Five Births

My maternal grandmother was born on June 13, 1908. I know nothing about her birth and early life except that she was born to godly parents who had a large family.

My own mother was born on January 15, 1930. Her birth occurred in an unpainted house that sat on a weedy patch of ground in rural Arkansas. On the day my mother was born, women who came to help my grandmother deliver her baby draped sheets above the bed where Grandma lay in order to keep the snow that was sifting through the roof from settling on Grandma.

I was born on March 24, 1952, in Trinity Lutheran Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. I believe my mom was administered some type of anesthesia while delivering me. My birth was the first in my family’s lineage to occur in a hospital under the supervision of medical professionals.

My daughter, Lara, was born on September 22, 1978, at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin, Indiana. Because at the time “natural childbirth” was in vogue, I patted myself on the back for requesting no anesthesia. Fortunately, the birth was uncomplicated and the labor was not excessively long.

My grandmother’s natural childbirth experience in 1930 undoubtedly differed from my own natural childbirth experience in 1978. For one thing, sheets were not hung over the bed to keep snow from falling onto the delivery field.

Also, my husband was in the delivery room with me and participated as much as possible in the birthing process.  In movies, the 1930s father-to-be is often shown pacing the floor and following instructions to boil water.

My first granddaughter was born on September 29, 2008, at IU North Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her mother, my daughter, was given an epidural injection at some point in the labor process. I remember watching as Lara contentedly watched TV and played Solitaire atop her distended belly while waiting for her labor to progress to the point of delivery.

My grandmother’s and mother’s births came about at no financial cost to their parents. Their caregivers were female friends and relatives who were paid by receiving reciprocal care when they had babies. The equipment and supplies used were items typically found in homes in that era. The “free childbirth care” trend had ended by the time I was born.

Recently my mother gave me this little worn metal penny bank. She and my dad bought the bank when they were expecting me. During the months of waiting, they filled it with dimes that they later converted into paper money that was used to pay for my hospital delivery.

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Regardless of the conditions under which these five daughters were born, their mothers welcomed their babies with delight and wholeheartedly devoted themselves to their care. They fed their babies, changed and bathed them, dressed them appropriately for the season, tended to them through sicknesses, protected them as much as possible from harm, taught them about Jesus, and loved them with a deep maternal passion.

How grateful I am for my rich maternal heritage.

Below is a painting of my beautiful mother and me painted in the summer of 1952. The painting was done by an artist somewhere in Formosa (now Taiwan) or Okinawa where my father was stationed with the Air Force at the time. The artist produced this painting by looking at a photo my mom sent to my dad.

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22 thoughts on “Five Births”

  1. Your mom is beautiful, and what beautiful labor stories, and it all comes around again, natural childbirth is back in vogue, among the strong. LOL

    1. Cheryl,isn’t it funny how trends come and go and then come back again? I’ve now lived long enough to experience this. I should have held on to my bell bottoms from 1970 (as if I could even begin to get into them today!).

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Debbie, I loved the historical perspective of childbirth in this piece! Including the pictures with this piece was such a nice touch. I imagine both the metal bank and the painting of you and your mom are among your most cherished things. The line about 1930s fathers pacing and being told to boil water made me laugh out loud. The line about the five daughters made me pause and think about how wonderful a shared experience that is for the women in your family. It make me hope the experience continues with your granddaughters. Mostly I appreciated this piece because I learned more about you, my friend. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Mary Kay. Yes, I realize that I was wonderfully blessed with godly women in my life. I hope I can be a blessing to the women in my life as well. Thank you for being by my side as a fellow writer. You know how healing writing can be–and also how blasted frustrating it often is!

      Love,
      Debbie

  3. What a wonderful piece. Only someone like you coiuld write an article on childbirth and make it funny but sweet. I am sure the two items pictured in the article are treasured pieces.filled with loving memories. You are so talented with words. Love your articles.

    1. Belva, thank you so much. I was blessed with a wonderful mother, as I know you were too. The painting of Mom and me when I was a baby is a true treasure. Thank you for always encouraging me to keep writing.

      Love,
      Debbie

  4. You come from a long line of strong, Godly women! What a treasured heritage! I believe I’ll always remember the painting of you and your Mom. It shows a husband/father’s love for his wife and child and how he was thinking of you two so long ago. I know it is a treasured possession.

    1. That painting is a treasure, Terri. I was loved by my parents even before I was born. I know you can understand that because of the great love you have for your sons and your grandchildren. You are a blessing to me, Terri.

      Love,
      Debbie

  5. What a beautiful tribute. Five generations who did and are making a difference in this world. Your treasures hold such beautiful memories. Love you my sweet friend.

  6. I love all the women mentioned in this article because they all, including you, had a positive effect on my life. Thank you sister for using your words to make the past and present come to life.

    1. Sharon, thanks for commenting and for “missing” my blog posts. My family and I suffered a terrible emotional loss recently. I’m trying to get back to my “real” life, which includes writing. This particular blog post was part of my healing process.

      Thank you for your encouragement. Keep writing!

      Debbie

    1. Thank you, Shirley. I am thankful for the sacrifices my mother made to take care of me and give me a rich, happy life. I know you’ve done the same for your children and grandchildren.

      Debbie

  7. So glad you’re writing again, Debbie–and how touching that you could not only share about your dear mother whom you’ve just lost, but also tie in all the generations. This blog came to me in such good timing as my own daughter, Tavia, and her husband, Chris, just welcomed their firstborn child, a precious daughter named Selah Ann, just this morning. When I was at the hospital and looked around a bit, it’s definitely interesting to compare this time and age to give birth and then reflect back to my own experiences.

    1. Congratulations, Becky! Isn’t it amazing how our hearts, which always seem full, are able to expand to hold love for one more. What a blessing!

      Thank you for commenting on my post. You’re one of my biggest encouragers!

      Debbie

  8. Hi Debbie, What a great tribute to the mothers in your family! I enjoyed learning more about you, too. Hope to see you on Monday!

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