Too old?

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Susan Davis

Ben’s mom was 20 when she had Roger and 21 when she became a mother to Lorna. Nine years later she found out that she was expecting their third child.

Back in 1952, most women already had their family completed by the age of 32. She felt like she was too old to be having another baby. What would everyone think?

She was embarrassed hanging her maternity tops out on the clothesline. She was certain a nosy neighbor would notice them hanging on the line and start spreading the juicy gossip. Never mind, the small town would soon know she was expecting another baby just by her appearance.

At the time, the family was living at Fleming. She doctored in Sterling with Dr. Beebe.

When she went into labor, she was admitted into St. Benedict Hospital in Sterling. In the afternoon, a nurse came into her room and asked if she wanted to read the newspaper. She said that she did. The nurse seemed a little surprised that she would, but she handed her a copy of the paper. She finished reading it before Ben was born in the early evening.

In those days, it was standard practice for the doctor to keep the mother and newborn in the hospital for six days. Doctors felt that they needed to stay there that long.

When Ben’s mom was ready to be dismissed, she told Dr. Beebe, “I don’t want to go home. It’s been so long since I had my last baby. I’ve forgotten how to take care of a newborn.”

In no uncertain terms, he snapped at her, “Get out of that bed now! Go home and take care of that baby!”

That’s exactly what she had to do. She couldn’t possibly ask her mother for help because she lived over 100 miles away.

Her biggest challenge was giving her tiny boy a bath for the first time. She was nervous doing so, but she managed to get it done. That gave her some confidence.

Thankfully, Ben was a docile baby. He wasn’t fussy very much.

After Ben married me, she told us the same story countless times about how as a toddler he played in the sandbox, and she didn’t have to worry about him wandering off. She gave him a pop bottle and a toy shovel to fill it full of sand. Their dog Cheetah stayed by his side the whole time.

When Ben and I told her we were expecting our first child, I remember her saying, “I’m too old to be a grandma.”

I couldn’t understand why she felt that way. She was only 55. Lots of women didn’t become grandmas until that age.

The first time we had her babysit Mike, she was flustered when we got back. She said he cried most of the time, and she couldn’t get him to stop.

I had my third and last child at the age of 32 just like her. I certainly didn’t feel too old to become a mother again.

Ben and I became grandparents for the first time at the age of 68. Some people would think we were “too old” to be experiencing that aspect of life for the first time. The timing was out of our hands, so we simply took it in stride and are enjoying being grandparents immensely.