The Birth of Elizabeth Suzanne Smith –August 23 –Baton Rouge, Louisiana

            We left Wheeling, West Virginia where I was a speech clinician with the Easter Seal Society when your mother was about 8 and 1/2 months pregnant driving in our 1954 un- air conditioned, green and white Chevrolet. We planned a stop in Newport, Arkansas where Joan, Joe and Anne were living. They had air conditioning which they ran very sparingly. After that we headed for Baton Rouge but encountered car trouble in some small lakeside town. We arrived in Baton Rouge and found our second floor apartment on Rittner Drive.

            On August 22nd we had a late night snack of chili and tamales. When your mother began to feel some discomfort, we were unsure whether it was the snack or labor pains. We decided that it was labor pains. She drove us to the Baptist Hospital. In those days I was not allowed to stay with her. She was very sick in the preparation room and threw up chili and tamales on everyone. The nurses were not happy.

            It was a very long night for me in the waiting room as father after father was called by the nurses. I heard when one new baby or mother or both did not make it. Early on August 23rd I started calling family and friends to let them know that Elizabeth Suzanne Carnell had arrived safe and healthy.  Pop and mama were overjoyed because you were the first granddaughter. Liz stayed in the hospital a couple of days. I wanted her to stay longer, but when the doctor asked her if she felt like going home she said, “Yes.”

            Joan had been scheduled to come help us, but Anne got sick and Joan could not come. In desperation I asked the visiting nurse to check on us. She did a couple of times and assured us that we were doing everything fine, except we were putting too many clothes and covers on the baby. “Let her sleep nude and uncovered.” She also felt that she would burp too if anyone patted her on the back the way I burped you.

            We had many wonderful friends on the staff at the Cerebral Palsy Center and everyone started visiting especially Sally Copperthwaite and June Smyth. The staff even gave me a surprise baby shower. You spent many happy days with “Miss Sally” and at the Smyths. We had a wonderful backyard on Rittner drive and you loved being outside in your mesh playpen.

            You and I took many walks around our neighborhood. At the big curve there was a fierce dog behind the fence named Beelzebub. When you learned to ride your tricycle, I often came home carrying both you and the tricycle.

            We arrived in Charleston two days before your fourth birthday.