ALISON & RACHEL
50 years is a long time ago and antenatal care was very different from today. No scans then, of course, hence no way of knowing your baby’s sex; while husbands were generally discouraged from being present at the birth.
In Spring 1968 we were a happy family of four, with two lively boys (5 and 3 years old), and greatly looking forward to the birth of number three. I enjoyed a normal pregnancy, apart from the morning sickness of the first few weeks. My antenatal care was provided by my GP and the midwives attached to the practice. We planned for a home birth which was quite normal in those days. Our first son had, however, been born in hospital as my blood pressure had rocketed in the last few weeks, while number two was delivered at home with no problems. This new baby was due on 9th April and my husband’s parents came to stay to help with the boys. On the morning of the 8th I insisted on cleaning out the kitchen cupboards and drawers, while my mother-in-law assured me that such “nesting” was a sure sign of an imminent birth. “Old Wives Tale” I thought!
Rob had gone to work as usual next day, and during the afternoon the boys were taken to the park while I was left at home to rest. Left on my own I soon became aware of niggling pains which I kept to myself until Rob came home at around 7.00pm. We bathed the boys and got them into bed. As the pains became stronger we decided to ring the midwife, who soon arrived accompanied by a student. I had seen the midwife, Ann Fowlds, regularly during the pregnancy, so was very comfortable and confident with her.
During the evening Rob was in and out with cups of tea and we shared shared stories and laughs – particularly when I commented that I had forgotten how the birth would progress. “You’ll soon remember” observed the midwife! By 11.30 I was glad of the gas and air equipment, and I clearly recall shouting out at the height of one contraction “I’ve remembered!” much to everyone’s amusement. By mutual agreement, Rob was not going to hang around for the actual birth but he did pop in to check on progress and to mop my fevered brow. Ann rang for the GP who appeared very quickly with trousers and sweater over his pyjamas. He always liked to be at the birth for the bumps and mums he had cared for during the pregnancy.
The waters broke and by 2.30 the head was presented. One last push and our precious and hoped for daughter was born at 2.45am. The first cry brought Rob into the room to be handed the tiny bundle (she weighed in at 6lb 8oz). He was asked for her name. We had settled earlier on either Lucy or Rachel and giving her one look we both said “she’s Rachel”.
Shortly after the birth we were aware of the boys talking, having obviously become aware of something going on. (What a surprise!”). Rob brought them in to see me with their new sister and of course they were very excited.
It was so special to have all the family together in those minutes after the birth.
Rachel brought us much joy then and has continued to do so for all of the 50 years since. Happy 50th Birthday to our baby girl!