• Stephanie Hammond

Another baby girl

A new highway was being built, separating our new abode from the rest of town. It wasn’t long though before a footbridge was put across the chasm created for the new road. It was a boon to me because I spent a part of every fine day pushing the stroller along the road to town - for grocery shopping, playing in the park, or for visiting people.

Life was good for us here and soon it was time for our second baby to arrive. I anticipated her birth with mixed feelings. I was welcoming, but I was afraid. I was so full of love for my first little girl I just didn’t know how my heart could fit in love for another child. As an 18-year-old, I didn’t know then that there’s no end to love, that the heart can expand to fill with love for the whole world, and still there’d be room for more. I know that now. And I got a glimpse of it when my second baby was born.

The older one was two years two months old, a perfect age difference I thought. This new little one was overdue so we went to stay with my mum awaiting her arrival. At 1 a.m. one night I was woken by strong urges to use the toilet - not an easy activity in those days of the outside loo! By 1.30, after several trips, mum decided I was in labour and we headed off to the hospital. I was duly prepped (I’ll spare you the details of enemas and shavings) and at approximately 3 a.m., in spite of the midwife’s denial that it could be happening so quickly, this little angel was born. Minus the stirrups of birth number one! Gratitude for that!

My two little girls were so different to each other. The first blonde, the second born with a shock of black hair. The older was a healthy strong little girl and her sister was plagued with a range of physical problems. Looking back, I am so grateful for a mother’s instinct and for the understanding of the medical profession.

She wasn’t very old, barely three weeks, when I noticed her head was unnaturally leaning to one side and her sweet little feet were lying close to her shins. So off to the doctor we went. He agreed these were problems that needed attention but didn’t hold out much hope for a fully straight body. Surely she would need some form of calipers for her feet as she began to walk. In the meantime he sent me home with some physiotherapy type manipulations to do for her. And so began a traumatic time for her, and for her older sister. As the baby cried at the things I did for her, the toddler hit out at me and demanded I don’t hurt her baby sister. It was so hard to explain to her but she seemed to respond when I showed her what the problem was and how we could help her be straight like she was.

After that, she was a great help. And a great comfort to her sister and me. Thankfully, there were no long term effects and that sweet baby has grown to be tall and straight and a great walker all over the moors of England. She didn't walk till she was 18 months old and hasn't stopped since.

This little girl also had several bouts of bronchitis and other similar problems. I was often at the doctor who prescribed ‘banana flavoured’ penicillin. After getting the fourth prescription filled I threw it out and decided that she wasn’t getting any better with it. So I changed what she was eating, somehow linking these continued respiratory problems to the whole milk I was giving her. I changed to fat free milk and her health improved. Had she continued with bad health in this regard, I wonder still if she also would have fallen to the rheumatic fever that plagued my family. We’ll never know.

Now my little family was complete. Two daughters, both with their own personalities, both full of love and a great sense of fun. Lovely companions for me, and my need to love was given ample room for expression. I loved them and they loved me and they loved each other. And encompassing us all was the love of and for their father.

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