06 August 2011

Kathleen Marie Jensen

I am embarrassed to write about the birth of our daughter, because I am so certain that I am going to remember things incorrectly - and both Edna and Kathleen - 'Kathy' as we always called her, but I am told that she now prefers her full name - both Edna and Kathleen read this blog, and will, I hope, correct me.  Humility is good for the soul, I know.  If I were already humble, I wouldn't be embarrassed, either at my poor memory, or at - what is more to the point - my self-centred attitude at the time that means I didn't really take things to heart as I ought.

Nonetheless, this is how I remember it.

Edna suffered, in her pregnancy, from toxaemia.  It is a condition, I think, quite common in first pregnancies, and can lead to eclampsia - which is often fatal, both to mother and child.  Susan was in the same situation with Johnny.  In both cases, they attempted to induce labour; in both cases this failed and a Caeserean was the result.

All this was very distressing to me, both times, and in the case of Edna - because both of my self-centredness, selfishness, and brash youthful confidence, I think I was tempted to write all this off as womanish vapours - though I did not say so to anyone, being at least sensible enough to know this wouldn't be either well-received or useful.

Edna's mother, Peggy McVey, came down to stay with us.  Peggy was a nurse - a recovery-room nurse, in fact - and was a brick.  I think my own behaviour must have been an extra burden for her, with the worry about Edna, but she stayed and had she not, I suppose it possible Kathleen might not have been born alive - possibly Edna might not have survived.  Peggy was very clear about when and how help was needed, and was essential to Edna's care afterwards.

Kathleen was born ... oh, dear, here is where I get in trouble again! ... in what I think of as Arcadia Hospital - though the web appears to refer to it as the Methodist Hospital of Southern California.  And I can't find any other hospital around there that seems to meet the requirement, so I trust that Edna will gently point out to the old man where she was, in fact, in surgery to deliver our daughter.

She was - and here I am absolutely confident! - born 14 August, 1963 - which means, darling, that I have now told everyone how old you will be tomorrow week (for I write on 6 August) - I hope you will forgive me, but these dates are more or less integral to any sort of chronicle.

I remember considerable difficulties of the ensuing weeks - but much harder for Edna than for me, I am sure.  Her milk had to be stopped, which is painful and difficult.  She had to recover from the surgery.  She had the primary responsibility of caring for Kathleen.  I have never been a soldier, never fought anyone for anything more serious than childhood pride, never worked in a dangerous factory.  Some men do, indeed, risk their lives in these ways.  Every woman who becomes a mother goes in danger of death for every child born.

I hinted in my last post that things changed radically when Kathleen was born.  It must have been so, yet in reality the changes were not so very great.  We certainly must have stopped ice-skating; I do not think we stopped going to the Arboretum - with Kathleen in a push-chair.

But we were now a family.  I had inherited from my father's step-father Porter an old Cine-8 8mm silent film movie camera.  Somewhere there are still reels of film that we took at the time.  I have wanted to dig them out and have them converted to .wav or .mpeg or other digital format.  I may, one day.  Time - and money - are limitations, but it would be lovely to see some of the past come back.

Kathleen was born, as I said, on 14 August, 1963.  At 10:30AM on 22 November, 1963 an event of world-wide importance occurred that was to change our lives far more radically.  John F. Kennedy was assassinated.


sicilianord@aol.com said...

I get goosebumps again!! But if you were inferring that mom had a c-section, she didn't. Trust me, she reminds me every year about how sick she was and how big my head was!!! But I love reading about this from your perspective.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Oh dear, oh dear! I was neither inferring nor implying that your mother had a C-section; I was stating it - because I believed it!.

But how embarrassing that I don't even know how my own daughter was born!


I hope you will continue to love it as it goes on. Some of it is not so much fun :-(