Whipps Cross Hospital memories

Ros Kane has a treasured recollection of motherhood

I had my daughter in 1986 at Whipps Cross hospital. It was a long labour. Other women came in, gave birth and left the labour ward while I was still struggling away. Midwives would go off duty and come back on their next shift and look surprised I was still there! Eventually, with the loud confident encouragements of an experienced midwife, I had my baby, kneeling on all fours. The confinement was very well managed by the staff. Then we were left for an hour in a darkened room while Phil and I bonded with our gorgeous much-wanted Olive. Why had no one told me it would be quite like this? I almost started to believe in God.

It was late at night and luckily the post-natal ward night nurse agreed about - in fact suggested - having Olive in bed with me, although that was against hospital policy. How could I leave her crying in a cot alone? Next morning, the early shift midwife (not much more than half my age, no doubt) breezed in, shouting, 'Naughty girl!' (that was me) and insisted I put Olive in her cot. I wasn't upset because I was floating on Cloud Nine, at least, having achieved this miracle of the new life in our lives.

For months afterwards, sitting in local cafes, I would go up to other women with babies and ask them about their labour experiences. I was fascinated by the sight of these young women sitting there normally in normal clothes, with their make-up on, having recently been through the most primeval experience known to woman, this trance-like, indescribable process......

For years after, every time I passed Whipps Cross Hospital and caught sight of the maternity unit from the bus, I felt the same thrill as I did on 5th October 1986.

When Olive was about four, we sometimes visited the place where she was born. Olive was interested in babies, and we asked the staff if we could look at the babies in the special care baby unit. They always allowed us to. That remains one of my most precious memories of my daughter's childhood. So all in all, Whipps Cross hospital was the setting for some of the most unforgettable and positive times of my life.

Ros Kane, March 2016.

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The local history society for the Leyton & Leytonstone area of east London