I played with dolls a lot when I was little, was the oldest child, did a little bit of babysitting…but wasn’t thinking about being a mother at all. I married when I was barely 21 and wanted to live happily ever after. The craziness of birth control in the 1960s was supposed to be sure fire and make it so I didn’t have to think about it. I went on birth control pills, like we all did, and then found that the high strength of the ones they used then was making me gain weight and have migraines. Off of those and on to something else…and I got pregnant on that one. Hmmm. I’d only been married nine months and we’d even gotten a dog to keep us from thinking about having kids. Farthest thing from our minds.

When it was obvious that something was up, I went to the doctor – no home pregnancy tests in those days. They called to tell me that the test was positive. Positive what? Positive I am or positive I’m not? That’s how little I knew. My husband was so excited that he called all our friends and we had a party. They did…I remember sitting there by myself wondering what in the world this was going to be like…don’t remember if I was scared or it was just such an unknown.

Being in college, I immediately started reading what the doctor gave me and anything else I could find. My mother got me the newest edition of Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book, the instruction book she had used when she had me. How many times did I read that? I was in graduate school, so it was probably like studying for a final that was coming up months away, a long semester.


I threw up a lot, slept a lot, read the book to make sure I was doing it right. My mother took me shopping for maternity clothes, pretty hideous in those days, although I did have some cute mini-length dresses. My mother-in-law made me a couple of tops. I ate lots of ice cream – good excuse. I’d quit teaching, graduate assistant in Freshman comp, since the baby was due the first week in June, so I read a lot. The only book I can remember is Rosemary’s Baby, which was probably not the best choice. But humorous. My husband and I always joked about the chocolate mousse. You have to read the book or see the movie…

So, I lazied along, getting bigger, looking more and more like a knocked-up teenager, waddling along. We felt the baby kick, I began to feel like a turtle on its back when I laid down. I read the name books over and over, searching for the absolutely perfect name. I didn’t want something that could be a nickname, so I went with a cute name with a more traditional middle name, picking a name from one of my favorite childhood stories if this was a girl, something more Scottish sounding if it was a boy. No tests to see if it was a boy or a girl…waiting to see.

May 27 came along and I felt funny. My husband went to his part-time job at the pizza place, classes may have been over for the semester. I kept thinking this was really bad gas, getting up and going back to bed. Afternoon, he was home and we decided to call the doctor. They said to come over and checked me, saying I needed to get to the hospital, I was halfway there. See? What did I know? I said goodbye to my husband as he headed for the father’s waiting room. No fathers in the delivery back then. They prepped me and I waited. It never got too bad, or the drugs they gave me made me forget. I had a spinal, and then she was born…my first child, my first daughter. When I woke up, my husband was there, so excited. He could only see her through the nursery window and I only saw her at appointed times. When they brought her to me, I couldn’t believe it. She was so beautiful…love at first sight. I fell back asleep and woke to find my father sitting beside me. I asked him what he was doing…he’d driven to Stillwater from Tulsa and couldn’t see the baby this late. He had come to see his baby. On the way, he’d stopped and run into my father-in-law returning from seeing his baby, my husband. Our mothers thought it was the funniest thing…very sweet.

In a couple of days, we took her home. No car seat, no instructions. Off on our own. We took her to her room and put her in her crib, held our dog up to see who this newest member of the family was, and just stared. She stared back solemnly. She knew! She knew she had been born to the most ignorant parents in the world and there was no way they could get this right. Anyone who knows her today understands the look. We burst out laughing. Thank God for our senses of humor. And I marveled every day at this little perfect miracle of ours. Such a love as I had never known…

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My mother came over for a couple of days. I think she slept in a chair in our duplex or on the sofa. She was a big help…the two of us opened the baby book, propped it up on the changing table and followed the photo directions for changing, bathing, feeding. Awesome. We laughed a lot. After a couple of days, she started going home each night, 1 1/2 hour drive, and coming back in the morning. She wanted to be with my father and she didn’t want to intrude on my husband and me. Incredible mother! I learned to use the newest thing, Playtex bottles with disposable liners, boiling the nipples and lids every day as I made a refrigerator full of formula. Breast feeding was just beginning to make a comeback, which is an odd thing to say. Only a few hippies were doing it then. Regardless, the baby thrived, never had allergies, and grew very fast. We had a diaper service since we didn’t have a washer and dryer, used the new disposable diapers for trips. Very few gadgets actually. We didn’t need them.

We started taking her home to Tulsa in a couple of weeks and my mother would dress her up and we would drive around to show her off to her friends. I was one of my first friends to have a baby. Actually, at 22, I had been one of the oldest mothers in the hospital. I would have been a younger mother today.

It doesn’t suck to have the first grandchild on both sides. We got lots of help and lots of attention. Thank goodness! We didn’t need it later. The months went on and we got better and better at it. When she was about four months old, I got her to smile at us. We were driving and she was in her carrier in my lap…no car seats or seat belts, for this matter. I was reciting nursery rhymes to her while we ran errands and was saying, “Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?”…and she smiled. Miracle of all miracles. We were passing her test and making it as parents. She was beginning to think we might pull this off!

After she was born, I had an IUD inserted, thinking there were no hormones associated with this. A little over a year later, I felt like I had so much love overflowing from this baby that we should have another one. The IUD was removed and I got pregnant almost immediately. Getting pregnant was never my problem…wish I could have shared that ability with those who need it. Another girl. The pregnancy was very different but having another baby was a piece of cake. Two adorable little girls we loved with all our hearts.

A couple of years passed and we decided to go for another one…maybe we’d have a boy this time, not that it mattered. Pregnant quickly again. Easy pregnancy, third girl was born. We were done…three beautiful little girls. Motherhood was the best thing I’d ever done. My husband was a great father, we were enjoying it all, having so much fun watching them grow up. I loved it all, so surprised that this was where I found my joy.

A couple of years later, I was pregnant again…unplanned. Who plans their second and third children and has four? It was almost scandalous at the time. People were into zero population growth, only have two children to replace themselves, and here we were having four. Oh well. We made sure this would be our last…good grief…and waited for the next one. Amazingly, the last one was a boy! More joy for all of us, although four girls would have been precious. The story went on and on.

Some women are meant to be mothers, some aren’t, and some of us just get thrown into it like jumping off a cliff. It was the biggest blind leap I ever took. It’s been educational, thrilling, scary, emotional, frustrating, exasperating, fun, silly, sweet and loving. I wouldn’t ever trade this experience. My grandchildren are a joy, but it is even better to watch my children as parents, having the same journey I had. Forty-five years ago today, I stepped off the cliff and became a mother. It’s filled my heart ever since!