Authors: Aimee Horton
Aimee is from Lincoln, England, where
she enjoys drinking gin and spending time with her family (and she won’t tell
you which of those she prefers doing). As a child, one of her favourite parts
of the summer holidays was to devour all the books in a little book shop in
Devon. She continued reading at lightning speed right up until having children.
She now reads with eyes propped open by match sticks.
If you liked this story, you’ll love
the rest of the Survival Series, featuring Dottie Harris:
Survival of the Ginnest
a modern-day diary of a new mom.
Survival of the Christmas Spirit
a humorous short story about Dottie’s Christmas gone horribly wrong.
, a funny
novel of Dottie’s misadventures in suburbia.
Read on for a sneak peek of
Am I the only one whose plans always go
THE HELL ISN’T HE PICKING UP HIS PHONE?
speeding. Well as much as you can speed when you’re stuck behind a tractor on
what feels like a single-track road. There can’t possibly be enough room to
overtake, even though that posh-looking car has overtaken us both and is
already just a speck in the distance.
at the seat next to me, where a Tesco carrier bag stuffed with various snacks,
fruit shoots and about five different electrical gadgets is resting, along with
my hospital bag. By hospital bag, I mean random clothes rammed into the first
handbag I could find that didn’t have a layer of mini-cheddar crumbs crushed
into the lining.
didn’t expect this baby for another three or four weeks. How the hell was I
supposed to know it would bloody come early?
nearly out-of-battery iPad is charging in the cigarette lighter, and my mobile
is propped precariously on the dashboard in front of the petrol gauge. Stabbing
at the screen again, I select Henry’s number for the hundredth time and listen
to it ring out. The kids in the back are irritating me even more by counting
how many times it rings before going to answer machine. This time it’s only
three before the sound of Henry’s “grown-up work voice” comes out of the tinny
speakerphone and informs me he’s away on business and will be back in the
office next week.
bloody diverted my call! Three rings means he’s seen my name and diverted it!
the car on the grass verge, I grab my phone from the dashboard and Google Henry’s
Scotland office. He visits there every few months, yet I’ve never needed to
call. I’ve always relied on his mobile phone to get in contact. However, this
time it’s serious.
to talk to Henry Harris, please,” I say to the Scottish voice on the other end
of the phone. I attempt to sound calm, even though I can feel a niggling pain
again in my lower back. The receptionist begins to inform me he’s in a meeting
right now, but with the cars racing past and the kids shouting, I can’t hear
her and lose patience.
can you give him an urgent message… no… I don’t want you to get him to call me
back; I need you to use these exact words: THE BABY IS COMING. GET YOUR BLOODY
ARSE HOME NOW. Have you got that?”
times like this I wish I could slam my phone down instead of just pressing the
subsides, and I try not to think about how cross Henry is going to be with me
for speaking to her like that.
it was a bit rude.
I’m having a bloody baby!
enough that he pissed off on a jolly to drink whisky for nearly a week and left
me to move house on my own with the two kids—oh no. Now he’s going to miss the
birth of his third bloody child, his second daughter. And yet again, I’m left
to do everything myself. But I can’t do it all. I mean, I can’t even work out
how to use the bloody newfangled baby monitor. It keeps screeching static at me
or playing random music.
the engine, I take a deep breath and carry on to the hospital. But all I can
think about is: If I can’t manage to operate the baby monitor, how can I look
after three children on my own?
at the hospital, I reach into my bag for my wallet to buy a parking ticket, but
I can’t find it. Shit! I rummage about, but as I work my way through button-down
nighties, big pants and feeding bras, the image of my lovely tan and pink
leather wallet flashes in front of my eyes. It’s next to the kettle.
hell did I forget my wallet? I NEVER forget my wallet; you never know when
there’s going to be a good shopping moment.
Sod it. I
don’t have time to worry about little things like parking tickets. Balancing a
vile-smelling, nearly asleep Mabel on my hip, I grab Arthur’s hand and make my
way towards the entrance of the maternity wing. I’m nearly at the door when I
hear a shout, and turning around, I see the traffic warden waving his hand,
indicating my ticketless car.
isn’t fair. Why do they charge for parking anyway?
sudden burst of pain-free energy, still lugging my bag and the kids, I march
back towards him. As I approach my car, I realise he’s actually writing me a
ticket. He’s not even given me a chance!
going inside to get change for the machine?” he asks, not even looking at me.
He holds the ticket in the air, in what I can only assume is an overly dramatic
way of giving me one last chance to say I was going to get change. But of
course, I don’t give him that answer. Instead, I squeeze between my car and the
one parked next to it and snatch the ticket off him.
begin through gritted teeth as another pain builds up, “am… in… bloody…
his mouth, starting to say something as he attempts to take his ticket back,
and that’s when it hurts. Like proper hurts, and before I drop her, I thrust
Mabel at him and grip onto the bonnet of the car, letting go of Arthur’s hand
and the parking ticket as I do. The traffic warden visibly recoils, and I’m not
entirely sure whether it’s because of the smell coming from Mabel’s nappy or
because the ticket flies into the air and is carried away by the breeze.
the hell is Henry? How the heck am I meant to deal with all this on my own?
get you inside, Miss.” I hear the attendant’s gruff voice, and holding onto the
kids, he ushers me forwards. As we approach, we see a big sign on the automatic
door reading “DOORS BROKEN. PLEASE USE REVOLVING DOOR” in bright red letters.
