The Dean and I | Part 13 of 13
Labor Ward, 1960s
No Men Allowed!
One more story and we’re there! We just left the restaurant where we gorged ourselves in honor of Baby’s imminent birth. That was one day before the official due date. It didn’t take long.
Baby arrived three days later. After about one hour of timed contractions at home, we were on our way.
The drive to the hospital was daunting. Lots of Boston crazy traffic. The right-of-way Boston rule back then was simple. Whoever got to an intersection first had the right of way, even if there was a stop sign on the cross-street. Drivers beware!
If you’ve ever ridden in a 1960s VW of any kind, you know the feeling. Not a lot of cushion for the bumps. I’m trying to focus on breathing and no panicking. D is nervous, and determined to get me there as quickly as possible.
We arrive safely and pull up to the emergency entrance. One of my student nurses is there to greet me. I’m plopped into a wheelchair and taken away to the labor ward. D is left to park the car and fend for himself.
Labor is already happening in the labor ward. The room is long, with multiple beds (at least 10-12) separated by hanging sheets. Leave your privacy at the front door!
Ear plugs might have been helpful. I could hear every other laboring mother’s moaning and groaning. Somehow, my student nurse managed to keep me calm and breathing.
While I’m focusing on getting through contractions, a nurse pokes and prods me. She also monitors my pain level. Not horrible yet. She asks about pain killers. I want the one that lets me stay wide awake and alert. Done. Phew!
It’s already time for the delivery room! I’m feeling great now. Ready for anything! When I get there, they point to a large mirror hanging from the ceiling. Would I like to watch the delivery?
Yes! I hadn’t antipicated this. Good thing I decided to stay wide awake. I wish D could be here, too. One of my student nurses is with me. She’s fabulous. But she isn’t D, and this isn’t her Baby about to be born.
It didn’t take long. No huge complications. One last effort and our son is born, 6 hours after I went into labor. It’s 4:41pm.
He squalls real good! Everybody in the delivery room is happy. I get to hold him a bit before they take him off to the nursery in some other part of the hospital.
Then they wheel me to my hospital room. D gets to see me for a few minutes, then walks to the nursery to admire his son and take a few pictures.
Through the Nursery Window
I was so psyched up I could hardly sleep the first night. I can’t describe my feelings of elation and excitement. D drove home that evening singing because he was so happy and relieved that everything worked out.
Four days later we’re back in the Griswold’s house. New parents, fumbling our way along, loving and sweating every life-or-death second of it. Thank goodness for Dr. Spock. His book saves our sanity more than once, especially right at the beginning. Is this normal? Check Dr. Spock! Can we do this? Dr. Spock thinks so.
Later that fall Mr. Griswold called. A family member needs housing right after Christmas. We agree to move during the Christmas break. It’s time, we’re ready, we have a son and an apartment waiting for us.
Thank you, Mr. Griswold, for being part of our early life as a couple and as a new family. You were the best!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 April 2015
Photo credits: http://www.dailymail.co.uk (Labor Ward)
DAFraser, August 1968 (Through the Nursery Window)