A long story for this week’s InMon entry, but I included two of the prompts (unattended children / midwife), so perhaps you’ll forgive me. One of my aims for this year is to vary the length of my writing more, so this sneaks in around 1000 words. If that’s too long for you, I understand. I’ll try to go shorter next time to mix it up!
“How long have they been there?” The nurse held piece of yellow paper in front of her mouth, but Joey could still hear what she said.
“Three hours,” the other nurse replied. This one wore a paler blue. Joey wondered if that made her the boss of the other one, or the opposite way around. “They’re very well-behaved though, barely a peep out of them.”
He was being well-behaved, Joey decided. He and Kirsty had been deposited in the waiting room by their father after he picked them up from school early. He hadn’t seen Mummy since this morning, but she was here too. In that room across the corridor. Kirsty said it was because the baby was eating its way out of her tummy, like when a baby chick pecks open the egg and hatches. She said Joey had done the same thing when he was born and Mum was OK after that, so she would be OK again.
But Joey didn’t like to think about the baby eating Mummy’s tummy. It made him feel sick. And that was why he was being good, really, because if he stood up or moved, he thought he might be sick all over the clean carpet.
“How’s she doing?” The pale blue nurse looked straight at him, but she was too far away to be talking to him.
He couldn’t see the dark blue nurse’s face because of the paper, but it didn’t sound like she was smiling when she spoke. “Epidural’s in, but I don’t think baby wants to come out.”
Epidural sounded bad. And it was in. Joey tried to picture the baby pecking Mummy’s tummy. What would be in? Surely out would be better than in.
“Shall I see if they’ve got any biscuits?” Kirsty’s voice roused him from his thoughts. She’d been sitting next to him, swinging her legs and reading out loud all the posters on the wall. “Breast is best,” she said as she stood up, then she giggled. “We’re not allowed to say Breast at school, because it’s rude. I’m going to write that in my news book on Monday. I’m going to write ‘We went to the hospital and had a baby brother and breast is best!”
“Yes please,” said Joey, ignoring all the stuff about breasts and news books and baby brothers.
“Yes please, I’d like a biscuit.”
“Oh.” Kirsty turned away and ran over to the nurse’s station. He heard her asking about biscuits and then the pale nurse took her hand and led her away. He wondered if he should follow, but the dark nurse was coming towards him now, so he sat up straight and tried to look well-behaved.
“Hello, Joseph. My name is Britney. I’m your Mummy’s midwife.”
“Mummy hasn’t got a wife,” Joey said. “Mostly only Daddys have wives, except Ian Pilbury’s Mummys. They are wifes and he hasn’t got a Daddy except in Hawaii.”
“Right,” said the dark nurse. “Well, I’m a special kind of nurse and I’m going to help your Mummy have your baby brother or sister.”
“What happens to the baby’s beak?”
The dark nurse looked a bit confused, but before she could answer, an alarm went off on her belt and then the whole room seemed to be shouting “Code Pink!” and the dark nurse, who wasn’t Mummy’s wife, stood up really quickly.
“I’m going to have to go, Joseph. Can you sit there nicely until your sister gets back?”
Joey nodded, but the dark nurse ran towards the same room they had Mummy in, and he suddenly needed more than anything to know that Mummy was OK. He followed the nurse and slipped through the door behind a man in a white coat.
The room was small and bright and there were loads of people all gathered around a really tall, thin bed. Everyone seemed to be busy, but nobody was saying very much. He couldn’t see Mummy, but Daddy was standing by the top of the bed, and the pale blue nurse was there already. Worst though, he could hear Mummy. She was puffing and panting like she’d just run in a race, only really loud and occasionally she shouted out, like she was angry.
Joey stood close to the door and wished he hadn’t come. But now he was there, he couldn’t leave. “Mummy?”
No one heard him. They were all busy with Mummy and the baby chick that didn’t want to come out.
“Mummy?” he called louder, but Mummy’s breathing was getting louder and now one of the doctors was barking orders at the baby chick, like “push” and “breathe” and “easy now”.
Joey suddenly felt a hand grab his hood and pull him backwards. He stumbled for balance and looked at his attacker. Kirsty was there in front of him, blocking the doorway.
“We shouldn’t be here,” she said. She looked kind of whiter than normal, and her eyes were red. “Come and have your biscuit.” She took his hand and led him back to the chairs.
There was a plate of biscuits and two plastic cups full of juice waiting on the little table, next to the toys that belonged to the hospital.
“What’s happening?” he asked, when they were sitting down again.
“Mummy’s having the baby. We just have to wait here a bit longer.” Kirsty pulled a police car out of the toy box. “Why don’t we play with this?”
“Is she going to be OK?”
Kirsty looked over at the door to Mummy’s room. They couldn’t hear her now, or see the nurses and doctors crowded around her. “Yes, it won’t be much longer now. Come on, Joe, you be the police car and I’ll be the burglar trying to steal something.”
Joey did his best to play, but Kirsty kept looking at Mummy’s door and he kept thinking about the doctor shouting. They had nearly used up all the toys in the box when Kirsty stopped playing at all and smiled. Joey turned round and saw Daddy coming towards them with a blanket in his arms.
“Kirsty, Joey, meet your baby brother, Issac,” he said smiling. “Then we can go in and see Mummy.”
He crouched down so that Joey could see the baby’s face. It was red and scrunchy and really really small, but it still looked like a person.
“Where’s the beak?” Joey asked.