Life is crazy in the Emergency Room at midnight. I see some pretty ugly stuff. After awhile, you get used to it. But, I never get used to problems concerning children. Especially this one.
Her name was Megan. Megan Hall. Fourteen years old. And pregnant. An ambulance brought her to the ER because of early signs of labor. The problem though, was she was nowhere near time to give birth.
The young girl lay in the hospital bed, her body shaking as if she were in subzero weather despite the warm blanket pulled up to her chin. The harsh fluorescent lights reflected the paleness of her face. Blond hair spread haphazardly around her head on the pillow. The blanket couldn't hide the distinctive bump of her swollen belly.
I felt an instant tug at my heart. The girl was about the same age and coloring as my sister's daughter, Jennifer. A shiver ran through my body. This could be my niece laying here. I pushed the portable sonogram machine into the room and shut the door.
The young girl turned her head when I entered her room. Large expressive, blue eyes searched my face as if looking for any sign of friendship.
"Hi, Megan. I'm Tracy. I'm a sonogram technician here at the hospital."
Megan didn't respond. When she stared at me, I saw a little girl twisted in fear and apprehension in her eyes.
Impulsively, I squeezed the girl's hand and told her, "Don't worry. Everything's going to be just fine."
How did I know everything was going to be fine? I didn't, but I wanted to reassure her. She looked like she needed it.
What did I know? I was sent to do a sonogram on a pre-term baby with an at-risk mother. She looked all of about twelve with her long blonde hair spread about her face and a sprinkle of freckles across her upturned nose; although her paperwork said fourteen.
The girl's voice shook. "A-Are you sure?" Her voice low and husky with a southern drawl.
"Well, Megan, let's take a look at that baby of yours and see what's going on." I input the patient information via the keyboard attached to the machine then helped Megan fold down the blanket and lift the hospital gown to expose her pregnant stomach.
I shook the squeeze bottle of conductive gel and rolled it back and forth between my hands in an attempt to warm it.
Anxiety evident in her voice, Megan asked, "will that hurt my baby?"
"No, it's just going to show us a picture of what's going on inside. Let's us see how the baby's doing."
"Okay." Doubt shadowed the teen's face.
"Don't worry, I'll tell you what I'm going to do before it happens." I held up the bottle of conductive gel so she could see what it was. "I'm going to put some of this on your tummy. It might be cold, but it doesn't hurt." The bottle made a squelching noise as a small amount of blue gel squirted.
"It's cold." Megan shivered, clutching for the blanket that covered the lower portion of her body.
"Yeah, we don't really have a way to warm it up. Not on these carts." I held up a small slightly oblong piece of equipment attached to the machine by a long cord. "This is the transducer. It's going to send out sound waves through your body and convert them into a picture we'll be able to see here on the screen."
She looked at the screen, then at the transducer. "Will that hurt?"
"No, it's totally painless."
I pressed the transducer against the skin of Megan's stomach. Back and forth I moved it, keeping a good layer of gel between the small hand-held device and the skin. I kept my face passive while I watched the screen carefully for the first images to appear.
As the image cleared, I pressed a button on the sonogram machine and took several still pictures. I tried to put myself in this little girl's position and imagine what kind of questions would be going through her mind. From what I could see, it looked like the placenta was trapped between the baby and the birth canal with a very short umbilical cord. Not good news. "We'll just have a doctor review these pictures." I tried to give her a reassuring smile.
With a dry cloth, I wiped the blue gel from Megan's stomach and helped her pull the hospital gown over her belly. In a moment of sudden tenderness, I tucked the blanket around her and patted her arm. I didn't know anything about this girl, but something in her touched me deep. Touched that part of me that made me a mom. I wanted to take her home and care for her.
There I go again. Trying to save everyone and everything. I looked down at Megan; so young. So fragile.
Megan bit her top lip while her bottom one quivered. Tears glistened in her eyes as she looked up at me. Her lips moved, but no sound came out.
"Hey, don't worry. Your baby's okay." I touched her hand and she grasped mine tightly.
A few tears spilled over and rolled down Megan's cheek.
"Do you want me to go get your mom?"
More tears fell. I heard the desperation in the sob that escaped from Megan's lips. "I don't have a mom. I don't have anyone." She cast a distressed look at me and grabbed my hand again. "Please help me." She pleaded with her expressive eyes full of tears displaying a sense of lost hope.
I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat. My concern for Megan grew as the reality of the situation became clearer. This child was all alone with no one to take care of her. What if this were my niece, Jennifer? I couldn't walk away, could I?
"You're here all by yourself at a time like this?"
"I don't have anyone to be with me. No one wants me. They just want my baby." Megan gripped my hand. "I won't let them take my baby away. Can you adopt me? Can you adopt me and my baby?"
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