March 17, 2010
Well, I have been away for some time as I have been lolling around in bed with Miss Marla (pictured here in my Ethiopian silk scarf) trying not to be too beaten up by Lyme Disease. If you have it do call so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel because I have researched up the you know what about it, and my mother has called every single person she ever knew who had it, and we have been prowling around for a good doctor and bothering the insurance agency to please pay no matter who I pick in the whole world to treat it. But that’s all I will say of Lyme as it is very sad and the symptoms make me feel like a senior citizen.
It was my birthday last week, and I whisked my sick self off to my sister’s who cooked a grand meal and baked me cupcakes and my oldest niece played Happy Birthday on her saxophone and they gave me homemade cards, and I got to snuggle in bed reading Clementine with my middle niece and played Barbies to my heart’s content with the littlest niece. The next morning, my sister and I went to a spa with low lights that smelled like pear and sage. There was bamboo and running water everywhere. We were thoroughly massaged with hot stones and spoken to in soft voices. We thought we might just move in.
Peter and I in front of roaring fire:
When I got home, Peter had organized a very intimate get-together, asking for food in lieu of gifts. (Making food or doing anything even slightly domestic always makes us both a little ornery and in need of sedatives.) He only invited family members, people I’ve known for years and years who I have wept and been foolish in front of, so I could just blob around lazily and no one would mind. Margie, who I danced Brazilian samba with way back in 96, and who wrote Fourth Uncle in the Mountain, came with her little sister Alexis. Nick and Natalie arrived, just home from days and days at trade shows, selling her high end ceramics, and Matty and Kristin, having made a huge splash opening the “other side” of Fireworks on Main, brought gourmet pizza and my favorite little Lila-loo. John and Marshall bore a fabulous sweet potato recipe, (Marshall, of course, making his own vanilla extract, I didn’t even know you could do such a thing). My fearless webmaster, Dan, came with Laura who is finally home from doing lighting design for the Olympics. Lastly Betsy arrived. I’ve known Betsy since we were college girls together. She came with little Samuel who has just this minute been adopted from Ethiopia, and whose birthday is March 3d, so it was a happy birthday for him, too.
Peter, Samuel and Lila feeding roaring fire:
Peter built a roaring fire in the fireplace and little Lila-loo danced for us and did beautiful curtsies and Samuel did flips and laughed up a storm and everyone gave each other foot massages and piled on top of one another on the couches. And as I was watching Nick stand on his head for Samuel’s delight, I realized I was missing someone else’s birthday: My uncle Tee, who has arrived into the world safely after my dear grandma, Maggie went through four hours of labor. Ooooh, I have missed Maggie so much, and we haven’t heard anything at all about her for so long. Maybe I can’t transcribe her blog every single day like I used to, but I can at least do it once a week. Just exactly like they do on TV. It will be like the LWord. Every Wednesday or maybe Tuesday, if I feel like it, or Thursday. I’ll let you know!!!! But for now, I am just dying to know what kind of drugs did they have back then while in labor? And did Mark decide to go retrograde and watch? And speaking of my grandpa, I am very pleased to announce his debut during this celebrated, happy entry. Happy Saint Patrick’s Everyone!!!!!!
What my grandma, Maggie, was doing on Feb. 20, 1937 on Saint Mark’s Place in Manhattan:
At quarter of six on the day I last wrote, I sat down to read the Reader’s Digest and felt a pain just like a menstrual pain, faint. In five minutes I felt another, five minutes another etc… They continued until twenty past six when M. came home. I felt uncertain it was the real thing so decided to wait before calling Dr. We played backgammon, and I had two or three pains in the course of the game, stronger than before. I lay on bed for a few minutes and had quite strong ones so started calling Dr. but he was not in. Called Kate, and she said, “Eat your dinner and forget about it, and we will come for you in an hour if they keep up.” I couldn’t imagine swallowing a bite, felt faint and rather sick. Dr.’s nurse called at seven and said get to hospital as quickly as possible. M. went out to get a cab. I turned off the oven where the potatoes were baking and got my little bag (already packed), and we started off. We considered asking a motorcycle cop we met along the way to escort us, but decided we were more afraid of going through red lights fast than of not getting there, which seemed unlikely. We disembarked at Visitor’s Entrance of Sloane by mistake. I found one has the tendency to walk around in circles when pain in middle.
A kind young man escorted us through the labyrinth of halls and stairs to the reception of Harkness where a bored woman allowed as there was no reservation for me and suggested we were in wrong hospital. M. called Dr. who answered phone himself, having just walked in door and M. said, “This is Duffield. We are in the hospital and they are not at all interested.” Woman was so mad, she grabbed phone and said, “Dr. Van Etten, I am interested!” and all was fixed up.
I was taken up to the ninth floor by elevator, the boy carried my bag and we were met there by a long nosed nurse with a high voice, who introduced herself in a social manner and made polite inquires: First baby? Pains started? Waters broken? I wee-weed in pan so this could be analyzed, undressed, and was put to bed in a gown that fastened down back. I was then “prepped” (shaved) by the long nosed nurse, who politely paused when pain came, put her hand on tummy and looked at watch then fetched resident who waited for pain and put hand on tummy also.
We were at three minute intervals, he said he’d take me upstairs in a few minutes and make me comfortable. M. had been banished to outer room. They got stretcher wagon onto which I crawled and then we all went up to O floor, to the labor room. M. came in wearing surgeon’s outfit, and we talked a few minutes, but I began to feel quite lousy so decided he might as well go.
They gave me a shot in the leg of something and two capsules of nembutol, saying it would make me feel better. Did not as far as I could notice. Back ached. Kept losing long white leggings they had put on me and complained of this. Got cramp in leg and swore at that. After each bout they took lamp and looked up bottom. Finally gave me two more capsules of nembutol and after that I remember nothing. Woke in my own room and hazily asked when baby was due, and they said it was already there, I asked if it was all right, and they said yes, it was a boy, I said that was nice, they said did I want lemonade, and I said yes I should love it.
My Grandpa’s story of same time follows:
Miss Carver in charge of delivery room at Harkness Pavilion, phoned at 11:45 p.m. Feb. 1, 1937 “We will have a baby within an hour.” 12:45 I phoned Harkness Delivery room and was informed Miss Carver was out to supper. After short wait Miss Keith came to phone and said mother and baby doing well. Baby born at 12:08 Feb. 2. Asked what brand baby was, she said was not allowed to give information as to sex over phone, but I could call Harkness Information Bureau and find out. Called. It didn’t know but said it would switch me to delivery room. Long wait, then got Miss Keith. Long wait, then Miss Keith said, “Junior is doing well.” Take it she meant boy, so will pay Grace $3.00.
This was marked “for Margaret’s diary” and written on yellow paper and left in diary.
As usual Maggie is the voice of incisive wisdom, sent up from the past to remind me to play a good game of backgammon before calling the doctor, to always choose chariness over speed and that, “one tends to walk in circles when there is pain in the middle” and, also, the reminder that sweet and tender men who do things like add entries to our diaries when we can not, run in my family… Tune in next week!