Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Becoming a mom in the UK in 1943

8:45 sunrise
18:47 sunset

I mentioned fit for 40 in my last post.  I do plan to post my list of goals for my 40th year on the planet but I haven't managed to finish the list off yet.  I'm stuck somewhere between trying to actually set and train for a big fitness related goal or two in 2013 and taking a year to focus on other, more broad life ambitions that include some athletic pursuits.  Tied to entering middle-age is the realization that even though I have never planned for or wanted to have kids, now is the time that I am actually facing that reality: the child-free/childless life.  As my friend Monika says, that ship has already sailed even if I am sort of pretending that it hasn't.

In addition, three good friends have had their second babies in 2012.  Two of these have happened in the last 6 weeks.  So it's another round of having babies on the brain.  With aging, children, parents and family on my mind, I wanted to share this very cool little note that I picked up from my father's house this summer. It is my grandmother's writing and D.C.R. are my father's initials.  It's a record of my grandma's experiences in the month or so following the birth of her first and only child: my dad.

Did the archivist in me just about lose it?  You betcha.  This is awesome.


Born 12:25pm Sunday Nov. 21st 1943 after
a Caesarean section operation at St. Luke's
Maternity Hospital.  The operation performed
by Doctor [Rippener]. Nurse: Sister Boews
Weight 8lbs 8oz. Height 20 ins
[Came] out of St. Luke's on Monday Dec. 6th at 3pm
Was fetched by his father and grandmother
in standard [a] Y.C. 7070 and after a trip to
Bradford arrived at 10 Sandywell Road about
                                            430pm.
First seen by his father on Nov. 21st at 7:20pm
              great grandmother Dec 6th      maternal grandmother Nov. 24th at 2pm
                                                                aunt Annie                         "
                                                                "   grandfather           Nov. 27th at 7:30
                                                                 aunt Kath                     "
                                                                 paternal grandfather    Nov. 28th at 7:30
                                                                 paternal grandmother
                                                                 aunt Myra                   Dec 10th
                                                                                                   Bradford from [Giggleswick]
Comparatively quiet & sleepy
Dec 12 first ride in pram (Lilian’s) by Kathleen
Dec 13th 2 small [?] showed in his right ear
“  15th tongue slightly cut by Dr. Beverley
who had attended him and his mother
Dec 19th 1st photograph
Dec 21 Circumcised by Drs Beverley & Shaw at


Unfortunately, I don't have page 2.  Who knows, maybe my grandmother wrote a whole notebook full of thoughts as a new mother. I find so much of this fascinating.  First of all - so little of the description has anything to do with how she is feeling or what my dad is like (aside from the brief note that he was "comparatively quiet & sleepy.")  It's no surprise to me that my grandfather wasn't present for the birth but I find it bizarre that she has recorded the dates that my dad was "seen" by the relatives.  Perhaps the most interesting thing to me though is to note that the first photograph of my father was taken 28 days after he was born.  Times sure have changed, haven't they?

Here's one of my favourite photos of my dad.  Not quite a newborn but still pretty cute.  This outfit would be considered pretty girly these days, I would think - formal portrait or not.   I wish we put babies in more gender non-specific clothes.  As Ben would say "toss 'em in a pillowcase with space cut out for the head for the first few months. That's all they need."  Sigh

Sex, gender and babies - that's another post entirely.. for someone else to write.

4 comments:

Maven said...

It is interesting, isn't it, that even if you choose not to have kids there's still the possibility that you'll have an era of making peace with your decision. I hear you on that.

I think it's "boils" in the ear. Poor baby...

They did used to just put all babies in little dresses. Makes so much sense--easy access to the diapers. My dad, who is only 58 so this was not SUCH a long time ago, remembers that asking "boy or girl" was a very common question when he was growing up, whereas now people are primed to take offense that we might mistake a pinked up and beribboned baby for a boy.

Jill, Head Geargal said...

I have long hoped that middle age will finally bring an end to the idea that I will someday change my mind about not wanting kids. I've been sick of defending my choice since my age was in single digits! Though I'm sure people will secretly think I'll STILL change my mind and just regret that the "ship has sailed" as you put it. I guess you can always find a kid to raise if you really want to.

Very cool keepsake. Love those old books of notes and thoughts from people before our time.

I, too, think it's "boils". Ouch! Tongue slightly cut by doctor? And then circumcision on top of all that. Rough few months for this kid!

Your dad's eyes in that pic look like Kurt Russell's.

I was just looking at all the fashion-y stuff people can buy their tiny babies these days. Gap, Target, even Patagonia - pretty much giving the kid an identity before they have one of their own, but I guess that goes with being a kid.

Nicole Scott said...

This was a great one Jenn! Glad to see your transcription skills have stayed sharp:)

I can tell you looking back...I have never wavered. I'm kind of glad the ship is pulling out of the harbour. It's decided FINAL. I also have a friend our age who also just had her 2nd. I love her, but it takes time for me to like other peoples kids... It's not automatic.

I love being an auntie. And I know you're a great one too! It's not an easy choice in terms of the pressure to do as others do...but comparatively much easier than actually having 2 kids and doing a good job with them!

I really focus on being the best most fun Auntie ever so their lives are filled with fun memories of our time together. I love that my sister scrapbooks too. It's the modern (and excessive) equivalent to your grandmas administrative accounting of your dad's first few days:)

It's complicated. And I accept everyone's decision one way or another.

madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra said...

This reminds me of the notes I had to take for a week or two after Wiley was born premature, except it was more about how often he shit & pissed and what his temperature was. Not as charming as your grandma's notes! :) I'm quite sure that notebook is still somewhere in a box and maybe some curious person 70+ years from now will find it and be like, WTF.

Also my sister is childfree in her early 40s but she rocks the crap out of being an awesome Aunt. And I love getting her perspective on parenting problems anyway because she is way less jaded / judge-y than other parents.