Getting back in shape
My new son soon got bored with staring at his new Mum and just wanted to nod off so I put him back in his cot. What now? I was too excited to sleep so I wrote to everybody I knew, to tell them the news. As the morning wore on I was taken with baby to join about eight other mothers and babies in the maternity ward. I quickly bonded with a tall lanky girl whose amazing feat had been to increase her weight by no more than the weight of the baby and could have concealed her pregnancy right up to the birth had she wished.
We noticed that all of us would have alternate days when we would be on top of the world one day and down in the depths the next. If one of the babies needed to be examined, the staff would remove all the babies from the ward, so that instead of one mother being upset and worried, we all were.
I became inundated with bouquets of flowers from friends and family and the nurses piled them round my bed like a flowery bower. This was embarrassing so I asked Sister to spread them round the ward. It was lovely getting the flowers but I now had dozens of thank you letters to write. I was very upset when I received a bunch of red and white flowers from the Aunts. What were they thinking of? In my nursing days, red and white flowers on a ward meant a death – I suppose associated with blood and bandages. I begged Sister to get rid of them and she said she wasn’t superstitious and she would be happy to have them for her room. Phew!
We had always, in my training, removed all flowers from the ward at night as they were supposed to suck the oxygen from the air; I still don’t know if there is any truth in this.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly and baby was putting on weight so after a few days I was told I could go home. I asked William to bring my black and white tweed suit - expecting to be able to get into it - but not a chance. The nurses told me it would be eighteen months before I got my shape back but they were wrong. One of the best ways to get back in shape is breast –feeding ; you can actually feel the pull on your uterus as the baby sucks (particularly when you have cat- gut stitches like I had.).
The other slimming factor was the benign, happy Pat had become a stressed, nervous wreck who fretted when baby cried and prodded him when he was asleep to make sure he was OK. I had a bad case of post natal depression - which wasn’t recognised in those days and made me feel even worse. I wondered if I was going mad.
The health visitor came one day and, realising I was in a nervous state, told me to put all the ornaments away and not worry about house-work. That wasn’t a problem – I had an excellent daily help and probably if I had had more to do I would have had less time to fret. Her kindness reduced me to tears; it was a relief to have someone who seemed to understand how I was feeling. She introduced me to two mothers with babies (boys) around the same age, who lived close by, and that saved my bacon. Every night, after the six pm feed (when breast milk is at its weakest) my son would yell his head off – sometimes till midnight and it was driving me demented. When he was four months old the girls finally persuaded me to have a night off: I left William in charge and we went to the pictures to see ‘High Society‘with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. For the first time since the birth I laughed and had fun. Back home William said our son had slept soundly all night and from then on things improved. Baby thrived and I got back in shape physically and mentally. God bless those girls; our trio of friendship survives to this day and I still have the LP of the film music.
William and I had decided we would not name our children after anyone we knew. Years later I realised I had given both boys Scottish names with the same initial as MTL. Make of that what you will.