Family Affair

This warm spring day was made for being outdoors. The afternoon rays of

light played on the swing sets as an unseasonably warm breeze rustled the early

foliage overhead. Doc sat on one of the well-used park benches as he watched an

energetic young girl chase butterflies across the playground.

The idyllic scene is only momentarily interrupted when a young mother

approaches pushing a stroller. Doc had occasionally seen the mother pushing the

pram, but had never spoken. She took a seat on the bench and continued to gently

rock the stroller as its cargo, an infant of about six months, continued to sleep.

Several minutes passed and the mother commented to Doc. “Your grand daughter is

lovely.”

Doc responded to be polite, even though he had a twinge of resentment at the

interruption the moment. “Actually, that’s my daughter.”

The lady flushed and answered, “I’m sorry for my mistake. Its just that you

seem, well, you seem a bit mature to have a young child.”

Doc sensed her embarrassment and decided to be conversational. “Yes, I

suppose my gray hair and a few wrinkles make me a bit old, and I have been around

a while, but that’s my daughter, all the same. After a moment of awkward silence,

Doc had the unexplained impulse to explain.

“Sarah and I were never blessed with children. We always expected to have a

family. We both worked hard to be able to support a house full of children. As our

friends were busy with little league and ballet classes, we played the roles of good

neighbors and relatives and waited. Finally, it seemed that time had passed us by.

Sarah and I have led full lives and were both resigned to being an aunt and uncle

rather than parents, but over time there was a lingering regret and a too many

thoughts of what might have been.

“Sarah and I didn’t grow apart, but perhaps we allowed our lives to grow

stale and even a little bitter. As many childless parents do, we showered attention

on our pets. We were both especially fond of our cat. One morning I was returning

from morning rounds at the hospital. For some reason that day I was dwelling too

much on the direction our lives had taken. As I passed our drive on my way to the

office I saw our tabby cat at the end of the drive. I looked closer as I passed and also

saw a white cat smeared with blood that had become road kill.

“I didn’t want the poor cat’s body to stay on the edge of the road and I didn’t

want our tabby cat to be around it or to also get run over, so I stopped to dispose of

the body and shoo our pet back to the house before I went to the office.

“But I know I’m boring you on such a splendid day, and I seem to be prattling

on.”

The young lady was now paying close attention and realized a story was

coming, “No, Please continue, Ralphie’s sleeping and I’m enjoying the day as well.”

Doc continued his musing, “I parked the car in the drive and got out to

retrieve the body and received the shock of my life. The bloody white body was not

a cat at all. It was a newborn human infant. She was as pale as snow, smeared with

blood, and abraded as though she had been thrown from a car with the umbilical

cord was still attached.

“I was trembling as I picked up the lifeless body. She was totally limp, cold as

ice and limp without a pulse. The rest of that morning is a blur. I carried the body

wrapped inside my coat as raced my car to the office. My nurse Angie was as

shocked as I to see the tiny body. As she called 911, I applied oxygen over the small

mouth and nose as well as possible, hopelessly felt for a pulse and began cardiac

compressions while Angie puffed small breaths of the oxygen into the newborn.

“We attached our oversized electrodes to the tiny limbs in a vain effort to

find a heart beat. Nothing. Then an occasional blip occurred. Angie and I just looked

at each other. We knew it was just a sign of a dying heart, but all the same it spurred

us into activity.

We warmed the infant and I realized that the dehydrated infant needed

desperately needed hydration. I pulled the smallest plastic tube I had from its metal

stylus and cut a small segment from the end of the frayed umbilical cord to “freshen”

the vessel’s end. Then, by some miracle I was able to thread the umbilical artery

and start some fluid for the dead child.

“I could hear the whine of a siren in the distance and knew that help would

be there in a few minutes, but seconds counted. IV fluids were started for badly

needed hydration as we counted the compressions and breaths and watched the

EKG monitor. We didn’t keep drugs on the premises, so we had done our best. As

the seconds dragged past we saw a few more beats. They were erratic at first but

gradually occurred with some regularity. The monitor climbed for twenty to forty

and finally seemed to settle at sixty as the EMTs burst through the door. As they

assumed the duties of cardiac compressions and breathing, Angie thought she

noticed an eyelid flicker. The EMT announced by feeling the child’s groin, that he

now felt a pulse!

“The hospital was called, and in another minute the EMTs were out the and

on their way with the sirens wailing.

“Over the next few days we all followed the course of events. The mother

could not be found and no one had a clue as to the origins of the infant discarded as

easily as an empty beer bottle.

“In the Intensive Care Nursery, the neonate was expected to have severe post

resuscitation problems, but surprised the pediatricians. Eventually the time arrived

for hospital discharge. Adoptions were considered, but with the uncertain past

history, and questions regarding the mother’s drug or alcohol use, few applications

were received. Sarah and I watched and prayed that in spite of being told that our

age made adoption impossible, God may yet have a plan for us.”

Doc stood to stretch and mobilize his arthritic joints that had rested a bit too

long. After a moment he looked over at the playful child. “Tabatha, come over here,

it’s time to go.” The youngster bounced over to Doc and grabbed his hand. “I’d like

you to meet my new friend.” Doc turned to the young mother and her infant. “This

is Tabby!”


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