Arrival

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After 16 or so hours of labor, Rita’s baby arrived last light. Around midnight, grandma Connie, who had spent the day with Rita (baby dad is in the Middle East with the U.S. military) sent me the photo above from the delivery room where little Christopher was finally born.

In the middle of the night when all my defenses are down, I don’t react the way I would on a sunny day when I’m sitting in my garden.  Thus, although I am happy for Rita, I felt very sad at the news of the baby’s birth.

The first thing I thought when I saw the photo of the baby was…”What a huge responsibility a child is.”  They are so vulnerable, and the world is such a dangerous and scary place.

Being of an analytical nature, I began to probe my own thoughts and feelings for why I reacted this way. And I’m still engaged in that effort this morning where the rain returned and the outside reflects my insides.

So what’s going on I ask myself. Mostly, I think its fear.  It’s a good thing youngsters have children because when you get to my age, you wouldn’t.  And if you had a child, you would think hard before having another.  One or two kids is all anyone should have today.

                                                ***

The good thing is that Rita is 23 and I was a teenager when I had my first child. Length of a generation matters.  By the time I was Rita’s age, I had three children. One evening, having fed my last baby his 11 PM feeding, I was sitting in my rocking chair and reading a book by Paul Erlichmann entitled, The Population Bomb. 

I began to shake and shiver and looking into the future, I could see a world where billions of people were starving and fighting with each other with the hope of individual survival. I had the thought…”I can’t keep having children to give myself a reason for living.”

This was the early 1960s, and I was a devout Roman Catholic.  I’d had priests and Catholic doctors tell me I didn’t need birth control, even though my Protestant mother suggested I should use it.

 I’d never had a premonition like this and it frightened me severely.  I called my priest, rousing him out of bed. He asked to speak to my husband. I got the EX out of bed, where he had retired earlier in a drunken stupor, but he was less coherent than me, so, I got back on the phone and the priest gave me the name of a person he wanted me to call. It turned out later to be a shrink who had me hospitalized with a post partum depression.

Well, there’s a lot more to this story, however, I’m not going to explore it here.  Suffice it to say it involved birth control pills and reading The Second Sex by Simone de Bouvier and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and finding my way out of the patriarchy.

 

 

 

27 thoughts on “Arrival

  1. I was disappointed when my daughter said they were stopping with just my one granddaughter. They felt it was going to be too expensive, etc. My son-in-law had projected the cost of a good college education, etc. etc. Sigh… I’m still disappointed.
    Our Terminix guy told me he is Mormon and so is his wife. They both have 9 siblings each. He said it was a coincidence that they both came from families with 10 children. I was amazed. I almost asked him if he could remember all their birthdays. He did say he thought he was going to have a big family too, but he and his wife have decided to stop at two… or maybe three, but not more than that.

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    • Sad when people have more children than they can care for. Your kids are very wise. There are so many children who need a home, I wish more were adopted.

      My cousin Kevin lived and worked in Japan for many years. He worked as a landscaper and his wife was an English teacher. They adopted a little Japanese baby, which is unusual because for many years, the Japanese government blocked all adoptions by foreigners. Later, Brian and his wife adopted another little girl from India without much effort. They moved back to the States with their little family and live in Hilo on the big island.

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  2. Gosh Dianne. I was raised Catholic, was also a teen-aged mother, read some of what you did and came to the same conclusion about the church’s teaching as you did — not as traumatically however — I never called the priest in the middle of the night (or talked to one at all), so was spared the horror you went through. But sometimes I am happy not to be too deep of a thinker. If I were in your present situation, I would just be happy for my daughter, granddaughter. and great-grandson. Life goes on. It is meant to. It doesn’t hurt to have a bit of joy once in a while in spite of everything. Maybe Christopher will change the world!

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    • I don’t know why I am the way I am. So strange. Yes it was horrible, however, folks knew much less about postpartum depression in those days. You’ll laugh, but when the priest came to visit me in the psyche ward, where I ended up, he said, “go home and take your birth control pills, no one will know.” I said to him, but God will know. He had similar encounters with several women, and later left the church himself.

      I can’t tell you how many priests I have known who left the church on this issue. Most of them worked in my field of population studies. One dear friend, Charlie, who was a Jesuit, left, married a nun he knew and became a famous sociology professor.

