Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New Mother

New Mother in 1956

Oh My! So many years ago and it seems just like yesterday. What got me to thinking about new babies is that one of my six granddaughters is expecting twins. I didn’t even know that I was pregnant back then, until girlfriends suggested the possibility! I was age 20, already married and living in a very tiny and old log cabin on the top of a steep hill with the landlord living below by the main dirt road. I worked at an insurance investigation company as a typist and keypunch operator. The afternoon that I had decided it was time to stop working and plan for the baby, my coworkers gave me a sendoff with a wonderful baby shower. It happened in the middle of that same night! Labor started.

My husband and I slept on a pull-out bed in the small room. By day it was a sofa. Sometime in the middle of the night his brother and a couple of friends decided to play a prank and scare us during the night by climbing on top of the cabin roof and banging and making strange noises. After all of the hullabaloo was over, coffee was served and they left, we returned to bed. Before daybreak I woke up with severe cramps. I blamed it on fright from the noises overhead, but they continued so we went to the hospital. Yep! I was in labor.

I remember nothing of the labor except that a gas mask was put over my nose and the next thing someone told me, “You have a baby girl.” This tiny bundle was placed in my arms, all wrapped tightly and her face was yellowish and there was a shooter marble-sized lump on her head. BUT! She was beautiful in spite of that! They treated her for jaundice and told me the lump was a hematoma from forceps having to be used. There was a red spot in her eye white as well. Well the next thing was that they took her away and the nuns asked me if I was going to nurse my baby. I had several girlfriends with babies and none of them did so I said, “No.” Thick muslim strips were then bound around my chest and safety pinned there. More were bound around my abdomen. A heat lamp was used to dry episiotomy stitches. I was extremely uncomfortable. After several days I was sent home after being shown how to feed the baby a bottle and how to burp and how to change a diaper. She wore a blue bead bracelet, or maybe it was really around her neck, with white letters spelling her last name. I have that one and the others’ still today, all strung together as one. A box of samples was brought home as well. I remember Johnson’s Baby Powder, Ivory Flakes, Vaseline, and either lotion or shampoo. 
Of course I had to make my own baby’s milk in little 4 oz. bottles. I remember using a mixture of water and canned evaporated milk and, I “think” some Karo syrup. After boiling the bottles, the nipples and funneling the milk into the bottles they were placed in a wire rack into a steamer kettle and covered and steamed for 20 minutes. Then they had to cool and another batch was made so there would always be enough on hand to re-warm in a pan of hot water when the baby needed to be fed. She was fed whenever she cried and she thrived. She was overfed and was a really roly-poly and very happy baby!

The next thing was to get a carriage for her. She slept at first in a dresser drawer, then a travel car bed. When I became pregnant again we moved to a larger home and the babies all had real cribs.

Diapers are another topic that brings back many memories. My friends and I all used cotton rectangle sheets of special fabric and did our own folding after washing. They were first removed from the baby, rinsed in the toilet, and placed in a pail of water mixed with Clorox bleach. When the clean supply got low, and after rinsing, washing, rinsing again, they were hung to dry. It became a competitive project - yes, really - to see whose diapers were the cleanest and the whitest and whose baby had the least diaper rashes! Of course, having to have all baby things perfectly folded and stacked and ready to use was one of my proud accomplishments. Even when you pinned the tab on the undershirts to the diaper to keep the diaper up and the shirt down, the shirt got wet. Babies in those days sometimes wore plastic pants over their diapers. The elastic on the  pant leg holes and waist would also get wet so a bountiful supply of everything was necessary. Wealthier friends had pre-folded diapers and some even had a diaper service that came, took away soiled ones and left a bundle of fresh. 

My baby was bathed in a rubber tub that had a pull up top which was a changing area. 

I remember that when it was time to feed Pablum cereal I found that it was very easy to do and less messy to cross-cut the bottle nipple and have her drink it from the bottle! 

About two weeks after her first birthday, her brother was born. About 3 months after her brother’s first birthday, their next brother was born, and their little sister came after him  in about a year and half. Therefore four children under age 5 was the start of the family that was to number six, seven years later. All were potty trained easily before age two! 

The following photos are from the internet and are exactly what I had in the 60's.

Written last year:
And, today is my first child's birthday. She is 61 and was brought home to a little OLD one room chinked log cabin on the top of a hill in rural North New Jersey. I had to push her in her carriage along with the laundry, down the hill to the landlady's home to use the washer and then go back up to hang diapers and other things out on a long pulley clothesline.  She didn't have a crib. We had a nice carriage and we had a "car bed" for travel. We also had a bathinett for changing and bathing. I haven't had the ambition to scan some of those old photos but the memories remain very clearly for me. 


  1. My gosh how did we do all that? I remember washing the first ones diapers on a wash board until my Dad brought me an Easy spin dry washer.

  2. What memories you've shared & created for me. I too was young. Married at 19 a mother for the first time at 20. Oh the gauze wrapping of the boobs & leakage...making the gauze stick when changing 'the good ol' days'

    Happy birthday to your daughter!

  3. This brought back some old memories of the cloth diaper and those same pins as you had. Pampers would have been so much easier.