Frances’ text reads:
mia has been in hosp with bronchilitus on wednesday til sat
What!? I had no idea. I text back and say I’ll be over in a couple of hours. So now I am being let into Dunbar Street by Frances who I gently berate for not telling me sooner.
“I would have come to the hospital,” I say, thinking less of Mia’s health but more of the missed photo opportunities. I am, after all, supposed to be documenting the ups and the downs.
“It wasn’t really on our minds,” says Frances.
“I know, I’m only kidding. How is she now?”
“Better,” she says, opening the door to her flat. “Jane’s here.”
In the living room Frances sits back down on one of the sofas next to Jane, the family nurse. Hassan is feeding Mia on the other sofa, listening partly to the consultation and partly to the TV that is still on across the room.
They were worried last week, and took Mia for an emergency appointment with their local GP who immediately referred them to hospital. Four days and three nights. Hassan stayed over two of the nights and Frances the other one. Hassan shows me pictures on his phone of Mia with her head in an oxygen goldfish bowl-type thing. “You must have been worried?”
“Yes,” he says.
Jane is congratulating them. “They did all the right things,” she says. “Bronchitis is very common at this age but very scary for mummies and daddies.”
“The boiler still isn’t working properly and there is damp on some of the walls,” Frances is telling Jane.
Dunbar Street is run by the local authority and is dedicated, supported accommodation for young mums. Jane is quite rightly concerned that the conditions here are not up to scratch and might actually have contributed to Mia’s recent illness. She tours the other room where Frances shows her damp patches on the ceilings and on the carpet in the smaller bedroom. Unimpressed, Jane goes down to the office with Frances to discuss the damp with the staff.
Hassan’s mobile rings. He tries to get up from the sofa but has Mia across his lap. I offer to hold her so he can take his call. It’s about his car which is being repaired. I put Mia on my shoulder and soon find myself regressing, humming that tune in her ear that all our kids would recognise. I push the thought of me as a grandad out of my mind as quickly as it comes in.
[to be continued…]