      I can truly say God helped me through this crises which lasted ten years. One day, I was finally okay. My daughter had a similar experience, as did my Mom. We are watching Rita closely, and so far she is okay. And yes, we are all living one dat at a time.

      I’m better today. The sun is out, and that helps.

      PS. I don’t think God gave us a brain so we could be stupid.

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      • You are absolutely right on your P.S. (But I do think God gave you more brain than he gave a lot of us. I admire you for that; I guess I should give God the credit.) The priest who told you to go ahead and take the pill was a forward thinker. I doubt if I would have run into a priest like that in the podunk towns where we lived back then — I think they would all have toed the party line at least in public. I wonder if it is changed now — I think I like Pope Francis — I can imagine him giving that kind of advice.

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  3. Congrats on the new little one in family! This will be the child who impacts our civilization, but we won’t be around to know, so spread hope. I had no intention of ever wedding but said if I did I’d never bring children into this world. I mellowed in my mid-twenties and relented on marriage a few years later, then a couple children several years after that. We all had to contend with something I think, but some directions we receive when young can have more impact on our lives than others as with your experiences when so young. I think there’s a bleak aspect to the future for every generation. Reflections on the past negatives and positives help me get everything in perspective when I find myself getting mired in the worst of reality’s potential. Easy for me to feel mired right now as am 2/3 thru Where Ghosts Walked. Try watching some mindless pie-in-the-face comedy or reading some humorous jokes/stories that have no agenda or maybe even no social value — or, just go stick you head in a bucket ’til you get back to your old self. What do I know — obviously nothing! *grin*

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    • Or endless bouts of Scrabble orSolitaire. I must stay focused on living in the present moment. WGW is very eye-opening. One of my questions in the pursuit of history was why…why did a civilized population take a turn that left 30 million dead? WGW provides part of the answer.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing the news of the new baby and your thoughts on population growth and so forth. When I was young it seemed as if everything was possible if I just tried hard enough. Time passing has taught me better. The wisdom that comes with ageing is invaluable, if only succeeding generations would listen. Blessings for better days to come.

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  5. Yes, I had two before the invention of the Pill. Tho I reacted strongly to the initial pills, I never had another kid. I’m not a baby or child person.

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    • I tried everything. Finally had my tubes tied. Best thing I ever did. The really annoying thing was although we had split, I had to have EXs permission. Fortunately, VA has moved out of the Dark Ages since then….well mostly.

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  6. The 60s was a very real time for thinking about the end of the world. If you couple that with post partum – shaky times. We know so much more now than we did at that age. And yes, parenting is best left to the young.

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  7. Congrats. I hope you get out of your funk soon but I’m afraid I have to agree with you. This is a wicked world to be starting off in, although when you and I started out, there was this little thing called World War II. But then there was still such a thing as morality and the family unit was still important. Not so much anymore. Between the anything goes mentality and religious fanaticism I don’t hold out much hope,!

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  8. Congratulations on your new little sweetie. I understand the mixed feelings, joy about this child and sadness for the world he will face. It won’t be easy but a loving family helps as you know.

    I wish you a sunny day soon.

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  9. Babies are definitely for young people with lots of energy. Even my daughter realized, after two babies, that her parents would be incapable of helping with three. Two small children quickly wear me out.

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    • Two is plenty for sure. I read your post about a day with your two and recalled how many times David and I took all four of Connie’s girls for the weekend. Of course, once they are here, they are here.

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  10. Thank you for this. I was almost 30 when my first child came. I had many of the same feelings when I had my two children in ’71 and ’74, one of them a Christopher. I’m still worried for my grandkids. What ever happened to zero population?

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    • You dont hear much about Zero Population Growth anymore, probably because right-wing relgious fanatics AND left-wing loons who scream ‘”racism” at every suggestion we curb our growth, have united to muffle the message.

      I knew the gal who worked for ZPG and testified before Congress on behalf of it. She had a tough job. I myself testified on behalf of NARAL which is still around.

      Its hard to be unpopular in Washington DC. The organization which testifies on behalf of a sane immigration policy, i.e. against ‘illegal’ migration is in much the same situation today. People simply don’t want to ask the question because its difficult or they don’t understand. With ignorant folks running around screaming about racism, babies and abortion it won’t get any better anytime soon.

      Wait until this Zika virus hits the South…..

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