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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Entry 124: 1977 Robin's Summer of Testing


          No matter how many times you tell a person not to do something sometimes they just have to test what you are saying.  This was Robin’s summer to test and find out if mommy and daddy really knew what they were talking about when it came to two things in particular. 
We had warned Robin never to put anything in the electrical socket but sometimes people just need to try things out.  Robin was playing in her bedroom by herself.  Heidi was at school, I was in the kitchen with Adam, and Larry was in the field knocking almonds.  I heard a loud “pop.”  The refrigerator stopped humming and the lights went off.  After a few seconds Robin started to scream.  It wasn’t just a scream for attention…there was an element of pain in her voice.  I raced for her bedroom.  It seemed to take forever to get to her. 
          When I got to the door of her bedroom I could see her sitting on the floor leaning against the wall.  She was gripping her right hand with her left hand.  I noticed the wall socket looked burnt and one of my metal curler pins was stuck in it. I heard someone knocking loudly at the back door.  I scooped Robin into my arms and went to the door.  Uncle Jay was working on the huller for us that summer.  He wanted to know if everyone in the house was alright.  I took him to show him the socket in Robin’s room.  He let out a big laugh and said that sure did explain what happened.  The electricity had blown in the house and in the shop and at the huller station. 
          It wasn’t long before the house began to hum again.  Larry came in with a huge grin n his face.  He scooped Robin into his arms.  He hugged her hard and spun around repeating, “I love you, I love you,” over and over again.  Then he sat her on the kitchen counter, looked her square in the face, and asked her, “What’d you learn?”  Without skipping a breath Robin looked him in the eye and said, “I think it must hurt to be a light bulb and I don’t like “tricity!”

          About two weeks later she forced her head through the slats on the end of her bed.  When I asked her why she did it she said she just wanted to know if it would fit.  Well…yes and no.  It fit through but it didn’t fit when she tried to pull it out.  Again I was in the kitchen when she started screaming.  This time Adam was in her room with her.  He started crying too.  Robin looked pathetic down on her knees at the foot of her bed with her head lying on the mattress through the slats.  I picked up Adam and went outside to get help. 
Junior Lariosa was working outside.  He gave me a silly grin when I explained the drama going on in the house.  He grabbed a little hand saw and followed me to Robin.  He had to saw out one of the slats to free Robin.  I must admit for the next few months she didn’t do any experimenting.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Enter 123: 1976 Adam is Born


          For the third year in a row I was going to have a baby!  Dr. Bigelow told me since we had five little girls so far there was a good chance we would be having another little girl.  I like to think I can turn my troubles over to God.  I turned everything over to him when I went to bed at night.  I know He can handle my problems but as soon as the sun would come up the following morning I would find myself worried again.  
I was afraid; no I was terrified, something bad would happen to this baby too.  No matter what our pastor said, no matter what the doctor said, no matter what anyone said, I worried.  Although I was enjoying Heidi and Robin it was the longest and hardest nine months of my life.  
To save my parents just a bit of worry we told them I was two months pregnant when I was actually four months.  When my tummy began to expand I said it was because it was so soon after Cari and I was still chubby from her.  My parents believed us.  The middle of May, just a week before our baby was due, I told them the truth.  They questioned why I had done it but soon realized I did it for them as much as for myself.  When they understood our baby was due any time they were excited too.
          We went into the hospital around 7 o’clock on May 30.  Labor progressed as it should until about 3 the next morning.  I was given a shot to relieve some pain allowing me to rest and I reacted to the shot by stopping labor all together.  It was a nice relief but very frustrating.  Dr. Bigelow came in around 8 the next morning.  When he found how the night had gone and checked me he said the baby was certainly ready.  He gave me a shot telling me it should start some progress again.  He was off to a dentist appointment.  He joked as he left asking we please give him time to get his teeth cleaned.
          He had been right.  Our baby was ready.  When that shot hit my bloodstream it went right to work.  Within a few minutes labor was underway again.  By 9 it was hard labor and the nurses were asking one another how long before our doctor would be back.  At 10 they called the dentist office!  A few minutes later Dr. Bigelow was walking by my side as I was being wheeled into delivery.  He patted me on the hand and said, “Joyce, I only got the right side of my teeth cleaned; now I will need to go back once this baby is here.”  He laughed.  I laughed.  The nurses laughed. 
          Mrs. Mott was a wonderful nurse.  She had been with me each time I had delivered a baby.  She had celebrated with me when Heidi and Robin were born.  When Joyce, Jayne, and Cari were born she cried with me.  I think she was nervous going into the delivery room.
          We had been given the option of Larry being with me during delivery this time but had declined because we knew things could go terribly wrong at the last minute and I didn’t want him there if it did.  He didn’t want to be there if it did either.  I always felt he got cheated out of watching a miracle.
          When Adam was being delivered Dr. Bigelow exclaimed in a loud voice, “Well, look here, this one is different!”  I had no idea what he was talking about, for a brief instant I thought something was wrong again, then he said with a loud laugh, “We got a boy!”  Dr. Bigelow was beaming!
          Dr Bigelow instructed one of the nurses to go get Larry.  I looked at Miss Mott, she was wiping her eyes, “Joyce, he’s beautiful, He is a keeper!   What do you say, let’s quit while we’re ahead ok?” I assured her this was definitely the last baby we would be having.  She gave me the biggest hug I can remember ever getting.  
One of the nurses led Larry into the delivery room.  She laid Adam on a blanket and handed him to Larry unwrapped.  Dr. Bigelow laughed and told Larry to look close at this one because it was different from the rest of our babies.  That is how Larry found out we had a son!  After a few minutes the nurse took Adam to clean him and dress him.  Larry couldn’t get out of that room fast enough to call his sister and tell her he had a son.  
Adam was perfect, not a bruise or bump or red spot anywhere and I looked him over good!  Adam was definitely the prettiest baby I’d ever seen! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Entry 122: 1975 Heidi Goes to Kindergarten


