A couple of years ago my parents gave me an invaluable gift for Christmas. It was a four inch thick binder of the history of my ancestors. A few weeks ago I decided to delve into the histories. I was caught off guard at the circumstances my ancestors went through. The stories I read were humbling and filled my heart with gratitude for the time period I live in.
As I flipped through the pages and read of their heartbreaks I had to choke back the tears from falling. These women stood out from the pages and I could feel their strength. One of the most innate desires of a woman is to have a child, and this desire was exemplified in these pages even after they experienced heartbreak after heartbreak.
I always felt a connection to my great-grandmother Ella Vida Cardon. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Jayda, I wanted to name her Ella Vida because of that connection I felt to her. My husband didn’t want to name her Ella Vida because he thought it sounded like the cheese, “Velvetta” so we compromised on giving Jayda the middle name Elle.
Ella dealt with infertility her entire life and was never able to get pregnant. Finally, when she was in her forties she was able to adopt a baby girl that she named, “Nettie”. Soon after, they adopted my grandpa who they named, “Kirk”.
It wasn’t until I dealt with secondary infertility that I was able to realize the connection I really had to her. Ella never wrote about her infertility because of how difficult it was for her. She came from a large family and it was devastating that she couldn’t have children of her own. When she was able to adopt later in her life it was her proudest accomplishment.
Ella Vida Cardon
While flipping through the pages another story in particular touched my heart. Royal Barney and Lily May Moosman were my great grandparents who came from very humble circumstances. In her history, she wrote, “While we were living with my parents, our little premature baby boy was born. He only lived an hour or so. He was like a little doll.”
After having two healthy children another tragedy occurred, “While we were living there, another baby boy was born. He was a beautiful baby with lots of dark curly hair. He was born the 10th of February, 1922, and died on the 16th of February. I do not know the cause of his death.”
She went on with her story of having another premature baby who did end up surviving, “Another baby named Clair was born the 1st of July, 1939. He was so weak I had Aunt Susan make a milk formula. I hadn’t been able to nurse Carla. Besides he was too weak to try. All during the night, I sat up in bed, crying and praying and every little while feeding him a few drops of milk formula from a teaspoon. As the night went on, he seemed to be a little stronger. In the morning, when Aunt Susan came, she said she didn’t think he would be alive by morning.”
Another one of her babies was born with the same genetic defect Jayda was born with, a bowel obstruction which needed to be operated on.
Lily May Moosman
Reading all of Lily and Ella’s struggles made me realize how incredibly grateful I am to live in a time where medical intervention is available to me. Without it I wouldn’t have Jayda and I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant with Haven and taken her home. I find it a miraculous coincidence that Haven’s middle name happens to be Mae which was named long before I read the story of Lily May Moosman.
So as to keep this article short I will stop there, but I can assure you the heartbreak I read fills the pages of my ancestor’s lives. So many stories of the loss of life, too early, has given me a deep gratitude to know what pillars of strength reside in my heritage. Sometimes it feels like we are so alone in our struggles, but chances are if you dig into your history you are not alone. The voices of the past call out to you that they understand.
I’m proud to have my children named after two heroines of mine. Two pillars of strength that called out to me through these pages to let me know I was not alone. I am among them and that is the most humbling part of it all.