For most of us, at seventeen years old our biggest concerns were forgotten memories within weeks. For my mother in law Betty, 17 meant she was going to be a mother. I can only imagine all of the feelings that coursed through her during that time, and after she shared her birth story I keep thinking it must have been so overwhelming. But you wouldn’t know that if you sat with her today. She had her first child at seventeen and worked hard to ensure that he, and all her children had a great life.
She is probably one of the strongest women I know. To see her now, and with her children, all successful adults with amazing families of their own and to read her birth story, I think that like me, you will feel in awe of her, being only seventeen and giving birth to her first child.
How many children do you have?
4 – Two by birth and two step-children
How old were you when you had your first child?
What was pregnancy like for you?
First child, physically, the whole pregnancy was great. I only had a little morning sickness for the first couple weeks. Emotionally, the beginning was a little rough because of my age. Second child, everything went great. I felt great and enjoyed the pregnancy.
Who helped educate you on pregnancy?
I had three younger siblings so what I learned was from being around my mother. In those days, sex and pregnancies were not really discussed.
Did you take a birthing class?
No such classes at that time.
What was labor like for you?
With my first it was very difficult for me, again because of my age. The only education I had received about labor pains was “it is a pain you will soon forget.” Therefore, I was not prepared, nor did I understand the whole process.
I was really frightened and it felt terrible. I was so difficult during the process that I was eventually given a total block and couldn’t feel anything from the neck down. Hospitals don’t like women who make too much noise.
My second pregnancy and delivery was great. I knew what I was getting into, understand, could handle the pain and my labor was quick. So quick, I delivered naturally with no pain medication.
Where did you give birth?
Hospital in California
What was delivery like?
With my first child, I was very doped up. I could not feel anything. My son was also drugged so he did not cry much. With my second child, the delivery was smooth and quick. Perfect.
Was your husband/partner in the delivery room?
Not for either birth.
How long did you stay in the hospital?
Were you happy with your birth?
After my first child, I was happy the pain was over. My second child, I was so pleased how smooth and quickly it happened. I was very happy.
FIRST FEW WEEKS
Who helped you?
My mother helped me.
Did your husband take time off?
No, not for either child.
How did you feel postpartum?
My first child, I was depressed about my weight. Second child, no.
Did your doctor give support regarding breastfeeding, postpartum?
I didn’t breast feed (went back to work after two weeks in both cases) and postpartum never came up in any discussions with either doctor.
Where did you find support as a new mother?
My best support was my mother and my younger sister.
What was your biggest challenge being a new mom?
Trying to do everything. After my second child’s birth, it was a challenge taking care of a four-year old and a newborn.
What was your partner’s role?
First child, none. Second child, some help with feeding.
How old were you when you had your last child?
What do you see the biggest difference between raising children today and when you were a new parent? What is better today, what was better then?
When I was a new parent, I didn’t worry about the many things that younger generations seem to worry about. I just trusted that the doctors knew what they were doing. I worried about the simple things – feeding, clothing, keeping them healthy and having fun with them. It was not because I didn’t care, but because I was young and dumb and never thought of things that could go wrong.
It’s always better to know as much as you can and that is what today’s parents have going for them. They have the resources to keep themselves informed so they can make good decisions. Though, I sometimes think this can sometimes cause parents to forget to live for the moment and just enjoy their children.
Within the realms of society what were your biggest concerns for your children?
Getting a good education and being happy.
Best advice given to you when you became a mom?
Don’t sweat about the little things (hair styles, clothes, etc.). Worry about the big things (grades, drugs, etc.)
Best advice you can give to new moms?
You know your children best. Advice from other people is nice but they are your children. Love them and enjoy them.
What was/is the greatest joy in being a mother?
When the children were young – it was seeing them successfully interact with other children and adults in all types of activities. Now that my children are adults – it is seeing them with their children and how much everyone loves each other.
What do you know about your birth?
I was born in Elko, Nevada, because my hometown, Carlin, Nevada, was so small it didn’t have a hospital. My mother’s pregnancy was not a smooth one. I was born on my sister’s birthday exactly two years later.