They were waiting, forewarned, incubators at the ready, for the ambulance to arrive. Wayne and Tom quickly carried the tiny bundles inside. Wayne’s face was like thunder. He was normally composed and totally unflappable in an emergency, but this had really got to him. He was livid, unsurprisingly really. Jan had had their first only last Tuesday and he was still euphoric about it.
He addressed the team: Marjory Baxter, consultant paediatrician; Bev Rees, paediatric staff nurse; and other members of the night shift.
‘How the hell could anyone do this; how could they?’
Marjory was cool efficiency personified though. ‘Okay; calm down,’ she soothed, ‘tell us what you’ve got,’ as the babies were swiftly placed in the incubators and relieved of the blankets the ambulance men had swaddled them in. Wayne pulled himself together. ‘Found in a ladies loo, can you believe? Together in a bloody cardboard box, like unwanted kittens or something! Thankfully they were spotted almost straight away, we think. But not before whoever left them had scarpered. Looks as though they’re newborns. Not even cleaned up yet. Both got pulses and breathing, but the smaller one’s is a bit ragged. Poor little mites!’
The incubators were whisked into paediatric intensive care and Marjory got to work. She examined the smaller one first (although they were both tiny – certainly prems, by a good five weeks, probably). Heart reasonably okay although the beat quite rapid and a touch too shallow. Airways clear but breathing, as the angry ambulance man had said, a bit on the erratic side. Best on oxygen for a while. The larger one was better: heart and lungs really quite good, considering. Both seemed to have all their components, externally anyway. She’d check them more thoroughly later, when they were fully stabilised. She popped bigger baby on the scales. Four pounds two ounces (she still couldn’t think in terms of metric, to save her life). Not bad. Then she quickly weighed the smaller one. Three pounds ten. Um; could be better, although she’d seen a lot worse.
She looked at them both carefully as they lay, tidied up now with oversize woollen caps and wearing tiny nappies, safe now in their warm environments. They’d need some colostrum ideally, if there were any available. Apart from their size they looked remarkably similar. Monozygotics, possibly? That might explain the size disparity. Could have been a common placenta, but there was no way of knowing now. One might have been taking more than his share. Interesting. But anyway, it was academic. Unless tests showed up anything really untoward, they should both be okay.
And that was the inauspicious start the brothers had to life. They could so easily have expired even before they’d begun it, had they not been found quickly (when Veronique had peeped cautiously into the Ladies she’d found a cubicle occupied and so dropped the box with its blanket-nest of babies by the wash basins and beaten a hasty retreat back to Madge’s waiting car). And had they not been conveyed very quickly indeed by the surprised and appalled ambulance men to hospital. Of course the police were involved, but there were no clues at all as to the identity of the depositor of the tiny human package. The find made both the local and national news and the police went on television appealing for the mother to come forward, because apart from anything else she might need medical help, but they drew a complete blank. With no clue as to their identities, the babies needed names, if only temporary ones. Perhaps the birth mother might eventually come to light (but of course, even if she were discovered, she probably wouldn’t have named them anyway as seemingly she didn’t want them), but in the meantime they had to be called something.
The paediatric staff discussed it and Marjory suggested naming them for their ambulance men rescuers. Everyone agreed; they were the heroes of the piece. And so Wayne and Tom they became.
In good and caring hands now, they thrived, soon beginning to put on weight. Tom, the smaller sibling, came off oxygen support as his lungs and heart strengthened. And so they spent their first few days in a world into which they’d been thrust rather too soon. And one, sadly, without the welcoming, loving arms of parents. Although, as helpless tiny foundlings, they certainly did not go short of love from everyone in the paediatric unit. Soft-hearted Wayne senior and his colleague Tom became regular visitors on their time off, taking great interest in their namesakes’ progress.
The little boys were quite unaware of their inauspicious start in life as they lay in their incubators with no other concerns than sleeping and suckling (although, sadly, not at a breast) and excreting. Never remember the surprise on occasional-midwife Madge’s face when tiny Tom arrived first and it was suddenly apparent that there was another to come. (She’d assumed it was just one large, very active baby). Recall that they’d been shown to their exhausted young mother with the question, ‘Do you want to keep them?,’ and the tearful sideways shake of her perspiring head with its mop of greasy half blonde, half red hair as she turned her anguished face into the pillow and wept bitter, relieved, confused tears.
But they were well out of it, these two little mites with the first wisps of startlingly red hair. Their birth mother didn’t keep her vow of celibacy for long, and she would not have coped well with them.
Instead they would be loved by other, surrogate parents who most certainly did want and love them. Oh yes: they would be loved.
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