Before long they were telling me when to push and when not too; there was some hushed conversation down there around my nether regions. At one point I asked, "Is something wrong?"
"Just take it easy," a doctor I'd never met before that night told me.
Finally things got to a point where they encouraged me to go ahead and push, and before you know it, my son was out in the cold, cruel world. My own doctor arrived in time to do the stitches, if I remember right.
All this time, Cliff was downstairs in the waiting room, my mom regaling him with tales of all the terrible things that can go wrong when women have babies. She reminded him that Daddy's first wife died in childbirth, and so did his mother. Poor Cliff was a basket case.
I was wheeled to a ward and my baby was taken to the nursery. My doctor, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, came to my bedside, took my hand, and said a prayer that the newborn would have a happy and healthy life. My mom was standing at the door watching, and she thought the doctor was giving me some kind of bad news about the baby. Actually, he did take time to tell me that I was quite fortunate; the cord was wrapped around my baby's neck three times. That's what the doctor and nurses had been discussing and working with when I thought something was wrong, back in the delivery room.
In the ward where I'd been taken were six other ladies whose babies had all decided to be born that same night; that's why I had been so neglected, and why that one lady almost had her baby alone in the labor room; there wasn't enough staff to go around. All of us were first-time moms, and we actually enjoyed one another's company, chatting about our babies and comparing notes.
A couple of times a day, a nurse would bring in these box-like lights and place them under the sheet, between our legs, shining directly on the place where the baby had come from. I don't think this is done any more, and I really don't know what its purpose was. Seems like they called the light a peri-lamp. It did feel rather warm and soothing.
As you younger folks can see, it was totally different from today, where you can have the whole family present when you give birth, and the baby is left right in the room with you at all times. I think perhaps it was a good thing that Cliff couldn't witness the birth, because that was before he became a butcher and got used to the sight of blood; I'm pretty sure he would have passed out.
All the babies were left in the nursery until feeding time. My mom and dad came to see Jimmy once, and I walked down there with them. When the nurse picked my baby up and brought him closer, a nearby gentleman said, "Oh, that's a pretty baby."
I thought my mom was going to bust her buttons.
My son was born on May 10, 1967. I stayed in the hospital for three days and went home on Mother's Day. Quite appropriate for a first-time mom, don't you think?
Was I really ever that young?
By the way, my son kept his good looks. He's still the best-looking kid in the bunch; of course, I might be prejudiced.