          Heidi’s first day of kindergarten was fun.  She cried when she realized I really was going to leave her.  I stayed for quite a while trying to get Heidi involved with some of the kids.  There was a little play house inside the room.  Finally, Heidi went to the roof of the playhouse with a little boy named Danny Oie.  Soon two or three other children were there with them and they started passing around little books.  As they scrambled to look at the pictures I went close and said good-by to Heidi.  Finally, she was alright with me leaving.  By then it was nearly 10:00 so I took Robin to visit my mom instead of heading home. 
We were back to get Heidi at 11:30.  Her teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, said she did fine and participated well with the other kids through the morning.  The next day Heidi acted like a different child.  When I pulled up next to the door, she was eager to get out and begin her day at school.  I was glad she had an easier time the second day but I think I was also glad she didn’t want to leave me the first day. 
It is hard for kids to let their parents go and it is hard for parents to let them advance to another stage of life.  I know that sounds silly but I realized now a new world would open for Heidi.  She would have more freedom, more friends, and more adults influencing her.  Larry and I would no longer have total control of what she would learn, where she would go, and who she would choose to have for playmates.   
Friday of the first week of school when I picked Heidi up her teacher notified me Heidi had been in a little trouble for standing on a table and squeezing a bottle of glue down onto the table.  At home it was Heidi’s job to tell me what Robin was doing, especially when it was something she shouldn’t be doing. 
By the time the first report cards came out Heidi had managed to become the class tattle-tale.  Mrs. Wheeler said she never told on anyone to get them into trouble.  “She simply keeps me very well informed of everyone’s behavior,” she said.  “I can tell she must be a little mommy at home with her sister because she really tries to take care of and watch over everyone in her class.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Entry 121: 1975 Cari is Born


Except for the devastating end to my first pregnancy I loved being pregnant.  To me there was something  wondrous about having a baby, another human being, living and growing inside me.
As the months flew by with this pregnancy I didn’t even consider something might go wrong.  I was taking care of my two beautiful daughters and another baby was soon to arrive adding to our joy.  My doctor had made it very plain everything was proceeding as it should and all our bad experiences were in the past. 
Heidi was excited to be getting another baby in the family.  Robin was too young to understand another one was on the way.
Our due date of April 1st quickly approached but the joke was on me as no baby came.  On April 10th my labor began.  The labor progressed slowly.  After several hours Dr. Bigelow ordered an X-ray to rule out or discover any problems.  When he ordered an X-ray it frightened me.  I thought X-rays were harmful.  There are always signs up in the X-ray labs saying to notify the technician if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.  A familiar fear began to creep into my tummy.
Dr. Bigelow said he was hearing lots of heart beats and wanted to know if perhaps there were two babies in there again.  My fear turned to joy.  How exciting.  Could I now be going to have twins after all?  When I got to the lab the technician had a puzzled look on his face when he saw my belly.  He didn’t say anything.  When he was finished he was very quiet and wouldn’t look me in the face.  I figured if he had discovered twins he’d be happy.  A feeling of dread began to flood over me.
I had been back in my labor room for only a few seconds when Dr. Bigelow and Larry came into the room.  They were both an ashen color.  Dr Bigelow looking me square in the face and said, “Joyce, we have a problem.”  He proceeded to explain to me our baby was going to die.  He told me we were having a baby girl.  She had a devastating life-ending problem and would either be born dead or die in the following hours.
Dr. Bigelow must have been thinking back to the time when our twins were born.  I know I was.  It had not occurred to me that something so horrible could happen to me again!  The doctor left and Larry took his place by my side.  He didn’t leave me again for even an instant.
My mom and dad, Larry's mom, and several friends and relatives gathered in the waiting room.  My dad came in to my room.  He didn’t try to offer any false hope.  He simple climbed into my bed with me, held me in his arms like a father trying to comfort his little girl, and cried.
The morning passed slowly.  Little progress was made.  In a way I just wanted it over.  We had chosen Cari to be the name of our baby if it was a girl.  Our little Cari continued to move and squirm about inside me.  Every time I had a contraction I was torn between wanting her to stay inside me alive and wanting the agony of labor to be over.
At one point I was hemorrhaging quite badly.  One of my favorite uncles, Johnny Stevens, was in the waiting room.  When he found out I was in trouble he went to the nurse and said, “She can have my blood.”  I only mention this because he didn’t say “some of my blood.”  The nurse even laughed when she told me later that he seemed quite willing to give me all of his blood. 

