I am pacing the corridor outside the labour room in the hospital, clenching and unclenching my fists. My sister-in-law, P, has just been wheeled in from her room, and my brother been given a set of sterilised hospital robes to change into before following her right in. P has been in labour for close to ten hours now. The obstetrician thinks it might take another half hour–its a big baby, she reminds me before rushing in.
The stern-looking attendant sitting at the end of the corridor tells me to go to the waiting area where the rest of the family is seated. I look the other way, pretending to be deaf. A wall clock catches my eye. I stare at the smooth slow motions of the seconds hand for what seems like an eternity. The sharp cry of a baby jolts me out of my reverie–I turn to give the attendant a questioning look. She glares at me in return, in the manner of a school teacher having to deal with a particularly intractable kid. Its only been ten minutes, must be some other baby, she tells me nonchalantly.
My legs ache. I’ve been standing for long by P’s bedside in her hospital room before they wheeled her out of it to the labour room.There are, of course, no chairs in the corridor for the benefit of those who insist on waiting right there. For a moment I wonder if I shouldn’t listen to the attendant and go sit in the waiting area. I quickly dismiss the thought.
The baby has meanwhile stopped crying.
Suddenly the door to the labour room opens a little. A doctor comes out with a bundle in his arms. My brother waves at me from behind him, beaming, before disappearing back inside the room. The doctor hands over the bundle to me, reciting the details–born at 3.58 PM,13th Nov 2011, weight at birth 3.72 kg, male.
I look down at the baby in my arms, and find that he is peering at me intently. I give him a tentative smile, and I swear he almost smiles back–the tiniest of smiles which could easily have been a grimace, actually;-) You could knock me down with a feather.
I realize the doctor is still standing with me. I just about find my voice and thank him over and over again. He smiles and asks me to take the baby to P’s room, to which P will shortly be shifted.
Off I go, with my ten minutes old nephew, through the long corridor. I realize that I have never before held or even seen a baby so soon after birth. I got to hold my own kids more than half an hour after birth. All of a sudden, out of the blue, Louis Armstrong’s “What a wonderful world’ starts playing at the back of my head .
I hear babies cry/I watch them grow/They’ll learn much more/Than I’ll ever know/And I think to myself/What a wonderful world.
I feel a lump in my throat. Somewhere along the way I begin to cry a little.
The way to P’s room passes through the waiting area, where everyone in the family jumps at the sight of us and rushes towards us. All of us form one big, joyous huddle and everyone takes turns taking a closer look at the baby, who in turn looks around at everyone with a bemused expression.
My kids can’t stop cooing at him. Weren’t they this small themselves not too long ago? How time flies! Look at them now! I feel like going down on my knees and thanking God for the gift of life.
The happiest days are those on which babies arrive. The world is more wonderful than ever on such days.