Over the next month or so, our diarist and her sister Ruth kept each other company in their upstairs rooms at Aunt Lue’s house in the heart of Missoula.  Then Mama came back from the ranch and took things into her own hands, cleaning and sewing up the lining for the baby’s basket.  Image

These nifty little baskets were how you kept Baby safe during the day and toted her around the house or yard.  Not too different from those big plastic seats with handles we use today but the old wicker and wood ones are much prettier.

So anyhow, let’s fast forward to March 15th, a very eventful day: Handsome husband Jay rides into Missoula on the stagecoach, just in time for something big…

“Wed. Mar. 15                                                                        1922

Mama went over to Mrs. Mucklers.  & Ruth & I kept house which is saying a lot.

To my hearts glad surprise while eating dinner looked out & saw my dear old Jay coming down the street & the world was all sunshine then.

J. Mama & I went down town in p.m. to see why Dad didn’t get his rubbers, & J got a shave & haircut.

Dorma Ruth began making me step around while down town about five or 4:30.

Glen came down on the stage with Jay & he came up here & took Ruth down town for supper & the show.  Mama & Aunt Lue decided about nine p.m. they better get busy with a few little necessities for my room so flew at it.

Ruth spent the night at Rubys & I spent the night in pains.  Dr. Thornton came about 10:30 & 2:30 Dorma Ruth arrived with quite a voice.”

A couple thoughts on giving birth in the Roaring 20s: in 1900, our diarist’s Mama and 90% of all American women had given birth at home assisted by experienced women.  But the 1920s marked a watershed when the medical profession declared war on mid-wives.  In the interests of ‘modern’ medicine, most mothers went along with this (although scholars now agree that fatalities actually increased for 15 years or so before antibiotics were understood).

Childbirth was considered a nasty event that should be gotten over with quickly.  Typically, women in labor were completely knocked out with chloroform or ether and babies were literally pulled out  of their mothers’ limp bodies with special forceps like these from the 1930s. Ouch.

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Sounds like our diarist and her Mama decided to have it both ways: give birth in a home environment but with a doctor present.  Sounds like a sensible solution to me!

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