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In The Heart Of The Whale (An Attempt to Rob a Mother Of Her Newly Born, 1947)
Based on a true story
St. Paul, Minnesota is a city on the banks of a rich river called the Mississippi, the river originates, lies almost in upper Minnesota, and runs the length of the country, to St. Louis and to New Orleans, and to the Gulf of Mexico, I was born here, in the middle of the Midwest, you might say. It carries an enormous amount of water and its tributaries are innumerable. But this sketch or story is not about Mississippi, or even about me, but about the situation, the failed attempt to put on her new-born child, her new-born mother; The year is 1947, the exact date: October seven, the place: in the city of St. Paul, in the center of the city, in a well-known hospital, it is early morning, the Indian summer as they say, all the autumn leaves are around, mostly the colors of a faint rainbow. The cornfields outside the city are open, and the air is cold, a woman is brought to the hospital the evening before giving birth to a live child, she is single, lives in a poor part of the city, on a street Igelhart, her name is Elsie.
“Bring her to the labor room,” says a nurse, “I’ll see her soon.”
There are many other women who are going to have a baby, who has been having a lot of pain for the past two days, she is on her third day (she will be in labor for thirty-six hours), her name is Isabella, she smiles. At Elsie’s, they could have been friends, but that’s not to be, her child will die in the morning and the nurse will try to destroy all traces of the stay, some things will change, but I’m getting on with my story.
Isabella spoke to Elsie in broken English and mostly Polish, she was seventeen years old, spoke a little English, and Elsie was also of Russian and Polish roots, and spoke a little Polish, or at least understood and spoke a little. good english Many families came to America from the Baltic region of Europe at that time, especially during and before World War I (because there was a lot of famine and the outbreak of war was spreading across the country and it promised to be a long and terrible war, and so on) and their families (Isabella and both of Elsie’s) extended families were part of this group, this heritage, and in Isabella’s case, she became part of this heritage because they, her family, could not speak English. , as it was for Elsie’s mother and father, and thus the situation came close, and when they arrived at the hospital, there were bilingual Polish nurses to help if needed.
Elsie was twenty-seven at the time, had a son, Michael, who was two years old at this new birth, and had just started work as a meatpacker in the bacon department at Swifts & Co. , she would work there for twenty-two years before it closed. Her pregnancy and delivery went well.
She was unmarried (as I mentioned earlier), and she was dating two men at the same time, in fact they were both friends, but unaware of this, and of course in those far away days, it was considered a deep sin, for a woman on occasion to If it did, it was common for a man to do it on a weekly basis, and of course for a man, he did it without shame, sin, or even an ounce of remorse, in fact, he did it with fireworks, bragged about it in bars, and got applause from the audience.
Well, the nurse who brought Elsie into the labor room gave her history to the rest of the nurses, and without missing a beat, suffice it to say that she was the talk of the ward, and the unmarried mother, now a slave to her sins, with her reputation flowing, you’d say there were no more skeletons in the closet. .
Her father was working, a painter and restaurant owner, but some of her sisters were present, the rest would come later—five of the eight were living children, three had died—two waited in the waiting room. Labor room. Elsie hadn’t started dilating yet, contractions weren’t happening, but Isabella was gaining, gaining, and then she stopped, it was too much of an ordeal for her, the nurse told the doctor they might have to consider an incision, a cesarean to get the baby out. did, so that the woman died in childbirth, her breathing becoming very slow, she was exhausted.
Most of what you hear will be silenced, or, at best, not a big deal if not given to Elsie’s son Dennis, some fifty years later, on the road to life—which it isn’t. Know, then how it can make a big difference, and so it all happened and had to leave it in 1947, it was invaluable information and it was better to forget it, on the other hand invaluable information often gets out. No, not directly, but by osmosis, and perhaps Isabella would never have known the truth of the whole matter, and I believe she would certainly not have agreed to it. At any rate she could not read a word of English, the house-mother, you might say; But the nurses chose her as the inheritance of the rising new child, yet to be born; Perhaps the nurses meant well, intended to be good, for there was no advantage to them, for they wanted full parentage of the child, no orphanhood for the child, a father and mother might understand better, and since Elsie already had a child, well, it was for her. Might be good, you know, raising one against two, abandoning a child, unknowingly abandoning a child, but again, if you don’t know, you’re ignorant of a crime in progress, and times weren’t easy for a man, let alone a woman. And so I repeat myself, perhaps nurses have these motives, though unethical to their profession; And for the moment, I let the doctor join in the incidents of this little crime: at least he escaped unscathed, and it would be my crime to the nurses.
