Snapshots and Stories:
By: Elizabeth Brown Hays
RE: Birth of twins in the family
November 10, 1879
Today William and I were pleased to discover that I am again with child. I have given birth to six daughters and only one son (but our only son and one daughter died as infants) We are hoping for a son to help around the farm. William says that the winter will be a good time to pregnant--cool weather and snow will keep me indoors mostly. I know that the most uncomfortable times will be in May and June, when I am really showing. Hopefully the weather will not be too hot that early in the summer.
December 20, 1879
Christmas is fast approaching. We have cut our own tree and will soon be trimming it with candles and tinsel. William picked out a great tree, standing almost six feet tall. The smell of pine needles fills the house and is only challenged by my cooking. I am still not showing our child yet, but hope to very soon. The holidays are a joyous time around these parts, especially when one is with child. All the neighbors and townspeople know we are expecting. They know that this child will be a boy.
March 12, 1880
I am showing my child. My hips are growing in union with my stomach as my cravings increase. I mainly crave potatoes and roast duck (William says that I am lucky to have a few local ducks around on ponds for him to shoot. In the summer months they move too far north he tells me) We have a few chickens, but they are not as tender as duck.
April 9, 1880
The weather today is growing warm for the first time since fall. William says that planting the crops will need be done in the next few weeks. I will help as much as possible, but my growing stomach prevents me from doing much. The other children help with chores and cooking, but I stay active as much as I can. I do not want to be a burden as I was with Sarah, our first child. William and I did not know how much work I could do with a child in me, so I spent more time in bed than I should have. I know better now.
May 15, 1880
Dr. Kirby thinks that I may be giving birth to twins! William and I are very excited about having possibly two boys to help around the farm. We know that twins are difficult to birth, but with Gods help we will come out the better.
I have ceased walking to the barn or to the chicken shed for eggs and am very much confined to bed. My stomach is quite large and my back is very sore. The weight of these two children is too much for my little back to handle. William comforts me when he is not in the fields working. I have had to make several dresses just for this pregnancy, being that I am so much larger than with the previous seven. Hopefully these children will want out of me very soon. Hopefully they will be two very healthy boys who will grow big and strong like their father.
June 30, 1880
Labor pains have been tearing away my insides all day. Dr. Kirby says that this is normal with a birth like this, but I think that something should be done. Doc said he will stop by to see how I am doing. I wish these children out of my body. It will be nice to have two boys running around the house.
July 3, 1880
The pains went on for three days before the children finally wanted out of my body yesterday. I am dictating this entry via our oldest daughter Sarah since I do not have the energy to write. Labor was long and very hard with these two children. To our surprise, I gave birth to two daughters, one almost eight pounds, the other just under two. Why on earth would one child grow so big when the other just barely had time to develop. God help them. The first was painful, as always, but the second was almost unbearable, even though she was very small. I almost did not have enough energy to deliver her. I slept for almost 24 hours after giving birth.
July 6, 1880
This morning we were saddened by the death of the larger of the twins. We do not know what illness overcame her, and Dr. Kirby did not know either. Our hopes and prayers rest with a feeble little two-pound girl we have decided to name Hattie Jane. Jane was to be her sisters name, so we decided to let it be Hatties middle name in her honor. Her hands are very small and she does not eat well. May God bless this child. She will need all the help she can get throughout her life.
July 7, 1880
William was admiring our latest family addition with his daughters today. Hattie is so small that Williams wedding ring can fit not only over her fingers, but past her wrist and arm, stopping only at her shoulder. She looks so feeble and small, but she is now eating regularly and already beginning to grow. A boy would be nice, but this little girl is teaching us all the meaning of fight. She is a fighter and a survivor.
July 10, 1880
Hattie is still growing, but her small frame makes the family skeptical. William put a tea cup over her head and shoulders today, that is how small this child is. Dr. Kirby said we should not place too much hope in this childs future. Her size and the fact that her sister died unknowingly makes her chances of survival very small. Her dark hair is very fine and her eyes are bright. She smiles a lot, especially after she has eaten.
August 1, 1880
This child is so small that our clothing would not fit her. Normally we keep baby clothing for the next child, but Hattie is so small that Sarah and Nora had to make clothing especially for her.
September 10, 1880
Hattie is still growing and eating as well as ever. We had a little scare the other afternoon. Hattie was sleeping in our feather bed when I came in to get her for lunch. I was frantic when I could not find her in the large feather bed. When I did find her, I decided to pin her by her clothing to a large pillow so as not to lose her again. Hopefully this will keep her safe and enable us to find her when in bed.
January 1, 1881
Hattie is growing and becoming stronger every day. Dr. Kirby says that she is truly a miracle of God. William and I hope that she will be a normal, healthy child some day, and she is well on her way.
July 2, 1890
Hattie is helping cook and clean for her sisters, brother and father. You would never know that this strong, healthy child was only two pounds at birth, and that her twin sister of over eight pounds died just two days after birth. What a miracle, this Hattie June Hays.
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Master of Arts