A test of enduring uncertainty: my twin pregnancy

TTTS, IUGR and a whole lot of waiting

It was after two hours of sonography that the prenatal specialist closed his eyes as if he was going through his knowledge, repeating the observations. He summarized his findings in a rather sobering way: “That is the shit with identical twin pregnancies, they are never just easy.”

There was a size discrepancy between the twins that was hinting at a condition called Twin-twin-transfusion syndrome.It is a rarely occurring condition where blood is transfused unequally from one twin to the other. Left untreated it is lethal in the majority of cases. Treatment, according to this doctor, was not possible for the next couple of weeks. Hence, nature was control.

One week after the initial diagnosis, I assumed the worst. On the contrary, though, things had stabilized. All of a sudden, the doctor considered another condition, the so called intrauterine growth restriction.

It has now been multiple weeks, countless specialist appointments and hours over hours of Googling. Talking about it has become easier: We simply do not know what is going to happen. It has also taken me some time to internalize that there is nothing I can do but to accept faith and to keep stay positive.

Being open about it was very hard for me at first, showing vulnerability does not come easy at all times. Once I opened up I learned from other people who had lost twins, received recommendations for other specialists and felt an abundance of wonderful, encouraging vibes coming our way.

During the ultrasounds I see two kicking and curling not so tiny fetuses. They sometimes wave, suck on their thumbs and they are definitely restless, especially when the specialist is trying to measure them. It is hard to imagine that we might have to undergo laser surgery and that we are dealing with the risk of loosing one of them.

Accepting something that is out of one’s control has so far not been my strong suit. This time that is all I can do: trying to get comfortable with uncertainty.

Solo road trip from San Diego to LA

Let’s face it: in our daily lives time is mostly directed by others. So much so that I find it hard to listen to my body and remain mindful. A solo trip that let’s me go about days in my own rhythm is my source of reconnecting with myself.

With no plans, a pair of sunglasses, and a convertible I started my trip from San Diego. One can easily drive from here to LA in a couple of hours, depending on traffic. This quintessential Southern Californian strip of land is well known for it’s artsy beach towns, coastal life and I felt like reconnecting with the West Coast a little bit.

The Naval City: visiting the Aircraft Carrier museum

Large and majestic thrones the USS Midway at the San Diego waterfront. It is now a museum with a Starbucks in the rear, at the time of its deployment is was the largest naval ship in service.

Everywhere on the ship you’ll encounter former soldiers in their pilot jackets giving accounts of past times. how to take off or land on these monstrous ships and how deployment was like. All of them refer to their boat as their home. It is quite an impressive sight.

First stop: La Jolla – come close to the Sea Lions

For the first night I had picked an airbnb at the coast of LaJolla. It is known for its beach coves and lots of animals.

La Jolla, the sea-side village, turned out to be exactly what I had wanted and needed. Lots of wild animals, scuba divers, stand-up paddlers, a little overcast Cali sky. But its not that: It was the locals I met walking their dogs smiling at me and wishing me a good morning in a cheerful way. It was the waitress at the Pancake house telling me: “Honey, I’ll make you just what you want.”

Stop 2: Running into Lori

I left La Jolla towards Carlsbad. My high school exchange coordinator Lori happened to be on vacation there and we met for donuts and coffee in this wonderful place called The Goods.

While the donuts were to die for, it was a special treat to meet Lori again. She was my go-to-person when I came to California in 2002. I remember her house smelling like cinnamon sticks and apple cider, her having a bunch of kids in the house and Lori just being the kindest person.

That afternoon we sat and talked as if we had just seen each other the week before. She is a woman of God and I deeply appreciate her advice and her perspective.

Next Stop: The infamous Laguna

The hotel I slept in was right by the ocean and relatively early I was woken by the loud thunder-like sounds of the ocean. I put on my running shoes and explored. I met a lot of homeless and lots of scuba divers this early in the AM. As usual, ths weather was gloomy at first, but got better around noon.

Fittingly, I had a California bagel from the highly recommended bagel shop in town; it was so delicious and I got to watch some real California High School privileged kids, always a pleasure to sit back and see them show off the SUV’s they received for their sweet 16, walking around as if they own the city.

I had read about a hike in the hills, but could not find parking. A little frustrated, I then found a beautiful quiet beach. A good reminder that plans might not work out, but something better might just happen to come your way.

Obligatory: IN’N OUT

From Laguna Beach I decided to drive through “The Hills” towards LA. The weather was perfect, the day was overshadowed by the news of multiple fast spreading wildfires in Southern California and a bar shooting in a Thousand Oaks the night before. The other side of the US…

Whenever I am in California, there is one obligatory stop and that is at the iconic burger joint IN’N OUT to enjoy simply the best American burger with fries.

Finally: Surf City USA

I ended my trip in Huntington Beach, visiting my host sister Sarah who just had her second baby. The beach town of Huntington feels very familiar and a little bit like home. It has a great pier with lots of surfers, beach shacks and I can recommend to put it on the list for any Southern California trip.

Although it was only three days, traveling alone is still very special to me. It makes me find my own rhythm and connect with places or remain in moments differently than when with a friend or my husband. And doing that at a place on this planet that I called home for a little while was very precious to me – albeit a bar shooting, California wild fires and lots of homeless people.

What I would do differently:

From hindsight I think that Laguna Beach is overrated, and Carlsbad just wonderful. Next time I would just stay there for the night.

Tips to travel on budget: Southern California is very expensive, even simple hotels cost a lot of money. When I travel alone I need to feel save which is why I do not save on accommodation. However, I usually go to Whole Foods instead of mediocre tourist restaurants. They have a warm & cold food bar, fresh produce and I just take my food to sunny spots on the beach.

