Your Mother's Hands (entry 13)

Sunday, December 8, 1963

It was a bright, crisp wintery day, but I was beginning to not feel well. My stomach was cramping and I was wondering if the "baby was acting up"..?

Monday afternoon, December 9

Kenny went in to work on his afternoon shift and I began showing signs that maybe, just maybe, the baby might be coming soon. When Kenny came home about 9pm, I told him that I thought it might be time. He cleaned up and shaved.

I had my suitcase packed and was ready. I was scared. It was too early, and Kenny was excited!!

We were having a full blown ice storm and we slid all over the highway. AND, we HAD to go by Burch's gas station so Kenny could buy cigarettes.

I had phoned Dr. Lett's office that afternoon and Helen Dages, his nurse, told me how to "keep an eye" on things and to phone the doctor at his home when we were leaving for the hospital. We phoned Doc Lett before we left, and he said the hospital would phone him when I was ready to deliver.

On our way, Kenny wanted me to tell him when I was having a pain, which I DID! They were coming closer and closer together and Kenny was smoking like crazy. It was snowing and sleeting heavily and the roads were covered in ice.

I was met at the door with a big wooden wheel chair, and taken to be "prepped" and moved to a common room divided by draperies, where there were two other women "screaming" like banshees. I hurt, but was more scared than anything. THEN, the business of the REAL pain started and I fought them. They put a mask over my face with ether...…….OMG......then I got sick at my stomach and threw up all over everyone and everything.

Labor took hours. The baby was not in a birthing position and had to be turned and then "pulled" with forceps.

Enter the world, BABY BOY ELLIS. I was out like a light, and Kenny had slept through it all.....HA! They woke your Dad and told him that he had a son.

Tuesday, December 10, 1963

Kenny phoned home and told his Mom, "I have a BOY". She answered, "Yes, we know. It was announced on the radio station at 7am!". Everyday the Washington radio station, WFML, would give hospital news and births. It was on the radio even before they were able to get Kenny awake!

I think I slept a whole day, and really hurt afterwards too.

They asked me what name we would be giving our baby, and I answered DAVID, hardly before I even heard it's a boy.

DAVID WAYNE ELLIS 6lbs. 10oz. Slightly jaundiced but fine. Now my ARMS are holding my little baby.

David was actually a couple of days old before I remember holding him. My hands went over his TINY little hands and wrinkled little legs and feet. He had a teeny little mouth, and his eyes were all squinted shut. My fingers smoothed over his tiny face where he had forceps marks and the sides of his bruised head. He took to his formula in his bottle, but I had to wiggle the nipple every few seconds to keep him interested. I just snuggled him up to me, he'd stretch a bit and continue sleeping. I just wanted to sleep too. The nursery nurses took care of me. They made me get up, walked me and they gave rub downs and massages. It HURT! HURT! HURT! I was full of stitches.

I spent over ten days in the hospital. This is almost unheard of anymore. I had great care, working with me to get me up and moving again. I had a difficult delivery. I went home the day before my 19th birthday.

I sat in our car, sort of sideways, barely able to hold our little bundle all wrapped up in a tiny gown, a couple of receiving blankets and finally wrapped in a larger warm thermal blanket. The hospital sent a small 4oz. bottle and can of liquid formula....SMA. We took David in, warmed his bottle, and I just held him. He took just a couple of swallows and we put him in his "warmed" basinette. Kenny went to the Jay C store to buy formula, and I remember him saying that Glenn Hembree paid for the case of formula, because he wanted to give something to us for our baby.

My Hands became Mother's hands, and there are not enough words to describe the feeling. This little tiny being. Fully trusting to my hands and the care they provided. Holding and Cuddling and coaxing the new BABE to suck on a bottle. Making sure you are taking in enough of this warm nourishment. And, what goes in, WILL COME OUT..........Then I had to figure out how to "clean" this little creature with these delicate baby "boy parts".

When you were "messy", it was just easier to put you down in a small plastic dish pan and rinse you off, and PAT dry. In nice warm, dry, diaper and gown, a few drops of warm formula and YOU were ready to sleep again in any good warm spot.

Whew, just doing a few things and I was tired, too. But, there were bottles and nipples to wash and sanitize, and plenty of diapers to wash and fold. I was so particular just "how" I wanted your diapers folded. I had learned to fold "little boy diapers" from Marvel. I wanted them to fit "just right" for your itty bitty BUTT. I wanted your legs to grow nice and straight!!! Also if they were folded just right, it would soak up all the pee right up front. My baby was not wearing "rubber pants" 24/7. I was going to change you the second you wet your diaper!

Oh, David......YOU had everyone at YOUR "beck and call", which often times was just a teeny, tiny little whimper. Up I'd jump and I couldn't jump very fast"! I'd check to see if you were dry, put your little bottle of formula on to warm, hold and rock you while your bottle was just right. Just a few sips, warm and cuddly, and you were asleep again. You never drank much at a time, but often. And, that is just what we did. Kept you full, warm and dry.......and of course HELD.

The first couple of weeks we did not see much of your eyes. You really didn't cry, just slightly whimpered. But, you grew and began to fill out. Soon you were in little terry stretch one piece snap-up pajamas. You had a yellow one, aqua and an all white one. I would wash them out in the sink and "line dry" them. You were ALWAYS fresh and clean. Soon you seemed hungry more often. The formula increased and we added Gerber rice and oatmeal , through a nipple. You finally started to "gobble" it down. Now you are smiling and flagging your little arms.

