Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy Birthday me. Whenever I tell people that Keryn and I have different birthdays they all assume that we must have been born around midnight, and about ten minutes apart. But Keryn was born at ten on Tuesday morning and I was born 36 hours later at ten on Wednesday night.
Keryn told the full story yesterday on her blog.

I think it's a wonder my Mum and I survived at all, and marvel at the procedures these days that would make the delay unnecessary.

While we were all recovering from that traumatic experience another woman in the ward gave birth to a baby who unfortunately lived for only a few minutes. The woman was put in a room nearby and her sobbing eventually got to Mum, still shocked from her own experience.

"It’s not fair” she told the nurse, I have two babies and she has none. Give her one of my mine.” Today no-one could conceive of such an action in case the mother became deluded and fixated on the baby, but they were much simpler days. So dear kind Sister Lewis, who had worked so hard to save my life, gave me to the woman to hold, trying to ease her pain. She cuddled me for hours afterwards, and I like to think it was some sort of comfort.

Years later, when I was a mother myself, I suddenly thought What if that woman had been holding me and thinking “Why did YOU live and my baby died?” When I voiced this to Mum she scoffed at such a notion. “If she’d been thinking that then why did she call her first daughter Meredith?” So I had been a great comfort after all.

Mum also used to like telling us that when we came home from hospital (we were both around 5 pounds) Dad took one of us into the nursery to change a nappy. After a while there was a cry of "Help!! I’ve lost the baby!" The nappies were so big and cumbersome for us that they were all cut in half, and he fared much better after that.

I've always loved that story because those were the days when a father usually didn't bother to involve himself with things like changing nappies, in fact it would have been greeted with absolute horror by all of my uncles. But Dad was not going to miss out on the day to day chores of his two new daughters, and participated in the feedings and burpings and nappies with great enthusiasm.

A couple of years ago I was at the checkout behind an elderly lady who I recognised as Sister Lewis, now in her nineties. She was trying to use a card, but had confused her pin number, and got more and more flustered as the girl lost patience with her. “Sorry love” the girl finally snapped, “You only get three tries” and motioned her through. I was incensed that this woman, who had brought hundreds, if not thousands of babies into the world, full of commonsense and knowledge and kindness, was being dismissed as a doddery old fool.

I pointed to the few groceries she’d been trying to buy and said to the girl ”I’ll pay for those!” She grimaced at me as if I were mad and said “You don’t have to do that”.

"I know I don't" I retorted, "But I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for that woman!" I was hard pressed to get Sister Lewis to accept the gesture, but as I said, it was the least I could do for her.

8 comments:

mereth October 22, 2006  

Enjoy your day, and I hope that quilt finishes itself when you're not looking...

keryn October 22, 2006  

Oopps! Forgot I was signed in as you. Of course it's meee wishing you a happy birthday!

Angela October 22, 2006  

A happy bithday to you both.
Angela in Indiana

Angie October 22, 2006  

Happy birthday, quilty twins! :D Wonderful stories about your birth, and parents. I'm always so dismayed?, disappointed?, angry? when our beloved "seniors" are treated the way you just described Sister Lewis.

Marcie October 26, 2006  

Very sweet stories. Happy birthday to you both!

Hedgehog October 28, 2006  

Happy Birthday and thanks to you both for sharing your stories.

Carol October 30, 2006  

I love the story of paying for the Sister's groceries. Thanks for making a bright spot in her day and mine.

Ms. Jan October 24, 2008  

A belated happy 50th to you! Thank heaven things worked out as they did for one and all. Life after 50 is good!!!

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