Thursday, June 29, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Birth # 4 - Here Comes the Baby

“Jack, I saw a mouse run across the floor. Help!” I screamed.
“You’re imagining it.” Jack replied. He agreed I was right after he opened the play room closet and found a mouse nest in my yarn box.
“Jack, I think I have Poison Oak! Look at my finger. You know Allen’s got it!” I point my finger at Jack and whine. We were vacationing at Bass Lake with the Moscovitz and Deutsch families and Allen, one of the kids came down with Poison Oak.
“You’re imagining it. It’s Psychosomatic. You think you have it because Allen has it.” Jack admonished. Jack agreed I had Poison Oak when my whole body broke out in a rash.
“Jack, I think I’m pregnant. I just vomited.” because my period was so irregular the only way I ever knew I was pregnant was when I woke up one morning and vomited.
“You’re imagining it. You can’t be pregnant! It’s Psychosomatitic. You just think you’re pregnant because Roz is pregnant.” Jack said. He agreed I was pregnant when my body began to show a baby growing. This was the year that Jack was taking a course in Clinical Psychology and he practiced what he learned.
That year, 1957, it seemed all our friends were having babies. Dolores, Shirley and Beverly were pregnant. Bev was due two weeks before me, Dolores and Shirley a month later. We lived in the San Fernando Valley and we all had children attending the Tarzana Co-op Nursery School and the mothers, saw each other almost every day because of carpools, babysitting and school work days. We kept track of our pregnancies development and how we each felt.
We were expecting a girl. We had moved out of our bedroom and set it up as a dormitory for 4 girls. We were going to use two sets of bunk beds to make the most of a small room. This fourth, unplanned for child was really making things different but we weren’t planning on moving from the little house we loved. Where would we find an orange grove and a walnut grove on the same parcel of land? We had enclosed the patio to make a play room. Where would we be able to do that? No we had to figure out how to stay where we were.
“Jack, I just felt a contraction. We better get going. Midge came so fast that I’m afraid this one’s not going to wait for us to get to the hospital. Call Dolores.”
It was 6:00am. I called our neighbor, Mary, to come in and watch the girls until Dolores got to our house. She would help them get to school. Jack called my mother to come and take care of the children when they got home from school. We took off for the hospital. There were no freeways then and we had to get to the hospital in Los Angeles. It took an hour to get there and made us very nervous.
“Any minute! Call the doctor to come in right now!” the nurse said. It was 7:00am and we were in the hospital. I was in the delivery room. I had been examined and prepped and now was sitting up on the table.
The doctor came in and handed me his gown. “Can you tie this on? How are you feeling?” he asked. “No time for anesthesia. You OK with that?”
“This baby’s coming. I feel it! I’m fine” I answered. Things were going so fast, no one asked about my glasses and I could watch the whole delivery process. There was a very bright light shining down on me and the light fixture was like a mirror and no cloth hanging in front of my belly. Only the doctor, a nurse and I were there. It was wonderful.
I watched as the baby was taken and handed to the nurse. “Ah, Ha, a boy” the nurse said as she held him upside down and I got a clear look at a penis. He started crying and all was well but all our plans were shot. I did get the boy I always wanted though!
I was cleaned up and in my room by 8:00am. I was feeling very spunky and said to Jack, “Let’s call Dolores to thank her for taking care of the kids and tell her it was false labor pains and I’m coming home. What do you think?”
“Sounds like fun.” Jack said and he called the Deutsch’s number and handed the phone to me.
“Hi Dolores, sorry that we woke you so early. Yeah, it was false labor. It’s just like Bev. Have you heard if she’s given birth yet? I asked. “No, Bev hasn’t delivered yet.” I told Jack. “Well I’m sorry we’ll have to call you again for this one, Dolores. Have you talked with my mother? Did she get to the house? We’re coming home now.”
We hung up and laughed at our big joke but now we really had to think about what it meant to have a boy child.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Birth #2 - This is one is Cory

