With a newly minted Registered Nurse degree in 1937, my mother
donned a crisp white uniform, nursing cap, stockings. A navy-blue
wool cape was worn on house calls as a public health nurse. She
worked until she married in 1941. I was awestruck by her stories.
On the back seat of a taxi, my mother assisted a woman who
gave birth on the way to the hospital. Things had progressed
rapidly. Without a blanket, she wrapped the newborn in
an unread newspaper which the cab driver provided. When
I asked my mother about the newspaper, she informed me
it was considered sterile. I imagine the hospital bathed the
child and swaddled it in a soft blanket. I nearly gave birth
in our car. We made it to the hospital with 15 minutes to spare.
Our daughter has inherited her grandmother’s nursing
cape and cap. Today she is a NP and began her career as
an RN. Much has changed with the profession these
days. One snowy December evening my mother
received a phone call from a frantic husband.
His wife was screaming in pain and thought it
might be her stomach. My mother quickly assessed the
situation at hand. The woman was 44. Had she
consumed something to cause her severe
stomach pains? Since her husband was not ill, my
mother examined the woman and asked a few questions.
Had the woman gained weight recently? She had,
but chalked the weight gain to the middle age
spread. During the examination of the woman, my
mother learned that this couple had tried for years to conceive
but had resigned themselves to a childless marriage.
My mother said there was nothing wrong with the woman’s
stomach and informed her she was in labor and going
to have a child! Imagine their surprise and shock! Then
joy at the prospect! My mother assisted the woman and
remained with her after determining the birth was
imminent! She instructed the husband to gather a
blanket and supplies. Soon the kitchen table was
readied for the birth. The husband was told to
turn the oven on to its lowest temperature. After a few more
pushes, the kitchen was filled with the cry of the newborn. It
was a girl. She was kept warm and could be observed through the
open oven door. The ecstatic parents marveled at the early
Christmas gift they had received. Laughter followed
as the woman kept saying she had gained weight but
never thought much about it thinking she was a
middle aged woman. What a blessing and a miracle!