Sunday 29th May 2022

Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100.

Telling My Story. Chapter Six. Becoming Mum. 1971. 2018.100

Since May 2017 I started telling my story. There have been major gaps of time in between the introduction and Chapter One when a little thing called head and neck cancer took up my time and attention. I am celebrating yet again…with a new smile…

New photo to celebrate my new ‘teeth’ and smile!

However, I would like to pay tribute to my first photo for this series…and the second one too. It’s been quite a time!

Taken on my 67th Birthday – late 2016. Cancer unknown but it was ‘there’

One year post major cancer surgeries.

Chapter Five. Becoming a Mother. 

We were young at 22 (my husband) and me 21 but we knew we loved each other unconditionally and we were going to become parents within the first 8 months of our marriage and that we were already teachers working hard in country N.S.W.

By the time we got to the July appointments with the local G.P. in the town closest to where we lived, things seemed to be going well. I had stopped teaching (and was already bored), but I had a nursery to organise (aka a spare room) and my husband was building our first child a cradle. Mum ensured we had some items like clothing and manchester in the previous school holidays when we visited my parents in Sydney. I think once she was over ‘the shock’ of me being a pregnant bride, she relished her grandmother-to-be role.

A Pregnancy Gets Complicated. 

The next visit I had to my G.P. raised alarm for him when my previous weight had ballooned by around 6 kg in a short time and it was all-fluid. He needed to send me on…to a specialist Obstetrician Gynaecologist in the city that served our north-west region. Yes, now it was serious. And yes, I was more than a bit scared.

Where we lived, in this little cottage on a farming property, access to our place was via a dirt track, which led to the road which was one not bitumened. When it rained, and we got warning, my husband would drive the car to the road and we would walk through the mud and wet to the car. That is what we had to do on the morning of the scary-t0-me visit to the OB/Gyn at T. A trip that would be punctuated by slippery sliding of the car (but my husband knew what he was doing) and me being quite frankly terrified.

Even moreso when we got to the office in T, and with kindness but showing concerned care, Dr G decided I had what was called ‘toxaemia’ then and I needed bedrest, diuretics and that was to be in a hospital. A hospital! Where I would know no-one and it was confronting. I had a stay in a shared ward with other mothers-to-be at risk for a week. It remains as a memory of a pretty worrying time (and I was not a fan of hospitals). Not seeing my husband nor anyone I knew was very isolating. My parents were 6 hours away by car.

Playing the Waiting Game At Home.

However, I was released when Dr G said things had settled and he sent me home with instructions to rest and eat plenty of lollies (I never knew why, but happy to comply) and to return on a specific evening around what was my due date and the process of induction would commence.

Another weird thing (in today’s terms) I had to have was an X-ray of my pelvis to see if the baby was lying properly. The X-ray showed there was a slight placenta previa. When we saw the Dr he did not think it would preclude natural labour.

I was better prepared for my next stay in the large regional hospital…even though it was going to make me a mother! We drove to T after my husband had finished teaching and that early evening on a Wednesday entered the maternity award and he reluctantly said good bye. In a pre-labour ward (4 beds) I was given ‘something in the form of a gel’  to start labour. Umm. Nope, it did nothing. More. Still nothing. All day the next day, niggly pains but nothing of significance. By the time Dr G visited on the Thursday evening he took me to a labour room, accompanied by a nurse and he ‘broke my waters’ finding some blood. He was not perturbed as he thought it was connected with the marginal placenta previa.

Would I Ever Give Birth?

I felt that way on the Friday. I had no real idea of what labour would feel like other than it would be painful. I was in the hands of the experts…and those who were trained in the safe delivery of babies. On the Friday morning I was taken to a more scary room! I say that because it had a bed (for me) and many instruments and hospital things I had no idea about. I had a nurse with me on and off but generally I was alone. My husband was teaching (of course) but at lunchtime, he rang the labour ward to ask if things had started. He was told “no” and was instructed to stay home instead of leaving at 3 p.m. to drive the 2 hours to T. Outside even though I could not see it, I could hear it was very windy and raining. It was early August and the late afternoon turned into early evening with me  saying ” I am going to be sick”. I wasn’t but I had decided I was ‘over it’ and using the only pain relief – a gas mask – along with clutching my lovely midwife’s hand I really had NO IDEA I was near giving birth. This was, as I know now, transition.

Things sure changed from around 5 p.m. and by 6 p.m. in raced Dr G in whites…squash gear. He’d got the phone call that I was labouring (no-one told me LOL) and presented himself quick smart. With a quick application of gloves, and a gown, I pushed our daughter into his hands with no pain relief…although I think I may have bruised the lovely midwife’s hand.


