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It’s dificult to comprehend that we have already been here for half a year. Even our first Christmas and New Year’s in Germany is behind us – so Happy New Year! It was a time to reflect on 2011 and all the miracles and adventures we have experienced. Making a calendar for my hubby, I realized just how much we much we traveled. We “rang” in (or were rung in) 2011 in a hospital room in Cebu, Philippines – watching fireworks out the window with feelings of desperation. Fortunately, the new year brought us the best news and a speedy recovery for Patrick. With no time to waste, we quickly planned CNY in Singapore, then Taiwan and Zhangjiajie – our last trips in Asia before we began our farewells. And what farewells those were! Our companies, colleagues, and friends were so gracious and really made us feel very loved/appreciated. Our last party in our apartment in Shanghai was Kaya’s first birthday. Just a few weeks after we found out that he would become a brother the following February. How very appropriate!

End of June we arrived in blistering hot Germany and found our temporary apartment (which turned out to be “not so temporary”). July the Culpan grandparents helped out with Kaya while Patrick and I took turns apartment hunting/working. August was Patrick’s last month in China where he returned to the wild & free days of “work hard, play hard” – cut to Kaya and I relaxing on the beaches of Southern Turkey (actually I don’t think I had even a minute of lounging, as I spent most of it running after Kaya on the beaches of Southern Turkey)…

The Fall marked the true start of Scherr family life in Germany – and excellent weather that continued till the end of November. We made the best of those wonderfully colorful heaps of leaves and crisp sunny days on the Rhein. We had many visitors as we also made arrangements to move into our new apartment. By October, we were moved in and enjoying Cecillienallee 33 with my brother and Leigh Ann (sans kitchen for about a week, mind you, but that story deserves a ‘nother post). Being on the continent makes travel to see friends and family so much easier  – we took advantage of that in the Fall with 2 trips to Austria. November Kaya started his new day care – a Tagesmutter who had one other little boy a few months older. We also had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with anneanne & dede (Kaya now calls my parents “nani” and “didi”). And before we knew it, we were in holiday spirit – Amsterdam “Maroni” (you know who you are) reunion to kick of December and then 10 calm, cosy days with Kaya’s 86-year-old great grandmother over Christmas. She flew alone for the first time in her life to come visit us. Just before the year was over, we had dear friends from Istanbul visiting with whom we “sightsaw” Cologne. I don’t care what Dusseldorfers say, I like that city.

And for the second time, Kaya slept through New Year’s Eve as Patrick and I watched fireworks from our window – in our comfortable apartment overlooking the Rhein – a far cry from our island hospital experience a year ago. A balmy 10 degrees and rain rain rain…we stepped out on our balcony and recalled the CNY fireworks that would explode on the level of our 20th floor apartment windows in Shanghai. So much had happened and so much yet to come in the new year. More importantly, SOMEONE yet to come. The anticipation as the clock struck 12 – will she be blond or brunette, tall or short, calm or active, like Kaya or totally different…keep reading and following, that chapter is yet to be written.

Nature has taken its course and it has decided to go the fast track. I am sure all parents who have been through the agony of the first few sleepless months of worrying about every little gram their newborn gained, hours of sleep slept and number of diapers soiled, understands how unbelievably quickly that first birthday comes and goes. When sleep can only be squeezed into 2-3 hours intervals 24-hours around the clock, those first weeks seems to stretch into eternity. For me, it was a shock to be in a routine that was so predictable and yet uncontrollable. Before I knew it, the first three months were gone and then I mourned them that they would never be back. How silly we humans are! Or at least this human. Every month I couldn’t believe it was another month. There was that magic of seeing Kaya grow and be able to do more and more. That sweet anticipation of what the next month will bring and how our lives with him would change. What will it be like when he can play with toys? Or when he can eat solids? Or when he can crawl? When it did come, I still felt a little nostalgia for what was past. But alas, on the to future: what will it be like when he can walk on his own? When he can TALK and express himself? Parenthood is sweet anticipation and a nod to the past through our photos and memories. That contradiction of wanting to savor every moment and the curiosity of what is to come. Of course this is all irrelevant to Kaya who is just happy he finally got a red battery-operated sports car from his nanny and doesn’t have to continue playing with his educational, safe, wooden toys that Mommy bought from Germany! Happy first birthday, Kaya


I’ve changed. I say things like “when I was young.” Even though I don’t feel old, I know I’m getting old. I never thought about getting a “month” older, but now that I’m counting the months with my son, I often (too quickly for my taste) find myself thinking “there we go, there’s another month that we will never get back.” Kaya learned how to sit on his own in the past few months. What did I learn? I learned RESPECT. Respect for something I have most ignorantly taken for granted all these years. The machine we call the human body.

