(Continued Olga’s Diary)
Matron called me to her office. I’m not surprised. I know my work has not been good lately. I was hoping she would tell me I could go home. Dr Randall, who carries out some of the three monthly student medical examinations, was sitting behind Matron’s desk. He spoke first.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you Nurse, you are pregnant and I’m sorry but you’ll have to leave St Giles”.
The room started spinning and I don’t remember what happened next, except I was sitting down and Matron was giving me sips of water from a glass. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what Dr Randall had said. Neither of them asked me any questions, which was just as well because I didn’t have any answers.
“I don’t know how I got pregnant” I told them and I started crying. Matron was very, very kind and said
“Leave things to me, I will arrange everything”.
Later Moores came to my room and asked me what had happened, so I told her what Dr Randall said.
She asked me who the father was and I said
“I don’t know”.
But she didn’t believe me,
“You must know who made you pregnant Olga, after all you it’s not like you know a lot of men. What man have you been with?”
And then it began to dawn on me that maybe it had been John Edward. I had never mentioned to anyone what happened that day in the pub, even when I saw Moores the next day I didn’t tell her. But now I told her everything. By the time I’d finished, she was crying and hugging me tight.
“Oh, Olga, I’m so sorry. I let you down. It would never have happened if I’d been there.”
Still holding me she asked hadn’t I realised afterwards that I might be pregnant.
I told her “No. Mammie brought us up very strictly at home and we never talked about things like that, so I had no idea how babies were made. When my sister Chickie was pregnant we were never allowed to discuss why she was getting bigger and bigger. We knew she was going to have a baby but Mammie never told us how babies were made. We were always told that babies were sent by God and delivered to the mother. That was the sort of upbringing we had”.
“Oh Olga”, Moores said, “and you a nurse. Never mind, my family know a doctor who will get rid of it for you. It won’t help you get your job back but at least you won’t be burdened with a baby and can go back to Jamaica and your family won’t know anything about it.”
I knew Moores meant well, but I was horrified by her suggestion.
“But, I would know. I can’t do that. It would be a sin.”
When I went to bed I thought about my family. There had been so much gossip about us over the years, so many scandals and I didn’t want to be another one. When I thought of Mammie I ached to put my head on her lap, just once more, and feel her hand stroking my head like she did when I didn’t feel well.
I don’t feel well now Mammie.
Then I said my prayers and prayed for God to forgive me for my wickedness and the shame I had brought on my family
Report: Prepared by Miss Geraldine Franks, Superintendent
Catholic Refuge for Friendless Girls, Barclay Road, Fulham, London
Subject: Miss Olga Josephine Browney
I told her that the first thing we had to do was to complete a registration form for her and she would have to tell me something about herself. As she answered my questions her voice trembled and her hands shook and when she mentioned her mother she started to cry. Miss Browney has made it clear she does not wish her mother, or any member of her family, to be informed about her situation. She says she does not want to hurt them.
We then moved on to the father of the child. At this point she refused to talk about him and no amount of encouragement on my part would make her. I decided not to press the matter.
I then asked her what plans she had for supporting the baby once it was born. When I explained that she could put the baby up for adoption, for the first time in the interview Miss B raised her head and said she would keep the baby. As gently as I could I explained to her that she may have no choice in the matter especially since she was not prepared to take the baby home to her family in Jamaica. I asked Miss B, how, if she kept the baby and stayed in England, she planned to manage, support and care for herself and the child. Miss B said she would find a job and work.
It is quite obvious that Miss B feels she has brought shame on her family by her predicament, but I am concerned about her decision not to return home and have tried to persuade her to change her mind.
I am at a loss to understand why the fear of confronting her family with an illegitimate child is greater than choosing to remain in a country at war, without the support of friends or family and treats unmarried mothers with contempt, not to mention the problem that her colour may bring.
Fortunately, there is time to persuade Miss B to place the child for adoption.
Geraldine Franks (Superintendent)