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Slice of Life Sunday: Birth of a Child

April 10, 2008

SOL Participant 2

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode .

 

I was not feeling well last night and went to bed at 7:30pm. I woke up early this morning and felt inspried to write the following:

 

 

Having a baby for most women is such a natural and easy life event. They just do “it” with the love of their life, or sometimes an acquaintance, and nine months later out pops a beautiful baby wrapped in either a pink or blue blanket. For me, having a baby was not so easy. Getting pregnant was easy – as a life skill, I had a master’s degree in the conceiving part – but carrying a baby to full term proved to be more difficult.
I was only sixteen years old when I became pregnant for the first of my six pregnancies. My mother was of the belief that not telling her children the facts of life would somehow insulate them from consequences of not knowing. I was almost five months pregnant before I discovered what was making me so sick in the afternoons. Since I did not have the normal morning sickness, those knowledgeable about these things did not suspect either. Once the discovery was made, a quick wedding was planned and I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm, with a slight bulge in my midriff that would become my Achilles’ heel.

Three weeks after my wedding day I went into labor. Once again, my lack of knowledge of these things led me astray and I believed I was just having the worst backache of my life. I spent an entire day alone and in pain waiting for my husband to get home from work so he could give me a backrub to ease the gut-wrenching pain. His foot massage had worked wonders on my aching feet a few days before, so I felt confident he would come to my rescue again. I was never so happy to see 4:45pm on a clock in my life as I did on July 17, 1968. John spent the evening rubbing my back but the pain would not stop and actually got worse. By 10pm, and after a call to my mother and to his mother, and then to my doctor, I was taken to the hospital – I was in labor even though I was only 26 weeks along in my pregnancy. Four hours later I gave birth to a one pound nine ounce baby girl that I was never permitted to see. My doctor and my husband decided I was too young and too weak to endure seeing her and holding her, only to watch her die a few hours later. I was kept sedated and when I finally woke up I was told Lorenda Sue had died. Although she was fully developed on the outside, her lungs and heart were not ready to function on their own. In all my life, I have never seen anything so sad as that tiny little closed coffin. Not much bigger than a man’s boot box, it served as a symbol to my inadequacy as a woman, my uterus was so small it would prove difficult to carry a baby to full term.

 

Just over one year later, the day after Neil Armstrong took the first step for mankind on the moon, I learned I was pregnant for the second time. I was so excited that I wore a maternity top, even though it was not needed at only 8 weeks, to meet my husband at the door with the good news. Four weeks later, the day before my 18th birthday, I became very ill and had a miscarriage. I soon learned to despise that word. Five months later, after having only known I was six-weeks pregnant for two days, I had another miscarriage. Getting pregnant was not the problem, my “failure to attain” a full-term pregnancy was. Four months later, in early May of 1970, I was pregnant again for the fourth time in two years. I was almost too afraid to become excited about the prospect of becoming a mother. One week later, after telling our good news yet once again to our families, Uncle Sam decided to take the focus off my pregnancy and put it on my husband by way of a draft notice. Ten days later I watched my husband board a bus for a trip to boot camp that would eventually lead to a plane to Vietnam.

 



Being that I had a “high risk pregnancy,” I was convinced (although told is a more accurate description) to move back home with my parents. It really didn’t matter at the time where I lived. I was in too much of a shock at having my husband taken away just when I had learned I was pregnant again to put up too much of a fight. I watched the news every night and feared that my husband would be shipped off to Vietnam and he would never see our baby – if in deed I was able to actually have a baby.  I do think my living at home contributed to my being able to carry our daughter well past full term. My father absolutely forbade me to pick up anything. And I mean anything. I was not permitted to even carry a glass of water. I was not allowed to help with any housework and he even got upset at the idea of a baby shower and my “lifting” a present to my lap to open it. My “due date” was his birthday, November 15, and he was on a mission to make sure he received his gift – his first grandchild. So he pampered me and just about drove everyone else in the household crazy for the next seven months.

 



November 15 came and went. Thanksgiving came and went. In early December my husband came home on a 30-day leave. What I did not know at the time was my doctor had petitioned the Army to allow John a leave due to “my medical condition”. John had received his orders for Vietnam in late October but talked with his superiors about “our situation”. Between a very understanding and caring Sergeant, and my “I’m not taking no for an answer” doctor, John was permitted to remain stateside until I had the baby. Of course the Army had the understanding I was due in mid-November and they should have another body-waiting-for-his-bag ready to send to Vietnam by Thanksgiving. When I didn’t cooperate, or I should say, our baby didn’t cooperate, the Army gave the final word, John would leave on January 3rd for Vietnam regardless of what happened with my pregnancy.  My doctor was convinced that he had somehow miscalculated my due date. Christmas came and went. I was so big I could hardly walk. Finally, in the early morning hours of December 29, 1970 I gave birth to a six-week old baby girl who weighed 9 pounds even. John and I both cried when the doctor laid Kelli Rae on the outside of my belly. It was a miracle- she was alive! And she was big. She rolled over in her bassinet when she was just 14 hours old. The doctor was amazed and could not stop apologizing for allowing me to go six weeks past my due date. But I didn’t care. All I knew was I finally had a beautiful, healthy baby girl with a head full of dark curly hair. Five days later John boarded a plane for Vietnam.

 

 

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2008 12:48 pm

    Of course I know this story, but it is beautifully written. It makes me want to know what happened in Viet Nam, even though I know the answer. You should be required to write a post on Slice of Life for every prompt. Great job!

    ~~ Hi Mo, Thank you for the compliment. And, actually I am writing a story for each prompt. I thought I would feed them in slowly on Cricket’s Hearth or just put them in the Pie Safe as they are completed.

  2. April 13, 2008 1:59 pm

    6 week old baby girl…hehe
    I gave birth to 6 week old boys-if size counts…LOL
    What a story!

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