Larry and I held one another.  He stroked my brow, he rubbed my back, and he caressed my swollen belly.  I cried.  He cried.  Then we prayed together that our little one would be born dead so no one would be starring at her and waiting for her to die.  I couldn’t believe we were praying for our baby to die.  I couldn’t believe we were loosing another precious child. 
About noon I noticed something odd.  I put my hand down where the baby would be coming out.  I felt a little foot.  I ran my fingers over the five little toes, down the bottom of the arch, and around the heel.  When I rubbed the arch the foot straightened out.  I was tickling my daughter and she was reacting.  She was in the position that one leg would come out and then the other leg and body at the same time.  I was so uncomfortable. 
I honestly looked for and expected to see Cari’s angel come for her as I had with our twins.  I guess God knew this time I would be strong enough.  He knew I knew the angel was there if I saw it or not.  As He always is, God was right.
It was about four in the afternoon when Cari was finally born.  Much to our relief our beautiful 8 pound 12 ounce little one was stillborn.  The nurse gently wrapped her and carried her from the room.
Once again Larry had to make funeral and burial arrangements for a child.  On the stone for Joyce and Jayne, who are buried together, he had inscribed “Our Darling Daughters.”  Now on Cari’s stone he had “Another Darling Daughter.”  The three of them are at the Lakewood Cemetery in the baby section. 
I stayed in the hospital for three nights that time.  Labor had been long and hard.  I was exhausted.  I think Dr. Bigelow had me stay in the hospital partly to recover from delivering Cari and partly to keep me from Heidi and Robin. 
I remember getting into the wheelchair.  I had many bouquets of flowers.  I took only a couple flower arrangements and asked the nurse, Miss Mott, to give the rest to other new mothers.  When she took the flowers from the room she had tears in her eyes.  She said she’d find just the right rooms to put them in.  She walked us to the car.  When she helped me stand and transfer to the car she stopped me and gave me a long warm hug.
I had been too ill after Joyce and Jayne were born to attend their funeral but I went to Cari’s.  I don’t think I heard much of what was said.  All I could hear was silence.  I don’t know if I am saying this right but I only heard a sound like a waterfall.  Maybe it was my blood rushing through my aching heart or maybe it was God’s own protection.  Maybe God knew I didn’t need to hear what the pastor was saying.  I remember seeing a tiny beautiful pink casket.  I remember seeing a handful of my friends.  I remember walking, with Larry’s help back to the car.  My arms and legs felt so heavy I was amazed I could move them at all.
Mom and dad, Larry’s mom and dad, and Heidi and Robin were home when we got there.  Life needed to go on.  When driving sometimes we hit speed bumps.  This had been another “Life Bump” but I had so much good in my life I was eager to get on with living!
I visited the cemetery the Easter after Cari was born.  The other little graves were covered with Teddy bears, Easter rabbits, balloons, flowers and messages.  It was very sad.  Realizing my little girls are not actually at the cemetery I have not returned more than a few times in all these years and then it was only to show our other children where they were buried.    
I take great comfort in knowing they are alive and in Heaven.  Often I stop and think of just how many wonderful people I know there with them.  My dad and mom, Larry’s mom, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, relatives and many friends wait for me there.  It will certainly be like going home some day to see all those familiar faces and so many new ones as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Entry 120: 1975 One Huge Surprise


            I was sitting on the couch watching Heidi play with Robin.  I was amazed at what a big help a three year old could be.  Heidi was on constant guard for Robin.  Heidi disappeared for a few minutes.  When she returned she was pinching her nose with the fingers on her left hand.  In her right hand was a clean diaper.  “Here mommy, I think you need this.”  Heidi was a huge help to me.
          Larry had burst into the house announcing we could leave for an unexpected three days at the beach.  We quickly packed swim suits, clothes, bags of food, diapers, sleeping bags, tent, and all the rest that goes with a vacation.      
 I hadn’t been feeling very well for a couple days and knowing this might be our last opportunity to get away until Spring, I grabbed the remaining morning sickness pills I had from my Robin pregnancy.  I had five pills.  We would be gone three days.  Perfect!  We had a great short vacation and I felt wonderful the whole time.
The first morning after we were home I felt bad again.  I managed to get the laundry finished and put away.  Both Heidi and Robin needed good scrubbings in the tub to get all the sand out of their hair.  While sitting in the bathroom watching Heidi play in the tub I got a real familiar sick feeling.  The idea hit me.  Could I possibly be pregnant? 

I still had two morning sickness pills left in the bottle.  I took one immediately.  I finished cleaning the girls and got the house in order.  I made a simple dinner and relaxed.  I took the last remaining pill that evening.  The next day I felt great.  We spent a good deal of the day in the orchard watching Larry run the almond knocker.
The next morning I woke up running to the bathroom to be sick.  The feeling was just too familiar to be anything else. I knew I was pregnant.  I called Dr. Bigelow, made an appointment, and saw him that same afternoon.  When he asked why I was there I told him, “I just came to let you know I’m pregnant again and I need some pre-natal vitamins.”
Robin was only seven months old.  We had taken precautions but the test came back positive.  Having another baby so close to Robin was not planned but within a matter of minutes the excitement of another new one in the house began to fill our hearts and thoughts.
Dr. Bigelow checked me out and informed me I was indeed pregnant and would be having a baby in the Spring.  The estimated date of arrival was April 1st.  How appropriate - April Fools Day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Entry 119: 1974 Mrs. Beasley