Jack and I were married in June 1950 and my worries about having a sister or brother for Jana were almost over. We had the goal to get pregnant as soon as we could but we didn’t worry about that happening. “I feel so lucky! I’m finished with school after a hundred years and I have a job. Now we need to look for a place to live not too far from my work.” Jack got his first, Los Angeles Unified School District, job in the San Fernando Valley. He was going to be a first grade teacher. We rented an apartment in North Hollywood that was on the ground floor and had a lawn that we could use. It didn’t have a fence so I always had to be out with Jana. I would carry a basket of toys, a blanket and a chair for me to sit on and we went out every day. Two year old Jana said hello to anyone who passed and made friends with the other tenants. One of Jana’s new friends was Mrs. Zeigleman. She was a woman in her 60’s, a grandmother whose daughter, Helene and grand children lived close by and visited often. Mrs. Zeigleman enjoyed Jana and was invited her into her apartment. “Honey, sit here. You can watch me make cookies. I’ll give you one when they’re finished. What kind do you like?” Jana sat at the kitchen table, talked to Mrs. Zeigelman and watched, waiting for a reward.
I got pregnant and needed to find a doctor. Helene referred me to Dr. Seigel and I made an appointment to see him. He took the call himself and asked some questions. “How old are you? What was your last pregnancy like? Did you have problems with the birth?” I told him that I was in labor for 36 hours with Jana. He said “We won’t let you do that this time.” He sounded so reassuring on the phone that I was looking forward to meeting him.

I came to see Dr. Siegel and was surprised by what he looked like. After I stripped and put the hospital gown on and got up on the examining table. Dr. Seigel came into the examination room. He had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had never met anyone whose hands seemed so swollen and distorted. “What am I doing? Can he be the one who helps me give birth? How do I get out of this?” I thought with my feet up in the stirrups, ready to be examined. After the examination, which did feel pretty normal, I dressed and went into the doctors office.
Dr Seigel said, “I know you are worried about my hands. I am able to do the work but if you are too worried we can refer you to my partner and he’ll take your case. Would you like to think about it?”
“Thank you. I think I’d like to talk to my husband. Can I bring him next time?” I answered. Dr Seigel was so very calm and informative about my pregnancy that I didn’t want any other doctor but I did think I needed to talk with Jack.
We made an appointment and Jack came with me. Dr Seigel remained my doctor. He told me I should come into the hospital as soon as my labor started. He worked at Cedars of Lebanon so that’s where we went. “Jack, it looks like now’s the time to go.. What do you think he’ll do? He said he wouldn’t let me have a long labor.” I asked. We brought Jana to Mrs. Mrs. Zeigelman and off we went.
Jack was invited into the examining room where the doctor told us he was going to monitor how I was dilating and as soon as it was OK he was going to administer a drug to speed up the birth. “Is that safe?” Jack asked.
“Yes, we use it all the time and have never had a problem. It really keeps the mother less worn out when the baby is born. Especially since her last labor was 36 hours. Way too long! I feel we need to shorten that time.”
Jack was sent outside to wait. In the examining room, Dr. Seigel administered a drug that made me sleepy. He had a young colleague with him and was explaining the process of inducing labor. I listened and found it very interesting. I was groggy but didn’t fall asleep. I didn’t feel anything below my waist and didn’t know if I was ready to have a baby yet or not.
After a while I was taken into the delivery room and my glasses were being removed. “No!” I shouted. “Please don’t take them away I won’t be able to see anything.”
The nurse turned to the doctor, who said to me, “You can keep them but you have to promise to keep your hands at your sides.” He turned to his assistant doctor and said, ”I told you she wouldn’t fall asleep.” He knew a lot about me I didn’t know. A cloth was hung right before my stomach so I couldn’t see what was happening and I couldn’t feel anything but there was a mirrored light fixture above that gave me a wiggly sight of the procedure. I was fascinated. The doctors kept talking and the whole procedure took just a very little time when I heard a cry and a baby was born. It was a girl. A playmate for Jana.
The baby was beautiful. She had not struggled to get born. The induced labor meant she could be helped out without strain. Her skin was very white and when I held her we looked like white milk and chocolate milk. What a treat.

I had a private room in the hospital with no restrictions on visiting hours. Jack, my folks and Jack’s folks came in and out and it was like having a party. No children were allowed so Jana couldn’t come up and Mrs. Zeigelman babysat when Jack came to see me. I couldn’t wait to show jana her new sister. I was there, living in luxury for 5 days. No more mothers in the hospital hall. The baby boom must have been slowing down I thought. Will I have more children?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Home again!

