I woke up at 5am with mild period pain, it felt like period pains because I always experienced major monthly cramps. I was already in hospital as I recall, and I spent the last two months in hospital. The doctors said I had a condition called polyhydraminos, I found out years later that this condition was as a result of producing too much fluid around the baby. This could be potentially dangerous as the membranes could rupture at any time, waters breaking, and this could cause all sorts of complications. I had no visitors, but the lady’s seemed nice. I recall befriending a chain smoker. She stood out from the other women by her clothes and looking poor, she was also loud and had a strong irish accent as well as a missing front teeth; but I felt comfortable around her for some reason. She didn’t treat me differently. Probably because she wanted to be accepted too, Although she was much older, we got up to mischief on the wards like sneaking out when lights were out. After all the hospital was my temporary home.
Well as I was saying, I felt some mild period pains, as I was due in two weeks but I had a feeling it was time. A Friend I knew had visited me on the Monday and her little boy was born on the 13th October the year before, I told her that my baby would come on that day too. I just had a feeling., anyway I got up and went to the bathroom but I didn’t tell anyone for a few hours. I was embarassed. By around 9am that morning the pains were getting worse so I started to read my magazine, reading was my favorite pastime.. We used to have a matron whom we called Miss Piggy. She was so arrogant the other mothers and staff didn’t like her and for me she was scary. When I told her I was having pains, she told me to walk around. I was too embarassed as this was a very large hospital ward, city of london maternity hospital, with all pregnant women and I didn’t want anyone to know. At that time it hosted around 40 beds unlike picture below, but same ward.
By lunchtime, the pains were becoming much worse, I recall siting at the top of the bed, the ones in the picture. My breathing had changed and I did not know what was happening to me. I had no support and because of my age no one cared. Alone yet again. The minutes turned into hours and the pains became worse each time. There was no explanation, I remembered I tried to cry but as the waves of pain hit me it took my breath and my tears away. Looking back, no one came to my aid during those difficult hours. I knew I was breathing heavily into my pillow. But from I arrived in England, I had learnt to wear the mask and grin.
I recall sweating profusely and I was panicked. I held on tightly to the bed as each pain came. Miss piggy came to my room some hours later. She had a pair of white gloves with her and she had a bag with water in it. She told me to take off my underwear with no explanation. She then shaved me and entered; I held on to the head of the bed as the pain from the examination as well as the pain from the internal examination gripped me. There was no explanation and I didn’t ask. I do recall I was terrified and I felt so exposed. I started to recall all the events in my life so far and I cried to myself as I laid on my back looking up to the ceiling. I remember feeling exposed. She then spoke “Turn over she said and put your knee to your chest”. I screamed as she squeezed the white tube into my anus. (An enema). Miss piggy said I should remain in that position for ten minutes she left with no explanation. I was frightened I didn’t know what she had squirted in my anus, but I knew I could not hold it in. I ran to the toilet that was in the next room and once I sat down it felt like all my insides were coming out. The pains became stronger and so I laid on the toilet floor. I felt sick because she was a woman and I felt violated yet again, . In this ward there were no privacy now everyone knew I was in pain.
I do not recall how long I remained on that cold floor in agony but I remember a knock on the door. Maybe the new shift had begun because in place of Miss Piggy was a lovely motherly midwife. I will never forget her name. Sister Crevalie. I pray that where ever she is that god will bless her soul. This was the first kindness shown to me in this country since I arrived in 1969. I was 14 years old alone and in labour, in a ward filled with 40 pregnant women.
Sister Crevalie lifted me and held me and hugged me tightly I felt her compassion in the hug as I cried into her clothes; until today I can still remember her ample bosoms and her large waist. I clung to her tightly while she rubbed my back. I remembered my grandmother back in Jamaica.I’m almost sure she shed a tear too. I remember her with fondness. I tried to find her a few months later but sadly I never met her again. Sometimes people enter your life for a season but leave a lifetime of memories behind.
The rest of the time passed by in a daze, until eventually I was told I would be taken to delivery suite. They took me on my bed as I recall being wheeled along the corridor and the draught on my face. I was delirious by this time. It was a bumpy ride but no one spoke to me. I still felt ashamed. I do not remember my eyes opening and any point as we made our way to the delivery suite. The midwife and one other person were in conversation still no one spoke to me, while I twisted and turned in the bed. We entered the lift, I think the baby was coming as I remember them tilting the bed so that my head was lower. I also recall feeling extremely cold, I was transferred to a room where there were other mothers and left alone to die. Well that’s what I thought. I could hear the sound of breathing and rustling and footsteps but no one came to my room. By now I must have been making a lot of noise because until this day I remember these words. The midwife drew my curtains and approached me from behind and shouted at me . My heart leaped as she said “SHUT YOUR MOUTH, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE HERE, WHEN YOU WAS DOING IT, YOU WASNT SCREAMING, SHUT YOUR MOUTH. I never made another sound. The next pain that came I bit onto the pillow.
Some time later with my eyes still closed I was taking into a small room I don’t know why, but I suffered grately delivering my first child. I felt my legs being yanked upwards and strapped up, then the bleeding came I was hemorhagging. I don’t recall anything else as the pain between my legs made me loose consciousness. The baby was delivered by an instrument called a forceps. I regained consciousness three days later. This was 1978 luckily women are not treated like this anymore, and pain relief is available. I recall when I woke out of my state of unconsciousness my tummy was flat. I asked where I was and the patient to my left she was called Yianoula, she said “You was an important patient over the last few days ” . I asked her where the baby was she said, SHE was in the nursery. I had given birth to a girl. I tried to stand but both legs collapsed under me, I thought I was paralyzed. The ‘nice’ nurse came and lifted me back on the bed and told me they would have to train my legs to walk as I had been in a coma, I didn’t know what that was but I didn’t care. She then brought my baby to me.
She was so beautiful she had grey eyes they were striking that was what I remember about her most of all. She was fair skinned, looked mixed race, she had pink lips and guess what she was mine. I didn’t know if I was happy or sad but I knew my life had changed forever as I now had my own somebody.. .
13th October 1978 at 2120hrs baby girl..