Heidi’s favorite television program during this time was Family Affair.  To Heidi the main characters were a little girl named Buffy and her doll, Mrs. Beasley.
Heidi’s birthday that year turned into something magical when she opened a present containing Mrs. Beasley.  From that moment forward we were to hear Mrs. Beasley repeating these phrases:
Do you want to play?
Gracious me, you’re getting to be such a big girl!
If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?
I do think you’re the nicest friend I ever had!
Would you like to try on my glasses?  You may if you wish.
It would be such fun to play jump rope, don’t you think?
If you were a little smaller, I could rock you to sleep.
Do you want to hear a secret?  I know one!
Speak a little louder dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.
You may call me Mrs. Beasley, would you like to play?
And Heidi’s favorite…
Long ago, I was a little girl, just like you!
Mrs. Beasley slept in Heidi’s bed, she sat beside Heidi in the car, she watched TV with Heidi, she played on the swing set with Heidi, and sometimes she had meals in the kitchen when Heidi ate.  She wasn’t allowed at the table but she was close by.  
One of the best games Mrs. Beasley and Heidi played was Hide and Seek.  I would help Mrs. Beasley look for Heidi when it was Heidi’s turn to hide and I’d hide Mrs. Beasley for Heidi to find when it was Mrs. Beasley’s turn.  Hide and Seek could go on for hours.  Mrs. Beasley was Heidi’s best friend.                    
One autumn day I was baking in the kitchen, Robin was napping, and Heidi was in the yard playing on her swing set.  As usual, Mrs. Beasley was nearby.  She was on a lawn chair watching Heidi swing and slide.  
As luck would have it Heidi spotted a butterfly on a nearby bush.  She went to investigate.  As the butterfly went from bush to bush Heidi followed.  Soon she was near enough the open kitchen window to smell the baking cookies.  
Heidi came in and together we had a glass of milk and cookies fresh from the oven.  Heidi liked to dunk her cookies in milk like her daddy does but this time they were warm so instead of dunking she broke them in pieces and licked the warm chocolate chips out before gobbling up the rest of the cookie.
Larry came in just as we finished our treat.  He chased Heidi from the table and teased her for a while pretending he was going to eat all the remaining cookies.  We had a good laugh.  When Heidi heard Robin begin to stir in the other room she ran to take care of her.  
The remainder of the evening was busy with dinner, a little TV, bubble baths, and bedtime stories.  Heidi helped me gently cover Robin in her crib and quietly got into her own bed.  I piled dollies up all around her.  She hugged each one of them before she gave me a goodnight hug.  Heidi hadn’t noticed, neither had I, Mrs. Beasley was missing.
During the night I was awakened by an unexpected thunderstorm.  The rain was pouring down.  The rumbling woke both girls who were delighted when we brought them into our bed for a while.  The storm passed quickly and once again everyone was fast asleep in their own beds.
When morning came I opened my eyes to see Heidi just inches away from my face.  She had her finger up to her lips as if telling me a secret.  “I can’t find Mrs. Beasley, I think she’s hiding again.”
We searched everywhere for Mrs. Beasley.  Heidi was in tears most of the morning.  Just before noon while we were trying to remember where Mrs. Beasley had been seen last a sickening look crept onto Heidi’s face.  “Oh no mommy, Mrs. Beasley is out by the swings.  Poor Mrs. Beasley.  She was outside all night alone.”
Yes indeed.  We ran to Heidi’s bedroom window and looked out.  There, still sitting in the chair by the swing set, was one very soaked Mrs. Beasley.
Mrs. Beasley had a cloth body.  She was soaked.  When I picked her up water ran from her.  I squeezed all I could out.  Then Mrs. Beasley went into the dryer.  She was nice and clean when she came out but her hairdo was never quite the same.  Mrs. Beasley didn’t talk much after that.  Heidi would pull and pull on the string but just once in a while would she say anything and almost never a complete sentence.
Heidi loved her little friend with a true friend type of love.  She was only slightly annoyed that her dear friend didn’t talk much anymore.  When Larry or I would pull the string Heidi would put her little hands down in front of her with the palms downward.  “Mommy, daddy, Mrs. Beasley has talked enough to you.  Now she only talks to me.

 
It seemed Mrs. Beasley was still in perfect condition.  She was still saying everything she had ever said and I’m sure a lot of new things as well.  It was a good lesson about a child’s imagination and loyalty to a friend.   Mrs. Beasley was with us for a few more years.
After that storm Mrs. Beasley's dress was a little stained, her hair was shaped very oddly, and she only spoke to Heidi.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Entry 118: 1974 My Hair and Robin's Toe


         It was June.  The weather was warm.  Mom was at our house visiting with the girls.  The four of us were outside.  Heidi was playing with her tricycle, mom was watching Robin, and I was getting a picnic lunch ready.
Robin was squirming a little bit and demanding attention more than usual.  She was wearing a pajama outfit with feet so her feet were not visible.  We decided she might just need changing to be more comfortable.  When I undressed her to change her diaper I found a long blond hair, mine, wrapped around the middle toe of her right foot.  
The hair was wrapped tightly many times around the tiny toe.  We couldn’t find an end to the hair or a way to unwind it.  The toe had turned black.  We struggled to get the hair off as quickly as possible to restore the blood flow.  I was afraid she would loose the toe but as soon as we got the hair off and started massaging the toe turned a nice pink again matching all the others.  I was careful to always inspect toes with every diaper change after that!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Entry 117: 1974 Happy Baby


When she was just four or five days old I put Robin beside Heidi on her bed.  Heidi snuggled so close to Robin she was almost on top of her.  Heidi put her finger in Robin’s hand and gently pulled Robin’s little hand back and forth.  Heidi was smiling from ear to ear as I watched them.  The funny thing is Robin was also smiling.  I don’t care if people say babies don’t smile.  Robin was smiling at Heidi and paying full attention to her.  I  think that was when these sisters began forming a lifelong bond.  
Heidi’s bedroom was next to ours.  I could see into her bedroom when I was lying on my bed.  Heidi knew Robin loved her.  She was very attentive and protective of her new baby sister.  When Robin was four weeks old we moved her crib into Heidi’s room.  We convinced Heidi that Robin would feel safer if she would stay in her room at night.  From that night on Heidi slept in her own room with Robin.   
Sometimes when Robin would stir and begin to whine for a feeding I could hear Heidi trying to sooth her by gently talking or singing to her.  Many times I would lie listening then Heidi would walk into my room and say, “Mom it isn’t working, you’re going to have to feed her again!”  She would put great emphasis on the “again” as if eating was all babies ever did.


