Birth Place

This is a second essay written this summer.

North Kansas City Hospital:  the birthplace of both kids.  Did you know that each person’s social security number identifies where each person is born?  I didn’t, but having two kids and discovering how similar their numbers are lead me to ask that question.

I was not born in a hospital.  I was born in a two-story frame house that was the Wellsville Clinic.  Mom told me the story of my birth and I realize that it could easily be lost in relation to births today.

When she went into labor, she was not sure what was going on when the water broke.  She woke Dad up and explained what had just happened and he, in his typical matter of fact manner, said, “Well, if you were a cow, you are going into labor.”

Timing was never part of the story, but they made it to Dr. Walls in Wellsville, and I was born.  Wellsville was only about 10 miles from the farm that was located about two miles from Buell.

I was not born in Montgomery City, which was the closer town, but Mom had grown up in Wellsville before moving to the farm outside of Bellflower.  I suppose that was part of the reason I was born in Wellsville.

Two years later, Gary was born in Mexico and in the hospital, Audrain County Hospital.  Each of us has a different birth story.  For Gary, the trip to the hospital included a trip to the implement dealer—Dad figured he had time before the baby came.

The stories of my generation differ from those of my children’s births.  The differences are worth noting:

  1. I no longer live in Montgomery County, rather we lived across the state in Lafayette County.  The doctor I trusted had moved to Kearney, and he had directed me to a specialist in Liberty—Dr. Triplett.
  2. Working in Richmond, my visits to Dr. Triplett were numerous, and my first pregnancy failed.  The follow up included a D&C that revealed two fetuses—one died at three months and the second during the fifth month.  The experience was a loss and the outpouring of sympathy and support was unbelievable.
  3. The trips to Liberty only increased.  I went alone as I was teaching in Richmond and Liberty was closer from their than from Lexington.
  4. Jordan’s pregnancy went much better and when I woke up that morning in June, my labor was beginning—back labor.  Off to North Kansas City Hospital, where the nurses and attending doctor decided it was a false alarm.  I got out of bed and the nurse said to wait a minute, she thought my water had broken.  It had.
  5. Labor was difficult and lengthy.  After 24 hours and not dilating beyond a five, Jordan’s heartbeat began to falter.  He was at risk so I was wheeled into an operating room, knocked out, and underwent a caesarean section.  Only about 10 minutes after landing in the operating room, Jordan was born.
  6. When I woke up, I awoke with a little 70-year-old nurse pushing down on my abdomen with all her might.  I had no idea what was going on.  It was 1 pm or even a little later.  Worn out and not too alert, I met my son.

North Kansas City is the birthplace of Murray Jordan McCrary.  There was no homey setting, no outdated hospital, rather one of the first hospitals in the entire metro area that had a birthing center:  a room where you were to go through labor, delivery and parenting. unless, of course, a C-section becomes necessary.

Two years later, my second birth approached, but Dr. Triplett was not going to miss this one.  As we reached the 38th week, he ordered an amniocentesis because he was scheduled to go on vacation and I was getting close to delivery.

We drove up to the hospital and they completed the amniocentesis and we had to kill a few hours while we waited to learn whether Dr. Triplett felt it was okay to deliver my daughter.  We called back—no cell phones then—and were told to check in at the hospital so he could perform the planned C-section the next morning.

  1. Planning a C-section is different than facing an emergency one, especially when the baby is going into distress and time is critical.  The planned C-section is much less complicated.  But, checking in the night before, one problem developed—how to spell our daughter’s name.
  2. Names are so important.  We had established a few criteria—family name, short first name, and meaningful.  Jordan’s name was to preserve the family’s heritage—Murray J. McCrary, who was his grandfather.  No one had ever used the MJ combination but there were so many Jims and Johns, getting another J name was a challenge.  Now we had a girl’s name to select and we had—Vada Elizabeth McCrary, but here it was the night before and phone calls from Oklahoma to northern Missouri were made to identify the correct spelling.  Was it LaVada, LaVeda, Veda, or Vada?  Finally, the grandson of the great-great aunt provided the legal way his grandmother spelled the name—Vada.
  3. The name issue resolved, a night’s sleep and at 8 am a trip to the operating room led to a quick birth—only eight or nine minutes of our daughter.  What a difference the birth was this time, and I was awake by 10 am this time.  I had not become exhausted after 24 hours of labor and they knew not to overdo the anesthesia so I could wake up.
  4. North Kansas City was the first home for each of the kids.  The environment was delightful, the visiting hours flexible, the care tender—except for that little 70-year-old nurse.  Jordan was there as much as he could be, but he also had Grandma and Grandpa there, too.
  5. Dr. Triplett was proud.  At my first doctor’s visit in January, he walked in and asked if I was going to have his first set of triplets.  I was shocked because he was a fertility specialist and surely he had aided in the birth of triplets before now.  Fortunately, I did not have them, but his first set of triplets did occur in the same time frame as my pregnancy.  Whew, that was a close call!
  6. The pregnancy was not easy like Jordan’s was.  I could not confirm the pregnancy due to snowstorms in December and January.  My first pregnancy test was negative in November, and we had started the process to use Clomed again, but it did not work.  By the time I did make that first doctor’s appointment, I was clearly showing and fighting Braxton-Hicks contractions.  The entire nine months were full of those contractions.

But again, North Kansas City Hospital is the same birthplace of Jordan.  It is a common thread between the two kids and is proven by their individual social security numbers.

Everybody has a birthplace, but some seem to provide a stronger sense of identity than others.  I am grateful that North Kansas City Hospital was available for my children’s birth even though their permanent home was Lexington, well over an hour away from the hospital.

Entering into the human world is not an easy process.  I am amazed that Mom was able to be in a clinic that was like a house.  She certainly did not have a fetal monitor, or backup operating room, or extensive staff of doctors and nurses; she had Dr. Wall.  When Gary was born, a new era had arrived and having a baby became a medical event in a hospital.

I wonder if there is any significance to the surrounding at birth.  Surely there have been studies to answer that question.  Personally, I am relieved to have North Kansas City Hospital.  But, I am also happy to know that when I was born, life was simpler maybe even more personal.  While Dr. Wall worked with the delivery, Dad worked with the names.  They had planned on a boy, so when I was born, he had a name:  Susan Nannette, but Mom said she heard it as Susan Annette, and the decision was made.

The generations continue.  Birthdays occur.  Birthplaces provide the setting.  The names are given, and the children begin the journey.  Identity begins.

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