I never can decide whether planning for, going on a trip or getting home after all is finished successfully is best. I love my own bed no matter how comfortable the visiting beds are. This last trip was a great success but I am happy to be home!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Four Births – Four Stories - Birth #1

Each of my four births was very different. Jana was the first born and was born to a very ignorant and frightened young woman. My mother had not been any help. She had me and it was a difficult birth and she had a still born boy. The babies’ father, Leon, was also as ignorant of the birthing process and neither of us knew what to expect. Jana was born in 1948, shortly after the war was over and during the baby boom when women were being patriotic by answering the national call to get pregnant and replace the men lost in the war. There were so many pregnant women that a new business in maternity clothes became popular. Everywhere, there were pregnant women, walking, on buses, in the subway and shopping for maternity clothes. A women’s circle was formed as they asked one another, “How are you feeling? Where will you have the baby? How far along are you”? There were so many children being born that hospitals were overrun by mothers delivering babies.
“I don’t know. It seems like a very long time.” I said to Leon. I had been having contractions since the night before and we had called the doctor a couple of times. The pain with each contraction was strong but bearable. We were living with my parents in Brooklyn and I was going to have the baby at Brooklyn Memorial Hospital.
“No, don’t come in yet” the doctor said. “This is your first baby and sometimes it takes a long time. Just call if anything else happens.” What does “anything else” mean, I wondered. More contractions but they didn’t seem to get closer or hurt more.
“I guess nothing else is happening” I thought.
I couldn’t sleep and at about 4:00am I felt something and sat up to find the bed wet. Uh, oh, my water broke. I had been told that if that happened it meant the baby would be born soon. “I guess that’s “anything else” I thought. I woke Leon and called the doctor again. This time he said to come right in. Leon called for a cab. “Hurry, she’s having a baby” he said to the driver. When we got to the hospital, I was taken to a basement, prenatal unit and Leon was told to stay in the waiting room. No one but the mother was to go with the staff.
I was shaved, cleaned up and put into a bed in a room with four other beds. There was someone in the next room who was screaming in pain and it really frightened me. I was the only one in this room. A nurse came in with a clipboard and took my history. “How many births have you had? Have you had any miscarriages? Abortions”? She asked.
“Why is that woman screaming” I asked the nurse?
“The doctors are waiting until the baby is right to see if it will be a regular birth or whether she’s going to have a Cesarean Section” the nurse answered. “Give me your glasses” the nurse said.
“No, I don’t want to. I won’t see anything if I do.” I was very near sighted and when my glasses were off I always felt disoriented.
“You have to give them to me. It is the rule. You might break them.” she said. She examined me and said I wasn’t dilated enough and pulled up the crib sides of the bed. She went out of the room.
When she left I could hardly get my bearings. The room was very dark, the only light came from a window high up on one wall. It was still dark outside. The woman screamed again. I thought, “No matter what I feel it could never be as bad as she is feeling now. I won’t scream or make noise.” I thought.
All alone, without my glasses in this dark I felt like I was floating in murky water. Hours seemed to go by. I slept on and off. A new person came in with a clipboard and took my history. “How many births have you had? Have you had any miscarriages? Abortions”? He asked. I answered like in a dream. He examined me and said I wasn’t dilated enough.
I had to make a bowel movement but knew I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed. I rang for the nurse and a bed pan was brought in and left with me. I tried to use the bed pan and I pushed hard but nothing happened. I kept the bed pan under me and again slept on and off but the need to make a bowel movement was stronger. Suddenly there were several people in the room. I really woke up now. I heard them talking. “The head is showing! She almost had it in the bed pan! Who brought it in?” Someone said. I was being lifted and put on another, higher bed with wheels. A mask was clamped on my face and someone said “Breath in. It is ether. You’ll be asleep in a few minutes.” I could feel myself being rushed down the hall, which was brightly lit. The last thing I remembered hearing was someone saying in a long drawn out voice, “See if she has false teeth.” and I laughed.
I did not know anything about the birthing. I slept right through the whole thing. When I woke up I was told that I had a baby girl who was in the nursery but there was no room for me in the hospital. I was kept in the corridor over night and so were many other women. The babies were brought to the mother’s bed every 4 hours, to nurse. It was the custom for a mother and baby to stay in the hospital for a week after the birth and the baby would have to stay longer if it weighed les than 5lbs. Visiting hours were very restricted and only the father and immediate family could visit for a very short time.
Finally I got into a real room with three other beds with mothers in them. The big nurse walked in with a load of bed pans. She passed them out and told us we were not allowed out of bed and if we had to go we had to use the bed pan in the bed. She stood at the door and said,” My name is Mrs. Wilson and I’ll be your nurse today. Now make Niagara Falls, girls. I’ll be back in a little while to collect the bed pans. Remember if you don’t make peepee. I will have to catheterize you”. What does that mean, I wondered, but it didn’t sound good.
We named the baby, Jana, after my grandfather, Jacob, and she weighed 5lbs and 4 oz when she was born. The nurses told me how much she weighed every time they came into the room. Each day she weighed a little less. I didn’t want her to stay in the hospital after I was dismissed and the hospital administration didn’t want her to stay in the hospital after I was dismissed. There was no room for her.
The last day came. I could go home and Leon came to the hospital to get me. Mrs. Wilson, the big nurse came in, “I’m going to check the babies weight right now. Here’s your suitcase, get ready to go home.” She said as she hurried out of the room. When she came back, she said, “She weighs just 5lbs. Here, I’ll help you. You don’t want her to loose any more weight or you won’t be able to take her”. We called a taxi and headed home to my parent’s place.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Our Senior Winter Solstice Pot Luck - December 21, 2005

