Derek turned to Evelyn, who had come out of the exam room.
“Well?” he asked.
“The baby is breech. Frank breech. The baby should’ve been turned last week.”
Derek cursed under his breath. “What do we do?”
Evelyn bit her lip. “Her contractions are strong. Janet is getting a read-out, and it doesn’t appear that the baby is in distress. It’s just happening so fast.”
“So taking them in an air ambulance to Sitka is out of the question?”
“Yeah, that baby is going to move soon, if the contractions and her dilation progress have any say in the matter. As it’s a frank breech I may be able to deliver the child vaginally. But it’ll be hard and she’ll have to work…”
“Your other option?” Although Derek already knew, and it terrified him to the core.
“You have surgical equipment. I’ve seen it. And I have taken courses in anesthesiology.”
“So have I,” Derek said. “Do you think it will come to that?”
“I don’t know.” Evelyn tied her hair back. “Do you have any spare scrubs in the back?”
“Yes. What do you need me to do?”
“Prep surgical supplies, just in case, but I’m hoping that it doesn’t result in a crash C-section. Janet has the patient’s care in hand. You didn’t tell me she was a nurse who had skill in midwifery.”
“Well, we never got around to that.” Derek took a deep breath. “I’ll help any way I can.”
Evelyn nodded. “I appreciate it. I’ve delivered frank breech babies before. It can be done. Protocols have changed. It’s not an automatic C-section.”
Derek nodded. “I know.”
“Good, because it looks like there’s going to be a baby born. Today.” Evelyn headed off to the storage room to change into scrubs.
He went to collect the surgical supplies, his insides twisting, and tried to shake away all those dark memories that were threatening to bubble up.
There’s a supply of blood in the fridge. You’re prepared this time.
He had this. This was his patient. He had control. He was prepared for anything.
Vivian’s death had taught him to be prepared so more lives could be saved and fewer lives lost. Vivian’s death was the reason why he fought so hard for a hospital in Wolf’s Harbor. And it wasn’t just for crash C-sections, but other traumatic injuries. They needed more room. They needed surgeons here. Qualified people.
But no one ever stayed.
She could handle it. She was trained for this and he was glad she was here. They were the only hope and he had to pull himself together. There was no time to think about Vivian. Right now he had to help Evelyn save two lives. They needed to be a team and he needed his A-game. Which was exactly what he’d give.
DEREK JUMPED INTO the fray and seemed to anticipate her every move. It was nice. It could take time for two doctors to learn each other’s cues and timings and work seamlessly together, but with Derek it was as if they had been working together for years.
And that put her at ease about delivering a frank breech baby on her first day back in Wolf’s Harbor.
The receptionist, Nancy, helped her into a gown and gloves.
“She’s ten centimeters dilated, Dr. Saunders, and her water broke,” said Janet. and showed Evelyn the read-out. The baby’s heartbeat was strong and everything was going smoothly—except the fact that the baby was heading out upside down. “The contractions are close and strong.”
Evelyn nodded. “Thank you, Janet. Christina, I think we’re ready to have this baby.”
“Tom isn’t here,” Christina panted. “I can’t have this baby without Tom!”
“I don’t think the baby is going to wait for Tom,” Evelyn said as she took a seat at the end of the bed. She bent down and could see the baby’s backside crowning. “In fact I know we can’t wait for Tom. You’re going to have push and push hard, Christina. This baby is breech. But we’ll be with you all the way and at the end you’ll have your baby, yes?”
Christina nodded, but she was crying.
Derek stepped up and held Christina’s shoulders. “I’m here in Tom’s place, okay? I’m here for you, and you know I’ve done this before.”
Christina nodded, and Evelyn couldn’t help but melt slightly, watching the care and tenderness Derek showed his patient. The gruff exterior was gone and replaced by something tender and compassionate.
It made her heart skip a beat.
She shrugged it off and watched the monitor as another contraction went off. “Come on—now, push, Christina. Hard. That’s it. Push to ten.”