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Sunday, August 13, 2017

.London and about..............part two

During the time I was living and working in London and having given up on Graham due to the kind of person he was. I decided to enjoy myself best I could. I tried to forget that I was pregnant, and I did for pretty much six months. I never showed. The style of dress was loose so that helped. It was when I left work that my co workers found out, except for my friends who already knew. Some of the girls and I would go to the Overseas club in London. I loved seeing so many different cultures. The Arabs in their white robes and dusky skin, WOW!!! they remain in my mind as being so "romantic". My friend Janice married one of them. She had a baby herself and handled it differently than I did. She went home at Christmas, had her baby, gave it up for adoption and went home for Easter. Her parents never knew. Then she married and went I assume to wherever he lived where ever that was. I often wondered how her life went. I lost touch with her and was never able to reconnect.
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I did date a bit during that time, although I can't remember anything about it or anyone I dated. It was all casual, movies or dancing and so on. No one I got involved with. Probably roped into something by friends who wanted to get me "out" again. I loved London. We loved to go up the West End and look at the shops, sit in Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus and watch the world go by.
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The first year I was there we spent New Years Eve in Trafalgar Square, it was such a thrill and for me an experience of a lifetime. People dancing in the fountains and hanging out of trees, sitting on the Midnight it was utter glorious chaos.....then one minute later everyone headed for the subway, last trains home if you were lucky. People pounded over the car roofs in order to make it to the Tube.
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I was able during my time in London to go to art galleries and museums and all that the city had to offer. Walking along the Thames Embankment and sitting in the parks.
I loved the Embankment, especially at night. I got inspiration and strength from Bodicea, she was my hero at the time. I didn't need a man to be strong, I was determined.
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London was a safe city for me, I had no fear, maybe I was just unaware, I don't know. I had seen the worst places and yet the city proper held just so much history and made me more curious about it all. I would go home on the underground at night and not worry about being down there alone. Good grief. We would walk to Tower Bridge and I would go from there to Putney and walk the rest of the way up to Wimbledon Common and home.
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When I was with Graham the parks and Wimbledon Common were favourite make out spots. Hmmmmm After I was already pregnant we were intimate completely, no point not to, but the next nail in the coffin was me catching something nasty from him. Nothing much but enough to shock me into a complete break up. It was humiliating. I remember going to the doctor and having to sit in a chair spreadeagled while I got "painted" inside with some concoction. That's one thing, remember never been naked? Yeh! well I had all these students surrounding me watching this procedure. I felt faint, told the doc I was going to be sick. No you wont says he, as I throw up all over him. Serves him right. Students learned to clean up puke I guess so there. Humiliation again for me.
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When I reached six months in my pregnancy I went home and made arrangements to go to a Mother and Baby Home in Putney. My Mother was distant and uninterested. She was ashamed and worried what "everyone" would say. Well, Sheila's sister Val, who was in Yarmouth when we were there on holiday, wrote and offered her shoulder. My Aunt Liz, ever faithful, wrote to tell me she understood and was with me in this. My next door neighbour Mrs MacDonald was with me and later on had me sew clothes for her and do her hair, she paid me for this so I had some spending money until I returned to work. So much kindness. I would make her a new dress for her weekends out and I would set her hair for her. Mrs Mole across the road was also supportive as was Mrs Bird. I am sure there was talk, there always is and shame, but those who mattered were with me 100 percent and long after too. In fact until each of those ladies finally died we wrote and kept in touch.
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When I had made my arrangements I went back to London to a Mother and Baby Home in Putney.(Many of these women were 'sent away' to mother and baby homes for the duration ..... We found out about beechwood an awful mother and baby adotion home in putney.) I found that description on line when looking for something on Beechwood. So many girls around my age were sent away in shame during those years. It was not acceptable to be a single mother.
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I stayed there until my baby was born and I had decided what I wanted to do.
