Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 7

Popsy van Wyk

Popsy stared at the wall and curtains and wondered what she was doing there. She’d been driven by an acquaintance to the hospital in the nearby town of Dundee. That woman had had reservations about making the trip. Popsy had been forced to plead with the woman to take her, particularly because she was drunk. After all, it was barely 7am in the morning.

Popsy was admitted, and felt the stares of the other patients and their visitors, but she didn’t care. Owing to her inebriated condition, she was put in a wheelchair and taken to a ward.

Popsy could no longer bear the clinical odour from the maternity block where she was due to give birth. She also couldn’t take the extreme pain any more. She wanted something stronger than the paracetamol she was on, which didn’t kill any of the suffering. She was pining for a drink.

Is it going to be a boy or a girl? she wondered between the wheezing and farting of the three other women in her ward, who were all in labour or approaching birth.

The curtains were drawn shut to give her some sort of privacy, but through the curtain she could hear the moans, screams and groans. These interruptions barely took her mind off her own labour pains.


Popsy came round from the sedatives. She was told she had given birth to a less than two kilo little girl.

The male midwife later told her there had been a touch-and-go situation.

“I was battling to get the baby to breathe. I was on the verge of calling in the obstetrician when the baby gasped and made what sounded like tiny burp. Then she started to breathe. I then severed the umbilical cord and tied it.”

Popsy nodded, holding her daughter tightly and caressing her.

“I think I’ll call you Madelaine.”

But there was a shocking surprise lurking when Madelaine got older.

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