Autobiographical Essays

Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD (1910 - 1995)

December 7, 1941

It was a cold, windy, rainy Sunday. I had been busy finishing some typing, my husband was working on his lecture, and my  three--year old son Paul Peter, was playing quietly in his room. After supper I put my son to bed, reading a story to him until his eyes closed. My mother, who lived with us, and I sat  
down to play a card game, when ,suddenly, I experienced short severe pains, My labor pains had started. We waited a certain time, then called the hospital, where we practiced medicine, to notify them of my imminent arrival. But learned that it was impossible: the obstetrical department was closed. Some infectious disease had spread though the new-born section and no new arrivals were to be admitted. We made an arrangement at a nearby private hospital, which neither my husband nor I had ever visited. On our drive to the hospital, we noticed that the streets were exceptionally empty and eerily silent, only the wind howled and the rain hit the windshield. When we arrived at the hospital almost no staff-members or nurses were present. I was quickly ushered into a delivery room, and we were left alone. My birthing pains came regularly and followed each other closely, but no nurse or physician attended to me. The staff had gathered around the radio. Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. We had not listened to the radio at home, and were unprepared for the shocking news. At last my obstetrician arrived, and I delivered an eight--pound baby girl in truly natural childbirth, that means, without any anesthesia. Since this personal experience, I have fought against the idea of "natural childbirth" which is advocated by liberal women's groups. There is no virtue in enduring excruciating pain, when it can be minimized without endangering the lives of the mother or the child.

The next morning, I listened to Roosevelt's speech, and heard the Declaration of War. The world would change radically. Many young people paid with their lives on this day, but ONE baby, Susan Joan, had been born.


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