It was Aug. 30, 1928, when mom was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, just a year prior to the start of the great depression. Finney Holler is the more exact location of her birth, although it is a little hard to determine exactly where Finney Holler is or was. Not too long after she was born her family moved down the road to Big Chimney; which does happen to be on the map.
I couldn’t find her birth record in any type of official archive either, but the national census for Kanawha County taken in 1930 does have mom listed as the year-old daughter of Robert (age 50) and Twila (age 38) Massey. It also gives an estimated birth year for mom of 1929; but that census was taken in May of 1930 before her second birthday. Mom told me she never received an official birth certificate until she was in her teens.
My reason for searching for her birth record is the story that has been handed down by all of her seven older sister’s; each one claiming that mom weighed slightly over a pound when she was born. Apparently she was kept alive in a small box with warm bricks - sort of an “old tymie” incubator.
Our family never questioned the story but it does raise some eyebrows. More on that in a moment.
Mom was given the name Mary Amelia Massey. The name Amelia was for Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean - and did so on June 18, 1928. So it would make sense that mom was born in 1928 and not 1929; otherwise her middle name might have been “Babe” or “Hoover.”
I checked the records for lowest birth weights in the U.S. and surprising enough, there are two babies on record with a birth-weight under 10 ounces. The two girls, identified as Madeline and Rumaisa, are healthy and thriving; although both are considered small for their age. The study that has been following the girls is documented in the journal Pediatrics.
Mom was born three months premature, or at roughly 26 weeks. Premature and/or low birth-weight babies can often develop health problems. Researchers from Loyola University Medical Center say a baby born at 23 weeks gestation has only a 10-20 percent chance of survival and an 80-90 percent chance of major health problems. But by 27 weeks a baby has a 90 percent chance of surviving and only a 5 percent chance of a debilitating handicap. What a difference a couple of weeks make. Mom was obviously one of the lucky ones.
With all the advancement in medicine and medical procedures, premature babies now have a much greater chance of living normal, healthy lives. Both Madeline and Rumaisa are perfect examples; although they both had extended stays in the hospital beyond 120 days after birth. No one is for sure just how long mom may have been in the hospital, but she has always been considered a “Miracle Baby.”
One thing I know is for sure…mom is my hero. After the deaths of all her sisters, my father and my sister, mom presses on. It would not be unusual to just give up on living after you lose special people in your life; mom chooses to do otherwise - and for that I say, Happy Birthday Mom! Keep pressing on.
Contact DeLong at 912-531-7867 or visit him on the web at www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com