Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Hospital Where My Sons Were Born

Both Douglas and Preston were born in the hospital at Corning - Doug because that is where his Dad and I were living in 1962 and Preston because when he was expected in 1971 his father was in summer school in Missouri working on his master's degree. I was at home near and at work in Des Moines. The week before his due date in late July, Kari, Doug and I went to stay with my parents near Corning. Until then my younger brother (17 at the time) had been staying with me, watching over the children while I was at work and being on hand to drive me to a Des Moines hospital just in case the baby decided to come early.

I scanned the above photo from Corning's 1957 Centurama booklet which is where I was reminded of these facts about the town's new hospital: Rosary Hospital opened in 1951 and was operated by the Order of Felician Sisters. The $600,000 structure opened debt free. The building fund began when two brothers, Thomas and James Roach, bequeathed $235,000 to Catholic Charities. Father Powers, pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Corning, designated the money for a hospital to be built. Local community drives for funds brought in another $175,000 and $188,000 in federal aid was secured.

Even though there was a hospital in Corning in 1954, my baby brother was born in Creston, the same as Betty and I (before 1951). Our older brother, Ron, was born at home. I don't know why Mom didn't have Les in Corning unless it was because her doctor, Dr. Fry, was a D.O. and wasn't affiliated with Rosary Hospital. Les was born eleven days after our cousin, Jolene. She was the 500th baby born at Rosary - 500 babies in three years!

When Doug was born, as anxious as I was to be thin and get back into my jeans again, I was ready to make a deal: I would stay pregnant the rest of my life if they could just stop my labor pains.

The next day I misunderstand when they came in to change my bedding and got out of bed. A little later Sister Jovilla came in and bawled me out for it. "Young lady, the first day we only 'dangle', we do not get out of bed!" Meaning I could sit on the bed and dangle my legs, but no more than that. How times have changed!

This is a picture of the sisters in the original hospital lobby. I can't say for certain which one is Sister Jovilla. Being a Protestant, I was in awe of the nuns and fascinated by the statue in the lobby.
I don't remember if the sisters were still actively running the hospital when Preston was born.

When I got to the hospital that night I learned there were already two baby boys in the nursery. I hoped to make it three. I was very happy when I was delivered and they told me, "It's a boy!"

On the way back to my room, still a little groggy from the anesthesia and extremely thirsty, I grabbed onto the water fountain as they wheeled me by. It was next to the window into the nursery. I looked in and saw two blue blankets and one pink one. Immediately I thought they had lied to me. I was assured my baby was a boy, they had just used a pink receiving blanket.

Preston was born with lots of dark hair with exception of a patch of silver hair about the size of a half dollar. I was trying to get a picture of it in this photo taken when he was about two weeks old. You can kind of make it out just above his forehead. After he lost his baby hair his new hair was golden blonde.

The structure on hospital hill and its name have changed over the years. Parts of the original building were torn down and rebuilt. The name was changed to Mercy then Alegent. Right now it is CHI Health Mercy. The old living quarters of the Felician Sisters was torn down and another new clinic wing added in its place.

It doesn't matter what they call it, or how it changes in appearance, I will always think of it as the hospital where my sons were born.

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