Eating, dining, munching, nibbling. The next Senior Pot Luck will be June 21, 2006.

Garlic Soup with Poached Egg.

“It’s nice to have dinner alone! How rare that is.” I said.
“It won’t be long till we have that all the time and I bet you’ll hate it” Jack responded.
“You’re probably right but it’s still nice tonight. Do you want coffee?” I asked.
It was a Saturday night and the children who still lived at home were out with friends. Before Jack had a chance to answer the phone rang. It was our friend Helen. “We’re waiting for you. Everyone is here. Are you OK? Dinner is ready to be served. “
“Sorry, Helen. We’re running late. We’ll be there in about 15 minutes.” I answered, feeling a little nauseous. “Jack” I yelled, “we forgot! We’re supposed to be having dinner at the Geidt’s.”
Jack jumped into the shower and I changed my clothes and we were out of the house in ten minutes. The Geidts lived only a couple of miles from us so we were there in the promised 15 minutes. There were 10 other people waiting for us in the living room having appetizers and drinks. The dining room table was beautifully set for 12 with the candles burning and glasses sparkling. Helen and Harold had just come home from a trip to Spain. They planned to cook a Spanish dinner and invited friends to join them. The house smelled of everything they learned to cook on their travels.
We sat down in the living room and were offered drinks, which we accepted happily and chatted for a few minutes before Helen called us all in to dinner. Jack and I were seated across from one another so we could see the expression on each other’s faces. We didn’t want to hurt our host and hostesses feelings so we pretended to look forward to this special ethnic feast but we had just had a big dinner and were very full.
The first course was a delightful small salad. Jack and I nibbled at the lettuce and made a good showing of eating our food. No one could guess that we were stuffed. Every once in a while I’d catch Jack’s eye and have to look down in my plate to keep from laughing.
“Will we make it through this meal?” I wondered. “I’m feeling a little sick.” Suddenly the smell of garlic was overpowering and I looked up to see Harold carrying a tray laden with large steaming soup bowls. I recognized the bowls as those brought home by the Geidts as souvenirs of their trip. Harold came around carefully and placed one bowl in front of each guest. Mine came and when I looked down I saw a whole, barely poached egg with bright yellow yolk staring up at me like a jaundiced eye, floating in a bowl of red liquid.
I knew I couldn’t make myself eat it. What could I do? I excused myself and went to the bathroom to think that problem through. What a dilemma. I could claim illness. I could claim an allergy to eggs. I wondered what Jack would do.
I came back to the table resolute to try to eat. I broke the egg yolk and stirred up the soup. Then it wasn’t so obvious that I wasn’t eating. I took a few spoonfuls and was happy when Helen came to pick up our bowls to prepare for the next course. “Didn’t you like it” Helen asked?
“It was delicious. I just can’t eat that much.” I answered looking across the table at Jack. His bowl was empty. What a hero! How’d he do it? I managed through the rest of the meal. Each course was a new torture which required cunning deceit.
Helen, who was a college teacher, came in and stood at the head of the table and told us about the next course. She had the menu and recipes printed on beautiful paper for us to take home. The next dish was called Lamb Calderata and Helen said, “This is one of the most classic dishes. It is found in various versions right through central Spain depending on the area. We found it made with red peppers, almonds, cumin, and tomatoes. It used to be made with mutton, but now it is made with young lamb.” I listened to the description and it all sounded wonderful but the odor of the lamb coming from the kitchen was so strong that I thought it could be mutton. I knew couldn’t eat a bite of it. What was I going to do?
The incredibly fragrant dish was brought in and it was truly gorgeous. It was served in the pottery casserole it was baked in but that smell made me want to escape from the table. Oh my. .Helen said that the side dish that was also brought to the table at the same time, in a lovely Spanish casserole called a Clay Cazuelas was equally aromatic and I wanted to hold my nose. It was called an Andalusian vegetable pot and we were told it had pork, chickpeas, and assorted seasonal vegetables. It was cooked a long time into a luscious spiced stew. Just listening made me feel like I was going to explode.
Our plates were filled by our hosts and passed along to us. I couldn’t even ask for a small portion. The mound of food on my plate was daunting. I ate a little of each of the dishes and hoped my reluctance didn’t look too obvious. I looked at Jack and he was deep in conversation with the person next to him and his plate was empty.
Finally the desert came. It was a beautiful, huge, shaking, quivering flan. My stomach shook and quivered to match. I excused myself from having any when Helen asked how much flan I wanted, “I won’t have any” I answered. “I’m trying to stay off sweets.”
I kept my eye on Jack to see what he would do when it was his turn. He just reached out and took a bowl full when Helen asked “How much would you like, Jack”?
“It was a wonderful evening” I said to Helen as we were leaving. “Sorry we were late”.
“No problem” Helen said. “it just gave us a little more time to visit before we sat down at the table”.
“I don’t know how we forgot. Never again. It was just awful” I moaned in the car on the way home. “We need a better calendar. Do you think Helen and Harold knew we already ate” I asked?
Jack just kept driving.
“How did you do that” I asked.
“Do what”?
“Eat all that food.”
“It was delicious” he answered.
So much for thinking you’re in sync!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Birth #3

