it was shutting down on Tuesday. Thomas spotted this story. Doesn't the setting looked eerily familiar despite the 46 year gap?
I had been ranting all last week about the QMH shutting and the possibility of being forced to hunt out the Southern General at a minute's notice while in labour, having never even visited anyone in that hospital, but now that the stress of last week is over, I have had time to reflect on why I wanted to make it to the QMH.
Obviously I had had all my kids there so I know the place inside out and many of the staff. I can find my way around in the dark! They had all my ante-natal notes, so of course it was sensible, but it was much more than that really.
Sentimentally, the QMH is the first memory I have in my life. I was taken up the green, buttercup-covered hill in a part of the city I didn't yet know but which was to become home 20 years later, one day in June 1971 carrying a toy lamb to visit my new baby brother. The weather was beautiful, the hill and flowers are so vivid, it could be yesterday. I remember the wards and beds. I remember being with my dad. In fact, ironically, the only two things I don't remember of that day are my mum and baby brother. I didn't want my first ever memory to shut down!
Then there are my own kids. I remember which room each one was born in and every minute of every labour. You don't want want those memories to shut down either.
After my first baby was born I joined the QMH breast-feeding group. We met every week, though none of us really needed the breast-feeding support, we all needed the moral support. I met Karen, Cynthia and Siobhan - friends for life... breast friends. We had more babies together, and more tea and cake. We've helped each other through the highs and lows of life ever since - all our divorces and new lives. That nostalgia was dying too with the QMH.
I realized after the dust of the last week's stress settled that what you need when you are having a baby is to feel at home because you are so vulnerable and the QMH to me was a kind of home - like a home-birth with all the trimmings - someone else to clean up and all the medical back-up you might need should your 10lb baby become stuck at birth. Even the revolting school dinners they served after you had the baby had a way of tasting acceptable in all their stodginess. My last meal there - of two wet beef burgers, heavy mash and over-boiled cabbage will live with me forever!
Shame on you whoever decided to close it :-( Now I will need to give serious consideration to calling a halt to my childbearing years!
And to celebrate the QMH years, here's a photo of Anna, who was born there and Amaia, one of the very last QMH babies leaving it together about 5 hours before they closed for good :-(