When we married forty years ago, we never, believe it or not.......discussed how many children we would have.....I know if someone had suggested nine or ten I would have wondered if they had lost their mind! The biggest discussion was when we would start a family.....I wasn't getting any younger...I was 22 years old for gosh sakes! I wanted to have any birthing of kids done by the time I was 30! That seemed like a good plan to me. The biggest concern at the time was whether we could afford it or not....dear husband had a total annual salary of $4000 .....yes, we were rolling in it! What we didn't consider was that we were still in the first year of wedded bliss....little did we realize that wedded bliss isn't so blissful when you are clearly hormonal and dealing with morning sickness! A word to the young couples considering this...don't! ...wait til after the first anniversary.....enough said.
Our first child was a girl....she was born fifteen months and two days after we were married! We named her Leslie Marie.....my mother came and stayed for a week....and then left...left me with this baby that I thought I knew what to do with...but I didn't ! You see...before I married I did a lot of babysitting....I was good with babies...but...when it's your own, it's a whole different story. When my mother was there, she did e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.....I was recovering from a c-section, she didn't let me do anything but nurse the baby....she thought she was helping me...in reality, she wasn't. When she left I went into a panic and despair...I still remember crying on Don before he went to work, saying that I couldn't do this.....looking back I realize that the responsibility hit hard but Leslie and I got through it.
She was an active baby....hardly slept..I was convinced I was doing something wrong...it wasn't until she was older that I realized that she was bored! One day when Leslie was about three months old...I was in despair...I still hadn't figured out the boredom bit...I had looked after all her needs...and she was still crying....I had no idea what to do...by this time, I was crying too! Poor Don, when he returned home from work...his baby was in her crib, in her room, crying.....his wife was in their room crying...he didn't know whom to go to first!
By the time Leslie was born we had moved...again....Don worked for a trust company and every time he got a raise/new position.....he was transferred...we started out married life in a town called Owen Sound. We lived there three months, then moved to a wee little town called Exeter....about a half hour drive from London , Ontario.
We stayed in Exeter for about a year...then we moved to Chatham, Ontario....while we were there, we decided to try for our second child. After all, Leslie was past a year, 18 months to be exact.....another babe would put them about two years apart.....sounds crazy now but at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable!
I did become pregnant and just to make life interesting, a month before my due date...Don was transferred once again...this time to Sarnia....even further away from family! We also bought our very first home...up until this point we had rented. So, 26 months and 7 days after Leslie had been born....I gave birth to our first son....we called him Ryan Donald.....we were very creative using our first names as the middle names for our first two children...don't ya think?
Ryan was a tiny little guy, almost a pound smaller than Leslie...and completely different in his personality! Once again, my mom came and stayed for a week...this time I was smarter though...I insisted on doing everything for Ryan...I wasn't going to be unprepared this time when she went!
When Ryan was six months old we decided that all this moving every eighteen months really wasn't good for a small, young family. We were concerned that when Leslie started school that we'd be pulling her out if school with very little notice and that would be very difficult for her. Plus, now I had two small children and absolutely no family around to help...we were more than three hours away from everyone and I felt very alone.
Don decided to leave the trust company and he applied to a manufacturing company, in Hamilton, Ontario...he worked in their office. We bought our second home...we were very disappointed that we couldn't afford to live outside the city, where my family was but housing was much more expensive there and we had to settle in the inner city. Neither one of us were very happy about that but there was nothing else we could do!
When Ryan was two I decided that I really wanted to get my drivers license!
I had been getting learner permits since I was 16 but never really became serious about getting the real thing til a little more than ten years later! My grandmother very generously offered to pay for four lessons....I took the road test and passed the first time! It was exciting but I also was in despair because I had found out that I was pregnant....again.
This pregnancy was different....the other two we had planned for, the other two we had anticipated...this one came out of the blue. I was upset...Ryan wasn't an easy toddler...in fact he was very difficult....he didn't even talk, and Leslie was all over the place...once, when we were visiting my parents, when she was two years...we couldn't find her...then we noticed that she had climbed my parents television antenna tower...which went higher than their house! Don had to climb up the tower to get her back down! Then, when she was about five and Ryan was two and a half, she convinced him to walk across a glass storm door that was lying on it's side in an open trailer. Well, Leslie walked gently across but Ryan stomped his way and put his foot straight through the glass! I carried him into the house, blood was going everywhere...I tried calling Don at work...no answer...so I rushed to my neighbors' house and begged him to take us to the hospital. Poor Don...came home to his house empty, blood everywhere and absolutely no idea what had happened! Meanwhile I was at the hospital, where they had to put many stitches into my little boy's foot while he screamed and they told me to talk to him...have a conversation with him...I looked at them like they were daft...he'd only been talking for six months...what did they really think I could say to him! Have a conversation indeed!
