The other day, Babes and I were talking & we stumbled into a conversation where I realized my husband did not know much about my younger days growing up. He did not know the name of the High School I went too, the suburb I lived in, the primary school I went to and how old I was when I first flew on a plane? At first I was really annoyed, until I realized I was in a similar situation. In particular, something that really bothered me, was that I had no recollection of what happened on the day I was born. I mean, I am sure my parents had told me many times growing up but like I said I had no recollection. So, I asked my Mum to put it down on paper for me and this is what she wrote.
My Mother’s Birth Story.
On a sunny Saturday late winter morning, August 18th many many years ago at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Hospital (now the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) in East Melbourne Australia, I gave birth to my first precious Baby, a beautiful little girl who we named Elisabeth Claire Louise! I was 26 years of age, and she was the first of my husband and my four children.
It was not smooth sailing though – Unfortunately, I had missed my last obstetrics appointment and when I called to reschedule, his receptionist told me he would call me back but he never did call me back. When I had my daughter, because medicine wasn’t as advanced, Doctors did not really worry if you were somewhat over your due date, this is because it was hard for them to pinpoint an accurate delivery date based on each Mother’s memory of conception. However, after 14 days, I thought I had better call back again. This time, I was able to speak to my shocked Doctor who told me to present myself at the hospital the next morning for admission. I was going to be induced!
I remember spending that day at my Mother’s home, as I had most days during the later days of my pregnancy, it was just a short distance from where we lived and my husband would pick me up on his way home from work. They were wonderful, happy days with my Mum and Sisters. We would knit, talk baby talk, shop some days, drink Tea, talk to friends & neighbours that called in and just be together.
Driving home with my husband that night I had a feeling of such immense happiness and felt so special, as if I was the first woman to ever have a baby! Appropriately, there was a song playing on the car radio called “The world’s greatest Mum” by Johnny Chester. Listening to the words I hoped that I could be all these things to my new baby, I felt invincible! I was on such a high!
The next morning, I recall excitingly packing my baby’s clothes for the 10 day stay (yes back then, in Australia that is how long you stayed in the hospital after giving birth). I had 5 baby nightgowns, 5 singlets, and 2 baby wraps which were taken from me as soon as I arrived to be sterilized which was mandatory practice.
Thankfully, my Obstetrician was waiting for me and under his supervision my membrane was broken, with me being told that I should notice some sort of contractions soon. After all, I was 14 days overdue! However, hours went by with nothing happening so a drip was inserted to help get the process started. Many hours later, around 5PM, the contractions and the pain started. I will never forget the pain, although I was never frightened or upset even when it became almost unbearable. More hours passed, to no avail, until 10PM when my Doctor advised the nurses via phone, (from a party mind you), to turn off my drip so I could get some rest and start all over again the next morning.
Well, my daughter had other ideas! The contractions and pain continued right through the night. I have memories of my husband continually telling me to relax with the next contraction, and me wanting to slap him for telling me to constantly relax! He was only trying to help I know, but in that moment nothing was helping. My Mother continually called the hospital demanding that she should be allowed to visit me, with the hospital just as determined that she was not going to be allowed in. To explain, back then, only the husband was permitted in the labour room. Eventually, I had some peace, my husband went out to dinner with his best mate and my Mum eventually gave up and went to bed!
Early next morning considering the circumstances, a caesarean section surgery procedure was decided upon, and with my Doctor coordinating his team, I was rushed into surgery. I recall, the Anaesthetist running along side the trolley next to me…. then I fell peacefully to sleep.
Fast forward to me awakening in a dazed blur that is very hazy. I did hear my Doctor’s voice congratulating me on a beautiful baby girl. In those days we didn’t know the gender of our babies, until birth. Ultrasounds weren’t as clever as they are now, and you didn’t even have one unless there was a medical reason to do so. Everyone was beaming, with the pediatrician busily announcing that our little girl was perfect and healthy! A nurse held the baby up to show me before she was whisked away to the Special Care Nursery, as was the procedure then for all Caesarean births. I remember my husbands profound joy at the birth of his little girl and his family that lived close by coming in to see her, with my exhausted Mum and my Dad en route!
What an experience for my first child – 2+ weeks overdue, an emergency Caesarean section, a gruelling 17 hour labour, virtually no sleep for 24 hours, the effects of the anaesthesia, plus the pain relief in the labour ward. How do us Mothers do it. To say it was my Shining Moment was perhaps not so at that moment!
My memory of my daughter the next day is better, way clearer and beautiful. She had a thick mop of black hair, rose-pink cheeks, and bright blue eyes! I was so happy, my baby was born and I loved her so much! I had always wanted a little girl first! I was so thankful she had arrived and was healthy. I was fulfilling my dream from a very early age, to become a Mother, it is all I ever really wanted out of life and it has taken me on a wondrous and beautiful journey throughout my life!
**This Posting was written by my Mother, Cherie, from the small country town in Australia known as Bunyip, where she lives with my Father.