Friday, September 14, 2012

Born, Again

On Wednesday I saw a baby being born.

The image has stuck with me, but not for the reasons you may think - not for all the gory, gooey, gross reasons.

But instead because I was blown away by the simplicity of the scene, by how understated it was in this particular setting. And that is one word I never thought I would use to describe child birth, the act of adding another squirming, needy, human being to live temporarily on this planet - simple.

We were surveying the labor and delivery ward at a very large public hospital. This means looking at each piece of medical equipment up close and personal, including those attached to patients who are getting up close and personal with their doctors.

The delivery room was a wide open area with a big sign above the entrance reading "expulsivo", the perfect Spanish name for delivery. In the room, a dozen delivery beds were placed next to each other so close that if the women wanted to, they could have reached out and grabbed their neighbor's hand for support. In front of each woman sat a single nurse.

The whole operation had an assembly line sense about it, each woman lined up and ready to go, the nurse ready to catch and clean, the moans from the laboring room next door from moms waiting their turn. The nurses were so calm to the point where they looked bored, as if they could have been working on the floor of any factory in the world, waiting for the next jar of pickles or box of crayons to come their way for inspection.

And out the babies came. I was failing miserably at ignoring the women. Here I was in the presence of a new life arriving. Where was the hoopla? Where were the crying soon-to-be-grandmas? The overwhelmed husbands? The video-camera wielding sisters? The monitors and the doctors and the birthing coaches? Here is the MIRACLE OF LIFE people! Show some respect (or at least bring a balloon!)!

Instead, these women, like women for thousands and thousands of years, summoned a uniquely feminine strength from inside themselves, narrowed their eyebrows in intense focus, and pushed.

Bam. Baby. Simple.

It was there that I added to my list of universal human traits - the sublimely proud look of a mother holding her baby for the very. first. time.

And now a Caribbean beach shout out to the one who did all of that for me ....

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