Every time we left the house we put bonnets or hats on Robin to keep people from asking about her head.  This is actually a pretty good picture of the lumps caused at her birth.  When she was 6 months old we took her to a specialist in Modesto who told us she might have the lumps for 5-6 years.  Of course, as circumstance would have it, one of the lumps began to disappear the next week and both totally disappeared during the next 3 weeks. 
I’m happy to say Robin never did quit smiling. 
During our first visit to my parent’s house to share Robin I told them of the doctor rubbing Robin’s feet to make her breathe.  Dad promptly unwrapped her little feet and rubbed them.  From then on every time we visited my parents while she was a baby dad would spend his turn rubbing her feet.  As she grew older she would seek him out, shoes and socks in hand, climb on his lap and enjoy her “grandpa time” giggling as he would rub and tickle her feet. 
Robin told me Jeff continues the tradition.  She said he rubs her feet in the evenings while the two of them enjoy their last hour of the day watching TV with the kids tucked away in their beds.
 Robin was the last one of us to see my dad the day he died.  She spent her time with him telling him what was going on in the family, how much we missed him at home, and rubbing his feet. 



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Entry 116: 1974 Robin in Born


None of my babies came easy.  When labor started this time we stayed home only for a short while before heading to the hospital.  We dropped Heidi off with Wanda and Glen Jantz before we started for town.  It was two or three in the morning. 
There was no traffic, even so, every time we can to a stop sign I begged Larry not to stop.  I wasn’t worried about getting to the hospital in time, I didn’t like the feel in my tummy when he slowed the car.  It felt like I was stopping but my tummy would keep going.  I guess the baby was on a nerve or something making it feel like that.  I remember begging him not to stop at the light when we came across the overpass in Turlock.  He took his foot off the gas and the light turned green just in time.
Labor was long again.  I just thought it was for everyone.  I didn’t realize some women have a much easier time than me delivering their babies.  After many hours of labor, when the nurse said all the numbers were right, my baby still was not progressing as it should to be delivered. 
Dr. Bigelow told the nurse, to take me to delivery when my contractions reached the point of no time between and I’d been pushing for two or three hours.  The mirrors and lights were all set up so I could watch my baby be born.  I had seen Heidi be born and it was a memory I will treasure forever. 
The nurses hurried actions and a sound of concern in my doctor’s voice made me think of the day our twins were born.  I had a horrible fear for a moment something awful was about to happen again.  I said out loud I hoped everything they were doing was normal and there wasn’t a problem.  The nurse assured me everything was alright.  The nurse’s name was Miss Mott.  She had been my nurse when the twins were born and when Heidi was born.  She was with me every time I delivered a baby.
With Miss Mott’s assurance I relaxed a little and watched as my baby was born.  An instrument about the size of a small Dixie cup on the end of a tiny hose was inserted and pushed to the top of my baby’s head.  A quiet humming began.  The doctor said this procedure, called “”Vacuum Extraction,” was not uncommon when babies refused to progress.  The doctor instructed me to push and push again.  This went on for another twenty minutes or so.  My baby just refused to move. 
Miss Mott put her hand on mine and said, “Now Joyce, I know you can do this…push your very hardest, I want to see this baby!”  Another round of pushing began.  Miss Mott began cheering when the doctor said the baby was finally moving.  I was watching all this in the mirrors.  I remember thinking how interesting that they’d stick something inside of someone, attach it to a baby’s head, and  pull the baby out.  When I realized it was me I was watching  it wasn’t quite so interesting.  I just wanted it over and my baby in my arms.
Finally, with a push I thought might blow my eyes right out of my head, Robin was born.  The doctor handed Robin to Miss Mott who turned and put her in a little bed.  She did not cry or breathe.  Miss Mott said something to the doctor and my heart began to pound. 
Miss Mott said in a rather loud voice, “She’s a beauty but she’s not breathing.”  Then she added, “I’ll lift her and spank her.”  Dr. Bigelow said in a commanding voice, “No!  This little girl has been through enough we are not going to spank her too!”  Then he added, “Watch this.”  He gently nudged Miss Mott to the side.  He began rubbing the bottom of Robin’s feet.  When there was no response he rubbed harder.  “Come on little one,” he said, “this is your birthday and there are people here waiting to meet you!”  He rubbed even harder thumping a little in the center of her feet as he rubbed.
I could see her.  She had not pinked up yet.  Then her little hand jerked and her fingers closed and opened again.  “Well,” Dr. Bigelow said smiling, “she’s breathing and pinking nicely, she’s evidently just not going to cry for us today.”  Dr. Bigelow and Miss Mott were both beaming as they placed my brand new baby girl on my tummy.
When the nurse handed her to me I remember thinking to myself life just couldn’t be any better than it was at that moment.  Robin was absolutely beautiful.  Without a doubt, she was the prettiest baby I’d ever seen!  I introduced my baby Robin Alpha to everyone in the room.  Robin’s middle name is Alpha, for Larry’s dear mother, who I missed so greatly during that pregnancy. 
By visiting hours that evening two huge lumps had raised on top of Robin's head caused by the vacuum extraction.  Mom called her a little valentine.  The first time my dad saw her he nearly threw up out of fear something was permanently wrong with our beautiful new little daughter. 
The first night Robin was home from the hospital, when I was totally exhausted, she slept through the whole night.  The next night she fell into the expected new baby feeding schedule of every three to four hours.  What a pleasure she was.  What a joy to hold.  How I loved being a new mommy again!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Entry 115: 1974 My Mom Collides with a Horse

