Labor – a mother’s story

52 Ancestors

For this weeks topic Amy Johnson Crow reminded us of the often overlooked labor of our ancestresses. Which is funny since, just this past weekend, my mother and I were talking about her two widely different experiences with labor.

My Sister

My sister was my mother’s first born and mom was a typical first time mom. She was careful, worrisome, and probably dramatic. My father was no better. When she started having labor pains, they immediately rushed to the doctor thinking it was “her time.” The doctor disappointed them by telling them she was not in labor, but false labor, and sent them home. Now, I’m a little fuzzy on this part but it seems to me they may have gone several times over a couple of days and were turned away each time. My father had become wary of her declaration that it was time and acted with a little less urgency each time.

Finally, mom went into REAL labor. Dad was no longer in a rush, so by the time they got to the hospital she was very much, unmistakably in labor and quite dilated. Once at the hospital, some nurses and dad got her onto a gurney and ran through the hospital halls to the nearest delivery room – my sister was born enroute on that gurney by the nurse while running. She took my sister and ran ahead to the delivery room to get her all cleaned up and checked out. My father’s finish to this story is always, “And that’s how your sister beat your mother to the delivery room.”

I can just imagine the scene. Husband pushing gurney all wide eyed. Wife screaming obsentities (in a foreign language) with her eyes shut. The nurse up near the “delivery zone” watching the head begin to crown – wide eyed. Then running ahead and catching my sister like a football. That’s all dramatization of course, but it’s how my minds eye sees it every time I hear the story.

And then there was me

My paternal grandmother had come cross-country to visit when my mother’s due date was near to help out with my sister and household chores. My parents had just bought a little house in Arizona and was painting the bedrooms or something – maybe the nursery. Mom started to feel labor pain and grandma told her she thought it was time to go to the hospital. And mom – remembering her experience with my sister – said…nah.

Hours later, grandma became increasingly concerned as mom’s contractions got closer and she told my father, “It’s time to go!” And dad – remembering his experience with my sister – looked at my mother and said…nah.

Finally, mom realized she was in REAL, unmistakable labor and said, “It’s time to go!” I wasn’t born as quickly or as easily as my sister. They got to the hospital where it was determined that I was breach. They did what they did and here I am – writing about it.

Our conversation brought us to memory lane when mom made the offhand comment of how easy it was for her to have us girls, which made me laugh (ok, more like guffaw) and reminded her I was difficult to have. Then we giggled and laughed talking about it. I told mom I had heard this story many times from grandma, and mom confirmed that grandma was quite concerned. From grandma’s perspective, she thought they were both bonkers.

And this is the story that explains why I’m an introvert.