(An excerpt from my diary dated January 28, 1969. I think it shows the progress that has been made in childbirth over the past 40 years.)
Contractions started around 3:30 a.m. and were just like when Ned was born--very irregular, mild to moderate, and disappointing. We decided to go see Dr. Roth, who sent me over to Delivery to have them break my water and get things started. He told me the baby would probably be born in about 3 hours.
I guess they were busier than they thought there because they didn't do anything to speed things up and just let me go at my own pace, which took a long time. The doctor, an intern, didn't check me for about 3 hours and I was fairly discouraged about everything because I had no idea how far into labor I was. When he finally did check me around 6, he wasn't terribly encouraging. By that time I was awfully tired and the hardest part was wondering how much longer I had to stay on top of contractions--if it was a question of hours, I didn't think I could do it.
My water finally broke and almost immediately my contractions became extremely hard and close together. The nurse examined me and asked if I wanted anything for pain, which I declined. Two contractions later, I changed my mind and rang for her. She took one look at me and all hell broke loose because Paul had decided to come now. It was really kind of funny. They were wheeling me thru the halls at top speed saying "don't push" and I was trying with all my might not to, and being very unsuccessful about it. Dr. Smith was racing around saying "wait for me!" and the nurse was saying "I told you she'd go quickly." Dr. Mayo, the staff doctor, asked if I wanted gas, which I vehemently rejected. I was in the middle of another contraction that I wasn't supposed to push for and began to blow very hard and I heard Dr. Mayo saying "she's a breather; she's a French breather." Anyway, in a very short time, I saw a little blue foot sticking up in the air and Dr. Smith said that Paul was a boy, but didn't show him to me and whisked him away to the basket to be cared for...I hadn't even seen his face yet.
Before being admitted, I had called Dr. Rousseau for permission to nurse on the delivery table. Dr. Smith wasn't too hot on that idea and said he had to ask the staff doctor. After Paul was born, I reminded him about it and he said he'd forgotten and it didn't look like he was going to say anything, so I yelled at Dr. Mayo to ask for permission, which he readily granted. Paul was crying very vigorously but wasn't too interested in nursing, though every time I put my nipple in his mouth, he did stop crying. It wasn't an ideal nursing set-up anyway, as Dr. Smith was still working on the episiotomy and the only position I could get into put Paul under my armpit. But it did serve its purpose--I got to hold Paul for a few minutes. The nurse finally whisked him away to the nursery--another thing I didn't go for; I would rather have carried him myself--while they finished cleaning me up.
Walt and I went down to the maternity floor, where all the beds were occupied, so I was installed in a bed in the hall for the night. Then when I asked about something to eat, I was told it was too late. Having had nothing since 7 a.m., I was starving, so Walt went out and brought me a roast beef sandwich and a couple of candy bars. By the time he came back, I wasn't feeling quite as chipper as I had earlier. I had started having afterpains that were really beauts. I knew that the pains got worse with each progressive birth, but didn't expect anything so strong. Walt finally left around 10 and I lay back on my bed of pain. I knew I was bleeding heavily because each time I had a pain, I could feel it trickle out between my legs and I knew I was pretty soggy. Shortly after Walt left, the pains got just horrible--nearly as bad as giving birth--and suddenly I gave a big push and passed a huge blood clot. It took awhile to get the nurse (having no call button to push) and when she came I told her about it and she rushed off in search of help. I felt much better after passing the clot and was relatively comfortable. Then the pains started again and a nurse massaged my abdomen to pass a couple more clots. Dr. Smith came down to start an IV solution of dextrose which stayed in my vein all night.
In the morning, the nurse got me up to take me to the bathroom and left me for a minute. I felt kind of weak and the next thing I knew, I was picking myself up off the bathroom floor. When the nurse came back, I told her what happened. She started to wash me off and again the next thing I knew she had my head in a vice-like grip and was holding some ammonia under my nose and repeating "are you all right?" Never fainted before in my life and all of a sudden I had passed out twice in a period of a couple of minutes. I knew I felt bad when it took me two hours to get up enough strength to walk down the hall to the pay phone to call Walt--and even then I didn't think I'd make it, nor did I talk for long or call anyone else, except Dr. Rousseau (the pediatrician). For me that's weak.
That was 40 years ago. It's difficult to realize that Paul would be 40 years old today. He's permanently frozen at 30.
Happy Birthday, Paul -- Wherever you are