Janet: Iowa, 1958

I was 27 when I was married, and it was two years after that we had a baby, and I just didn’t know anything much about it--what to expect. My water broke, and our doctor sent us to this hospital; it was Catholic.

The nuns were kind of cross because they wanted to know the name of the baby, which was logical for their records, and I said I wasn’t sure yet. I wanted to talk to my husband.

She said, “You’ve had nine months to name this baby!”

Janet sitting at her kitchen table.

Janet sitting at her kitchen table.

Some parts were really unpleasant. I don’t know why that has to be. While I was there, another woman had a baby, and I kind of knew her, and her husband came in the room afterwards and said, “I was so ashamed of you. We could hear you all over the hospital.” And that just broke my heart that he would say that to her. And she would  try to explain that the pain was terrible. Well, he just thought that was awful. Just embarrassed him. Awful. Wouldn’t that just break your heart?

When I first went to the doctor, we talked about morning sickness, and he said to my husband, “Now you take a piece of bread, and you spread strawberry jam over the whole thing, and then you give it to her before she gets up in the morning.” And so Marvin, bless his heart, he went and did exactly as told. When he came back in our bedroom, as he reached over to give it to me, it slipped and fell on my face, jam side down. Oh, you just had to laugh, you just couldn’t help it because he was trying so hard to do that. He never complained. Just a good, good man.

My husband was gentle, kind, wouldn’t hurt a flea, and fun to watch with the baby. Isn’t that fun? I remember going to church for the first time after. One of the ladies said, “Always fun to see baby slobber on Marvin’s shoulder.” You know, nice suit in those days at church, and here was this little dab of googoo on it.

Marvin was allowed in the delivery room, and I was so glad, and when our second son was born there too, they allowed it. But when I went to the doctor for my little girl, our daughter, he sent me to a different hospital, and he said, “No, Marvin cannot go in.”

I just felt crushed. He didn’t even tell us that until we were ready to go the hospital, or we would’ve done something. We would’ve insisted that he go back there, but he had quit his practice at that hospital, I think, so he didn’t want me going there. It was just awful that my husband didn’t get to attend her birth. I really felt bad. If I had that to do over again, I would just make such a fuss. I would have even changed doctors ‘cause it was that important to me.


Births of our Mothers is an ongoing project to collect birth experiences from those that had babies before 1965. Interviews are done by Hailee Wilburn-Ervin in person using a recording device. If you or someone in your family wants to be interviewed, enter your name and email address below. You will be contacted shortly.

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