Two days of all day German…my brain is tired!

From 10am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday (just the past two days!), Ana and I got all of our stuff and our courage together to head to the birthing class we signed up for. We were a bit nervous because a) it was two days about talking about the details of the birth of our child and b) it was alllll in German!

Could we have chosen an English speaking class? We could have sought one out, probably online BUT this course was being offered by where our midwife works which means that this particular class would be focused on queer and trans experience. We spent quite a bit of time weighing the pros and cons. The big con was that it was all in German but there were many more pros. This experience has been quite a hetero focused experienced with most doctor’s offices full of straight couples and many of the resources for the classic mom and dad configuration. So often we feel like we are the weird ones when our experience is perfectly acceptable. If we went to this birthing class, we would be surrounded with other couples like us and perhaps we could even make some other queer parent friends. Plus we knew the atmosphere would be a bit more open as well in general. We have heard that many birthing classes here are very….sterile…in some ways. We knew that Cocoon, our midwive’s workplace, would offer something a bit more holistic.

So we signed up for it even though we were nervous about speaking and listening in German for two long days.

By the way, if you want to see more about Cocoon, it is really an amazing place and I am happy to give you the link to check it out:

We entered the Einhorn Familienzentrum (Unicorn Family Center…pictured above) and got ourselves comfy. Unlike the picture, the midwives running the class had laid out yoga mats, cushions, blankets and asked us to get comfy. We were surrounded by 9 other couples of different configurations….married couples, friends and supporters….and felt right at home. It was amazing how being surrounded by couples that looked like us made us feel safe. We didn’t have to monitor if others were ok with us holding hands or me touching my wife’s 8 month pregnant belly. We could hold each other and check in easily.

The images when information was given were images of queer people birthing babies and being a part of this process. It was a bit sad that I noticed because it is not usually what I see in this process. We had activities that we interacted with, we got to know people, and there were even a few meditation practices that put us at ease. We learned how to massage through pain, different positions that helped, talked about interventions with care, and they answered many questions. While Ana and I felt as though this wasn’t new information, we were grateful for the space.

And now the toughest part….the German for hours about hours. Have you ever spent a whole day trying to interpret another lanuage in your brain so that you might understand much of what is going on? I was proud of myself that I could understand most of what was going on both days. It took so much energy and effort, and I missed some of the finer pieces, but for the most part thought I was getting most of the information. This was true until about 4pm each day where it was almost as if my brain said…nope, no more! You are done with this other language for the day. It was if there was a switch that just….switched off! All I heard past 4/4:30 was “German german german german german” with bits and pieces here or there clicking in.

I came home WIPED OUT each day. I think this was because my brain worked over time, the day was a long day with a lot of information and activity and I am still technically in recovery with my energy.

Today I feel grateful but a bit worn out. It will take me at least today to get back to my energetic self.

I had coffee on Friday with a friend who moved from Portland to Berlin at the same time I did. He and his husband had lived here 10 years prior but then had been in Portland for a decade before deciding to return to Berlin. He and I had met in Portland once to talk about it and then when I first moved to Berlin. We both remember both of those coffees well. We have hung out a few times while both living here although we live across the city from one another. It is always good to connect and remember and scheme more. On Friday as I was explaining this class coming up and getting ready for this baby, and then we were talking about my recovery and healthcare here, he paused and said, “you are having all of the experiences here! Can you believe it? Could you have thought?”

I stopped and thought and promptly said, “I never would have thought!” And yet here I am, doing all the things of living a full life here and in German. What a thought! What a slice of immigrant life I never dreamed of and yet I am grateful for!

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