BE | Chats with my grandmother

My grandma turned 90 last month, and you’d never know it. She’s as spritely as she was two decades ago, and she’s still working two days a week just for the heck of it. I call her every week or so to check in on her and my grandfather. In the last year since I’ve become a mom I have many questions to ask her as they raised six amazing children (one of whom is my father).

The last time I called her we talked about childbirth and baby stages. Here’s what I remember.

When we spoke last year after my daughter was born, I asked her if she had epidurals during her 6 labors. She said no, and I swore she had said they gave her gas. I asked her again during this conversation to remind me of what she was given for the pain.

Me: You mentioned you had gas when you were in labor, right?

G: They gave us ether. But now they do epidurals?

Me: Yes, that’s what I had. Though my mom had one and said it only worked on half of her body.

G: And it goes in your spine? Doesn’t that hurt?

Me: Well, the hardest part was sitting still during the contractions, so the shot wasn’t all that bad.

G: Didn’t they have you lay down?

Me: No, they wanted me sitting up. Not sure why.

G: And how did you know you were pushing if you couldn’t feel anything?

Me: I just pretending I was doing really hard situps. Plus I had my doctor and two nurses there to help. Though, nowadays there is a “movement” of sorts for women to give birth with no medication at all. It’s almost like a badge of honor.

I don’t remember what she said here, but it was something to the effect of “having gone through it six times I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t take the pain relief.”

(And, take note, this is not a negative opinion on those who chose to do it au natural. I told myself I’d go as long as I could before I had an epidural. Turns out that was until I arrived at the hospital. I appreciate everyone’s birthing choices and understand each birth is different.)

I had a conversation almost a year ago now with my sister-in-law about the quick-moving stages a baby goes through. Her daughter (my niece) is 4.5 months younger than my daughter. She asked me if I missed the stages that had already passed. I said yes, I did, but that everything moved so quickly I could barely remember what the last stage was. Thank goodness for journals.

I’ve also heard from every single person who has ever had multiple children that every child is different. I asked my grandma about these things.

Me: You had four babies under four, right? Since they were so close did you remember each stage with the next one? Or was it all new again?

G: It was all new. Every baby was different. I had a baby book for every child and if I wanted to remember something I would have to look in the book.

That’s what I can remember from this last conversation. I look forward to the next one – hopefully I can come up with some good questions!

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