An Adventure With Baby

Jalene’s excitement couldn’t be contained. When the doctor announced “it is a girl”, it seemed she cried tears of joy for hours. Not only was the baby healthy, as she had prayed, but she had a daughter. Birthing rooms or centers were not available in the 1970’s. Thus, the fathers had to await their baby’s arrival in the waiting area with the other family.  As the news was relayed to Chuck and his parents, awaiting with him they all shared Jalene’s tears of joy.

In spite of Lorraine’s lack of love or adoration for Jalene, the love she displayed for her eldest son,  Chuck was unparalleled to that of other adult, married sons and mothers. She had arrived at the hospital shortly after Jalene was admitted as a patient. Lorraine and Chuck remained in Jalene’s room for the duration of the day and night until she was taken into the delivery room.

Jalene was heartbroken that her mother had chosen not to come to the hospital to be with her during her lengthy ordeal. Jalene also understood that because her mother had no love for her, she would chose not to love her grandchild. This would be evidenced for the remainder of Jalene’s life.

As Chuck, Ben and Lorraine grasped the news of their new daughter and granddaughter, also surprising was the fact that this precious new baby was the first daughter and granddaughter among the Wood family for many years. Not only was “baby Marie” a jubilation to her parents, but what a joy for Ben and Lorraine to be grandparents. As older parents, it was an additional blessing for their son to experience fatherhood.

Chuck and his parents lingered with Jalene for as long as the nurses permitted. The hospital policies of the 1970’s didn’t permit new fathers to remain with Mommy and baby. The visiting hours were brief and restrictive.

Jalene was elated to go home with her new daughter and begin their life as a family of three. As she arrived to their apartment, she was saddened that the cozy little home which had been set up for the baby would be disassembled in a few days. Jalene realized an unexplored adventure awaited the family in northern OK.

Upon acceptance of the new career position, Chuck and Jalene had searched for homes in Enid. Because they had no money for a down payment on a house, they realized renting was their only option until money could be saved for the purchase of a home.

Due to an AirForce base in the same town as the oil company, apartments were more available than rental homes. Jalene was disappointed as they had spent over three years of their marriage in apartments and she was hopeful they could locate a house. The apartment complex was small and the units large, so Jalene was content with the “homey” feel of their apartment.

Jalene now chuckles when she thinks of their first professional move from Oklahoma City to Enid. As the movers came into their small apartment to pack their possessions, the packers had completed the task in only a few hours.

That first move in 1972 was the beginning of many more to come. As the years passed and Chuck continued to transfer from one career location to another, the moving staff and time increased, as the vans became larger.

Jalene reminisces often of the chilly spring day in 1972.  As she held her tiny daughter on her lap for the duration of the 100 mile automobile trip, she lovingly looked often at her husband sitting beside her, wondering if he loved her and their child as much as she loved him and their little daughter.  As time passed Jalene realized it’s almost impossible for someone to love another if they don’t desire that person or people to be a part of their lives.

Upon their arrival in Enid, the barren two bedroom apartment quickly became a “home” as Jalene added her loving touches to their new residence. The apartment didn’t have the space or hook up availability for a dryer. On days when it was too cold to hang the laundry outside, Jalene hung the cloth diapers and tiny baby clothes throughout the apartment, as all door knobs and doorways became the makeshift “clothes line” for the metal hangers. It was not unusual for Jalene to move hangers from the door when Chuck arrived home from the office.

The apartment had no dishwasher. Thus, baby bottles were washed and then sterilized in boiling water atop the kitchen range. One night while Chuck and Jalene sat atop their bed watching their sole, tiny television in their bedroom, there was a knock at their front door. Startled, they were perplexed as to whom would be visiting them at such a late hour.

The neighbor from the upstairs apartment had smelled something which seemed to be afire. Sure enough, the pan filled with boiling water and bottle nipples had evaporated, melting the nipples and exuding a pungent odor in the upstairs apartment.

Because the kitchen vent was directly below the other unit’s kitchen, the odor was undetected to Chuck and Jalene. Although embarrassed for being such careless parents, it was a lesson learned to never leave the bottles or nipples unattended during sterilization. It could have caused a fire and serious damage. Even though an amusing memory now, at the time it was exasperating because this was an added expense for replacing the bottle nipples.

Please continue with me on Jalene’s and Chuck’s journey as new parents with limited income.

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