This is a short autobiographical account of when I was born, and for obvious reasons, it is built on things I have been told over the years and some details have been slightly fictionalised for narrative and entertainment purposes. It is as a result of a writing exercise I did earlier this week for the OU course I’m doing and the object of it was to write something that was true but had elements of fiction in a way that the reader wouldn’t notice the difference. Can you see where the truth has been embellished? Drop me a line and let me know.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
I was born in the middle of the hottest summer that had been so far recorded, before the “even hotter” summer that came 5 years later. But until then, the heat experienced that July was the worst that anyone could remember. I was so reluctant to join that heat that I stayed in there well into three weeks past my due date and because of that I missed the day my Dad nearly died.
My mum was in agony with practice contractions that morning and in the sweltering heat of the fierce summer she lay on her bed trying to find some coolness from somewhere. Clothes had long ceased tried to fit round her – and me – and she was reduced to wearing some of Dad’s pyjamas and a dressing gown that didn’t reach even to the sides of the middle, let alone covering much else. And then came the unmistakably “police” knock on the door, bearing the news that my Dad had had a motorbike accident and was in intensive care with head injuries.
Now this was 1971. Communications and transport were not what they were back then and Mum struggled to get to the hospital, all the while praying that I would not come that day and that Dad was still alive when she got there, yet at the same time wishing I had already been born so she could get there quicker and with more dignity.
By the time she had got there, worried sick and melting, my Dad had regained consciousness and decided that he wasn’t going to stay in the hospital and was making his way back home again. Like I said, this was 1971 and not only was communication and transport not like they are now, but hospital administration and diagnostics were a long way off too. What my Dad was displaying then would be put down to brain injury now and he would probably have been in an induced coma to reduce brain swelling and so on, but this being 1971, nobody noticed that he had detached himself from his blood pressure cuff and had hopped off the bed to make his way home.
You can imagine the double panic at each end of their respective journeys can’t you? Mum arriving at the hospital terrified, thinking her about-to-be-a-father-for-the-first-time husband was dead or dying, and my Dad arriving at home to find his very-pregnant-and-got-no-clothes-that-fit wife was missing.
Later that day, when Mum had arrived home and tore a strip off him for making her so scared she was going to be a widow and bringing up a baby on her own, and for being hit by a car on his bike in the first place, let alone WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DISCHARGES THEMSELVES FROM INTENSIVE CARE?!!, I began to make my own presence felt and the practice contractions had become real ones.
What nobody realised that Dad wasn’t actually in his right mind and that there was a significant brain injury going on, and a few days later when Mum was back at home with me, they took me out for a walk in my pram. It was one of those coach-built works of art from Debenhams, with big wheels and a chassis to rival Rolls-Royce and my Mum was pushing it and chatting to my Dad by her side. She was nattering away to him and stopping every now and again for neighbours to ask her “when’s it due?”, which upset her mightily because now there was not much of a baby bump she could get dressed properly again, and there was a great big clue in that she was PUSHING A PRAM, when she noticed he’d stopped answering her. Glancing to her side she saw he wasn’t there and then looking back saw him having what could only be described as a fit on the pavement. She let go of the pram with me in it, and we trundled into the road as she ran back to give him assistance.
He was later diagnosed as having epilepsy which had been caused by the head injury he received in the crash, but that didn’t excuse Mum forgetting me later that week when she left me at the Post Office. Dad was so much on her mind that she had when collected her family allowance for the first time – big day! – she hurried back to make sure he was ok, and realise when she got back that not only had she forgotten that I was still lay in my pram outside the Post Office a mile and a half away, but that she’d even had me in the first place. Charming!
Thus, the circumstances of my birth were certainly life-changing for the family in more ways than is usually expected when babies are born. My Dad had one more major fit after all that, which he recognised as soon as it started and thankfully put himself in a place of safety. He had been on the house roof at the time and had he not recognised the smell of burning from the time he had been walking with Mum and me in the pram that day, he wouldn’t have known to get down off the roof quickly, and who knows what would have happened? That was the last time though and he was cleared to go back to work and to subsequently drive about a year after it.
As for me, I welcomed my two brothers over the next 7 years and I can honestly say that their entry into this world was a lot less eventful than mine, even though one of them was born by emergency section because he was upside down and nobody had noticed. Drama must be in our genes.