As my belly swelled, the looks of disappointment and disdain grew, and the further away I went. I lived with the father for a while, but it was a violent and hungry place to be. My ‘in the closet’ friend came and got me in the end. And I went home. Back to the disappointment.
Nan brought baby clothes and fussed over me. When I got sick, she looked after me; bought me clothes to fit my ever-increasing waist line, and brought me breakfast in bed every morning. She told me stories about raising her babies…I think she was trying to prepare me…I love her for that…it was bitter-sweet considering one of her babies was a cunty pedo.
I went to an ante-natal class with the father. Just the one class though. The mamas and papas there were all middle-aged, or so I thought. They were proper grown ups, in proper houses, with proper lives. I was a little girl, about to have a little girl…with a child for a father. He went to sleep halfway through the class. He was stoned and drunk and really really tired.
Back then, if the doctors thought your baby was going to be ‘small’, they put you into hospital on bed rest. So that’s where I ended up 2 months before I went into labour.
Life on the ‘outside’ continued.
My ‘she has 4 kids and is 28-ish’ friend died of Cancer. She had just had her 5th child and he was a few months old. I named my daughter after her.
Eric Clapton’s “Layla”, was her favourite song. She had wanted to name her own daughter this but her surname rhymed with Layla and she thought it would be a bit much. Anyway, I did it for her.
While in the hospital on bed rest, I met a beautiful lady. She was one of those old school feminists; a shitload of knowledge and a lifetime of lessons to teach. She was having her first child after 30 odd years of trying. She was about 45 at the time. She was so extremely loving toward me…she tried to teach me to embrace having a child, no matter what age…that they are all beautiful little gifts from heaven.
She had her baby boy 2 weeks before I was due. And he died 7 days later. My heart broke for her. She tried to stay in touch with me, but it hurt too much. Pretty shallow of me really, she was in a whole lot of pain, but I couldn’t fathom any of it in my 16-year-old world. And I didn’t know how to respond.
The father continued down his drug hazed path. In later years he was diagnosed with drug induced schizophrenia. How real that was, I’m unsure. I did concur that he was fucked in the head though. To lump him in with a whole lot of reasonably harmless individuals seemed unfair I thought.
I turned 16 a couple of months before I went into labour. It was a 28 1/2 hour labour. I didn’t really understand what was happening at all. Actually throughout the whole pregnancy, while I understood in my head that I had another life growing in me, I didn’t really understand it. For years I thought it was because I was so young, but since then I’ve talked to other mothers who, on their first child, felt exactly the same way.
He slept through most of my labour.
It was here that I discovered how much dislike some people have for young mothers. I felt for my own mother.
I was trying to tell the nurses that I was having pains…they told me to stop being so dramatic. I waited in the lounge room for three hours as the pains became increasingly stronger. When the shift changed, my good nurse came on. She looked at me and asked if I was having contractions. I said I didn’t know but I was sore. She touched my belly in the middle of a pain and looked slightly horrified. I waddled off behind her down the hallway, and half way down I had an enormous pain and my waters broke. All over their nice clean floor. One nurse was disgusted but the good nurse gave her the ‘whats up bitch…say something…say something’ look. ‘Wassup ay’ lol, good on her. She did what I wasn’t able too.
So my mother was rung and she came over. The father slept on. I cried. And it was painful. By the time my mother got there I was having contractions full on – about 10 minutes apart. I was begging for pain killers and crying like a little girl! Oh wait…I was a little girl! They dosed me up with Pethadene I think it was, and lots of gas.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing…but at the time I didn’t get what was happening. I’m not sure if I had ever really registered during pregnancy that this baby was going to have to come out eventually…and how did I think that was going to happen?
I hadn’t learnt by this time that the pain you feel during child-birth is all part of the larger cause. It’s there to help the uterus/womb eject the baby out; down the birth canal and out! If you breath with it, it all works as it should. If you fight it, well its like having a panic attack I suppose…It gets worse!
In the end they gave me an epidural and whilst completely out of it and numb I sang ‘Three blind mice’ and begged my mother to take me home! ‘I don’t want to do this anymore…I want to go home’. Hmmm, that wasn’t going to happen!
So after a hell of a lot of screaming…the father finally woke up…and our baby girl was born.
My fucken good lord! I had never ever never-never thought I was capable of doing that! She was perfect! Absolutely p e r f e c t in every single way. Fingers and toes; nose and ears; lots of hair and bright bright deep grey eyes! She was amazing.
