October 29, 2006

My friend Joanna is very excited because any minute her sister-in-law is going to have a baby. She was waiting for the call so she can rush over and be there for the birth, then she mentions they're having the baby at home.

At home? "Yeah, why?" she asked. "Because..." I paused. "Isn't that dirty?"
She made a face. So I had to explain. I didn't mean dirty as in gross or erotic; I meant dirty as in dusty. I thought for sure when I cleared that up it would make things better. It didn't.
"That's the first thing you think of?" she winced. "The apartment is dusty?"

Who wouldn't think that? They live in Brooklyn. If you leave your window open for half a day, the sill looks like it's been painted black. Plus, a woman who is nine months pregnant? Vacuuming would be the last thing on her mind. It seemed like a perfectly rational thought to be concerned that a New York apartment isn't the most sanitary place to give birth.

Joanna was baffled, though, and I couldn't understand why. She explained: "Here I am thinking about the miracle of life and how joyful it will be to see a baby come into the world, and all you can ask me is if it's dusty."

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. But it doesn't seem right to give birth to a child in the same room where you take off your socks. Also, let's say it's a long labour and her brother goes to the kitchen to make a sandwich. All of a sudden, the baby's coming. He runs to the bedroom to help deliver, and guess what - next thing you know, sandwich on the baby.
Joanna interrupted me. "Sandwich on the baby? What are you talking about?" Mustard. He gets mustard on the newborn. And what about salmonella? Or E-coli?

"They wear gloves," she said. So? He's making a sandwich in the same gloves he wears to deliver his child? Doesn't seem right. And I think there's something sad about giving birth to a child with a broom in the corner. That's what the baby will see when it comes into the world? She told me they didn't have a broom in the corner. But that's not the point. It's hard enough to come into the world. The poor baby has no idea what it's in for. At least give it something to look forward to: going home. But if you're born at home, where do you go from there? The hall?

If there's ever a reason to get out of the house, having a baby would be it. That, or a fire. Which is another thing to consider. What if you're having a baby at home and the toaster explodes? Choose between the baby or the house burning down? You don't have to worry about that if you're at the hospital.

Of course, the most important thing is that the baby is healthy. I've been to a hospital recently and noticed the antibacterial hand soap they use is a lot stronger than anything you can buy at Tesco. And then hospitals have this other thing that comes in handy in case something goes wrong. Doctors. Why would someone pass that up?