          Mom had spent the morning at our house.  She loved to play with Heidi.  We had a good time eating tiny cookies and drinking pretend tea.  Heidi was sad to see her leave. It wasn’t long after she left dad called to tell us she had hit a horse on Sante Fe between Denair and Hughson.
          Larry and I loaded Heidi in the car as quickly as we could and took off for the location of her accident.  Of course, mom was gone already but the car was still there.  So was the horse!  
I don’t remember going to the hospital but I’m sure mom did.  I think we saw her later that day at her house after the doctor checked her out.
The horse had run into her car (T-bone style) coming off another road.  Somehow mom’s car ended up on the railroad track and had to be pulled off.  Mom had lots of bumps and bruises.  The car and the horse were both totaled!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Entry 114: 1973 Growing Up is Hard Sometimes


Occasionally if there was a storm or Heidi had a hard time sleeping she’d sneak into our bedroom.  She would stand with her nose nearly touching mine until I opened my eyes to see her.  She tried to stay in her bed but just didn’t seem able to.  We let her get away with sleeping with us until I was about five months pregnant.
I’d already had a scare after digging for a gopher.  Heidi kicked and squirmed in her sleep.  I didn’t want to take a chance she could accidentally kick me in the stomach and hurt our new baby.  The nightly fight was on!
We asked Heidi to stay in her bed.  She cried and made her way into our room.
We tried a night light and left the hall light on.  She cried and made her way into our room.
We tried new fluffy pillows and a new doll for her to sleep with.  She cried and made her way into our room.
One night I threatened her.  I said if she came into our room I would be sad but I would have to spank her and put her back in her bed.  A few minutes later she was once again nose to nose with me.  Her eyes were begging me to let her into my bed.  I had to stay true to my word.  It broke my heart but I spanked her and put her back to bed.  She cried very softly for a few minutes.  Her whimpering was followed by silence.  When I opened my eyes she was there again.
            I was at my wits end.  I picked her up, carried her to her bed, and told her how much I loved her.  I also told her if her feet touched the floor again that night she would have another spanking.

I went to bed.  The light in the hall was on.  I shut my eyes and pretended to sleep while I was really watching the hallway and praying Heidi would stay in her bed. Something caught my eye on the floor near Heidi’s door.  It seemed to be the end of one of her pillows.  A few seconds later another pillow plopped out to the middle of the hallway.  Heidi gently stepped to the middle of the second pillow.  She carefully turned to pick up the first pillow.  When she had it in her hands she turned again toward our room and placed the first pillow closer to us than the pillow she was standing on.  
After about five very careful placements of her pillows she was once again nose to nose with me.  “My feet didn’t touch the floor mommy,” she said with such hope and pride.  She was right.  She had placed her pillows perfectly from her bed to mine and made it all the way without touching the floor.  My heart melted.  I lifted the covers and she crawled in the winner!  I have looked back and marveled at her ingenuity over the years.  She was only three but she found “where there is a will there is a way.”
I solved the problem very easily by turning my back to her while we slept.  She did continue to wiggle and squirm in her sleep but never kicked me hard.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Entry 113: 1973 "Gramma Alsa"


