Closing ThoughtsShaindle's Shpiel


I never would have expected to spend my last two months of pregnancy at Pineville Hospital.

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

I was a very calm, content and surefooted pregnant lady.
I was a very calm, content and surefooted pregnant lady.

Pineville. Pineville. Pineville. No matter how many times you say it, Pineville, it always sounds like a normal, everyday word.

Not so much folks!

I discovered at an early age: Keep your mind, heart and eyes open; surprises need places to land, and they might as well land with me.

I do love surprises.

When I was three, my surprise was my sister Maggie.

When I was five, my surprise was kindergarten.

When I was eight, my surprise was my sister Joycie.

At 15, I experienced my first surprise birthday party.  Now that’s a story I’ll tell one day.

I do love surprises.

When I became pregnant with my first baby, although this was not the surprise, I never would have expected to spend my last two months of pregnancy at Pineville Hospital – for the mentally impaired.

That was a surprise to upend all surprises.

Gene, my husband at the time, (well actually, he is still my husband) and I were students at Louisiana State University. A requirement of Gene’s Ph.D. candidacy was to complete a rotation at a mental health facility.

We thought leaving the city for a few months would be fun, and Gene applied to Pineville.


We packed and locked up our married student housing apartment, and journeyed from the big city of Baton Rouge to the tiny town of Pineville, La., where a good portion of the residents either worked at or were residents of Pineville Hospital.

We had the cutest little, truly little, apartment and garden.  While Gene was making rounds, I spent my time reading, studying, tending the garden, and readying myself for becoming a mommy.

I also spent time sunning in my yellow, brown-flowered, two-piece pregnancy bathing suit. OMG, what a sight!

I was a very calm, content and surefooted pregnant lady.  Given I am a bit of a Pollyanna living in the land of denial, my mantra went something like this: What!? Me worry?!  I was more worried about gaining and then losing weight than I was of the delivering-a- baby experience.

Until one Wednesday morning.

I awoke, feeling fine and dandy. Gene had gone to the hospital and would be gone all day. My only job was relaxing. Poor me, right?


Until that fateful Wednesday in August, just weeks before my title and life as I knew it would forever change, I was feeling heavenly blessed. Easy pregnancy, a lunatic OB/GYN who was so convinced I was having a boy – he painted the boy sign on my tummy – and of utmost importance to me, I did not gain much weight. I was feeling groovy.

The two words above, “feeling groovy,” is not your invitation to sing, so stop before someone calls the white-coated ‘nurses’ of Pineville.

So, picture the scene: It’s over 90 degrees, 100 percent humidity and there I am a, big-bellied and innocent to the ways of the crazies, lounging on a lounger (where else?) reading some paperback, not studying, sunning myself, when I suddenly felt a great need to look up.

I could not believe what I was seeing. Perhaps the sun was playing games?


I saw five or six “residents” walking a good distance behind one another, in a very relaxed marching formation, holding their open umbrellas very high, purses hanging in the crook of the elbow fold, both men and women, talking out loud to some spirit or other, in a very animated conversation.  A couple were singing what I could only hope were hymns.

As they drew closer, I decided I must be delusional. Thank goodness I was at Pineville, just in case!

Picture the scene: Not another human in sight. A giant of a hospital looming in the background. Just a pregnant me lounging in my lounge chair, squinting in disbelief, slowly being encircled by the Pineville walking umbrella brigade.

Are they thinking I’m from another planet?

I could not smile, or laugh, or even gasp. I was mummified. Under my sunglasses, I discreetly followed them with my eyes, pretending to be reading, as if I were witnessing a typical walkabout around a human round-a-bout.


They were polite, gracious, wishing me luck with my baby, smiling, nodding hello.

I, on the other hand, became terrified that being in such close proximity to craziness could transfer in utero.

No worries. I was safe. My baby, who made me a mommy, and her mommy, lived happily ever after.

I love surprises, and will forever remember Pine-ville with fondness. I wonder if the hospital still exists?

I’ll check and get back to you.

read more: