Mt View, Mel Hewitt: You never forget the day you gave birth

Picture by Gilberto Santa Rosa
Picture by Gilberto Santa Rosa

Tomorrow my youngest child, the ‘baby’ of the family, will be 18. I can still remember pretty much every detail of the day she was born. There are few women I’ve met who couldn’t act out with startling exuberance the birth of their child.

Sometimes this re-telling can happen on a bus, a dinner party or in a supermarket. Whether it’s the ‘it was just like shelling peas and I was back at work the next day’ story or the ‘I coped with 24 hours of labour without pain relief’, childbirth lives long in the memory.

As the years pass there is also the slight chance the details can get a little hazy and as a result become rather exaggerated! I know I am probably braver and more stoic in the replays of that special day in my mind than in reality I was.

18 years ago today I was watching the World Cup and Brazil were playing Morocco. At the beginning of the match I was sitting with a bowl of dips and chips on the sofa, before the 90 minutes were done I was in DRI.

Leaping from your couch when nine months pregnant is not recommended, but it did, I think, contribute to my daughter being born on time just three hours later.

A few short hours after that I was home once more and after biting too eagerly into a ginger biscuit found myself sitting in my dentist’s chair having my tooth re-filled the same morning.

The dentist was startled when, asking about how my pregnancy was going, she was told I’d had the baby in the early hours.

There’s nothing new under the sun, as I later discovered that when Catherine The Great of Russia was giving birth to any of her many offspring, she used to have any troublesome teeth pulled out at the same time. The theory I guess is that with the pangs of childbirth she wouldn’t notice the dental pain as much.

I truly am not made of such strong stuff. I think that for me the heritage of two grandmothers who were both tiny in stature, successfully having 17 children between them in the 1920s and ’30s, made all the difference.

For special reasons it was really important that Elizabeth Mary – Lizzie – was born on time and with as little fuss as possible that day.

A few miles from the hospital my dad was very poorly, confined to the house with the cruellest of cancers. He saw Lizzie that day and in spite of his lack of mobility managed to hold her – just the once. He died a few days later.

Born into the saddest of times Lizzie has always been the sunniest of children. She was an instant comfort and is a continuing delight.

Happy birthday, luvvy and I know your grandad would have been so proud.