 In October we went to Santa Cruz for a quick vacation.  About a week previous to our trip Alpha had fallen hitting her head on the corner of her desk.  She had been having severe headaches and going to the doctor almost daily in an effort to find some relief.  Alpha had a bruise on the side of her head which extended to her face and even a partial black eye.  We were all worried about her but because she had seen the doctor so often that week we had relaxed a bit and trusted her doctor was taking control of the situation. 
Before we loaded into the car the phone rang.  Alpha wanted us to stop by their house.  She had something she wanted to give to Heidi.  When we pulled into their driveway Alpha and Del both came out to the car.  After the usual loves and kisses to Heidi, Alpha gave Larry a little coin purse.  She said the purse was for Heidi.  She could use what was in it on her vacation.  We asked again how her head was feeling.  Again, she said it hurt but assured us her doctor was taking car of it. 
As we backed out of the driveway Heidi squealed, “Bye-bye grandma Alsa” over and over as we sped down the road.  Larry peeked inside the purse.  It was packed with quarters for the rides.
When we arrived in Santa Cruz we put our belongings in our hotel which was on the opposite side of the river from the boardwalk.  We packed our stuff for the day including Heidi’s stroller and made our way across the train bridge to the boardwalk.  Heidi loved the rides, especially the little airplanes.  We spent most of the morning on the boardwalk and a couple of hours playing on the beach before we headed back to our room. 
Later that evening the three of us took the car for a short ride up the coast and back ending at our favorite restaurant on the pier for dinner.  After dinner we walked to the end of the pier.  Walking by the fish market area nearly made me lose my dinner.  I was five months pregnant with Robin and the raw fishy smell was almost more that I could take.  There were seals on the boards below. 
Larry took Heidi to the bait shop at the end of the pier to buy anchovies for the seals with the quarters Alpha had sent.   Larry taught Heidi to bark like a seal.  When she made her “seal sound” she’d wait for the seals to reply.  Of course, the seals were just making a lot of noise and not talking to Heidi but there is no way we’d tell her that.  She squealed and barked at those seals for half an hour before she lost interest.
I can’t remember if we were awake or not the next morning when our phone rang.  I could tell by the look on Larry’s face he was getting terrible news.  When he hung up the phone he was pale.  He told me to pack and get the car loaded right away.  The phone call had been a family friend, Dixie Falkenberry, telling Larry his mother was in the hospital in critical condition.  The second part of her message was she thought we’d better come home right away.  The news hit us both very hard.  We barely spoke and did not make eye contact while we gathered our belongings and started towards home. 
When we got to our usual half way rest stop, Casa De Fruita, Larry pulled in to park.  He said, “I don’t think it matters if we hurry or not.”  His face was pale, as was mine.  We let Heidi play on a couple little rocking horses for a few minutes, bought some dried fruit, and headed for home again.  It was almost as if instead of being in a hurry to get home we didn’t want to get home.  That was before cell phones so we weren’t getting any updates.  We knew something horrible was about to invade our happiness.  We couldn’t imagine what or how horrible it was to be.
Our next stop was my parent’s house.  Larry made a phone call and we were off to Doctors Hospital in Modesto.  Mom kept Heidi with her.  We thought she would enjoy a day with grandma more than a day in the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital Del met us with grim news.  He had taken Alpha to Emanuel Hospital in Turlock where doctors worked with her through the night and finally sent her to the Modesto hospital.  A few minutes after we arrived at the hospital a doctor came to gather Alpha’s family into a conference room. 
We were told Alphas brain had swelled to the point irreversible damage had been done and we were going to lose her.  She could no longer live.  The doctor said she would survive only for a few hours. 
Larry immediately took me to Hughson to stay with my folks while he went back to the hospital to sit with his mom for the last time.  I was five months pregnant with Robin.  We were afraid the stress of the next few hours or days could take a toll on me causing me to lose our baby so I was removed from the worst of the coming anxiety.  The afternoon was horrible for Larry and Del and Barbara.  I was scared and worried too, but I didn’t have to see the others so upset.
          Larry called letting me know Alpha had died and he was on his way to get me.  Again silence filled our car as the three of us drove home.  We were all exhausted.  Del called asking Larry to come to his house.  When he came home again he had several treasures that had been his mothers. 
Alpha’s death was huge to us.  Of course it was devastating to Larry, she was his mother.  It was also extremely hard for me.  Alpha had become my very good friend, my confidant, my helper with Heidi.  She adored Heidi and Heidi adored her.  It was the most horrific event of Heidi’s life up to that time.  Heidi kept asking to see grandma “Alsa.” 
The next day we were in the car on our way to leave Heidi with my mom and help with funeral arrangements.  Heidi was in her car seat in the back seat.  When we told Heidi we were going to grandma’s house she immediately thought we meant grandma Alpha’s house because she saw her every day.  When we tried to get her to understand it was Grandma Louise’s house she got a puzzled look on her face because she only saw Grandma Louise once in a while. 
Larry and I explained the best way we could that grandma was gone.  She couldn’t see grandma “Alsa” again.  When we got to my mom’s house Heidi told her, “Grandma Alsa all gone.”  She turned her little hands palm side up as she made her statement.  It was exactly the same gesture we had seen Alpha make a thousand times.  Heidi is a grown woman now and I still see her make that gesture.  When I see Heidi I often see Alpha.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Entry 112: 1973 Chasing the Gopher



It was my job to do the yard work unless we were undertaking a big project.  The lawns, the flowers, dog poop patrol, and the weeding were my responsibility.  Sometimes I would let the lawn mowing go longer than I should.  This story is about such a time.  It was September.  I was about four months pregnant with Robin at the time.  


It was a Saturday morning.  I was mowing the lawn while Heidi was napping.  A gopher had been digging his way through the grass leaving mounds everywhere.  I found the shovel and began to dig.    I dug for about an hour setting traps and recovering the holes.  I was tired when I finished and went inside to rest and watch Heidi play for a while.
Later that afternoon I noticed I had a problem!  I was spotting!  When I told Larry he took me to the doctor right away.  Dr. Bigelow was out of the office so we saw the doctor covering for him.  I didn’t care for the doctor when we met him.  He only spent a few minutes with me before giving me his opinion and then I liked him even less! 
The doctor told me I was going to miscarry.  He said I should go home, resign myself to what was inevitably going to happen and go to the hospital when I felt contractions. 
Saturday night was horrible.  I had a tummy ache all night.   Sunday was no better.  We stayed home from church, puttered around the house, and watched Heidi.  After church Alpha and Del came over bringing us lunch.
           While they were visiting Alpha made the comment, “If you are going to lose this baby I hope you do it now and you don’t carry it longer like the twins.”  I loved Alpha and she loved me.  She loved our unborn baby and I know she made that statement in love.  I agreed with her.  I didn’t want to go through such a loss again.  I prayed without ceasing all day I would not lose my baby. 
Sunday passed, my tummy ache did not get better but it did not get worse.  Monday morning at 9:00 we were in Dr. Bigelow’s office.  After sharing with him all the events of the weekend he gave me a quick exam.  He gave me some liquid medication called Belladonna and an admonishment not to shovel after any more gophers!  I had to mix the medicine with water and drink it twice a day for several days.  The ache subsided and the pregnancy continued.  Larry spent the next few days feverishly trapping gophers and making our backyard look great!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Entry 111: 1973 Baby Joyce



