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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - circa 1893)

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Childbirth

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010

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Chapter 35

Preparing for Childbirth

Dr. Clark was the Cook family physician. He and Mrs. Clark and Father, George and David had toured Europe in the same party. Naturally Mother Cook expected us to consult Dr. Clark, but I hadn’t even considered him. I didn’t like the idea of going to him about a baby. He was old, for one thing, and had the most enormous hands I had ever seen. Somehow I couldn’t face his robing my insides and then shaking hands with me at parties. I wanted Dr. Pelton, who was said to be the best surgeon around. He had tiny but strongly knit hands and he gave me a feeling of confidence.


George said I should have the physician I wanted and we invited Dr. Pelton to take care of me. He was long past the stage of taking baby cases because he had so many operations, for he was a surgeon, and babies are not respecters of a doctor’s convenience. However, he hoped the baby could come at night so he took me on at the usual $25.00 fee.


Doctors didn’t give the care to expectant mothers then that they do now [not certain the date of Una’s writing] and I saw very little of him. Once I remember visiting his office because I had a terrible cold. George had told me that you shouldn’t have medicine while you were pregnant, so all I had taken was quinine, our family remedy for colds. I hadn’t felt good afterward, especially Sunday when we were in church all day. So Monday I went to see Dr. Pelton. I told him with naiveté that I knew I shouldn’t take medicines so all I had taken was quinine. I can see him now as he said in a very gentle voice, “Didn’t you know that quinine is used to bring on miscarriages?” That really scared me.


At that time, among the friends I had made, I had only two young friends of my age, except Nettie Ashman, and my most intimate one was the wife of Dr. James Chalmers, pastor of the Congregational Church. They lived just across Division Street from Mother Cook. Mrs. Chalmers was a very sentimental but nice person about ten years older than I. She had married young and had three or four children. Just why she was drawn to me I do not know but from the first she set out to cultivate me. It is more than likely that gossip was circulating about Mother’s opposition tome and this had aroused Mrs. Chalmers’ interest. She took me under her wing and, one day, very frankly told me that because I had married into a wealthy family I would have to be the one to make overtures to other people. My family’s prominence made it necessary.


She gave me other pointers and finally stumbled onto the gossip that had circulated in Elgin before our marriage. How opposed Mother had been to our marriage. She was shocked to learn that I knew nothing about the “Bishop’s Daughter” and her opposition to our marriage. She was so sincere a woman that I felt sure of her friendship from that moment. She became my closest friend. She gave me patterns for my layette, the Gertrude Patterns, and I went to her often for advice.


George had been a member of the Congregational Church in Evanston. Dr. Chalmers used to coax us in front of Mother Cook to unite with his church. When M.C. [Marguerite Cook] upbraided him, he reminded her that George was a Congregationalist; therefore he was not proselytizing.


Our baby was due in January or February. My layette was complete and sterilized sheets were purchase early on. I made and bought Christmas presents. Nearly everything was wrapped and ready early in December. I still, however, had George’s gift to buy and I decided to make one more trip to Chicago to shop and to see Mama. We always stayed overnight at Mama’s (6149 Ellis Avenue). [Refers to Una’s mother.] Although I was well along, I was not large at all and the doctor had commented about it but I seemed to be as strong as usual, not too peppy. When I had worn a maternity dress, George had asked if I were not rushing the season by advertising my condition.
We took an early train to Chicago. I made my purchases and then went out to Mama’s in Woodlawn. George went downtown early the next day. I was to meet him at Union Station for a five o’clock train. Some time in the morning Howie, or Dade, in dashing through the long hall, ran into me in the doorway. He hadn’t seen me behind the curtain. It started me but we thought no more of it. I met George as planned and we boarded the train for Elgin. The trip took an hour and it seemed the longest ride I had ever taken. I began to feel queer and, as people spoke to us in the train, I remember how far away they seemed. It never occurred to me, however, that there was anything peculiar the matter with me. I was used to not feeling so good.

We took a cab home as usual (flat rate a quarter) and dinner was ready. We ate and went up to the den where George worked at night. I began to feel worse and decided I’d take a hot bath and go to bed. I drew the water and climbed in. I was having pretty mean gripes now and decided I shouldn’t have eaten any dinner but the warmth of the water seemed to make the pain less. After lying in the tub for some time I climbed out and went into the sewing-room and lay down on the couch. Why I didn’t go to bed, I don’t know. I finally suggested to George that he’d better talk to the doctor who could maybe suggest something to stop my gripes.

Cymric Strain - Book 2, by Una Howell (USA - circa 1893) Current

Chapter 1 - Evanston

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music
Chapter 3 - Northwestern University

Chapter 4 - Beaued

Chapter 5 - Late for the 1am Train!

Chapter 6 - A Visit from Home

Chapter 7 - Bill Declares Himself

Chapter 8 - Engaged to be Married
Chapter 9 - A Grand Piano for Me?

Chapter 10 - Apartment Life in Evanston

Chapter 11 - On the Train with a Pass

Chapter 12 - Eric’s Decline

Chapter 13 - The Organist

Chapter 14 - Lilly Dies

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Chapter 17 - A Rich Young Man

Chapter 18 - Helping the World

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 20 - Mendelssohn Concerto in E Major

Chapter 21 - The Meister Way

Chapter 22 - An Admirer

Chapter 23 - Gentlemen Callers

Chapter 24 - The Scotchman

Chapter 25 - Checking on Maynard

Chapter 26 - Rich Young Man - Not so Much

Chapter 27 - A Page Removed!

Chapter 28 - The Marriage

Chapter 29 - Plans for a New Marriage

Chapter 30 - Honeymoon

Chapter 31 - A New Home

Chapter 32 - Getting to Know Elgin -1901

Chapter 33 - Our First Mobile (Auto)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Birth

Chapter 36 - Stillborn!

Chapter 37 - Leave Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache

Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium