I was sitting in my local doctor’s waiting for the results of my blood and urine test. I’d been feeling pretty rotten for some time, feeling lethargic, constantly tired, aching bones, and blinding headaches. I don’t normally go to the doctor’s, but mum had said that I had to, as she was worried about me, ‘you never know Claire’ she said. “There’s so much more infections in the air out there these days compared to when I was a young girl,” she carried on saying. I could hear her mumbling to herself as she, was washing the dishes.
I knew she would be frantic while I was away at the doctor’s, sitting by the phone waiting for my call. “Make sure you phone as soon as you leave the doctor’s Claire” she said. Making me promise to phone, what a little fussy missy she was, but I loved her for it. I used to play on her fussiness when I was younger. “Mum I feel sick,” I would tell her when I had a test at school, and sure enough she would say ‘ok darling, get yourself back into bed and I’ll bring you a hot cuppa up, I’ll inform school your not well’.
It seemed an eternity since I arrived at the doctors. “God I’m bored” I thought. I hated the doctor’s, all those sick people coughing and spluttering, I always felt worse when I was at the doctor’s. I’d read in the past that crowd violence and riots were mainly committed by honest citizens that get caught up in the atmosphere of the event, and ordinarily would never get involved in such actions. Was this the same as the doctor’s surgery, getting involved with the surrounding sickness?
“I wish they would provide up-to-date reading material, I’m sure I read this magazine last year’ I thought”
“Claire Gallagher, surgery two” the receptionist shouted.
At last, I smiled at her and walked passed her, “she needs her roots doing” I thought. I entered the doctor’s room and was invited to sit down. The room was very large but had very little in it, a surgical bed, two chairs (what looked like old school chairs,) computer and an oversized desk. There was nothing inviting or comfortable about this room, the walls were coloured dark grey with three pictures sparsely placed around the fours walls. One, a breakdown down of the human skeleton, the second, a close up of muscular skeleton, and thirdly, a wall mounted gold coloured frame with her doctor’s qualifications in.
I always felt I was at school when I saw her, ‘a typical head mistress type, grey hair, glasses, long skirt and a cardigan and a little overweight’ I thought.
“Well we have found your problem Miss Gallagher” she said, she seemed to emphasize the pronunciation of the word Miss I thought. “You’re pregnant,” she told me.
The words ‘pregnant’ seemed to bellow out of her mouth and bounce of the four walls and slam into me with the force of a hurricane, taking my breath away. I felt as though I was being suffocated.
“What, how” I said anxiously.
“You’re pregnant and you certainly know how Miss Gallagher” she replied to my questions. She gave me list of things I should and shouldn’t do and arranged an appointment with my local hospital. “Make an appointment to see me in a months time as you leave, goodbye” she said arrogantly. I walked out of the doctor’s without making an appointment and decided not to phone mum.
I got home and mum started quizzing me, “well then what’s wrong and why didn’t you phone?” she asked.
“I forgot to phone and I’ve got the flu” I replied. “I’m away for a lie down mum, I don’t want anything to eat or drink” I insisted.
Having found out that I was pregnant at the age of eighteen, I was overcome with shock and disbelief. What was I going to do? How would my parents react? How would my family respond? I decided that I had to tell them as soon as possible.
In the early evening we all sat down to our evening meal, six of us crammed round a small table talking of the day that we all had had. Father telling everyone about his day on the tanks and how a new order had came in for new tanks at Vickers. I thought, ‘well there’s going to be a new order in our household soon’ but decided not to blurt out what I was thinking. Ged, my youngest brother explained about possible lay offs at work and what would he do in the future
“Last one in first one out, ain’t that right dad?” Ged asked.
“That’s right son” he replied.
There was a constant buzz at the table, mother fussing over all of us, straightening the tablecloth, and making sure we had everything, “Is the food cooked enough?” “Does it taste nice?”
Just looking at it, chips, pea’s and home made steak pie made me feel sick. Not the thought of eating it but the fact that I would have to tell them about my secret. I needed a pause in the conversation so I could tell everyone.
My mother knew something was up and asked if I was all right.
“You look a little peaky darling,” she asked.
This was it, it was time, I had it all planned, and how I was going to tell them, however, my thoughts and mouth were not communicating at the same time and certainly not on the same level. I blurted out as fast as possible, “I’m Pregnant”.
Silence! It was deafening. Ged looked at me, mouth open with a half chewed steak pie in his mouth, mother dropped her knife and Bernice started to giggle, (she always giggled when she was nervous.)
It seemed an eternity since I had spoken. I glanced over to Mum; she looked traumatized, probably fearful of the consequences of my actions, knowing no doubt that she would feel the backlash of fathers anger and disgust.
“Jesus Christ, would someone please say something” I thought.
My Heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to burst, I could hear it pounding like a road diggers pneumatic drill, boom, boom, boom as it was trying to force its way out of my chest. Everyone was looking at my father.
Finally my father spoke, this was it; I was waiting for the after effects of a nuclear fall out. He was only five foot eight tall and slimly built, but had the ferocity of ten men, his deeply religious background and strict upbringing made us very wary of him, he was not the type of father we could turn to in times of trouble. His outlook on modern life was very cynical, so when father had something to say it was either a tirade of bible bashing, a denunciation of modern youth, or a tongue lashing directed at us to demonstrate how easily we gave in to evil, and evil ways. I looked into fathers face and had a vision of flames coming out of his mouth and his eyes turning blood red.
