Planchette- Part 144


“Oscar!”

“Is Ava okay? Mum what’s happened, what’s wrong? Hanna? Mrs Bali? Oh God it’s Ava isn’t it?” Oscar swung his legs over the end of the bed.

Mrs Bali inhaled. “Oscar, Ava endured excessive bleeding after birth, before and during the operation, something that we call a Postpartum haemorrhage. There’s no easy way to say this I’m sorry to have to tell you that”….

“Oh Oscar I’m so sorry.” Janet gasped.

Oscar fell forwards off the end of the bed, his fall lessened by Janet who caught him, gently lowering his limp body floor.

“Jesus! He’s fainted!” Hanna swiftly checked Oscar’s pulse

“Shall I inform the Bereavement services?” Mrs Bali inquired, placing a pillow under his head.

Hanna shook her head. “No, I’ll let Oscar make that decision for himself.” They raised Oscar’s legs, placing them on a chair. Janet pulled the blanket off the bed, covering him once more.

“He’s so cold, just like Ava was before. Christ! This will be the end of him, he’s been through enough hell for one year, part of it is my fault. Poor Clara, she wont even remember Ava.”

Hanna shook her head. “Oscar will come to. I’ll do his blood pressure; we’ll need to keep a close eye on that. It’s very low.”

Janet shook him gently. “Oscar.”

Oscar stirred, retching violently. Hanna rapidly placed a cardboard bowl under his mouth as he vomited mostly saliva from his empty stomach. His eye lids fluttered and a tear trickled down his cheek. Janet wiped his mouth, handing the bowl to Hanna and holding a white plastic cup of iced water to his lips.

“Here, try and drink this.”

“Please tell me that there has been some awful mistake. Ava gave in, she said it was her time and that she wanted to die, but it wasn’t.  She was so, so young. I should be dead not her, she was healthy and so full of life.” Oscar wept.

“Oscar, no! You’re a wonderful person and mean the world to Clara!”

“Oh yes, I’m so great that I made Ava’s life a misery?”

“No, Ava carved out her own existence  She needed more help than she ever let on. I know that some of it was out of her hands, but she didn’t treat you well!

I know.” Oscar sniffed.

“Ava’s Aunt is on her way to the hospital as we speak.”

“What was her reaction?” Janet handed him some tissues.

“Shocked like the rest of us.”

“I never for one moment thought that I’d outlive Ava. I-I can’t leave Ava alone in this hospital. I know they say a body’s  just an empty shell but…I think I want to see her one last time before…”

“I understand.”

“Have the porters come for her yet?”

“No, they won’t have.”

“Can, can I see her?”

“Hanna said yes, but they’ll need to do a post mortem which takes 24 hours. They’ll probably begin it in 24 hours time, so you can see Ava first. Are you sure you’re strong enough?”

“I have to be.”

“Here’s Hanna now. I’m coming with you.”

“I – I can’t leave Clara, I’ll just bring her, Ava never did hold her. Oh God! Clara will grow up not even knowing who her Mother was!”

“Ava didn’t show an interest!”

“I don’t want to hear a bad word said against her!”

 

“ Sorry Oscar. I’ll hold Clara, we’ll all go together. You badly need to go home and rest. You need decent food, a hot bath and a good sleep and then we’ll go from there. Don’t worry about Clara, I’ll look after her tonight.”

Hanna returned. “She’s in this little room for now, until they take her to the mortuary.”

“The mortuary.” Oscar parroted in a daze. Hanna unlocked the door, leading the way. Oscar paused. Janet placed a hand around his waist, while Hanna placed a chair behind him. Ava lay there, her skin ice white and her lips tinged with the blue hue of death. Bitter tears pricked in Oscar’s eyes as he looked on at his lifeless fiancé.

“I’ll leave you be for a little while.”  Hanna closed the door behind her.  Oscar stroked Ava’s slim fingers, tracing his fingertips over her manicured fingernails.

“You poor thing, this is all my fault. If I hadn’t got you pregnant in the first place we would have been happy and still together. I just believe that your body is an empty shell, but if your spirit is anywhere around us. Just know that I will always love you. I never thought-” Oscar paused, wiping away  tears.

“I never thought that I’d outlive you. May was right, Clara and I are going to mean the world to each other.” He planted a tender kiss on her forehead.

“Sleep well angel, Clara will have the most wonderful life. Life is a gift, how we use it is our decision. The greatest gift of all is love. Clara will be brought up surrounded by love and kindness. While I’m living, I’ll make it my duty to protect her. Who’d have thought that our tale had begun with three inquisitive friends, but I couldn’t have predicted this. I’m going to fight this cancer and win.”

(END OF FIRST DRAFT)

Planchette- Part 143


Oscar gazed at Ava. She forced a smiled, holding Clara in one arm. Ava offered her snowy-white hand, which Oscar  took gently in his trembling one.

“It looks like Clara likes me after all.”

“You’re her Mum, of course she loves you! I wish I could be with you!”

“I don’t think you can and I’d rather you didn’t come. Rest while I’m not here.”

“Ava, you’re more important than sleep, I want to come with you, please!”

“Ava will be under local anaesthetic, I’m afraid that wont be possible.” Hanna stated.

“Okay. Well, I- I’ll be right here when you get back, with Clara.”

“I know you will. Look after her for me in the years to come.”

“Ava what are you saying?” Ava beckoned for him to come a little closer.

“Don’t forget what I said before.” She whispered.

“I remember. Hanna, am I able to stay on the ward until Ava gets back?”

“Yes absolutely. The theatre staff will take  good care of her.”

“Thanks. My-my Mum Janet is on her way from London, she set off about half an hour ago.She-she should be here in three hours. I should have told you Ava, I’m sorry.”

Ava nodded. “I’m so glad.”

“You are?”

Yes you’ll need her. Goodbye Oscar, I wish things could have been different, I really do. Still, it’s too late to turn back the clock now. Oh shh now, don’t cry.” She placed a hand to Oscar’s, tracing her index finger along his cheekbones.

“Sorry for treating you badly. You deserve a nice girl, not a messed up one like me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I guess I kept my anger locked up for too long and had to vent it on someone. You have a good heart; give it to someone more deserving.”

Oscar wrapped his arms around Ava, holding her close. “You’re still so thin Oscar.”

Oscar pulled away ever so slightly. “Oscar I know it’s not your fault, I realise that now. I’m not well Oscar, both physically and mentally, I haven’t been well for a long time. Look after yourself for the sake of Clara and your Mum.”

**

Oscar paced anxiously around the small hospital room with Clara resting on a muslin cloth on his shoulder. He patted her back ever so gently after her feed, attempting to ease her wind.

“That’s it. You’re a tired little girl aren’t you? It’s been such a long day for you, a challenging day for everyone. Grandma should be here in less than an hour. She’s going to love you isn’t she? Yes she is.”

“I wonder how your Mummy is doing? They’ve been over an hour and a half so far. I think you were ready for that milk weren’t you?” Oscar cooed, kissing Clara’s forehead.

“I –I’m going to change your nappy and then I think we could sit outside for 10 minutes or so. It’s lovely and warm, that’ll be nice wont it?”

Oscar carefully changed her nappy, dusting her with some talcum powder.

“There we are my darling; you’re all nice and fresh now.” Oscar carried Clara outside, rocking her, humming quietly as he sat upon a bench in the warm sun.

It’s lovely out here isn’t it Clara? Look at all the little birdies in the sky, there are lots of them.”

Oscar sighed, placing a hand to his face. He jumped, sensing a hand upon his back.

“Oscar?”

“Mum! Oh God, I can’t thank you enough for coming. Ava’s still in theatre.”

“Have you heard anything?”

“Very little.”

“Has anyone come to see you with any news?”

“No, it’s a waiting game. I’m so, so glad that you’re here. I just needed 5 or 10 minutes of fresh air, we both did.” Janet peeked into the knitted woollen shawl.

“Sounds like you’re doing a great job already. I’m glad you liked the shawl. She’s the spitting image of you!”

“That’s what Ava said.”

“Well, for once she was right. Her birthmark really isn’t that bad. I actually expected worse.”

“She’s beautiful.” Oscar smiled.

You look drained Oscar, I don’t know how you’ve lasted. Have you had much to eat and drink?”

“Just water.”

“What about food?”

“Not a lot.”

“Hmm, that’s understandable, but you need energy. I have a cereal bar in my bag, would you like it?”

“I don’t think I could manage to eat anything right now, my stomach is in knots. We’d better go back in, I just wish someone would tell me how Ava is doing. It’s just here, we need to go to the left.”

“Okay. Yes I understand.” Janet patted Oscar’s hand. “My God! You’re absolutely freezing. Here sit down. Is this the right bed?”

“Yes.”

She walked over to the stack of linen and grabbed one of the woollen hospital blankets, draping it around Oscar. “You’re covered in goose bumps and deathly pale, it’s probably the shock.” She muttered, pulling the blanket more tightly around him.

“You’d really benefit from a good sleep and a hot drink with plenty of sugar. Maybe the fresh air wasn’t such a good idea.”

I refuse to go back to the house!”

“That’s not what I was suggesting. I know you’re not supposed to; cross contamination, infection control and all that but you would benefit from sleeping on Ava’s bed.”

“I don’t think I could.”

“It’s been cleaned and changed.Just lie on top. The blue cover is over it. Here, I’ll take Clara from you for a little bit. Oh Grandma thinks that you’re such a cute little girl, yes she does.”

An exhausted Oscar reluctantly climbed onto the bed. Janet placed his own blanket over Oscar, sitting beside him,  just as he had done with Ava. “There now, you catch a couple of hours of sleep before Ava gets back. No matter what happens, I promise that I won’t abandon you again.”

***

To be continued….

Planchette- Part 142


“I’m so tired Oscar, I need to sleep so please can you go away, Clara has just had a feed, what more do you want from me?”

“You have every right to have a good kip. You’ve just given birth to our daughter. Here, I’ll try to make you a bit more comfortable that way you might feel better. I’ll just place this pillow under your head. Hmm, you’re a bit warm,I’ll  just pull your sheet back a bit. Shit!”

“What?”

Ava mumbled. Oscar gasped, glancing at the large pool of blood which had soaked through her hospital gowns and now seeped from under her. Ava glanced back.

“Oh my God! I’m bleeding really heavily!”

Hanna noticed the terrified expression on his face on looking up from her documentation and rushed to Ava’s side.

“Is this normal?” She gasped.

“Ava, Hanna is here now.”

“Ava, I’m going to get one of our doctors.”

“I’m so cold.” She mumbled. “So, so cold.”

“Ava can you hear me?”

“Yes.” She whispered as Oscar gently stroked her hair, checking Clara who lay peacefully in her cot. Hanna forced a smile.

“Ava, you’re in safe hands, we’re going to try to stop the bleeding but we may have to take you to theatre.This is one of our Obstetricians Mrs Bali, she’s just going to assess you. Oscar and I will step outside.”

“Oscar, I-I think it’s my time, I think I’m going to die!”

“Shh, Ava please don’t talk like that! Like Hanna said, they’re trying to stop the bleeding as we speak. Mrs Bali is an expert in her area.”

“Oh. I didn’t even notice all the people.”

“I need to go outside the room now, I love you so much Ava, never ever forget that.” Oscar planted a kiss on Ava’s lips, closing the door firmly behind him.

***

Oscar paced up and down the corridor with Clara in his arms, gently rubbing her back. Hanna, waited anxiously as she stood at a computer, quickly updating Ava’s hospital notes. Mrs Bali stepped outside, a grave look upon her face.

“Ava has experienced a major Post Partum Haemorrhage, she’s lost a lot of blood. I’m sending her to theatre. That way they can give her a full examination and possibly insert a drain for any internal bleeding.”

“Oh Lord! How common is it? It can be very serious can’t it?”