           Living far out in the country we were pretty isolated.  We didn’t get together with friends very often other than at church or chance meetings while we were shopping.  The exception to that was a couple we knew who lived in Delhi.  It was Larry and Joyce Harry.  
          When Heidi was about three she was fascinated by names.  It must have seemed to her that her friends all had different names, her Sunday School teacher was called “Teacher,” and all other adults were Joyce’s and Larry’s.
          Heidi kept using “daddy” for Larry but began to call me Joyce!  It was funny and cute and a little weird to have my three year old call me by my name.  We tried explaining to her several times she just could not call me Joyce.  
Finally we bought a doll for Heidi and named it “Baby Joyce.”  We told her she was to call me mommy but she could call her doll Baby Joyce.  I’m not sure why it worked but it did.  Once we put that doll in her arms I don’t think she ever called me Joyce again.  You can see by the picture above it became her most prized possession for several years.
Any good mommy loves her baby unconditionally.  Heidi loved that doll.  It went everywhere with her.  She never said a word about the missing toes when Romeo chewed them off, she never complained about how stained the cloth body became, and she never seemed to notice how her hair changed from a soft curl to sticking straight up.  Yep…she loved that baby like a real mom!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Entry 110: 1973 Another Baby on the Way



             It was June when I visited Dr. Bigelow to confirm I was pregnant again.  I was so excited.  Heidi was such a beautiful baby and was now such a beautiful little girl I couldn’t wait to have another baby in our family.  I tromped out into the field carrying a surprise McDonalds lunch for Larry to give him the news.
          He was excited too.  Larry was a great daddy.  He was very involved with our kids.  I have to be honest though there were two areas he wasn’t good at and refused to practice to get good.  Dressing and changing diapers were definitely left to me.  I remember one time when Heidi was only about a year old I had gone to the grocery store and left Heidi with Larry.  As soon as I opened the door to the house Larry said, “I think she might need changing.”  Boy did she!  At least it bothered him so I know if I was held up for a long period of time he would have eventually changed her.  It always makes me wonder just why he thought changing a poopie diaper didn’t bother me!  I didn’t like it either!
          Dr. Bigelow assured me when I met with him this pregnancy should go as smoothly as when I was pregnant with Heidi.  While our first pregnancy and the loss of our twins seemed to constantly nibble at the back of my thoughts I tried only to be positive.  
          We had fun making the calls to our parents again letting them know our family, and theirs, was growing again.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Entry 109: 1973 Our Little Flood


To be a farmer you must have a bit of “gambler blood.”  I can’t think of another profession where a person can devote a year of labor, a year of expenses, and do everything exactly as he should to ensure a good income for his family and get nothing for it. 
A farmer does not just rely on a loan from the bank and his good credit at the supply store.  A farmer must contend with something he has no control over.  A farmer must constantly be at war with the weather. 
We have had our crops minimized because our bees wouldn’t fly in the fog.  We have lost portions of crops to disease or infestation of critters.  We have been totally wiped out by a freak hailstorm.  In 1973 it rained. 
It rained a lot where we live but more importantly it rained even more in the hills.  As the water found its way to lower ground creeks and streams began to fill.  Mustang Creek overflowed its banks and headed towards us.  It is illegal to stop advancing water flow or to divert from one farm to another.  The flood began.


It started just across Sante Fe Road, about two miles from us.  The water rushed over Sunny Acres Avenue and formed a wide slow moving insult of water.  The fields have all been leveled.  Some fields were higher than others.  The water quickly found the lowest ground.  It would slowly fill up the field and when full continue on its way.  Next it headed down towards Harding Road spilling onto both sides of Sycamore Street.  When it reached Harding Road the rush of water turned west toward Vincent Rd.


At the corner of Sycamore and Harding was a pasture with several horses standing chest high in water.  The water wasn’t running with enough force to tip the horses but they had never experience anything like it before and their concern was evident.  We could see they were struggling to stay on the highest part of the pasture.


We did flood irrigate at this time so I’d seen the land under water but I’d never seen flowing water like this in the orchards and fields.

I guess Del had seen this happen before.  He knew exactly where the water would go.  He and Larry actually were walking in front of it for a while.  At the corner of Harding and Vincent Roads Emma Kroeker and her husband lived.  They had built a sun porch on the back of their house.  When the water reached her house she had no choice but to open the door and let it in.  It was two or three steps up to the main part of the house.  The water went in one door of her porch and out the other.


From Emma’s house the water continued west across the land on both sides of Harding Road.  One of the neighbors had put up levees to divert the water onto Del’s land.  Larry and Del had David tap the levee to allow the water to travel in its natural path.  We were upset the neighbor thought more of himself than he did our fields or the law!  After we broke the levee the neighbor was upset with us too. 
Dave took the bulldozer to the canal and tapped the edge causing a small dugout opening into the canal.  The moving water found the broken point and the flood was diverted into the canal.  It certainly wasn’t a flood that claimed lives or loss of buildings but it was interesting to watch progress before our eyes.
Other than twigs, branches, and other light debris nothing much was displaced.  Other than soggy pastures, destroyed levees, Emma’s porch, and the broken canal bank damage was kept to a minimum,