Olga’s Diary (Continued)
Marie: So many people were in the labour room of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, three medical students watching as part of their training, two nurses, Sister and a doctor. After eighteen painful hours it was it was nearly over.
“One good heave now Olga. I can feel the head” the doctor said and then finally the baby slipped out.
Before the mouth and nasal passages were cleared Sister had slapped the baby on its bottom and it cried immediately. Then it was weighed, washed and wrapped in a blanket and handed to me – I had a baby girl. I was frightened holding her because she was so small and I thought I would hurt her.
“Babies are tough, Olga. Give your daughter a cuddle” Sister said kindly. I wish Mammie could see my tiny, perfect little daughter.
I’ve christened my daughter, Marie-Thérèse, after my favourite nun at Alpha Academy and I’ve had to register her birth. When the Registrar asked me the father’s name, I just shook my head. I felt ashamed, but he was a kind man and patted my hand and gave me a little smile, but his act of kindness made me cry. I have no idea how I am going to look after my baby. I have no home, no money and no job.
Then the problem was solved for me. Miss Franks came to me and said that because of my circumstances, my baby would be taken from me and put in an orphanage to give me time to think about whether placing Marie for adoption was best for her. She also told me that Matron from St Giles had said I could work at the hospital, as a maid, for a short time, which would give me some money, and I could stay in the refuge for a while until I came to some kind of decision about Marie.
I’ve asked Miss Franks if she could arrange for Marie to be baptized at St James’s Roman Catholic Church in Spanish Place and Moores said she would be Marie’s godmother. Immediately after Marie was baptized I handed her over to a complete stranger to be taken to an orphanage in a place I’d never heard of, Gloucester. If Moores hadn’t been with me I think I would have ended my life then.
“In Jamaica we have Obeah men who can work evil against people who hurt you, you know, Moores. They can make bad things happen to that person. I only have to ask someone back home and it will be done.”
“That’s voodoo, Olga”
“Maybe it is, but I want to hurt him for what he did to me”.
“Would it help if I pop into John Lewis and bought a little doll and some pins, then you can pretend the doll is John Edward and stick the pins in it.”
“Don’t laugh, Moores, believe me Obeah works, I know, I’ve seen it working” I told her. I looked at her and there was a little smile on her face.
“Forget all that rubbish Olga” she said putting her arm around me.
Miss Franks wanted to see me. She showed me an advert from a newspaper. A toddler and baby nursery in Wimbledon wants help in its nursery and she thinks that with my nursing training I should apply for the job particularly as no school leaving certificate is asked for.
It is a private nursery in a very big posh house at the end of a long drive in Victoria Drive, I was interviewed by the two trained nurses who ran it called Sister Warner and Sister Pateman. The Sisters told me that the mothers of the babies at the nursery are in the navy or army and when they have finished their tour of duty, or the war is over, they will take their babies back again. I explained I had a little baby, Marie, and they said yes your little baby can come along.
Then they took me round the building and explained how the baby nursery takes babies from six months up to two years old. The baby room is on the top floor of the house and there is a play room next to it which is full of soft and wooden toys made by the local people living in the area and my bedroom is on the same floor.
Then they showed me around the toddler nursery which takes day children from two to five years of age. The children are able to come to the nursery any time after 7.30 in the morning and have to be picked up by 6 in the evening. The nursery is on the first floor and also has a playroom as well as a sleeping room for the children to rest in during the day. Each toddler has their own overall, towel and flannel, which is kept on their own peg. Sister Pateman and Sister Warner’s bedrooms are on that floor.
On the ground floor are two bathrooms each with electric fires over the bath and the staff dining room. Next to the air raid shelter in the basement is the laundry room where there is a big sink with a wringer.
Each baby has its own cot and bedding and every day nappies have to be boiled as well as washing the cot sheets and towels. When I saw the amount of washing that had to be done I thought I can’t do this job, I won’t cope, but Sister must have seen my face, because she said I would not be doing the washing. A local girl comes in each day and does it and another woman comes in two afternoons a week to do the ironing.
“They were desperate for some help and you were a godsend to them Olga”, Miss Franks said later.
For the first time in a very long time I felt happy, it meant free board and food for Marie and me and I got paid as well. I’d have done the job just for the board and food.
Six months after Marie was taken away from me I’ve got her back and I will never, never, never, EVER give her up again to anyone.
I miss my family.
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