Biographical Non-Fiction posted April 14, 2011 Chapters: Prologue -1- 2... 

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
Travail for a mother of different child

A chapter in the book Short-Lived Admiration:

Anguish in Childbirth,

by Donald O. Cassidy

Short-Lived Admiration
A Book of Memoirs
by Donald O. Cassidy


A beginning in a quaint setting guaranteed nothing of tangible success for a fourth child in poverty. Events, personal features, and coping with denials, however, exhibited an attractive personality.

Development seldom conformed to a winning formula, but early signs were that this was no ordinary child. Puzzling responses and erratic behavior hindered a distinct pattern of character that would take a lifetime to understand.
An ARC, or turning point, in a mediocre life marked a meandering soul who could discern a definite pattern of Divine Grace. A different child would eventually learn divine purpose despite handicaps. An account, hitting the high points, follows:

Chapter 1

A humble family of parents and three children (two boys and a girl) were expecting a fourth child right away. The house offered no facilities of advanced medicine for maternity cases. Only a midwife, with the father's assistance, would accompany this birth, as was true of the other three.
By custom the children would be sent to grandma's house during this ordeal.

Conversation at the dinner table hours before the intense labor centered on reasons for the children being gone:

"The stork will bring us another child, either a boy or a girl," Dad said.,

"Oh, I hope it's a girl," Ruby said.

The signs of this pregnancy indicated the sister would not get her wish. Perhaps the brothers noticed Mom was really bulged out for several months now.

"When do you think it will come,?" Gene the oldest asked.

"Yeah, how long will we have to wait,?" Ruby wanted to know.

"Well, the signs are it won't be long. But it won't be easy without epidural--
that's a painkiller."

Mom, in her typical sparing of child discomfort, ignored her own pains to put the best face on expectations. "Before this time tomorrow I think," she said. Without getting up from her chair, she reached to the oven close by for more hot bread. "Ruby, get the blackberries for dessert from the backroom."

Dishing them out, Mom passed the first dish to Dad, who immediately scooped four teaspoons of sugar on his berries. The kids followed suit"with a little less sugar.

The table would offer more abundance if a summer garden produced as hoped. For weeks, leading up to mid-April, Dad and the boys had been clearing ground for planting beyond just garden. Priority was given to tobacco the money crop. The best ground would be reserved for that, though a garden spot would not be slighted. Lettuce, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet corn would be cherished. However, the corn crop would not be secure from groundhogs.

"I've been offered a trade of a good hunting dog for laying hens," Dad said.

` Mom winced at that and sighed heavily. "You know I hate to see my good hens go!" Shifting in her chair for more comfort, she conceded the necessity. "Of course we need the garden. How many hens does he want?"

"Oh, he just named a couple. Can we spare them?"

"I guess we'll have to," Mom said.


Children were at grandparents about a mile up Kinney Road. It is well they were spared the anguish and unconscionable suffering of the mother. Mom was strong and far from being an emotional person, but the pains were more and more intense. She writhed and gripped the pillow in desperate hopes of easing the agony from a birth canal. There was little comfort in reasoning that a fourth child would be no special problem in delivery. That illusion was soon dispensed with in sustained anguish. Gasping for breath and cringing from contractions, Mom found the mere stimulant of coffee had long since vanished. At the midwife's urging, she pushed with waning strength. Evidence was abundant that this was no ordinary birth.

Hours into this travail, Dad was wishing he had contacted the doctor for this delivery. But that would have taken all my savings for seeds and planting for garden. He turned to his bride of his opinion was united to him in a sacred marriage. "Pauline (Mom), is there anything I can get to help you?" he asked.

To view her pretty face now contorted in torture, he understood her suffering in futility of relief. Never had he felt so helpless and inadequate. At that point, noticing the empty ritual of Virginia, the midwife, applying a damp cloth to Mom's brow, he thought it a mockery of relief.

Twisting in a sheet soaked with sweat, Mom's consciousness ebbed and flowed. She had closed her eyes, and it seemed perhaps she was at ease. But the midwife, with her background of experience, risked a glance at the husband. She swallowed hard at the dilemma. I can't be fooled that she is through the ordeal. I think she's unconscious and perhaps on the brink of a coma. But if I shake her to wake her up, her pain will be unbearable. What shall I do?

Mom gave a sudden push; as a peep of black hair appeared in the vagina's opening.
Virginia sprang to action, grasping the baby's head. As she pulled gently, she said, "Push with all you've got!"

Almost like an object freed from a dam of water, a heavy baby slid into the midwife's arms. Slapping its not-so-little behind, she rejoiced at the healthy wail. Applying the tincture to the infant's eyes, she noticed Dad had the pan of hot water to sterilize the instruments for cutting the umbilical cord. As well, Dad had the warm water for the baby's first bath.

Virginia turned to the silent mother. Touching her brow, she determined that Mom was alert. "You've got another boy," she said. "And he's no ordinary boy. This is the biggest baby I've ever delivered in my life!" Turning to the mother, she added, "And you're not big in size, but surely in worth!" Of all her deliveries, Virginia was never more moved than by Pauline's proud smile. "Mrs. Cassidy, what have you named this bouncing boy,?" she asked

"Donald," she uttered in a weak voice. "And I think his middle name should be Owen after his dad."

With her indelible pencil, Virginia started writing on the official form to be mailed to Mr. Blackerby, Bureau of Vital Statistics at Frankfort, KY., state capitol: "Donald Owen Cassady." [It was common to give various spellings of this sur name. I wrote the bureau years later to have the misspelling changed to Cassidy.]

Notably the anguish, the excruciating pain of this woman was unconscionable and symbolized the travail of women world wide. In other kinds of suffering, this child was not to escape pains. The long-lasting pain was of frustrating struggles more difficult to define and remedy. The puzzling life would cause other kinds of pain to parents that would be analyzed only in later years. Though humble and modest, this family in a rustic house of five rooms presented aspects both good and bad. Reactions against dire poverty that fostered life-time negative attitudes in some offspring, resulted in positive attitudes in those few touched by divine providence..

This poverty, however, exacted a price. Diets were lean, especially in Winter; stresses and strains led to quarrels, and lack of medical attention to weaker children would cause prolonged emotional pain. "Will my big baby boy be able to walk to the one-room school?" Mom wondered.

"Well, it seems he's doin' well at work in the fields," Dad (Bill Cassidy) replied. "But I'm more concerned about bullies in the school. I hope Donald has a good teacher--"
"Oh, I didn't hear good news about that," Mom said. "I hear he's a sporting fellow and wild."

This chubby boy more and more received praising comments and admiring glances, but in crucial times would experience loneliness and neglect.

Non-Fiction contest entry


An earlier version was posted. But by some freak or an accident it disappeared
The next five chapters are also rearranged
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2021. Donald O. Cassidy All rights reserved. Registered copyright with FanStory.
Donald O. Cassidy has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.