Mom didn’t know she was pregnant: See the first big news story about a surprise baby (1915)

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Surprise baby is puzzling doctors – Mother had no idea baby was coming until doctor brought her into the world

Father surprised – Doctor called to aid “stomachache” says it’s the strangest case in the world

First big story about a surprise baby (1915)

No cradle – no bed – no bottle – no layette of any kind – not a stitch to wear for infant who tumbled, unheraleded, into the world!

By Lilian Bell, Special to the Press

Marjorie Virginia Jackson, Chicago’s wonderful baby

Born — To Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Jackson, 1516 E. Sixty-second St. — Girl.

Chicago, Ill., March 6. — A few hours before the above birth notice appeared in the Chicago papers, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Jackson had an idea that it would appear or that there would be any occasion for it to appear!

But appear it did.

And gray-bearded medical men are still engaged in untangling one of the most difficult gynecological knots ever tied for them!

The “surprise baby” lies close to its mother’s breast in a cozy apartment on the Southside, her big, blue eyes returning the wondering stares of curious visitors.

Baby Jackson gave no warning of her arrival in the world — that a baby was on its way to her home was the farthest from Mrs. Jackson’s thoughts.

So unexpected expected was it that Mrs. Jackson had not prepared a stitch of clothing for a little one — hadn’t thought of any baby clothes, baby basket or baby cradle!

There were no signs. In fact, the family physician. Dr. Arthur F. Wolford, brought his “hot-water bag,” as suggested by Mr. Jackson over the phone.

When Dr. Wolford informed Mrs. Jackson that she was about to become a mother, she ridiculed the idea. The father refused to believe What he termed impossible. Only at the first muffled cry of the little one did Jackson believe the doctor! And now baby Jackson is here-alive and well.

And take it from the doctor, Chicago’s “surprise baby” is SOME INFANT!

Latest reports indicate that the baby and mother are “doing fine.”

Baby Jackson gazes upon the world

which she was precipitated so suddenly with mild astonishment. Curious callers — mothers, young and old — phone for information and call to see Chicago’s most famous infant.

Now and then from under the coverlets comes a muffled cry which attests to her vitality.

“Ridiculous!” cried thousands of women when this amazing birth was affirmed in all its curious details by the physician.

The case is now under close study by Chicago physicians and it is expected that prominent gynecologists will pay a great deal of attention to the case.

Apparently, there is no record of a similar birth in medical annals.

The mother’s story is told by Lilian Bell, famous author, as follows:

Doctors puzzled by mother and her surprise baby

Nobody need ever tell me that there is nothing new under the sun.

From now on, I shall always be looking for something as easy to hear and as hard to understand as this “surprise baby,” but I know I shall never find it.

Of course, at first, nobody believed it, and the doctor, who was advised over the telephone to “come and bring a hot water bag to relieve stomachache,” was interviewed until his life became a burden!

A prosecuting attorney from a distant state, who is trying a case under the Mann White Slave act, has written. begging for an affidavit, as the victim of his case is making the same claim. and the attorney did not believe it possible until this story appeared.

Mom didn't know she was pregnant Surprise baby (1915)

Doctors skeptical of birth of surprise baby

Doctors were skeptical. Women who were mothers of babies made pointed and pungent remarks. Men who were husbands of aforesaid women who were mothers of babies searched their memories for all the symptoms they could recall.

Plainly, everybody else in the world could tell, except just these two, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.

The baby’s name is Marjorie, for by rights, she ought to be mashed to a jelly, as her mother, not realizing her condition, admits to having laced herself cruelly.

But of all the pretty, bright, strong, well-formed babies I ever saw, Marjorie Virginia is easily a candidate for the blue ribbon.

Mr. Jackson sat by the bed, the nurse leaned on the foot of it.

I want to hold the baby,” I announced.

I took off my fur coat and gloves and the nurse put the baby in my arms.

“Did you want a baby?” I asked as a starter.

The mother shook her head.

Marjorie Virginia reared her strong little body. I felt the muscles in her back. She waved her ridiculously small hands — no larger than a wax doll’s.

“Has she any clothes?” I asked.

“Yes, a few — the nurse got her some and he rushed out and bought stockings and a nightgown!”

“Maybe you think that was not my one busy hour!” said the newly-made father, a trifle indignantly.

“I can easily believe it!” I answered.

“Not a stitch of anything in the house!” added the nurse.

“Why didn’t you think to name her ‘September Morn?” I asked. “That young lady arrived also without excess luggage!”

“One thing is certain,” said the mother, “she sure was ‘September Morn!'”

ALSO SEE: ‘Twilight Sleep’ seemed like a childbirth miracle in 1915! Here’s a look back at views from that time

Had no sign

“But I can’t see why you didn’t have some reason to suspect that she was on the way!” I insisted.

