i'm pregnant and it's going to be a rollercoaster

Birth Story: “A Generation Ago” February 3, 2010

Hello Poogie ,

So.  The first Birth Story in the series is today’s reading.

This story is by your maternal Great Grandmother about your Grandma K joining the world.  So I guess now it is two generations ago, rather than one.   It’s very special to me and I’m really glad that my Grandma got to share it with us – it’s a sneak peek into birthing in the 1950’s.   Your Grandma was a very beautiful person, and someone who was always there for me during my childhood.  I’m crying as I write this as I still miss her (she died 17 or so years ago).   I really would have liked if you could have met her – you’ll have to imagine her based on my stories about her and some of the things she did leave me and I can share with you: a love of baking, reading (poetry collections) and going to the movies.


Birth Story Details:

where: hospital, Australia

when: 1952

who: birth of your Grandma K


A Generation Ago

At 7am on 30 May, 1952, I woke up with an uneasy sensation in the stomach.  My husband suggested that I rest in bed while he prepared breakfast.  As soon as the smell of bacon and eggs floated through the house, I felt nauseated and made a frantic dash to the toilet.  That was when the continuous pain set in – not the intermittent bouts I had been told to expect.  Breakfast forgotten, we took off for the hospital, foot well down on the accelerator all the way.  No relief from the thrusting pain at all.

By 7:40am I was admitted to the hospital where immediate preparations went into top gear. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was rushed into the public labour ward as the intermediate ward was filled to capacity.  As I was wheeled into the long room, I was horrified at the complete lack of privacy: only flimsy curtains separated the beds on which women lay in all stages of the birth process.  Some were groaning, some shrieking and a few for whom the ordeal was over smugly assured me how wonderful it was to have the birth all over.

My pain continued unabated while I had to endure that humiliating preparatory shaving and the putting on of those big white leggings that went right up to the top of the thigh.  When my legs were hoisted in the air, I was given that gas-mask to use when the pain became too agonising.  I tried desperately hard to avoid the use of this, but the continuing constant pain beat me a couple of times.  By the time my own doctor came on the scene, I was so exhausted that I felt I couldn’t stand any more of the unremitting pain.  In response to the sister’s urgings such as “You want your baby, don’t you? Try harder, harder!”, I made my last supreme effort and stayed conscious long enough to see my daughter held up in the air – and to hear one nurse exclaim, “What a shrimp!”.  I flaked out without producing the afterbirth; so that had to be removed by force without my active participation.  It was all over by 10:40am – not a bad effort for a thirty-eight-year-old woman producing her first child.

Because of a lack of beds in the wards, I was kept in the labour ward for the next five hours during which I witnessed births of all kinds and developed admiration for the hospital staff and the way they coped with so many different emergencies so competently.

I must admit, however, that I was more than pleased when a bed for me became vacant in one of the intermediate wards.

Footnote: When my husband came to see me in the afternoon, he complained rather bitterly of the bad headache he’d had all the morning!



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