Instead of reserving all cards and presents to a person on their birthday, it makes sense to offer some hearty congratulations to their mother as well.
After all, it was the mother who did the bulk of the hard work to make the birth happen and it is they – not the child themselves – who can remember it.
This is certainly the case with Forfar’s Lorna Millar. On this day 20 years ago, December 9 1996, we reported that Lorna (whose surname was then Douglas) gave birth to daughter Keris Douglas in the back of father Brian’s car. They ran out of time as they tried to reach Ninewells Hospital.
The Tele reported: ‘Mrs Lorna Douglas, of Pirnie Mill said she had woken up at 5am complaining of pains in her tummy. Although she knew she was going into labour, she thought she would have plenty time to get to Ninewells Hospital, in Dundee, considering the fact that with her first child she was in labour for 22 hours.
‘Lorna’s mother. Gladys Finnic, accompanied the couple to the hospital and was on hand to help Lorna give birth in the back of the car.
‘Delighted dad, Brian, said: “All I heard was Oh my god it’s the baby!’ I pulled in at a bus stop. The cord was round her neck a bit and I loosened that, and she gave a wee cough. Then it seemed ages and ages until she gave another cough, probably just a few seconds, but it felt like forever.”‘
The Tele spoke to mother and daughter yesterday as the latter was celebrating her 20th birthday at their home in Forfar.
The story appeared on our front page 20 years ago and Lorna remembers being told about its headline appearing on a billboard outside a shop.
Lorna said: “I have tried to black it out because it was a bit dramatic at the time. The car was still moving and I was on my hands and knees in the back when she popped out. The car was still moving.
I said: ‘It’s popped out.’ We stopped the car. It was December and it was cold. She was wrapped in towels and her dad said: ‘She’s not breathing.’ But after clearing out her mouth it became clear she was okay.”
As for the car they were travelling in, “it was a Vauxhall Cavalier – not as comfortable as the cars you get now”.
Twenty years on, Lorna is remarried, to Angus Millar, but still works at the same place – AM Phillips in Dundee, where she is an administrator in the parks department.
Keris, however, has come a long way from the back of her dad’s car – she studies management at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and one day wants to open her own cafe.
On most birthdays Lorna and Keris recall the event. The recently-turned 20-year-old said: “I ask quite a few questions but mum doesn’t want to talk about it because it was quite a scary time.”
After that experience is not a surprise that Lorna (49), who also has a 23-year-old daughter with Brian, Karlene, decided not to have any more children. “I didn’t want to go through that again!” she said.
Also on this day…
1608: John Milton, English poet who wrote Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes, was born in London.
1783: The first executions took place at Newgate Prison.
1884: Roller skates were patented by a Mr L Richardson of Chicago.
1886: Clarence Birdseye, American pioneer of the frozen food company, was born.
1917: Jerusalem, held by the Turks, surrendered to General Allenby.
1960: The first episode of Coronation Street was televised – although it was not networked until spring 1961. It was originally called Florizel Street.
1990: Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was elected president of Poland.
ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: A surrogate mother dog gave birth to the world’s first litter of IVF puppies.
DECEMBER 9 BIRTHDAYS: Kirk Douglas, actor, 100; Bob Hawke, former Australian politician, 87; Dame Judi Dench, actress, 82; Joan Armatrading, singer, 66; John Malkovich, actor, 63; Donny Osmond, pop star, 59; Felicity Huffman, actress, 54; Jesse Metcalfe, actor, 38.