'He's making a fuss,' Mrs Garson said, squeezing her husband's hand. 'I've probably just eaten something that's disagreed with me.'
'It's always a good idea to get checked out,' Sadie said.
But Mrs Garson's notes worried Sadie. A mother-to-be over thirty-five with severe backache…
'I know the triage nurse has asked you, but I want to double-check,' she said. 'Any falls, any accidents, any sign of bleeding?'
But a fifth of women with a placental abruption had no bleeding. 'Have you had any complications in your pregnancy so far?'
'No, just my blood pressure is a bit high.'
Another alarm bell. 'I'm not making any judgements, here, just ruling things out. Any cigarettes or recreational drugs?'
Sadie nodded. 'Have you felt the baby moving today?'
Mrs Garson nodded.
'Yes, but they're practice ones, aren't they?' Mrs Garson's eyes widened. 'I'm not going to lose the baby?'
'I'm just trying to work out what's going on,' Sadie reassured her. 'I'll examine you, then we'll give you a scan and see how the baby's doing.' And she was worried. What if this was a concealed placental abruption, with bleeding hidden behind the placenta?
She examined her patient gently.
'Ow! That's sore—it feels like a bad bruise,' Mrs Garson said.
Oh, no. Abruptions often presented like that, and Sadie's heart sank. She wished Ben was there, with his calmness and common sense. But he was in Resus and she couldn't ask him to leave a patient who needed him just because this situation was making her relive her own nightmare.
She did an ultrasound and blood tests, then checked the baby's heart rate. 'I think, Mrs Garson,' she said, 'you have a mild placental abruption. That's where the placenta separates from the uterine wall too early.'
Mrs Garson frowned. 'But shouldn't I be bleeding?'
I had bled. A lot. 'Not necessarily.'
'Can you stop it? Is the baby going to die?'
Sadie pushed away her memories; she needed to concentrate on her patient. 'We can't reattach the placenta, but the good news is that the baby's heart rate seems fine and I think the abruption's mild. I want to admit you to keep an eye on you.'
Mrs Garson looked panicky. 'But it's too early for the baby to be born.'
'Hopefully it'll settle down when you've had some rest. If it gets worse, we can give you medication to mature the baby's lungs and prepare for delivery, but for now I want to monitor you here. If all goes well, you can go home, but you'll need to rest and your midwifery team will keep a very close eye on you.'
'Did I do something wrong?'
'No,' Sadie reassured her. 'It's often unexpected and happens in a straightforward pregnancy.' Just like hers. 'I know it's scary, but you're in good hands. I'll admit you to the ward, and you need to tell us if you feel any contractions, have any bleeding or the baby doesn't seem to be moving as much.'
She forced herself to smile and sound as normal as possible, for Mrs Garson's sake; but afterwards she needed to go and pull herself together. Thankfully the staff kitchen was deserted, so she put the kettle on and focused on her breathing.
Her head was in a whirl. She remembered the pain, the bleeding and the fear—because she'd known what the possible complications could be—and then the hideous news that the baby hadn't survived. She'd needed Brad so much, but he'd backed away from her. The marriage she'd thought was so strong had just crumbled into nothing.
And now here she was in Cornwall. Dating Ben. Letting herself fall for him.
This was a huge mistake. She knew Ben wasn't like Brad—he wouldn't abandon someone who needed him—but he already had enough to manage in his life. They'd said they would see where this thing between them would go, but she knew the answer: nowhere. She hadn't been able to make it work with Brad, so why did she think she could make it work with Ben? If he wanted children, all she could offer him was more worry and difficulty; the chance of her having a placental abruption in any future pregnancy was higher than average.
She wanted to be with him, but it wasn't fair of her to dump her problems on him. Even though it would hurt, she needed to do the right thing by him and end it.
The kettle had just boiled when Ben walked in.
'Hey. Are you OK?' he asked.
'Just taking a break,' she lied.
'Then if you've got the kettle on, I'd love a coffee.'
There was something in the way he spoke that reminded her of Brad. The man she thought she'd fallen in love with should've realised she wasn't OK at all; but right now Ben seemed happy to take her words at face value. Just the way that Brad had always swept anything difficult under the carpet.
And that similarity to Brad made it easier for her to say the words that had been whirling round her head.
'Ben, we need to rethink things.'
'Rethink things?' He looked puzzled.
'You and me,' she clarified. 'We should stick to being just friends. Colleagues.'
'What?' His eyes widened. 'But, Sadie, I thought—'
'It's for the best,' she cut in. 'I won't be here for that much longer, and then I'm going back to London.' Maybe she could contact the job swap people and see if someone else would do a swap within a swap.
'Sorry.' She left before she made her coffee—and before she could see the hurt in his eyes and feel even worse than she did already.
Ben stared after her. Something was definitely wrong. He didn't think it was something he'd done, and she'd been so understanding about Jilly that he didn't think it was like the situation with his ex.
Something had really upset her—but what?
He'd have to persuade her to talk to him, though he thought that might be easier said than done.
Frowning, he went back onto the ward. Sadie was already with a patient, and he was needed, so he had to wait until his next break to go in search of her.
'Ben, have you seen Sadie anywhere?' Donna asked. 'Maternity's just called down.'
'Her patient with the abruption. They just wanted her to know that everything's settled down.'
Ben went cold. Her patient with the abruption.
That explained a lot. The case must have brought back her own heartbreaking experience, and maybe her decision to end it between them was a panicky reaction to that. And in that case maybe he could get her to talk to him and see that her fears were groundless. He hoped.
'I'll find her,' he promised.
He tried calling her, and her phone went to voicemail. 'Sadie, it's Ben. Please call me. I have good news about your patient,' he said. He followed it up with a text saying the same thing.
Thanks for letting me know, she replied to his text eventually, but she didn't call him.
Where are you? Can we talk? he texted.
This time, she didn't reply.
This was too important to let go. Sadie was too important to let go. After his shift, he drove to her flat and waited on the doorstep until she finally turned up on Becky's bicycle.
'Sadie, we need to talk,' he said.
She looked anguished, but finally she nodded. 'All right. Let's walk on the beach.'
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "One Summer with the ER Doc"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.