At 6.35 pm this child was pronounced 10/10. I had no idea it was an apgar score and teacher-me thought it was about my effort!!

I “think” our girl was placed in a crib – there was no bonding much then nor anything like putting baby to the breast. I delivered the placenta – and was shown where the ‘breaking of the waters’ had cut into it. Interesting!

But the best part, evenso, was hearing Dr G speak to my husband who was so far away to congratulate him on becoming a father. I did not get to speak to him but was assured that he was on his way to see us.

I had given birth and was a MUM!

In the way of those times in the early 1970s, our child was placed in a crib in a nursery with all the other babies, and I was in a shared ward. She would be brought to me for feeding and nothing else and then returned. Her Dad got to meet her behind a glass window around 9 p.m. that night, and then when greeting me, said in that romantic way: “She’s got my long fingers and your fat cheeks.”  It did not matter! I was over-the-moon in what I now know is a wonderful post-partum feeling of endorphins. Reluctantly my husband left to return home in the raging weather but with his mate (my principal-boss) who had driven on a really horrible night.

And then it began. 

Breastfeeding was what I wanted to do and tried. Oh yes I did. With nipple shields but also with ignorance too. There was some help given but not much. My parents, my grandfather and aunt surprised me (us) with a visit on the weekend. I admit I was not gracious. I couldn’t believe they had come and uttered “what are you doing here??” Unbeknowns to me (and my husband) it was my father’s decision to have my relatives catch a train to Sydney, then he met them and they drove, in rotten winter weather for 6 hours to see us. Fortunately my ill-mannered reaction was ignored and they all saw her (via the window) and stayed overnight before the long drive back home.

Almost a week later we were discharged. Mum flew up to accompany us home ( I am guessing we needed help but do not remember if we asked for it) and in the meantime, bought a stroller/pram and other goodies for her first grandchild and granddaughter. Miss almost 1 week was brought out to the car by a nurse and placed in my arms and then I gave her to her Dad. He had not yet held her. It was not done then. I can tell you I do believe bonding is vital and she did not get much in her early days because of hospital rules.

We drove home, a long night ahead, and I held her in my arms. Yes there were seatbelts but no baby restraints, just put them in a basket on the back seat. Mum sat there and we kept our daughter in the front.

I would like to tell you all went well. In many ways it did. She was/is a much loved child. Her maternal grandparents were overly attentive but meant well. Her paternal grandparents visited us in the next school holidays with some of her uncles and aunts and she was welcomed into the family. There was not a lot I enjoyed about being a mother to a newborn. Feeding was a challenge and at a 6 week check up at the clinic, I was strongly urged to forget feeding her myself and start her on a bottle.

Early Months of Motherhood.

We lived in an isolated area and we had one car. Each Wednesday my husband would drive us to his school and then  I would take over and drive to the small town near us. This involved some small socialisation – visits to the clinic and to various shops. Home again. I know I looked for distraction from the tedium of those early months. She was a good baby once her colic settled and loved trying custard and foods like that. I was bored and needed more. So I cooked. I also ate what I cooked and I believe that IS where a lot of my eating to mask feelings commenced.


P.S. I wrote this after Chapter 4 as I wanted to keep identifiers from the story. Please tell me if you think it detracts from what I am writing. Thank you.

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!





  1. You were very young!

    • Yes. And that is a fact! But ‘in those days’ already been working for two years in a permanent job. My granddaughter is the same age now, and just finishing Uni with no work prospects (yet) so in generations that followed, much has changed. Denyse x

  2. Not that I know much about it (obviously) but it sounds like maternity care has changed so much since then. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a lot of change in not much time.

    • Yes you are right it has. It took me forever to get pregnant the second time (oh the irony) so there is more to come in a future chapter.


  3. Hi, I’ve also had neck cancer (thyroid cancer) but now just live with the after-effects, which can sometimes be quite debilitating. Nice to meet you through Esme’s Salon.

    • Thank you for sharing your story here Stevie. I know that everyone’s head and neck cancer can have differing reactions and after effects. For now, mine includes getting used to having ‘teeth’ in my new upper gums and jaw. I hope your health continues to be relatively stable.


  4. I was glued to your story. So much of it reminded me of some of my Mum’s stories about life in a country town, particularly giving birth. She did so even earlier than you, so it was an even more sever – to me now at least – system, but to my parents and those in that era, it was how it was done. I admire you and mothers like you so much. Dads too. Thanks for sharing your story and I don’t think it detracts from your story unless you are wanting to make a more historical account. And then maybe that could be just for your family or an intended audience. I’ve found myself quite intrigued by the stories of my parents and grandparents’ lives so I’m trying to get as many stories and details down as possible now that I know they can quickly disappear.

