Sunday, February 19, 2006

William was born

My sister, Joan, read this aloud to us at a family gathering last night

Mum was forty two when she was pregnant with her baby. Near her due date she developed high blood pressure. The doctor decided to take her into hospital to keep an eye on her and of course the baby. Eva and I were left at home to "take care" of Dad. Eva was thirteen and I was eleven. The taking care of Dad was not what it seemed, we couldn't cook! He came home from work every evening to see that we were ok, have his dinner and maybe go for a few pints afterward. Time went on but we did not go in to see Mum. I never thought of asking anyway.

We made dinner one night that I remember, boiled spuds, veg and a pork chop. Dad came in as usual but the potatoes were still boiling in the pot. Ever try willing something to cook quickly? I tested the spuds and decided they were done. Dad sat down and started to eat. He ate the chop but left the veg. Off he went to the pub. Wondering why he left the dinner, I tasted it. The spuds and veg were half-way cooked, no wonder he couldn't eat them. Ah well, he didn't complain so all was ok.

One Sunday Dad gave us some money to go to the pictures. We had enough for the bus fare, our way in, and some sweets. I can't remember what was on but it was an afteroon matinee. Later we made our way home and just as we passed Granny Walsh's house she spotted us and told us to come in for tea. We wanted to go home but she said Dad would be meeting us there later. We reluctantly went in for our tea.

Granny made a nice tea, but on the occasions we were there she made us wash up in the plastic basin on her kitchen table. Granny had taps and a sink in her kitchen but only cold water ran from the taps. She boiled water in her kettle and poured it steaming into the basin. We were not allowed to add cold water to cool things down. She used China cups and saucers. Thinking back, how the China survived was amazing.

Later we went to the sitting room to watch television. Granny asked us if we would like a brother or sister. I said I would like a brother.

"Well you got your wish", she told us. "Your mother had her baby today."

We were excited, but personally I tried not to show how happy I was in front of her. Dad arrived soon after that and he was grinning from ear to ear.

"When can we see the baby?" we asked.

In those days, mums stayed in hospital for a week after the birth. We would have to wait till they came home.

Mum had been gifted a pram by a woman she worked for. The woman was German, hence a German-made pram. I don't think anyone in the whole of Ireland had a pram like it!

Great, the day arrived, they were coming home! We had a pillow inside the pram and a hot water bottle with a baby blanket Mum had bought all tucked in neatly. Dad had gone to collect Mum and the baby. We waited excitedly at the kitchen window.

As it was February, it got dark early in the evening, so by the time we were waiting we were looking for car lights. At last, the car was coming up the lane. We ran down as fast as we could carrying the body of the pram, Eva one side, me the other. Mum appeared crying and with no baby. She explained that he had yellow jaundice and was kept in hospital. My God, how long more would we have to wait! I realise now Mum's hormones were probably running riot which made her cry so much.

A few days later, Mum told us the baby could come home. She brought us with her to collect him. We had to get three buses to the hospital, but we were getting a taxi home. We waited in the public waiting room till Mum came down with her precious bundle wrapped up snugly in two blankets.

"Can I see him???"

"No. Wait till we get in the taxi", Mum said.

Jaysus! More waiting!

Sitting in the warm taxi, Mum pulled the blanket down for us to see. I instantly thought how beautiful my brother was. A little yellow, perhaps, and hardly any hair, but perfect.

Mum chatted away to the driver. Her usual saying as we can all tell you was:

"There are ten years between my baby and my last one."

She was so proud, her green eyes twinkling. William has inherited her twinkling green eyes. The rest of us have blue eyes.

We arrived home and I remember I kept going over to look at him for the rest of the day. I sat beside Mum as she fed him his first bottle at home. I remember also hearing him cry that first night for a feed. I got out of bed and asked Mum was he ok.

"Oh yes", Mum replied. "Babies wake up every four hours to be fed."

I was awe-struck but glad I wouldn't be the one getting up every four hours. The routine went on.

Mum and Dad named the baby William James. William -- or Willie, as everyone calls him -- will be forty years old on 20th February 2006.

Happy Birthday, Willie.
Love always,
From Joan.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Willie.

Peter, Val & Kids.

Willie_W said...

Thank you all.

Angharod said...

So glad you posted Joan's tribute. Yeah I got to read it too, and was as touched as I'm sure everyone was. :)Sounds like everyone had a good time.
Happy birthday young'un.

Willie_W said...

Thanks again. And also for the e-card. :-)