Thursday, July 21, 2005

Where They Make Babies

"I need to go where they make the babies." Imagine, if you will, two elderly women peering through thick framed glasses. Lips pursed. Bouffant hair in abundant curls. Absolute silence. I tapped my fingers against the counter and gave my famous, 'Yeah, this is who I am', smirk. "Name of patient?" The white haired woman said. Not particularly friendly for the greeting desk of a hospital. "Okay here's the thing," I say, still trying to be charming. Still failing. "I don't know her last name. My friends are here with her." "No name? I can't find a patient without a name." Apparently the hospital greeting desk is not the place for a sense of humor. "Okay, just tell me where they make babies. I'll find them once I get there." There's something about the Baby Wing of a hospital that frightens me. I think it's the power. A woman can put down a slew of martinis or even do a bunch of drugs...and neither will cause them to make the decision to create something that lives, breathes and requires more attention than your average house plant. But one visit to a Baby Wing and you'll hear "I want a baby" so often you'd think it was the latest pop song on the radio. Men enter the Baby Wing. They go into the room where they make the baby. They come out - and they won't want sex for weeks. That's power. It's frightening. The Baby Wing is like the circus. There are all kinds of things going on in there they keeps your head turning. A little girl passed by the doorway whapping herself in the head with peanut M&M's. What I assumed to be her grandmother quickly guided her head away from the wall just as they disappeared behind it. Every so often there was a schwoop, schwoop, schwoop, and a nurse would pass by in salmon pink scrubs with what looked like extra large hair nets pulled up over their feet to their knees. I couldn't help but imagine them jumping into the open stomach of a whale and digging for a baby, wearing a floppy hat and posing for a picture while holding the baby upside down and giving a thumbs up. Schwoop, schwoop, schwoop. The Baby Wing was unusually noisy. I'd been in a different hospital where little signs were posted about the halls that read, "Shh! New Babies Napping." Instead, the little girl who had been whapping herself in the head with peanut M&M's ran up and down the halls in flip flops that slapped against the tile floor. Nurses burst into healthy bouts of laughter at who knows what. I imagined they were secretly making fun of ugly babies and their parents. You could hear the tv's in nearby patient rooms as well as the waiting room. Out of nowhere a man came strutting down the hallway in a pin stripe suit and alligator shoes and for a moment I thought I had died and been sent to hell - a baby wing in Vegas. In the waiting room, we got acquainted with the little girl in the pink outfit. She was without her bag of M&M's. Her name was Shannon. A young boy, who I imagine was her brother, was in charge of her. He wore a baseball cap, glasses and had a strip of hair that hung down to the middle of his back. Not quite a mullet, not quite a pony tail - a Mulletail - if you will. "Joe Dirt called," said Jen. "He wants his family back." The door opened and the noisy Baby Wing went quiet - even if just to us. Deana emerged in all white scrubs, a small bundle in her arms. Brennan was pink and quiet along with us - for a moment at least. Like he knew the moment was supposed to mean something, and graciously he was going to let us have it even after being ripped from his warm, comfy womb - only to be poked, prodded and exposed to the world. He gave us three seconds that seemed to last forever - and then he cried. And after that, Deana took him to the Baby Wing's Baby Room where they do all their baby stuff, and we peered at him through a window that was too small. Too small to take in the fact that a new life had just entered the world. Too small for four people to look at this little, living, breathing human being - still untouched, unused, unspoiled - and completely perfect. As I gave Deana a hug and left the Baby Wing, I thought about the power of babies. They change lives. Fill emotional voids. The mere sight of one will cause rather intelligent human beings to succumb to words like "schmoopy poo" or "boopykins". And they enter the world with minds that hold the cure for cancer, or lead the country or create an artistic masterpiece. They are the one thing that can fill an adult with fear in an instant - can I handle this? Will I screw him up? Will I fail? And they are the one thing that any mother or father would lay their lives down for. And they can silence the world with their entrance. Even if only for three seconds. But it feels like forever. Welcome to the world, little guy...if I were you, I'd stay away from the pool.

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