Note: I'm not going to describe in great physical detail the things that happened at the doctor, because I think we all basically know how that goes, but I may mention body parts in the course of things so just be warned if you feel like that's something you can't handle.
On Monday, we took a trip to Aachen for my first doctor's visit in Germany. I basically chose this doctor like I choose all doctors: they had a website, which is not as common as you might expect (in my experience). They also said they had someone who spoke English and that they would see me even if I didn't have my German insurance yet. On the train over, I practiced what I would need to say to the receptionist: Ich habe eine ernnenung mit Doktor Kristen Grunwald. I also practiced saying what time my appointment was at. I was kinda wary, just because everything I had read on the Internet said that doctors in Germany were quite different from doctors in America.
Anyway, after I explained who I was and that I didn't have insurance, the first part was basically the same as all of my pre-natal appointments had been. They took a urine sample and drew blood, and I gave them the folder of info from my previous doctor. Hunter always goes with me to my appointments, but this time it wasn't clear if there was room for him, or if that kind of thing was acceptable, so he mostly stayed in the waiting room. After a much shorter wait than any doctor I've seen in America, I went in to talk to Dr. Grunwald.
She started speaking to me in German, but then realized I didn't speak it and her English was very good so it didn't pose any problems. I had tried to be prepared, but there was one thing that hadn't really occurred to me: the metric system. Obviously, when they weighed me it was in kilograms, so when she asked my weight before I was pregnant, I only knew it in pounds. She also asked my height which I only knew in feet and inches. Oops. Anyway, I had heard that in Germany, doctors are less interested in involving the patient or telling you anything about what they are doing, but that wasn't my experience here. She asked if I had any questions and then gave me this:
So, at this point I'd already spent more time with the doctor than I usually did during my appointments in America. But apparently we weren't finished. She told me that at each appointment, she would do an exam and an ultrasound. Another thing I'd heard about going to the doctor in Germany was that they don't have the same idea of privacy that we do. But I didn't have any problems. I was wearing a skirt and she had a little screen behind which she said I could take off my underwear. After the exam, she did a vaginal ultrasound just to measure my cervix. Then she took me to another room to do the regular ultrasound to measure the wee baby Scunter.
I was pretty surprised at this point that the doctor was doing the ultrasound. There weren't any really good aesthetic views, she was mostly just measuring various things, and she told me to look away at times when I may have accidentally found out the sex of the baby. She showed me everything she was doing and explained the things she was measuring. Then she took me back out to the waiting room to make my next appointment and I guess explain to the receptionists not to charge me for the bloodwork. When she saw Hunter waiting for me, she said she didn't realize there was anyone with me and that next time he could come in to see the ultrasound.
The total cost of everything I had done that day, without insurance, was about 130 Euro.
Anyway overall I would say the experience was better than my experiences with doctors in America. I had no real problems with any of my doctors before, it just seemed like such a different environment here. I feel like in America, doctors are these sort of mysterious figures that make you wait forever and then talk to you for five minutes or so while nurses and technicians do most of the work because they are just rushing around from patient to patient. I was really surprised at how much time I spent with the actual doctor and also the size and comfort of the office and exam room. I don't know how typical this is since it's my only experience, but it really wasn't scary at all.
Next time: what happens when you burn sausage.