When a story is so much more than a story

It’s the day after my due date, and I can’t help feeling a little depressed* — like it’s too late now; I’ll just be pregnant forever. Which is not true of course: I’m looking labor induction squarely in the face. And despite the fact that I’m a bit of a control freak and the idea of knowing when I’m going to have this baby appeals to my desperate need for planning and order, I’m also a bit of a neurotic perfectionist and the very idea of needing to have labor induced for me makes me feel like I’ve failed — like I’ve tripped at the finish line.

Of course, I know this is as untrue as the idea that I’ll be pregnant forever. So this morning, to distract myself from such destructive thinking, the inevitable self-pity, and comfort by ice cream, I decided to sit down and read through a diary that belonged to my Grandma Del (Babysaurus’s middle-namesake), who passed away almost two years ago. My mom brought it to me at Christmas, and it’s been sitting on a shelf, waiting to be read since then. Although there are very few entries, it contains Grandma’s Twitter-worthy hour-by-hour notes and more thought-out writings detailing the story of my mom’s birth. Which, I just learned from Grandma’s own hand, was by induction.

And I’m so glad now for being a day late, because now reading this story is suddenly so much more valuable than its intrinsic sentiment. It’s like having Grandma here next to me; I can hear her voice in my head, her melodic laugh, reaching out across the decades to say that she knows exactly how I feel, to reassure me that I’m okay, it’s okay, everything will be okay.

* On the bright side, my doctor is on vacation until next Monday, so we’re one day closer to having him there for the delivery.


March 27: “This was ‘the day’ but nothing ‘happen[ed].'”

March 31: “Dean & I went to see Dr. Sweeney today and all agreed I could come in and ‘get started’ tomorrow. So — on the way home we went and got ourselves a couple of steaks.”

April 1: “Dr. Sweeney was great — used hypnosis and I felt wonderful. Got kind of tired of whole thing around 8 p.m. tho & took some Demarol. My Dean stayed till I went charging down the hall to deliver. He is wonderful. X. 9:08 p.m. ‘Donna Jean’ was born. What a little cutie & such noise!”

April 4: “I was pleased to find I had lost 15 lbs. since Friday p.m.”

April 6: “Now hoping that tomorrow will be ‘going home’ day. Dean got in to see ‘us’ this afternoon, and yesterday afternoon, too. […] I just tried to squeeze into my ‘going home skirt’ — it’s quite a squeeze, but guess I will make it. […] ‘Donna’ gets a little sweeter all the time. She’s having a dandy little nap now — but guess I should wake her to eat — been quite a while. Gee, the time has really flown by here.”


April 1, 1960
Friday Morning

6:30 – Went to Mass and H.Comm

7:00 – Had coffee – 1 cracker

8:30 – Had coffee

Between leaving home & arriving hosp. 2–3 contr.

9 a.m. – Signed into hospital – went up to prepare. Felt fine getting into bed etc. till lying down & having temp. taken. Started to feel nautious [sic]. Took bld. press. F.H. etc. – took me up to 8th floor

10:30 – On 8th floor felt pretty good except for sickish feeling occasionally.

11 a.m. or so – Back begins to be a little annoying.

12 o’c. – Dean arrives. Have had a few mild contr. We start to play “boats.”

1 p.m. approx. – Had been receiving bottles about an hour – began fumbling at boats and feeling back ache and kind of sick. Because very warm – nautious – back aches more, quit playing boats.

2 p.m. – Back and legs getting tired – starting “hook-up” Mild, evenly paced contractions start. These aren’t too annoying, but back & legs make me very uncomfortable.

3 p.m. approx. – Dr. Sweeney came in and when I told him about my back and legs he sat beside me and spoke to me quietly and got me to relax. Was clear sailing for hours then as with each contraction I was completely relaxing and counting and thinking of this long marble stairway in a beautiful home. As each contraction was about to begin I would see myself dressed in a beautiful blue gown & heels, start down the stairway, and I would count down. Sometimes I would imagine myself at the bottom of the stairway sinking into a beautifully soft chair. Between contractions I would listen to Dr. Sweeney and find what he said was just what I needed to hear; that what I was doing was a good thing (to have my baby) – that I was doing a fine job, etc. Any loud noise from outside was distracting to me and I would not be all ready and relaxed for the following contraction. I felt, in order to remain perfectly relaxed I needed someone beside me almost constantly to talk to me with the contractions – tho at times I would drift off to a deep sleep. Once I heard a nurse tell Dr. S that “the contractions were mild – mostly back pain.” This was true, but she didn’t realize that these back pains wore me out and got me so tired, that by the time a contraction came I was too keyed up to relax – even for a “mild” contraction.

7 p.m. – Time is beginning to drag now and I’m imagining the contractions are lasting longer, but Dr. Sweeney tells me they aren’t a bit longer than before – we laugh. I go back to counting etc.

8-or-so p.m. – Nobody is talking to me now, but I can see Dean still there. The contractions do begin to get stronger, my back is getting tired again, my legs feel stiff, and I’m thirsty all the time. Pretty soon I call the nurse and ask her to tell Dr. Sweeney that they are beginning to hurt. She called him and when he came in he said I had gone to “8 centim.” and had to go to “10.” He knew I didn’t need Demarol, but by this time I was so tired and afraid it was to be longer still so, I got me some dem.

Shortly – came a couple of “earth-shakers.” These even would have been quite bearable however, without my demarol – as these were only a few of them – and they came along in quick succession. Just minutes later, it seemed, I wanted “to push.” The nurse went out after Dr. Sweeney and – a couple of more “earth-shakers” – they came back in and got me onto the stretcher. Dean said he was going downstairs. Out the door we went and charged down the hall. In the delivery room I anxiously looked around for the gas – not seeing it I called for it – adding “Help me” several times. Dr. Sweeney said not to panic, that I’d had a fine labor. Pushing began – I followed directions and a “Donna Jean” was born. First thing I could see her little hand waving – she cried vigorously. The nurse picked her up for me to see – she looked like Therese, but has one dimple in her left cheek. She sucked her thumb and listened to me speak to her. She’s a dolly, and we’re all happy!


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