Thursday, 22 November 2012

An Unexpected Phonecall


Its late Monday morning and I am mooching about the kitchen. It is my third week of maternity leave and a Monday morning with no work is still a novelty.

I am drinking tea and reading a letter from the maternity hospital. It says I haven’t had any antenatal care since Christmas, which is bollocks because I go to the midwives at Maryhill Health Centre every month, and have done since we moved here. The phone rings and I pick it up.

“This is Susan McDonald from social services. We’re a bit concerned that you haven’t been accessing antenatal care”

The training kicks in, as they say in the military.  

The CAB training that is. 

I remember when I first started there. I used to ring up the DWP or the council and bark like a little terrier. It was aggression born from powerlessness and inexperience. Later on, I got a bit more used to being listened to and that changed. I developed a smoother, more polite negotiation style.

I pull it out now, along with the antenatal records from the cupboard. “I have the records to hand right now. I can give you the times and dates of all my appointments”

I can hear Susan’s pen scritch scritching at the other end of the line, so I pause as I’m speaking to allow her to catch up.

She has some additional questions:
Is this my first child, My address: Is that the high rises? Am I in work currently?

“This is really a shock.” I say “To come to the attention of social services, before the baby is even born”

It is a shock. I feel like I’ve been caught out at something. I shouldn’t have said it though. It sounds weak, like an admission.
                                                                                                  
Linda says she will check out my story and call me back in a few days. I offer to post her photocopies of my records.  “Thank you for your concern” I say as I hang up.

“Thank you for your concern?! Where did that come from? It sounds snotty. Not how I usually talk. But no, it’s perfect. It’s the training kicking in.

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