The Love Child Series on Channel Nine which follows the stories of women in an unmarried mothers home in Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 1960s has caused and overwhelming response from our Starts at Sixty community. Many of you have lived through the pain, either directly or helping a loved one through it.
We called out and asked some of you were willing to share your stories and we had an incredible response. Last week was the first series and this week we continue. Here are some of the brave women who have lived through this pain and have privileged us with their story of this time…
I was 16 and my boyfriend was in the army. We lived out of town on a property owned by friends of my parents. When I realized I was pregnant, I was terrified. I didn’t tell my mother for ages.
When I did eventually confront her, mum took me to our family doctor and Dad went to talk to my boyfriend and his parents asking him to marry me.
They refused to allow us to marry so Dad decided to was best to send me to Sydney to stay there and work throughout the pregnancy. I remember him screaming not to come home ever, especially with a baby. I had no support, no love and was discarded like a dog.
The treatment by the doctors and the rest of society was appalling back then. If you were under 21 you were still under your parents responsibility and control so you had no rights especially in this situation. The saddest part was that when I went to Sydney my parents signed my baby away. I carried out the pregnancy and after going into labour at St Margaret’s Hospital I saw a little red screaming face, dark hair and a dimpled chin. Shortly after my glimpse of the baby, I had a pillow pushed on my face and was told not to look at the baby because “he has nothing to do with you.
My heart was broken and I was in so much shock. At the time of writing this I have tears blurring my eyes even years after it happened… It is still too painful.
My father took me on a holiday to a Butlins holiday camp. Whilst he was out with his female friends I was raped. Lucky or not lucky, I knew who he was and what his first name was as I had heard his friends calling him this. I may have been flirty but I did not deserve what I got.
My father beat me half senseless, probably trying to get rid of the baby. My mother found out much later, but she would never have stood up to my father. They were separated and she was afraid of his violence.
The baby’s father admitted what he’d done. Probably because raping a minor was let off by the courts with just a warning.
My father told me we were going to see specialist to confirm the pregnancy and the next week he told me I was going into hospital for a test, as I was 18 weeks, just to be sure the baby was okay, and I was okay to carry it. That afternoon they drew fluid from my stomach, “just for a test,” and replaced it with what I know now was salt water, but they told me, “If we take some out we have to replace it don’t we…”
All seemed well until the middle of the night. I wet the bed and was so embarrassed. I still didn’t get it. The next morning the pain started and went on for around 36 hours, I still didn’t get it, I just thought I was sick. I felt ill and asked for a bedpan, before I knew it something came out into my hands and that’s when I knew. I just screamed and vomited.
The aftermath of what happened was awful. Two months later I had been living on my own away from my father and I attempted to commit suicide. Fortunately I failed but I was living with no respect for my own health or safety. I had the mindset that I was worthless and just wanted to die.
I eventually was able to recollect and refocus myself. I thought that the only way to get over this was to replace what I’d lost. I went on a holiday far away. I met a very nice man and fell pregnant to him. He was my saviour and we married two months from the day we met.
We were married for 41 years before he passed away from cancer. We have five lovely daughters and 15 beautiful grandchildren. He never really understood my compulsion with the one I lost, no one does. Only I bear the grief.
Since watching “Love Child”,” Philomena” and reading the heartache of other women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption in the 1960s and 1970s, I believe the decision I made at the age of 18, was the right one for me, despite being very difficult.
It was 1971 and I missed my period twice. The weeks that followed put me on an emotional rollercoaster.
I made an appointment at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne to be checked. I was very frightened as this was my first pelvic examination. The examination revealed I was eight weeks pregnant and god forbid an unwed mother. I was forced to see a Social Worker that day, who advised me to go home, tell my parents and that I would give the baby up for adoption. I was terrified and ashamed of what my parents would think, plus my family and friends. I did not want to bring more shame to the family as my older sister “had to get married”. This was not what I wanted.
I left the hospital fearful and in tears and told my boyfriend it was confirmed, I was pregnant. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I sobbed at work, I sobbed on the train. I sobbed in my sleep. Even going for a leisurely drive. Even if the Holly’s hit song, “Too Young to be Married”, would come on the radio. I couldn’t get away from it. I was running scared and ashamed.
A month later I attended my routine check up at the Queen Vic and was forced to speak to the Social Worker again. I came out of the room in tears. This time a nurse who had attended to me earlier said, “You know there is another way ” and she handed me a piece of paper with the name and telephone of a private Specialist obstetrician and gyaenacologist. I believe this nurse did me the greatest justice. She had given me the name of a doctor who could help me so I didn’t have to go through with the unwanted pregnancy and give up my baby. The doctor’s private rooms were on St.Kilda Road in Melbourne. They were very clean and sterile with nurses and an anesthetist onboard. I was advised I needed to visit two GP’s to get reports of my mental condition. I paid $20.00 to each GP (this was quite a lot at the time). The cost of the procedure was $450.00 paid in cash. The Specialist gave me a six month prescription for the pill as he didn’t want to see me in this predicament again.
I went home relieved, I had taken control of my life. I did not have to give up my unborn baby to a stranger and I never had to go through the anguish for the rest of my life and wonder, “where is my baby”?
I was married in 1977 and was blessed with the birth of Identical twin boys in 1980.
Do you have a love child story? Or perhaps you helped a friend or relative through it during this time?