This was supposed to go up last night so it was posted on 16 May, but I didn't quite manage to finish it in time! I know it doesn't seem to fit with the show now, but when I first started planning my Holby fanfictions I planned all my timelines around Chloe's birthday being 16 May, so I'm sticking with that for my fanfictions. By pure coincidence, this means that 'my' Chloe shares her birthday with my lovely friend Godxrd, so of course I had to write her a birthday oneshot! I hope you had the BEST day yesterday and it was worth the wait!
As you may already know if you follow Amy Lennox on Instagram, the sweatshirts are a real thing and they are brilliant. I may have bought myself one for my five years milk-free anniversary back in March.
I couldn't decide what to call this story, so I've gone with 'Teaghlach' because it means family in Scots Gaelic. No Gaelic is needed to read this story, it just fitted the theme.
Hope you enjoy, and I would love to hear from you if you do!
15 May 2020, 11.50pm
"Just think, Fletch," says Ange happily, dream-like, sat at the staff room table beside her boyfriend as Chloe throws teabags into mugs for three, pours hot water from the kettle, already flushing in anticipation of what she knows is about to come. "Thirty years ago this very moment, I was sat at my mum's kitchen table panic cramming for my Biology and my Gaelic Highers I was supposed to be taking the next morning, blissfully unaware that I was actually thirty-five weeks pregnant, not somewhere around the four month mark, and I was about to go into labour with this one. And now she's my beautiful, grown-up daughter, and we're working the nightshift together through her birthday," she smiles proudly. "But this time thirty years ago, I had absolutely no idea what was about to hit me."
"You what?" Fletch just stares at her for a moment, glances between Chloe and her mum with a mixture of confusion and amusement and mild horror, and Chloe groans, already embarrassed. "You're joking, right?"
"What has she never told you this story before?" she calls across from the kitchen area, reaching for the milk from the fridge now. "Not exactly breaking it to your boyfriend gently, are you, Mum? Do you want my milk or normal milk?"
"Normal milk!" her mum tells her. "Why would I go near your foul stuff when there's proper milk on offer?"
"My milk's better for you and it's better for the cows. And it tastes nicer."
"Her oat milk frees all the cows from the yard." Dom appears in the staffroom doorway, arms behind his back, grinning proudly. "Ah, perfect timing, can you do me one?"
"Sure. What did you just say?"
"Nothing. Absolutely not a spoiler for your totally perfect birthday present I may be just a little overexcited to give you."
"What? Oat milk frees cows from what?"
"You'll see in what...ten minutes?" Her brother flashes dog-patterned wrapping paper at her for the briefest of moments, conceals the package behind his back again. "I wanted to be the first. You know, your first proper birthday having a big brother, and everything. But it's brilliant. Totally you. Just trust me. Happy birthday for ten minutes' time, little sister. I got you a card and everything."
"That's actually really sweet."
"It is, isn't it?" Ange wipes her eyes. "You don't know how long I've dreamt about this. My babies being this sweet with each other."
"Oh my god, Ange, are you crying?"
"Just a little bit. You know what I'm like, the slightest thing sets me off. Come here, you two." Ange opens her arms, pulls Dom and Chloe into a hug. "I'm so glad you have such a good relationship with each other now."
"Oh, you know. She's not quite the sister I always wanted," Dom teases her. "But she'll do. There you go, Chlo, catch. I'll finish the teas. You the one on the left?"
"Umm hmm," Chloe nods, sitting down beside her mum. "The others are milk of the cow hormone-infested variety, don't worry. Thank you, Dom, you really didn't have to. What is it?" She feels around the edges of the wrapping paper curiously. "It's squishy…"
"What, and ruin the surprise? It's officially your birthday in about ten minutes, you can open it then." Dom places a mug of tea down in front of her. "One mug of tea with watered down porridge."
"Are we all going to avoid the elephant in the room?" Fletch asks now, eyes never leaving Ange, questioning, even as he gratefully accepts a mug of tea from Dom. "Did you say when you when into labour with Chloe you thought you were…"
"Only four months ish pregnant? Yep."
"What the actual fuck?" Dom stares.
"Took the words right out of my mouth, mate." Fletch's expression conveys equal horror.
"Alright! It's not that weird, I'm sure it happens more often than people realise. I had no clue I was pregnant with Chloe until I was thirty-one weeks. And you can wipe that smirk off your face, Dominic, I wasn't much better with you, you were twenty-seven weeks. Except I didn't realise how far along I was with Chloe, I thought I was about twelve weeks, fourteen at the absolute most, and I… I didn't get around, I guess, to having it confirmed at the GP. It was in the middle of my Highers exams, my life was a bit of a mess, I was seventeen and stupid. But anyway. So when I went into labour with Chloe, I actually thought I was having a miscarriage. Obviously, given I thought I was four months gone. Right up until the moment she came out."
