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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 35 - A Time For Tears

…Mum was often beside me in the night as I cried. I knew the baby was lost… Gayle Woodward experiences the worst of all domestic nightmares.

When we lived in the flat in St Johns, we shopped in Glen Innes. There was a wonderful fish shop there where we often bought fish and chips or a rotisserie cooked chicken for our dinner.

One Sunday evening when the three of us had been out all day, we stopped there at the shop for takeaways on the way home. Woody dashed into the shop and asked for a chicken. The Dalmatian man behind the counter said offhandedly, “They’re all stuffed.” Woody misunderstood. “Oh, are they?” he asked. “Never mind, then”, and walked out without one.

Back at the car, he realised what the shopkeeper had meant, but would not go back and we had to go elsewhere that night. Next door to that shop was a furniture store. One Friday night we walked into the store, saw a bedroom suite that we liked and signed up for hire purchase to pay it off, on the spot. It was delivered the next week. Now we had two chests of drawers and a bed head with bedside tables attached. This was the first furniture that we had bought together and we were very proud of it. We should have known at the time that this is the way we always would buy furniture in the future. We would look around the shops for ages, not being able to choose and then at a certain time would walk in, see what we wanted and buy on the spot.

Just before Easter that year, 1972, Woody went off hunting into the Ureweras with Peter. I was at home with Jeff, feeling quite well, when I visited the toilet and noticed I had begun to bleed. I was worried and frightened. It got heavier and cramps started. I walked to the telephone box and called my parents. They came and collected us both and took us back to their house. I took myself to bed there, thinking that might stem the flow.

Jeff was excited to be back in Adda and Nana’s house where there was fruit to pick and eat in the garden. He was fed and bathed and put to bed. I slept fitfully, groaning through the night as cramps racked my body and huge clots of blood flooded the bed. Mum was often beside me in the night as I cried. I knew the baby was lost. She had me lying on towels and she kept the soaked padding, knowing she would have to show the doctor in the morning. When it came the blood flow had all but stopped.

The doctor came, looked at the towels and said I would have to go to National Women’s Hospital for a D and C operation. So Jeff stayed quite happily with his Nana while Dad took me to the hospital in Green Lane. It was 15th March 1972. I was admitted, feeling very sorry for myself and knowing that I could not get in touch with Woody who was in the deepest bush, hunting. As I lay in bed, I was visited by a consultant, who had an entourage following him around on his rounds. A great crowd of young men and a few women stood around my bed. “Was this self inflicted?” asked the consultant in a lofty voice.

“Absolutely not” I retorted. I was examined while the audience watched, feeling very vulnerable. “It’s an incomplete abortion”, the consultant decided. I hated that word. This baby was wanted, I thought. And turning to a nurse, he asked her to prepare me for theatre.

I was completely disgusted with the way I had been treated, there had been no sympathy shown and I was upset and hurting. I woke from the anaesthetic feeling very nauseous and vomiting often. I was so sad and depressed and wished that Woody was there with me.

Dad came to collect me and took me back to their house. Woody came home having shot a deer and feeling rather proud. He found that we were not at home and so came to Mum and Dad’s to find us. He was not very upset by the news of the miscarriage and merely said we’d try again soon. I wanted tenderness and sympathy. We all went back to our little house with Jeff most interested in the deer hanging on the clothesline.

We had to wait for three months until I had stopped bleeding before we could try again for another child. I got on with my life and coped, but the aborted baby has not been forgotten, ever.

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