“It happens to about 5-10% of women.Once a woman’s baby has been delivered, her uterus will usually contract again to help expel the placenta and to reduce the bleeding through the big blood vessels which were supplying it. The most common cause of a primary PPH is the uterus failing to contract, as expected, after birth. “

Oscar bit his bottom lip and nodded, returning to Ava’s bedside, where she lay in fresh bedsheets.

“Why are you crying Oscar?”

“Has Mrs Bali spoken to you?”

“Well she wasn’t going to tell you first, I know it’s a PPH.” She mumbled.“I’m not worried any more, but Oscar, crying doesn’t make things better.”

“I care, I really do.”

“Oh, why?”

“I love you Ava, I always have.”

“I can’t think why. I don’t suppose I that was ever kind to you or treated you fairly, but you made me so miserable by the end. We were so wrong for each other Oscar, so so wrong.”

“Perhaps we were. I love you because you made me very happy in the earlier days, you gave me the courage to build up the relationship with my Mum.”

“Hmm, maybe I was jealous. I wouldn’t have been a good Mother, I don’t remember mine enough. I think she was kind. Clara has you now, she doesn’t need me. I think it’s my time Oscar, I feel ready, I think you’re going to be okay I can feel it.”

“Ava, please don’t talk like that!”

“I’ve lost too much blood.” She whispered. “Can’t you see? I wont make it. I’ll die on the operating table.”

“Shhh, you’ll survive this, please for Clara’s sake! She’ll be lost without a Mother’s guidance!”

“Oscar, I don’t want to make it. Don’t worry about being a single Dad, Clara loves you so much already.I always think there was a reason why I didn’t want to talk to the baby when I was pregnant. It makes parting easier that way, so, so much easier. You can be a Dad and Mum to her.”

“Ava no, please!”

“Just stay with me until I go in, you’re all I have left.”

“What about your Aunt Olive?”

“She’s not my blood Aunt you know, just one of my Mum’s good friends.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that?”

“You didn’t ask. You never, ever did. Plus, you’ve always had problems of your own. Why is it so cold?” Oscar took Ava’s pale, icy hand in his, rubbing it gently.

“Your ridiculous temperature is coming in handy.”

“I’m very glad. Here’s another blanket.”

“Where’s the baby?”

“Still sleeping, would you like to hold her quickly?”

“I don’t know.”

“They’re taking you to theatre in 5 minutes.”

“I suppose I better had. Can you put Clara in my arms?”

“You said Clara.” Oscar smiled weakly.

“Of course I did, that’s her name isn’t it? Could you go outside the room for 5 minutes so that I can have a word with Hanna?”

“Sure.” Oscar, with a heavy heart, placed Clara in her arms. She gurgled gently. Oscar kissed Ava’s forehead, closing the door behind him.

“Hanna, Oscar’s very unwell, but I think he’ll want to come to theatre with me. Jesus, who’d have thought that …no I won’t say that. I have to admit that I can’t take to Clara, it’s just too painful. Poor little thing, I suppose you have to feel sorry for her. I know that Oscar will look after her well, if he isn’t too ill. If he is then his Mum might care for her, I don’t know. Can you just make sure that he gets the support that he deserves? He can come back in now.”

“Let’s just get you cleaned up a bit first and change you into a hospital gown. Rebecca, one of our lovely health care assistants is going to help me.”

“Oh I didn’t even hear her come in. Thanks.”

“We wont be long.”

***

Hanna opened the door, leading a pale Oscar back in. “She’s ready to go now Oscar..”

To be continued…

Planchette- Part 141


Oscar re- entered the room, where both Ava and Clara were sleeping soundly. He sat down wearily upon the chair, glancing at Ava. Sensing his presence, she opened her eyes.

“Please stop staring at me when I’m trying to sleep! I can sense that you’re there you know!”

Oscar sighed. “I could do with some sleep too, I was just thinking how pretty and peaceful you both looked.”

Ava shrugged. “No-one is making you stay. You look ill. You know it’s true. I should be out of here in another 4 hours or so, so you can go home and have a sleep then. I swear that I am never, ever going to get pregnant again. Childbirth is the most painful, traumatic thing ever! I feel both emotionally and physically drained! It’s horrible.”

“Do you never have anything positive to say?”

“What? I’m allowed to express my opinions aren’t I?”

“Absolutely, but you’re raising your voice. You’ll wake Clara.”

“Oh yes right.”

“You are okay with the name Clara aren’t you?”

“It’s just a name Oscar.”

“Okay, I just thought she suited it and it’s after my Gra-”

“Yes, yes after your Grandmother. I don’t need the full run down story for the thousandth time!”

“Sorry Ava, you get some more rest, but please try not to scream and shout.”

“What’s wrong with you?!” Ava snapped “What are you looking at me like that for?”

“It’s nothing Ava.”

“Well you might as well tell me now! Out with it!”

“Not if you’re going to talk to me like that!”

“Oh talk to you like what? Stop being so precious all the time. Step out of your pathetic little bubble, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your Leukaemia! Life goes on you know at least my life will, hopefully without you and that baby!”

“What? Oh don’t be ridiculous.”

“I don’t want you in my life any more and you’ve made it quite clear that you don’t want me in yours!”

“Ava, now is not the time or place to discuss this. People can overhear us, just wait until we get home okay!”

“Oscar we have to move out of our uni house in a matter of months, what are you going to do then? You’re certainly not living with me!”

“Oh, thanks a bunch. Well that makes me feel just great Ava! What about Clara? You can’t just take her away!”

“Oh she’s all yours Oscar! The sooner I get rid of the both of you the better and I mean it!”

“That’s a cruel thing to say!”

“Of course you’re so perfect Oscar!”

“I’m fully aware that I’m over anxious about everything and I don’t look so great right now! At least I can admit my faults.

They both jumped as Clara let out a cry. Oscar swiftly walked to her cot, taking her tiny hand in his. “I’m really sorry.” He whispered, lifting her out and gently holding her in his arms.

“Ava, she needs a feed I think, she’s trying to eat my finger!” He laughed, trying to turn the situation into a light-hearted one.

