I’ll admit today’s post is highly self-indulgent and probably borders on sheer fiction. But it’s my birthday, and to paraphrase Lesley Gore, I’ll write anything I want to. This is the story of my birth as told to me by people no longer around to dispute my account of it. All memory is fiction anyway, so here is mine.
On a dark and dreary Thursday afternoon two days before Christmas, my mother felt the first contractions.
She ignored them as she prepared Christmas for her four sons, ranging in age from sixteen to five.
By four o’clock, she could no longer fight the eight-pound bundle knocking down below. As snow began to fall outside, she called my father at work.
“Meet me at the hospital,” she said.
My mother walked the four blocks to the large rambling house serving as the hospital in our small Michigan town. The snow, heavy and wet, continued to fall.
With the holiday looming and the snowstorm producing, the doctor on duty sent home his staff by the time my mother arrived. When the doctor determined my imminent birth, he did the only thing he could. He enlisted my father as his assistant.
The year was 1954, and my mother had given birth four times before. Fathers didn’t go near the delivery room in those days. It’s doubtful if he was even at the hospital when my brothers were born.
The doctor instructed my father to hold the bottle of ether under my mother’s nose as needed for pain as the contractions came closer and closer together. My mother said my father became stingy with the anesthetic at one point, and that was a mistake.
“Give me the damn ether – I’ve done this a few times before, and I know what I need,” she screamed.
My father gave her what she desired.
About two hours after my mother’s call to my father, I entered the world at 6:15 p.m. My father stared in wonderment at the screaming creature in his hands.
He gave my mother news she’d wanted for a very long time, “It’s a girl.”
My father rushed home to my four older brothers watching my family’s first black and white television set purchased only months before. He rushed into the living room and said, “Boys, you have a baby sister!”
They looked up from the TV. One of the brothers asked, “What’s for dinner?” before turning back to the tiny screen in the large cabinet.
My mother stayed in the hospital for ten days and wrote my brothers a note, which I still have in my baby book. However, I can’t find the baby book, and I can’t find a photo of me with my father except for one printed in a newspaper when I was ten. In all my moves in the past seven years, things have been lost and rearranged. As a result, I write this blog in honor of my fifty-eighth birthday on December 23 as a way of preserving the story of my birth.
My brothers eventually took an interest in the sister they never quite understood, my mother kept me in ribbons and lace until ’60s hit, and for the rest of my father’s life, I remained “Daddy’s little girl.”
20 thoughts on “My Birthday Story”
Thanks! Glad you stopped by.
I for one am glad you took the time to tell us of your beginning. It had a Norman Rockwell feel to it – lovely and fresh. Happy Birthday by the way-it’s almost here.
Thanks. I’m glad I finally got the story down on paper – I’ve told it many times over the years but never wrote about it. Glad you stopped by.
Happy birthday, beautiful lady!
Thank you – so happy you stopped by for a visit, Amberr.
And many more happy birthdays, Pat. A lovely story. How old were your parents in the newspaper clip? Hope to see you soon.
Hi Judi, I didn’t mention in the post, but I was a change of life baby. My mom was 50 and my dad 60 in the photo. We’ll be in Florida soon. Not sure of our schedule, but hopefully we’ll come through High Springs. Love to you.
Great story! Hope you have a happy birthday! Wow! Mom’s were made of strong stuff in those days, weren’t they!
You bet. But even stronger stuff earlier with no ether!
What a delightful story! Your mother sounds amazing and your dad was pretty brave, being pushed out of his comfort zone and rising to the occasion like that. My sister was born in ’54 also and then me a scant 11 years later on Dec 2nd. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY my fellow Sagittarius! May your day be delightful and may this mark the beginning of the best year for you yet!
Happy hugs, Gina
Hi Gina, Thanks so much for the warm birthday wishes. I’m actually a Capricorn with moon in Sagittarius. It’s going to be a great year.
Oooh, I missed this one. What a lovely tone you’ve written it in. Really enjoyed it!
Thanks – I’m behind on my blog reading as well.
My name is Louis Bell and both of my sisters and I were born in this little hospital in Stockbridge. My older sister was born in ’42’, I was born in ’43’ and baby sister was born in ’45’. I have modern pictures of it that I took in 2019. Sadly my mother passed away there during childbirth in ’45’. They tell me it was from blood clots from having had her teeth pulled 2 weeks prior. Medicine and dental were not as refined as today. Your story was interesting and I had never seen it until we had our Kaiser reunion in July 2022, Dexter and my cousin saw it and shared with our family. Hope all is well with you all.
It is still hot and humid here in southern Missouri.
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Dear Louis, Thank you for sharing your story. How heartbreaking that your mother died in childbirth at that hospital. Where did your family live? I guess you don’t live there any longer if you’re in Missouri. I just returned from Michigan to attend the funeral of my brother–the last of my four older brothers to die. Spent the weekend lost in memories of Stockbridge. Weather was hot and humid there as well. My best to you and your family.
I have no memory of the first place, but my father managed a dairy between Stockbridge and Gregory when I was 2 after my mother passed and we lived in the Wayne and Plymouth areas until 1950 when we moved to Arkansas and began our life (farming) where my stepmother was from. Had a good life there but went broke and moved to California last of ’55’ until late summer of ’57’, moved back to the farm and started over. Joined the Marine Corps in ’61 was discharged in ’65’, then married my sweetheart of ’57’ yrs this July, had 3 children, 7 grans and spouses, soon to be 5 greats. We have lived in Missouri most of our married life and Life has been good. Sad to return to places of memory for funerals but as we grow older we know it will happen. My parents are both gone , but my siblings are both doing well as can be expected. If you know any Kaisers in that part of Michigan then you probably know some of my family.(short version of my story)
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The name doesn’t sound familiar. I wonder if the dairy was the one owned by the Toppings, Hickory Ridge. Interesting how paths cross.
I am not sure about the name of the dairy, but my father told me that the owner had completely modernized it for his family and none of his children wanted to run it. I am sure that there were other dairies around in those days but not sure of owner or location.
If you were to go out to Unidilla and go toward Patterson lake you would be on Kaiser rd which was named after my grandfathers family and the home place is still a residence.
My old stomping grounds!