I guess we all have them, regrets! Ones that direct the course of your life and have huge impacts on who you are as a person.
I went to a Baby Shower last weekend, it was a young lady we have known since she was a tiny tot now she is having her own baby. Afterwards I was reflecting on the day and thinking how lovely she looked, you know how they say you blossom when you are pregnant, well she was certainly blossoming and I thought how nice it was to see her enjoying her pregnancy with her friends and family. It is so different now to when I was having children, we wore these big unattractive shift type dresses or tent dresses because for some reason we tried to camouflage the fact we were pregnant. Now these young mums wear clothes like everyday dresses and they don’t worry about their obvious pregnancy state, I think it is so nice, and they look natural, carefree and lovely.
The other thing I was thinking about was how things have changed with the whole pregnancy thing. Our young friend isn’t married and not actually in a secure relationship even, when she first found out she was pregnant she freaked out, like what’s with that, if you have sex there is a high chance you may get pregnant. Back in the 70’s and earlier years, it was a bit of a stigma if you got pregnant out of marriage, you certainly wouldn’t be able to celebrate it unless you had an extremely open and accepting circle of family and friends. I know because I have been there, pregnant at 17 and hiding the fact for as long as was possible, even to hiding in my bedroom when family and visitors called, then been sent off to a far away city to have my baby where no one knew me and having an adoption arranged. It had to be the worst time of my entire life. The worst thing was that there wasn’t any domestic purpose benefit then or single parent benefit, so I actually didn’t have any choice as I couldn’t bring up a baby without financial help. So I stayed with a matron (I think that is what she was) then she arranged for me to stay with a family I had never met and I had to do their housework, cooking and babysit their baby for my keep. Not my most pleasant memories, but I was grateful for the help I had at the time, it could have been much worse, as I am sure others could testify to.
When the time came to have my baby, I went to a nursing home which was very scary for me at 17 having never experienced even been away from home really. It was a long hard labour and I didn’t have any instruction on what I was meant to do, and struggled through it on my own, but when that gorgeous wee boy arrived my maternal instincts kicked in and I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was allowed to cuddle him for the first few days, I had bought him a lovely big teddy-bear and written the name I would have called him by and a note saying I loved him, around it’s neck on a necklace, but they soon took him away and even though I would love to have been able to keep him it was made clear to me that they had already made all the arrangements and I couldn’t change my mind. The staff there were not that nice and I was made to feel less of a person just for having a baby out of wedlock. Looking back if I had been more mature and sure of myself I would know that I could of changed my mind surely, I mean he was my baby, I didn’t know how I could look after him but maybe something would have fallen into place for me, but you can’t gamble on something like that can you? This was a wee baby who would have been totally dependent on me. They told me about the couple who was going to adopt him, they were a professional couple who were in their terms, well to do, so I imagined that he would have been well looked after and provided for. But looking back the saying or the song ‘all you need is love’ may have got me through because I sure loved that little baby and couldn’t imagine how you could feel such heart wrenching love in such a short time, only to have it taken away from you.
So they took him away and sent me back to where I was staying, but I had lost something very very important, a large gaping hole appeared in my life and at the time nothing that was going to fill it. So as you see, going to this recent baby shower opened up quite a few thoughts in my crazy mind, just how much things have changed today, I don’t imagine single mums now would even give it a moments thought about keeping their babies because they know straight away that our country will give them a benefit to look after that child, and I am glad they do because my experience is not something I would wish on anyone.
As the years have gone by I can’t say I ever got over that experience, you just learn to live with it and get on with life. I was so fortunate to go on and marry a lovely man and have three more gorgeous sons whom I adore. But isn’t it amazing how an everyday event can conjure up all sorts of thoughts and memories in your mind and take you back to a moment in time that you wish could have been different. I am so happy for my young friend and she will make a great mum, she has sisters and aunties who can all help and support her when she needs it.
That had to be the cruellest, bumpiest corner I have had to negotiate up till now.