A name for a girl
I don;t remember much of the next 48 hours, I was tired and sore. My baby was in the special care nursery and I remember walking down to see her, every step was so painful. Telegrams of congratulations were delivered. One of from my mum and Ivan, my stepfather and the other from Dad and Margaret, It was a long weekend and Margaret had the job of delivering telegrams so she got paid to bring them to me. I was still in a private room and slept most of the time.
Occasionally they would bring the baby to feed but she wouldn’t suckle, I had plenty of milk so I was expressing it and not only feeding her but prem babies as well.
I still didn’t have a name for her. My favourite was Jerusha, It was surprisingly enough a biblical name, but I had heard in the film Hawaii, when Julie Andrews played a missionary of the same name. My father wouldn’t allow it.. He said he didn’t want any granddaughter of his being called Juju all her life. I also thought of naming her after my sisters using their middle names Lesley Anne but that just didn’t seem right.
I quite liked the name Roxanne, I had a friend when I was young in Hawera who had that name, but it was also the name of a song about a prostitute so that didn’t go down well either, but I quite liked the anne at the end.
I also wanted to give her a Maori middle name Makere, which translates as Margaret, both my mother and stepmother;s name but that went down like a lead balloon. Any mention of her father’s side of the family was not permitted.
I was moved into the main ward and the lady across the way called her daughter Joanne. Then I remembered Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne”. It was always one of my favourites and James Taylor’s song “Fire and Rain” talks about Suzanne. I figured being a single mother would bring plenty of fire and rain and it just seemed right.First I had to convince Mum and Ivan, She had a Siamese cat called Suzy. Another sticking point was that Suzanne means pure white lily and of course she wasn’t.
We talked on the phone and she wasn’t happy, naming a child after a cat. So I gave her two choices, Suzanne Margaret or Agatha Ethel Maud. They were the worst names I could think of. Unsurprisingly she choose Suzanne Margaret.
I discovered on the ward I wasn’t the only single mother. The girl next to me wasn’t married either, however her baby’s father was there so people were a little more understanding of her situation. The hospital insisted the I should be called Mrs instead of Miss Hobbs. My mother wasn’t impressed. But you are not married she said and shouldn’t pretend to be. It was hospital policy, it prevented they said people wanting to adopt hanging around the ward.
Suzanne was out of the nursery as well which made it a lot easier, I got to bath my daughter for the first. I never really handled a baby before. I think I changed a cousin’s nappy a couple of times but he wouldn’t have been a new born. Suzanne was a good size almost 8 pounds and quite long. My friend in Upper Hutt was a ballet teacher and I mentally booked her into classes.
I still didn’t know why her eye was shut, and I was a little bit afraid to ask and they weren’t telling. In fact in reality I think they tried to avoid me as much as possible.
I didn’t have many visitors or flowers or gifts like the other mothers. My brother came though. He took one look at Suzanne and said, See I told you God would punish you. Looks like he got you good.
When Suzanne was 5 days old, I decided that she would have to be bottle fed. She just wasn’t getting enough milk. It broke my heart but it just wasn’t working. What made it worse was one of the other mothers decided to bottle feed because breast feeding would interfere with her social life. I thought it was so selfish. I had tried so hard and it was the most natural thing in the world but I couldn’t do.
Just another failing on my part.
© Barbara Hart