Why this revelation now as we enter 2011? Well at the turn of the new year, we experienced an episode that puts things into perspective for us. But before I get to that, may I explain that this climax was preceded by a series of events that tie into the same theme.

First and foremost, the miraculous prenatal development and birth of our son in May 2010. I admit, I doubted and underestimated my body. I watched “The Mircale of Birth” in middle school. I also knew others who carried out their pregnancies to term and had beautiful, healthy babies, but could I do it? And I am not only taking about the actual delivery – I mean, the whole thing, from conception to growing a “normal” healthy child in the womb, my womb. Now why would I doubt the most natural thing in human nature? I honestly don’t know. I don’t have really any reason to. And this is what I kept telling myself during the pregnancy. I come from generations of women who have successfully mastered childbirth. Patrick ditto. We are thankfully both generally healthy people who take care of ourselves – don’t have any (too) terribly consequential lifestyle habits besides the occasional drink in a Shanghai bar or midnight presentation for work. Then I sat back and watched the body, that machine, do it’s magic. OK, I didn’t exactly “sit” through this process. I was working up to the last week and traveling up to the sixth month. At some point, I started actually trusting this machine, exactly because it was working so well. At every check up, the doctor would listen to the baby’s heartbeat and then send me home saying “OK, baby’s very happy. See you next month.” Towards the end of the pregnancy, when I finally had to face the fact that this beautiful machine had produced a very beautiful but also fairly large bundle of long arms and legs which would have to come out, I realized that I was out of my element. My body had been in charge for a now. I tried to get the mind to catch up. I read the Hynobirthing book my knowledgeable friends gave me, I popped in the DVDs, and did some of the exercises…listening to the nice woman’s voice till I fell asleep. The most frightening thing though was that I would have to be in a situation where a team of almost perfect strangers would be more in control of my destiny than I would. When that day did come, it was a Sunday (very early morning at that), and my doctor was still on vacation (returning only the next day), so the staff were largely composed of people I had never seen before in my life. Long story short, it was a miracle. The preparation did help, but mostly it was a random and unexpected event. And I think most mothers will say the same. At some point, you give up your control and the body does its thing. While there are those who can master the mind to unite with the body through this experience (and I say this with the utmost admiration), I didn’t quite get there. I was an innocent bystander and I was lucky.

Cut to November 2010. Kaya is six months old. And I manage to put off my impending appendectomy just long enough to nurse him to this point. I am going to have my first surgery and there is no turning back. OK, I guess it was not an emergency as most appendectomies are. I could have still put it off, but at the risk of this little menace of an organ getting inflamed and causing me real trouble at any inconvenient time. So it was going to happen at a time I chose, with a team I chose, in a hospital I chose. A stranger (but a trusted one) with a sharp knife was going to cut through several layers of abdominal tissue to remove something that was apparently only created for surgeons (as my surgeon put it when I asked if I would ever need this organ at some point). But before that, another stranger was going to put a long needle between the vertebrae in my spine and inject poison that would unable me to feel my torso and legs for several hours. Would my body cooperate this time? I had just started feeling like I had a core again with several months of yoga training behind me, and now what would happen? So Control, are you listening? Handing you over to this team now – on a silver platter. See you after those sleeping pills wear off. No wait, see you after I start to feel my legs again. Not being in control of your legs is a strange sensation for those who have never felt it. It felt h-e-a-v-y. And like I couldn’t breathe, although there was no connection to my lungs. It just felt like I was a ton of bricks laying on that bed unable to move. Thankfully the sensation didn’t last too long and pretty soon I was able to feel the aftermath of the severed layers of abdominal tissue. I don’t want to make a big deal out of a small surgery and offend those brave souls who have experienced much more complex cases. Suffice it to say the machine triumphed again. Several days and a few drops of morphine later, I was good as new. I even switched to the lightest painkillers after going home in order to return to nursing more quickly. Bye bye nuisance, hello new muscle-less core. I was golden.