    • Thank you so much Bronnie. I am glad to have that feedback. In some ways all of it feels like it only happened a while ago but when this ‘child’ is now 47 with 4 children then that IS a reality check. I must say in the past few years when I have chatted to my dad about some of the life he experienced it has been somewhat eye-opening.

      I sure like to think this story is worth writing and have been printing it and keeping it in a folder. Many years back I gave our two kids the typed up story of their births and the lead up to it all.

      Denyse x

  5. Hi, Denyse – Thank you for sharing your story. It has stirred up so many of my own memories. I agree that you have not detracted from your story at all. I was intrigued to keep reading the whole way through….and would like to read more!

    • Thanks Donna for your encouraging words. I am glad that it is not detracting from the story using general names.

      That you were intrigued enough to keep reading made me think I am doing this right!!

      Much appreciated.

      Denyse x

  6. Hi Denyse – Thank you for sharing your story. I think maternity care has improved to give warmer experience to new mothers and their babies (e.g. skin to skin contact for bonding right after birth). #MLSTL

    • Thank you. Yes it sure has. There was a world of difference from the birth story here and that of our second child born over 7 years later. I was better informed and knew so much more of what was ahead. Each of my grandchildren’s births have also shown me just how important it is for both parents to be present (as they can) and for babies to stay with their mums.

      Denyse x

  7. Oh Denyse, this is just so interesting! I’m sitting here with my daughter and new granddaughter and thinking about all the changes that have taken place even since I first gave birth in the mid-80s, it’s amazing to read your memories on top of all that! Thanks for sharing your stories, and yes I can assure you that maternity care has certainly improved. Shared for #mlstl

    • Thanks Debbie, I am glad that you have found this interesting. Pretty scary being young and having to be away from hub to await the baby’s arrival for sure. Over 7 years later it was a differently prepared me to give birth the second time around.

      I hope things are going well for your girl and her girl! I loved those days.

      Denyse x

  8. Oh this brought back memories of all the “joys” of newborn babies Denyse – the uphill battle with breastfeeding (I succeeded but with a lot of ignorance and a dose or two of mastitis thrown in for good measure). We also had a baby bassinette in the back of the car with a net/belt that went over to hold it in place – safety capsules came into play around the time our second was born. There is so much information available nowdays compared to our time – but with it comes a lot of pressure and second guessing – whereas we just got on with it! #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM 🙂

    • Oh yes, I did have something like that with child #2. Ouchies. More in a future story. I am pretty sure we took notice of authority without question which is why I “gave up” breastfeeding when the clinic nurse said she wasn’t getting enough milk!!

      Yes, even in 1979 we had that net over the bassinet on the back seat with a seat belt. And when grandkids came along, I reckon I ended up buying over 6 carseat/convertibles over the big range of time between them all because “they do not comply” after a certain number of years.

      Thanks for having me at #MLSTL while your buddy is ‘cruising’….

      Denyse x

  9. I’m in awe of your very strong memories. But have to say that while reading your post a few memories did come back to me. Loving this series. #MLSTL Will share on SM

    • Thank you so much. Interesting isn’t it that it helped your memories too. I find that even as I write more return. Must get the brain active as I do I guess.

      Denyse x

  10. I really enjoy reading your story Denyse and am impressed by your level of recall. And, your smile is beautiful! #MLSTL

    • Oh how kind. Thank you so much Christie. I am putting about 4-5 weeks between stories to give me a chance to remember more!

      Denyse x

  11. Having a baby has changed a lot in the past years, hasn’t it? Lovely post with a lot of precious memories.
    Sharing for MLSTL

    • Hasn’t it just? Yes, even from this baby’s birth to the next one, some 7 years later much had changed, including my knowledge of what was ahead!

      Thank you,
      Denyse x

  12. Wow, it sounds like things have changed so much from the time your first child was born. I was riveted to this post, god, you were so brave. I can’t understand the idea of them not telling you that you were in labour! And all that time after your daughter was born, and not being able to be with her outside of feeding time. And then when you said that the first time your husband held her was when you were taking her home… And you were so young but managed it well. I don’t think I could ever have said the same for me at that age. Beautiful chapter Denyse xx

    • Oh I am so pleased you found it of interest. I did not know, until the labour of my 2nd child, that ‘posterior’ lie means any pain is often not as effective in labour to open the cervix. You get the pain of labour but not always bringing it closer to birth. I am pretty sure because my first time labouring, and it was a long time ago, there was not as much known about it.

      Anyway those times had changed immensely by the time we had our second child, some 7.5 years later, which in itself is yet another chapter.

      I think 21 then is not like 21 of your generation or even my daughter’s. We were already in permanent work and married. It was like that.

      Denyse x