“Well she’s not coming anywhere near me!”

“She’s really hungry. It will take 10 minutes. We don’t really have any other option.”

“I swear she’s not my baby, I mean look at me, I’m pretty and she’s so ugly!”

“Take that back!”

“Just look at her! That hideous birthmark will never ever go away!”

“I’ll get Hanna to help you.”

“What the hell?”

“Someone has to talk some sense into you!”

Oscar gently walked to the midwives station with Clara in his arms. Hanna smiled. “Aww isn’t she lovely? She’s so contented.”

Oscar nodded and smiled. “Yeah, I think she needs a feed though. I was just wondering whether you could give Ava a hand?”

“Yes absolutely.”

She followed Oscar to Ava’s bed. “Don’t worry Ava, it’s not as hard as it seems.”

“I’ll try it but I really don’t want to make a habit out of this! Can I not bottle feed?”

“Ava, Clara needs to feed within the first hour of you giving birth to her.”

“Fine, fine! Put her on.”

Hanna gently lifted Clara from her cot handing her to Ava, who reluctantly held her.

“Now what?”

“Now then Ava, turn Clara towards you.”

“Oscar hold her with me.”

“Okay.”

“Touch her upper lip with your nipple, and, when she opens her mouth wide, pull her onto your breast, holding your breast for support. Her mouth should cover not just the nipple but most of the areola too. That’s it Ava, you’re doing well.”

It feels horrible! I want to stop now.”

“Ava, you have to let Clara finish her feed, she’s clearly really hungry.”

“She’d better hurry up. How often do I need to feed her?”

“Eight to twelve times in 24 hours is about right.”

“That much? You’ve got to be kidding me! Well, if it has to be done, it has to be done. Still, it’s not very pleasant having to look at her.”

Oscar gritted his teeth. “There is nothing wrong with Clara.”

“Except the fact that half of her little face is freakishly red-y purple. No I can’t take to her at all.”

“You have to try Ava!”

“Try being in my shoes Oscar. I have no parents and a fiancée who is ill with cancer. I found myself pregnant and our baby is deformed! How on earth would you feel?”

“She is not! I sympathise with the first part. Like I’ve already said, I’m sorry for your loss, as for my illness it just happened.”

“I want to live my life.I don’t want to be stuck indoors with a child that I can’t bear to even look at! How would you like to be me? Try living a life where you wake up every morning and wish that you were dead!”

To be continued….

Planchette- Part 140


“No I mean it! What the hell is that?

Oscar glanced down at her as Hanna carefully wiped the baby’s face.

“Ava it’s a birthmark.” Hanna explained.

“I swear it’s the biggest birthmark I have ever seen! This isn’t my baby, not my baby at all. My baby would be beautiful! What the hell is going on? I haven’t been in labour for over 12 hours to deliver this. No, this isn’t happening to us! I’ve got enough stress in my life without this, take her away! That’s disgusting!”

Oscar bit his bottom lip. “I understand that it’s come as a shock, but she needs heat Ava, this is our baby, our beautiful baby girl.”

“She isn’t beautiful!” Ava wept. “Have- have you seen her face? Just look at that awful birth mark, it’s the biggest one I have ever seen! Take her away, please.”

“Here, I’ll clean her up for you.” Hanna smiled. “I’ll just weigh her and get a little identity band for her ankle.She’s 6oz , 5 ounces. There we go, all done.”

“Hanna, I’ll take Clara. She needs heat.”

Hanna handed the baby to Oscar. “Hello my beautiful Clarissa, we’ve been waiting for you.”

Clara gurgled, whimpering gently. “Shhh, it’s okay.” Oscar stroked her head of dark hair.

“Stop, just stop!” Ava wept.

“Can we put that on the birth certificate? Clarissa I mean.

“Absolutely.”

“I still haven’t decided on a middle name. Ava, will you please hold your daughter? The birthmark is nowhere near as bad as it looked initially now that she’s been cleaned up, I promise. Here shall I hold her with you? Just take it one step at a time.”

“Oscar, I don’t think I can do this!”

“Okay, maybe you’re just tired. Have a shower and then have a good sleep, you’ll feel much better. I’ll look after Clara.”

“Why couldn’t we have a normal baby? Why is everything attached to you so complicated? You must have fucked up genes!”

“Stop shouting, you’re scaring Clara.”

“What do I care about you and that baby?! You can have her, she’s all yours, I just want to get away from YOU!”

Hanna’s eyes widened. “It’s okay Oscar, it’s a natural reaction for some. She’ll come round, you’ll see.” She whispered.

Oscar shook his head, holding Clara close to him. “God what am I doing, leaving poor Clara with nothing on except a clean towel!” He laughed weakly. “There’s some tiny nappies and her first baby grow in that bag over there. I hope they fit!”

Hanna handed him the bag. Carefully Oscar dressed Clara in the tiny baby grow.

“There, she looks lovely. Have a look Ava, see how cute she looks.”

“She’ll never, ever be pretty or cute, not to me! Not with that hideous thing over her face. I can’t be a Mother to that! I’d rather die!”

“She’s innocent and defenceless Ava. She needs our love and care. We’re both in on this together remember.”

“No we’re not. The baby is all yours!”

“Clara! Her name’s Clara! Please hold her.”

“I will not just hold anybody; now leave me alone to sleep!”

 “Ava, you still need to deliver the placenta.”

I’m past the point of caring. Deliver it and then everyone just needs to go away and let me sleep, the baby included!”

Oscar gazed at Clara who was gently sleeping with her head resting on his shoulder. Hanna stood next to Oscar.

“I think you two are going to be extremely close. Just look at her, she’s so happy in your arms.” She whispered.

“I’ve known her for a grand total of about 5 minutes, but she already means the world to me.”

“I- I don’t want anyone to see her Oscar!”

“Ava, please! Enough now. You’ve made your point quite, quite clear!”

“It’s you and your  mutated cancer genes!”

“Can you please stop telling every man and his dog that I have cancer?!”

