“Hospital Tour”

“We also have all the necessary medical equipment to keep you safe,” the nurse says. “But it’s not conspicuous like in other hospitals.”

She shows us that a wooden cabinet next to the bed swings open to become one of those instruments with the heart-shocking paddles. An infant warmer is tucked away in the corner.

I notice that many of our gazes land on the TV and the chairs. A few people have the courage to open the door to examine the bathroom. But no one looks at the bed. Maybe it’s because we’re trying not to imagine what is going to happen on it.

But I can’t look away from it. Why is it such a terrifying piece of furniture? It seems too small for something as important as giving birth. But no one else is giving the bed a second look. They are sizing up the shower and looking out the windows. Maybe these other women are having the same thoughts, but it’s too large of a dose of reality to confront in the presence of strangers. Or maybe I’m obsessing. Or maybe both.