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Question of the Month: Born

by Susan Henderson on June 2, 2008

Where were you born? And if you like, tell me a story either about that place or the birth, itself.

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Wednesday, Xujun Eberlein will be here with truly compelling stories about her birthplace in China. I hope you’ll be back to join the conversation!

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Nathalie June 2, 2008 at 2:23 am

I was born in Paris, which is not too surprising, considering that is where my mother was living at the time. I did take her by surprise though, as I was born a good two months before the due date. Since then I complain about her having kicked me out early and she says I was the one wanting to assert my independence…

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gayle brandeis June 2, 2008 at 3:56 am

I was born at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago on April 14 (Easter Sunday), 1968, the same hospital where my dad was born in 1919. My mother had prepared her first Passover seder the night before; when she started to feel contractions, she just thought she had worked too hard over the gefilte fish and matzo balls. She lay down and watched a belly dancer on the Tonight Show, her own belly rising and falling. Once the labor started in earnest, it only lasted four hours; she says she had an orgasm while I was born (nice way to start life!) Natural birth was not the norm at the time–at least not at Michael Reese–and everyone in the room was shocked when my mom got right out of bed and followed the nurse who was taking me to the nursery. The hospital later gave her their traditional post-birth celebration meal: lobster and champagne. I can’t quite imagine hospital lobster, but my mom says it was delicious.

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Myfanwy June 2, 2008 at 8:28 am

I was born in Montreal. I am still Canadian, despite having lived in this country for 30 years. The photo of this newborn totally choked me up, as this month my own baby will be one year old and just last night I was looking back on his newborn photos and crying.

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Margy June 2, 2008 at 8:50 am

I was born on September 22, 1962 at Research Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. My mom was teaching second grade in the inner city and my dad was a theology student at St. Paul’s. Although I pride myself on my prodigious memory, I have no recall of that particular day.

I’m just glad it happened.

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Betsy June 2, 2008 at 9:01 am

I was born in Binghamton, NY. I am told that David Sedaris was also born there. That may be about as interesting as it gets here.

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Ric June 2, 2008 at 9:10 am

I was born at Nellie Rogers Memorial Hospital in Brown City, Michigan. It was turned into a private home shortly after and I was friends with the family who bought it. We would play in the elevator which worked by pulling ropes – pretty cool. And, no, not pre-electric, but they did need some way to get non-ambulatory patients to the second floor.

Mom says Doc came in and spent the night with her and I arrived at 3:15 am on the Ides of March.

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Kimberly June 2, 2008 at 9:28 am

I was born at 10:10pm in Winter Park, Florida on 2/3/73 – which, if you add the first two numbers and multiply them by the amount of them (2) you get 10 and then if you add the second two numbers, you also get 10.

I don’t know if that means anything, numerologically speaking, but I always found that to be kind of cool.

I was also due in late December, but kept cooking till February when they finally decided to induce, and by then, I was so large (11lbs, 7 oz) that I had to be born Cesarean-style (cut-out, not salad).

I bet a shrink would have a field day with me and my mommy issues!

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EkEkEkEk07 June 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

i was born at home. my father delivered me. a nurse neighbor assisted him. he ran into the bathroom and picked a dirty towel off the floor to wrap me in. my mother yelled, “get him a clean towel, dave!” he did. he gently woke my brother and introduced us. the ambulance came and took us to the hospital. i breathed polluted air and couldn’t sleep with the other babes, so i had a tiny nursery all to myself and the nurses loved me. my mother did not plan on delivering at home, but i was impatient and ready for the world.

p.s. that baby is so cute!

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Aimee June 2, 2008 at 9:39 am

I was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan Sept 12 1975. Ypsilanti is connected to Ann Arbor and sort of known as Ann Arbor’s ugly step-sister. It started to boom during WWII when one of the many auto-plants was converted to a bomber plant. Women and coal minors from the South were brought up to work, including my Great Grandparents. Anywhere you go in Ypsilanti you still hear Southern accents. It is also known as Ypsi-tucky. (The Y sounds like an I so it’s Ipsilanti not Yipsilanti.)