The man moves through first, holding Arthur’s hand and Mabel in his arms.
the glass, I see a look of panic forming on Mabel’s face as she leaves me
outside. Not wanting her to be scared at a time like this—I’m already
terrified—I rush towards the door to follow them.
bright idea was it to put a revolving door in a maternity wing?” I mutter.
deep breath, I give the door a shove. It moves quicker than I thought, and one
of the sections passes me by, then another. I jump into the next, managing to
squeeze my big belly into the tiny compartment. I give another little push,
hoping it will spin just as quickly, but my bag is blocking it.
in farther, I drop my bag to the floor and try again. Nothing. My bump is too
big; I can’t get the right angle. Damn it! Mabel’s calling my name. Her voice
is on the edge, and she could start screaming any time now.
crying out loud.
sideways so that my bump is facing the middle, then take a side step. This time
the door moves, and I manage to slowly sidestep round until a draft of
air-conditioned air hits my red cheeks and the back of my neck. Collapsing into
an undignified squat, I scoop up my bag before straightening up and turning
around so I can make my way into the hospital.
nurses and the car park attendant are trying their hardest not to laugh.
much dignity as I can muster, I wave at them, but in doing so, clout myself in
the face. Instead of trying to save my dignity any further, I turn to the kids
and point to some chairs next to a big television.
here are some crisps for you and Mabel. Go and sit on those seats over there
while Mummy talks to the nice midwife.” I collapse into a nearby wheelchair,
nearly knocking another pregnant woman over who is about to ease herself into
it. She opens her mouth, ready to say something, but I silence her with a
when I realise how serious the situation is, because while Henry will probably
miss the birth of his child, the two small children already halfway through a
bag of Pom-Bears might not.
I need a
gin and tonic.
ring in my ears, and my exhausted, aching body jumps to attention.
collapsed in the wheelchair, the kids were ushered off with a nurse, and I was
wheeled in for an examination. I was only two centimeters dilated.
can I be only two centimeters dilated—I thought I was at least eight!
like I’ve been here for days. They started to make noises about sending me
home, muttering things about “coming back in a few hours,” but I couldn’t stand
it. I could feel my voice getting higher and higher as I told them how hard it
had been to get here. How my waters had broken on the stairs after celebrating
a successful poo in the toilet (Mabel, not me). How I’d assumed it was a huge
wee, but then the pains kept coming all through the afternoon and the school
run. That’s when they changed their minds and whisked me off for another
examination, promising me that the kids were perfectly happy and they would try
to find out where Henry was.
hours ago, and now here I am, with those terrifying three words hanging in the
not right?” I ask, but it comes out as a whisper. Not that anybody is listening
to me anyway. In fact, they’re all whispering to each other. I turn to the
midwife hovering next to me, but she avoids eye contact.
not right?” I say again, louder, and I can hear the fear in my voice.
seems to be in a bit of an awkward position,” she trills, patting my hand.
“We’re just fetching the consultant to come have a look.” She is smiling and
seems perfectly calm, but I can’t get the words
something’s not right
out of my head.
am I going to do? How can I do this on my own?
when I remember Jane. My best friend Jane. She works on the children’s ward. As
soon as her name pops into my mind, I start to breathe properly again. She’s at
work today! Right at this very moment, she is somewhere in this hospital.
know what to do.
excitement, I gabble at the midwife, who eventually understands what I’m trying
to say, and they put out a page.
waiting for Jane to appear, the doctor arrives. He’s tall, dark and looks to be
in his late fifties. He obviously recognises me, but I don’t have a clue who he
Harris!” he greets me. “I thought you were never going to have another baby as
long as you lived!” His eyes are sparkling, and he has a smile on his face.
must have been here when one of the kids was born.
the young man?” he asks as he examines me. I start to tell him about Arthur and
now Mabel, but he stands up and cuts me off. “This baby looks like it’s going
to be a monkey, breech, so we need to prepare for other options.”
does that mean? I can’t cope with this.
overwhelmed, I burst into tears. Just then, Jane runs into the room, closely
followed by a midwife who informs me that while she’s not been able to get
through to Henry, his office confirmed he’s on his way.
bloody way? If he hadn’t gone to bloody Scotland he’d be here by now, telling
me everything is going to be OK. Luckily, I have Jane.
already by my side, stroking my hair. After a few reassuring words, she turns
to the doctor and asks what my options are.
talks me through what the doctor said, and I look at her blankly. She realises
I’m too far gone to hear anything in detail so pauses before saying, “They were
going to try and turn the baby manually, but you’re quite far along now, so
you’re more than likely going to have a C-section.” Her blue eyes are full of
concern, and she searches my face, waiting for my reaction.
hit me like a punch in the stomach. Either that or it’s another contraction. I
irrationally blame Henry for all that has gone wrong.
husband. If we’d not bought that stupid house, I’d not had to start bloody
decorating the bloody awful nursery and gone into labour. If it wasn’t for him
I wouldn’t bloody be here now. Alone.
Just as I
start ranting at Jane, the door flings open again, and a midwife shouts, “Sir…
sir… please! Who are you?!” as Henry appears, closely followed by two security
guards in hot pursuit. As soon as they see me half lying, half sitting on a
hospital bed, my legs akimbo and my gown hitched up around my knees, they stop
short. One turns a funny shade of green, and looking at his shoes, starts to
because he’s the one in the awkward position… But wait. Henry is here?
The tears pour down my face as he runs towards me and grabs my hand.
you I’d be here!” He smiles down at me before winking at Jane who tactfully
leaves the room, saying something about going to check on the kids.
I want to
punch him, and I actually clench my fist, but another pain comes. Instead, I
satisfy myself with squeezing his hand extra tight, making sure my engagement
ring digs hard into him. To give him his dues, he doesn’t even cry out in pain,
although I kind of wish he would.