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The Day Before Yesterday: 133 - All His Fingers And Toes

At the ager of 44 Gladys Schofield gives birth to another son.

To read earlier episodes of Gladys's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

I was not allowed to have this baby at home. They wanted me where they could keep an eye on me because of my age. I had just had my fortyfourth birthday. The only good thing about the frequent visits I had to have at the hospital was, this was only about three hundred yards from our house. I won't go into the last month of waiting, it's something I would rather forget. Only to say on the due date, I again got the slow niggly pains again, which continued.

Susan had a week off school to help me. We were into October again and I think she was secretly hoping there may be another birthday present, for her and Pauline. On Friday, the night of the full moon, Cliff took me down to the hospital as my pains were bad. I would be better in their hands and spent another sleepless night with no result.

This wasn't a hospital I would recommend, being just a small branch for maternity, in a very old building. Not so comfortable as the one I had my first baby in. Five of us were in labour at the same time and being a veteran, it wasn't often I got any attention. I found the ones who make the most noise were the ones attended too most but I was classed as a quiet one, so was expected to soldier on.

I found out they were busier than usual. The Sister blamed the full moon, saying there was always a rush of babies wanting to be born at this time. One of the patients was a girl in her teens. Someone had found her in a public toilet in labour. She had been rushed by ambulance and was now screaming her head off, on the bed opposite mine. She hadn't told anyone she was expecting.

Next to me was a lady nearly my age. Mary was forty and had two teenage daughters and was longing for this baby to be a much wanted son. She had not felt the baby for a few days and was now getting a lot of attention. A young lady at the other side was expecting her first baby, she was only eighteen and in great pain. As each one got closer to birth, they were moved into another room for delivery. It would be hard lines if two people needed this room at the same time, as only one bed was in there.

The screaming girl had gone from the ward and then I saw them take the eighteen year old. Now and again, coming to see how I was doing. The room was quieter now and Mary was taken next, it was afternoon. The family must be frantic wondering what was happening to me, just down the road, as no one had been allowed to visit this room. Only when we were moved to the big ward after delivery, were they allowed to visit. At last I saw the Midwife coming to me and gently said "I think it's time for you to be delivered now my dear". My child was exhausted as well as myself and she lost no time cutting me, to make the delivery quick.

This baby did not cry immediately and received a quick smack when he was held by his ankles above me. I had got a little boy, as he burst out crying, I asked "Is he alright?" "Of course he is, look, he has all his fingers and toes", saying that, she placed him into an incubator close by and he cried his little heart out. On seeing my concern she said "He will be fine, it's you who must have my attention first".

I don't know if it was because I was so tired or the injection I had just received to make the stitches bearable but when they wheeled me into the ward later, I could not focus properly. Everything in the room looked to be at an angle.

Cliff had come to see me as soon as he heard our son had arrived. They had been phoning off and on all day. My vision soon righted itself and I was surprised to see they had put Mary in the bed next to mine. She said her little son had been delivered still bom and had been dead one week. She said the eighteen year old had also lost her baby. She was too small for that kind of birth, her little girl had died of exhaustion trying to be born. I realised now why the Midwife was in so much of a hurry to get my baby into the world.

I felt awful each time the little dark skinned nurse brought our son to me at feed times. Mary could not take her eyes off him. It wasn't fair to place me next to her. We called him Andrew Mark, known as Mark. After the first hour of objecting to his treatment in this world, he never seemed to complain again in his life. His nurse adored him, she said all the others are demanding attention and Mark just stares around the room as if he sees things that we can't see. He was born on the twenty fourth of October.


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