Cut to December 31, 2010. We are in the ER of Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City (on Cebu Island), Philippines. Doctors who look like they should still be in high school are seeing to my husband’s case, a severe headache which hasn’t relented even after several hours in the decompression chamber at a military hospital the night before, a treatment recommended to us by the doctor at our vacation resort who had heard Patrick was scuba diving 24 hours before the headache started. The pressure was right in the sinuses above his eyebrows, so our trusted friend and ENT surgeon who we called in the US advises us to have a CT scan taken of the paranasal sinuses before we fly to Manila that afternoon. The results of the scan cause our happy-go-lucky high school musical Philippino ER staff to take on a more somber expression. Suddenly, admission to the hospital was made, flight was missed, New Year’s plans with our friends in Manila subverted. There was a new sheriff in town. The body. And here we were, taking it for granted again. But were we? After the ordeal ended (with the machine generating yet another miracle), we spent quite some time thinking about if we did or not. Many of our loved ones, who only want the best for us, told us that this was a sign to not work so hard or travel so much or take so many risks. This is probably exactly what I would have told a friend had she been in my shoes, because I believe in the body signaling messages. So was that us? Reckless, stressed out globetrotters who don’t appreciate our health or how precious life is? That’s how we are seen, so let’s look in the mirror. God, we don’t see those people, because we really, REALLY do appreciate what we have. BUT. We do see people who chose to live in and have a child in one of the most polluted cities in the world, who not only were given but sought out jobs carrying a lot of responsibility, who could have spent the Christmas holidays staying put in China but instead got on a plane to see a country they had never seen before and then got on another plane to see one of the more beautiful islands in that country AND THEN went to a resort 2,5 hours from downtown to get away from the area where most tourists stay.

I see it. We see it. We see our bodies. We are counting the months now not only for Kaya but ourselves. We have the utmost respect for that machine, and we will never take it for granted again, or at least till we do (again). Our careless youth chapter is closed. However (or furthermore), we also see our minds. This also demands to be respected. We learned that there needs to be a balance between body and mind. So here’s to a balanced 2011 for us and hopefully for all of you.

A ray of light. A brightness that fills the room. A little life that has sends so many sparks. Is it possible that Kaya is still in between worlds and teaching us that life is to be cherished every minute of every day? Is it good fortune that our hearts with warmth with this new life? Is it luck? Is it fate? It’s time to see the world through different eyes. Those who recognize the miracle of a new life. It sounds incredible that Kaya can enhance our world this way, but it’s true.

You are our sunshine, our only sunshine…you make us happy when clouds are grey…you’ll never know dear how much we love you…so don’t take our sunshine away.

Newborns. In my previous life, I almost didn’t acknowledge their existence much less appreciate them. Other people – far away people – have newborns. They are these scrunched up little beings with mysterious ways and loud screeches. With very little exposure to these creatures, I hadn’t realized that dealing with them can be a true art form.

Enter Kaya. He’s small. He’s furious. He cries so loud the nurses at the maternity ward come to check on us. What did we do with the baby? We were only changing his diaper! And so we begin our journey of discovering our own little newborn. A little observation and a lot of research (reading) later, I come to realize that I have given them and the Baby Whisperers among us far too little credit. After nine months in a dark, warm, cozy place where everything is provided for them, they enter a world that is cold, bright, and everything takes work – eating, pooping, moving. Enter doctors. They poke, the prod and make adapting to the new world even harder. What are they thinking?

In the first month of Kaya’s life, Patrick, my mother, and I realized just how exhaustive our world can be for our little ones. As tired as we mothers and fathers may be, our babies are much much more. So much to take in – sometimes it’s best just to close our eyes. Imagine we adults could do the same thing when the world was too much for us. Job too stressful? Yawn. Problems with the in-laws? Getting sleepy. War? Snore.

So what did I do in those sleepy months? Decided to go plain Jane like so many sleep and time deprived mothers of newborns. Hygiene – yes. Dressing – optional. Make up – definitely not. My mom bought a few long wrap around skirts (one size fits all) for me that were imported from India. That and my H&M tank tops saved me. Thought I would get major points from my ex-Hippie friends Tina and Court for my new style, but they were too far away to appreciate it.

Natural natural.