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Saturday, May 8, 2010

MY BABIES

I have six children. Through them I have experienced the greatest happiness I have ever known. I sorrow that I have not been able to give life to more. I was so thrilled to become a mother. Even though, in the culture of the time, it seemed expected for women to marry and have a family, I hardly dared to even voice that as a career goal or life long ambition or aspiration - that was not a popular stance to take. I am grateful to the many wise women in my life that modeled being a mother to me.

My mother had 10 children. As a teenager, in a rebellious teenager sort of way, I decided I wanted at least 12! Perhaps it started just to tweak somebody that was, in my opinion, a pompous prig but (as most teens do) I then thought about it made up my own mind on the issue. I decided that would be totally 'cool'.

 It was popular at that time for many to spout the rhetoric that the world was overpopulated and that couples should limit the number of children they chose to have. 'What foolishness,' I thought. 'What utter nonsense!'

I still think that. Our homes and society are crumbling. When will people begin to see and believe the truths prophets teach? You, for example, and me - do I really believe what the prophets say? teach? Really? Even wise and prudent thinkers many generations ago have raised voices of warning about women leaving homes and family responsibilities to join the work force.




Governments are discussing incentives to increase the child bearing rate in their countries because the birthrate has declined to the extent that their population, economies and services can not anticipate sufficient workers to replace themselves. Even in China, where a one child rule had been enforced, problems are beginning to surface and have caused that rule to be changed.

Who started such silly heresy anyway? I think it is rubbish that the adversary of all happiness spreads, along with all the other misery possible to inflict on human beings.





GINGER



Every day was a delight when I became a mother. Ginger was a living breathing miracle, as is every baby, but she was my miracle, my baby. She was healthy and happy for the first month of her life while I nursed her. When I was unable to continue to do so she became sickly and fussy. None the less she was a good and obedient child with an amazing ability to talk clearly at a very young age although she did not walk until she was 18 months.

My friends couldn't believe how obedient Ginger was (except that she loved paper). If I said, "No,no" or "ta,ta" she did not touch whatever it was - except paper. She loved how it rattled and crumpled or floated. If she could get her hands on a brown paper bag (not plastic) she could entertain herself for an hour. She would even stick her feet into it or put it over her head. Wrapping paper was a special favorite but since she liked to put it in her mouth too and I didn't like the inks to be ingested or get on things I limited that. If she could get her hands on a book, it invariably found its way to her mouth - she wasn't really interested in having them read to her but most books in our house had teeth marks on them or chewed corners.


I loved making clothes for her and dressed her for every occasion - mornings, naps, afternoons, and bedtime - not to mention walks or trips to town.

She seemed most to love eye contact and someone talking to her. As long as I put her where she could see me and talked she would smile and be pleasant. When she began to crawl she could scoot her bottom and use two hands to go faster than I could run to catch her but she never did crawl in the traditional way - she had her own unique way. This has been the case for all her life - she does things uniquely and when she is ready. Even her hair had a mind of its own - it didn't grow in until she was several years old.

She loved to be outside but was very cautious about new experiences. She would walk to a crack in the side walk, get down and crawl across it, and then stand up and walk again. She loved to swing and would stay in the tire swing at Grandma's as long as someone would push it - no such thing as the wonderful baby swings of today. She also loved to play in the sand (or dirt) and with the animals on the farm.

TAD

I was so excited to have my tiny little baby son arrive safely.  He was expected to arrive August 27th so June 21st really was a bit early.  Some women I knew had babies that arrived a couple weeks after their due date.  I wondered if my baby could possibly be born as late as September 16th because that was my mother's birthday. I thought it would be cool to have them share a birthday. In this picture he has just come home from the hospital. 



As a tiny preemie he slept on a breathing mattress (with sensors that would set off an alarm if the baby stopped breathing) in a small car bed next to my own bed. I was very nervous so I also slept with my hand so that it touched him and I could feel his breathing. Feedings took almost an hour and had to be done every 2 hours because he was so small.  Feeding him occupied most of each day (because he couldn't suck properly with the cleft). My mother helped to care for all of the children and we stayed with her most of the summer. The picture below with her was taken at Christmas 1974 just prior to his first surgery.



This picture was taken near Easter the spring of 1975 not long after that first surgery.  He was a content baby and child with a sweet and gentle disposition. His shirt was dark brown and tan and his pants were brown. Ginger's sweater was pink and her plaid pants also in pink with a green and yellow line on a white ground. I made his teddy bear. It was dark brown with bright orange tummy and face. 



The most difficult part of the surgery was that his arms had to be splinted so that he couldn't put them into his mouth or bang his face with them. I stayed at the hospital every day and when he slept I would help rock or comfort other cleft patients that had no one there.  I saw first hand how blessed I was - my problems and his seemed so minimal.  I was especially blessed to have had a doctor that absolutely insisted that I take a folic acid supplement. 

Tad has always loved babies - baby anything. He especially enjoyed the animals when we would visit Grandpa and Grandma Forsyth on the farm. The calves and lambs or chicks each spring were a special delight to him and he could pet them and carry around the puppies or kittens. 