We spent the remainder of December and January at my parent's house. We put up a tree like when I was younger on my birthday, December 22. The same ornaments and same 7 blue lights. Your bassinette was on a coffee table in front of the fireplace. I don't remember many gifts, as I am sure I had not had time to shop, but you were the most special gift. Nothing else mattered.

Mom had made lots of homemade cookies, fudge and her famous Graham Cracker freezer fruit rolls. Nelson, Eldena and Twala Jean came to visit as well as Grandma and Grandpa Ellis with Betsy and Patty. Your Dad had cigars, but think he enjoyed smoking them!!! My cousin Louise sent you a "punkin seat" and a 2 piece knit little boy outfit.

Our own Home

Your Dad and Grandpa Ellis made a "deal" for us to move into the Kieffner place. (A big old farm house outside of Loogootee on a large piece of farm property that connected to the Ellis farm. I remember it well, even though I was young, as Patty and George lived there later and after their divorce, George purchased the property and has been there ever since. Over 50 years. There was, and still is a large cattle barn, built into the side of a stone hill that could feed and water 200 head at once. I believe it remains the largest working "stock" barn in Martin County.) They cleaned up the inside and basement. Painted the living room and put down new linoleum. We got a NEW two piece living room set, a "rocking chair" and floor lamp. We had been saving our RED STAMPS, plus we received some from Grandma Ellis and Aunt Ginny Abel. (Grandma Aleva Ellis' sister). We drove to the "stamp store" REDEMPTION CENTER. in Bedford and we picked out two end tables and 2 table lamps. We had enough left for a 9x12 rug for the large living area.

Jesse (Grandpa) loved to paint, and he painted the kitchen a light yellow. The woodwork and wooden cabinets were painted white. I had a white metal double sink cabinet, two drain boards, and this is where I would give you your bath. Oh, how you would splash and splash. I'd set you on the drain board and dry you off. This was a perfect "working" height for me. We bought a used dinette set and a used 3 piece bedroom suit and NEW mattress. We bought your baby bed from my cousin and a nice pine chest of drawers for you with the $10 we got from Truelove Church. (I had that chest of drawers for years, until we moved to Waverly and a few years later when Mom and Dad upgraded their "double bed" to a queen sized set and passed their larger set to me.) I cleaned and cleaned this house!!! Cleaned corners, washed windows and scrubbed the basement.

I did laundry with a wringer washer, but I was used to that having had used one at home growing up. Later we bought a used dryer. We had a used electric stove and refrigerator and I SCRUBBED like crazy. We bought a chest deep freezer from Oscar Kerns. We kept this on the back porch, full of meat and ICE CREAM from Holland Dairy. (Santa Clause Indiana)

Because your Dad slept during the day, I insisted on "room darkener" blinds in our bedroom and living room.

We had a wood and coal furnace in the basement. Kenny got coal from the coal mine, so we kept very warm. But, we had lots of "coal soot" and ashes to carry out. I was used to "firing a furnace" and keeping our house warm for us and baby!!! Soon you were 4 months old and enjoyed sitting on your punkin seat. You had 2 LOWER TEETH. I took you for a photo at Alco Dime Store in Shoals. Spring came and your Dad put up a clothes line for me. I LOVED to hang clothes outside. My hands scrubbed away coal soot, washed windows, put in screens, washed the porches, steps and again the basement. We got NEW curtains.

The "Kieffner Place", sat on a hill, faced west, down a very long lane. Grandma and Grandpa Braun bought you a very nice stroller, but I used it mostly when we went someplace as we had no place level to push in the country. It was easier to carry you down the lane to the mail box, than to push a stroller and then have to "clean it up".

This was my first time to plant my very own garden. Your Dad plowed and disked a "spot" just south of our house. He used the roto-tiller and I dropped the seeds and did the hoeing. I did this while you took your nap. We had a wooden crib for you that I would set up on the front porch and you could watch me while I was working in my garden. You were content. You would "yell" at me and I'd "yell" back and you would WAVE.

I canned for the first time by myself the summer of 1964. I sowed, hoed, picked and canned peas, carrots, green beans , some sweet corn and made tomato juice. I made kraut stuffed peppers and kraut in a crock like my Dad. I picked black berries and made jelly. We grew potatoes.

There was a spot in the basement for a potato bin and shelves for my canned food. I kept this area all "pantry" clean. I took great PRIDE in my food can area.

I carried you with me to the woods to hunt for mushrooms. I carried you to Kieffner's HUGE barn to break open bales of hay to feed the beef cattle. I would wrap you up in a blanket and put you in a "pen" made of hay bales, guarded by our dog, Queenie, while I fed the cows. This was the largest barn in the county. I carried you out to the "pump house" to turn on the pump so we could water all the cattle closer to the barn. I always took you with me. You LOVED to be outside, You would "MOO" at the cows and I'd let you pet their faces. If they "licked" at you, you would giggle and kick.

This summer, Bill Kieffner (the farm owner) let us have trees cut down for LOG money, and we took that money, bought an old furnace and I helped your Dad install it. We put in heat registers, duct pipes to each room and installed a thermostat. Then we were set for the Winter. Fuel oil was 17 cents a gallon. The house had storm windows now so we were snug and warm.

This Summer we also bought a new Emerson COLOR TV This was the first one in the area, and everyone wanted to come to our hose and watch television in COLOR...…!!!! It was nice to entertain and have company in our own home. We thought we were pretty cool.