Sara Josephine Baker is an amazing person. Clover is a happy and healthy human, in part because of the efforts Baker made towards children’s health.
Each generation has more and more knowledge to work with, and we are constantly making progress in health care of all sorts. One of the things that I had never pieced together was the administration of pain relievers during childbirth, and the stereotypical action of slapping a baby’s bottom to solicit a cry. It is because they were asleep! What a terrifying idea. Clover was crying immediately, despite having eir umbilical cord around eir neck, as well as eir arm (I suspect Clover was getting ready to give emself a high-five for being born).
We visited the hospital a couple of times when we were pregnant, due to illnesses and such. Susan had great care, and it was with a sense of wonder that I left there, thinking about how fortunate we are to live in this time, and this place.
In Baker’s time, there were as many as 1,500 babies dying, per week, in Hell’s Kitchen. And even those that survived had an unusually high chance of becoming blind due to malnutrition and other ailments. Baker’s famous saying was that a child born in America was more likely to die than a soldier serving in the Great War.
Extraordinary times create extraordinary people, and I feel blessed that Baker made the effort to enact changes in childcare. It makes my life so much easier and enjoyable!