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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Duprey

Lenore's Birth Story

Updated: May 30, 2023


When I became pregnant with my firstborn, I was only twenty years old, a sophomore in college. I had to make lifestyle changes. I lost “friends” at school. I eloped. My new husband left for air force basic training-- I shared the milestones of my pregnancy with him through letters, sending him a pink “It’s a Girl!” card after her anatomy scan along with pictures taken of my growing belly. He named our baby girl “Lenore” in his reply. I finished the semester knowing it would be my last. I came home to disappointed parents and was burdened by the weight of their shame, even though they tried their best to be supportive.

I made many visits to my husband’s Granny Fran and her longtime roommate, her cousin Ruth, where we chit-chatted about pleasant things and I had to finish a tall glass of whole milk before leaving. I spent a lonely summer living in my parent’s beach trailer, working the pool concession stand at the campground. I binge watched “16 and Pregnant” and read Ina May. I hand-stitched my first quilt. When my husband came home, I was eight months along and our baby was almost here.

The birth center where I chose to deliver was an old brick house atop a hill in the city of Wilmington. The top floor was for the laboring women-- two bedrooms, and a kitchen and couch for family members. It was cozy. Our entire family attended Lenore’s birth. My parents and 16 year old sister, my mother and father in-law, two teenage brother in-laws (yikes!), and Cousin Ruth and Granny Fran.

My memories of laboring and birthing Lenore are minute in detail-- There were cabbage roses printed on the bed linen and I wore my dad’s “7th Annual Elk River Buzzard Shoot” muscle shirt which I had rescued from the rag bin in the garage. I remember the rap of Ruth’s long manicured fingernails on the bathroom door as she inquired about my progress with the midwives. Granny Fran hazy in the pre-dawn, dozing in the rocker, chin tucked like a roosted hen. Katie, the midwife, brandishing the gleaming foot long crochet hook used to break my water. I remember falling asleep between contractions and waking up with a roar as another came on. Gripping the hands of my mom on my right, and my sister on my left, I had asked for a mirror, but pushed Lenore out with my eyes closed (my sister saw everything and was traumatized). My words were “I’ve never held a baby before!” when she was handed to me.

Lenore’s birth was victorious after a very emotional pregnancy. She brought our families together and Luis, Lenore, and I became a family ourselves.

mother playing with baby's toes

A dusty scan of Lenore and I taken in my childhood bedroom of my parent's home, Circa 2011.

Enjoy Reading Birth Stories?

You can read about my second birth HERE.


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