Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1942
What was in that blue notebook about pregnancy my father wanted so badly? Since it has not survived – and maybe was never sent — I don’t know. Anyway, why would my father, a physician who had delivered babies, need any kind of guidance?
For starters, how did a woman even know she was pregnant? Early in the first trimester, the signs would be anecdotal: a missed period or nausea or vomiting. The instant tests on the shelves in today’s drugstores? No such thing was available.
So, assuming my mother actually was pregnant, let’s consider how she would confirm that fact. We’re talking now about mice, frogs, and rabbits, specifically female mice, frogs, and rabbits – the animals used in the first effectively scientific tests for pregnancy.
Beginning in 1927, the Aschheim-Zondek Test injected the urine of a woman assumed to be pregnant into a female mouse. If the woman really was pregnant, a hormone in her urine, hGC or human chorionic gonadotropin, prompted changes in the ovaries of the test animal. If the woman wasn’t pregnant, the animal did not respond. Beginning in 1931, an improved version, the Friedman Test named for its developer Maurice Harold Friedman, used rabbits. Contrary to popular belief, the rabbit did not die. (Note: today’s pregnancy tests do not use animals.)
A lot of women never bothered with tests. Sooner or later, they would start to “show.” Then what? What kind of advice would they get from doctors, family members, friends, and from Old Wives’ Tales? That’s for tomorrow.
No letters today.