Well I’m sure they can tell, it’s your missing eyebrows, your gaunt anorexic looking face and the fact that you have to wear that hat 24/7 that gives it away! You can have her, you two make quite a pair!” Ava hissed. “You wont last long, she’ll have to go into care!”

 

“Go to sleep Ava. I’m so glad that Hanna wasn’t in the room to hear all that! Clara will need a feed soon.”

“That’s what powdered milk is for! I made it quite clear that I’m not breast feeding!”

“I’m too tired to argue, if you’ve quite finished giving me abuse you can go to sleep. They’ll probably send you home in about 5 hours time.”

He stroked Clara’s cheek. “I think you’re tired aren’t you? Yes?” He cooed. “Here my darling, I’ll put you in your little cot for a quick nap while I call your Grandma, she can’t wait to meet you. Grandma Janet is going to love you, just like Daddy does.” Clara grasped hold of Oscar’s finger tightly. He bent down and kissed her tiny forehead.

“I’ll be back in 5 minutes little one.” Hanna glanced at Oscar.

“We’ll keep an eye on her and Ava. Are you feeling okay?”

“Yes I’m fine thanks Hanna, you’ve been amazing! Thanks so much for everything.”

Oscar exited hastily out of the room and called Janet. “Oscar is the baby born?”

“Yes! Mum we have a beautiful baby girl called Clara! She was 6lb 5 ounces and she’s the most adorable little thing.”

“What’s wrong Oscar?”

“Ava wont even acknowledge or hold her.She- she has a birthmark on her face. Personally, I’ve seen worse. It doesn’t matter to me, she’s so beautiful.” 

“Hasn’t held her?”

“No. I mean, she has every right to be tired, but it was the way she reacted. Anyway, Clara is a little doll. She really is beautiful Mum, she can’t wait to meet you! Congratulations on becoming a Grandma!”

“You sound exhausted.”

“I am, tired but so happy. Anyway, I’d better get back, but you’ll meet her very, very soon I’m sure.”

“I’d love to! Lots of love to you and Clara. I’ll ring you again shortly.”

“Thanks.”

“Oh and Oscar?”

“Yeah?”

“Look after yourself and be very, very careful.”

To be continued….

Planchette- Part 139


“Ava, it would be far easier if you changed position.”  Hanna suggested.

“I’m fine where I am thank you very much!”

“Gravity helps a lot. Lying on a bed only makes things more difficult for you. You’d be best using the squatting bar, I’d highly recommend it.”

“I can’t possibly move right now! Don’t force me!”

“Ava, please listen to Hanna. She’s the professional! Come on, we’ll assist you, don’t you worry. I think it really helped when you walked around the room earlier.”

“You can’t help me, you’re not strong enough Oscar!”

“I’ll be fine.”

Hanna smiled, glancing at both of their anxious faces. “Don’t worry Oscar, I’ll get one of our health care assistants or another midwife to assist.”

Hanna poked her head outside of the room. “Sylvia, are you free?

“Yes of course.”

“We just need a hand for a moment. This is Ava, she’d be best over at the squatting bar.”

Sylvia nodded. “Yeah I agree. Don’t worry Ava, we’re going to help you get off the bed now, that’s it if you just hold our hands and walk very slowly..”

“I don’t think I can walk.”

“Ava, you can do this!” Oscar coaxed.“There that’s it, one gentle step at a time.”

Calmly, they lead a panicky Ava over to the squatting bar. She grasped it tightly.

“Now what on earth do I do?”

“When you feel a contraction coming, you can lean forwards, grab the bar, and pull yourself into a squatting position. You need to push until the contraction is over and then, if it helps, lower yourself back down so you can rest between contractions.”

“I don’t know if I like this! I feel so vulnerable”

Oscar carefully adjusted the hospital gown. “That should help, just give it a chance Ava, gravity will really help.”

“I think another one’s coming.”

“Grab the bar Ava!”

“Arghhh!”

“That’s it and again!”

“Argh! This is the worst thing! Arghhhh! Arghh Jesus Christ! Argh! I want to give in! Shit Oscar!”

“Wh-what? What’s wrong, are you okay?”

“You look ghastly, deathly pale! Oh my lord, you look like- ARGH! Like death.”

“Concentrate on you! Lower yourself into a squatting position and push Ava.”

“Argh! Can’t you see that I’m already trying to do that?! Argh!”

“Focus on your breathing Ava, pant like this.” Hanna demonstrated, Ava copied  her reluctantly.

“Oh my God! Hanna is that the head?” Oscar gasped.

“No shit sherlock!” Ava snapped abandoning her breathing exercise.

Hanna checked. “Yes, the baby’s head is crowning.”

“I think it has a really good head of hair!”

“Oscar stop looking!” Ava gasped  “ARGH!”

“Come on Ava!”

“That’s it Ava. Push again when you feel the next contraction. That’s brilliant! Here’s the head.”

“Argh! You can see it properly?”

“Yes!”

“Arghhhhh!”

“Amazing Ava.” Oscar grinned.

Well done Ava, wait for the next contraction, don’t push until you feel it coming.”

“I am waiting! It’s here! Argh!”

“Wow!”

“The head’s crowing now! You’re doing very well.”

“Oscar you look so ill! ARGH!”

Oscar placed Ava’s hand in his. “Come on Ava! I think this is it, keep going!.” He peeked quickly, rubbing Ava’s damp back.

“Can’t you see that I’m bloody trying!”

“You’re doing so, so well! You’re amazing! Oh my God, wow! I can see the baby’s face. This is incredible!”

“Stop looking Oscar for Gods Sake! Argh!”

“That’s it Ava!” Hanna coaxed. “You’re so nearly there now. Don’t push again until I tell you, I just need to turn your baby a tiny bit, I’ll do it now. There that’s it. A  few more big pushes and we’re there. The baby is doing well, it’s heartbeat is so strong!”

“What? Why aren’t we there yet? Why is everyone talking down to me!”

 “Come on Ava!”

“Ava, I just need you to do one more big push and we’re there. Wait for that strong contraction.”

