The Baby Arrives

When I first read the letters from spring 1951 a decade ago, containing the Costains’ plans to move to Ottawa in the summer, find a house, meet Carol off the plane August 6th, show off Cyn’s size, then find a doctor and hospital to have the baby in, I wondered whether I would ever know what had happened- because I knew that the baby beat the thesis and that I had been born in Ann Arbor!  But the last airform explains: Cec’s experiments were not complete, his professor Gordon advised he stay at the Ann Arbor lab until the end of September, and so Cyn and Cec decided to put off the Ottawa move for two months, finish the thesis, and have the baby in the University of Michigan hospital.  Relieved, they sent a telegram to Carol telling her not to book an air ticket to Ottawa, and followed up with the airmail letter explaining their decision.  And presumably she came to Michigan at the beginning of August, because there are no more letters.  

They had to find a temporary furnished apartment big enough to accommodate Carol and baby (Forest Ave.), and get their goods packed and shipped to Ottawa, while Cec continued working in his lab and writing his thesis until 4 in the morning, and Cyn typed his latest pages during the day.  But it all worked out- the baby was born and called Linda Carol; the thesis was finished, typed, and sent off to Cambridge; and at the age of six weeks, I accompanied my parents and grandmother in MacTavish over the border to Canada on the way to Ottawa.

The story that I was told suggests the journey was not all joy. They stayed overnight in a motel on the way, and in the middle of the night were awakened by SCREAMING from the baby.  Fumbling round in the dark to find out why, they discovered that she had wound her fingers in her shock of dark hair, yelled in pain, pulled harder, and screamed louder for rescue!  Untwining the fingers and settling the baby ensured that all were wide awake- possibly the schedule of 4-hourly feedings was disturbed.  

Eventually they arrived in Ottawa, Cec started his job in Dr. Herzberg’s Pure Physics Division of the National Research Council, the paychecks started, and they eventually settled in a duplex on Acacia Avenue in Ottawa.  Grannie stayed for months and we were all very happy.

The first baby gets the gorgeous baby clothes from friends and relatives; lots of snaps in the scrapbook of baby staring, yawning and sleeping; and a detailed account of their progress in a baby book!  There may not be letters to Carol (known mostly as Mummy, but now entitled Grannie as well) but there is documentation: bills from the hospital, telegrams from England, and stories in Cyn’s handwriting of the baby’s ‘First’s’- My First Outing, Christmas, and lists of presents, shots, teeth, and so on. I’ll include some of these thrilling vignettes from my first year.  However, since the second baby arrived 16 months later, only the first third of the baby book is filled in! Carol returned to the West Indies  before my first birthday, and the letters to Dearest Mummy started up after a year’s gap, in the 2nd trimester of Cyn’s second pregnancy. She might have been too busy for baby books, but not for the letters, so our story continues.

Cec’s Thesis: or, as Harry Kroto, the future Nobel Laureate, once called it- the bible.

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