Guess What We got!

Newborn Joy

Joy Lynn about one week old, first day home from the hospital.

Fifty-two years ago today, I sat on the side of the bed waiting, and amazed. After  twenty-three hours of labor, I wasn’t tired and I could sit on the side of the bed with no pain. But that wasn’t on my mind. The slow tick of the clock had my attention. I had to wait until 9 AM, when they opened the drapes on the nursery window, to see my newborn daughter for the first time.

We hadn’t told anyone when I went into labor a month early. We hoped it would stop, and as it progressed, we decided to wait to call family after the baby was born. We’d know if we had a boy or girl and could tell them everything was alright.

So, while I waited, I decided to call my mother and give her the news. “Hello, Mama, guess what we got.”

“Oh, I don’t know. A puppy?”

“No. A little girl.”

“Oh, Deanne!” I can still hear my mother’s surprise and excitement as though it was just a few minutes ago. She lived a couple of hours away and decided to come help us with two-year-old Tim and the baby when we came home from the hospital.

As the nine o’clock hour neared, Dan escorted me to the nursery. We were there with our noses pressed against the glass when they pulled the drapes. We spotted the name tag on the isolette positioned a few feet on the other side of the window. Durrett Baby Girl was absolutely beautiful. Tiny (4 pounds 12 ounces) and perfect. I still have that first view of her in my mind. Healthy pink coloring with tiny little eyebrows. I longed to hold her. But back then, parents were not allowed in the nursery or near the child in the isolette.

I had to wait a few days. I don’t remember how long… except it was a long time. When I held her the first time, I was alone. Visitors, including daddies, were not allowed in the room with the baby. So it was just Joy Lynn and me. She was so tiny! I wanted to remember how small she was. She didn’t open her eyes but her tiny hand gripped my finger. I made a mental note that her fingers were no bigger around than a matchstick.

We hadn’t really had time to get acquainted when a nurse came bustling in, pulled the blankets away from my baby’s feet and started thumping them, hard. I bristled. The nurse shot me a stern look, “Preemies don’t wake to eat. You’ll have to thump her feet to get her awake enough to nurse. She has to eat.” Thump! Thump!

By this time, my milk had come in. We learned that this was a big disadvantage for a tiny baby. Maybe it was payback for the foot thumping, anyway, nursing was very painful for both of us until she got the hang of it.

Joy Lynn couldn’t leave the hospital until she weighed five pounds. One evening, the doctor came in with the good news that we could go home the next morning. But the next morning, he changed his mind, “Someone weighed her with a wet diaper,” he said. And we had to stay another day.. a week in all.

I had a two-year-old at home I wanted to see. I called Timmy every day but he didn’t believe it was me. I’d say, “Hello Timmy, this is Mommy.” He answered the same every time, “No. Mommy went to get the baby.” But when we came home, he was waiting at the door, not to say hello to me. Instead, he said, “Gimme dat baby,” with his little arms reaching for her. My mom snapped the photo but I can’t find it.

This is the story of your birth, Joy Lynn, my beautiful daughter. Happy birthday across the miles!


Old Photos Stir Memories

Mag and Hiram Pearson

I’ve been fascinated with this old photo since the day I found it a couple of years ago. Taken long before my birth, it stirs memories of my great aunt. Of my grandmother’s six sisters, Aunt Mag was the one I saw most and knew best. She made dolls and her work was impeccable.

When I was little, she gave me a rag doll that was almost my height. The doll had blonde hair, like me, and was dressed in her Sunday best – her only dress. Aunt Mag sent the doll home with my grandmother. When Grandma rode the bus from Oklahoma City to Mt. Park that day, people wanted to buy the doll from her. It was a wonderful doll, created with well honed skills and hours of love.

A few years later, when I was in my teen years, Aunt Mag made me a china doll. This one had a cloth body with ceramic head, arms, and legs. She had a ring on her tiny finger and black high-button shoes.  Aunt Mag painted her face and sewed her beautiful clothes (including underwear) with the same skill and love as she had put in the rag doll. I kept my china doll on my bed for a long time. I may have taken her to college with me. But when I married, I packed her away and left her behind… to face a fate she didn’t deserve.

About two years after Dan and I married, my parents left the farm, moved to town, and our house was abandoned. A dam was being built and water would soon cover the land. In the move, some things were left behind and one of them was my china doll… she was long forgotten then but fondly remembered now. l remember her white dress with tiny red dots, the lace, and ribbon sash. She had black hair and her painted features gave her a sweet expression. She was beautiful. It’s sad that some relics of childhood are temporarily forgotten and remembered as treasures too late.

(I planned to blog about a snapshot in time and the interesting things revealed in the background of this photo… but I got caught in memories of my aunt and decided to share them… the snapshot will be another blog. It’s a twofer!)