Letters from Sonja: Ulrike-Barbara is Born
Our second child, a daughter, Ulrike-Barbara was born.
more from author >>
First published: November 8, 2005
The most important event in 1960 was the birth of our second child.
First photo of our "princess".
I tried to rescue as much as possible of the furniture we got with the house. So on June 3rd in the early evening I was scraping some side tables with a piece of glass in order to get rid of all the old polish. The side tables were made of solid mvule, which I like very much. The wood looked very nice again after all the scraping. I could not finish my job, as I suddenly noticed, that the baby was on its way. Hubert took me to Nsambya hospital. He had to go back home and take care of Michy. He told the Meyers and Ria came straight away to the hospital and very patiently sat at my bedside. It still took quite some time before they took me to the labour room. Everything went very well then. This time I got to see and feel my baby instantly. The doctor, who was a Franciscan nun, held the still wet baby to my face. It felt so good and I was so relieved, that everything was OK. Ria was still waiting for me. Dr. Sister Eugene herself made a cup of coffee for me. Ria left after a while and went home to tell Hubert that he has got a daughter. Everybody in Nsambya hospital was so kind and friendly. It was so much different from the European and Asian Hospital. The rooms were very simple, but I felt so comfortable there.
The new baby.
I wrote to my parents on June 22nd, 1960:
“At 1.35 a.m. on June 4th, l960, the Saturday before Whitsunday, our daughter Ulrike-Barbara struggled to see the light of this world. Weighing 7 lbs 9 ˝ o z. she weighed 10 oz. more than Michy at the time of his birth. Her length of 21” is quite considerable, too. Barbara is a healthy and very good baby. She had almost black hair at birth, a real mane. Hubert said she has a round head like me and looks like me in every way, but I noticed one distinct difference. Barbara certainly does not have my nose. Her nose definitely is like Hubert’s. I had to stay in hospital for one week. Hubert and Michy visited me several times daily. Michy is very happy about his little sister. He remarked that she is a nice “Wutzele”. (Wutzele in my dialect means something tiny.) After that Barbara was just "Wutzi” for quite some time. Michy was constantly observing every little detail of his sister: Her ears, hands and feet.”
I sent home the first photos of Barbara on July 7th, 1960 and commented that she is not as hot tempered as Michy, but is a very good baby. She does not give me any extra work and I did not have to get up a single time during the night.
Barbara being dressed after her bath on the kitchen counter with a quickly fastened "curtain" to keep the sun out.
My father apparently was not very happy with the name, but I liked it. I always tried to choose a name that was not too difficult to pronounce for people, who did not speak German. I also gave both my children a double name, so that they would not have a disadvantage to the other children, who all had more than one name. While in hospital I realized that I made a good choice at least with the name Barbara. Everybody there called her Barbara from the beginning. The midwife as well as the sister who took care of me during pregnancy were both called Barbara in their civilian life. And that name stuck to her as her first.
Barbara was baptized on August 7th, 1960 in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Nsambya by Father Mazagg. Father Mazagg was the parish priest of “Christ the King” in Kampala. He was a Mill Hill Father from South Tyrol, which now belongs to Italy. He was a language genius. German was his mother tongue (South Tyrol earlier was part of Germany and later of Austria before it became part of Italy.) But he also spoke fluent Latin, Italian, English, Luganda and Swahili.
After the Christening Ceremony in our garden. Mr. and Mrs. Seefelder with their godchild.
During the baptism ceremony he used several languages. Mr and Mrs. Seefelder are Barbara’s Godparents. The ceremony took place in the afternoon. Afterwards Father Mazagg, the Seefelders, and the Meyers came to our house for coffee. It was a very festive occasion. Michy was dressed very nicely. By the evening he did not look so good anymore. He just was a real boy!
Michy on the day of his sister's christening while he is still clean.
It was the 22nd of June 1960 now. Still nothing happened regarding Gerd coming to East Africa and I advised him to look for another possibility to be able to spend some time somewhere abroad. I did not think it worthwhile to go to another European Country, but recommended for instance Australia or everything outside Europe except the U.S. Also South Africa would not be a good choice. I saw big problems coming in that country, if they did not change their politics soon. I would have really preferred it if Gerd could still come to Uganda and Hubert still tried. Hubert really had use for Gerd rather urgently.
On August 29th, l960 I wrote home as follows:
“I am really pleased that Gerd can see so much of the world. (He had been on a vacation to France.) My first big trip brought me far away to East Africa, but I had not seen anything of Europe then. I had not even seen much of Germany. I am just sorry, that the situation here still does not allow him to come here. Nobody knows, what will happen here after Uganda receives self-government. We, however, are very optimistic and still hope, that Gerd can come to Uganda.”
Time dragged on and nothing seemed to happen regarding Gerd.
At one time during the year Hubert told me, that he had a great surprise for me. He would start counting from one. Whenever there was some news he would let me know, which number has been reached and by the time he reaches 100, he would present the surprise to me. This became one of our fun games. I was thinking so hard, what the surprise could be and asked many questions, but I just could not find the answer. I always thought about something I would be getting. I thought of a picture. I asked how big the “thing” was and so on.
On September 30th, 1960, Hubert said, the surprise would be a soft, washable, breathing active, 6 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide object. I for a second thought, that this could be Gerd. But I did not dare to mention this. I was afraid; Hubert would put me in a mental institution. Instead I once more tried to make sure if Hubert is talking about an object or perhaps a person. Hubert, as well as a friend of ours, confirmed to me – without wincing - that the talk is about a thing. I did not mention anything else after that but was wondering, how I could get the idea, that it could be Gerd. I really said to myself, that my thoughts were crazy.
Still I could not get the idea out of my head anymore. Anyway, Hubert said, to-morrow we will have reached 100.
more from author >>
First published: November 8, 2005