Lemmie starts documenting her musings.
Jan 3, 1945
WW II ends
Jan 1, 1946
Before Odis and I were married
April 1, 1947
Lila and Paul have always "gotten along"
April 6, 1948
Paul has an intense desire for a horse - of all things.
Mar 9, 1949
After nine month of almost unbearable nausea,
pain and weakness
Feb 4, 1950
Will we ever get used to writing?
Musing Of MOTHER
BY LEMMIE LACOUR MAXWELL 1944
To Odis, Lila,
Paul and David- with all my love.
May 30, 1944
Today, when I went to Pinedale infirmary to see
why I feel so tired and nauseated all the time, (they are sending me on
to Hammer Field Hospital for tests) the waiting room was filled with
women - officer’s wives, I soon learned. They yipped and they yapped,
and I listened. Finally, they began to include me in the conversation. I
joined in the small talk for awhile, and then the one with bleached hair
and shrill voice asked me, "Deah, I don't believe I've seen you before.
Is your husband one of the officers here on the post, too?" "No, I
answered, not batting an eye.”He's one of the privates." you could have
heard a P.F.C.'s stripe drop! I have always been at a loss to understand
why a wonderful, democratic country like ours should have to be
protected by such an un-democratic organization as the Armed Forces of
June 19, 1944
Today is my
birthday, I am in an army hospital, in a ward filled with Wacs and one
other army wife, and I am hundreds of miles from home. I should be
utterly miserable, but I'm not. I am as happy as a lark. In six months,
Odis and I are going to have a baby! After seven years and despite all
the doctors said, we are going to have a baby. The poor little rabbit
they killed for the test confirmed it.
I have been very
ill; otherwise I wouldn't be in a hospital. I do not know what it is all
about. Every once in awhile someone comes in with another gadget and
makes another test. Major H., who is in charge of the ward and who is a
famous obstetrician and gynecologist from New York, says I am allergic
to pregnancy! Imagine! "But," he added. "Frail women like you almost
always produce strong, healthy babies, most of the time boys."
I feel a little
sorry for him. Drafted into the army, no glory, no way to prove his
valor, no place to put him except in a Wac ward! But, he has given me
some blessed little pills that have stopped the nausea, and he is
handsome and kind and he is making sure that I will be well enough to go
back to Louisiana in a week or so when Odis gets his furlough and can
travel with me.
When I get back to
Louisiana! Bunkie, Louisiana! And in six months, I too can join in the
discussions of formulas and colic and how it hurts to have a baby.
The Yankee ward
nurse, pardon me, lieutenant, gives me a pain. She is so smug. The Wacs
ma'am her here and ma'am her there, and it is plain to see that she
resents Jean, the other army wife, and me. I have discovered how
to handle her however. The other morning, (we have to bring our trays
back into the kitchen after meals) not knowing she had issued a new
order, I neglected to scrape my dishes. She had company in the kitchen
for coffee - two male captains and one female lieutenant - and I think
she was trying to show off a little for their benefit! "Maxwell!" she
demanded. "Didn't I tell you people to scrape your plates after meals?"
I drew myself up to my full five feet three and one half inches, and
looking as dignified as I can in this loose, maroon army robe, I said
softly and in my best Southern accent, "Ah beg yo' pardon?" For once,
she didn't have a smart answer. She was taken aback. As a matter of
fact, she actually looked embarrassed. "Oh," she said, "Er-that's all
right Missus Maxwell," which was the first time she hadn't called
me just "Maxwell" as she calls the Wacs and Jean by their last names,
without any title, of course. Later, in the ward, we all had hysterics.
Now, whenever she tires to pull rank on me-a civilian-I know what to do.
Exaggerated Southern accent, the pretense of generations of authority in
my voice, and quails. She probably thinks I am to the manner born,
whatever that means. "After all," she seems to be thinking. "It's true
that her husband is only a private, but so are movie stars and other
important people, and I know those with the highest I.Q.s are put in the
Air Force. Anyway, as I said before, I am going to have a baby in six
months, born in Bunkie Louisiana. Odis comes every day during visiting
hours, and it is almost time now.
