Author's Note: This is my first time writing, well anything... Feel free give me tips and ways I can improve! I hope you enjoy! It starts off sweetly but there's a reason it's in the angst category I'm afraid! xx
The pains started that night. They were small, but strong enough to wake Shelagh.
"Hullo there little one," she whispered to her round stomach. "Did you hear that I've decided to take off work from in there then?"
That morning, she had been at Nonnatus House to drop off medication, and to choose her midwife.
One of the perks of being one herself.
Yes, being a midwife did mean perks for Shelagh, and knowing Sister Julienne, who had been through so much with her already, would be by her side during one of the most important moments of her life, was wonderful. It made her feel safe.
But being a midwife also meant that a lot of times, Shelagh did not feel safe at all. The medical terms floated through her head at every slight inconvenience. A headache in her second trimester: does this mean pre-eclampsia? All those mornings, waking up at 4 am to bile in her mouth, and wobbly legs that carried her to the bathroom. She had been sure that had been Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
That first trimester had been awful, she smiled to herself, the pains gone now, but her mind awake. It had been hard to keep her little secret safe from anyone at work, especially when her colleagues were trained nurses specializing in just what she was hiding. She remembered the smirks during the second month, when, at the clinic, she had spent more time flying out of her chair to the toilet at the end of the hall than actually sitting in it. Shelagh would waft by in a cloud of breath mints, which on reflection may have been more suspicious than a vomit smell, especially in a room full of small children. Sister Julienne and Patrick knew, of course, and would make a point not to be concerned about the small woman drinking copious amounts of black tea to settle her stomach. Again, slightly suspicious to others when one's husband and doctor appears to not notice his wife's illness!
Eventually, after Sister Monica Joan had accidentally dropped a milk bottle in the kitchen, and Shelagh had had to sprint out of the room covering her mouth past six shocked and/or smirking midwives and nuns, she found herself confessing to the Nonnatuns. In the loo. Incrementally heaving between statements of: "two and a half months," "I know you all knew," "I wanted to be sure," and, "yes, I have been ill…"
Barbara had turned a bit red after asking that question.
Even Angela had noticed the nausea that had overtaken her mother's mornings. Patrick and Shelagh had been working on potty training with the toddler, and sometimes Angela would stagger into the bathroom to find it occupied by her mother, kneeling over the "big girl toilet." It did not encourage potty training, the Turners feared, when Angela's discovery of her ill mother coincided with this grown up practice.
But when the morning sickness had eventually petered out, albeit not nearly fast enough for Shelagh or her family's liking, Shelagh had expected a nice smooth journey to a bundle in her arms.
The bleeding at the clinic had happened on the worst day possible. Both her and Patrick were already extremely nervous about the inspection of the maternity home, so when Shelagh woke up with twinges in her abdomen, she merely put it up to nerves, and therefore unnecessary to discuss. Patrick seemed a little confused when she had refused to eat breakfast with him that morning, but let it go.
The pain had increased throughout the day, and Shelagh began to feel slightly hot under her nurse cap. After putting the Chens into the ambulance, Shelagh had popped to the loo, just to cool her face and calm down from the nerves that were really upsetting her stomach now.
And she saw the blood. It had pooled in her knickers, and dripped into the toilet as the tears dripped down her cheeks. Shelagh had been through a lot of terrible situations, but nothing like that.
"They fixed us up though, didn't they little one? Mummy had to stay in bed for a few weeks, but then we were all clear to come home," she whispered, yearning to kiss the soft cheeks she was so, so ready to meet.
The doctors (and her very special Doctor) had told her that the scars from the tuberculosis had weakened parts of the uterus, and all the stress that she had been accumulating - the inspection, the worry over Patrick's stress, the pregnancy – led to the hemorrhage. After she rested up, and baby was heard, she could go home, in preparation to get ready to deliver "and rest!" said Patrick. He had clearly momentarily forgotten that Shelagh simply did not know how to rest.
But he enjoyed all the cakes she made.
"Anyway, all of that is behind us now. We are so ready for you." Shelagh held her stomach, now 39 weeks into the pregnancy she thought would only be in her dreams. Patrick, who must have heard her quiet mutterings in his subconscious, flopped his hand into Shelagh's proximity. She took it, and the warmth of love and safety spread through her from his fingers. Through it all, the dreams and even the nightmares, they were together. They didn't even have to be awake.
Tomorrow she would see about the pains. But she need not worry now.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum: severe nausea in pregnancy that can lead to weight loss, dehydration, and (rarely) further complications for mother and baby.