This is the story my mother, Louise [Leonard] McKinney, tells of my birth.
My mother read Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear in 1950 when she was 24 years old and was pregnant with me, her first (and naughtiest) child. She felt confident in the process of birth and with herself (which I find fascinating as my mother was orphaned at a young age and had no real female role models…she was raised by two severe Victorian maiden aunts who had never borne children.) She requested that she be able to birth without medication. Her doctor patly said this would be fine, and he never mentioned it again.
She says the night I was born, she remembers folding baby diapers (pronounced “die-AH-pers” by all Maine senior citizens) with some of the labor and delivery nurses. It was 7:00 PM and she was experiencing some “cramps.” The next thing she knew, I was born. The doctor ignored my mother’s request and knocked her out colder than a mackerel. I was born at 9:03 PM.
Here’s what I just figured out: If my mom had mild cramping at 7:00 PM and I was born at 9:03 PM…even if I was a high forceps delivery (pretty standard in those days), my mom had to have been close to full dilation while she was folding the diapers. She was in labor for less than two hours…and she was a Primip! So, despite 1950’s obstetrical technologies’ best attempt to mess this up…my mom kicked ass!
I am so proud of my mom…SHE is a role model.
(Louise McKinney is now 86 years old and is a little pistol. She runs around with all her girlfriends…well, the one’s who are still alive anyway…and she beats them all at cards and takes their nickels.)
~ Carol Leonard, 6/10/2011