Please pahdon me while Ah powdah mah
July 1, 1944
I have reached
Louisiana safely, but how I miss Odis. The trip from California was
horrible. The trains were over crowded and hot and I felt so sick the
whole time. I longed to be back in the clean, peaceful, air-conditioned
ward at Hammer Field Hospital. The major had given me orders to go
straight to bed when I got off the train, and to call Dr. C.
immediately. Dr. C. says I am fine and will have a "normal delivery".
That means Odis cannot come home for the blessed event. I wonder how old
the baby will be before Odis sees it? I sound as though I should prefer
having the baby under "unusual circumstances", as a soldier is allowed
to come home if it is not going to be a normal delivery. Dr. C. cannot
understand why the baby is so active this soon and why I am "showing" so
much. I have been wearing maternity dresses since I left California-some
real snappy numbers (that is supposed to be a pun. you adjust the waist
line with snaps.) I think I like them better than any clothes I have
September 3, 1944
Dr. C and Dr. K.
have put me on a rigid diet. No salts, no fats, no sweets, no this, no
that. I has something to do with my blood pressure and the fact that it
is apparent I am going to have a big baby. The irony of it is that this
is the only time in my whole life that I have been hungry and have
actually enjoyed eating. How I yearn for syrup and bread and potato
chips and vanilla ice cream. Oh well, I can go and eat another raw
carrot. I do hope the baby is not going to look like Bugs Bunny!
November 23, 1944
I am going to have
twins! Me, Lemmie Lacour Maxwell, weight as of today one hundred and
twenty-three pounds, am going to have twins! I have known it for months,
but no one would listen. I have been seeing first Dr. K. and then Dr.
C., and yesterday after my routine check, Dr. C. asked his stock
question "Is the baby kicking?" I didn't feel too well, so I said
belligerently, "Yes, both of them." he laughed. "Now, now did the X-Ray
show twins?" "I've had no X-ray", I answered. "What!" He swiveled his
chair around. "I thought Dr. K--" "I've had no X-ray," I said again.
"Well" he said a little uneasily. "We'd better have one right now and
settle that twin deal, h-mm?"
It didn't take very
long. After the pictures were made, the technician picked them up. "I'll
just show these to the doctors," she said nurse-brightly. "You wait
right here. They ay want to take more." In a minute, through the thin
walls, I heard quite a commotion. "Get Dr. K., get Mrs. P.," I heard Dr.
C. demand. Then I heard Dr. K. whistle, I heard Mrs. P. say, "Oh my
goodness>' Then I heard utter silence.”Uh-huh!" I thought. The door to
the X-ray room opened and in came the two doctors and Mrs. P. with
mingled looks of consternation and excitement-which looks one, does not
often see on the faces of doctors and nurses. “Well Lemmie," said Dr. C.
"Our humble apologies. There are two babies". I didn’t feel at
all triumphant. All I could think of was that I had my shoes of, my
rayon wartime hose were at least three inches too long, and that Dr. K.
was staring at them. "We'll have to get you to specialist at once. It
doesn't look good at all," Dr. C. said. "Oh, I don't think there is much
cause for alarm," said Dr. K. with a strained smile. Dr. C wheeled
around. "Dr. K.," he said sternly-for Dr. C. "We don't have to softsoap
Lemmie. She is intelligent and she doesn't scare easily. Look. She is
thirty-three, this is her first pregnancy, there are two babies, breech,
both are coming at once, her blood pressure is too high and she has
toxemia. What could be worse?" Then he turned to me. "Lemmie," he said
gently. "We have almost made a terrible mistake, but thank God we
discovered it in time. They will have to do a caesarian section."
December 16, 1944
Maxwell and Paul Odis Maxwell, aged two weeks, were baptized today. The
baptistery was filled with godparents, friends, relatives and babies.
