Bertha Moses

Bertha Moses,
Transcript Section 10

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MARLA:  When did you deliver your first child, kind of getting back to your health aide time? 

BERTHA:  When -- 1950 -- 1953, in the wintertime.  The nurse, old nurse, the RN, was still here at the Mission, Miss Amelia Hill.  And it was cold at night, lots of Northern Lights out.  Really cold and lots of Northern Lights. 

And my sister went into labor over in Alatna.  And my baby was not even a year old then, too.  But my husband who happened to be home and that was good, so I dressed up with my warm clothes. 

You should see me, my -- my long fur boots was almost to my -- way above my knees.  And my thick caribou skin parka was down, and my mittens was rabbit skin lined, and my caribou leg boots with fur liners inside.  And I dressed up like that and put scarf on and start walking.

And I walk and my brother told us, my sister wanted me, so I know what's going on. 

So I walk across and I took my parka off and I -- I didn't get around to prepare much yet and the nurse hadn't arrived yet, and the baby was coming, so -- so I got the baby.  And he didn't breathe right away.  And I thought, and I turned him over and rubbed his back and he cried right away. 

And I felt really good.  And I was still working on the baby and tied the cord and everything and waited for the afterbirth, and then the RN nurse come in.  I was 22 years old. 

MARLA:  Wow.  I have to flip the tape.  Just a --

(Tape turned over.) 

So you were 22 years old when you delivered your first baby?

BERTHA:  Yeah.  Yeah.  But I see people when I was younger, when I was 20 years old, I was assistant to the nurse delivering baby.

MARLA:  And is that because you wanted to be an assistant? 

BERTHA:  They asked me to come. 

MARLA:  Oh. 

BERTHA:  I don't want to.  I don't want to be the one every time my younger sister go in labor, they usually -- her mother-in-law send for me.  And I just scared while I was young to, but that was -- that really helped me. 

MARLA:  Yeah. 

BERTHA:  And one time my niece was going into labor across there, and I was -- I went in and the baby will be born pretty soon. 

We had these pack -- this is -- there's plastic dish pan inside and there's everything sterile pack, give-away pack, all paper, you can throw it away.
And we had the big -- the waterproof and rubber seat, the old style kind I found at the Mission.  We have to wash it after. 

So put that on over their bed, and put all this paper stuff and their feet and legs, and over there, over their stomach.  And then scrub our hands for -- brush our hands for five minutes with soapy water and brush.  Then put our sterile gloves on. 

And my assistant was helping me put everything on, I'm ready to get the baby.  But I didn't deliver too many because I always make sure I sent them to Tanana or Fairbanks. 

MARLA:  When it was almost time? 

BERTHA:  Uh-hum (affirmative).