So we’re suspended in this moment in time, remember? The punch of the clock, the hum of the machines, the ever present smell of blood and chemicals overlaid with the scent of methanol from the slide stainer and the odd whiff of perfume or cigarette mouth…. The banging of trays from other phlebs coming in from other parts of the hospital and their chatter as they logged in their specimens and the hustle and bustle of the lab ceased for that moment. I looked from the lab slip to the basin as I removed the cover. I couldn’t really comprehend what I was looking at.
It was a sample, my brain said but something else told me it was a baby. My heart was banging in my chest, I know that. There was a gasp behind me, and then another. Tears from some of the younger mothers in the group with babies of their own were evident. It was five months or so and perfectly formed. Fingers and toes in place, eyebrows, eyelashes—it looked to be sleeping peacefully but I knew better. I picked up the clip board and logged it in as I was supposed to do. The lead technician flipped the cover back on and asked me about it. ‘They didn’t know why the mother had lost the baby.’ I said, ‘they said it happens.’ You see, I knew what was in the basin as I brought it back to the lab, but I was USED to that sort of thing. I was a professional as were we all. ‘I’ll call the Pathologist,’ said the tech in charge ‘he’s going to want to examine it soon.’
‘POC’ was written on the ticket. ‘POC?’ I asked. ‘Product of Conception’ she said and took it to the Pathology lab. Apparently Five months was in the fuzzy area whereby the parent could bury ‘it’ as a lost child or it could go into the specimen cooler with the rest of the POC’s.
‘It’s a baby,’ I said, but the noise had started again and there was work to do.