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The Day Before Yesterday: 48 – An Effective Air Raid Warning

...It was time to get up, as the noise of the alarm clock brought Cliff out of his slumber. I looked at him and said, "I don't think you should go to work today."

"Why ever not?" he said.

"I think our baby will be born today," I answered. He shot out of bed all fingers and thumbs, panicking to get into his clothes....

Gladys Schofield gives birth to her first child.

My baby was now due. It had passed the said date, the first of September. The weather was still lovely and mild and every day was like a week, as the time went by.

We were getting a few more air raids on the industrial towns, and although the planes were heard, their low droning sound filling the night sky, no bombs had been dropped near us. But the wail of the air raid warning would waken everyone, and we would lie there just listening until the all clear sounded to say all was well. The little Spitfires would scurry across the sky weaving in and out of the enemy bombers. The Germans were no match for this little fighter.

One night the warning went as usual, and as it died away, a pain rolled around my tummy. I looked at the clock. It was one-thirty in the morning of the eleventh of September. I didn't disturb Cliff and lay quietly for an hour or two, as I knew this was what I had been waiting for and it was early stages yet. About every fifteen minutes the small pains would creep around from back to front, as regular as clockwork. I began to think, ‘This is nothing. What's all the fuss about?’ We had no anti-natal clinics and were not instructed much before hand, only told that when the pains get bad we should start to make a move.

It was time to get up, as the noise of the alarm clock brought Cliff out of his slumber. I looked at him and said, "I don't think you should go to work today."

"Why ever not?" he said.

"I think our baby will be born today," I answered. He shot out of bed all fingers and thumbs, panicking to get into his clothes.

"It's alright," I said, as I did the same. "It could take hours yet.”

At this he slowed a little and said, "How long have you had pains?"

"Since the air raid warning went," I replied, hanging onto the bed end as a stronger pain gripped my inside and I realised this was not going to be child's play after all.

After breakfast my pains got a more urgent rhythm and Cliff thought it best to inform the hospital of my progress and high-tailed it to the nearest phone box. On returning he said, "We have to go at once, as it is a first baby and overdue, and your bed has waited long enough."

I wasn't looking forward to the next part of the procedure and would have preferred to delay longer, but the taxi was at the door and I was ushered into it without more adieu.

I found I had still a while to go after I got there, and the sight of the nurses must have frightened my pains away, as they suddenly stopped and I told them so.

"Don't worry," said a nurse smiling at my youthfulness, "we will soon bring them back. It's a good job sometimes we have air raid warnings, or your baby would never be born." And with that she tucked me up in bed and brought me a warm drink.

Husbands were not allowed to stay with wives at the birth, and mine would not have dared to anyway. You would have wondered which one was having the baby. He was sent home and told to phone at six pm, and knowing I was in safe hands he did just that.

After a few hours of debating the procedure, my baby decided being born might not be so bad after all and intended to cause me as much pain as possible. I was in the last stages of birth when a nurse popped her head around the door asking, "Has Mrs Schofield given birth?"

"No, no" someone said "not just yet. Tell her husband to phone in an hour." Alan was born just on six pm. If Cliff had phoned as he should, he would have known one hour earlier. His call came at five minutes to.

He was so excited it was a boy that he hopped on his bike and went to tell Mum the good news and clean forgot to visit me. So my first night was a lonely one, but my baby was here at last.

He was very wrinkled at first. His forehead and nose seemed pushed together. He must have had a job to get through my small body and weighed one ounce off seven pounds, which they assured me was very good. He had a fair skin, and his hair was dark at first but soon changed to blond.

The next evening Cliff was at my bedside as soon as the bell went for visitors with a lovely bunch of flowers. He stared at his little son and said, "Doesn't he look ugly?"

I looked at the crease across the top of my baby's nose and saw it was not as deep as the day before, so was thankful he hadn't seen him yesterday. Within a few days he had smoothed out, and I could see he was going to be a lovely boy.


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