Donna and Grandad

With Grandad, shortly before hospital visit number one.

I’ve been a patient at a hospital five times.


I was four. Broke my leg running down a hill and coming a cropper. I was pretty lucky it didn’t hurt.

What did pain me was not getting crutches. I was too little, and instead was given a leather lace up boot to wear over my cast. There is a fetching photo of me then, wearing a skivvy, a crochet dress and my broken leg in that huckery boot, so less glamorous than swinging around on crutches.


I slid down a wooden seesaw and got an arse full of splinters. The doctor at A&E methodically tweezed them out. I toddled home, slightly sore but glad to have wood free buttocks.

If it happened a couple of years later, it would have been worse – the 13 year old pubescent me would have been ultra humiliated to bare her bum at a doctor. She would have probably keep the splintery bottom rather than expose herself.


Number three visit was when I slammed my thumb in the door of the Kingswood. The doctor did some weird thing to make the nail come right off. I remember the smell of burning nail.

That Kingswood was a beast of a thing. It fit all six of us in quite comfortably. My sister was embarrassed by its big green gormlessness but a few years later when she got her licence she was keen to drive it. The Southland boys all thought it was cool.


After a scan. They told me our baby wasn’t the size they expected. A couple of weeks too small. They said “Look, you are probably going to lose the baby. Just go home and be prepared, there’s nothing we can do”.

The next day I bled, and didn’t know what to do, or how bad it was supposed to be. It didn’t stop so my man took me to hospital entowelled and weak. They padded me up, put me in a gown and clean sheets. I woke up and went to the loo and fainted.

Had never been unconscious before. Lying on the floor I felt blackness. It was an oddly comforting, enveloping darkness – like falling asleep in the arms of warm God.


The fifth time at hospital I had a baby. I was in labour groaning like a nutter, with a guttural choir of other mother-labourers joining in. Was pretty useless at getting baby out, much pain for mere millimetre progress. My waters had broken hours before, so they wanted baby out. I got the epidural and it took away the pain except for a vestigial trace that told me when it was pushing time. Baby turned around, so they tried forceps than switched to caesarean.

The doctors are pulling and cutting at the business end. My man can see my purple innards, and then a squealing baby. They ask him to cut the cord and he wonders if the umbilical cord is an extension cord; because it is so long.

My baby girl is thrust into my arms. I smile, and am surprised to see she is wearing a knitted beanie. She goes straight for my boob, and I know instantly she is a toughie. This baby is not fazed that my tit is five times bigger than her darling little beanied head.