On Wednesday, I attended our Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Board meeting and Jens, a newly elected member of the SLN,C was complaining about the slowness of getting his and Emily's living arrangements ready for occupancy. I asked how Emily , his pregnant wife and the Chairperson of the SLNC Beautification committe, was doing and Jens said she was having a hard time because of how slowly things were happening. I said I think Emily is trying to nest and she can't. I said I had a story about the birth of my daughter Midge, I thought they would enjoy and I'd like to share it with them. The dancers are Midge and her Dad. Here's the story:


“Don’t walk in here!” I shouted. “Get out, all of you. I’m washing the floor and when I finish we can go. Go sit in the car and take the dog with you. I won’t be long
Jack said, “Stop it. You’re hysterical. I’ll finish it. You go sit in the car and wait.” I was 8 ½ months pregnant and we had plans to go to my folk’s house in Inglewood and bring the children and the dog. We were invited to a Halloween party that night and my mother was going to baby-sit. Jana was almost six, Cory was two and three months and we were having another baby. The car was packed but I was in “nesting mode” and I needed our house to be beautiful when we came back home. Jack backed out of the house so as not to make footprints on the wet floor. The house was ready.
“We have too much driving to do today. We have to go through the hills to your folk’s and then back up to Hollywood to the party and then back to the folk’s. Yuck. If I didn’t like driving I’d say let’s not go to the party.” Jack said.
“Come on Jack. It’ll be a long time before we can take the kids to Mom’s. Besides we have those great costumes to wear.”
We had bride and groom costumes, with the bride very pregnant, that we thought were very funny. I had spent hours putting them together and they would only be funny while I was pregnant. We needed to go to this party. The party was given by my old City College art classmates and their entertaining was fun and a little wild.
We deposited the kids at my folks, put our costumes on and got back in the car. This was going to be another long drive. This was 1953 and there were no freeways to take. We went through the Sepulveda Hills to get to my folks and then back up Sepulveda Blvd. to get to Hollywood. We were driving in the Chevy that my dad bought us when we got married. “Jack, it’s too bad we are not having the baby tonight. The hospital is just up the street from Ruth’s house. Oh well better luck next time”
“Very funny! There isn’t going to be a next time.” Jack answered.
It was dark by the time we got to the party. “Ruth you look gorgeous!” Jack said. Ruth Pitt was an older woman, probably thirty or so, who was prematurely grey haired and beautiful. She was a weaver and always wore rich textured and brightly colored, dramatic clothing. This evening she wore a regal costume of sparkling purple cloth.
I was so glad we went to the party. There was Donald dressed as a huge orange pumpkin. He looked really ridiculous and made me laugh out loud. His head was tiny perched on top of the pumpkin which covered his whole body, from his ankles to his shoulders. I didn’t know how he came in through the door. Everyone was friendly, thought our costumes were very funny and admired my big stomach. “When are you due” Ruth asked?