“ARGHHHH!”

“That’s it! Here we are.”

“Congratulations Mummy and Daddy! You have a baby girl!” She smiled as Oscar assisted an exhausted Ava to lie on the towel draped over the bed. He kissed her sweaty cheek, smoothing back the loose strands of hair stuck to her forehead. He held a cool glass of iced water to her lips, holding Ava to him, his eyes filled with tears, while Hanna wrapped the baby in a navy blue towel, placing her in Ava’s trembling arms. Ava took one glance at her baby girl.

“What the hell is wrong with her face?!”

To be continued…

Planchette- Part 138


Oscar marched outside, sitting on one of the benches. Who to call? He scrolled down his contacts. Daisy,yes, why not.

“Oscar! Hello!”

“Hi Daisy, I was just ringing you quickly to see how you are.”

“Me? Oh fine, I’m coming out of hospital for a bit in a couple of days.”

“Ah that’s great, I’m glad to hear it. How do you feel?”

“Much better actually, like you, I’m doing well.”

“How’s George?”

“He- he’s not so good Oscar I’m afraid. He wouldn’t mind me telling you this. Well, he’s not responding to the Chemotherapy as well as they’d like, so they’re keeping him in longer.”

“Oh, poor guy. I want to see him at some point, I don’t know when.

“He’d like that.”

“Ava’s in labour.”

“What? That soon?”

“Yeah.”

“How’s she coping?”

“Ummm.”

“Oh dear. Well, don’t listen to anything she says. My Mum gave my Dad hell when she was giving birth to me. No joke, she called him every name under the sun, or so he told me!”

“Oh dear!”

“Yeah, well my Dad found it quite funny luckily, but like I said, laugh it off and keep encouraging her like I’m sure you’re already doing. Hopefully I’ll see you soon! I’d best let you go, how are you feeling in yourself?”

“Very tired, but I’m trying not to dwell on it. Ava needs all the support she can get.”

“I’m sure you’re giving her all the reassurance she needs.”

“I’m trying.”

“Good.”

Okay Daisy. Well, it was lovely to talk to you.”

“We’ll speak soon, now get yourself back inside!”

“Yes I better had!”

“See you Oscar and good luck.”

Oscar walked back inside. Ava glanced at him. “Thank God you’re back! They’ve just checked me, I’m more dilated now 8 cm Hanna said it’s a centimetre more than the last time. It might only be another couple of hours now!”

“See! All your hard work has been worthwhile.”

“Are you being sarcastic?”

“No, no. Keep going, you’re doing fine Ava, amazingly well in fact.” He stroked her damp forehead, kissing the cloud of mousy brown hair scattered upon her pillows.

 “I barely have any energy left! How can I be doing well?”

“Remember what I said about conserving energy.”

“What’s the use? If I need to scream, I need to scream! Where’s my gas and air?”

“We’ve already explained that it’s too early Ava. It will make you really woozy.”

“Stop talking down to me like I’m a child!”

“Ava, I wasn’t. I understand that it’s hard but..”

“Don’t you dare suggest that I’m being a diva! I’m no more one than you are. I’m not the one who goes around f-“

“Fainting in hospital corridors? In all fairness, if you’d just been diagnosed with cancer, you might have passed out too! Just focus on you okay, keep going, go with the flow. No one said that you were over reacting.”

Hanna wandered past the door, overhearing the conversation.

“Now Ava? Are you comfortable enough? Can I get you anything? I’m going to do your obs again soon, it might be helpful to walk around with us again.”

“You can hurry up and get this bloody baby out of me!”

“They will, when it’s ready Ava. Shh now, relax, that’s it.”

“Arghhh! Oh God.” Ava grasped Oscar, clenching her hand tightly around his arm, digging her painted fingernails into his skin. He startled.

“What?”

“Please release your grip, it’s really hurting. Here, hold onto the bed head or cot sides instead.” Oscar gently prised Ava’s fingers from his arm, rubbing it gently.

“For a moment I thought I was going to lose my arm!” He laughed.

“Piss off Oscar! You’re always thinking about yourself! Number one in your life is you! Arrrgh! I swear this baby wants to come but it can’t. It must be stuck! Why isn’t it here yet?”

Oscar opened the new packet of wipes on the table, running a few under the cold tap. He returned to Ava, dabbing her burning brow and neck.

“Here this might help a little bit Ava.”

“Hmm, yes that’s better.” She mumbled. “Much better, please keep going, I think I have a temperature.”

“I’m glad it helps.”

“Are you being a sarcastic git again?! If you are, you can piss off now. I don’t need you here!”

“I’m very rarely sarcastic Ava.”

“ARGHHHH! That was a massive contraction! Surely I must be ready now? I must.”

Hanna checked “8.5 cm. We need you to be about 10, you should be there in about another hour or so.”

“Another hour! You have got to be kidding! I don’t have enough energy, this is so ridiculous. This better be so, so worth it!”

“Ava, you’re grabbing onto my arm again!”

“Oh you and your bloody arm! Give me gas and air!”

Hanna nodded. “No problem.”

“How do I use this thing?”

“ Ava, It might make you feel sick, so just go carefully.”

“I’m in agony, I’ll take as much as I want Oscar thanks very much! Argh!”

“Shh Ava, rest your head back. That’s it.” Oscar sipped gently on some water, trying to take the edge off the nauseous feeling within his stomach. He glanced at Ava, who pressed the side of her face onto the pillow, sucking heavily on the nitrous oxide.

To be continued…

Planchette- Part 137


Oscar obeyed,glancing over his shoulder. “I will. Don’t you dare talk to the staff like that!”

Oscar limped down the corridor a small way, catching sight of Hanna exiting one of the side rooms.

“Hanna?”

“Hello Oscar, don’t worry I’ll be back with Ava in one moment. ”

“She’s a bit agitated. Would it be possible for her to have some more pain relief?”

Hanna nodded. “Yes. I’ll go and see her now.”

“These contractions are so, so awful! I need gas and air or something.” Ava screamed. Oscar took her hand once more.

