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.
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.