“Everything I eat goes to fat,” Mrs. Jackson remarked. “My shape changes all the time. I never can keep.any clothes. I outgrow them-they get too small for me.

“I am only five foot five, and I vary between 180 and 200. Why, two days before she was born I went down and fitted myself to a stronger corset and bought a spring suit. I wouldn’t have done that it I had known, would I?”

I shook my head, and the baby turned her head and looked at me, making a critical inventory of my features.

“But didn’t you feel bad any of the time?”

“Yes, she did!” interrupted her husband. “She used to say, ‘I feel awful bad-I feel so queer,’ but I just thought it was nervousness and I gave her quinine!”

“Did the quinine cure it?” I asked. The mother looked at the baby.

“Not permanently,” she said, innocently. “It just helped a little.” “Did you go to dances right up to the last?” I asked.

“I did everything up to the last. I didn’t know there was any last.” She did not say this pettishly. She just said it.

“Well, from being two perfectly innocent and unsuspecting persons, I suppose from now on you will suspect everything,” I suggested.

A joyful surprise baby

“She’s always been afraid. She was brought up to be afraid. All her girl friends had bad luck — they either died or the babies died.

“I wonder,” I said, “if it was because you didn’t have time to be afraid that you had such a wonderfully easy time and the baby is so splendid?”

“I wouldn’t be a bit surprised,” she answered.

“By rights…” I began.

“By rights,” she said, taking the words out of my mouth, “the baby ought to be crippled, for the way I did lace! But look at her! The doctor says she is as fine a specimen as he ever saw.

“She weighed eight and a half pounds. She hardly ever cries. She sleeps exactly right. And you say yourself she is bright for a ten-day-old baby!

“Now, if I had been afraid all that time. there’s no telling what she would have turned out, and maybe she Wouldn’t have turned out at all. Maybe we’d both have been dead!”

“Well, they say that fear-,” I began.

“That does most of everything.” she declared. “I didn’t have a doctor fussing over me every minute and telling me what not to eat and how much to exercise and not to do this and to be careful of that.

“Nobody made any tests on me. I didn’t have any care. I just plain didn’t know and it turned out all right. Maybe if other women didn’t know…”

“But they always do!” I cried. “It is one chance in a million, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t come and talked to you. Nobody is going to believe me when I write about it. They know I am a fiction writer, and they will think I am still at it.”

Baby pram-carriage with a cover in the rain (1913)
Model with a baby pram-carriage with a cover in the rain (1913) – More: See how different antique baby carriages & old-fashioned strollers used to be

Famous surprise baby is getting along fine!

Mrs Gibson calls on little one who so startled her family by coming

by Idah McGlone Gibson

Chicago — March 27 [1915] — “There, isn’t she a beauty, my surprise baby?” said Mrs Virginia Jackson, who five weeks ago startled her family, the doctor and the reading world by giving birth to a child with no knowledge that she was going to become a mother.

“She is just the sweetest baby in all the world,” she continued, as she put the surprise baby in my arms.

“And you love her just as well as another other mother loves a child?” I asked. “She doesn’t seem like a foundling that came to you as a sort of prize package in which you drew the capital prize?”

“I know what you’re thinking about,” she said. “It is that old tradition that the reason a mother loves a child more than the father is because of the long weary months before its birth when half-sick, she still works, plans and fears.

“No mother ever loved her child more than I do my darling surprise baby who was so considerate of me that she did not worry me with thinking and wondering about her until she just was in my arms.

“Why, if all women could have the long fearsome months of gestation eliminated and were able to bear children while in twilight sleep, there certainly would be no trouble in raiding those large families that Col Roosevelt talks about.”

Mrs Jackson is doing perfectly well; is taking care of baby and doing her own work.
And that surprise baby is a wonder! Its blue eyes and queer little smiling mouth seem to be forever saying in real Americanese, “Well, I just put one over on dad and mother this time.”

Scientific view of remarkable case

by Arthur F Wolford, MD, attending physician

There are three cardinal points that make the circumstances of this birth unique in medical history: First, a variant in the mother’s physical construction which does not impair her physical vigor, but accounts for the absence of certain signs.

Second, the child was carried on the right side instead of in the “median line.” This accounts, to some extent, for the fact that the mother’s appearance did not change. The mother was never conscious of the presence of life until an hour before the child was born.

My theory in regard to this case is that the nerves were under-sensitive. Now if we could discover exactly how the nerves were affected, or rather how they escaped feeling the effects of childbearing, we might be able to perform an operation that would relieve mothers of much of the strain and agony.

I shall present my observations of the case to the American Medical Association so that it may receive the attention of medical men generally.

ALSO SEE: From baby to child: Vintage baby pictures of an adorable little girl growing up from 1915 to 1919

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