"Jesus, Ange." Fletch's eyes widen. "Didn't the obstetrics team realise before you…"
"Obstetrics?" Chloe laughs, wraps her hands around her mug now, not entirely sure why she's slightly embarrassed, telling this story. "She had me in the graveyard at the local church. On her own. No medical assistance, no equipment, nothing. Not even a towel or a blanket or anything basic like that, never had a check-up. At what, three in the morning?"
"We think you were born at about quarter past three, yes." Her mum reaches out to squeeze her arm protectively. "That's what we estimated, based on the time my support worker at the Glasgow SARC made the 999 call. I didn't know what to do so I went straight over there; thank god she was working that night, I was completely terrified, I don't know how well I would have responded to anyone else. So she came into the Glasgow Children's Hospital with us and sat with Chloe up on the NICU while they tried to work out where to put me. I think they took me there because of Chloe, more than anything, but I was seventeen, I was within their remit. But no Obstetrics at GCH. For obvious reasons."
"You had an unassisted birth totally solo to a thirty-five weeker you thought was a miscarriage at seventeen? Outside? With no sterile…"
"Nope. I caught her myself, and then I had to leave the umbilical cord attached and wrap her in my t shirt and my dad's rugby jersey, I ran over to the SARC with her like that. The t shirt was unsalvageable, and I loved that t shirt. It was baggy enough that it still fitted me through my whole pregnancy with her and everything, covered everything up, and then I had her and all the baby gunk ruined it. I did keep the rugby jersey, though, that was special, because it was my dad's. I still wear that, actually. It's a little bit stained, but you wouldn't know it was amniotic fluid just from looking at it."
"That's fartoo much information, Mum." Chloe wrinkles her nose in disgust. "You wear that thing all the time at home, Fletch and Dom are never going to be able to look at it in the same way again now you've told them you used it as a baby blanket and a towel all rolled into one."
"Alright! That's what I did! I didn't exactly have another option, did I?" her mum protests. "I mean, okay, so the sensible thing would have been to just go straight to hospital, but I was… let's just say I when a bit off the rails for a while, before I realised I was pregnant with Chloe. I was scared… I don't know, I was young, I thought I'd get slaughtered if I went into A and E in the state I was in and I was miscarrying- I was absolutely certain that's what it was. I wasn't sure if they'd have me done for neglect, or something. It hadn't even crossed my mind I might be more than eighteen weeks. So I figured I could just deal with it myself and no one would have to know. That's why the churchyard. I was going to bury her with my dad. You know, so she wouldn't be on her own." She pauses for a moment, puts down her mug, hugs Chloe into her side. "Except then I had madam over here, and I realised I'd got my dates totally wrong and she might be okay after all. She was a bit confusing. She was three pounds bang on at thirty-five weeks and her lungs and her digestive system weren't fully developed, she was teeny tiny. The Glasgow NICU had never seen a thirty-five weeker that small."
"And she's not much bigger now?" Dom teases. "I took her to my PT session at the gym the other week. She could barely lift the ten kilos bar off the ground."
"Oh, I know," Ange agrees, as Chloe glares at them both, feigning fury. "No, she was tiny. Scarily so. I had to do CPR on her at first, thank god we'd had someone come out from the ambulance service to teach us that in S2, or I don't even want to think about what might have happened. I think she was just so tiny and shell-shocked that it didn't quite click what she was supposed to do at first, it was probably a pretty traumatic labour for her, looking back. I can't even use the hadn't been to medical school at that point excuse for that one, I nearly had a caesarean with Dom because his heartrate went through the roof. I knew what could happen, I would have been straight down to the A and E at Glasgow Royal if I'd known it was premature labour, not a miscarriage. But I got her breathing somehow, and then I just ran straight to the Glasgow SARC with her wrapped in my t shirt and the rugby jersey. No mobile phones, then. And then my crisis support worker at the SARC called us an ambulance and got us into hospital, and mercifully, it turned out I had a natural instinct for preemie care and I'd actually done a pretty good job keeping her stable. So we got her settled into the NICU, and then my crisis support worker from the SARC phoned my school to let them know I wouldn't be in to take my Highers that day because I'd just had a baby they hadn't even known about and I was in ITU with a retained placenta and two fucking litres of blood loss from when they repaired the damage in theatre. And that was my delivery with Chloe."
"And we've let you and Chloe loose as cover on the labour ward tonight?!" Fletch just stares at both of them now, eyes wide, his obvious shock making Chloe feel even more embarrassed. "How desperate were they up there?"