“Ava, I think it’s too early yet.”

Hanna smiled. “Now Ava, you’re in safe hands. That’s a strong foetal heart beat!”

“I can hear it for myself thank you!”

“Ava, there’s no need to be rude. Sorry Hanna.”  Hanna said nothing.

“Jeez that was so strong again! Arrgh! Bloody hell and again! If someone told me that child birth was going to be this awful, then I would have thought twice about getting pregnant! This is your fault Oscar! All the stress that you have inflicted upon me caused me to go into labour!”

“Ava, it’s about two and a half weeks before your estimated due date! It’s time for the baby to come.”

“You should have been looking after me! Instead I had to look after you.”

Oscar swallowed. “I know Ava, I really am sorry.”

“I don’t think you are, I don’t think you’re sorry at all! Argh they’re getting worse all the time! Oscar you still look terrible, you shouldn’t be here, you’ve been awake for hours now! You  have no energy left!”

“Neither will you if you keep talking. Come on Ava.”

“How long has this been going on for, how long is it since my first contraction? Surely I’m more dilated by now.”

 “Ava, come on, let’s put this in perspective. Thousands, maybe millions of women give birth every single day. Just be thankful that you’re not in a third world country, having to give birth with probably no midwife and certainly no pain relief. Use the gas and air if you need to, but you’re going to be fine, I promise.”

You’re not the one about to be torn in two Oscar! The contractions are so close together! I meant it when I said I wanted an epidural! Tell them that I need an epidural!”

“I think the midwives heard you the first few times Ava! Just go with the flow.”

“I can’t, I just can’t do this, it’s the worst pain imaginable!”

“I know.”

“How would you ever know Oscar?”

“Well, I’ve experienced pain too!”

“Not like this, nothing like this!”

“Ava, in about 1o hours time your pain will all be over and you’ll have a beautiful baby in your arms. It will be so, so worth it I can promise you now. I’m so excited about being a Daddy!” Oscar grinned.

“ I hate you for getting me pregnant so that I have to go through this! This is absolute physical and mental torture!”

“Ava, just calm down and conserve your energy. You’re wasting your breath, because I’m not even listening.”

“Well now who’s the liar! I know full well that you are! Want to know why? I can see the tears in your eyes! Argh! You’re so bad at hiding your emotions Oscar, men aren’t supposed to cry like you do and they’re supposed to be there for their partners and not split up with them a week before the baby is due!”

“I am here!” Oscar hissed. “Will you keep your voice down! I don’t want the whole unit to know our private business thank you very much. It takes two to tango Ava.”

“Yes, well I think everyone should know what a selfish bastard you’ve been!”

“Shhh, I can’t help being ill.”

“Yes well, you look like a walking corpse. Just leave me alone, I need to concentrate and you’re distracting me, so will you go outside the room? At this moment in time I don’t particularly want you here. I’m going through enough trauma as it is without you being here! Want to know what else? You’ve become quite ugly, you’re not even attractive to look at any more! So just fucking go!”

“H-have it your way.” Oscar wiped his eyes, grabbing his coat.

“Well where do you think you are you going?”

“To sit outside like you told me to!”

“Outside the room idiot! Not the outdoors!”

To be continued….

Planchette- Part 136


Oscar nodded, pulling a chair up to the bed. Hanna returned rapidly, holding the wristband between her thumb and forefinger. “Here you are Ava. Can you just confirm your name and date of birth?”

Ava did so. “Great. I’ll just place this wrist band on you.”

“What good am I on a bed? Can I get down please? This really isn’t comfortable for me.”

“What ever’s best. It might help to stand.”

“Thank God I’m in a side room! This is so awful.” Ava gasped.

“Ava, you’re doing well.” Oscar coaxed, placing a hand on her back. Ava jumped, pulling away from him.

“Your hands are freezing!”

Ava placed her head upon the bed, standing over it, while Oscar, ignoring her comment, continued to rub her back.

“Breathe, keep breathing through it.You can do this!”

“I don’t know if I can!”

“Sure you can.”

“Oscar, the contractions closer together again!”

“Just think, in a matter of hours you’re going to be a Mum! I can’t wait to be a Dad!”

“Yes, but you’re not the one going through this terrible ordeal are you?”

“No, no I’m not but I can sympathise.”

“With what?”

“The pain side of things.”

“Hmph! I can bloody assure you that you aren’t in half the pain that I am now!”

“I’m always in discomfort. Just try to relax a bit!”

“Relax? How can I when I’m in desperate need of pain relief and no-one is giving me any!”

“Have you asked Ava?”

“No.”

“Well then!”

“You could give me some of your painkillers Oscar! Where is everyone anyway?”

“Probably attending to other people at the moment. They look quite busy. No, I’m not giving you any of my painkillers, they’re far too strong!”

“Strong? That’s what I need! Argh! The contractions are so, so much worse than they were.”

Ava now positioned on the bed, brought her knees up to her chest and placed her head on them. Oscar took her hand. “You should walk again Ava, it might help. Come on.”

“No way! Can you just give me some space? It’s so hot in here! This is torture!”

“Ava, please you’re making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill.”

“Argh! You absolute hypocrite! You know it’s true! You’re the biggest hypochondriac I know.”

You’re not even listening to me and getting yourself in such a state. Ava, I’m serious, you’ll exhaust yourself before you’ve even begun!”

“Where are those bloody midwives?”

“Shh, Ava! They’re busy. They’ll be with you soon. If not, I’ll go and find someone shortly. Until then focus on breathing, everything will be fine.”

“How would you know? What do you know about anything?”

 “Ava! There will be other women giving birth at this moment in time. Are you sure that you don’t want to walk again?”

“No, I don’t thank you very much! I’m actually fed up already. How on earth did you cope being in hospital for 5 days? Argh!”

“I was in good company.”

“Oh right. Can you rub my back, it feels awful right now.”

“Sure.”

“That’s better, keep going. Yes like that.”

“Ah, look here’s Hanna.”

“Who?”

“Hanna, you know, your midwife.”