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Aimee June 2, 2008 at 9:51 am

I was a 10 Lb baby in the 1970’s. Sizes like ours were unheard of back then. Everyone that came to look at the babies thought I was going to grow up and be a linebacker! (I’m a very slim 5′ 2″.) I always feel in writing, that I have to explain that I did not grow up huge.

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cherylsnell June 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada–with a hole in my back. This was 1950, and babies with spina bifida did not usually make it. They doctors operated, then put me in an overheated incubator, which my mother insists is what saved my life. Every year on my birthday, she tells me “the incubator story”.

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Kimberly June 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm

tee hee!

Here’s another “fat baby” story that my parents love: before they got the results of the first sonogram, my mother had gained so much baby weight so fast (gestational diabetes) they thought I was twins.

Talk about life-long body-image trauma! For me, they started in utero!

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Brian_McEntee June 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm

I was born in San Diego, CA, two days after Jesus. I don’t remember the actual event. It was in a hospital rather than a stable.

Years later I watched the film, “The Life of Brian,” and felt a connection with Graham Chapman, even though no one brought me any gold, frankincense or myrrh by mistake. In fact, I usually got stiffed on birthday gifts and parties, as Jesus stole all my thunder.

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edscutegirl June 2, 2008 at 12:47 pm

I was born on May 29th, 1976 in Sarnia, Ontario (also close to 10 lbs) and as it is lovingly referred to as Chemical Valley (due to the many chemical plants just outside the city limits) it is no wonder that everyone I know has breathing problems. It could have been worse though as people born down river from us often have birth defects from drinking our water. I look forward to Wednesday’s interview and reading more birth stories from the kids in the park.

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kalaodia June 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I was born in Georgetown, Texas. I am told my father watched outside the window, from a tree.

-Claudia

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SusanHenderson June 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Wow, wow, wow, I LOVE these birth stories. Just love them! I’ll comment individually today or tomorrow. Have been busy in every dimension – with book edits, birthday planning, getting kids to rehearsals for Doors and Clapton tribute concerts, figuring out what shots they need for Galapagos and Machu Picchu trip at the end of the month. Thank you for your stories!

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JamesRSpring June 2, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I was born at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. Upon checkout, the nurse inadvertently switched ID tags and handed to my Italian mother a very Mexican infant. My mother protested the transaction, but it was 1968, and everybody was protesting something. Still, she dug in her heels. Eventually the hospital located the real infant me.

Most days I feel that my mother has regretted not keeping that Mexican baby.

Te quiero, mama.

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robinslick June 2, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Philadelphia, PA (how boring is that — I never left, except for one brief year) on the same day as Mae West (figures), Robert DeNiro (figures) and Sean Penn (really figures). I’m sure there is also a story in that I was born at “Albert Einstein” Medical Center but just the fact that I can’t think of one pretty much says it all…

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Kimberly June 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

HA! Love it!

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Brian_McEntee June 2, 2008 at 2:47 pm

I was born in Mercy Hospital too, although I’m not the Mexican youth you were almost swapped with.

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djtuffpuppy June 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Camarillo, CA.

I was born two weeks early and out of the four children my Mom had, she tells me that I was the most painful. I was a fat baby. My baby pictures resemble a blob.

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jessicaK June 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Born in Boston. A hurricane named Hazel was threatening to blow into town. Hazel never arrived. But I did. October 15th. Hurricane Jessica.

Jessica Keener

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JamesRSpring June 2, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I don’t believe you, muchacho, and must insist upon seeing your infant ID tag.

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Brian_McEntee June 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Is that common in Georgetown, Texas? Did he pace on a limb? And were other fathers perched on other limbs? This paints a really interesting picture and gives the term “family tree” a whole new twist.

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Brian_McEntee June 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm

See, you were a perfect ten right from the start! (And both 11 and 7 are wining numbers too.) 😉

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SusanHenderson June 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Most of my relatives live in one of the last two primary states. ( https://litpark.com/2006/11/10/weekly-wrap-places-that-capture-us-2/ ) Have a feeling they’ll be representing all four candidates left in the race when they vote tomorrow.

Have been reading all of your answers and was inspired to ask my mom about my own birth story. I should have time to pop in tomorrow. Keep telling your stories!

