It all starts when Sally and Irving Greenfield were awaiting the birth of their first child in early July of 1931. Well, I have always been a stubborn person with a desire to do things my way and, apparently, that trait was determined to show itself early. On May 18, 1931 Irv and Sally found themselves arriving at Chicago's Lying In Hospital. It was an old building, the new Lying In ground breaking had taken place in 1929 and it was not yet completed. So here we all were (although I didn't know it) meeting Dr. Henry Buxbaum, Sally's doctor, to find out what was going on. Well, there were a few problems. If you don't know what the placenta is you will have to ask your mom but my placenta was wanting to rush into the world before I did -- which was not the right order of things. Even the great obstetrician, Dr. Joseph DeLee was not too optimistic. He told my mom that she was very young and, if this didn't work out, she could have other babies. Not a very helpful fellow, eh?
I must admit that I have always loved the story of how Dr. Buxbaum stayed with my mom, wouldn't leave her alone to worry, and, low and behold, look what happened. Here I am!! There is more to the story however. Many of the Lying In facilities were being closed as the building would not be open much longer. Because I was so premature.. after all it is a long time between May 19th and early July... I had to be moved to Michael Reese Hospital because they had what was called a Preemie Station, a place where premature babies could be taken care of until they were large enough to go home. I was a little under 4 pounds when I was born. So mom, dad and I were separated for awhile. I in my small world at Michael Reese and my parents at home in their small apartment in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood.
Although the hospital provided formula for all the new babies many believed then as they do now that milk from one's mother was better for the baby. In those days they had, as they do but today they are much better, breast pumps so the mother could provide milk for the baby even if she was not right there. The important idea was that it was from the baby's mother. So every day before my father went to work, he would stop at Michael Reese hospital to bring my special milk from my mom just for me. After about a week of this my dad made an amazing discovery. All the milk brought in by all of the dads was put into a very large pot and shared among all the babies!! It is my understanding.. I don't remember it from that time... that that was the end of the milk deliveries. But things did get better. Still according to rumor (my memory got much better later) that was the end of special delivery time.
I believe I came home late in June and continued to grow and develop. But you should know some of the other interesting things that came out of this unusual birthday. One wonderful thing was that Michael Reese Hospital had a study on premature babies. So once a year, until I was 18, I had to go to the hospital to get weighed, measured and answer some questions. I don't know how the tradition started but I know I went every year with my grandfather, my mom's dad, and it has left me with wonderful memories of our special day. The second lucky thing that happened is that I was born in 1931. In 1932 a group of doctors decided that babies in incubators might not be getting enough oxygen so they made the incubators more air-tight. Fairly quickly they noticed that babies in these new incubators were losing their vision. The blindness was caused by too much oxygen and changes were made so that that problem would not continue. The third thing that resulted from our great affection and thanks to Dr. Buxbaum is that brought my brothers, Michael and Richard into the world --- at Michael Reese Hospital, of course. And years later he brought my three natural children, Caren, David and Matthew Rosenbloom into the world as well. While I don't remember the occasion I certainly heard the story many times over the years. I have always felt I was a pretty lucky person, right from the start.