A Woman of War by Mandy Robotham (also known as The German Midwife)
English | 2018 | General Fiction/Classics > Historical | ePUB | 3.5 MB
Germany, 1944. Taken from the camps to serve the Führer himself, Anke Hoff is assigned as midwife to one of Hitler’s inner circle. If she refuses, her family will die.
Torn between her duty as a caregiver and her hatred for the Nazi regime, Anke is swept into a life unlike anything she’s ever known – and she discovers that many of those at the Berghof are just as trapped as she is. And soon, she’s falling for a man who will make her world more complicated still…
Before long, the couple is faced with an impossible choice – and the consequences could be deadly. Can their forbidden love survive the horrors of war? And, more importantly, will they?
Without a word, Rosa and I went into our defined roles. She stayed with Irena and the baby, tucking him further under any covers we had, while I kept a vigilant eye on Irena’s opening as blood pooled onto the rag. It was normal – for now. But since I began my training, placentas had made me twitch far more than babies ever had. Sheer exhaustion could make the body shut down and simply refuse to expel the placenta. Beads of sweat began forming on my brow and at the nape of my neck. To lose a woman and baby at this stage would seem like Mother Nature really had no soul.
Yet she came through, as she had again and again, a constant in this ugly, shifting humanity. Irena’s features, still awash with hormones of sheer love, crumpled with pain, as another contraction took hold. In another two pushes, the placenta flopped onto the rags, tiny and pale. The baby had stripped every ounce of fat from this pregnancy engine and it was a wrung-out rag with its stringy cord attached. Well-nourished German women produced fat, juicy cords that coiled like helter-skelters into blood-red tissue, fed well in their nine months. I hadn’t seen anything other than meagre ones since coming into the camp.
Once I had checked to ensure the placenta had all come away – anything left inside could cause a fatal infection – we opened the door to the hut and threw it outside, away from the entrance. There was a fierce scrabbling as several of the rats, some nearing the size of cats, fought to be the first through their entry holes in the side of the hut, to the lion’s share of fresh meat. Months before, there had been cross words among the women about feeding the rats in this way, since they could only get bigger, but these creatures were relentless in their quest for food. If they had none, they turned towards us, nibbling at the skin of women too sick to move, too lifeless to realise. If the creatures were distracted, or satiated, at least we had some respite from their prowling. I hated the vermin, but at the same time, I could admire their survival instinct. Vermin or human, we were all simply trying to live.
Rosa and I cleaned around Irena with whatever we could find, she enjoying skin-to-skin time with her baby – we had no clothes to dress him in anyway. He fed hungrily at her papery breast, his little cheeks sucking for dear life on almost dry flesh. The hormone release caused more cramping in her tired belly, but you could tell she almost enjoyed the draw on her body. Rosa brewed some nettle tea from the leaves we had saved, and Irena’s face was pure joy for an hour or so. But as the dark diminished and daylight began licking through the cracks in the walls, the atmosphere in the hut became edgy. Time for Irena and her baby was limited.