Having spent a lot of time holding babies of late, I’ve been thinking back to when Al was born. He was due a couple of days after Weeza’s second birthday, but actually arrived a couple of days before it, missing the First of April by a day. He was born at home, or rather at my mother’s home. It was a bit unusual, 35 years ago, not to have a hospital birth but I’d hated the stay in hospital when Weeza was born, our doctor, near retirement age, was very willing to officiate and I was in perfectly good health, apart from the anaemia that affected me in each pregnancy, to the extent that I had to have iron injections.
The only stipulation that Dr Kit made was that an oxygen cylinder should be on hand, so it was ordered from the local chemist. It arrived on the morning of the 2nd, and I went to help the van driver bring it in. “Better not,” she said. “Might bring on labour, it’s jolly heavy.” I didn’t tell her that I was already in labour and had been for a few hours.
It all went well, I put Weeza to bed in the evening and was then free to get on with having the baby, who was born at 10.30 at night. The oxygen was not required, and the doctor left about an hour later. The midwife, who was the wife of the Lowestoft Methodist minister, finished with us by midnight, and my mother came in to ask if she would like a hot drink. “I’m quite hungry, actually,” I remarked. She said there was a cold leg of lamb in the fridge (Dave not being here, I don’t have to be concerned that anyone will point out that you would expect meat in the fridge to be cold, so I won’t explain that it had been cooked, part-eaten, cooled and then put in the fridge) and she could make sandwiches. So, ten minutes later, baby asleep in cot, we were all eating sandwiches and drinking tea.
I did sleep, later, and trotted out in the early morning to go to the loo, and then picked him up and fed him when he woke, and changed his nappy. Weeza came in to greet me. I lay her down to change her nappy and ‘kissed her all over her face’, which always made her shut her eyes, hold her breath and open her mouth with pleasure. My dear little girl looked so big and white against her skinny little baby brother. I felt wonderfully lucky.
Al was welcomed into a very happy household, in fact. My mother had remarried in February, six years after my father died, and her husband had lived alone for many years. He was thrilled to find that her children welcomed him and treated him as one of the family from the start, and the birth of a baby in their house made him really feel like a grandfather.