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Seven

For the first four children, I have five children, I was very isolated.  The births were 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, and 1970.  The first time I was pregnant, I didn't have anybody with me when I was in labor because Thomas (husband) wasn't even allowed to be in the labor room.  The doctors and nurses were busy with other people that had come in, so I went through labor all by myself.  The doctor who delivered the baby wasn't actually my doctor, my doctor was out of town.  So the man came in and spoke very soothingly.  And it was his practice to use hypnosis for delivery, but he couldn't do that with me because we hadn't practiced it.  I was very uptight and very apprehensive, because I was all by myself and I hadn't done this before.  Although I knew, I really wasn't afraid.  So I was very young and when he spoke to me he was very, very calming and very reassuring.  I didn't have any complications with any of the births; it was just the fact that you did it alone.  I don't believe in big crowds in there, but I do believe that it is nice to have somebody there that you know and that you trust.  All my labors were basically quick.  That was the worst of it, being removed from your husband, to go into a room with strangers, to give birth to a baby.  Oh, and then they would take your baby from you, take it down the hall.  You didn't see your babies until you left the hospital; they would bring them in for a couple of hours every day and you weren't allowed to unwrap them.  Yeah, they didn't want you to unwrap them!  And when you were in the hospital waiting to pick up your baby, the people who came to see it had to look through windows to view the child, and my other children weren't allowed in the hospital. 

Lily:  Did all the births happen in different places?

The first four were in the United States; the first three in California, and the fourth one in Omaha, Nebraska.  And the fifth one, close to Melbourne Australia.  That was really the nicest one because Thomas was holding my hand the whole time, that was just fabulous!  After doing it the first time, I wasn't ever apprehensive.  I come from a family of nine children, being the second oldest, and I knew it was a pretty much natural process.  And I had felt well through all of my pregnancies.  Yeah I was lucky to be strong and healthy. 

Lily:  Did you see your own mom give birth?

No!  My mother was from the era when she went to the hospital and three days later she came back with a baby.  We were never allowed in the hospital.  Once we got to stand outside and wave at her.  I think it is so much more enlightened these days; it's a real natural process and that the woman needs to have some support. 

Lily:  Did you ever feel any postpartum depression with any of your births, since they were not in perhaps the environment you would have chosen?

No, we didn't know any different because this was the way that everyone did it.  I didn't have postpartum depression; I just had postpartum tiredness, extreme tiredness for three weeks after. 

Lily:  Most people are telling me one birth story, that you had five children is pretty impressive to me.  And, you know, none of them were born by Cesarean, when now there is such a chuck of the population going that route.   I guess that's my main area of interest.

Oh, Everett was three weeks late and there was never talk of taking the baby or starting labor.  They didn't have the monitoring devices.  I don't think he had any problems; he was very ashen gray when he was born, oh how babies get that kind of frosting on them.  But he was a very big baby and very healthy.  But even though I was going on and on, and I was getting bigger and bigger, there was never talk of going to induce labor.  The doctors seemed to think everything was fine, I guess, and I didn't have the understanding to question it.  I don't know, probably this era they wouldn't let a baby get so big. 

Lily:  Did you have any differences in how long the labors took, or were they mostly the same?

Adele's was probably longer because it was the first time and you get very apprehensive.  Scott and Everett and Blythe I could wait longer before I went to the hospital, and I didn't really have any hard labor until the last (end).  They just were easy.  Oh and I didn't have a lot of medication.  I had an oxy-swig and a gas thing sometimes, but not a spinal thing at all, which I think was an option then but I was not interested.  The worst thing in recovery was the sitz bath with the stitches, that was the worst (laughing).  Episiotomies every time, so that to me was almost the worst, getting over that!  I am very lucky to say they were very, very easy, no complications, because like I said I was quite young and real healthy. 

Lily:  Have you been able to see the births of any of your grandchildren?

Well, yes!  I was at the hospital for William and just missed his older sister Lindsey.  I was actually in the delivery room for Blythe's two children.  Jane, being the oldest, ten years ago; I got into the delivery room by accident because I got lost in the hospital.  So Blythe had told me that she didn't want me to be in the delivery room, and I said that was fine.  I respected her privacy, but when I went running into the room she said, "Oh hi Mom.  It's okay, you can stay".  So I was very respectful of her and stood way, way back, and got to see Jane instantly after she was born.  And then this second time when Luke was born, just a year and a bit ago, I was once again allowed in the delivery room because Jane got to watch the birth, and they said that she had to have someone with her.  If something went awry, she would have to leave the room, and Blythe's husband Jonah said, "Well, if something happens to Blythe or the baby I am not leaving the room".  So I got the invitation to go into the room and I said, "Yes sure!"  So once again, Jane and I are being very respectful and we are standing up at Blythe's head by her shoulder.  And she was just being an absolute trooper.  She had gotten to the hospital late, she had practically no medication, and the whole process was really quick.   Then this nurse sees Jane and says, "Honey, you can't see anything from there!"  So she grabs Jane and pulls her around so she's right in front of where the baby's going to come out and I just went right with her.  And then, all of a sudden the baby's being born and I'm looking at it, and I am so disoriented.  I can't tell what I'm looking at.  I had never been that close.  I was momentarily shocked, stunned, like, "Wow!" and unbelieving.  Like, "What's happening, what's happening?"  It took me a couple seconds to say, "Oh my gosh, it's the baby!"  It was so stunning.  It was great.  It was a real present to me to get to do that.  But actually as a mother who has watched her daughter have a baby, I would much rather have the baby myself because I don't want to see my children suffer (laughing).  But Blythe was fantastic, she just did it beautifully.  When I was pregnant with Henry, we were out of the country and my husband was working out of this little town, he was hundreds of miles away.  So that's the only time I had really bad false labor, because I wanted him to be there.  So it was a very tense time, but I only actually went to the hospital for the real event.   So that birth actually took all day, but I kept falling asleep so I wasn't really in hard labor.  I went to the hospital at like five o'clock in the mourning and had the baby about six o'clock at night. But I just really wanted my husband there so that was the thing that I was so uptight about, that was a real prize that he could be there.  He had never seen any of the other babies (be born) before, it was the first time the opportunity had been offered to us.  I didn't want him to miss that, and actually it made him a better dad.  He wasn't removed from the process.  Always before then they were my kids, but now they were more like his kids I think, seeing the baby there and holding the baby right after it was born.  Like I said before, I like the fact that the partners can be together if that is what the wife chooses.  We moved from California to Omaha, Nebraska when I was seven months pregnant, and I had to find a doctor.  So I don't know how, but this person was recommended, so I went in seven months pregnant so my tummy was pretty big.  And for some reason, it was their habit, their practice, to have the exam with this little tiny piece of cloth to cover your large stomach.  Cuz I wasn't big, but my tummy was big!  So you're constantly pulling it up and you're pulling it down.  I was trying to cover something, it was the strangest thing.  And then, in walks this doctor, the first time I meet him I'm laying down for the exam and he was so cute, young and cute.  I turned bright red, and just was flooded with sweat (laughing).  And I'm trying to pull this towel thing low.  Oh and then we moved.  We were in a house and had to move to a townhouse the day before Blythe was born.  I went into labor while they were still moving stuff out of this house.  I was just trying to hold my breath so we could finish and find someone to take care of the children, and it was a huge, huge, huge snowstorm.  So we got to the hospital, but the snow flakes were so big you could hear them land on your shoulders.  And then the baby was cold, when she was born she was cold.  I didn't get to hold her very long because she was turning cold.  I think it might have been because of the weather.  But the birth was fine, and she turned out fine!