Antenatal Ward


I’m here to greet you, as you raise your head groggily from your pillow.
I always find myself speaking a little more softly than I feel I should,
But it feels right, today, my voice gently soothing in the morning light.
The sun has nearly finished climbing into the sky, as I walk back to the desk,
I flick through pages, I see your stories beginning to weave on each page.


After tea, toast, cereal, the routine beeping and curtains being opened,
In comes the gradual crescendo of the hospital coming to life;
Greetings to and from colleagues, footsteps down corridors,
Always one squeaky wheel turning, be it wheelchair, trolley or drip stand,
The jangle of keys and doors being opened, or closed.


“Shall we listen to baby?”
An awakening, the excitement, the pre-joy and occasional nerves.
Palpation always reminds me of a cat kneading, slowly but firmly,
Here is the cool gel and then that glorious sound of a tiny heart beating.
Fast but calming to both of us, listening intently.


The phone-calls always begin early in the morning,
Worried voices rush to tell us about the past few minutes, or hours,
Many of the call sheets pinned at the desk, littered with “TCI”.
Sometimes we try to stem the worry back from our own voices,
When a tiny voice tells us it’s been days.


Bay B please, bay A please, here are the scales – step on, step off.
Blood pressure cuffs inflating, pulse recorded, papers fluttering.
A pump of alcohol gel with wide smiles – cold hands, warm skin;
A big breath out, after a big breath in.
All eyes on me, until that faint sound starts to become bright.


Blood tests, urinalysis – FBC, U+Es, LFTs, Group & Save, MSU.
Somewhere a drip stand beeps and beeps and beeps,
Cleaning transducers, throwing clean sheets like parachutes.
A row of handheld notes expectantly waiting for the Dr, lie on the desk,
We scrub the “T”s from the board; wave goodbye as people leave.


A sunset paints the walls of the ward pink and orange,
Colours it quieter, calmer; just a little more serene.
It’s not long until the night staff arrive, bright-eyed and alert.
We stifle yawns, masking them with smiles and hellos,
Before the business of discussing all of the names decorated with “I/P”.


Medication charts checked, RSVP stickers exchanged and stuck,
The heavy weight of jangling keys from one hand to another.
Bags packed, coats on, we shuffle down the silent corridor together,
Wave our goodbyes at one another as we exit into the darkness, bleary-eyed.
The orange lamplight sees us all home, until tomorrow.


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