“I’m due in two weeks” I replied “I wish it was right now, though. The hospital is right down the street and I’m ready” We partied until midnight and then said goodnight, got back in the car and started the trek back to Inglewood.
“Keep your eyes open” I said, staring at Jack’s face as he drove. “Don’t fall asleep.” Jack had had a regular day of teaching, got home and washed the floor, got in the car drove to Inglewood, back to Hollywood, and now back to Inglewood. He was exhausted. Every once in a while I’d pinch him. Not too hard.
We made it back to my parents. Crept into the house, not to wake anyone and got into bed. I closed my eyes and suddenly felt a contraction. “No!” I thought. “I’m too tired.” A few minutes later another contraction. And so it started. Labor pains. It was really beginning. I waited a while, hoping it would stop but finally I woke Jack.
Jack mumbled, “Are you sure?”
“Yes I am. We better let the folks know and get going. We don’t want to have the baby here, do we”? The other two children were born two weeks early so it sure was possible for me to have the baby now.
My mother hugged me. “Oy, Mamale. Yoncle, just be careful how you drive, Don’t worry about anything. I’ll take care of the kinder and the hunt. Just be careful”. Daddy hugged me and kissed me and didn’t say anything.
Back in the car we went. This time I didn’t have to keep an eye on Jack. He was fully awake! I was timing contractions while he drove. I counted and thought, “This is ridiculous. Why couldn’t I start at the party? Wouldn’t that have been fun. Everyone would have thought it was a Halloween joke. I hope we make it on time. I sure don’t want to have the baby in the car. Poor Jack, He’s exhausted. Oh well at least the house is clean. ”
When we got to the hospital, I was taken into the labor room. I was shaved, checked for dilation and told I was ready to go into the delivery room. “It looks like you made it just in time.” the nurse said. The nurse told Jack to wait outside. “Be patient. It won’t be long” the nurse told him.
“We were lucky! We made it just in time or we’d be telling people how you delivered your baby in the car”! I groaned as I was rolling along and Jack followed right up to the delivery room door. He bent down and kissed me and went back to wait with the other fathers to be.
The baby was born. She slithered out and was held up by her feet for me to see. She was tiny. She had a blue mark on the bottom of her back. “That’s called a Mongolian Spot” the doctor said “but it goes away in a while. Look at that head of hair! What a cutie”.
“She weighs 5lbs, 4oz. Let’s clean her up and show her to her dad.” She was cleaned, while I strained to watch and then she was put into an incubator. “Don’t worry. She’s fine. We put all the babies in the incubator just to help them along for a bit.” The nurse told me. It still worried me.
After a while, I was cleaned up and moved onto a rolling bed and the baby was laid next to me. We came out of the Delivery Room and there was Jack waiting for us. “Look at that baby! She’s sucking her thumb and winking at me”! Sure enough, there she was, thumb in her mouth, full head of hair and one eye open and one eye closed. That’s the way the Halloween Baby was always remembered by her daddy and how he always described her when talking about her birth. “She winked at me from the time she was born.” he told everyone.