Aileen spent the next few hours in a combination of wanting to lie down, or get up and walk, whatever helped relieve the increasing waves of pain at that particular moment.
The mid-wife said that walking would help, letting gravity play its part in helping the baby’s head work its way into place.
Her contractions were getting closer, hourly, every 30 minutes, every 20, but her dilation hadn’t changed at the same rate.
The nurses came through and pulled the curtains around the bed in the 4-bed dormitory every 30 minutes and checked on how Aileen was feeling. Then they’d have a visible check, 2cm was now 5cm, but they wanted her to be at 10cm dilation before they’d take her down to the private wards in the labour suite.
Aileen would smile and say she was fine, then squeeze John’s hand so hard that he thought she would break it, but he could’t really complain given the circumstances .. could he?
There were 3 other mothers in their dormitory, Aileen was the eldest by 15 years at least, but she had seen some other women in their early 40s on their stroll around the ward.
Most of these women already had their babies, some had other children or partners visiting, a rich collection of flowers and cards surrounding their beds.
Late pregnancies, late romances, second marriages, or like John and Aileen, affairs which metaphorically and physically grew arms and legs and delivered much more than they had bargained for on a drunken night out.
Generally, the more mature couples seemed happier, more settled and prepared than the three younger women that Aileen shared a room with.
One of which was on her own and didn’t know the father, had no family in the area and her mother couldn’t afford the travel from England. One who had her mother as birth-partner because the married man she’d been having an affair didn’t believe the child was his, The other girl’s partner was there, both of them under 20, happy, excited and really only children themselves.
It really does take all sorts.
Not exactly what Annie Lennox meant when she sang The miracle Of Love?
God’s beautiful creation?
Or an accident of chemistry and circumstances?
Go tell that to some unfortunate couple who can’t have children and have desperately tried every procedure available to them.
Or maybe you think that’s Gods way of saying that they’re not meant to have children?
That she is somehow punishing them or their line for sins committed?
In that case, you really should top yourself, this planet will be a warmer kinder more intelligent place without your presence.
At 1pm, the lunch trolley arrived with a selection of stodge and a couple of healthy options. It was a hospital, it had to at least try to make an attempt at offering a healthy diet, even if most of the clientele didn’t want it.
Some of whom seemed to prefer skipping the food and going outside for a cigarette, heavily pregnant, standing in the wind with their dressing gowns and quilted coats chatting to the other mothers about how the imminent birth would affect their government provided benefits.
The miracle of love indeed.
At 2pm, Aileen’s contractions were coming every 10 minutes, sometimes harder and more prolonged than others.
John held her hand and kissed her as the nurses inspected her cervical opening as she lay back in bed. Her feet placed in stirrups, a bank of spotlights lighting up her nether regions and what John could only think of as a couple of spatulas strategically placed.
It was difficult to stay relaxed with a midwife and 2 students wearing headtorches taking turns to stare straight up your Shareen Nanjani and taking notes.
The nurses helped Aileen on to her feet and swapped her nightdress for the hospital provided gown.
You know the type, those highly flattering green ones with the gap at the back that never quite covers your arse.
The dignity of it all .. but at times like these who cares?
Aileen was at the stage where she’d had enough pain, she just wanted the birth to be over now.
Fortunately the nurses had brought along a wheelchair and Aileen didn’t have to walk through the ward showing her derriere off to all and sundry,
It was time to head to the labour ward.
Just listening to this on Radio2 .. what a fab song.
How about turning it to .. If I was a girl?
What would be the change in perspective and priorities?