It goes like this: violet spot, light blue spot, violet spot, light blue spot. Then, on the row below, it’s violet spot, beige spot, violet spot, beige spot. Each ceiling tile has 32 squares, and there are about nine tiles above each bed.
Every day for the past five days my wife has been in Warwick Hospital, counting the spots on the curtains and the squares on the ceiling tiles as she ticks off the days of yet another stay. If she had a sharp implement she’d scratch a tally into the wall, like a medieval prisoner, but they tend not to hand out knives in a hospital. In that time she has shared the ward with numerous other mums, all of whom have arrived in pain and left in pain, off to have a baby. She has developed a kind of camaraderie with the mum in the bed opposite, who is also in for the long haul, and they’ve become quite territorial over the four-bed ward they’re in, eyeing each newcomer with a mixture of derision and suspicion, wondering whether she’ll be one of those people who TALKS REALLY LOUDLY or has their TV on REALLY LOUDLY or eats crisps at 3am REALLY LOUDLY. It’s only a matter of time before they start marking their area by peeing all over the walls. In summary, the whole situation reminds me of this.
But to use a sports-related analogy (it is the Olympics, after all), we’re on the home straight. Just two weeks left until our due date, and hopefully after that we’ll see the back of this place. Don’t get me wrong: the midwives are caring, the consultants sympathetic; but if I never have to walk through these hospital corridors again I’ll die a happy man (probably in a hospital, ironically). And that’s just me; I’m only there for an hour or so in the evening, once the kids are in bed and my mother-in-law has come over to babysit. My wife is trapped inside the hospital day in, day out, having to put up with mums who have been off and had their babies coming back into the ward to show off what they’ve produced.
During her stay my wife has had more needles in her arm than Pete Doherty, and more drugs in her body than – well, Pete Doherty. We have been told that, when labour kicks in, it’ll go quickly; but, until then, it’s a case of playing an excruciating waiting game which sees us wandering up and down the stairs, through the cafe, past ward after ward in a vain attempt to get things moving a bit quicker. It’s akin to the Oblivion rollercoaster at Alton Towers: a slow, mind-numbing slog to the peak, and then suddenly things will move really quickly and there’ll be a lot of screaming and yelling and perhaps a few soiled pants.
I know that when my daughter is finally here all the boredom and pain will be worth it, and it’ll all seem like a distant memory. For my part, it will be wonderful to have Jess back at home – I’ve swiftly come to realise just how much she does around the house, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post.
But, until then, it’s just a case of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. There are 15 curtain spots per column, just so you know. And six antiseptic gel dispensers in the corridor leading to her ward. And the car park sets me back four quid each time.