He grew up with the puppy 'Babytovan', as he often called the golden puppy (terrier cross) named 'Beethoven.' 



Tad had a wonderful sense of humor and even as a very young child invented many games that hinged on puns and plays on words. One of his favorites was to say a word and then the other person had to say a word that went with it - like the first thing you thought of - but it had to relate to his word somehow.  If he said banana and you said apple that was OK because both were food, but lemon would be better because it was yellow and/or a fruit or you might say hotdog because it could be eaten and was generally the same shape and could have mustard on it and then likely mustard would be his next word - not to mention that I loved mustard and he knew that.  The more ways the two words went together and related to those involved the more delightful - especially if it involved a pun or a bit of witty nonsense.

Kimber and Ginger did not always appreciate his humor as they had to endure a load of teasing.  It was unending but many cousins helped ease their 'burden' when he spent time playing with them. 





KIMBER

Kimber was born in Calgary at the Holy Cross Hospital.  She was always a delightful baby with a laugh that sounded like a burbling brook.  To this day my mother remembers the delight such a laugh evoked in all that heard it.  Caring for another child seemed like it took less time than taking care of the other two had.

This is one of the few pictures I know of when I was expecting.  At Christmas (me at 8 months) family members plotted to get this shot.  One got the camera and then the another held me so I couldn't run away - in my nightgown too! NO FAIR - but there you are Kimber - your first portrait!

Kimber was as curious and happy as any child could be.  Christmas 1976 was an incredible experience of wonder and awe. Not yet one year of age or walking, but when given a wrapped present she would undo the paper herself and exclaim with ooohhs and awwes of delight at the surprises inside. The  favorite toy she got was a yellow squeaky gingerbread bath toy. She loved all things yellow! She hugged it and demanded it all day and for weeks afterwards.


Kimber loved the outdoors and her siblings.  Every day was an adventure and she spent most days quietly entertaining herself and exploring her world.  She walked at about 14 months and trained herself  the same week.  She had always let us know loud and clear when she needed to be changed; that was one of the few times she fussed.



 She loved interactive toys, blocks and books. By age two she made up stories as she sat and 'read' books.  She constantly brought books to everyone hoping to be read to. Soon she could lisp out her favorite repeated stories almost verbatim - she seemed to remember most of what she heard.

1st Forsyth reunion about Easter 1978

When she entered Narnia Day Dare (fall 1978) she was happiest sitting in on the school classes that by age she was not permitted to be included in.  The children rotated through age appropriate activities in various centers, including outdoor play.

Jean, the day care owner, and I laughed because excluding her from the classroom was one of the few ways to precipitate one of her rare tantrums. Kimber seldom fought back or threw a 'hissy fit' but trying to keep her out of the classes was always a trigger.  Since she was perfectly behaved if permitted to stay (or even 'hang on the quarter height door' listening) we all, for the sake of a law (like child labor laws - don't force them to school too early)   pretended she was not where she always turned out to be 'found' and turned a blind eye to her stubborn disobedience.

As I thumb through old journals I notice that for several years after leaving day care she would ask to go back  to Narnia.

NENA

Nena Elissa tried to arrive a bit early at the beginning of March.  After some medical interventions, a stay for me in the hospital and enforced bed rest she arrived on my maternal Grandfather's birthday, 17th April.

My mother watched her born into the world.  She said it was the first time she ever saw a human baby born. Nena  had 3 girl cousins in the Forsyth family born in the 6 weeks on either side of her birthday (and strangely enough 3 in the Ames family also - yes Shauna gets counted twice). Who will ever forget poor Tad  weeping on the step, quote, "One of them could have been a boy!"

Elissa was my longest baby at 22 inches.  She was beautiful with an exquisite complexion and the cutest nose any baby ever had.  Everyone exclaimed over her beauty - especially her siblings who thought she was the finest baby doll available.  Doctors told us she had a 'submucous cleft' but that as she grew it wouldn't really affect her (although she did need her teeth, which were not centred, aligned with braces).

At 3 weeks of age she had some seizures. As I gave her artificial respiration (while mom drove as fast as the truck could go to the hospital) I prayed for God to give her life and help me to be a good mother to her.  Despite many tests, doctors never were able to identify exactly what occurs. She was mostly healthy and always on the go - as in a chandelier swinger.


In Spanish neña (spoken neen-ya) means little girl. Papa was fluently bilingual and whenever he spoke to her in Spanish and called her a little girl she would answer him (but otherwise ignored him).


 She had personality to spare and made my other 3 children look like the angelic children everyone always told me they were. I began to learn many creative responses and interventions to childish adventures.  My mother helped me see each one in that light - an adventure for all of us to learn and grow from - especially to learn how to be gentle and loving. She had already taught me that 'there are no bad children, only unhappy ones.' Now I learned first hand how true that was. In this picture Nena is screaming in delight as she plays peek-a-boo with Tad's hat (that he likely snifed from Grandpa).

