NannyGranny’s Olden Days’ Middle Years 7

At the end of the milking season, it was the same old story, we moved on again for higher wages. My husband taking a milking position on a farm further out in the countryside, at Pirinoa. I was also needed to help out with the milking when the boss was away. The farm’s milking shed was a distance from the house, a bit of a hike over a big hill, or a drive around the road in the car.

This was pretty worrying when I had to help milk the cows. On the early mornings, the children were left alone asleep in their beds at the house, and in the evenings had to sit in the car, beside the cowshed amusing themselves. A lot of farming families were forced into doing the same thing. We heard news of a family who had a house fire while away at the milking sheds and just got their kids out of the house in the nick of time, which made it even more scarier.

Pirinoa was close to good hunting tracks into the mountain ranges, like up the Washpool creek, at Cape Palliser. My husband’s townie friends, from our single days back in Wellington, sometimes arrived on weekend pig and deer hunting expeditions. Using our house as a pit stop on their way in and out of the bush.

After a couple of days wandering, up hill and down dale, in mountainous bushy terrain, they returned looking bedraggled, wet through, and dog tired. Much to the boys amusement, my husband used a splash of petrol from the can to get the fire roaring, to warm them up and dry them out.

Crashed out on our living room floor with cuppa’s we enjoyed hearing them reliving their big adventures. Sightings of multiple pointed antlers on roaring stags during the rutting season and charging wild boars featured the most. However, they were the ones who got away. The real tally, much more modest than their yarns, was lucky to muster up one pig and a few possums. Secretly, I was pleased, as I was always on the side of the animals.

After receiving confirmation by phone from the Doctor’s surgery, that another baby was on the way, after only a couple of months, I collapsed in a heap of tears onto the sofa. Feeling completely overwhelmed, I was unable to see how I was going to cope.

Our money never stretched enough to cover all our needs, no matter how frugally we lived. We just scraped by, living from one monthly pay day to the next, with nothing to spare, any unforeseen happenings causing a big panic. Free mutton and milk, plus growing our own veggies helped, but we would never have made ends even nearly meet, without help from Eric Robb’s general store, on the highway, across the road from the ‘Tin Hut’ pub, at the Tauherinikau Racecourse.

His kindness, in allowing us to put the supplies we needed, on tick, month to month, and square up each payday was a big lifeline. Also if we really got stuck, he would allow us to carry over some balance to the next month.

Arriving at the Featherston Maternity home, for the birth of my third child, I was informed, that unfortunately, Doctor Roberts, a very careful Doctor and a quiet kindly man who cared for me, was away. The only other local, Doctor Fraser, was filling in and was called out to attend my birth.

His child-birthing philosophy was, he could get the job over and done a whole lot quicker and easier, by first, knocking the mothers out for the whole process. When I tried explaining how easy my babies fell out and that I would be no trouble, he wasn’t going to have a bar of it, there were no exceptions. Tersely informing the nurse to get me knocked out.

Lying flat out on my back about to give birth, I tried desperately to fight off the nurse trying to smother my face over with a ghastly smelling chlorophorm cloth, but she got the upper hand and overpowered me. I lost consciousness feeling like I was drowning and vowing in my head to never let myself be put in the position of going through that again.

When my eyes opened, I cursed and swore at both the nurse and doctor. So, exactly, one year to the day, after his little sister’s birth, November the Eleventh, our third child, a boy was born and would be forever sharing his birthday. We named him with the same initials as his father and brother. Pam Warner, one of the nurses, was astounded at me having had three children so easily by the age of eighteen. She told me, I was like the primitive people in other countries who had their children out in the rice paddies, then put them on their backs in slings, to carry on working.

Later, another nurse told me that a baby born to a Maori lady, at the same time as mine, had died. Thinking about the Chloroform mask trick, I wondered if it had anything to do with it. I felt a huge wave of sadness in me, I was unable to shake,  thinking about how I had a live baby, I hadn’t really wanted, when the other mother who did, had lost hers. Fortunately, Doctor Roberts turned up that evening from his house next door to the Maternity Home and counseled me that my feelings were the result of my birth and things would look up soon.

Life carried on bleakly at home. Desperately short of napkins, with so many little ones, if it rained too long, I had to improvise with hand towels, pillowcases or anything else, to get by. Adding a new baby’s needs, to the second child, now eighteen months of age, a bit plump and still not walking, who needed carrying everywhere on my hip, as well as a toddler, just stretched my already overloaded day too far, stressing me out continuously.