Friday, February 4, 2011

Picture book

I am currently working on a picture book for Simon, documenting his first 6 weeks of life in the hospital. I wanted him to have a separate book for this experience because it was a big deal - and I want to have the whole story in one place. (I'll make him another one for his first year that won't focus so much on those early days.)

It brings up a lot of memories to look back at these picture, to reread my blog as we lived through it. I remember while it was all happening, how so many people were impressed by how positive and composed I remained. But there just wasn't any other way to be - that's what I remember. This was not what I wanted (of course it could have been much worse) - but it was what it was, and there was nothing I could do to change it. All I could do was focus on Simon, and I knew that he needed positive energy full of love and caring and compassion. I believe in that stuff - that energy heals, mind over matter, that I could make a difference.

But when I look back at our blog and all of the picture from Simon's first weeks, I also see how naive we were, and that, in some ways, it was to our advantage. Simon is our first, and I think this made it easier. Think about it. First time parents, we didn't know what to expect from a fullterm birth, much less a premature one. Like so many other new parents, we had to just take what we got and go with it. We didn't know what we were missing, or how things could or should be different.

Of course there was a lot disappointment. I had a plan. I was giving birth naturally (no meds) at a birthing center, away from all the meddling doctors, with just my midwife and my husband. I was going to try a water birth, and bring Simon to my chest immediately after giving birth. Rest for a while, then go home a few hours later with our new baby. I had a plan!

So I was disappointed, but I hadn't gone through it before to really know what I missing. What it feels like to hold your baby (or even touch your baby - really see your baby) after going through labor. Those first days of bonding and recovering - the ups and the downs. It was different for us. Now that I have experienced the love of my own child though - that unyielding all-powerful love - I look back in awe of our own experience and our own composure through it all. Now that I know, I think it would be so much harder.

It's funny to look back at all the pictures, because our perspective has changed so much. I remember how we sent pictures to our families every day, and commented on how cute he looked with his little hand or a little smile, how he had grown so much (ie. gained an ounce). We didn't see the tubes and the machines and the sterile hospital atmosphere. But I am sure most others couldn't help but see it - it's hard not to. And looking back I can see those tubes now, just for a moment, but then I see my little Simon, the sweet little love of my life. I am so glad this book has a happy ending.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


We have been here for almost 8 months now, so you might be wondering how we are getting along with that language they speak here...Deutsch. It depends on the day you ask really. Before moving to Germany I had studied German for a year in high school, spent 3 months in Switzerland, and studied one year in college. But if you don't use it, you lose it. And lose it I did!

When we arrived in Germany in June I could hardly form a sentence or remember the most basic words. I couldn't count, and when I tried to say something it often came out in Spanish. With Simon, it hasn't been possible to take a course - so I have been learning on the fly.

But I am happy to say that I get by - and that I enjoy the challenge, and deal with the frustrations. I can have basic conversations, go to the grocery store, market, or post office and get it done in German. If all else fails - most people understand English, but I try my best to speak German when possible.

One of the things that has been most helpful in learning German has been taking Simon to courses with other German moms. Of course the courses (PEKIP and Babyschwimmen) are in German, and I get a chance to speak German with new people and learn German baby songs. It has helped me tremendously, and I have found Germans to be very patient and willing to put up with my crappy German. (I also believe that they would rather hear my crappy German than speak English.)

Martin, whose German is clearly better than mine, does not have nearly the opportunities that I do to speak German. They speak English in his office (because of him), but he doesn't have time to work on German at work when he so much actual work to get done. He did a one week intensive German course in January, but again - he's not out and about the way I am to really use it on a daily basis.

We both hope that we continue to improve our German. In the fall, I will be able to take a German course that provides childcare, so I am really looking forward to that.

Kindercafe! - Spielen und Spaß

Yesterday Simon and I met up with some of our friends at the new Kindercafe (Kids' Cafe), Pantakea, just around the corner. It has a big sandbox on one side for the kids to play in, and soft mats cover the other end of the cozy space, with toys, books, and swings strewn about.

They also sell coffee, tea and snacks for both adults and little ones - but no pressure to buy. You pay an entrance fee to come and play, and can stay as long as you like. This is perfect for the Drizzledorf winter weather. Simon played nonstop for 3.5 hours (well, he ate) and loved watching other kiddos and playing with new toys. And, also important, Mama had a great time too! We both made new friends, and know that we will make many more there. I envision many a cozy afternoons played out here....looking forward to it.