What do you know about the day of your birth and what made your arrival memorable?
My parents, Bill and Marjorie Wright, were living in Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands (British Columbia, Canada) — aka “Haida Gwaii.” My mom resigned from teaching around Easter because she was getting noticeably pregnant! She was due to have me about July 4, and since there was no hospital near our town, she flew south sometime in June to Summerland BC where my grandparents lived right across the street from the Summerland General Hospital. Time went by and by and by… meanwhile my Dad finished up his teaching for the 1954-55 school year, and went to Victoria where he was taking summer school courses to finish his teaching degree.
Finally, in the early hours of July 24 my mom went into labour, and walked across the street to the hospital. Since I was her first baby, the hospital staff assumed she’d be in labour for hours and hours, so they didn’t bother calling the doctor. But the labour went a lot faster than they expected, so they called Doctor Munn and told him to hurry, and he really did hurry, which was evident as a few minutes later he rushed into the hospital with his pants pulled up over his pyjamas! He was just in time to deliver me at about 7:22 a.m. I weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds and 4 ounces.
My grandparents, John and Emily Mott, phoned my dad in Victoria at 8:10 am to let him know the big news. I have the telephone operator’s note to prove it! Quickly he started making plans to get to Summerland as soon as possible. Meantime, my mom wrote him a letter, at 6:30 pm the same day. It reads: “Our dear Daddy, We are very happy together, but we do miss our daddy. Isn’t it wonderful! We are three, now! It’s been such a long separation, and such a long wait, but we are abundantly rewarded. Now we must show our thankfulness by our devotion, as a family, to Christ, the “head of our house.” Daddy and Mom told me of the phone call to you, and now I suppose you have spread the glad news. If only you could see our little blond treasure! Norma has very short, yellow hair (the nurse says it has a reddish twinge — any red on your side?). Her eyes are a beautiful blue, of course, until they change; she is very well developed — fat with a healthy, pink complexion. She has the long Wright head, my tiny ears and big nose and mouth (maybe it’s Uncle Preston’s mouth) and her Daddy Bill’s built-in P.A. system. She just howled for hours today. I think it is a beautiful cry, but I doubt the rest of the people in here are so taken with it. When she came for her first meal — between 4 and 5 p.m., she started sucking like a veteran and stayed right with it, even tho’ there was very little returns. You should see and feel her little, soft hands! When I finally gave her the bottle (with a syrupy solution) she gulped down the whole 2 ounces in less than 5 minutes, then sucked her fist. She burps nicely. I hated to give her up, but will soon have her again. She has her father’s appetite, I’m afraid. I’m busy trying to work up a good dairy supply for Norma. Because of excellent timing, I didn’t miss one meal today, so we are getting our dollar’s worth. I’ve been writing this while taking my “sunbath” — to heal all the stitches I accumulated because of Norma’s very wide shoulders. They aren’t very sore, really. I woke up this morning at 3 am, when the membranes ruptured. After finding some dry clothes, I went back to bed, but by 4 the contractions were very close, so Laura and I took the little suitcase and walked over here. I had 2 or 3 on the way. They weren’t too bad for quite a while, and I dozed between them nicely. They gave me a demerol hypo, which gives a rather dopey feeling — a sense of well-being, they call it. Other than that, quite early in the labour, I had no sedatives that I know of, and when he decided I needed a whiff of ether, after her head was born, I didn’t have time to breathe it in. He was amazed that she was born so soon (7:22 am) and says there had better be no dallying next time! If labour were long I can see why a person would want ether… As it was, it was wonderful to see my sweet baby right away (I peeked before they had tied the cord) and to hear it cry. I really know it’s ours. Daddy, Mom, Laura and Preston all have seen the baby. Mom thinks it is as well developed as many a month old. Daddy will take pictures tomorrow. Mom is waiting for this letter so I will carry on tomorrow.”
Well! Just imagine! Demerol and ether… my goodness, how things have changed. Nobody offered me pain-killers for my own 5 babies! But just like me, they all arrived in double-quick time (8 hours the longest, 41 minutes the shortest!). Mom and I spent 11 lazy days in the hospital, which cost $11 for the stay! Anyway, my dad managed to catch a plane out of Victoria the same day, and as I recall hearing about it, arrived in Penticton in the evening (I think he took the Greyhound from Vancouver). It wasn’t long before my other grandparents, John and Bessie Wright, arrived from Surrey. Grandma Wright was quite concerned about mom’s condition, as dad, in his excitement, had told her that I weighed in at 10 pounds and 4 ounces! A few days later I was the “guest of honor” at the wedding of my mom’s sister Laura to Lyle Barnes when I was just a dozen days old! On August 14 I was baptized (christened) at the West Summerland Free Methodist Church by Rev. Joseph H. James — exactly one year after my parents were married.
My first recorded smile was at 2 weeks of age when I smiled at my mom’s sister, Emily, and by 10 weeks of age, I was laughing out loud. In my baby book, mom noted that at six months I liked to laugh and was very outgoing. I loved the baby in the mirror, and chirped happily if I was awake at night or during my nap time on the porch during the day, and I always awakened in a happy mood. That’s something I want to live up to still!
Posted: Dec 24, 2007