From having read candid autobiographies written by liberated women in the twentieth century, especially those published after the second phase of the Final Wars, c. 195= et seq. , I know that I am expected to tell in detail all aspects of my first pregnancy and of me birth of my first child - all about morning sickness and my cyclic moods and the tears and the loneliness. .. then http://pedagogicbooks.ru the false labour, the unexpected breaking of the bag of waters, followed by eclampsia and emergency surgery and the secrets I spilled under anaesthesia.
I'm sorry but it wasn't that way at all. I've seen women with morning sickness and it's obviously horrible, but I never experienced it. My problem has always been to ‘stay on the curve', not gain more weight than my doctor thought was healthy for me. (There have been times when I would have killed for a chocolate éclair. )
With my first baby labour lasted forty minutes. If having babies in hospitals had been the expected thing in 1899, I would have had Nancy on the way to the hospital. As it was, Brian delivered Nancy, under my direction, and it was much harder on him than it was on me.
Dr Rumsey arrived and retied the cord and cut it, and told Brian he had done an excellent job (he had). Then Dr Rumsey took care of the delivery of the afterbirth, and Briney fainted, poor lamb. Women are more rugged than men; they have to be.
I've had longer labours than that one but never a terribly long one. I did not have an episiotomy with that first one (obviously! ) and I did not need a repair afterwards. On later births I never allowed a knife to be used on me down there and so I have no soar tissue there, just undamaged muscle.
I'm a brood mare, built for it, wide in my thighs and with a birth canal made of living rubber elastic. Dr Rumsey told me that it was my attitude that made the difference but I know better; my ancestors gave me the genetic heritage that makes me a highly efficient female animal, for which I am grateful. .. as I have seen women who were not; they suffered terribly and some of them died. Yes, yes, ‘natural selection' and ‘survival of the fittest' and Darwin was right -stipulated. But it is no joke to attend the funeral of a dear friend, dead in her golden youth because her baby killed her. I was at such a funeral in the twenties and heard a sleek old priest talk about ‘God's will'. At the graveside I managed to back away from the coffin such that I got him proper in his instep with a sharp heel. When he yelped, I told him it was God's will.
Once I had a baby in the middle of a bridge game. Pat it was, Patrick Henry Smith, so that makes it 1932 and that makes it contract we were playing, not auction, and that all fits together, as Justin and Eleanor Weatheral taught us contract after they learned it and we were playing at their house. Eleanor and Justin were parents of Jonathan Weatheral, husband of my first-born, so the Weatherals were a Howard marriage themselves, but they were our friends long before we knew that about them. We did not learn it until the spring Jonathan showed up on Nancy's Howard Foundation list of young male eligibles.
In this bridge game I was Justin's parmer; Eleanor was Briney's partner. Justin had dealt; contract had been reached and we were about to play, when I said, ‘Put your hands face down and put paperweights on them; I'm having a baby! '
‘Forget the hand! ' said my husband.
‘Of course, ' agreed my partner.
‘Hell, no! ' I answered in my ladylike way, ‘I bid the bloody thing; I'm damn well going to play it! Help me up from here! '
Two hours later we played the hand. Dr Rumsey, Jr. , had come and gone; I was on Eleanor's bed with the table, legs collapsed and supported by pillows, across my lap, and my new son was in my partner's arms. El and Briney were on each side of me, half seated on the bed. I had bid a small slam in spades, doubled and redoubled, vulnerable.
I went down one trick.
Eleanor tilted her nose at me and pushed it up with the tip of her finger. ‘Smarty, smarty, missed the party! ' Then she looked very startled. ‘Mo! Move over, dear! I'm about to have mine! '
So Briney delivered two babies that night and Junior doc had to come back just as soon as he reached home and grumbled at us that he did wish we would make up our minds; he was going to charge us mileage and overtime. Then he kissed us and left - by that time we had long known that the Rumseys were Howards, too, which made Junior Doc a member of the family.
I called Ethel, told her we were staying overnight, and why. Is everything all right, dear? Can you and Teddy manage? (Four younger ones at home. Five? No, four. )
‘Certainly, Mama. But is it a boy or a girl? And how about Aunt Eleanor? '
‘Both. I had a boy, Eleanor just had a girl. You youngsters can start working on names. .. for mine, at least. '
But the best joke was another matter entirely, something we didn't tell Junior Doc or the children: Briney put that little girl into my sweetheart Eleanor, and her husband Justin put Pat into me. .. all at a weekend in the Ozarks to celebrate Eleanor's fifty-fifth birthday. The birthday party got a bit relaxed and our husbands decided that, since all four of us were Howards, there was no sense in bothering with these pesky rubber sheaths. .. when we could be ringing the cash register.
(Cultural note: I mentioned that Eleanor got pregnant on her fifty-fifth birthday. But the age of the mother on the birth certificate junior Doc filled was forty-three, or close to that. And the age filed on mine was thirty-eight, not fifty. In 1920 all of us had received a warning from the Howard Foundation trustees, delivered by word of mouth, to trim years off our official ages at every opportunity. Later that century we were encouraged and helped to acquire new identities every thirty years or so. Eventually this became the full ‘Masquerade' that saved the Howard Families during the Crazy Years and following. But I know of the Masquerade only from the Archives, as I was taken out of that turmoil - thank Heaven and Hilda! - in 1982. )
We rang the cash register five times, Brian and I, during the Mauve Decade - five babies in ten years, 1900-1910 Gregorian. I was the first to call it ‘ringing the cash register' and my husband went along with my crass and vulgar jest. It was after I had recovered from unloading my first one (our darling Nancy) and had been cleared by Dr Rumsey to resume ‘family duties' (so help me, that's what they called it then) if we so pleased.