I haven’t finished my family history, and I haven’t been personally blogging because I didn’t finish my family history. So much happened in the middle of putting my history into words on this blog. It was difficult to continue it due to a major shift in my thinking. I will get to that soon, I hope.
Life had settled into a kind of Christian normal for my family by the 60s We went to school, went to church, and participated in both Christian and secular activities. I was in my junior high chorus, and my two older sisters were in both the choir & marching band in high school. We had friends with whom we spent time.
Then, in 1966, my mom gave birth to my baby sister, Stephanie. She was born two months early. In 1966, babies that small didn’t usually survive, and those who did had handicaps. Stephanie weighed in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces, and she was in the nursery for the next several weeks. Her weight kept dropping until she was down to 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Our pediatrician came up with a formula that Stephanie could digest, and her weight turned around. He saved her life.
When Stephanie stayed over 5 pounds, she was finally able to come home. Because she was a preemie, and she had that specific formula to survive, my mom was up pretty much around the clock. My mom became absolutely exhausted. But we all adored Stephanie, and there was no shortage of love in her life. When we older siblings were able, we helped with baths and diaper changes. Still, in the days before Pampers, cloth diapers added to my mom’s already difficult laundry needs of a spouse & four other children. I’m not sure how she made it through those first few months. After Stephanie was out of the woods, our father told us that my mom had miscarried shortly before Stephanie was conceived, and that they had decided to try again. So, the mental strain of a miscarriage and a preemie really wore my mom down that way, too.
Stephanie ended up with no permanent complications from her premature birth, but was a normal and happy baby. We were all relieved.
Imagine our surprise when my mom got pregnant again! That pregnancy was unplanned, and this time my mom went way past her due date. In 1968 she delivered baby number six. And so my brother, Scott, entered the world, the sixth child and the only son. I think my mom must have gone through menopause or found better birth control, (she was 40 when Scott was born), because Scott was the last baby they had. You can only imagine the attention Scott received, being the only boy!
Having another baby a mere two years after the miscarriage & exhaustion of raising a preemie, now age 2, sent my mom into a horrible post-partum depression. It was so bad that she didn’t even get out of bed, except to use the bathroom. The burden of cooking, cleaning, and dinner fell on my dad’s shoulders & my two older sisters. I was in charge of the laundry. My dad forcibly potty-trained Stephanie. It was all pretty brutal. I have no idea how my mom came out of it. My parents did not believe in psychology. Instead, they had Christian “counselors” they knew about. I have no memory of any type of counseling my mom received, but eventually she came out of that dark place.
Because Stephanie and Scott were so much younger than the first four of us, we referred to them as our parents’ “second family”. Their experiences growing up were much different than we older sisters’ experiences were. My parents changed the location of the annual two week camping vacation, as well as gaining a whole new circle of friends with young children. My dad, a devout fundamentalist, became alarmed at what he saw as a deterioration in society writ large. He pulled Stephanie & Scott out of public schools, and enrolled them in a private evangelical school. Both of them were pretty unhappy there.
My parents worked as janitors at the school in order to offset the tuition. After a few years, my mom became the school’s bookkeeper. Now the main activities surrounded the school. In all of this, my parents became even more conservative in their beliefs. Not so, the rest of us. But that is yet another story. I’ll try to get to that earlier than I did this post.