Sunny days around now remind me of when Jane was born 50 years ago today. We had a heatwave that year all Summer long, and my was it hot. It carried on right into October so I was as brown as a berry when I went into the Sheffield Hospital for Women, aka Jessops.
I was white when I came out, with a tuft of snow white hair in my fringe. It was the worst hospital I’ve ever been in, and as I was rushed in as an emergency with blue lights flashing, the fun got worse from thereon.
50 Years Ago Today
The staff were dreadful and treated us like prisoners and small children, and patients were quite honestly bullied. As some of you may know, I nearly lost my life thanks to a certain nurse who insisted I was delivering naturally, when Jane was well and truly stuck. A consultant came in and said I should immediately have a caesarean to which the ‘woman’ refused, spitting out ‘she’ll deliver’.
I was just about out of it by then, although I can remember a sea of students faces as they gathered round me, as apparently it was such an unusual case. Everything went wrong that could go wrong and Jane was finally dragged out of my body with a high forceps delivery, and I mean dragged. I won’t bore you with the details but it was horrific. Jane was silent and through my stupor I was aware of them rushing her to a machine and working on her to get her breathing, taking what seemed an eternity. But eventually she did, giving a little squeal, followed by someone telling me it was a girl, which was what I wanted. A silent tear slid down my face as I had what I really wanted, a daughter.
PTSD and the Dark Ages
I won’t go on about all the details, but I suffered for many years with what I now know was post traumatic stress disorder and post natal depression. As nothing ever did get done for new mums in those days, I and my family suffered for many, many years. I often woke in the night, yelling and re-living the whole thing. I suffered ill health from then on, and was never really the same again.
It never left me, sadly, but for the younger ones I must explain what antenatal care was like in those days.
For a start there were no machines to monitor the baby. No scans, no way of saying what sex your baby was, absolutely nothing. I was never even weighed. The only way they could hear the baby’s heartbeat was to put an ear trumpet to your stomach and then bend right over and listen to it through that. Talk about the dark ages. When I see what they have today, and the safeguards they have, it makes me wonder how Jane wasn’t born either dead or brain damaged. The delivery was so long and bad. Don’t forget this was a country wide women’s hospital, not just a cottage hospital.
The whole thing was awful. When I had cancer, many years later, I always said that having a baby was far, far worse.
My Little Spatchcock Chicken
Anyway, we got on with all the things new parents have to do. There were many hospital visits for her dislocated hips and a swelling in her neck which was a sternomastoid tumour (a kind of torticollis) that had to be treated. I often thought that it was no surprise she had these problems, as she was dragged out like you see farmers delivering lambs that aren’t breathing. That’s what happened to me, except they didn’t swing her backwards and forwards to start her heart.
(Jane: I’ve just googled this neck thingy and apparently it is often caused by traumatic forceps delivery. Most often in the right side of the neck, I wonder if that’s why I’ve always got such a bad neck? Any doctors reading this please let me know!)
However, we were blessed with a beautiful daughter, inside and out, and I couldn’t have wished for better. She is thoughtful, kind, hard working, loyal and honest which are just a few of her attributes. I’m proud to see the woman she’s made today.
I’d like to hope I’m around for the next 50 years to see that birthday, although I’m sure Jane would faint at the thought of it (and so would I, I’d be 124!) But anyway, all’s well that ends well, so we are looking forward to today when we celebrate with our friends.
I think before then they ought to find a massive roll of cotton wool to wrap me in, as for the goodness knows how many times, I went flying through the air as I tripped on the step as I was coming inside.
Talk about going with a bang, that was me. Hubby and Kevin came to see what I was doing, as I laid sprawled out on the steps. They are all used to me going flying as I often have falls. Heaven help me when I am older, but arthritic knees and everything else, and I am so prone to doing daft things.
I’ve scraped my hand, leg, arm and everything else with a nice blood blister on my big toe. I think they are despairing of me as I’m always in the wars, but up I got and carried on. I had a nice cup of tea first, the cure-all for all ills, as my body had a good old jolt and I wanted a sit down to compose myself. The trouble is, I landed on my worst knee and now it’s doing a good impression of throbbing. I’d better behave today or I will be in the bad books if I’m not at her birthday bash. Heaven help me, that’s all I can say!
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