Proud parents

4 weeks

Don’t drop me!

We had papered the corner of the bedroom next to my side of the bed about two yards in each direction and four feet high. The pattern was colourful with Nursery Rhyme characters and animals. It looked lovely. The carry-cot was on a stand all ready. The pram had been chosen from a catalogue at the co-op so we were now able to ask them to get it for us. We hoped the train hooters wouldn’t waken the baby – by then we had stopped noticing the noise ourselves.

The first night I got home after two weeks of ‘relaxation’ was a bit chaotic. No more feeding Anabel at 10pm then handing her to the nurse till morning. We had the cot downstairs and John carried her and the cot up at bedtime. I had always been a sound sleeper so was surprised that, from the start, at the least sound from Anabel I was awake! Around 2am, if John wakened, he would get up and hand her to me. Most times I’d lift her before she made enough noise to waken him: he needed his sleep.

18 weeks

What are you looking at?

I only remember one time when she objected to being laid down and didn’t go to sleep. We thought she probably had colic but we were fraught. I sat in bed with her and patted her back, and eventually she got rid of the wind in quite a noisy belch! John got to sleep and I held her till she slept then laid her in the cot and we all slept till 6am. However she didn’t settle after the 6pm feed and cried a lot, so from the beginning I kept her downstairs with me until our bedtime. The cot stayed upstairs and I could rock the pram which sometimes sent Anabel to sleep. Ages afterwards, I thought perhaps instead of starting on the housework etc I should have rested more. The baby was probably not getting enough milk by the evening because I was very tired by then. The evening crying continued for quite a while. The Clinic suggested a remedy from the chemist as they thought it was colic: nobody ever suggested a bottle. It would probably have been the solution but it never occurred to me that the wee soul was hungry.

13 weeks

Axe-man at the door?

John was out at the country churches or local meetings often, and we would just have the kitchen fire and not bother lighting the sitting-room one. It was cosy. There was an old-fashioned ‘nursing chair’ which was comfortable and I’d wrap her in the shawl and sit with her and sing nursery rhymes and Sunday School hymns. I got a big fright one night when Anabel was a bit over 3 months old. I was changing her when suddenly there was a loud knock on the door. I just froze. There were no lights at the back and it was dark. Whoever it was gave it a louder bang. I was thinking, why would a person come into our pitch black yard to the back door when there was a front door and street lights? I called that I was busy with my young baby and it wasn’t convenient to open the door. He shouted he was trying to find somebody but I said I didn’t know them and to try somewhere else. It really shook me up! He was probably a very respectable, but not very thoughtful, man but my thoughts were more on the mad axe man line!

As well as no Babygros, there were no disposable nappies either so each day the inner muslin and outer towelling ones had to be soaked in cold water, then in soapsuds, then boiled. I had a white enamel pail for boiling them. It was quite a cheerful sight to see them all snow-white blowing on the washing line.

12 weeks

I’m definitely worth half a crown.

The first time I walked down to the shops with the pram was a slow progress. So many people wanted to see the baby and chat, and other prams would stop and we’d block the pavement. What I didn’t notice was that a lot of folk had dropped half-crowns or florins into the pram and I was amazed and touched by the generosity. It was obviously a custom. My sister Annabel has told me it happened in Greenock also. Everybody loves a baby, and Anabel brought us new acquaintances from the Haltwhistle population. She soon had more ‘honorary’ Aunties and Uncles than we’d had hot dinners, as the saying goes.

We got into a good routine. Anabel usually slept after the 6 am feed, so I did some of my housework, meal preparation and so on. John would be in the Study until 10 when we’d stop for a cup of tea and I’d attend to Baby. After lunch, John would go off on his borrowed bike. Ministers did a lot of visiting in these days and his aim was to have visited every home at least once in the first year, which he did. Some afternoons Anabel and I would head for the shops, specifically to Norman’s the butcher, for meat for the next couple of days (although we had no fridge the pantry had a marble slab which was always cool), Carrick’s for the fruit and vegetables, Co-op Grocery, and Birkett’s for bread. They had two loaves which we particularly enjoyed: A diamond-shaped wholemeal and a white loaf baked in a tin with ridges which made it easy to cut into even slices. Other days we’d have a country walk and often went with Mary to meet Linda coming out of school.

The Christening has just occurred to me. Annabel was godmother. My Mum and Dad and Annabel and Jim came and I presume they stayed with us. We had two doubles and a single bed so Annabel and Jim must have snuggled up in the single. It was a well-attended service taken by Mr. Thynne who also baptized Anabel. She behaved very nicely and was quite happy being passed from hand to hand afterwards.

6 months

Let me out!

I rested more and drank pints of water and Anabel gained a few ounces in weight every week and very soon had us round her little finger! She was very sociable and was happy to smile and gurgle when people met us on our walks. From an early age, she didn’t like to be held horizontally and once we worked out why she was holding her arms up and grizzling we obliged. One of our congregation told us she would grow up with a crooked back, (a cheery wee soul!) but we were always careful to have a hand flat against her until she was able to sit up unaided. At about four months I bought Farex and made runny milky porridge with it which she took from a spoon rather messily. Then we moved on to Heinz tins of baby food. Her first favourites were prunes, then carrots, but before long she had a varied diet. By the time she was into her 7th month she was sitting in her high chair drinking from her cup and using a spoon, again rather hit or miss but I had a spoon as well!

She also did a lot of ‘talking’ and liked picture books and stories. About that time there was a special service at the Haltwhistle Church, can’t remember what for. I had her sitting on my knee near the front. I’ve been trying to remember the name of the biscuit she was clutching to keep her quiet, I hoped. It was very hard and had a ribbon attached to it somehow, which you could pin on her clothes or loop through a button-hole so it couldn’t be dropped. She had some teeth and sore gums so the hard chew was good! Anyway, John came onto the platform to introduce the speaker, and Anabel waved her arms about and perfectly clearly and loudly shouted out ‘Dada, Dada’! There was a fair bit of laughter and just for a minute she stole the show! But she settled down and so did John and got on with the event.

9 months

Look what I can do!

A church member, whose children were well-grown, offered us the use of their playpen which we were delighted to accept. It was painted blue (her family were all boys) and had a wooden floor which folded in halves, and when in place raised the child from floor draughts. I put our cushions all round and could safely leave her with wooden picture blocks or plastic cups to make a tower with so that I could get on with my jobs. She would play alone for quite a while before desiring company.

In February 1958, when she was about seven months, we had staying with us some trainee ministers from one of the Colleges doing some ‘work experience’ under the eyes of Mr Thynne and John. They and Anabel were quite taken with each other! One afternoon when they were all out I walked into the room and found Anabel standing in the playpen clutching the top rail, smiling all over her face! I told her what a clever wee girl she was, wishing John had been there to see. When they came home, she was again in the playpen. Once they got sat down I told them about finding Anabel standing up and wishing John had seen her, when she actually did it again. She got on her knees then ‘walked’ her hands up the rails and reached the top where she stood saying Dada – and of course he lifted her out. Who could resist her?

From then, she never looked back. Soon she was walking round the furniture. In the kitchen she would hold the leg of the table and walk round it under the table and out again. She never crawled at all. On the day she was 11 months old she was walking round the kitchen holding on when she just let go and walked away down the hall. She then walked back to me looking mighty pleased with herself! And of course Daddy had her prowess demonstrated when he came home. Fortunately, on our quarterly trip to Carlisle earlier in June we had bought some reins. Blue leather with bells on the front-piece, which would certainly be needed for walking outdoors because she liked walking but she loved running. Happy days!

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