I'm going to Calvert Memorial Hospital today to see my friend's new baby boy, born yesterday. This will probably be my last visit to the maternity ward for awhile (as far as I know, the next friend's baby is due to arrive in March).
For months after Owen was born, I would drive by the hospital, newborn in tow, on my way to do this or that, and just marvel that somebody's life was changing forever there...every single day. It is heroic to me that there are people who guide mothers through the labor process, and never lose the sense of joy or wonder which comes from childbirth. Driving by CMH was a benediction, a blessing, a memory of an amazing, amazing day.
Joel's birth complicated my feelings about the hospital. Not because of anything the staff said or did, but because he left that hospital in an airlift helicopter, not in my arms. It's been three months since Joel spent his week in the Johns Hopkins NICU, and most of the time, I don't dwell on the experience. But, when I walk through the doors of the Family Birth Center, I remember...calling my parents at 11:45 PM and telling them that their grandson was suffering from respiratory distress. Watching the respiratory specialists fit a CPAP over Joel's nose. Being so exhausted as we drove home to the empty house that my eyes burned when I closed them. Watching Paul hold the blue teddy bear that Owen bought to welcome his new baby brother, crying. Clutching his hospital onesie, still smelling of Ivory soap and new life.
So, visiting the hospital is more complicated now. I know that when I meet Baby Austin, I will feel nothing but true joy, just as I felt when I visited Baby Evan a month ago. And, upon returning home, I will gaze into Joel's blue eyes, and silently pray, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."