Lila slept. but Paul
screamed the whole time. "Maybe he wants to be a Baptist like Odis," I
said to Father Olinger, slightly giddy from having been allowed by Dr.
K. to attend the ceremony. While Father Olinger was writing down the
information, he looked at me with his twinkling blue eyes and asked,
"Lemmie, is Delilah a saint's name?" "No, Father, I answered. "But it is
my mother-in-law's name and that is policy. However, Adele is a
derivative of Adelbert" "Well, he said, his eyes twinkling more than
ever. "I guess everything is all right then."
But, everything was
not all right. I was crying inside, despite my giddiness, because Odis
had to go back to camp last night. And I don't know when-and if-the
babies and I will ever see him again.
DEC. 21, 1944
There has been a steady
stream of visitors coming in to see the babies.
"They look exactly alike",
"They don't resemble each
other at all," says another.
"The boy is cuter", says
"The girl is cuter", says
And the questions they ask!
The one that took the cake, however, was "Are they identical twins?"
I couldn't resist, "No", I
answered dryly. "They could hardly be identical since one is a boy and one is a
DEC 28, 1944
Christmas is all over. The
babies were showered with gifts, and so was I. People are so very good and kind.
Odis has been sending me
cigarettes from camp. They are hard to find these days, and besides, he gets
them cheaply at the P.X. With my having to count every penny, every penny saved
Today, when the postman
delivered a carton, he looked at me, and said furiously. "I know these are some
more cigarettes for you. No wonder we civilians can't get cigarettes half the
time. The soldiers get them all."
I feel guilty every time I
DEC 31, 1944
Tomorrow, 1944, with all the
grief and loss it has brought to thousands will be gone forever, and 1945 will
be here-new and young with its secrets.
What will it bring, we
wonder. Will the war be over? By some miracle will all our soldiers be home next
Christmas Day for good? Will this needless hate and horror and slaughter stop?
Only God and his Son and the Holy Spirit know.
I look at my babies asleep
in their bassinets, and I can hardly believe it yet-that after so long a
time, God saw fit to send us not one but two - in 1944.
Odis and I have always
wanted children, of course.
That is the primary reason a
boy and girl fall in love and marry. At first, it hurts terribly when the
doctors finally tell you there will never be any babies. You feel cheated and
inadequate and useless-like a fruit tree that does not bear, and which should,
by all rights be chopped down and replaced with a new, young one that is not
barren but, on the other hand, you tell yourself that barren trees are not
always cut down-they sometimes serve a purpose anyway.
I remember when we were
little girls, there was a big, majestic, friendly pecan tree in our back yard
that never bore any nuts, but we and our friends love to climb in it and play in
its shade and crunch in the leaves under it in the fall. It had reason to be
after all because it gave children many many happy hours. And if it could feel,
I think it knew that and was content.
So, even though it does hurt
at first, after awhile you learn to accept it. Especially if you have two
wonderful sisters who unselfishly share their children with you, as do Kathleen
and Julia Quinn with me - but not in pity for me. They share them because that
is the way they are, and an aunt who has no children of her own is a very
special person to her nieces and nephews. Sometimes when they would all cluster
around me, I would liken myself to that pecan tree - not that I am big and
majestic by any stretch of the imagination. But, as Freddie once told me.
""Emee", I know I can tell you this because you are my friend and won't tell
anyone else.” And Alice and Johnny asking me,
"Mimi, which of us do you love the best?" (As if I knew the answer to that!).
So, there are compensations. Now, Odis and I have two babies of our own, a boy
and a girl. Odis was allowed to come home for their spectacular entrance into
this world. The babies and I lived through the entering. I did not know it until
after they were born, but the doctors did not have much hope that all three of
us would survive. There was a strong possibility that one or both of the babies,
or I, would not come through. But, we did.
So, dear God, on this last
day of 1944, I am writing a special Thank You note to you - because even though
1944 brought heartache to so many, it brought heartsease to me.