Archives for posts with tag: birth

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…

Scan 16

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!

My mother used to always tell us the story of our birth on our birthdays.  She would call or I would see her and she would start off with “Twenty-one years (or whatever our age was) ago today, I had a baby girl.”  Then she would tell us the details of that day.  And we laughed…but, we always waited for the story.  I’ve done the same with my kids.  It’s just a funny tribute to my mother and a sweet remembrance of those special days when I gave birth to my incredible children.

Thirty-seven years ago today, I had a beautiful baby boy.  He was my fourth child, following three girls.  He wasn’t planned, which turned out to be appropriate.  Who could have planned for Clayton?  That day, I felt like I was having labor pains, so I called the doctor and he had me go to the hospital.  I had the girls very quickly and he knew that I didn’t need to wait around.  The girls were all born early and this one was late by about a week.  Of course, we didn’t know he was a boy.  This had been an interesting pregnancy anyway.  I didn’t know I was pregnant and they did some tests and decided it was an etopic pregnancy.  I had surgery and they cut me open to find out that everything was ok.  I must have had an MRI  and they had just gotten the machine and nobody was very proficient in reading the tests.  I remember the doctor opening me up and then cursing.  He realized I was awake and apologized, but I understood that he was frustrated that he had just done surgery on someone who didn’t need it.  From then on, the pregnancy was easy.  I remember diving in the pool all summer, feeling great.  I also remember being at the mall where there was a fountain.  I was very pregnant with three little girls with me and one of them tried to climb in the fountain.  The thought went through my mind that I must look like a mother duck waddling along with little ones trailing behind me.  Another friend told me I just looked like a knocked-up 14 year old.

Anyway, on that day, I went to the hospital and waited.  The doctor wouldn’t let me go home because of the other quick births.  Finally, they sent me out to the fathers’ waiting room to sit with my husband.  You can’t imagine how strange that was.  Dads didn’t get to go in while you were in labor or giving birth back then…nobody did.  The fathers’ waiting room was full of about to be Daddys who couldn’t figure out why I was there.  I read magazines with them and read the comments book that the fathers wrote in while they waited.  Alan was frustrated and nervous.  This was too odd.  When I went back into the labor rooms, they tried to check the baby’s heartbeat.  The nurse said they were having a problem because the baby was dancing around in there…”doing the hustle.”  Well, it was 1975…what an inkling of things to come.  At some point during the evening, after we had been there all day, the doctor came in to tell me that the baby was stuck and they needed to do a c-section.  I guess the head was pressing on my pelvic bone and couldn’t get over to the way out.  He had a dent in his head for a long time that made me laugh.  Tears rolled down my cheek, not from fear, but because I could just see another scar on my stomach next to the one from the earlier surgery that had stretched to about an inch or more wide as my abdomen expanded.  It turned out that they took that one out & made another one.

When they wheeled me into the operating room, it was later that night.  They painted my hugely expanded abdomen with iodine so it was oddly orange.  They put a curtain across me so I wouldn’t be able to see the operation, but I turned my head and saw the reflection in the window just as they began to cut.  I turned back and listened to the conversation.  The anesthesiologist was holding my hand & sitting by my head…his name was Dr. Love.  When they pulled out Clayton, Dr. McShane almost shouted “it’s a boy!”  Dr. Love kissed me on the forehead.  Dr. McShane couldn’t wait to get out of there and run to tell Alan.  They all knew I had three girls by this point.  I just laid there and smiled.  Unbelievable!

We named him Clayton Alan Fraser.  Clayton was for all the men in my family (my grandfather, father and brother) who were named James Clay.  My grandfather went by Clayton.  Alan was after my husband, Alan, and his father, who was Ralph Allan.  We covered all the bases.  Alan went immediately to buy him a pair of jeans and found a size one.  They didn’t have baby jeans back then.

