Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy birthday Meredith!

Our birth story had a happy ending because of the efforts of two women; Sister Lewis and Flockie, the attending nurses. The two doctors present were GPs, not obstetricians, it was a difficult birth, and Dad wouldn't let them sacrifice one life for the other. They must have thought they had done all they possibly could do. And when the doctors gave up, and left events to unfold as they would, these two nurses kept trying. In those days the doctors were treated like Gods, to be deferred to in all matters, and the nurses practically curtsied in their presence. So these were strong-willed women to carry on. Sister Lewis kept working on pushing Meredith back, with Flockie looking after Mum, and finally they were able to free Mereth enough so that she could change position and be born.

Sister Lewis and Flockie delivered many hundreds of babies in our town, over several decades. They were skilled and dedicated women.

The question that occurred to me was, if they all thought Mum would die afterwards, why was Dad left in the waiting room, instead of being by her side? Hospitals were institutions in those days, and the rules were everything. If Meredith had died Mum would not have been allowed to see her; it was standard policy then, not to let mothers even catch sight of the babies they lost. It's hard to comprehend now, but that's the way it was back then.

And our Maternity hospital would not let a child under the age of 16 into the waiting room, let alone a ward. Children carried DISEASE, and were to be kept away. They had a point, when whooping cough and measles and chickenpox were endemic.

The doctor told Mum that we weren't identical, because we had separate placentas, but they were wrong. Up to a third of identical twins don't share the same placenta. (I just googled it and found out even more useless information...) And our heartbeats were so synchronised that the doctor could only ever hear one heartbeat.

These photos were taken when we were in our early 20's; we look pretty identical to me...

I would much rather have a baby now than at any other time in history. My Gran, who had 10 living children, would pack her suitcase when she knew the time had come, and walk across the railway tracks to the midwife's house, about a mile away. There she would have the latest baby, with the help of the midwife who had no qualifications except her natural gifts, and walk back the next day carrying both the baby and the suitcase (and 8 of those times it was a baby boy she brought home). In my family the women have nothing kind to say about my grandfather.....


Angie 11:01 PM  

What a wonderful history you and your sister share.

meggie 6:48 AM  

Thanks for sharing that.

It does make you wonder how any babies managed to survive, let alone the poor mothers.

You look identical to me, too.

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