Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lost in Translation

Being pregnant is a magical time to learn about your own body. When birthing, you learn how every hole in your body really works.

Before I gave birth to Larry, our first born, I wrote up the perfect Birth Plan. In this plan it stated that I wanted as few people as possible to enter the delivery room. I did not know that in the small print I should have put a asterisk next to 'delivery room' and had it also mean  'vagina'. I can only speak to my own experience and that is what I will do.
After so many hours of natural labor that my eyes were semi-permanently crossed, I had any number of strangers not only wander into the delivery room but also stick their finger up my business to "check". One of them may have been the janitor!

We lived in Germany for pregnancy number two. There was no point in bringing up the Birth Plan, no one at the hospital could read English anyway. Plus it had not really done me any favors at the last birth.

European standards of care differ in the following way, modesty is completely out the window.

I was lucky enough for my prenatal care to get a Dr that spoke fairly good English. She was a kind  lady that stood about 4 feet tall and just about as round. For nine months I exchanged pleasantries with her and never figured out how to say her name. We just called her Dr. Soyonshafersonn. She was Turkish and did the best she could to explain everything using picture pamphlets and talking with her hands. I was so glad it was my 2nd baby and I had a pretty good idea of where they came out, some of the pamphlets were not so clear.

When I went to see Dr. Soyonfafershin it was customary to hang your coat at the door and drop your pants by the window. At that point the appointment went as follows: walk half naked across the room to the extra tall exam table. Use the step stool provided and take a seat on the crinkly paper. Lie back when instructed and hoist your heels into the outstretched stirrups. Slide your rump to the end of the table and get it as close to the smiling foreigner's face as you can. An equally sweet mannered nurse then hands a very goopy internal ultrasound wand to the seated Dr and lickety split a picture of your womb, from the inside out, comes up on the screen next to your head. For a split second everything going on around you fades away and all you will focus on is the jumping bean on the TV (insert happy tears). As quick as it began, so it ends. You are handed an inadequate amount of tissue for cleaning up down below and told to meet the Dr. in 4 weeks.



I had one of these easy visits with Dr. Soyyononsafiom coming up and asked my dear friend Erika to join me to share in the magic. I warned her of the naked walk and the wand but she agreed to come anyway, because that is what dear friends do.

So there I am with legs in position. I can't see past my huge belly from lying on my back. Smiling foreigner's face disappears between my knees. Dear friend Erika is seated near my head and politely looking out the window. Jumping bean appears on the TV and we Ooh and Aah. At this point Dr. Soyionshaffersion stands on her toes looking past my belly to my face and says something about doing a check for bacteria. She held up a giant cotton swab and demonstrated in the air a quick swiping motion. Trying to keep the moment light hearted as it was a second ago, I jokingly said "Oh we don't allow bacteria at our house." Immediately the nurse began to chatter in German to the Dr. which prompts her to stop what she is doing and get up from the stool. Looking right at me she pats my leg reassuringly and says in her best English "I um did not mean to, um imply, that you havin` the sex of the anus." There was no coming back from this. Holding myself up on my elbows, I tried as hard as I could to explain that I was making a joke about bacteria, not freaky sex. Erika could not stop shaking she was laughing so hard. At that point the only thing not lost in translation was where the cotton swab was headed.

Amazingly enough that magical appointment was the last one Erika went to.