Angel 43 (midwife)
Carla had been chatting, fag in her hand, the debris of breakfast on the table. Angel mentioned that she was to see the midwife that day.
‘Fuck sake, Angel,’ said Carla. ‘Play it up, tell them you want to see her in the hospital, or some other setting. You don’t want her here.’
Mickey swirled the last of her tea around the cup and put it back down on the table. She backed Carla up. ‘It’s a day out, innit? Tell them you get stressed out meeting health-care professionals here – and it’s bad for your babies.’
Val, Carla’s cellmate, her arms folded had been listening, but perked up a bit to give her tuppence worth. ‘Ask to speak to the governor.’ She lit a cigarette.
‘All men are the same,’ said Carla. ‘Fucking thick. Anything to dae wae menstruation or babies and they fold like a pack of cards.’
Angel was at the corridor end of the table, she drew in her chair tighter to the table and dipped her shoulder to let another prisoner shuffle past, who held an overflowing tray in their hand. ‘I don’t think he’s like that.’
‘Oh, I think she fancies him,’ said Mickey.
‘Don’t be stupid,’ replied Angel. ‘He’s an old man.’
‘Sugar Daddy!’ shrieked Mickey. ‘Gie him a shag fae me.’
Even other girls from the other tables joined in the hoots of laughter as Angel’s face went red.
Angel started sorting plates and cups and clearing the debris from their table, putting them on a tray to take up to the hatch.
Angel got escorted to meet the midwife, after lunch, in the nursing quarters.
The midwife complimented Angel when she came in. ‘Your hairs a lovely colour. And what a lovely name you have.’
‘Thanks,’ Angel patted the back of her neck and smiled back at her as she sat down. ‘Yours is nice too.’
The midwife had a florid red face and her hair was brownish, speckled with grey, long and unkempt. ‘You look healthy,’ there was an upbeat note and those warm hazel eyes encouraging Angel to speak.
‘Aye, I’m no bad,’ Angel felt good agreeing with her.
The midwife folded her squarish fingers into fists over her round belly, and she made a clucking sound, before speaking. ‘I’ve been reading your file pet. And I know this is very hard for you. And you’re quite late on now…We’re quite late on now. But my understanding is that nobody has, as yet, advised you that you could have an abortion if you required one – especially as you claim you are a victim of rape.’ She shook her head. ‘Nobody would judge you pet. And I’d fully support whatever decision you’d make.’
Angel felt she’d been punched in the stomach. It took her a few seconds to recover. ‘I’d never do that to my girls.’
‘OK,’ she pursed her lips. ‘I was just checking…it could get more difficult later on…if you changed your mind.’
‘Right, just checking.’ The midwife’s jovial smile was back in place. ‘There were no abnormalities in your scan. But what makes you think you’ll be having girls then?’
‘Dunno. Just know.’
‘And would you be disappointed if it was boys?’
‘I’m no sure.’ Angel frowned and looked across to the midwife for guidance. ‘I hadn’t really thought about it.’
‘I’ve got two boys,’ the midwife giggled and slapped her thigh. ‘Well, men, now. They can be a bit of a handful.’
‘Boys would be fine,’ Angel decided. ‘As long as they’re healthy.’
‘Well, in general, they’ll be healthy if you’re healthy. There are certain risks and I’m just going to run through them with you. Down’s syndrome is probably the main one. Sometimes it can get picked up by ultrasound, but not always.’ She patted Angel’s knee. ‘But let me be clear about this. There is no indication your twins suffer from Down’s syndrome.’
Angela let out a long breathe. ‘Thank God for that, you had me worried there.’
‘Well, to put that into perspective, as you get older the chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome increase, but, for the likes of yourself, it’s about 1-in-1200.’ She smiled, ‘it would be very unlikely.’ But added a word of warning to dampen Angel’s smile. ‘It does happen.’
‘I’d still take care of my babies, even if they had Down’s.’ Angel had a determined look on her face. ‘Could one of my twins have Down’s and the other not?’
Rona used the armrests to stretch her back and make herself more comfortable. ‘Good question, and again there is no simple answer, but let me put it this way, the chance of that happening is the equivalent of winning the lottery.’
‘Right,’ Angel nodded. ‘No gonnae happen?’
‘Nah,’ the midwife agreed. ‘Are you diabetic?’
‘No,’ Angel said emphatically.
‘Any history of epilepsy?’
‘Do you smoke?’
‘Not much…’ Angel said less emphatically. ‘Not really.’
‘Ah,’ said the midwife. ‘Babies born to smokers tend to be a lower birth weight and have a higher rate of post-natal complications.’
‘I’ll gie up. I’m no even that bothered.’
‘Good.’ The midwife smiled. ‘Alcohol can be another factor, but I don’t suppose that’s a problem in here?’ She studied Angel’s face, waiting for a reply, but when not receiving one, moved on. ‘And drugs, do you take illegal drugs – remember this is completely confidential, I’m not snooping, but I do need to know.’
The midwife joked in a serious way. ‘Nah, I don’t need to know. Or nah, you don’t take illegal drugs?’
‘No, I don’t take anything.’
‘Great, but it’s unusual. Let’s leave it there. Have you had any aches or pains, or unusual discharges?’
‘Well, my back hurts a bit, now and again.’ Angela giggled. ‘And I pee buckets and aw the time.’
‘Well, that’s not a bad thing.’ She nodded towards the examination table. ‘Would you mind if I did a quick examination. Nothing heavy, just palpate the womb and get a little feel of how things are progressing?’
‘No, that’d be fine.’ Angel stood up and went and sat on the table. Slipping her shoes off. Lying back on the couch, relaxed enough to fall asleep. She tugged up her blouse, the bump of her exposed belly feeling slightly cold.
The snap of gloves and rubbery smell, the midwife asked questions as she massaged and prodded at her belly. ‘When you come to term and are delivering, have you got a partner, a birth partner that you’d like to be there for you?’
Angel yawned and in a dreamy voice replied, ‘Yeh, I’ve got a partner Tony. He really loves me. He’ll be there for me.’
‘Mmm, that’s nice. What’s he like?’
‘A wee bit older than me.’ Angel stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling. ‘Nineteen, or even twenty, but really mature. And all the girls just fancy the pants off him. But he’s only got eyes for me.’
The midwife pulled her blouse back down over her stomach and Angel heard the sound of the gloves being pulled off. ‘Everything seems fine. And he sounds really nice. If you give me his address and phone number I can get in touch. It’s often good to get fathers involved in pre-natal classes.’
‘No.’ Angel shook her head. She wasn’t even sure why she’d said that and she sounded more aggrieved than she meant to be. ‘I’ll get in touch wae him. But I’m no sure he’ll be into aw that kind of stuff. He’s mair of a man’s man.’ She chuckled. ‘But he’s got a pal, his best mate, Bruno, who’s as the dead opposite of a man’s man. He’d love to come to every class, but only to show aff.’