I looked at her father…”its not a boy” he said…and he sat down. The nurse actually twacked him over the head…lovingly but firmly. He stood up again. But was disinterested.
My little bundle of perfection was just amazing. I was immediately in love and scared shitless! What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I might break her? Or hurt? Or my crappiness might rub off on her? O M G.
They stitched me up…well that’s a long read on its own! No one told me about that awesome process and if they had, I hadn’t been listening! I was surely paying attention after the second stitch though! How is it possible to stitch that shit up? I didn’t even know it could rip! But after all my grizzling and stitches galore they moved me downstairs with all the other mothers and their babies. My girl wasn’t feeding so they took her away and gave her water.
Pause for clarification: at this time it was standard to have your baby, have it taken away, cleaned up, poked and prodded a bit, made to cry, given back to you all wrapped up. You weren’t encouraged to feed or cuddle immediately. If your baby was upset they’d take them away and do what they needed to, supposedly, and then bring them back.
So downstairs, in a room with 5 other mothers and their babies, I was trundled into the corner. I asked for my girl but was told to go to sleep. I didn’t sleep really and finally when I needed to go to the toilet, I got up. Holy shit. As I stood, I bled everywhere. I started howling, as you do when your standing in a pool of your own blood. I was banging on the buzzer and no one came…I cried some more and banged some more. Finally, after about 20 minutes, a nurse came. She threw open the curtain…”Yes?” in a, ‘you’ve interrupted my dinner break’, tone. I just stood there, in tears, pointing at the floor. “Oh god, I’m going to have to clean that up…go and get changed”. That was it! Filthy bitch!
I got my baby girl during the night and she still wouldn’t feed. I was nervous and anxious…worried she was going to die because she would end up starving to death. The next day my Grandmother and Grandfather, mother and brother came to see me and my bundle. Nan must have sensed my tension and asked if everything was alright. In tears, yet again, I told her what had happened and that I was still bleeding and was I dying and what was happening and my baby wouldn’t feed and did I have bad milk….Nan as she always did, patted my hand. She explained what had happened and that the bleeding was normal. I wasn’t dying. Then she got a gritty little look in her eye and she said she wouldn’t be a moment.
She disappeared for a bit. And when she came back, she said I wouldn’t be having any more trouble and I’d be moving to my home towns hospital. She told me later that she had ripped shit out of the nurses in the nursing station…told them not to treat me any different from any other mother in here and this baby was her great grand child and their would be hell to pay if they didn’t treat us right! They were lovely for the rest of the day and night. They even helped me to get my little girl to latch on for her first feed. The next day I went back to my home town.
This was era where it was standard for a mother and her baby to stay in the hospital for 2 weeks after birth. During that time, they taught you how to breast feed, bath your baby, handle your baby, they let you get some sleep. Unfortunately, now they’re checking mothers out whilst cutting the umbilical cord on the way out the door! But I stayed for the two weeks and in between healing and feeding, my milk came in…and yes, again, no one had thought to tell me about that one either. Or I hadn’t been listening…the latter was probably more likely! When your milk comes in, it hurts your boobs and you sometimes get more contractions as your uterus tightens and goes back into its normal size. Yes, I banged on that buzzer again, crying again, saying I was having another baby! After a long ‘cuppa tea and chat’ and a box of tissues I was assured I wasn’t giving birth again and my boobs wouldn’t always feel like two giant rugby balls!
My first hiding came about a week after giving birth. I was still in the hospital and when the father came to visit eventually, he wanted sex. I tried very ever so sweetly and nicely to explain I was too sore and couldn’t. To which I got a fist to the side of my head. My baby girl was asleep in her bassinet on the other side of my bed. I froze. And I was frightened. For her and for me. I jerked him off instead. He left. I cried. The nurse saw my head and the redness that had come up. She asked if I was alright…with one of those ‘I know your not alright’ sideways glances. I said yes though. I didn’t know what else to say.
I didn’t understand what battered woman’s syndrome or ptsd or anything like that was about then. All I knew was what I had been told and I firmly believed.
“You made your bed, now you lie in it”
So I did.
I took my beautiful bundle of joy home, to my mothers. And we all co-existed for a while.
“You made your bed, now you lie in it”
My beautiful little baby girl was just the, most perfect little creation I had ever seen. I loved her so much it hurt. And still does. She is an amazing woman now with her own beautiful babies. She’ll forever be my beautiful baby girl though.
Love and light and love and light to me, as I continue to unfold xxoo