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kalaodia June 3, 2008 at 1:28 am

From what I was told, he wasn’t allowed in the delivery room. And he wanted to see, so he climbed a tree and watched. That’s about all I know. Although, if the tree was right outside the window, with comfortable limbs – I can imagine that other fathers climbed the same tree. Also, I’ve never been clear on why, exactly, he wasn’t allowed in the delivery room.

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Nathalie June 3, 2008 at 4:52 am

That is a great image, though… I keep on imagining that tree with hopeful fathers hanging from the branches, nursing their nesting instincts.

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Nathalie June 3, 2008 at 4:53 am

Wow! That IS a sizeable delay. Now I am going to imagine you being born with croutons…

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Betsy June 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

For reals, Spring? That’s quite a story!

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Oronte Churm June 3, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Born in what used to be Saigon, Vietnam, left when I was months old. My mom always said my early words were in Vietnamese.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:35 am

I’ve put myself on a work-play schedule today. Every time I finish five pages of edits, I can come here and respond to five comments. This probably reveals something about me that I shouldn’t reveal, eh?

Nathalie, I love the meaning you’ve given your birth story. It sounds like the opening lines in a movie.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:37 am

Gayle, that’s absolutely brilliant from the sedar to the belly dancer to the lobster. That she told you about the orgasm (and that she had one giving birth!) is worthy of its own short story, I think.

I had both my boys in a Pittsburgh midwifery (go Pens!) and after, my celebration meal was an English muffin and a glass of orange juice.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:38 am

Has it been a year already?

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:39 am

Me, too! And how neat to know what your parents did.

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Nathalie June 4, 2008 at 11:40 am

Better just five than none at all!
And five pages is a good pace: you should not burn yourself out.

The opening lines to the movie of my life. A slap-stick comedy, no doubt (I hope, at least).

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 11:40 am

I’m a huge Sedaris fan, but I like you better.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Comi-tragedies are my favorite!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Love the story of the elevators, Ric. And how can any of us forget your birthday now?

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Ha! Another great opening for a movie!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm

My first was a very big baby, too. He was in the 98th percentile in weight, and then immediately began sinking on the charts. The pediatrician was alarmed and thought I was starving him, and I looked at her and told her to look at me and Mr. Henderson and tell us she expected our child to stay in the 98th percentile.

Both my kids (like you, I’m guessing) have been in the 15th percentile ever since. Doctors get so carried away with measuring and graphing!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm

God, I love this story! No shortage of characters in your family!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I’ve never heard of that town before, but that’s probably the greatest name ever. Sounds very Pittsburgh (at least the way I’m trying to pronounce it.)

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I didn’t know about the spina bifida, Cheryl. What a remarkable story to hear as a child. I had a friend, Sherise, when I was a kid, and she was born with a hole in her heart. It was the first thing she told people when they met her. I think it made her feel like Wonder Woman.

(Okay, I have to do 5 more pages on my book before I come back…)

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jerrywaxler June 4, 2008 at 5:30 pm

I was born above my father’s drugstore in Philadelphia, but that was only the beginning. It was two years after the big one (WWII), and what started out as a reasonably predictable life of the grandson of Jewish immigrants hit some serious whitewater during the sixties. Now that I try to write about my life, I find that one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me is my renewed passion for writing. I’m going to figure it all out if it kills me.

http://www.memorywritersnetwork.com/blog

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm

This is unrelated but I’ve been Googling for an hour and maybe you can help, especially if you know 70’s trivia. Does anyone besides me remember getting those ultra thin record samples in the mail that you had to punch out along the perforated edges? They were 45s and mostly easy listening type records like swing bands and stuff. I need to know what they were called and/or see a website about them. Help?

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Hee. Can’t wait for your visit this summer!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Um. Sarah. You are sitting on a goldmine of an idea if you write a book, fiction or non-fiction, beginning with this. In fact, if you like, I can delete your post so no one steals it.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Claudia, you have the best stories and a perfect Carveresque delivery.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:15 pm

That’s awesome, and we’re drinking scotch (okay, you: vodka) together next month, and that is even awesome-er.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

I love the fact that you stayed in one place. Just to own that sense of identity and community. This comes up all the time with Mr. H because people will ask where he’s from, and he’s never sure what the answer is.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

LitPark is the place for fat babies. I love it!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

I love how so many of you see your arrivals as metaphors.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:19 pm

That’s an incredible story, Lizzy. Absolutely great descriptions!

