It is a sign, I reckon, of the close, informal and friendly relationship I enjoyed with the local midwives that when I called Barbara to tell her I was in labour with my third Child, she asked if I thought there was time
for her to watch the end of The Onedin Line. Nothing like that ever happens on Call the Midwife.
I was, however, an Experienced Mother as far as child birth was concerned and was pleased to reassure her that
nothing was likely to happen in the next half an hour. Barbara returned to her TV and was still with us in plenty of time. It was, you might say, a Very Relaxed Birth, even though things like birthing pools were yet to be invented.
I wish I knew more a about my own birth. I don't even know how much I weighed. I think I may have been born in the back bedroom of our house in Rush Green, Romford, but I am only supposing that because I know for certain that was where
my sister was born three and a half years later. I do know that I was born around the Witching Hour. How very appropriate.
The midwife at my birth declared
that I was born at two minutes to twelve; my mother is certain that the clock was slow and that I was born at two minutes past twelve. The midwife, she said, noted my birth on the 6th rather than the 7th of June so that she could cut down on her visits by
one day. This story gives me to understand that my mother's relationship with her midwife was not as cosy as mine with mine.
But I digress. While I was engaged in the hard work of giving birth (presumably
that is why it s called labour), Mr B and Barbara were discussing the life and times of The Onedin Line, one of our favourite TV programmes of the time as well as Barbara's.
"The saddest part," confided Barbara,
"was when poor Anne Onedin died....."
There followed a fraught silence as Barbara and Mr B recalled, at one and the same time, that the said Mrs Onedin had died in childbirth. The only person who thought this
was funny was me. The long and painful silence was broken by my giggles - though these may have been partly down to the gas and air.
My third daughter was born at 4.15 in the morning and was the most beautiful
baby you have ever seen. She weighed just six pounds and was possessed of the most adorable dimples. As one who aspired to dimples throughout my childhood - I used to sit at my desk in school pressing pencils into my cheeks in the hope of developing them -
this was a prize indeed.
It was annoying in the extreme that so many people thought I must be disappointed, if only secretly, that my new baby was a girl rather than a boy. "Another daughter!" they would say,
in tones either of sympathy or surprise - as if I'd visited the supermarket and somehow come home with the wrong brand of washing powder. I very nearly wrote a large notice to pin on the pram, stating: "Yes, it's a girl and I couldn't be happier!"
I have continued to thank my lucky stars right up to the present day. Nobody could have a more loving, caring daughter. Virtually every day I hear from her by phone, by text, via Facebook. Our phone calls are
legendary. Many is the day we reach the limit of our hour's free call and have to ring off - only to call straight back because we haven't nearly finished our conversation. "What on earth do you find to talk about?" Mr B always wants to know. I couldn't begin
My daughters are mothers themselves now, My Boy is a father of three - and I often think they are better parents to their off-spring than I was to my four, though I know I tried my best.
"You have to forgive me for all the mistakes I made when you were growing up," I told the Youngest of the Darling Daughters once, " but I was a very young mother..."
Youngest of the Darling Daughters didn't think twice: "I can't think of a single thing I need to forgive you for!" she asserted, stoutly.
Happy Birthday, darling girl! Always close, always special, always
so very, very dear.