It was now 3:00 a.m., and as they brought Isabella and Elsie into a large room, a room divided only by a movable cloth partition, the doctor busied herself with Isabella, whose contractions had worsened, and she was dilated to nine-in. In other words, the baby was due, her water had broken a few hours earlier, and Elsie had grown to seven, and Isabella’s water had broken right after. Both of them were about to become mothers. Isabella’s husband was out in the waiting room, with Elsie’s sisters, now three of them, Betty, Ann, and Rose, and her brother Wally, with whom she had done many things as a child, much like Mark Twain’s sisters. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
Indeed, it was time for Isabella to give birth naturally, or induce it, she was having a labored labor, and she saw it, she was pale, with black rims around her eyes, her hair matted like a thorn, but she was alive. , and the baby was coming out, she was pushing, pushing, pushing, Elsie could hear her crying, because the child’s limbs, eyelids, nothing would move. He came out quiet, very quiet—dead quiet! But the nurses calmed it down, smiled at Isabella, and took the baby to another bed.
The nurses looked at each other, the doctor stood silent, one of the nurses whispered something in his ear (clean the baby, stroke it, it doesn’t cry, Elsie noticed the silence, waited for the cry, the cry never came) and he nodded to the nurses ‘OK’ gave and they quickly moved Isabella from the room to a private room, now Elsie was alone, except for the child in the third bed in the room, and the dead child remained in that bed, behind. A curtained divider, and the doctor walked over to Elsie, it was now 4am, there weren’t many people in the ward and those who were were half asleep, that is, except for the staff in Elsie’s room.
Now Elsie was nine years old, and she was pushing, she knew very well how to do it the second time, she didn’t need the advice of the nurses, she also knew they didn’t care for unwed mothers, and so, the child went forward. Without much trouble. A nurse held the baby as Elsie closed her eyes for a moment, but for a moment, but she saw that the child was breathing, what color it was, a few other things – then she was waiting when she opened it. The child’s cry, oh so beautiful, the first cry of life, the cry that says ‘I am here’, perhaps God himself, put that first cry into the baby’s heart when it is surrounded by water in the woman’s womb, like the heart of a whale, protected from all the harm and obstacles of the outside world, this child. It was a reminder to the mother that it was alive, so the child was now completely out of the womb; The nurse had gone behind another curtain, exchanging the baby, alive for a dead one, in effect, to exchange them with their mothers. Elsie saw the nurse step behind the curtain, she screamed, “Where is my baby, bring him here at once?” She knew it was a boy.
The nurse now stood silent with both children, one in her arms, one alive, one dead lying on the bed, wrapped in a thin white blanket, in fact they both looked exactly like each other, like two chickens, raw. And reddish in color, one was slightly pale pink. She put down the living child, picked up the dead one, went out to Elsie, to tell her, her child was dead-dead, the nurse stood behind the bed, about to interpret her fatality, only to hear the words:
“Bring me my son now!” demanded Elsie.
“Wait a minute, Elsie, he’s being cleaned up, I, I’ll have him for you in a moment.” The nurse said confused.
And it was a moment, when she brought the living child back to her, and Elsie held it tightly. As for the concrete reason why the nurse turned her heart from a mother to the original, we’ll never know the real reason, at least not in this world, but I can. To put it mildly, I think the child’s guardian angel was already hard at work, as were the dark intruding demons of Satan. And that, my dear readers, is how I came into this world.
Notes on this story, based on fact: Written 5-28-2008; Information collected from Elsie over the years, and passed on to her son, and from which this story is composed, not all details exact, some conjectures added, which seemed only logical or possible for the time and circumstances, and where there was no other place to take the story. Isabella is a fictitious name; Although the mother suffered a stillborn child, and the child was to be presented to Elsie, Elsie knew that the one in her arms was dead, the nurse was afraid to say what she had planned to say, when she left. Get straight, the shock was over. Of course, it was all locked up by the hospital, nurses and Elsie for nearly half a century, not so today. But she is not dead, she is not told; And I thank her for her brave action. It was a time when such things probably happened, and were justified for various reasons, perhaps under the seal of humanity’s personal God. I’m not mentioning the names of the hospitals, not that I fear retribution or that it’s easy for curious readers to find out where I was born, but at 60 years old, I don’t care to point fingers. Hopefully they will have more ethical nurses now.
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