Sunday, 23 September 2012
Where have they gone, the gleaming Silver Cross coach-built prams, gently bouncing on their sprung leather suspension systems? Where are their silken canopies with the fringed edges?
Where are the little Viyella vests tied with tiny ribbons, the fine cotton nightdresses, the knitted bootees, the smocked dresses that took half an hour to iron?
Matinee coats and matching bonnets........where are they?
Where, in particular, are the hand-embroidered delicate lawn Christening robes, like the hem of that in the photograph? It's about eighty years old now, but I doubt it will be worn again.
Some of them might be on eBay, but most of them are long consigned to the tip and I learn, in my impending Grandmotherhood, that babies no longer have prams.
They have travel systems.
They don't wear little vests tied with white ribbon,
They have body suits.
I won't even mention the nappies, even though I still use a couple of thirty-three year old muslin squares as dusters.
Gone are the days of lying-in, of extended convalescence after child-birth. I did not experience any of that, but my mother did. A couple of weeks of bed-rest on a light diet, then a gradual return to gentle exercise and, ideally, not venturing out in public until one had been 'churched'. My mother may have baulked at that, but probably not at the extended rest period.
'The Churching of Women' appears in the prayer books, a prayer of thankfulness for deliverance and preservation in face of the great danger of child-birth. The baby doesn't get much of a mention, except in Psalm 127, when during the brief service, children are likened to arrows in the hands of the giant, and 'Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them'.
This makes me feel distinctly elderly, but it's not really so very long ago that pregnancy and childbirth were seen by many as an illness, a weakness, something to be concealed, something vaguely shameful. Thirty or so years ago we wore smocks like marquees in an attempt to conceal the bulge beneath, whereas now the bulge appears proudly emphasised in tee shirt and crop tops.
Forty or so years ago and fathers waited in the waiting room until they were told who had been delivered, whereas now they attend classes and learn all about breathing and birthing positions, and take photos of the emerging head with their mobile phones.
I am learning, for which I am thankful.
I am also concealing a secret stash of traditional toys, nursery rhyme books and even a seventy-two year old smocked Viyella dress.
I wish I still had the Silver Cross pram, but it was used by at least two other families after we had it, and it was third-hand then.
Good job the parents-in-waiting don't read this blog!