"Alright! The timing is a bit freaky, isn't it?" her mum plays along lightly, but she flushes a little now, kisses Chloe's hair, affectionate, reassuring, almost as though she knows. "I mean, obviously I've upped my delivery game since then. And got better at balancing the needs of the baby andthe mother. I do gas and air now, and epidurals, birthing pools, caesareans…"
"Back to nature experiences at the local churchyard?" Dom sniggers- and Chloe knows he doesn't mean it, knows he'd be horrified if he knew, but the way he makes light of it, smirks, clearly finding it totally hilarious, just makes her feel… dirty, somehow, ashamed… guilty for putting their mother through what she did, and yet she can't quite rationalise why.
"Hey, it's not funny!" Ange tells him, firmer, less compromising, than Chloe would have expected just moments earlier. "It was fucking horrendous, I thought I was going to lose her, the first few days or so after she born. I thought I already hadlost her the whole time I was in labour with her. And then I delivered her, and I could tell she was an actual, proper, preemie after all, but I was in the middle of nowhere with her and I had no way of getting help or any idea how long she was going to last without it. I wouldn't wish that on any new mother. Let alone a frightened, traumatised teenager. And how do you think Chloe feels, knowing that was her start in life? That she nearly died and it's apparently hilarious."
"Sorry," says Dom quietly, eyes fixed firmly on the staffroom table. "Sorry, I didn't think."
"I know. I know, it's okay. Just… think, please." Ange clings onto her tighter now, rubs gentle circles on her back, and Chloe closes her eyes for a moment, content, secure. "I mean, it's proving a nice story to tell my patients on the labour ward as long as I leave out the overly traumatic parts, it's not all bad. You know, that I delivered my first baby thirty years ago today in what… five minutes' time? Andshe was my own baby! And she completely changed my life for the better and I couldn't love her any more if I possibly tried," she adds sincerely, cuddles Chloe into her chest. "Thirty years, and it feels like yesterday."
"Aww, I love you too, Mum." Chloe squeezes her back, too safely cocooned in their mother-daughter bubble, just them, to even register Dom and Fletch.
"Love you more. Who'd have thought, hey? That thirty years later we'd both be surgeons, working in the same hospital? I didn't even think I was going to make it to medical school thirty years ago," her mum muses. "I'd virtually dropped out of school before I realised I was pregnant with this one, I only decided I was going to try and sit my Highers because of her."
"What are Highers?" Fletch frowns.
"Like the Scottish version of something between an A level and an AS level, I think. Except I'd hardly been to school since about November, and it was the beginning of April by time I realised I was pregnant. Highers exams start the end of April. I'd already missed almost the whole year, so I was basically just panic cramming from my textbooks by myself, you can imagine how stressed I was. Imagine trying to teach yourself your entire A level syllabus in four weeks and thinking your future depended on it. I repeated my Highers year after I had Chloe, but I didn't know that was an option, then. I thought it was panic cram a year's worth of work I hadn't even been in school for or nothing."
"Fucking hell. And I thought A Level Chemistry was bad enough withthe lesson time." Dom grimaces.
"Oh, believe me, I don't recommend it. That was the most stressful four weeks of my life, easily. I didn't even know where to start, I'd missed so much school, and I was balancing the exam revision with trying to sort my life out and calm down enough that my mum and Social Services might see me as suitable mother material. Social Services get involved if you have a baby under eighteen, it's a routine thing, but then I was always going to have that tenfold, given everything that happened with Dom." Her mum meets her brother's eyes now, expression a picture of sadness. "Not to mention I was a mess, my whole pregnancy with Chloe. I was practically begging them to stick their noses in."
"How so?" Fletch asks quietly.
"That's… oh, I don't know. That's probably a story for another day, isn't it, Chloe?" Her mum tells her gently, hugs her, doesn't tell her that she won't say anything unless she's okay with it, but Chloe can see it in her eyes. "I was… wild, when I was sixteen, seventeen. Let's just put it like that. I knew Social Services were going to be all over me as soon as I realised I was pregnant with Chloe, I thought they might be more forgiving if I was at least making an effort to go back to school and get some qualifications. Even though the timing couldn't have been worse. Speaking of timing. Two minutes! My littlest baby's thirty in two minutes, can you believe that? I'm not old enough to have a thirty-three-year-old anda thirty-year-old."
"You barely look old enough to have a thirteen-year-old, Ange," Fletch agrees, winking.
"Right answer. You going to…?" Ange watches Fletch expectantly.
"Sure. I'll be right back," Fletch nods, stands, disappears out into the corridor. "Give me a minute. Just got to grab some… paperwork."
