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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Durr delivers her first child

Within a few months of her marriage to Clifford Durr, Virginia was pregnant with their first child. She describes child birthing practices and hospitalization procedures for middle-class women.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Yes, we had a lot of things. The thing with having a baby in those days. This is what shows you the difference. In the first place, of course, the eating, the "eating for two." That's old fashioned and the gaining of a tremendous amount of weight, they would think now that it was just suicidal. To have a baby, well, you went to the doctor once every two or three weeks and you were treated not as if you were having an illness exactly, but everybody pampered you, you know. I was awfully sick at my stomach for awhile and I was treated like the queen been and I felt like the queen bee. I felt like I was just doing something that nobody had ever done before and it was just the most marvelous thing in the world, I was just simply thrilled. I engaged a nurse, a trained nurse. I went to the hospital, I waked up one morning and realized that the baby was coming, the water had broken and I called Cliff immediately and he came home and we finally got to the hospital. They had engaged a trained nurse for me, Miss Taylor, who came. A registered nurse. She was on duty twenty-four hours a day. I think that she may have gotten off an hour in the afternoon when you and Mother came in to sit. I had a private room, I delivered the baby and Cliff stayed with me the whole time and Mother until I went in to the actual delivery room. It was all very social and pleasant and the doctor was there and . . . .
The only harsh words that I ever received from my mother-in-law, she didn't think I was excited enough when Virginia was in the delivery room. She thought I was too calm and she got furious with me. (laughter)
I came out and in about an hour, I was sitting up eating breakfast and was feeling wonderful. Here I was, a healthy young girl and I had a trained nurse, I stayed in the hospital about two weeks, didn't I?
I think you did and then the nurse . . . .
Then the nurse came home and stayed with me another two weeks. I wasn't allowed to walk up and down the steps for two weeks. Here I was, a healthy young girl, just as healthy as I could be, a healthy baby and yet I was treated like a terrific invalid. I was made to feel that I had done something just spectacular and this was just something that was marvelous, this was the reward of all my life. The trained nurse was there for one solid month. A trained, registered nurse. Of course, she didn't get paid much in those days. Did you ever hear anything as ridiculous in the days of your life? Now my daughters have babies and they are up the next day. It is the most remarkable change that I have ever seen in the days of my life. It is perfectly amazing.