anyways, back to my original post. Jack loved Ballenberg. We spent the whole day outside enjoying the beautiful landscape
And Jack was thrilled to see all the farm animals
Although we spent the whole day there, we only saw half of what there was to see. So we will be going back. I would highly recommend a visit here if you ever have a chance.
And to top off the day, we were able to enjoy chocolate from the Ballenberg chocolaterie.