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:21 pm

How beautiful and sad that you used to have another language but can’t remember that time.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Maybe it won’t kill you at all but will bring some important part of you to life. Let us know as you uncover that story.

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A.S. King June 4, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Susan – I remember cutting 45s from the back of cereal boxes (and weighing the corners down with pennies.)
http://adverlab.blogspot.com/2005/02/flashback-cereal-box-carboard-records.html
I vaguely recall the ones in the mail.

I was a sitting breech birth. Bottom first. That means twice the size. It was a horrible experience for my mother, and probably me too, but I can’t remember it. Reading, Pennsylvania.

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SusanHenderson June 4, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Ha! Love that link. Didn’t those things have Braille-like bumps on them? Maybe I’m remembering wrong. What a weird invention!

I might have to use the cereal box one if I can’t find the other. There’s a brief mention of it in my novel and I needed to flesh out the details. The records I was thinking of came in the mail on super thin black plastic. It came in a square and you would punch the circle out. It might have just been samples of songs on them.

Hey, Amy, when you were being born, were they able to turn you, or did you really come out bottom first?

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terrybain June 4, 2008 at 10:57 pm

I’ve been lucky enough to have been born 5 times. The first time I don’t remember, so I don’t have many stories about that birth. But it happened (or so they say) in Puyallup, Washington, and I was born at 7:47 a.m., the year Boeing began major production of the 747, and also the year my father went to work for Boeing.

The next four times I was born on the day my children were born, and I know if I talk too much about this, I’ll wander myself right over into the realm of sentimentality. So I’ll likely leave it at that, and mention that I don’t even remember who that person was that walked around with my name before my children were born, but it was certainly only a shadow of the man I am now. Or a shell. Or some other emptiness metaphor that can’t possibly convey the difference between that human and this one here.

Blessings…

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Gail Siegel June 4, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Oh my, a baby Mike Myers!

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A.S. King June 5, 2008 at 7:52 am

I really came out bottom first.
The doc on call was an intern and didn’t get my mother in for a C in time (even though she explained it to him, she was just a dumb pregnant woman, you know.) (Don’t get me started on that part.) The stitches, internal/external numbered in three digits. She couldn’t have any pain drugs because it would have hurt me. If that wasn’t enough, she lost the use of her legs for two weeks after I was born. They didn’t know if she’d walk again until she actually did.
She used to tell me the story – but I couldn’t really grasp how horrible it was until I’d had my first baby. Since then, I call her every day and tell her I love her.

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edscutegirl June 5, 2008 at 8:55 am

Thanks, Susan. It would be so interesting to research the health problems in my area in depth and write a book about my findings. The story behind Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action really hit home with myself and others who live in my town and no doubt there are hundreds of places around the world that have similar stories waiting to be told.

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Brian_McEntee June 5, 2008 at 11:44 am

Just don’t let that James R. Spring guy drink all the scotch before I get there.

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass June 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm

I was born in East LA, long before Cheech & Chong made it famous. For years my father told me a magician pulled me out of his hat, but what else would you expect from a dad who was a sword swallower? In later years I learned that my mother had gone into labor while my dad was doing his act at the Long Beach Pike. My uncle drove her to the hospital, while my father finished his set and raced his motorcycle to White Memorial where legend tells that he entertained everyone in the maternity waiting room.

He was so disappointed that I wasn’t a boy, however, that he refused to look at me for four months. The way he tells it, I cast a spell on him and drew him to me. He looked down at me, I smiled and he was smitten. I was Daddy’s girl from then on.

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass June 5, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Wow, Brian. You look really good considering you’re as old as Jesus. Really good. XO

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass June 5, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I have only heard of the birthing orgasm phenomena once before. Sounds like a great theme for Kimberly to explore in film.

