Thursday, June 18, 2020

An Imperfect Life


Chapter 41


The times they are a changin’.


“William what do you like best about living here?”

“I enjoy having a pleasant drive to work instead of that dratted commute.  What about you?”

“I just love all the space – in the house and garden so different to where I was brought up.  I’m never going to live in a small house again!”

 I missed my friends and my wonderful daily help but found that with one small child and another on the way, people were very friendly.  One problem I had was of my own making.  After we lost our beloved corgi – Havoc, I thought it would be nice to buy another for William so that he could have the puppy – Sharon, to train whilst I had the baby.  Unfortunately Sharon was untrainable and with William out all day she was the bane of my life.  Any clothes hanging around were ruined but worst of all she would get out of the house at every opportunity and run into the main road causing chaos.  At the end of our road lived Mrs D – a dressmaker who bred valuable dogs and when Sharon got out and attacked her miniature pincer she said regretfully that if we didn’t get rid of Sharon she would have to sue us.  I was desperate but Mrs D knew lots of doggy people and said she knew just the chap who would be able to train Sharon.  She went off to what we were assured would be a good home and later we got a feed back that she was behaving and all was well.  A week later we were told there were problems and would we like to have her back.  Neither Mrs D nor I were prepared to risk it. So she stayed put and – with a certain amount of guilt I thanked God I didn’t have to cope with her.

Feeling the guilt I vowed never to be tempted to have another dog.

  All in all it was a fairly eventful pregnancy. One day I was carrying my son slowly upstairs for our post –prandial nap, reached his cot and heard a thunderous noise.  The top of the stairs was shrouded in white powdery clouds; the hall ceiling had collapsed. I was so relieved the ceiling hadn’t fallen on my son and me – my Guardian Angel was on duty that day.  After I settled him in his cot I crept downstairs to phone William.  He came home straight away and I assured him I was fine – I didn’t need to see the doctor but we had to do something about the ceiling.  In those days work-men actually came when they said they would and although the builder couldn’t promise to reproduce the elaborate moulding exactly- he made a good job of it and the house stayed sound from then on.  Just one more surprise – I went down to the cellar one day to fill the brass coal bucket and was amazed to find the cellar floor hidden by a small lake.  I hastily retreated and phoned the long suffering William.  By the time he got home the water had disappeared.  Although no-one had told us, there was a well in the cellar which would overflow after extremely heavy rains.  Nothing to worry about.

   It was the custom to have the first baby in hospital and the second – if all was well-at home.  There were two midwives, one who was shaped like a hedgehog; she was dry with a twinkle so we christened her Mrs Tiggy Winkle.  The other one was skinny with glasses and an expression as if she had just eaten bitter aloes.

“In do hope we get Mrs Tiggy William.  The other one was horrid about the new single bed we bought specially for the birth and said it was too low and must be put on blocks.”

  William’s solution was to get a load of breeze blocks from the garage and prop the bed on them.  They were dirty and cumbersome and when I saw a number of wood lice skittering around I lost my cool and they were replaced by the requested wooden blocks.

Now working for the MOD (Ministry of Defence) William had a reasonable amount of leave so he decided to take time off to look after me during the birth and help with #1 son and baby.  To my delight it was Mrs Tiggy who was on duty when I started.

“I can tell when you’re having a contraction – your face goes all pink!  I’ve no-one else due so I might as well stay.” 
 We all tucked into a nourishing stew I had made in the pressure cooker.  After examining me she warned me that I would probably have quite a small baby.  It was a long afternoon and I remember lurching through the hall to answer the phone and having a strong urge to delay the whole thing for a month or two.  Fat chance!

   We had a fire glowing in the play- room and the bed facing the window and Mrs Tiggy was concerned about the fierce draught when the door opened so we moved the bed and blocks against the back wall- much more satisfactory.  When it was bed-time for my son and William took him upstairs for his bath Mrs Tiggy said

“Let’s try and have the baby before your husband gets down again.”

And we actually managed it with my special breathing coming up trumps and soon there was that delightful bawl from a new born baby.  A beautiful boy and a glorious 8 pounds – a whole pound heavier than his big brother. The one certain thing about midwifery is that nothing is certain. William was thrilled – I was thrilled and the nurse said I had done brilliantly.  But- she was terribly sorry – she had tried to hold it together but the old wound had torn and I would have to have stitches.  She knew what was coming.  Old Dr Rigg’s house backed on to our garden so he was there in a trice and I had a repeat performance of the suturing with no local anaesthetic.  Why the hell didn’t I protest but one feels so weak and helpless and it was again a bitter irony that I managed the birth like a trooper and then had to try to gag my screams with the inadequate gas and air mask.  Poor William heard and later told my sister he couldn’t put me through that again and I had already made a decision that this was going to be my family – complete.  I had always envisaged a little girl (who later appeared as my grand- daughter) but I would never change my two sons – not for all the tea in China.

  When no-one was looking I sneaked to the phone in the hall to tell Mum the good news.

“Get back to bed out of that draughty hall!  What are you thinking?  She just remembered to say ‘well done!’ before hanging up.

  Sister Maddie and husband turned up with a bottle of champagne which I wouldn’t touch as I intended to start feeding my sturdy little son.  Eventually the guests left, William went up to bed and I was left alone in the firelight with him and felt a great thrill of happiness – all pain forgotten.  We decided to have a go at this feeding lark and – like his brother he clamped on with relish.  Normally with breast fed babies they have a sticky black stool – meconium- for the first 24 hours but this little boy was so determined he had a normal stool by morning.

  It was an icy February morning and I could see daffodils were out in the garden.  I wondered what the brothers would think of each other.  I heard William bringing #1son down stairs.  I’d soon find out,