‘Congratulations,’ CJ said, holding the baby up so Margaret and Doug could see.
‘A boy!’ Doug whooped. Margaret merely closed her eyes as though in pain. ‘We’re going to call him Joshua. Joshua Douglas,’ Doug continued, a bright smile beaming across his face.
‘That’s a lovely name,’ CJ replied.
Ethan was standing beside her, waiting with a warmed, sterile nappy in which to wrap the premature baby. CJ placed the little boy into Ethan’s waiting hands. ‘Forceps,’ she said, and clamped the cord off with two sets of forceps, cutting the cord in between.
Ethan took the baby to the neonate section trolley, Bonnie working beside him. CJ delivered the placenta before starting to suture. ‘How’s it going?’ she asked.
Ethan was rubbing the baby with one hand, stimulating blood flow. ‘Heart rate is low, breathing isn’t too good. Bonnie, suction.’
Bonnie did as he asked while he checked the baby’s reflexes and colour. ‘Still quite blue. Come on, little man, come on,’ he urged. He shook his head. ‘We’ll need to intubate. Facial features are indicative of FAS. Flat mid-face, low nasal bridge, indistinct philtrum and thin upper lip.’
‘One minute,’ Bonnie said.
‘Apgar score is five,’ Ethan remarked.
‘What…what’s going on?’ Doug asked.
‘The baby’s not responding too well,’ CJ said quietly. ‘How are you doing, Margaret?’
There was no reply. CJ looked over the screen at her patient and saw tears running down the woman’s cheeks.
‘Blood pressure has stabilised,’ Charlie reported, and CJ nodded.
‘Colour is mildly improving,’ Ethan called. ‘Still clinical evidence of neurological dysfunction.’
‘What does that mean?’ Doug asked, looking worried.
‘His reflexes aren’t responding well,’ CJ interpreted as he sutured Margaret’s wound closed. Everyone was waiting.
‘Five minutes,’ Bonnie said.
‘Apgar score is four,’ CJ reported.
‘What is this Ap thing?’ Doug asked frantically.
‘It’s a score we use to assess the state of well-being in newborn babies.’ CJ said.
‘What’s it out of?’
‘So…so four isn’t good?’
‘No.’ Now was not the time to lie to them, to tell them everything would be all right—because it probably wouldn’t. CJ’s heart turned over with sympathy and pain for the new parents and she couldn’t help her eyes misting with tears. She blinked them away and concentrated on her work.
‘Arrange transfer for both Margaret and Joshua to Royal Sydney Children’s Hospital,’ Ethan said. He continued to monitor the baby and Margaret continued not to say anything. CJ could almost feel the guilt radiating from her patient and wished there was something she could do to help.
When it was time to transfer them, Ethan insisted on going with them.
‘I can call in favours, get them the best care,’ he told her.
CJ nodded. ‘Keep me informed,’ she said, watching him climb into the Royal Flying Doctor Service plane.
‘I will,’ he said, then disappeared from her view. She had no idea when he’d be able to return to Pridham, or even if he would. Once he was back in Sydney, perhaps he’d stay for a while. She didn’t know. They hadn’t had time to talk, to discuss things because she’d been busy trying to be independent and solve all her problems by herself.
If she’d just talked to him, been open and honest as she’d always prided herself on being, then perhaps she wouldn’t be faced with so many questions. She headed home to Elizabeth, the house uncommonly quiet once Molly had left. CJ sat in the chair as she nursed her child, tears falling silently down her cheeks as she finally admitted the truth of the situation to herself.
She was in love with Ethan. Hopelessly, one hundred percent in love with him. And now he was gone.
THAT EVENING, by the time he’d handed over Margaret and baby Joshua’s care to his colleagues, some of whom having been there during his own darkest hours, Ethan decided it was better for him to stay the night in Sydney. He took a taxi to St Aloysius Hospital and called CJ to give her an update. She must have been on another call as he ended up getting her voicemail.
‘It’s late, so I’ll stay the night at my apartment in Sydney and will give you an update on the patients in the morning. I’ve asked the hospital to call me should there be any complications tonight, but when I left, things were stable. Joshua still isn’t doing too well but at least they’ve managed to stabilise him, giving Margaret and Doug a bit more time with him. Er…yeah. So that’s about it.’