Well June 3 came and went and auspicious or not, it was clear that Thorsten would have his own birthday and the baby would have hers. But a day or two before she finally arrived, we visited the hospital for a check up. We were waiting in a very pretty delivery room. One that I assumed must easily be transformed a more “hospitally” looking room at the moment of someone actually delivering a baby. Although I had no experience yet with giving birth, I had heard it was messy and this room looked spotless and was decorated with cute bedding and furniture.
The window was open and it was late morning. A breeze was coming through and you could see the trees and a field of wildflowers outside. At that moment I heard a bird call that sounded like, “coo coo.” I looked at Thorsten and asked somewhat ironically,”Was that a cuckoo bird?” He said yes and that was the first moment that I ever realized that cuckoo birds are not are not mythical creatures from stories and I guess they are not extinct either. Apparently they are real birds and the clocks are based on their real bird call. Embarrassed, as I regularly call myself a bird nerd, I really had no idea. We mentioned it to the midwife when she came to do the check and she confirmed “Yes, the Cuckoos live in those trees.” The hospital is walking distance from our house, and yet I’ve never before hear the call of the cuckoo. In regular bird nerd fashion, right away I started researching the habits of the cuckoo bird.
I guess I knew cuckoo birds were real, but maybe I really did think they were extinct. Turns out they are relatively large and can be mistaken in flight for a small falcon. They are masters at mimicry. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. They have evolved to lay eggs that match the eggs of the host’s nests, so that the host will not notice a difference and will care for the egg as if it is their own. What is more interesting is that while the cuckoo has evolved to mimic the eggs of the host, the hosts have evolved to recognize foreign eggs. What’s funny to note however is that the hosts have not evolved to recognize foreign babies. So, if the cuckoo is successful at tricking the host bird into sitting on the egg, by the time it hatches the host bird has no idea that the hatchling is not the right species and feeds it as if it were it’s own. Wikipedia has some funny photos of small birds feeding giant cuckoos that don’t even fit in the nest. See below:
One thing I did know was that I had never heard of a hospital in the US that had open windows, or such abundant trees and wildflowers outside. As a result, I was able to admit that whatever my experience moving to Germany and becoming a Franconian had been thus far, whatever my opinion about being pregnant in a foreign country was, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t get to hear a cuckoo bird singing outside the window at a hospital where I might deliver a baby in the US, although I’m sure there are rural hospitals or city clinics near a green space that maybe have a similar view, so I was pretty excited to have such a mix of “natural” things happening in one place.
A few days later we were in another delivery room, a room that by this time had been transformed into a more hospital like appearance for our very own delivery. It was very early in the morning and we sat there together in the quiet after the storm, staring in absolute amazement at our new creation. The window was open and there was a breeze. On the air we heard the cuckoo’s call again. At that moment the doctor said to our little one, “Hear that? They are singing a birthday symphony for you.”
And with that I’m happy to report that a new era has begun. I’m not just becoming a Franconian myself, now I’m raising one!