“Hello Ava, how are you at the moment?”

“She’s doing really well.”

“I can answer thank you! The pain is awful right now.”

“I just want to check and see how dilated you are. Would you be okay to pop up on the bed? That’s it. Right you’re 7cm dilated. I’m going to take your blood pressure and temperature now. The foetal heart beat is strong and healthy.”

“What that’s only half a centimetre from last time! You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Shh, have some patience Ava. Isn’t it wonderful that the baby’s heart beat is strong?”

Oscar gently stroked her cheek, she glanced up at his chalky face with frightened eyes. “You’re going to be fine.”

“You don’t look well Oscar.”

“I- I might step outside for a few minutes Ava. I’ll be back.”

“Okay.” She whispered. “Please don’t leave me for long.”

“Five minutes “ Oscar muttered.

Oscar grasped the wooden rail for support, limping along the corridor to the entrance. He felt the shape of the small packet of co-codamol in his pocket and took a cupful of water from the water dispenser, swallowing two tablets. Oscar inhaled, filling his lungs with cool, refreshing air .He finished the water and composed himself, returning to Ava’s side. He glanced at her clammy face, sitting by her, stroking her hair. He took her hand in his, this time she let him do so.

“Thank God!”

“How are the contractions?”

“They’ve calmed down again. I’m sure of it! Is there nothing I can take to stop the pain? I’m really worried, it feels like everyone has just bloody abandoned me! Where’s Hanna?”

“She wont be far away Ava. Just say there and I’ll get her.”

“That’s a fucking stupid thing to say! Like I can move anywhere anyway!”

“Can you stop swearing at me Ava!”

“Go and get Hanna! Now!”

To be continued…

Planchette- Part 135


“How will I know when I need to go into hospital?”

“When the contractions become longer and stronger. They’re not are they?”

“No, no. Just the same.”

“Good. You’re doing so well.”

“I feel shattered though.”

Have a catnap then. I think I might have to join you.”

“You might think it’s a good time to sleep, but I don’t think that I could.”

“At least try. Are you comfortable enough?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, sleep well then.”

**

Oscar jumped, feeling a sharp pinch upon his collar bone.

“Ow! What?”

“Oscar! Wake up! They’ve got so much worse. I have the worst abdominal pain ever!”

“How long were we asleep for?”

“You were asleep for 4 hours! Oscar I need to go into hospital, they’re getting so much worse, argh! I can’t stay still. Please take me in! If I deliver the baby in the car it will be your fault!”

“I’m sorry, in future don’t do that again! I’ll get you there, the roads will be dead. I’ll go and get your bag, where is it?”

“In my bedroom.”

Oscar dressed rapidly, fetching their coats.

“I don’t think I can do this! I don’t think I can make it! What happens if I give birth in the back seat of the car?”

“Shhh, don’t worry about a thing.” Oscar took Ava’s arm, guiding her carefully but quickly out to the car.

“You- you’re not driving us! You can’t!”

“I can assure you I am. I feel quite good, considering. I’ll get all three of us there safely!”

“Famous last words Oscar! Argh! Hurry! I’m going to deliver the baby in the car! Jesus I’ve never felt pain like this! Put your bloody foot down for God’s sake! Argh that one was so much stronger that time.”

“Nearly there now Ava. You’re doing fine. It’s your first pregnancy, it will be cramps, don’t worry.” Oscar coaxed. He pulled into the quiet hospital car park.

“Ava, you’re in no fit state to walk. Stay there, I’ll go and get some help.”

“Oscar please don’t leave me!”

“I’ll be two minutes, hang on.”

Oscar walked swiftly into the Mother and Baby unit where a couple of midwives were reviewing notes. “Please, we need some assistance, my girlfriend Ava has gone into labour, she’s outside in the car.”

“I’ll get her a wheelchair.” One stated. Rapidly taking a wheel chair towards the enterance.

“Ava, we’re going to help you out of the car.” Oscar grabbed Ava’s bag, locking his car and dashed into the building after them.

“How many weeks are you Ava?”

“Nearly 37.”

“Is it your first pregnancy?”

“The baby couldn’t have come at a worse possible time for us.”

“Yes, it’s her first.” Oscar gently took Ava’s hand. “Shh, slow your breathing, it’s going to be okay!”

Ava pulled her hand away. “You’re too warm! I’m hot enough as it is. Jesus this is horrible! It’s going on forever!”

“You’re going to be fine, you have time yet.”

“What would you know Oscar! Did you get the bag ?”

“ Yes I did.”

“It hurts so bloody much! You have no idea! Argh!”

The midwives carefully helped Ava into one of the small rooms, Oscar followed nervously, placing the bags down on the floor.

“Ava?”

“Yes?”

“You’re doing well, how long ago did the contractions start?”

“Five hours. They’re more regular now.”

“Don’t worry, that’s normal. Is this your partner?”

“Yes, hi I’m Oscar.”

“I’m Hanna, I’ll be your main midwife Ava. Did you have a consultation with a midwife during your pregnancy?”

“Yes with Lillian.” Ava gasped.

“Ah, I’m afraid she’s been off sick, but don’t worry, you’re in safe hands. We’re going to take your blood pressure and monitor the baby’s heart beat through out your labour and birth. It’s so we can check both of your progress.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll print you a wrist band in a moment. I’m just going to check the dilation of your cervix, when you’re 10cm diliated, then you’ll be ready to deliver. “

“Oscar go outside the room please!”

“I’ll just turn my back.”

“Fine, have it your way!” Ava snapped.

Hmm, you’re currently 6.5 cm.”

“This is going to take forever.” Ava groaned.

“I should be a midwife.”

“Oh erm, right and why’s that Oscar?”

“I knew it was far too early for you to go in to hospital when the contractions started.”

“At this moment in time is that fact really important? I’m about to give birth Oscar!”

“Shhh, not for a good few hours yet!”

“Will you please sit down before you fall down!” Ava snapped. “That’s the last thing we need!”

“What?”

“You, fainting and causing a scene!”

To be continued…..