Saturday, 26 December 2009

When a 'home delivery' meant something entirely different


A day out in Grove Park


On the 10th March 1964 Kathryn Ann was our fourth child to arrive, again it was another home delivery. As with all such deliveries a room in the house was prepared beforehand. Items considered necessary would include newspaper, brown paper, large jam jars, a bedpan hired from the local chemist, plus the requisite disinfectants. In addition, the delivery pack for the Midwife, which again was obtained from the chemist. Plenty of hot water was required at the birth. Fortunately we still had a coal fire in the kitchen, which was built up high, on which the placenta (afterbirth) could be disposed of. When the labour pains became regular and strong, the Midwife would be called upon to assess the situation. If she considered the birth not to be imminent, she would return to her home; fortunately she lived but a short distance away.

When I thought the time was near, I again sent Geoff to collect the midwife, unfortunately we had not yet installed a telephone in the house. He would carry her bag and whatever else she needed. Before leaving her home the Midwife phoned the Doctor, he was a kindly man, much respected locally, his name was Dr Colin Green. He did not seem to play any active part other than observing the birth; he sat on the bed chatting away, allowing the Midwife, Miss Bullock, to get on with her job.

Kathryn was born at about 6am, a fine healthy weight, just a little less than Peter had been; she weighed in at 9lbs 8oz. This was just as well, because she did not have a very good start in life. When Dr Green returned later in the day, he discovered that Denis, Susan and Peter had contracted measles. He said that there was little concern for Kathryn, as she would be protected by my own immunization, which I had received before pregnancy. Shortly after the three older children began coughing heavily and within a few days Kathryn developed a severe cough. This was diagnosed as the dreaded whooping cough and by this time it was too late to isolate our new baby.


In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I do remember having had a dreadful cough and I have often wondered if I had been the carrier. As soon as Kathryn took her first breath, the midwife was concerned about her throat and the noises she was making. Whatever the cause, Katy and the three others were coughing very severely, even though the older three had previously been immunized against whooping cough.

So, with a new sick baby, three little ones with measles and whooping cough, myself being what is known as a nursing mum, it was a matter of trying to cope with the situation.

Doctor Green had suggested that Kathryn could be taken into hospital, but went on to say that if we kept her at home, he would come in every day to support us and should an emergency arise, the hospital would be ready to take her. Maybe he thought, we would put up a better battle for her life, with all our love and attention and I know he proved to be right. I’m still not aware of how close we came to losing her, but I know she was very ill and put up a game fight. Of course the setback left Kathryn with a weak chest and she was still attending hospitals until she was fifteen years old. I know to the present day, she still suffers from terrible coughs.

With all respect to Dr Colin Green, he always showed complete dedication and concern for his patients; he was a rare gentleman, seldom seen in the general practitioners of today.

Our four children were now growing up fast; in 1964 Denis was the first to go to school. The school, thank goodness, was opposite the house, so no travelling was involved. A further twelve months on, and Sue started school. They were soon followed by Peter and of course Kathryn. Alison arrived in February of 1968, the year Birmingham came to a standstill. No association with Alison’s birth, but due to a deluge of snow, which carpeted the city.

Once again dear Kath and Harry were always there to give their support. We did not expect them to baby-sit, as there were no buses running in the city and their little car, an Austin A40, was laid up in the snow, but much to our amazement they actually walked through the snow. The distance from Spring Hill, Ladywood to Harborne, so that Geoff was able to visit Alison and myself in hospital. They trudged back home through the heavy snow.


Alison’s Christening

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