What came out of mouth was so utterly unexpected; I thought I was going to pass out, I could not believe what I had heard.
“Well I knew this day would arrive, a little sooner than I anticipated,” he said. “Do you feel alright?” “How far gone are you?” “Have you told the father yet?”
There was no scorn or malice in his voice. I could not believe how wise he was about it; He was so sensible and controlled about it, (in fact the whole family was so supportive.) I cannot begin to explain my feelings of relief for father to accept my condition.
Bernice asked if she could be a Godparent,
“Bet you’re happy about that” Ged asked. “You’ll not be the bairn of the family nee more, he carried on saying.
Mum just sat there, looked around then gave me a reassuring smile. She didn’t have to say anything the smile said it all.
Our evening meal passed without any hassle; in fact it was the only time I can remember it being very social. Usually there would be at least one slanging match between the family.
After the shock and initial fear, I came to terms with my dilemma; I started to look forward to my forthcoming baby, forgotten were my future dreams of going to college and becoming a hairdresser.
The remaining six-month flew by; I had a very comfortable pregnancy, apart from the odd morning sickness and the odd four stone in weight that surrounded my body. My weight spiralled out of control; I suppose it had something to do with my craving for Chinese takeaway food every night and mum saying I had to eat more as I was eating for two now.
Ged would come in from work every night and touch my tummy and ask, “How’s the beach ball doing today?”
I would reply by kicking him in the leg.
Ged was so attentive throughout the pregnancy, I wanted for nothing. We never normally got on, we used to clash every day, sometimes ending in physical fights with father coming between us threatening to take his belt off and giving us a good hiding.
I was helping mum make the beds when I felt a sharp pain and doubled up in pain, the pain was terrible. Mum held my hand and told me everything would all right and not to worry as it’s a normal thing that was happening. I could see she was worried, the look in her eyes said it all. She let go off my hands and ran downstairs to phone for an ambulance. Within minutes the ambulance was there and I was rushed off to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Gateshead. As we neared the hospital I felt another sharp pain and my waters burst. I told the ambulance man what happened.
” I’m really sorry” I said apologetically.
“Its OK love, don’t worry about it, it’s a bodies natural response” he replied. “You’ll be there soon”.
Sure enough, within minutes I was in hospital. I was taken straight in the maternity ward. A nurse applied a heart listening device to my tummy and told me it was to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. A doctor came in and asked me to describe the type of pain I’m having.
“What do you mean what type of pain am I in, IT’S BLOODY KNACKING” I shouted back at him.
“You must try and describe the pain Claire as it will give us a better understanding of what’s going on inside” he calmly asked again.
“I feel as though I’m being torn apart inside” I replied.
“I’m going to give you an internal examination Claire, you’ll feel me pressing inside, it’s a little uncomfortable but it shouldn’t hurt” he said.
Within moments of the internal examination he told me that he would need to deliver the baby now, as there may be complications.
Next thing I knew there were hands all over me getting me ready for surgery. No explanation as to why I was going to have surgery, God I was so anxious, all I could think about was the baby. Mum looked on helpless. She was my mother and she was supposed to help me, but she couldn’t. I could see the pain in her face.
Two hours later I was in bed holding my baby girl. The trauma I had been through earlier had completely vanished from my mind. I had my beautiful baby girl in my arms, all eight pound
and two ounces of her. All I could do was stare into her face and think how lucky I was to have her. All the family were there, fussing over us, each asking for a hold of her.
“Have you decided a name yet?” mum asked.
“Not yet” I replied.
“Why don’t you call her Carly Marie” Bernice asked. “Carly was Grandma’s middle name and Marie was Mums sister’s middle name”
Mums sister died two years earlier, I came in from school and saw mum crying and dad holding her.
“What’s wrong mum” I asked.
Ged stepped forward and took me to one side and told me that she had died in a car crash earlier that day. God I loved her terribly.
So that’s how my first-born got her name, Carly Marie.
I took Carly from Geds arms and sat back down on the bed, looked at her and said her name. As I looked into her face I noticed her complexion change, she started to turn blue.
“Mum, I think something is wrong” I asked.
She came over and looked down at Carly; within seconds she ran out into the corridor and shouted at the top of her voice ” NURSE, NURSE, hurry the baby’s stopped breathing”.
Two nurses and a doctor ran in, they took one look at Carly and snatched the baby from my arms and ran out. I didn’t know what to do, or think.
Mum came up to me and started to stroke my hands, “Be strong Claire, everything will be fine” she told me.
I broke down and cried, “Why was this happening to me”? I thought
The other mothers in the ward seemed to be holding their babies closer to their chest. Those that had the their babies in the cot, got them out and held them.
A doctor came in to speak to me about forty-five minutes later; dad was busy giving me a kiss and cuddle.
He approached timidly and said “Mrs Gallagher, I’ve got some bad news for you”.
My mum started to cry.
“Oh my God” Bernice cried out loud.
I heard the words “bad news for you” and collapsed.