'My dad would come down and visit, but never my mum. He would bring cheese and onion pie, and a gooseberry tart.'
Most homes allowed for visitors, though who would (or would not) visit varied depending upon the situation each particular expectant mother faced. For some their family and friends flocked to the home during visiting hours, but for most their visits were primarily strained exchanges with one (or both) of their parents or perhaps a sibling or close friend. Most homes allowed parents to visit their daughters, while they may have additional exceptions around friends, other family and boyfriends. The Homes generally had specified visiting hours, usually Saturday or Sunday, though some had no restrictions. One participant recalled that her father used to come and visit her on Sunday afternoons, bringing her favourite ‘cheese and onion pie and a gooseberry tart’. They would go for a drive and have a picnic. Such visits were particularly memorable, especially as she went into labour while riding in her father’s car on a Sunday afternoon, though he seemed ‘not too much bothered’ and just took her back to the home for her labour. Another participant had an amusing experience where her dorm mate was having a visitor who turned out to also be one of her friends, allowing them both to have a social visit with the same person.
Visiting time meant different things to the women, particularly at different stages of their time in the home. For some they received regular visitors throughout their stay which allowed them to feel connected to their community and life beyond the home. This was meaningful in the ways it supported their return to their lives after they left the home. Others felt that they were clearly banished to the Home, and visiting time was challenging as their parent(s) would rarely talk of what was happening when they called, a reminder of their shameful position in the family. After giving birth some participants had family and friends visit, bringing gifts and praise of the new infant. However, many recalled this as a particularly painful time for visitors especially with parents who did not wish to see or know anything of their grandchild. One mother came to visit her daughter at the Home and was shocked when she answered the door holding her newborn, refusing to look at the baby or reference the infant’s presence. At the same time these new mothers were bonding with their newborns they were being confronted with painful attitudes delegitimizing the life and wellbeing of their first child.
Did anyone come visit?
'I think my mum came to visit now and then. Not often, cause it was difficult cause of the other children she had to look after. She didn't even tell my sister and brother. Only my older brother knew.'
Who visited you at hospital?
'A couple of my friends from college came once. Um, but oh! I used to dread visiting time because you had to stay in bed. You couldn't get out of bed. And everyone's bloody husbands used to come in.'