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass June 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

My mother had a very similar experience with the birth of my older sister. They told my mother that she would probably not be able to have another baby. Two years later I slipped through the vaginal red carpet, three years later my younger sister followed.

The terrible stories my mother told of my sister’s birth, however, frightened me. I’ve tried to keep my birth stories positive so that I don’t pollute my daughter’s mind with negative birth mojo.

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A.S. King June 5, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I was the last of three, Carolyn. I don’t know what they told my mother after me, but something tells me she wouldn’t have believed them anyway. She was a nurse in that same hospital, so I’m sure the experience – being laughed off by the intern & having to deliver sitting breech, nearly losing me, and then losing the use of her legs for a fortnight – was doubly annoying.
And yet, the story never made me afraid of giving birth.

My mother was so thrilled I could have midwife/home/drug-free births after her experiences, and thinking of what she had to go through, by herself (no matter how much my father would have wanted to be there) treated like a sick person and not a powerful woman about to do something totally natural, makes me so so appreciative of my wonderful birth experiences (especially the one that was FREE in a county that had national healthcare!)

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Sbain June 6, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Late to the party! I was born at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California, same hospital where my dad died 5 years later. I was preceded by 3 brothers and so on the day I was born, my father walked into the room, saw me, left me and my mom at the hospital and went home to paint my room pink. My mom didn’t see him again for 24 hours. Then he came in with a pink dress, pink blanket and pink cap. Apparently, when my mom found out she was pregnant, my dad took my middle brother out on the lawn, bent down and prayed for a girl.

Ever since all of that, I’ve felt like I haven’t lived up to what I am supposed to. He died 5 years later and left a huge hole…

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Brad Listi June 16, 2008 at 1:05 pm

I was born at a hospital in Milwaukee. Don’t remember anything about it, but my mother tells me that the first thing I did on planet Earth was pee in the doctor’s face. A fitting tribute to the man who delivered me out of amniotic bliss.

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5speener0 June 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Hello, I’m here to play too, but I may be a little late?

I was born in a little village near Sparta, Greece. My father was the schoolteacher in the village, a position held in high esteem. My, how values change!

I was the first child and I was born at home. The village doctor and midwife (husband and wife) came by mule or donkey, which I suppose would translate to sedan or mini cooper today. They delivered me and, as was the custom, were offered the honor of becoming my Godparents. Well, as was also the custom then, boys were more valuable than girls, so this loving medical couple declined, wishing to hold out for “the boy”. The second and last child was born at home too; she was a girl. Her Godparents were the village doctor and midwife. Life CAN bring a sense of humor!

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SusanHenderson June 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Despina, Brad, Sarah, Carolyn, Gail, and T,

Sorry I didn’t see the comments on this thread till now. What wonderful stories and wonderful things to know about each of you. And Despina, welcome! I hope you’ll share more stories from Sparta! I have a very special place in my heart for Greeks, because when I passed out on the soccer field today, it was my Greek teammate who carried me to the shade!

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Despina--Writing for my life! June 30, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Susan, thank you! I already feel at home here. I love the feel of this place that you’ve made and maintain for us.

What ARE you doing out playing soccer, when you have all these deadlines and children’s activities and such going on? See…Greeks are bossy, too! 🙂 Just ask my husband.

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SusanHenderson July 1, 2008 at 10:56 am

Just wanted to pop in and remind everyone that the new Question of the Month won’t be till next Monday (always the first Monday of every month, though it feels like it should be today). I’m reading (and listening to) Anna Karenina. Reading when I feel like going out with a book, and listening to it when I want to rest my eyes. I’m almost to the mazurka, which I’m saving for a prize when I finish my goal for the day.

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5speener0 July 1, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Terry, absolutely wonderful story.

What a great way to talk about the difference that your children have made in your life!

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SusanHenderson July 3, 2008 at 8:56 am

Terry is the O. Henry Award-winning webmaster of LitPark.

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5speener0 July 4, 2008 at 10:02 am

I have a SONG for you–it’s about Jesus. 🙂
Go to http://www.myspace.com/hayescarll
and listen to “She Left Me for Jesus”…Jesus is STILL at it!

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Brian_McEntee July 4, 2008 at 4:01 pm

That was fun–thanks for sharing.

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