Shirley Anderson


This interview with Shirley Anderson was conducted over the telephone. Shirley had called me to cancel our interview because she felt that she didn’t have anything interesting to say. An hour later, after sharing numerous interesting experiences, Shirley agreed to allow me to publish her story. – Mary Stelter

How many children do you have?

Well, I have four kids.

What do you remember about their births?

David was born in Centinella Hospital on Oct 4, 1961. Then Raymond was born in 1963, and the food was good! I didn’t want to leave. Then Patty was born 4 years later at Centinella in the same room as David had been born in, same table and everything. And those dog-on nurses made me wait outside! All the rooms were occupied and they had to clear someone out before they could put me in. I remember it was early in the morning. My water broke at home, and the (405) freeway was new then. Nobody was on the road, so Tom went like heck to get me to the hospital.

Dr. McBride caught David and he’s the one who took my tonsils out. He was a GP (General Practitioner), and he was still learning so he cut too much and I had a bad time healing. Anyway after he caught David, he came and sat by the bed and talked with me while he was filling out papers. I liked him.

Now Cheryl was born much later in Torrance on Thanksgiving day in 1975. Tom was there for Cheryl’s birth, he hadn’t been with any of the others. But it really bothered him to see the pains, so he went to the fathers room. Well she was coming quick and I was having pains on the gurney in the hallway, so I yelled for someone down the hall and said, “the baby’s coming!” They put me in the first room they could find and it was full of incubators. They were good people. And Tom was a whole lot more appreciative of what women do after that!

Well I missed Thanksgiving dinner that day and I was disappointed because my mother was cooking for all of the family and she was a good cook. Anyway, I  was happy to eat leftovers. I had Cheryl at 42 and thought maybe we’d have one more, but at 3 months I changed my mind. I hated to let her be an only child, because I’m an only child and it was lonely. And she was practically an only child because Raymond, David and Patty were all so much older. But we decided to have her play with the neighbors.  I always wanted a brother, but now I want a sister.

Was anyone with you during the births?

No, I was alone for David and Raymond’s births. David’s head was back, but after a few hours the doctor turned his head with some kind of tool and then he was born quickly. David was a kicker when he was in me. Not the others, but David was fast and loved speed. He still loves to drive fast and when he takes me places now I keep telling him to slow down but he doesn’t. My worst one was Raymond. He wanted to go school with David and would cry when he didn’t get to go to school.

What was the biggest difference in your experience between your first and your last baby?

The biggest difference between the births in the 60s and the 70s was that they didn’t pay too much attention to me at first, but they were nicer in the 70s. And they had the monitor thing with Cheryl, but they didn’t let me see it. But it tired me out to have the monitor. With the first three they didn’t do any of that pushing on my stomach after the birth. But with Cheryl they did and I didn’t want them to, I just wanted to sleep. And I didn’t have to share a room later. I liked having a private room. After David was born, I shared a room with another gal who chewed ice all through her labor and was so proud of herself just chewing ice all night long, well it kept me awake!