The nurse came back a few minutes later with a doctor. He looked so young, I felt he should still have been in medical school. Still, beggars could not be choosers. The important thing was he looked competent and professional.
“Good morning,” he greeted coming straight to where I was standing. He took the baby from me “I was told the baby was found outside in the cold.” He stated briskly but with a brief smile.
“Yes.” I answered.
He looked at the baby in his arms for some seconds and then nodded once like he had come to a decision. “Rose here will attend to you,” he nodded towards the nurse “you need to fill some forms while I take this one in with me.” He said referring to the baby in his arms.
“Thank you doctor.” I said. He merely nodded again and smiled at my parents before disappearing with the baby.
I had filled the necessary forms, mostly the Hospital’s way of ensuring payment and my parents and I had gone to the waiting room to wait for the doctor. We had been waiting for almost half an hour when he finally came out; without the baby.
I stood and I’m sure my anxiety was tattooed across my face because he came to me and patted my shoulder.
“Your little foundling is doing fine. However, there has been almost twenty four hours of exposure so we need to keep her here for observation.”
Her. That was all I heard as tears came to my eyes. My baby was a her!
“The usual procedure in this type of case is to inform the Police and Social Welfare.”
I promptly came out of my haze as I heard the doctor murmur these words to my parents. They were both nodding in agreement even though out of the corner of my eye, I saw my mum give me a concerned look. Fine, I knew, somewhere in the reasonable recesses of my mind that I could not keep the baby. And even though I knew that this was not a case of finders keepers, all I could think about was that this baby was mine. I had no idea how I was going to keep her, but I knew that baby was sent to me. I could not explain it rationally, but I just knew.
“We suspect pneumonia, but we are not certain as yet. We should be know definitely in the next few days.” The doctor was speaking so I moved closer to where he was standing with my parents.
“What are her chances Doctor?” I asked quietly.
He turned to me “The prognosis is good. If she had been out there an hour longer, I’m afraid it would have been a different story. But even if she does have pneumonia, her chances will still be good as the rate of infant mortality from pneumonia has gone down drastically.” His voice was a rich baritone, smooth like the locally made drink, kunu. I immediately felt the tension begin to drain out of me.
“Of course there are exceptions and it would be nice if you begin to pray that no infection sets in.” He added as a warning. But no warning could take away the relief I was beginning to feel.
I thanked him profusely and after a few more soothing words, he walked back into the ward. I was lost in thought when I felt a pair of strong, comforting arms around me. I sighed as I leaned back into the comfort of my dad’s arms.
“She’ll be fine dear.” He said and I nodded silently. “Come on let’s take you home, you’ve done all you can do for now.”
I stepped out of his arms and turned to look at him aghast. I turned back to look at my mother, “Mum” I pleaded.
She understood me immediately. “Tex I think she should stay for a while.” She said to him, “We need to go but we could come back and check on her.”
My dad looked at me for confirmation and I nodded my agreement. “Alright then. We’ll be back later in the day to check on you chick.” I could not even protest his use of that nickname, I just nodded in relief. “Do you have any cash on you?” He asked. I shook my head…I had been in such distress that I had not remembered to pick up my handbab. He handed over a few bills to me and hugged me again. “Take care of yourself alright? Make sure you eat girl!” He ordered.
My throat was clogged with tears and all I could do was nod.
“Honey, are you sure you’ll be fine?” That was my mum. I stepped out of my dad’s embrace and turned to hug her.
“I’ll be fine ma.” I assured her.
She squeezed me tight and moments later, they were gone.