Friday, August 3, 2012

Maternal Musings from Mary: August 3, 1972

Once upon a time, a long time ago, before there were such things as computers, digital cameras, or even (gasp) the Internet, so much of our lives and past were documented with physical items -- "scraps" if you will, of paper, pictures, ticket stubs, cards, miscellanea, etc. that were collected into boxes, piles, or - if you were really organized - books or albums. Scrapbooks are so wonderful to pick up, open, look at, touch, and sometimes even to smell. (It's like when the pages are closed, the essences of your past self are trapped within, and are saved to trigger memories and/or your imagination.) They really do engage almost all of the senses.

The only problem? Making sure that you save all these "scraps" and then organize them in some fashion. If you think it's hard to keep up with e-mail, twitter, blogs, or other social media, imagine piles of so-much-stuff that you have to find time to label, insert, organize, and keep up with -- because it just keep accumulating. Blogging takes time, but imagine trying to keep a record on paper, either handwritten or by ye old fashioned typewriter? There was no spell-check or grammar check, or a backspace or cut+paste. If you made a mistake, it was there to see.

Also imagine - if you will - trying to keep up with a books dedicated to an event or your child/children, while also trying to record memories, analysis, or anecdotes in some format.

It is with all this in mind, that I was delighted to rediscover my baby book in the pile of my stuff that Mom had saved. I knew I had a baby book; I just hadn't seen it in decades. Honestly, I didn't know what all was in it, until I took it out of the box and cracked it open. It's a fairly standard pink 1970s Hallmark-esque baby book, with notations about date of birth, weight, height, and room for entries about milestones, gifts, etc. Mom's unique handwriting is throughout, along with a lock of my hair, my hospital bracelet, a print of my baby feet, and so much more.

What was really interesting to find, especially in this 40 Diamond year, were the trove of pictures of me from infancy to grade school tucked in between pages. Then in very back of the book were the real gems -- a stack of typewritten (and then hand-scrawled) "maternal musings" from my mother ... banged out on a vintage typewriter some afternoon or evening between wifely and motherly duties, housework, naps, errands, chores, and eventually -- balancing multiple children.

I'm lucky to have these snapshots into the past. They are hysterical ... and slightly embarrassing too. You'll know more about my, um, functions than you'll ever want to know. You'll also giggle at a first-time mother's learning curve with guinea pig of a daughter. There aren't many of these musings, so I'm going to post them in chrono order, with corresponding photos ... into next year.

Please note: I have retyped them for the blog (with new appreciation for how far technology has come) to edit out real names, fix minor typos, and to preserve them for the next generations. I have also made some parenthetical editorial comments throughout, because, well ... It's my blog and I'll snark if I want to.

L: Birthday, Feb. 1972, or close thereafter ~ R: June 15, 1972: 4 months, 2 days

August 3, 1972


All that I had read before [Auntie Nettie] was born convinced me that she should be on a schedule, one that would accommodate both her and me. After about two days home, we decided that 8, 12, 4 might work best for everyone. Everyone was happy with that arrangement but [Nettie]. For the first two weeks she cried between each feeding, especially between 8 and 12 at night. I was breast feeding because I felt that I wanted the experience and because we felt that my milk would be good for her. Since she was nursing vigorously, we could not understand what was wrong with her, especially the fact that she had so much gas. I tried to get my rest so that I would have adequate milk for her, but evidently, her crying frustrated me so that I did not produce milk abundantly which in turn made her cry more …. At two weeks the doctor guessed the problem when I described our two weeks and when he saw that she weighed only 6’5oz, [AN: I had LOST weight!] put her on cereal and fruit, and told us to use a supplemental bottle when she did not appear satisfied. Thus, we settled down to a routine of cereal and fruit in the mornings and at night, and Mama and bottle in between. Usually, she had two more ounces after nursing both sides of me. Gradually, she was only nursing from me once a day so that by March 20, I had dried up so much that I put her on the bottle completely. At four weeks, she weighed 7’13oz and the doctor put her on vegetables. She’s not stopped eating since. However, she has become so active in the past months, she has gone to three hour feedings. Moreover, her temper shows itself when she does not get fed immediately when she thinks she should. At nights sometimes, she will be so angry that she will wail and not eat. Therefore, Mama has to be very time conscious so that she doesn’t get angry. In time, maybe she will outgrow this phase and learn to be more patient, but then maybe not. Her daddy still gets impatient when hungry.