Beechwood was out of the 1800s haha. It was a very large house. There were rooms for expectant mothers and rooms for Mothers and babies. The expectant Mothers were expected to do housework, we polished the silver, yes silver, we cooked the breakfasts and did dishes. One day wash, and another wipe. Big old pots and pans and a wooden draining board that had to be scrubbed with Lye soap. We also helped the new mothers among other things. Changed the beds and did laundry. Not much time to sit around and mope. We leaned to use cloth diapers and we collected our Layettes. Some of the girls had been there more than once a couple were models. So it was that as I had this nasty vaginal thing going on and the resident nurse isolated me. I had to have a bathroom to myself. The other girls felt bad for me but in fact I didn't mind the luxury of my own bath hahah. I was very shy. The nurse had been horrible, calling me bad things and saying I didn't belong with decent people. My dad found out what had been said to me, and she apologized to me and I got reinstated when she got the doctors report and it was nothing "catching". I would say what it was but I don't remember. Anyway, she did an about face telling me that it was in fact me being naive and "innocent" that led to my condition rather than the "sluts" who were back two or three times having babies and catching VD. I guess she should have been in a different line of work if that's how she felt. I found that I have thick skin, name calling didn't Phase me too much, I blocked it out. I suppose I felt I deserved it. I also suppose I was still in shock to a point, how did I reach this point in my life.
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Our beds were horse hair, thin mattresses on planks of wood to support our backs they said. I remember my milk coming in and dripping all over. My Dad would phone me probably from work. I remember one girl came to get me and said "who is that man with the sexy voice?" never thought about my dad as being sexy haha. Then I had the "show" and labour started Friday night. I told the Matron and she gave me a sleeping pill. I was a little concerned that I would not wake up in time. Then what? Not a problem. Next day I got a real pain and that sent me to my knees. I remember holding on to the stair rails and whimpering. Well I didn't progress very quickly and they were thinking I could not deliver, I was small. They called my parents. Not sure how as we didn't have a phone, so I suppose they called Liz and Ray. Anyway, I made progress and eventually landed up in the hospital on the Sunday, St Theresa's in Wimbledon. Most of the staff were nuns. I was lucky that a young doctor took an interest in me and stayed after his shift to be with me. I was otherwise alone. He told me jokes and that was terrible with the pains coming and cracking up as well. Now remember here, I am very naive, no one had ever seen me naked and especially not "Down there" and here is this strange young good looking humiliation was complete. Still he stayed with me and held me while I had the contractions and pushed hiding my face in his coat so he didn't see me. He had a white coat and I clung to the lapels with my face in his chest. When it was done and Laura was born he couldn't find a gurney to take me to my room. I felt great, full of energy and so I jumped off the table saying I can walk, I don't know where my legs went because they were not under me when I jumped off the table, he caught me. We got back to my room. Next day when he was doing his rounds with the other doctors I pretended to be asleep. Sooooo embarrassed. I remember the next thing was to take a bath. I was horrified I thought I would fill up with water. It didn't know it would all go back into place after the birth. I didn't know this 8lb 8oz wonder could come out of me and I would close right up behind her. I knew nothing...............having said that, the next few weeks were great. They taught us how to wash and care for the baby and do diapers and boil the linens (no disposables) how to prevent diaper rash. What and how to feed. To dress and swaddle my baby. My Parents showed up the day after the birth. Mum looked at the baby and said "Good grief it looks like a bloody half caste" she was indeed blue and bruised with tight black curls. A dig from her at Grahams background that she knew nothing about. Graham didn't see LauraJane. Mum didn't like the name either "Where the hell did that come from?". I don't know, I just liked it.
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I stayed for several weeks, I could stay as long as I wanted to so that I could make an intelligent decision on the future of my child. My Father wrote to me. He said it was up to me what I did, he didn't advise me. He laid out the choices as he saw them, that if I kept the baby then my future as far as marriage went was dim.( Fine by me, I was done with men for good I thought.) That finding a man who would raise another mans child were few. (I never experienced that) On the other hand if I gave her up then I would always wonder and no doubt have severe regrets later, but that it was my choice. He would stand by me whatever. Mum didn't know he wrote me, I found that out many years later. Mum had nothing to say according to her. My Dad gave her no choice when he asked me to go home. That's what I did. I kept my child and went home. Not in disgrace as it turned out. She was the only one who didn't welcome me back.
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As time went on and it was time to go back to work, I got my job back at AC Delco and mum watched Laura because she was now watching Mark Seabrook, her nephew who was about 8 or 9 months older than Laura. Life carried on.............more next time.


Nancy C. said...

A book or movie could be created off your story Janice. I was very naive as well married and pregnant at 19.

Nana Diana said...

This is really fascinating, Janice. I knew nothing about labor or delivery either and my first boy also weighed 8 lbs 8 ozs. We are a lot so many ways!
Keep writing - I love this. xo Diana

Anonymous said...

Janice Raymen Just loved reading this. How brave you were as such a stigma in those days for unmarried mums. Your Dad must have been such a lovely man as without his support things could have ended so differently but also great that in time your Mum loved Laurajane and such a happy endin

Anonymous said...

Maureen Shillabeer Just read your most interesting blog. Was the home run by Nuns? . There was a home in Southampton Hampshire for unmarried mothers run by Nuns. Apparently it was awful. I do admire you Janice. You were lucky to have a supportive Dad and Aunt Liz. Now look at you! Well done girl.

Magic Love Crow said...

Janice, you should really write a book! What a life you have had my friend! You are a brilliant woman! Big Hugs!