Another time, we couldn't find Leslie but we heard her screaming....we went running out the back yard...she had tried to climb the chain link fence but her sandal had become caught in the fencing...there she was...hanging by the sandal, upside down, screaming for all she was worth!
.....and yet another time....we couldn't find Leslie anywhere....we looked and looked, went up and down the street....a police man was driving down the street and I flagged him down , desperate for help to find my little girl.....I went into the house to call my sister to tell her, when all of a sudden I looked up and there was Leslie, peeking around the corner of the stairway....she had been hiding and then when she heard all the commotion was scared to come down. She knew she was going to get into trouble , but when I saw her all I wanted to do was hold her tight. What a relief!
So, suffice to say...I had my hands full....I really didn't know how I was going to handle a new born too.
Before I had become pregnant I was also having a very dark time in my life.....I went through a time of great anxiety...the doctor prescribed an anti anxiety medication...but unfortunately did not recommend any other help. It became very difficult to leave the house, any kind of interaction with other people caused me great stress...to find out I was pregnant on top of it all nearly put me over the edge.
I got through the first three months of pregnancy with great difficulty....I was feeling sicker than I had with the previous two, probably due to the added anxiety, and I had to have a new obstetrician than I had with the first two. My old OB lived in London which was too far away. I started seeing an obstetrician at McMaster Hospital...he came highly recommended since he was head of the department but I remember being horrified when he found out that we hadn't planned this pregnancy, and he asked if we wanted to terminate it! Even though I was so very scared of being pregnant, I would never ever consider termination. Unfortunately because I was so anxious at this time, my OB suggested seeing a psychaiatrist in the same hospital. I saw him a few times but he seemed to make me feel more confused then ever. Six weeks later, at eighteen weeks of pregnancy, I had some spotting. I was terrified.
By this time, I had started to warm up to the idea of a third child, and now faced with the thought of something going wrong was more than I could bear. We immediately went to the hospital and they did some tests...they couldn't tell if the baby had miscarried...it was the weekend. They said, go home and rest, come back on Monday for an ultrasound. It was on the Monday, after the ultrasound, that they told us that there wasn't any heart beat. We were devastated. Not only was I scared of what was going on, I was scared of delivering a baby,since before, I had only had Cesarian sections...they assured me that it was small enough that I could deliver it, I was filled with guilt....this was all my fault, I hadn't wanted this pregnancy...I had wanted the baby but not the pregnancy....Leslie and Ryan's births hadn't been easy and they had been quite traumatic....I was scared to death.
They gave me the option of inducing or letting things happen naturally....since I was so scared , I chose natural.
We went home to wait.....my mother would come each day to stay with us and help with Leslie and Ryan, while Don was at work.
Finally, after ten days, the doctor said, enough....you're coming in.
So, we did.
The evening of the first day, my room mate and I, (she was going through the same thing) had a procedure done where they place some kind of seaweed material inside you to slowly dilate you. It was very scary...Don had already gone home to look after our children, I was alone. My room mate was very calm and was a wonderful support. The next day, the IV nurse came in.....I have tiny veins and she had a very difficult time getting it in.....she blamed it on me...told me that it was my choice to be here....I was horrified...my choice to have my dead baby removed from me? I think not. I happened to see my chart....it said Missed Abortion.....I was shocked! I hadn't had an abortion! Upon questioning a nurse she assured me that that was the medical term for a miscarriage that hadn't delivered on its own. It still sounded terrible to me!
A few hours later, Don arrived and they took me into the surgery to remove my child....I remember vividly , lying on the stretcher outside the OR, waiting....when my doctor came along and answered a phone right above me....he calmly, and in a quite good mood chatted about some holiday plans to whomever...I remember thinking...he's talking about holidays on one of the worst days of my life. Afterward, it was over and later in the day Don took me home to recover. A few days later , while lying on the chesterfield, resting.....Don took a break from studying....(he was doing courses to become a Certified General Accountant) , he sat by me and as we spoke of the past events, he started to weep. We had chosen that our unborn child had been a girl...they couldn't really tell at that stage......his tears concerned me and I asked what was wrong.....he said,....'I never even got to hold her'.....it broke my heart and from then on realized that I had been very selfish in thinking that it had only happened to me...it had happened to both of us.
We named her Leah Catherine, and even though , if she had lived, she would be thirty-four years old....we still miss her.
I covered this event in our lives as a couple and as a family in such detail because I believe that this was a pivotal point in our family life.....but this chapter has gone on long enough.
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