Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Advice from the Bad Old Days

Becky Povich’s blog contest ends tonight. She’s asked for people to suggest titles of lesser-known books that they enjoyed. Linda O'Connell mentioned a very old copy of a Readers Digest that she cherishes. That reminded me that I have a book of my mother’s called Expectant Motherhood by Nicholson J. Eastman, Professor of Obstetrics in Johns Hopkins University, originally printed in 1940 and reprinted a disturbing number of times.

X-rays are mentioned as one of the ways to definitively diagnose pregnancy. Once that pregnancy is diagnosed (around the fifth month), be sure to consult this book before choosing your maternity corset! And for the baby’s layette, one should choose Gertrudes which are made from nainsook. I have no idea, but I still feel sorry for that baby.

It’s also clear that our mothers and grandmothers were impressively wasted when giving birth. Suggested drugs for a pain-free childbirth include morphine, scopolamine (“Its aim is not so much actual pain relief as forgetfulness”), rectal ether, barbiturates, and something called—gulp—paraldehyde, which sounds to me like the baby was born slightly pickled.

Never fear! That baby was sure to have been used to it by the time labor rolled around. On whether or not smoking is acceptable, the good professor says, “If you have been used to smoking considerably…by no means try to give [cigarettes] up in pregnancy. There is no surer way of upsetting the nerves at a period when you should be calm and happy, or of converting a placid, sweet-tempered girl into an intolerable shrew.”

Oh, and the price is listed as $1.25. For a hardcover. In other words, priceless.

From the movie, “Juno”:
Rollo: So what’s the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle? Minus or plus?
Juno: I don’t know. It’s not seasoned yet…. Nope…. There it is. The little pink plus sign is so unholy. [Shakes pregnancy test stick.]
Rollo: That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.


  1. Oh, Tammy! That is toooo funny...or should I say sad? Unbelievable? It's a wonder some of us are "normal" (?)....Normal is in the eye of the beholder, I always say! :)

  2. Tammy, even when you write about horrific prenatal advice you crack me up. Why don't you write a book? Just think, if you wrote a blog entry a day, you'd have a book of musings in no time.

  3. Yikes! With advice like that it makes me wonder how anybody survived to continue the human race!

  4. LOL, Becky and Pat...I know! Guess it explains a lot in my case...! ;)

    And Linda, you should talk about books! I am still waiting to see yours published! I feel so privileged to have had a sneak peek at it, and I still laugh out loud thinking of certain parts. But thank you for the comments!


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