That is the story.  Clay was unique in all good ways.  He spent the next 35 years teaching me, teaching us all, to enjoy life.  He was the cutest, sweetest, kindest little active boy who was determined to be different from his sisters.  He didn’t need to try, but try he did to the point of trying us all.  Keeping up with him as a job for everyone.  He was always a character, always funny.  From as early as possible, he and his father would sit and trade puns.  He knew he was funny and it kept him out of the trouble he should have been in.  He was smart enough to know that he would learn the way he was going to learn and the teachers had just better figure that out.  He hated timed tests, preferring to work on his time.  He wiggled and squirmed through classrooms all the way through college but probably remembered more than I did being the perfect student.  He charmed his way past many a teacher.  The typical summary of a kid like this is that his sisters and I were driving to Westminster College for his graduation and got a call from him saying that he was going to go through the ceremony but wouldn’t get the degree.  I think he flunked bowling or something ridiculous.  We watched him walk in his cap and gown, taking another Clayton moment in stride.  He finally got that degree years later, taking two classes and getting As so that he could get into culinary school.  He promptly handed me the diploma as it meant little to him.  You have to shake your head and roll your eyes.

This is a long blog and my heart is full of memories today, so I’ll give the shortened version.  Clay grieved when his father died of cancer.  He went into a state of depression that we didn’t realize since he was away at college.  He came home, fell in love and the wonderful girl was killed in a tragic fire.  He picked himself up and went back to school, started a comedy improv group, and began living again.  He then went through the graduation I mentioned before, came home and started teaching English as a second language and waiting tables with his friends at BBD.  He complained of problems and pains in his jaw and nothing could be found.  One day he announced to me that he wanted to have his tonsils out.  I told him I didn’t know if you could just ask to do that, but he did.  When the doctor came out after that simple surgery, he told me they had found cancer behind the tonsil.  I had to wait the weekend to let the doctor explain it to Clay in his office.  A horrible weekend that makes me cry to remember…watching him and knowing I couldn’t tell him because I didn’t know enough myself.  When we left the office, a tear ran down his cheek.  “Why do we always have to get the rare cancers?”  Clay had Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma and his dad had died of cancer of the esophagus (rare at the time).  A friend told me it was the scream he couldn’t get out.  A doctor nodded when I told him that.

From the time he found out he had cancer, Clay was adamant with me that this was his cancer.  He would be the one to fight it.  We all know it takes everyone you have to fight cancer, but he was trying to make me not worry.  I look at a statue he gave me one Mother’s Day.  It’s of a buddha like figure, bent over with worry.  He told me it was to keep me from worrying.  That was even before the cancer.  The treatment – neutron and electron radiation – that Clay received in Seattle was new in 2001.  It gave him 10 more years and it killed him in the end.  The cancer did come back, as it does in this kind, and he was able to beat it with natural means.  His death was from the residual effects of the radiation.  But those last ten years were incredible.  As the radiation effects took hold, he lost his ability to talk and eat.  But along that journey, he met and fell in love with Whitney, finished school, went to culinary school and became an incredible baker (it didn’t take much talking), and produced Eliza May Fraser.  Many people don’t do all that with well bodies.

I look back on the 35 years we had with my incredible son and think of all that he gave us.  He lived his life on his terms, he loved and was loved by so many people, he made us laugh and he taught us bravery.  He lived with incredible pain and touched lives everywhere he went.  He had a full life in 35 years and taught me that we never know how much time we have on this earth.  This weekend, I was with his daughter Eliza, who is now 3.  She knew we were getting together later to celebrate her daddy.  We went to the park and she started calling out to him…”where are you, Daddy?  Daddy, where are you?”  She does this with a smile on her face as she seems to talk to him often.  She wanted him to be at the party.  It doesn’t make me sad because she seems to have a relationship with him that we all wish we were innocent enough to have.  I told her he was there…he is all around us.  She understands and that is the blessing.

I love you, Clayton Alan Fraser!