Monday, August 4, 2014

Made In Germany...Geoffrey Georg Hatfield!

 Made in Germany! 
Little German Baby...Little German Sweater.
Looks a bit like Winston!

Geoffrey Georg Hatfield was born August 4, 1980 in Bremerhaven, West Germany.  We were living in Edewecht, a rural town not far from Oldenburg in the state of Neidersachsen...or Lower Saxony.

Map showing location of Edewecht.

The hospital, PX and Commissary for the U.S. Army were in the port city of Bremerhaven, a couple of hours drive from Edewecht.  We traveled there several times a month for shopping and doctors appointments.  Bremerhaven means "Bremen's Harbor."  The two cities make up the Free Hanseatic City State of Bremen.

Beautiful thatched building in a nearby park when we lived in Delmenhorst.

The scenic drive throught the little country villages took us past windmills and barns with thatched roofs.  Some homes had nests of storks on the chimneys...very good luck!  Occasionally we would pass a chimney sweep in his top hat, a jaunty red scarf tied around his neck.  Or we'd see a solemn-faced old farmer trying to ride his bike while wearing wooden shoes; weaving his way along the cobbled street to the Backerei  for fresh rolls.

Ferry on the Weser

When we reached the Weser River, we had to wait for a ferry to carry us across.  This was fun on nice days, but choppy waters and morning sickness do not go well together.  The ferries ran several times per hour during the day, but made only a few trips at night.  My doctor felt that it was too risky to make a 50 plus mile trip with a river crossing thrown in, so he recommended that I check into the hospital two days after my due date.  I was certain it would only be for a day or two.  I've never been so wrong.

US Army Hospital Bremerhaven

The army hospital in Bremerhaven was a large forbidding structure with high ceilings and drafty hallways.  Someone told us it was a former headquarters of the Waffen SS...but I have since learned it was opened in 1938 as a "Marine Lazarett" or German Naval Hospital.  It was turned over to the US Army forces on June 28, 1945.

Entrance Gate Carl Schurz Kaserne 1980

The hospital was located on the Carl Schurz Kaserne...the American base in Bremerhaven.  In 1992, the Cold War was over and the US decided that they no longer needed the base.  It was reverted back the Germans.

"Radio City"

I have so many memories of the Kaserne...especially Radio City, the community recreation center.  It housed a snack bar, bowling alley, gymnasium, photo lab and a movie theater.  The snack bar was the place to go if you were craving a real hamburger and a chocolate shake.  I remember seeing at least one movie there...I think it was "Star Wars."  It is now the training center for the local basketball team..."Eisbaren Bremerhaven."    Go Polar Bears!

July 1980...before leaving for Bremerhaven.
Don't you love the ugly German wallpaper and our collection of windmill prints?

Meanwhile...back at the hospital.  If those dark, depressing hallways cold only talk!  The steep tiled roof sported the white crosses that symbolize a hospital, but my vivid imagination replaced them with swastikas.  Throw in a squadron of sadistic German nurses and I felt just like Melanie Griffith in "Shining Through."  I spent many sleepless nighttime hours roaming the stairs and hallways of that old building.  It's a weird feeling to be in the hospital when you're not sick.

At first it was like a kids or husband to wait on.  I had my own room and use of a television.  American TV programs were a rare treat after two years of German TV and re-runs of "Taxi" and "Raum Schiff Enterprise," where Spock and Kirk spoke fluent Deutsch.  The food wasn't bad, but soon the days began to run together.  I was soooo bored!  George could only come to see me every three or four days...he had enough on his plate trying to find day care for our two little girls.  My mother was thousands of miles away and I had few other visitors.  An acquaintance brought me a wind-up rabbit to hop around my dinner tray.  That got old quickly!

Birthday at last!

The lazy baby had no intention of leaving his cozy hideaway for the outside world.  Free food, a little napping and a lot of calisthenics were how he spent his days.  Meanwhile, I was shuffled from ward to ward as the beds were needed for "real" mothers.  Every time a new baby was born, it was a real hard night for me.  Two weeks had passed, but still no baby.

After 18 days in captivity, the doctor finally agreed to give me that wonder drug that starts labor.  This was administered through an IV drip attached to a vein in the back of my hand.

Endlich...Das Baby!

Right before midnight, our 9 1/2 pound  baby was introduced to a strange new world in a country far from home.  My doctor did not believe in pain medication during delivery...a fact he never shared with me.  This was not a fun experience; I had received no Lamaze training.  It was kind of like a Bill Cosby routine, "Breathe in!  Breathe out!  Find your focus!"  Focus indeed!  My focus was fantasizing the deaths of both my doctor and husband...who was chatting up the nurses.  "So," George said to the nurse, "how long did it take you to go to nursing school?"  Couldn't they see I was in pain?  But at last it was over.  Welcome to the world, Geoffrey Georg Hatfield!

Home at Last!
Beautiful Downtown Edewecht
Nowadays this sleepy-looking village hosts summer tractor pulls and American rodeos.

Setje...our hometown market!  
German version of a "General Store" they sold just about anything.

Our apartment building, located just off the Haupt Strasse...Main Street.
Only Americans lived here.

Almost three weeks to the day, they finally let us go home.  The best part of the ordeal...according to George...was the cost of my three week "spa vacation."  The bill came to $205 dollars...$5 a day for food.  Amber and Missy were glad to see me.  They weren't too impressed by the baby, though.  They didn't feel he was worth keeping their mommy away from home for so long.  To assuage or feelings of guilt we bought them their own "babies."

Amber and Missy's "babies"...Fisher Price Dolls from the PX.

Missy wouldn't be placated...she stuck to my side like a conjoined twin, screaming bloody murder if I tried to get her to go outside and play.  She lay on the floor in the stairwell, kicking the door and yelling her head off.  It was a relief to us all...and the neighbors...when Missy finally got used to the new baby.

Our Family...Edewecht 1980

Geoff's Name
We chose the name Geoffrey Georg, George chose the name.  When we were dating he told me I could name the girls, but he already had the boys' names picked out:  Geoffrey George and Gregory Emerson...our other son.  In honor of his birth on foreign soil and his dual birth certificates, we made one small change.  George became "Georg" which is the German spelling.  The schools always assumed I misspelled the name on registration forms.  Sometimes I forget myself just how it is spelled.

There was a darling toddler named Sascha who lived in our apartment building in Delmenhorst.  Sascha had curly blonde hair and the rosiest of cheeks...the iconic German baby!  I wanted to name our next child Sascha, but George insisted it was a girl's name. Did I mention that my cute little neighbor was a boy?  Although Sascha was a boy's name in Germany, I would have to wait until 1983 to use it when our next little girl was born.  Her name is Sascha Anna Hatfield.

Geoff and Daughter Alena...Daddy Daughter Date Night!

This is your story, Geoff.  Your birth was quite an adventure...but I wouldn't trade a minute of it.  You have grown to be a fine man and a wonderful father.  We are so proud of you and love you more than you can ever know.

Happy Birthday, Geoffrey!
Mom & Dad


Margaret said...

Happy birthday and what a nice tribute to your wonderful son! Maggie

Tammy's in Love said...

Shirley! That is such a wonderful birth-day story! I loved seeing the pix of Germany and hearing the 'spa' experience. While I was in Mayo I referred to it as my 'Club Med' trip!

Musings from Kim K. said...

Birthday blessings to your son. A wonderful story and such fun pictures. PS. I can't even imagine giving birth to such a large bundle of joy with no pain meds. Ouch!