At age two the nursery had another Alyssa and it was easier to begin calling her Nena Elissa and then eventually just Nena. My mother loved the name Nina (spoken with a long 'i' sound).  She often called her Nena from the day she was born. After several years we no longer used the name Elissa at all.

BENJAMIN

When we finally were expecting another baby we were very excited, especially Papa. We couldn't afford medical care at this time but I knew what to expect because I had experienced so many pregnancies. A good friend, Nancy Hugo, that lived near us in Provo, was a nurse and often encouraged me to get a doctor but understood that we had only bits of money to live on.  She occasionally asked me all the 'nurse' questions and all went well until the 6th month.  I became cold.  We didn't know why and although I felt otherwise fine I could sit on the porch in the summer sun wrapped in a quilt and feel cold.  Eventually I felt ill and one day threw up.  I NEVER throw up! We knew a doctor was needed.

 At the emergency room we were told that the doctor on call had an emergency and we would have a long wait while the doctor called to fill in caught up. Dr. Nicols happened to be an Obstetrician. He wanted to admit me and when we asked if there was any other way he said, "sure - go to the morgue."  So it was that I spent some time in the hospital.  I had kidney failure that necessitated IV antibiotics and bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. Ira Jeshua Absolon Ames arrived when expected December 13th, 1982.

quarter photo booth - or was it 50 cents? picture for grandparents
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He appeared to be a healthy heavy baby boy in every way when delivered. He felt like a brick - heavy and solid. He was my fat, short, heavy baby - only 20 1/2 " long and 8lbs 4 oz. A short time later he turned blue and was on life support.  His name was a point of discussion from the time we married.  A few days after he came home from the hospital David emerged from putting him to sleep in the bedroom and said that as he had played with him it was as if a voice said in his mind, "My name is Benjamin".  That afternoon Papa went to the courthouse and amended his name to Benjamin Ira Jeshua Absolon Ames.

So began the saga of life and death that became a routine over the years.  We celebrated each milestone and regularly accepted that only Heavenly Father can give and sustain life.

His first trip was to be introduced to his Forsyth cousins at Aunt Bonnie's wedding when he was only a few weeks old.

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Despite all odds he not only lived but slowly grew, learned and participated fully in life. This picture is taken in Provo in the spring of 1983. 
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Below is a picture of Faline Shaw (1st cousin) and Benjamin clambering on David on a Sunday afternoon after church. He 'watched' the kids this way (dozing in the sun from the large windows at his parents in Grand Prairie) many a Sunday while dinner was being fixed.  And look at the twinkle in that baby's eye - that is not just sunshine.  This little guy could make his sister look like an angel! Faline and Benjamin would struggle and climb until they flopped over onto one side of Papa and then turn around and go the other way, over and over - it was one of their very own special games - that and climbing stairs!



CLARENCE

Papa and I really wanted more children. My doctor told me definitely and emphatically that I should never have another pregnancy (and unless I took serious preventative measures he would not see me as a patient). We discussed it and got a second opinion. After a careful review of my health and health history Dr. Westcott, a new OB/GY in Lethbridge, decided that if we really wanted one more child that we should immediately try to do so. He thought that with careful supervision, preparation, planning, interventions and treatments that we might proceed. What a circus! Planning, preparation and supervision indeed - every day for months. He wanted to know the instant I might become pregnant and started a regime of daily shots that tapered off to weekly for several months. Oh my aching pincushion hip!

My sister-in-law was expecting at the same time. I remember the smart remarks about our profiles when this photographer suggested we smile - so we posed - and let it all hang out! This was taken in December 1985. What a nice portrait of Sonya and Clarence. They didn't do ultrasound portraits way 'back in the day' the way they do now.





Clarence arrived safely and on schedule but not without some time on bed rest for me - yuck - that wears thin real fast! He was a gregarious baby that seemed to always be smiling. He learned every trick his siblings could teach him and then invented a few more.

Clarence loved music and rhyme - and baby swings were a nice innovation! When he learned to talk many were the times he had to be taught that all letters should not be used for rhyming games.


His special blue tricot blanket went everywhere he went. He did not sleep without its cool silky touch on his face. If you see it in a picture without him, rest assured he is nearby somewhere.

This was taken in the spring of 1986. He made eye contact and looked around at his world from the moment he was born. Notice the stiff straight legs - this was his first line of defense around his siblings and cousins. He could stick those legs out so fast and push someone away in the blink of an eye - and yes even pin an unsuspecting brother to a wall if it were close enough.

He was prone to ear aches and so usually wore a hat. He went visiting a lot. This picture is likely near April 17th as we sometimes went to visit my grandparents for Grandpa's birthday and to take Nena to see him. He often wore those same gray overalls the way Grandma wore an apron.

He was my chubbiest baby and grew rolls and jowls that made me laugh to see them. By the time Cla came along we had discovered that 'school photographers' would take pictures of siblings when they weren't busy with a class so we usually had pictures taken at the schools in the fall. This would be the fall of 1986.


We would try to get a family picture once a year. We did not have and could not afford a camera but would dress up and splurge (about15 dollars) each year and get some pictures taken to try to make sure we recorded 'the way we were.'