In May of 1955, Mrs. Pauline Mason of Granite City, Illinois made headlines around the world when she gave birth to a 40-pound baby girl. Mrs. Mason, who was just 5-feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds herself, was the first recorded instance of a woman giving birth to a baby of such a large size.
The birth was so big news that it was even featured on the front page of The New York Times. Mrs. Mason and her husband, who was a steelworker, were deluged with requests for interviews and appearance requests. But the Masons were a private couple and declined all requests, choosing instead to raise their baby girl, Joyce, in peace and quiet.
It’s unclear exactly how Mrs. Mason ended up having such a large baby. It’s possible that she may have had a condition called gestational diabetes, which can cause babies to grow very large in the womb. Alternatively, it’s possible that Joyce was simply a very large baby from birth.
What is certain is that Joyce was a healthy baby, despite her large size. She weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds at just six weeks old, and was already wearing clothes meant for two-year-olds. By the time she was a year old, Joyce weighed 40 pounds and was the size of a small child.
The Masons did their best to care for their daughter, but as she continued to grow, it became increasingly difficult. Joyce was too big to fit in a regular crib, so she slept in a dresser drawer lined with blankets. She also had to be fed through a tube because she was too big to fit in a high chair.
As Joyce continued to grow, so did the attention from the outside world. The Masons were constantly hounded by reporters and curiosity-seekers, and they eventually decided to move to a remote farm in an effort to escape the spotlight.
Even on the farm, Joyce was a curiosity. She was too big to ride a regular bike, so her father built her a special one with extra-large wheels. When she started school, Joyce had to be taught in a separate room because she couldn’t fit in a regular desk.
Despite all the challenges, Joyce was a happy and healthy child. She loved to play outside, and was especially fond of animals. When she was 10 years old, she suffered a minor stroke, but recovered quickly and continued to live a normal life.
As Joyce entered adolescence, her size began to cause problems. She was too big to wear regular clothes, and had to have all of her clothes custom-made. She also began to experience health problems, including high blood pressure and joint pain.
In an effort to help her daughter, Mrs. Mason contacted a doctor in Los Angeles who was studying a condition called gigantism. The doctor, Dr. Robert Young, was intrigued by Joyce and agreed to see her.
Dr. Young determined that Joyce was suffering from a rare condition known as “pituitary gigantism.” This condition is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, which regulates growth. The tumor was causing Joyce’s body to produce too much growth hormone, resulting in her abnormal size.
Dr. Young recommended that Joyce have surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was successful, and Joyce’s growth finally began to slow. At the age of 18, she was just under 7-feet tall and weighed 350 pounds.
While Joyce’s size did finally begin to stabilize, she continued to experience health problems. She suffered from osteoarthritis, and had to use a wheelchair to get around. She also had difficulty finding clothes that fit, and had to have most of her clothes custom-made.
Despite all of the challenges, Joyce lived a full and happy life. She married her high school sweetheart, and the two had two children of their own. She also enjoyed spending time with her six grandchildren.
Joyce passed away in 2009 at the age of 54. Her incredible story continues to fascinate people around the world, and she will always be remembered as the woman who gave birth to a 40-pound baby.