“Gosh, I hope so.”
“Let’s have a look, shall we?”
After a moment he agreed with his patient.
“We’re not far off. I’ll just check your blood pressure before your baby arrives.”
Her blood pressure was on the low side – a little worrying. Nevertheless, a few minutes later Mrs Conlon’s baby came into the world and into Andrew’s hands with a great push and cry from Mrs Conlon.
Andrew cut the umbilical cord.
“What is it, Doctor?” Mrs Conlon asked.
“A boy, Mrs Conlon.”
“Then I was right. Is he fine, Doctor?”
“He’s perfect,” Andrew said.
But the baby wasn’t breathing. Quick, the old way. He slapped the baby’s bottom. He just needed one short intake of breath.
Nothing. Smack! Again nothing.
The cogs of Andrew’s brain began clicking furiously. The low blood pressure could produce perinatal asphyxia – birth asphyxia. What to do? Establish open airways. The child’s mouth and nostrils were clear. No obstruction.
The skin was slightly grey, showing a need for oxygen.
If Andrew could not get air into the baby’s lungs it would die, or if it took more than a minute the baby could suffer brain damage.
What to do? PPV – Positive Pressure Ventilation! He placed his right hand on the baby’s chest and pressed, and pressed again. With his left hand he sealed the baby’s nose by pinching the nostrils, and while still pressing up and down on the chest Andrew placed his mouth over the baby’s and breathed air into him, again and again.
He felt the little chest move and seconds later a baby’s cry of life filled the room. Then he was in his mother’s arms and his father stood at the bedroom door, pale and smiling.
* * * *
On his way home Andrew stopped the car in the glen. He felt drained and overwhelmed by the joy of the little family. The baby’s name was Matthew and they had suggested a second name of Andrew to which he had happily agreed.
Andrew went and sat on the bank of the river that splashed over stones and small boulders. This little baby had lived, thanks to him. Perhaps in some measure it made up for what had happened . . .
What was it Paul had said, here by the river?
The wind blows where it wants to, but you don’t know where it comes from or where the wind blows.
He looked around. The glen was quiet, not a sound except the sound of the water. Peaceful. Andrew felt peace in his heart and then suddenly, alone in the glen, he began to cry. He cried for himself; he cried for Thomas and he cried for Jess. But most of all he cried for Thomas’s mother.
He cried for Cassie.