Since I did not have too much time I also did not get to explore all the hiking trails in that region, maybe on the next trip?

Oh, January

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January is a hard to deal with month for me. I might also face a couple of intimidating thoughts right at this time and blaming the one month that usually motivates people to eat healthier, smoke less and work out … Continue reading

The German World – through His Eyes

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Be careful what you wish for: When Pouya and I decided to relocate to Germany we were telling our friends that it would be an adventure. It’s surely been adventurous, but maybe not the adventure that we had associated. Schorle! … Continue reading

07-17: A month to remember

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Kassel – Aalen – Boston – Lake Placid – New York: Triathlons, Cardboard Boxes, Saying “See You later” and a very powerful question that I answered with a yes (well, honestly, it was “Oh my god!” Pause “Yes!”)  Continue reading

Why I don’t want stuff – Project 333

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33 items of clothing for 30 days, can you do that? I just unconsciously lived a minimalist lifestyle, and you know what I missed: Nothing! With a big move from Boston to Germany looming, there are a lot of thoughts … Continue reading

Let me be honest: I love my job, but I am struggling! 

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I guess they call this culture shock

It has not been four weeks since I landed in Frankfurt. Usually there is a period of enthusiasm, then the most threaded valley of tears, and then you cope. While my period of enthusiasm for my new role at Zeiss, content planning and analysis for digital corporate communications (first results will be visible very soon) is unbroken, my enthusiasm for this country has stopped with the bike shop owner in Aalen telling me that he isn`t sure whether road biking really is for woman.

Before I begin my vent: A disclaimer (My complaints are the results of high expectations)

Before I will be sharing many of my observations over the next couple of days, let me disclaim this: I was born & raised in Germany. This means that I am expecting to feel home in my home country. When in the US, or in Spain, in India, in Dubai things seemed weird, people awkward, chauvinistic, politics insane, I vented, but really it did not affect me emotionally, because – at least that’s what I thought – the motherland is sane and well. And while this country is stunningly beautiful, which I haven’t really appreciated as much beforehand, there are many things I am observing that make me feel very much not at home, not belonging. And that sucks for me right now. But, I guess, at least all of you will learn a lot about Germany through my lens.

Let’s jump right in: There is no separation of church & state in this country and all of a sudden this really bothers me! 

I just saw on my first paycheck that I am paying taxes to the church. YES, I was christened and confirmed in the protestant church and that means that I am paying eight (8!!!) percent of my income tax to the church. A church that still refuses same rights for all marriages. You can opt out of the church. However, opting out of church costs a fee and can only be done in person at municipal community where you are registered. Obviously, as we know – most likely a global phenomenon – municipal communities are open pretty much three hours a day, their employees – in Germany lifetime employees of the state – are not the most enthusiastic workers and the three hours collide with every normal person’s working hours.

If you are opting out of the church there are severe consequences

Maybe not severe as in the clergy will hunt you through the streets and declare you evil, but modern world severe as in: You will not be able to get married in a house of god nor will you be able to have your child christened. Yes, now it is time for me to face these questions: How important are these things to me after all? I do not know yet.

Sunday – Funday

Since I already touched upon the churchy subject, let me get my thoughts about sundays out of my system. You cannot do anything on sundays! No supermarket, no shop, no mall, no nothing. Granted, the Southern German region is different than Berlin. However, most shops here close their doors on saturdays around 2pm. That is has become a little bit of an issue for me, since I am so used to starting my weekend with a longer bike ride saturday mornings. Obviously, the sunday is a German tradition.  Often have I told Pouya how much I miss sunday afternoon “Kaffeetrinken” / coffee and cake with the family. For a moderately busy person the leisure sundays seem quite constraining.

Speaking of fundays: The beer nation with no beer variety

Countless times have Americans told me how much they dig German beer. While it certainly is an acquired taste I really have fallen for strong, hoppy IPAs (Sip of Sunshine, my American Northeastern friends) or really tart Sour beers. While Germany has uphold the rule of the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law: beer is only beer if it is brewed in a certain way with certain ingredients) that limits the choices you have. Hefeweizen, Lager, unfiltered. That is it. Sure, there are a thousand Hefeweizens, Lagers and unfiltereds. Still, though, that’s pretty much it. Funny how this nation remains on the global beer throne; reputation is king, I guess.

Complaints are not all I have to share with you

My self help “The How of Happiness” book which I can truly recommend to anyone states that the determinants of happiness are fairly easy: 40% is genetic predisposition (yap, you’re either born a clown or a grumpy cat), 50% is your inner attitude and 10% is outer circumstance. The 10% basically suggests that you will not be happier with 10lbs less, living in a mansion or retired, at least not permanently. The 50% are the interesting part. And that is what I want to finish with.

I am here

I am living with my colleague Petra (the apartment search will be subject of another post, too good to spoil it…), I was welcomed back with a bouquet of flowers, lots of hugs and kisses at work and at home, I have not once had a tummy ache since I have arrived (thank you, EU), and I have most likely produced 10times less trash on an average day because Germans prefer real glasses, silverware and ceramic instead of plastic or paper everything. I refuse to state that I have returned, that I am settling, that I am back. I am here! Working on a job opportunity I have never dreamed of, accompanied by a partner who will most likely develop a Swabian German accent (oh boy!) once he starts learning German in August, six weeks of paid vacation, a company that values work-life-balance and family time and lots of stories to tell.

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My first soy cafe latte in Germany. Würzburg has a vibrant hipster scene. From what I have heard an oatmilk chai is a favorite here…

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And for lunch: Milkrice with cinnamon and sugar 😉

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The view from Würzburg’s Marienbridge: a good destination for sunday fundays where a glass of wine costs 3dollars.

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Würzburg’s streets

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My flowers and new desk (and, more Swag)