"He'll be back in a minute, sweetheart. Oh, I'm so proud of you. Both of you." Ange smiles contently, opens her arms, pulls Dom in to join their hug. "My wonderful children. We've done alright, haven't we? I mean, no thanks to me, for much of it. But you two turned out just perfect, and I couldn't be prouder. My little family."
"Your dynasty of doctors." Dom points out.
"Exactly. You two are just amazing. And I'm so, so glad you've got each other now, too. Look, it's your last minute of being twenty-nine, Chloe!"
"Yep, it is, Mum. Why are you making such a fuss about it?"
"I don't know! Because you've been through a lot this year, but you're so, so strong. And brave, and brilliant, and I love you. And thirty just feels huge, doesn't it? You had an irresponsible teenage mother and you still made it to thirty, and I get to spend the night shift working with my beautiful, intelligent, surgeon daughter. And to think thirty years ago this very moment, I was panic-teaching you my Gaelic vocab and different types of white blood cells."
"You just said you had me at three am, Mum."
"I know I did, that's not what I meant. I used to read to my bump, when I was pregnant with you. Both of you, actually. But it was Chloe I was expecting in the middle of exam season, so Dom got The Colour Purpleand she got the revision notes."
"Umm hmm. You were a huge Gaelic vocab fan, actually, I should probably stop blaming your nana for all your weird music. Maybe that was my influence after all. And you used to…" Ange trails off, gaze shifts to the staffroom door.
Fletch reappears as Dom jumps up to open the door, left hand shielding the glowing candles on the chocolate cake that looks to Chloe worryingly like her one of mother's baking efforts.
"Happy birthday to you!" her mum begins enthusiastically. "Oh, come on, Dom, Fletch, help me out here!"
"Oh god," Chloe cringes, covers her face with her hands as they sing, mixture of embarrassed and touched all at once. "You didn't have to…"
"Yes, we did!" Fletch insists, their singing finally stopped. "Of course we did! You can't have your birthday on shift without us making a fuss, can you? Go on, blow your candles out! Right, I'll get the plates."
"Did you make this, Mum?" Chloe ask suspiciously, blows out the candles.
"Of course I did, it's my daughter's birthday! Did you make a wish?"
"Obviously. Has it actually risen? Or have you slathered it in icing like that to make it look like a cake and not a discus?"
"Hey, that was one time! I've been practicing, if you must know. And Sacha's been giving me tips. It was a bit burnt around the edges, but I cut that part off. And you can't really mess up icing, can you?"
"It looks amazing, Mum. Thank you."
"And I've made plenty, so we can take it up to Obstetrics when our break's over."
"I think we should probably taste test it first, Mum. You know, check you haven't put too much baking powder in it again."
"Alright! It'll be great, I promise. You have the first slice."
"Oh, I think she wants to open my gift first," says Dom, places the package into Chloe's hands, peers suspiciously at the slices of birthday cake. "Why are there yellow patches in it?"
"Because I clearly didn't do the best job of mixing the melted chocolate in, did I! It'll taste just fine. That's your one then, Dom, you have that. And you can take a slice back to Keller for Sacha…"
"I think you might have a way to go yet before you reach Sacha's lofty heights, Ange," Dom warns. "It's a bit uneven, isn't it?"
"Hey! It's the thought that counts! I wanted to make my daughter her birthday cake rather than raiding ASDA, is that really such a crime?"
"We're teasing you, Mum!" Chloe tells her. "I'm sure it'll taste amazing, thank you." She rips open the wrapping paper at one end, reaches inside, pauses. "Am I supposed to be guessing what this is, Dom?"
"Nah, you'll never guess. Just open it."
"Okay… it's…" She pulls something pale blue, slightly creased, out of the wrapping paper. "It's a sweatshirt?"
"Unfold it. There, see! My oat milk frees all the cows from the yard!" Dom reads proudly, points to the writing beneath the oat milk carton logo on the sweatshirt.
"Dom, this is amazing!"
"I told you it was perfect for you. You're practically a walking oat milk advert anyway, you might as well have the merch to prove it."
"That's such a big brother present," Ange comments rolling her eyes light-heartedly. "She really doesn't need encouragement with her one-woman oat milk campaign, Dom. I don't know whether to curse you for encouraging her or think it's the sweetest thing in the world that you know each other so well now."
"Hey, you're the one who keeps saying you want us to be there for each other! Happy birthday, Chlo," says Dom, hugging her tightly. "I'll take you out at the weekend and get you plastered, yeah? We'll pretend like it's your eighteenth and I'm taking you on your first legal night out? Only don't tell Mum. Obviously."
Ange rolls her eyes.