Sunday, September 23, 2007

Congratulations! You've Had a Baby! 1940s-style.

Part of the Paperwork Onslaught from Operation Granparents included a book the hospital gave my grandmother when my mom was born.

It's a gem. Now, as we all know, I don't have kids. So while I can't attest to the hilarity that this might induce, I do want everyone to know what the world perpetrated on mothers in the 1940's.

First, you open the book to great, creep-tastic Wartime ads.

No pressure, there, sport.

Then there are "articles":

Do's and Don'ts (my comments are next to the text)

Do: Keep your baby on an exact time schedule as far as possible.
Do: Bathe your baby every day. In hot weather, he should also be sponged two or three times a day. (really? two to three times a day? who does this?)
Do: Be sure the baby gets at least sixteen hours sleep a day the first year and from twenty to twenty-two hours sleep the first month. (I hear the hooting from here.)
Do: Give the baby complete quiet at feeding and sleeping hours. (It's like early Scientology!)
Don't: If you feed your baby out of a silver mug, be careful that the cup is not too hot.
Don't: give the baby tea, coffee, beer or wine of any kind, fried foods, pickles (?!), pie, lollypops, candy of any kind, nuts, pancakes, berries, ice cream cones (???), rich cakes, puddings, or meat gravies. (also: don't pound them in the head with hammer, feed them rancid meat, or let them eat out of the kitty litter box. Also: no radishes. But raw yolk is okay (see next article))
Don't rock or jounce your baby unncessarily. (DAMN that unnecessary jouncing.)
Don't let nayone kiss your baby if you can avoid it but if you cannot, let the kissing be done on the back of the baby's neck. (No, no wait! don't do that! Here, let me turn him over first: NOW you can kiss him!)
Though he cries, don't pick up your baby if he is well. A good lusty cry is excellent exercise. (Because I'm sure that's what'll run through your head: At least this is good exercise...)
Don't wash out your baby's mouth unless your doctor tells you to. (Whew! And to think: I was about to wash out my baby's mouth! WITH VODKA!)
Don't leave safety pins open. (I especially like the last one, because NORMALLY I think it's a good idea to leave safety pins open and about. However, once you have a baby, that's a bad idea. Only then.)

"This is How We Spend Our Day"
This is how the schedule starts:

5:55 a.m.: Diaper and night gown changed so that breakfast be better enjoyed.
(My friend Leah: "I don't think I dressed my kid for the first month. Or me.")
6:00 a.m.: Breakfast served--a la breast or via bottle
6:25 a.m.: Diaper replacement due.
6:30 a.m.: Back to bed for a snooze (we hope)
8:50 a.m.: (if awake) Orange juice. If sleeping, of course, do not disturb.
9:10 a.m.: Clothes off--all save the diaper-and into his crip or onto the top of his bathtub, safely strapped, for setting-up exercises of his choosing ("I'd really prefer the pilates today, mother."). Cod liver oil served "in the nude" saves spotting of clothing and is acceptable just before being dressed. (AFTER being dressed, however, it's worse than wearing white shoes after Labor Day.)

And so it goes... "10:30 a.m.: Nap, preferably out of doors." Um, really?

"2:00 p.m.: Refreshments; milk of course; egg yolk and other solids." Apparently, they didn't have that pesky salmonella back then.

And so on, until "10:00 p.m: Liquid refreshments--if infant and doctor insist. Diaper changing and back to sleep until 5:50 a.m."

Heh heh. That's exactly how I've heard of it working.

Now, this, of course, is predicated on the "6-to-6" schedule, but if you prefer, you can train your baby to the "8-to-8" schedule "if you're persistant."

"We guarantee it will sound fine to the man of the house who will not be awakened daily before break of dawn."

"His eating at 12 noon, would leave you free to keep your 1 p.m. luncheon engagements." Because I know those luncheon engagements (where does baby go? with you? I didn't know there was a baby-keeping place at luncheons) are of utmost importance to new mama's. Over, say, dressing. Or showering. Or maybe napping.

Also included in the book: all the updates from my mother's pediatrician appointments.

When Mom left the hospital, she was eight days old. And included on the "Instructions for Mothers" is
--The baby should nurse for not longer than twenty minutes
--Offer warm, b oiled water between feedings when the baby is awake.
--The formula recipe is: Carnation milk, 5 ounces, boiled water, 9 ounces, and Dark Karo CORN SYRUP, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons.

One month later:
--You can discontinue the nursing now.
--Make a formula using One large can of Carnation milk, 23 oz of water, 3.5 tbls. of Karo
--Offer 4 1/2-5 oz of this formula every 4 hours, 5 times daily
--After feedings occasionally, offer 1-2 eas. of water, to keep the mouth rinsed out.
--Give 3 drops of the Percomorphum oil twice daily. Drop this on the back of her tongue.
--At the same times that you give the oild rops, give 1/2 oz of strained orange juice diluted in 1/2 oz of water. Sweeten if necessary (sweeten????).

But really, it's in the back, where the ads get really good.

Look! It's the essentials for your baby! That include: strapping your baby in bed! Because that's totally safe! Safer than letting them ROLL AROUND LIKE COMMUNISTS! And also! a stuffed animal absolutely COVERED in chewable bite-sized buttons! BY DESIGN! It's even CALLED the "Button Buddy!" Your child's choking hazards should be portable! Now, they're conveniently attached to a dog-shaped...thing!

No, really, rub your baby's head with this bottle of... uh... stuff... seriously, we make chocolate, and that's good and tasty, right? And babies with curly hair are cute! so... no, there's no chocolate in this, but you trust us, right? And it's only a dollar!

You can't think about toilet training too early, so this ad, in this magazine given to you JUST AFTER YOU'VE GIVEN BIRTH, before you've probably pooped in a toilet yourself, is perfectly placed! But moreover, checck out our extra super special detail: yes, about half-way down, it's the TOIDEYETTE: "tall plastic shield and deflector".... Even better, strapping your child into a training potty WILL NOT GIVE THEM A TOILET COMPLEX IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, WE SWEAR.

Apparently they were really into strapping those kidlets down at every available opportunity. Look at this ad, from a seemingly innocent Qtips:

Yay! Qtips and a baby! It's cute! Look, it even says, "It's Fun!" "There's a cotton tip at each end of the stick to save you time." (Uh, I added that emphasis.) But all is not so innocent--no! Take another look at that Mama and happy baby:

Scary Mommy! Scary Mommy, threatening Giganto Baby with Pointy Thing! Giganto Baby, strapped in, can't escape!

I think this explains a lot about our parents, don't you?


PEter said...

my mom used to give me raw eggs mixed with sugar when i was sick - tasted great and toughened me up, all at the same time

kimberly said...

Your grandma kept this? For I dunno, 50 years? Maybe more? That's a terrible first response, I know, but I so struggle with the packrat gene. I must watchout before I become Kari's gma!

That booklet, though, is just plain wrong! I'm sure mothers everywhere are laughing hysterically at some male doctor's idea of babies sleeping peacefully for 22 hours a day and other nonsense. I'm not a mom, but I just know that can't be true!

Lee Ann said...

I have read this entry three times over the course of the last two days. I am obsessed with it. The strapping!

lightening said...

Oh my goodness...that is hilarious!!!! Especially your added commentary! :-)