Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Remembering A "Birth" Day

sleeping baby

Forty-six years ago today, our son was born. That's not his picture above but looks very much like he did at that stage of life. The day was unseasonably warm for February in the Chicago area. I distinctly remember being grateful for the sunny, pleasant day as I could no longer button my winter coat when I went to my scheduled doctor appointment. Pull as I might, the buttons and buttonholes would not meet over the mound in my middle. It was 1968 and the baby was not due for another full week, but I'd had contractions off and on for days. False labor pains was the term used then.

That afternoon, the doctor told me the baby might come at any time. I drove home thinking that maybe tomorrow I should get a few things made ahead so Ken would have quick and easy meals while I was in the hospital. Women stayed 5 days not this one and out method of today. 

Ken normally went to a mens' service club dinner meeting on Monday nights but those little twinges had started up again, so I suggested he skip it on this particular night. We had stuffed peppers for dinner that evening, a favorite of mine. The twinges I'd had were getting stronger and more regular. I'd take a bite, then put my fork down and wait. I knew that you shouldn't eat once labor started. But I wanted that stuffed pepper in the worst way. I'd take another bite, then lay the fork on the plate again. I finally quit eating but reluctantly. We watched one of the big shows on TV at the time--Laugh-In. By the time the show was over at 8 o'clock, I told Ken we'd better go to the hospital. I'd packed a bag earlier in the day so it didn't take us long to be on our way. 

The same nurses were on duty as had been only 14 months earlier when our first baby was born with a serious birth defect. She lived only seven weeks. These wonderful women knew how special this birth would be for us. I felt confident that all would be well this time. My doctor had repeatedly said that the baby was a girl. "No, it's a boy," I'd respond each time. 

Two and a half hours after we arrived at the hospital Kirk made an appearance, crying lustily. When the doctor announced "It's a boy!" I immediately responded "I told you so!" No ultrasound testing in those days so the moment of arrival brought a surprise to parents. No husbands in the delivery room either. A nurse rushed out to relay the news of a healthy son to Ken. Our joy was so great that after Ken had gone home to call the grandparents, I lay awake all night, too excited to do something as mundane as sleep. I was flying high and couldn't come down off that cloud of elation. The window in my hospital room was raised a few inches and it suddenly got chilly in the room. I looked over to see snow piling up on the outer windowsill. Just then, a nurse came in and slammed the window shut. "End of yesterday's moment of spring," she said.

Mothers remember the birth day of each of their children. There is a theory that women don't remember the pain of labor once the birth has occurred. Maybe so, but all the rest stays with us, neatly filed away in our memory bank until something triggers it. Today, being our son's birthday, triggered these memories for me. 

If you have not written the story of your child's, children's, birth(s), do it soon. Put it in your Family Stories Book. Births, weddings, funerals--all of those deserve individual stories to be kept for generations to come. Your childrens' and grandchildrens' family history can only be detailed by you. Whether you are the mother or father, if you are the writer in the family, make sure there are pages that tell the story of these ever so important days. 


  1. Happy "birth" day, Nancy! You are right, the stories of our life milestones need to be preserved. My kids always love hearing their individual birth stories.

  2. People 'tell' the stories at family gatherings, but you and I both know they also need to be written and saved.

  3. I will do this, Nancy. The girls' birth days are still so vivid in my mind that it will be easy to do. No research necessary! (smile)
    Thank you for sending your story.