' The Ragman's Serenade tells the story of four families- one from North Shields and the other three from Wallsend. It is a story of relationships- The Davis family are up to their eyes in debt - The Stewart family have a daughter who has downs syndrome– The hagarths who’s husband owns a bookmakers shop and his wife is a midwife at the RVI- and the Higginbottom's have a father with the on set of Alzheimer's. How do they cope - read this fascinating story i'm sure you will enjoy.


23. 23

Marina had seen it all. Unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, women in the change of life who ended up pregnant and girls who had be raped who ended on her ward. There were twelve on her ward this week. Two of them would be going home tomorrow with their new babies; three were awaiting caesarean sections and one an epidural. There was only the two of them in charge of the ward that night and they were both rushed off their feet. Not that it was any different on any other day. Expectant fathers would either be pacing the corridors or in the waiting room having a cigarette. Many of the women smoked during pregnancy and they would join their husbands for a cigarette because they weren’t allowed to smoke on the ward. Further down the corridor, the labour ward was situated and the sounds of women screaming, swearing at their husbands who didn’t have a clue about what they were going through; some who tried to calm them down by offering them a cup of tea. Marina used to laugh at some men who thought a cup of tea would cure labour pain. “My wife’s in agony; could she have a nice cup of tea please they would say.’ Most of the time men left the ward to get away from the agony their wives were suffering in the hope that by some miracle when they returned a baby would be lying in the crib by the bed. She felt like saying would you like a good dose of morphine with that sir,’ but restrained herself and asked if they would like sugar instead. Some women sailed through their labour and had babies like shelling peas; others took hours, sometimes days before they finally gave birth. The nurses and the midwife suffered abuse at the hands of the expectant mother’s who called them every name under the sun during labour but they were more than grateful upon discharge. There was a shortage of nurses on the maternity wing and it wasn’t uncommon for her to work seventeen hours in one shift. Marina would go home exhausted and be expected to turn up the next night and do it all again. Over the years it had put a hell of a strain on their marriage as there was never enough time in the day where either of them could just switch off and relax. Norman had asked her if he got someone in to look after the betting shop would she come away with him for a few days but Marina said she couldn’t due to the staff shortage. It didn’t seem fair to Norman, who went out to work when his wife came in from doing a seventeen hour shift and all she wanted was her bed to sleep. He had to do all of the shopping because Marina didn’t have time. She could eat at home with Norman when she came in as she was just too tired but more often than not she would run down to the hospital canteen and grab a sandwich for herself and Carol Ditchburn when she was on duty. They had to eat quickly when they got a minute to themselves which usually gave her indigestion or heartburn. She found herself chewing Rennies to ease the pains in her stomach. Sex in her home was virtually none existent because she was just too tired. The buzzer rang on the ward and it was Moira Clarke again. She was having twins and the labour was giving her hell. She’d been in two days now and the cervix had only opened three centimetres. She was a large woman; weighing over sixteen stones and had to be pushed to the toilet in a wheelchair because she refused to use a bed pan and could not walk to the toilet on her own. She was so heavy that they had to take her to the disabled toilet because she broke the toilet seat twice in the ladies.

Marina just finished taking the blood pressure and temperature of Mrs Silksworth in bed five when the buzzer sounded. They both went down to the ward and had to lift Moira Clarke into a wheelchair then push her to the toilet again.

There was usually a lull around 3 a.m. when the patients dropped off to sleep. Carol had gone along to the staff room and made them both a strong cup of coffee and brought it through. The peace didn’t last for long though as crying babies had to be changed or those in the special units born premature were looked after. She was glad 

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