The story of my birth in 1986
As part of the Thackray Birth Stories project, I'm going to tell the story of my own birth. The project encourages people of all ages to tell stories about their births, their children's births and to respond to the collections of the Thackray Medical Museum. So I've taken up the challenge myself!
A window onto 1980s life in Stourbridge
The first challenge is telling a story that you don't remember. But I've heard lots of details about what happened when I was born, from my parents and other relatives. My parents were living in Amblecote, Stourbridge in the Black Country. I was their first child, and my mum dutifully recorded all the fetal movements leading up to the birth - though found this more unsettling than comforting, apparently...
Fetal activity chart
The former QE2 hospital - as of 2010, the hospital moved to a shiny new building.
In common with the majority at this time, I was born in hospital, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in nearby Birmingham. It was 9th April 1986, but unseasonably cold - the first thing I can recall knowing about my birth was the snowy blizzards that went on all day.
Me and my dad.
As for the delivery itself, things were made more difficult because the umbilical cord was wrapped round my neck. My dad tells me he stood in front of the baby heart monitor screen to ensure my mum couldn't see my heart rate dipping because the cord was stopping me breathing. Forceps were needed - then I finally arrived at 3.59am.
My mum holding me
Hospital name tag
Known as 'girl of Alison King' for the first few days. I don't know where the name 'Laura' came from...
Marmalade on toast. The natural(?) choice after giving birth...
I know two small details about what happened next. Firstly, when my mum tried to get out of bed to come and see me in my bed she went flying - the epidural was still in full force and removed all feeling from her legs. No one was (seriously) hurt!
Secondly, on repeated occasions my Aunty Cath proudly tells me about how she was first to come and visit me and my parents in hospital. The detail she - and so I - remember was that they all sat and ate marmalade on toast... It's funny the details that get passed down, and the moments that characterise such a big family moment.
Congratulations cards to my parents
Here are some of the cards my parents received from family and friends. I wonder when this practice started? One thing I noticed was how much less pink there is than today - the cards are much more varied that the new baby ones you see in the shops today.
Baby clothes and blankets
I was greeted by some traditional hand-knitted items - a jumper/dress knitted by my grandma (with matching trousers, not shown here!) and a shawl knitted by my mum. The 'sheepy blanket' was a big presence throughout my childhood...