Strong Spirit

My pregnancy in 1962 was spent roaming through Europe, coming home just a few weeks before giving birth. It was there I learned about the Lamaze method and came home to have the 1st Lamaze birth at UCLA. My mother had spent the day with me telling me stories about my childhood and what a strong willed person I had been.This was the most time we spent together in my entire life.
I knew what to do, how to handle myself, had made arrangements with the doc (the only doc in LA county who would stand in for this birth method) to be able to wear my glasses, to have a mirror at the end of the table to see the birth, breathing-no drugs! As I entered the hospital I was urged to sit in a wheelchair–exclaiming, “I’m not sick, I’m having a baby!’ Demanding pillows, I marched ahead of the nurse pushing the wheelchair, refusing to sit down.. A tray of drugs, needles, etc. was placed next to me and the many interns and residents who had never seen a natural birth hovered around saying, “Don’t be a martyr now!”
“I’m not being a martyr, I’m having a baby,” I huffed repeatedly. I was “prepped” and then attendants proceeded to take my glasses away, tie my arms and legs down (“You might flail around and throw things,” they kept repeating) and I started to scream for the doctor, intermittently grunting away as contractions were becoming rapid and strong. I never imagined such sounds could come from me.
“Untie me!” “No I won’t be flailing around!” “Give me my glasses!” The doc arrived, rescued me and set things straight..After just about an hour my son’s head began to show–breathe, breathe, push, breathe, breathe, push. Seemed like moments and there was my son, Erik. Love at first sight!
When my mother held him she exclaimed, “Look at that strong chin. May he have the strong spirit of his mother!”

-by Maxine De Felice, excerpted from “May the Spirit Be Unbroken”

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