Luke was not due until about the third week in January. It was fortunate that he came early as by January we were snowed bound at Roffey and completely cut off. The students were on their Christmas break and there were very few people left in the building. The bursar had turned off most of the heating to conserve oil, and Donna and I were virtually living in one room in our flat at the college. It was impossible to get a car in or out of the entrance to the college, and whilst a midwife might have been able to tramp through the snow to reach us, I suspect that had Donna gone into labour in January, we might have had to cope on our own.
On Christmas Eve, we gathered together with the few remaining staff in the big house attached to the college and sang carols. Someone read the passage from Isaiah 9 that I had received some months before which says ‘to us a child is born’, and we wondered if this meant anything. At the end of the evening, after we had returned to our flat, Donna went into labour and we phoned Cuckfield Hospital, the little country hospital about ten miles away where we had attended anti natal classes and they advised us to come in.
Donna continued in labour on and off for the rest of the night, but I returned back to Roffey.
In the morning, after the morning service, I phoned my parents and told them we were sending our apologies and wouldn’t be coming to join them and Lawrence and Eileen as Donna was in hospital. My father asked ‘Why, is she ok?’ and I said ‘Yes, she’s having the baby!’
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. The labour was long. I spent some time with the other mothers who were having Christmas lunch and as they didn’t seem to want their sherry, I drank it.
By 11pm, Donna was shattered. We prayed and we read her Daily Readings. It was the Isaiah passage again about the birth of a son into the world. We knew the baby would be born on Christmas Day.
Sure enough, at 23 minutes to midnight he arrived!
Donna just wanted tea and gave the bundle to me, so much for bonding! I held him and cried. Later I phoned my parents and my father cried as well. He so much wanted a grandson.
I got back to the flat at around 2.00am and had a beer and a sandwich and wrote “Luke” on the frost on the window. It was cold but I couldn’t believe I had become a dad!
The next day, my parents and Lawrence and Eileen spent the day at the hospital, and the local papers came to take photos of the Christmas baby!