As indicated, the first two weeks none of the three of us got too much sleep. In the mornings after her bath, she seemed to be more satisfied in her little seat; therefore she slept there most of the mornings. In the afternoons, she would mainly sleep in her bed, but hardly ever slept at all from her 4 p.m. feeding until midnight. After she began to get fed and satisfied, she slept better at night so that we would only be up with her for an hour where sometimes the midnight feeding took two hours as well as the 4 a.m. feeding. At about a month old, she began to sleep from the 8 p.m. feeding until two to four depending on her. Then, two days before she was two months old, she slept all night or at least from about 10 until 7:30, and she’s slept through since then, except when she was sick in N.C. in May of ‘72. However, we did begin one bad habit that we didn’t break until she was 4 months old –that of being asleep before she was put to bed on her tummy. After we got home from N.C. we put her in her crib for the afternoon naps awake, and at night if she had not gone to sleep voluntarily. She was getting too big for her seat where she had slept up to that point. The time had come where she had to accept her bed and learn to go to sleep in it. By 5 ½ months, the afternoon nap was no problem, but nights sometimes she would fuss, especially if she were not full. Moreover, the afternoon nap was only 1 ½ to 2 hours, but then we didn’t complain because she would sleep from nine to nine.


Bathtime was fun for [Nettie]. At first, it was the little blue tub on the kitchen counter that she splashed in and got too big for. June 7 after returning from Grandma’s, into the big tub with blue fish she went. By five months she knew what her legs were for and she used them to get the bathroom and Mama. From about two weeks on, [Nettie] got her bath in the morning before her breakfast. Consequently, she learned to wait for breakfast until after her bath. About mid-June, the heat increased here in the apartment, so we decided to give her a bath at night too. This second bath soon became a ritual—a two bath a day baby.

To us, [Nettie] always seemed an alert, attentive baby, holding her head steady from birth. However, I don’t think we were really prepared for her activeness. At three months when we went to N.C. for the visit, she began to balk at her chair, hunching her hips to slide out so that we didn’t dare leave her even strapped in. Therefore, when we returned to Utah, we got out the playpen, and I fixed her swing and walker. Thus, we began a new routine of rolling around in the playpen in the mornings and having a nap in it to swinging or trying out the walker after the nap in the afternoon and in the morning. Also, she was introduced more to evening walks setting up in her stroller where previously she had sat in her seat in the stroller. At first, the walker only went backwards, but on July 8 when left with Grandma [Roa], she started forward. Then the plant and magazines were not safe so discipline started. By about six months, she had learned that many things were to be left alone. A little after five months, we began to notice that she was trying to get up on her hands and knees. By August 1, she had that mastered and was rocking, staying up longer and longer in that position and practicing putting the left knee forward. We knew that crawling wasn’t too far in the future.

We had a chewer and a licker too. We noticed that she really began to chew after we got home from N.C. June 6. I went out and bought two teething rings, which we could not manipulate too well at first, but by mid-July, the beads that Grandma [Ollie] and Grandpa [Jack] had bought and the rattle and rings and anything else were being grasped coordinately and accurately and chewed hard. Also by August 1, she had learned not to chew her own fingers, but ours, because it hurt to chew hers. One of her favorite chewing objects was her swing, the straps, and seat if she were in it or if in her walker, she’d roll up to it and chew away on the metal. The drapes, coffee table, and chair were good too, and her stroller, blocks, anything.

By August 3, this writing, she’d not learned to sit up along too well, except in my lap, but had improved greatly in her stroller to no slumping over and in the shopping carts. Her high chair didn’t sit just right, but she only sat in that for fun. I still hold her to feed her. For not quite six months, we think that she’s really progressing, no teeth yet, but who wants teeth marks on our coffee table.

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