Winston was in Pensacola, Florida in Naval Aviation Officers' Candidate School. I was in Houston, staying with my parents for the event of my first child's birth. I made that choice almost by instinct and will post later about how it is that I learned (4 years later) that I had made a very, very wise decison. Praise God.
My parents were both alive and I was just newly 23. I washed my hair and it was about to my elbows and they didn't have a dryer so I stood in their backyard "swishing" my hair to get it to dry. I was cramping and feeling pretty anxious but you couldn't just go downtown with wet hair. Mother painted my toenails for me because I couldn't "reach". I packed two new Alfred Hitchcock short story paperbacks because I was under the impression that I would get bored all those hours waiting for the baby to be born.
My father was pacing around and finally, toes painted and hair dry, they drove me to the Medical Center in the same old green Pinto they had driven me in to my wedding two years earlier.
Daddy let Mother and me off at the ramp in front of Methodist Hospital and when I entered the elevator I looked so huge and miserable that two or three people got out to make it less crowded for me.
I never cracked the back of those paperbacks! It was like all aboard the pain train! from the minute those nurses got a hold of me.
Winston was called in Pensacola at the training command and he was pulled out of class so that he could go home and wait by the phone. After they had given me Demerol and I was loopy they wheeled my gurney out to the nurses' station so that I could take his call. (Boy, did we need cell phones back then! They weren't even portable.) I told him that I felt "like I've had 7 beers." I'd never had 7 beers in my life but that seemed like a good analogy.
I kept hearing other women in Labor and Delivery screaming and I imagined that the nurses and doctors were doing something to them and working their way down the hallway to do the same thing to me! Later after Walker was born and I had done my share of moaning I wondered what those women were SCREAMING about because I didn't think it was leg-sliced-off sort of pain at all. Hmmmm...
Meanwhile an hour or two had passed and my father had never showed up at the Methodist Hospital "Dad's Club" waiting area.
My mother (unbeknownst to me!) was trying to trick the staff into assuming she was my private duty nurse because she was wearing her nurse's uniform and hovering over me. It went fine until I said, "Mama..."
They kicked her out.
Now she realized that my father was not there in the waiting room and she thought he'd had a heart attack or something. She ran down to the ER to see if he was in there collapsed or worse. She didn't want to leave the floor I was on but she was worried about him, too.
Finally he sauntered in looking sheepish. He had driven around the massive Medical Center and parked and entered St. Luke's Hospital and spent a couple of hours in their "Stork Room" wondering where my mother was!
At 7:41 PM I became a mother.
Dr. Brown asks, "Penny, did you hear that?"
Still astoundingly clueless, I thought it was the squeaky hinge of some sort of a medical implement!
"Penny, that's your baby! It's a boy!"
Welcome to the world, my son Walker!